Category Archives: Uncategorized

Merry-Go-Round and Round

I started to write this post about something else that was inspired by a merry-go-round until I experienced yet, another situation which also fits this round and round scenario.

A merry-go-round is an entertainment device that has lots of moving parts, lights, music and people just enjoying the time of their lives. It’s an apparatus of distractions. If you’ve ever been on one, you’d understand the concept of being spun around in a circle going up and down on a horse or what have you, laughing ever so gleefully but until you get off, all you’ll ever see is the same scenery with the same people listening to the same loud music on the same white horse.

As a spectator, from the outside looking in, it seems like fun until you realize, they’re all on a machine that’s taking them in a circle over and over again. What’s so fun about that? It’s not going anywhere, it’s not taking them from point A to point B. If anything, it’s dropping them right back off where they first began.

But you can’t tell that to the people having fun. They don’t see it from that perspective, at all. And the moment you try to tell them about this circle of distractions, they bite your head off because they LOVE this merry-go-round. They always have. They’ll also remind you, that you too used to love this merry-go-round as a child. You used to ride it together.

“Yeah”, you say, “But there are other thrills, other rides, other amazing things other than this same merry-go-round that takes you in a circle over and over again.”

It gets frustrating when you see your friends and family going around in the same circle over and over again. You’ve tried to interject and say, “Hey, there are other thrills, other rides in life…” You’ve tried to point over to the horizon to show them something else greater or even just to show them the merry-go-round itself. But they won’t listen. You are the odd man out.

People keep making the same mistakes, with the same people, using the same distractions on the same horse that takes them up and down and nowhere at all.

When you love them so much, it’s painful to watch. When you love them so much, you passionately want them to see the horse, see the same people hearing the same music. You want them to see the circle. But they still can’t. It hurts.

At this point, you have to make the decision. Do you want to stay standing outside of this circle, pointing to something greater hoping and praying they’ll see, eventually? Or, will you turn away with a broken heart and march on towards something great, alone?

The invitation to join you is always open, you can love them tremendously from your next adventure, still praying that their merry-go-round stops. Opening your arms to welcome them when they do, but you must still move forward.

Sometimes our love for people will drag us back onto that merry-go-round with them because we want to see them happy, all the while we’re miserable because we know better.

Don’t get dragged back into something you know you’ve grown out of for the sake of someone else’s happiness.

If they reject you, yes it will hurt. If they attack you, it will hurt even more, but the mend is on the way to the next thing where you’ll find others who’ve stepped off of the merry-go-round and are willing to enjoy this next adventure with you!

I pray this makes sense to you and gives you guidance in whichever area of your life this applies. I know as I write this under the guidance of the divine, I have answered my own struggle. I too shall apply this with you.

Like I said in a previous post, as I learn, you will too. Spiritual growth isn’t easy. Growing pains are real. But when you go through anything with anyone else who can relate, it makes the journey that much more tolerable.

I pray I helped someone other than myself today. Amen.

~ Toi Powell

Dig deep – Hidden Pain

Have you ever had a splinter? Doesn’t that joint hurt like a …? And it’s so amazing and frustrating at how easy it was to get in there but once you’re ready to take it out, you have to go through so much work? It feels like an impossible task. Sometimes the splinter is in a place we don’t think we can access on our own, but it’s much more painful having someone else do it than to do it ourselves.

Removing splinters is so time-consuming. It takes precision and patience. Sometimes it takes forever, but if you really want it out, you’ll put forth the effort. If you can see it and it’s close to the surface, you have a better chance at getting it out much easier and faster. But what about those that are so far beneath the surface, you literally have to dig deep to find and remove it?

That’s what I think of when I think of pain. Pain is like a splinter. It’s literally a pain in the behind, toe, finger, leg or wherever your splinter is, but let’s associate this splinter with the pain of the heart.

There are so many things we keep deep down inside of us. We know it’s there, we can see it, we can feel it, but it takes too much work to release it. Why is that? Because we have to pull back so many outer layers of skin to get to the source/root of the problem. So many of us aren’t willing to take the time to unpack our pain. So, we leave it there to fester and fester and fester and fester until it gets to a point where we can no longer walk, run, breathe, live. The pain is so strong it interrupts our lives when we least expect it.

Have you ever gone off on someone and was surprised at your own reaction? Was it really that serious? Did they deserve the name calling? Did they deserve the sharp tongue? Did they deserve…any of it? You’re holding on to something you need to let go.

Are you reacting to someone the way you react to everyone when they say a “trigger word”? Guess what boo boo? The trigger is not the word. The trigger is you.

