Last month, Oprah, Will Smith and Stephen King were all in DC. Our Nation’s Capital powerhoused the National Book Festival and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture: big people and big moments. However, true to Brave Tutu, I’m going to focus on a small striking moment: a kid with a self-made cape. This child ignored stretching lines for famous authors like Katherine Patterson and Salman Rushdie. Instead, he laughed and laughed, chasing his friend as the red power source flowed behind him.Read More
This September many celebrated Roald Dahl’s birthday, the famous author would have been 100. I reread his book, The BFG, and knew I needed to share—Brave Tutu style—how Dahl’s words make me look up from my everyday life. Small moments with his small character Sophie took me into memories of family road trips. I remembered my Mom reading us the book and as the Texas terrain slowly passed by, I imagined I had a giant friend that let me ride on his ear as we galloped across entire countries. This possibility felt palpable. My hopeful imagination blurred the lines between dreams and reality.Read More
Real talk, last week I was excited to wear my UT sundress and cowgirl boots. It was Labor Day weekend, and no part of me thought I would get into THE opening football game: University of Texas vs. Notre Dame. Amidst the Austin tailgates, I couldn’t wait to surf the sea of burnt orange, smell the BBQ and hear the roar from the stadium.Read More
MISSION: Find and eat the sugar cubes! As kids, we spent HOURS playing church hide and seek. To be fair, we felt like finding sugar cubes was a simple extension of the game. Parish halls = coffee. Coffee = sugar. Simple math.
When were really young, sugar cubes were still a thing and our dad was a visiting minister. We had many new territories to explore.Read More
Lightening lit up the terminal. “We will load the plane in 15 minutes. When there is a break in the storm, we will be ready for takeoff.” I looked at my phone: the three-hour forecast showed 100% next to clouds with tiny bolts. I was 50% relieved and 50% terrified.Read More
At first, a 4th grader’s letter sat with me softly. Days later, I couldn’t shake his wisdom. This student wrote to Emily Dickinson regarding her poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” and shared: “At first, Ms. Dickinson, I didn’t know what to make of your poem at all.”*Read More
I was running late for work. In accordance with parking-late-law, that meant zero convenient spots. Up in the heights of the garage my green beetle climbed. Around each turn…Oh is that a spot? SMART CARS, you tease! Jumbo SUVs were in the compact car spots. I imagined they were embarrassed, jammed in and refusing eye contact. Ultimately, the Nissans and the Elements kept Forrest Gumping me— “this spot’s taken.”
I should have arrived earlier. “You do this to yourself, Rebekah.” My negative voice takes a microphone when I’m already frustrated. I got to the highest point in the parking garage and thought, “Great. Outside and it’s raining. No wonder.” I pulled in and grabbed my things. Just as I closed the car door, I looked up!Read More
I was honored when Austin Public Library wanted to interview me for their Austin Creates series on artists. I asked my twin sister, Rachel, how to introduce this post for a podcast. She wanted to take the lead...Read More
Last weekend, our Dad was rushed into the ICU, not for the first time. Two of my dearest college friends came to support me, also not for the first time.
“Bow, how is Brave Tutu going?” Amanda asked.
“Struggling. It’s hard to pump out positive, uplifting articles when my heart is feeling so low.”
“Bow, I don’t think Brave Tutu has to always be happy…”Read More
Last month, I had an out-of-town wedding with a warned “detour” I knew Siri’s map couldn’t handle. So I pushed the distance button, ate Skittles and kept my eyes peeled for a “Mueller Supply Co” marker at mile 16 and knew—I needed to turn back. However, there wasn’t a safe turn-around; I had to keep going.Read More
Danielle Selby’s first “piece” consisted of blue Crayola marker scribbles on a wooden dresser canvas. After her start at age four, Ms. Selby’s work progressed into a modern flair.
This Artist & Designer embraces the Brave Tutu spirit. Therefore, the talented owner of Pasadya and Zuzu Zenie, known as “Danie” to most, is our first official guest artist.Read More
BANG. BANG. The swimmer’s starting gun went off. Without taking a breath, Rachel flung herself off the block, dove headlong into her lane, and plowed forward, abruptly encountering a dropped rope. She heard the horn. Confused, she pushed the rope off and just kept swimming.Read More
Our apartment’s elevator is inoperable. When I moved in, my landlord told me, “It hasn’t worked for over thirty years.” People would stand and wait. To deter hope of the elevator’s function,someone put a giant plant in front of it. Months later, a plywood covering followed. Recently, maintenance painted over the entire operation. Now, only the trained eye can spot the buttons.Read More
At Christmas, do you ever wonder how the old toys feel about their replacements? The playroom buzzes on Christmas Eve in Jim Henson’s film, The Christmas Toy (a.k.a. Toy Story of the 80’s). All the characters are excited about the promise of new additions to their toy tribe, all except Rugby, last year’s star gift.Read More
I want to really go back. I’m hungry to taste our traditional cinnamon roll and Lil’ Smokies sausage breakfast. I’d wash it all down with grainy pulp-filled orange juice. To be true to tradition, Joshua and I would fight over the last wrinkled Smokie, even though I’d be stuffed and the aromatic promise of true stuffing filled the air.Read More
Zorro came running when I called. My pup led the way into Portland’s fall splendor. Aesthetically, I ate up the endless buffet of lavish reds, pungent oranges, festive golds, and the remains of green. I plucked one leaf from its dance in the breeze to accompany me on my walk. With tiny touches of apricot, maroon, and green, it represented the beauty overhead. I focused on slivered rips in the leaf. Where did they come from? I pondered its gaps, commiserated even: “Must have been the wind, the rain, or maybe a hungry bug. Huh?”Read More
Perhaps this funny video rings familiar from the trick-or-treat weekend? This wee dinosaur costumes up and follows custom. Customs go by the wayside, though, on special occasions.