You are holding onto something you need to let go of. The dictionary is full of words and no one is going to sit there and figure out what triggers you or not. If you don’t even have the patience to address your own pain, what makes you think others will? They’d quicker leave you alone so you can figure out your own problems than to figure them out for you unless you’re paying them to.

In order to release yourself from this pain, you need to take the time to unpack it.

  • Why did I go off on so and so?
  • What did they say to make me feel that way?
  • Why do I feel that way?
  • Who did what to me in the past to make me feel this way?
  • What did I do to fix it? Did I address it, or did I just ignore it?
  • Now that I know what it was that hurt me, how do I move on from it?

These are the layers of skin you need to pull back to get to the splinter, the root, the source. When you find the source, you have a few steps you can take.

  • Address this issue with the person who hurt you.
  • Forgive them with all of your heart.
  • Forgive yourself for holding onto it.

It’s important to note the space you’re in when you do address the issues with the people who hurt you. If you take that route, you need to be in a space of true transparency and with the effort of moving forward, past this in love and light.

You can’t call up your old best friend or baby momma or baby daddy cussin them out and blaming them for everything in the world that happened to you since they did what they did.

You simply explain to them…

“I’ve been holding onto something that happened between us in the past and it hurt me badly. This is not a call to confront or blame you for anything. I just want to make amends and say I forgive you for whatever I feel you’ve done to me and I hope you can forgive me for holding onto it all of this time.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re friends anymore or not. What matters is that you’ve addressed it, and you want to move forward without it weighing on your heart and spirit from now on. If they accept it, great! If they don’t, you’ve said your peace and you can still move on.

Trust me, it works. I’ve done it myself and you can literally feel the weight melt right off of you. Next!

Now that you’ve gotten that terrible splinter out, you can walk freely. You won’t be “triggered” by words or phrases since you’ve located the source and have moved on from it. Now you’ll be able to live a healthier lifestyle with friends who don’t think you’re crazy because your eye starts twitching everytime someone mentions xyz.

That’s just the beginning of a journey of self-healing. It can probably save you some coint since you won’t need a psychotherapist to unpack it for you, making you relive every horrible moment of your childhood just to get to age 26 when Jack told you to walk home instead of picking you up. Remember, I said, sometimes its more painful having someone else do it than to do it ourselves? #Message.

A lot of self-healing you can do on your own. You just have to know where to start. Start with you. Not everyone else.

~ Toi Powell

Let me grow or let me go

Growing is something we all must do at some point in our lives but, it’s important to know that growth is different for everyone. Some people grow faster and some slower than others but growing is still an important part of life.

Physical growth, of course, is visible to the naked eye. Maybe a child gets taller, someone grows stronger, someone grows bigger and some grow smaller. It’s easier to accept what we can see but what about the things we can’t see. For instance:

  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

These are all areas that you or someone you know has to work on for themselves.

We all carry emotional baggage and we tend to think sometimes that we’ve let it go, but seriously. Did we really? If you still feel the heat of anger rising up in your chest when you think about what so and so did to you and what you wish you would’ve said and done, guess what? You’re still holding on to it. Let it go.

Mentally, when your perspective and knowledge increases, you’re the 1st to know and everyone else is the last to find out. No one likes to be the last to find out anything, so it makes sense to experience some pushback there.

Spiritually – woah! When you become more aligned with God, you change. You become a new you. This can be scary because you find yourself at the crossroads between old and new and you have others trying to pull you back when God is trying to move you forward. It’s a tug of war but only you know what’s best for you. You already know what lies back there but only God knows what lies ahead. Don’t you want the answers to everything you’ve been asking for? Don’t you finally want that business to take off? That special career you’ve been longing for? Behind you is your past and although it prepared you for what lies ahead, it’s time to put your skills to the test and walk in your purpose.

When you begin to “go with the flow” of where God is guiding you, others who “knew” you are so quick to remind you of who you used to be. They throw things at you that make you question yourself based on your old self. But growth, especially spiritual growth is a process. Say it with me… a process!

How others grow is and will be completely different from how you grow. You have your own talents, skills, thoughts, drives, and ways you’d like to share this with others. Just because you don’t grow like them and vice versa doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening. It just means perhaps keep your distance for a while until you are steady enough in your course and have faith that God has seen something special in you and he wants to work with you in wonderful ways.

While you may have looked like a strong tree prior to your transformation…

Photography: Toi Powell

The transition into the new you can look, not so strong…

Photography: Toi Powell

But when you’re allowed to grow in peace and able to spread your roots,  where an old tree last stood, sprouts something beautiful and new.