Little Austin, my nephew, was taught the following for his house visits:
1. Only knock on doors with your parents present. CHECK!
2. People are expecting you. CHECK!
3. Doorways are for hugging. HE TRIED!
Even though he didn’t know the homeowner, since from his knee-high vantage point, all legs look the same, he went by what he’d been taught and by instinct.
Austin’s dinosaur-door adventure was a teachable moment. It had depth and rang the Brave Tutu bell. He certainly was full of “courage in delight,” the key being Austin’s confident determination. What if, like Austin, we walked through unknown challenges like we belonged there?
One step to this “belonging” boils down to creating self-comfort amidst the uncertainty in human encounters. Before any of my big “career-changing” meetings, my brother often tells me, “Just remember, Rebekah, you’re not meeting Gandhi.” Meant with respect, this comical antidote grounds me to humanity. This “powerful” person I’m about to meet probably also growls at their alarm clock . They, too, have memories of brightly-colored LEGOs or blowing bubbles on a summer afternoon. With this shift in mentality, I can approach conversations with new acquaintances on common ground.
Austin didn’t hesitate in the doorway because he had his own check-list. His parents’ guidance opened the door to delight. Like him, we each need our own “doorway” check-list for daunting encounters. These might include:
1. Most meetings are with humans who have things in common with us. CHECK!
2. If stairs (obstacles) are involved, we can take those one at a time. CHECK!
3. If they don’t let you in, it’s their dino-sized mistake. CHECK IT!
Of course, visualizing thrilled people who are ready to adorn us with candy wouldn’t hurt either.
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
* Candy rewards belong to the first commenter. Let’s get this conversation going.
* Did you enjoy this post? If so, please consider sharing it on social media.
*Eager for more? Check out A Costume, Not a Mask where I explore more about what costumes might mean.
With fall’s crunch of leaves come great pumpkin hunts. Nostalgia rains (or reigns) like candy corn. In the purest form of Halloween, we engage imaginations and can “become” anything. As kids, our self-doubts received extra doses of empowerment with the words. “You can be anything.” We brainstormed, dressed up, and believed in the power of plastic capes and ruby slippers.
At a school, church, or in a doorway, we proudly displayed evidence of an imagination; our plan proved possible. Along with candy riches, we received self-power. Somehow we “earned” this bounty with our creative costume efforts, by being our best selves.
I’d argue costumes and masks were not about hiding. Then and now, this holiday is about trying on a piece of personality that may be masked the rest of the year. Without the filters of an adult, children are prime examples as they do this naturally. That’s why, if we are fortunate, we can spot Queen Elsa and Batman any day of the year. (Of course, it’s true, appropriate times for dress-up exist. However, I applaud parents who encourage this free-dress-spirit before the world steps in and stymies imagination.)
I remember the first time my creative efforts were stifled. Around first grade, I tried to convince a babysitter that my orange “pioneer” outfit was perfect school wear. She didn’t buy it. Now I respect her decision. However, looking back, I remember the sting of embarrassment; my spirit felt rejected.
In the right circumstances, cultivated creativity empowers. When my brother was about 3 years old, he regularly wore Superman attire under his clothes. “You don’t know it, but I’m Superman,” he’d confide with the right people. I have no doubt, in his mind, he “was” Superman. Today, (forgive the brother-brag) Joshua is an amazing father and successful businessman: a Superman of sorts.
As it was for Joshua, costumes propel powerful personas. For children, “pretending” is a minor step to “becoming.” Certain accessories, i.e., sparkly shoes, capes, and tutus facilitate that process. After all, kitty ears often make the best headbands. And who can argue with fairy wings?
As fall leaves swirl, I chew candy corn and ponder my childhood ways. Back then I wore a brave tutu. Might I choose to confidently cling to the power of possibility once more? I’ll treat myself and, when needed, trick self-doubt. What if, like my brother, we choose to put on the most important pieces first? Perhaps this process connects core truths. It may not be a Superman costume that we put on, but rather a quality character trait like tenacity or courage. It will take practice. But sometimes pretending is the essential step to becoming.
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.