Photography: Toi Powell

You may not look like the old tree but you’re growing and that’s all that matters. It may take months, it may take years but if you find someone constantly reminding you of who you “were” simply tell them… Let me grow, or let me go.

If they truly love you, they’ll be amazed at the person you’ve grown to be.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  (NKJV)

~ Toi Powell

Veronica & Compassion

Who is Veronica?

Why do we care about Veronica? What has she ever done for us?

These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when we don’t understand why we need to do something nice for someone who has never done or said a nice thing about us. In fact, Veronica or Victor (if you want to put a gender to this topic) is sometimes at the head of the snake, the head of the problems in your life. But what you don’t understand is that sometimes our reactions to these problems and problem makers is what extends the life of the issue.

We like to talk about Veronica to everyone. We need a team of “Ummm Hmmm-ers” or “Are you serious, she said WHAT-ers” to validate the offense and don’t realize, we’re spreading our own issues like wildfire. Maybe it doesn’t get back to Veronica that you were offended or maybe it does, but the fact of the matter is, you also had a hand in your own undoing.

When we talk to others to share our pain, why are we doing it?

  • Are we looking for validation?
  • Are we looking for guidance?
  • Are we looking to gossip?

There are too many reasons to list but not enough solutions. When you judge Veronica for being a horrible person and you stand around with others who do the same, do you see yourself as the crowd holding stones? If not, you should ask yourself why not? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

While you’re pointing the finger at mean old Veronica, you haven’t been able to pay your own bills on time for months. Your friend you go to lunch with hasn’t seen his kids in just as long if not longer. Your other co-worker is sleeping in her car because she lost her apartment. Meanwhile, Veronica may be dealing with issues unseen, unheard and she has no other outlet than to let it out on you because misery likes company and you don’t even realize you’re in the company of misery.

Where compassion comes in is, you can see, realize and understand that all people have issues. Everyone falls short. Nothing you do or say will ever change that. So,  when you went looking for compassion because Veronica slammed her laptop on your desk and asked you something for the fifth time, or maybe it was the first, you denied her the same right you have. The right for others to have compassion for those in the midst of their own struggle.

You pray for Veronica’s healing. You pray that she’s removed from the struggle. You pray that anything not of God that’s holding her down is removed from her life so that she may prosper and bring light instead of pain. You pray for yourself and ask for further clarity and understanding that you may identify in yourself and in others the block that is keeping you from living your greatest life.

Compassion for your enemies. That’s the lesson. And when you learn that and apply it, see how things begin to shift in your own favor.

And congratulations! Those tangled headphones just got a little more unraveled. That is our purpose after all isn’t it? To be unraveled enough to be more aligned with God and our purpose.

~ Toi Powell

Unraveled

When we think of unraveling something, we think of taking it apart. Why would we need to unravel anything, you ask? Hmmm, perhaps your phone charger cord is in knots or how about those headphones you throw into a bag when you’re in a rush, just to realize, by rushing and not paying careful attention, you’ll have to unravel it later on when you need it most. Think about the amount of time you could’ve saved in the beginning if you just took your time and carefully placed it where it should’ve been in the 1st place.

To unravel something, it takes intense scrutiny, intense observation, struggle, frustration and at times we even think about giving up. But we need those headphones, right? What are the typical steps we take?

  • Praying for a Miracle: We’ve got a mess, so we figure if we roll it around in our hands really fast, in some miraculous way, it’ll come undone.  That’s wishful thinking and hey, sometimes it works, especially if it’s not as knotted up, to begin with (follow me here). But if it’s like most headphone wires, you’ve got some work to do.
  • Time is of the essence: Why do we need these tangled up headphones so badly. Perhaps there’s something important we need to hear. We get frustrated because we want to hear it so bad, but we’re not in the atmosphere where we can hear it out loud. We need privacy, so we continue to struggle and then thoughts of makeshift ideas set in like, “Maybe if I unravel it enough to get the buds to reach both ears, that’ll do.” But who wants to sit there looking like the struggle? To everyone else looking at you from the outside, you look disheveled and lazy. You keep this in mind and either run away to be disheveled in private or you decide to take the time to unravel it now, or you decide, “It’s not worth it, so I’ll listen to it some other time.”
  • Divine Intervention: This is the moment when you’re at your wit’s end and have decided that you are out of your league here. You’ve given up on your own ability to figure it out for yourself and you turn and ask someone for help. “I’m sorry, I’ve tried and tried to unravel these knots and I just can’t do it.” For whatever reason, you’ve given up on yourself and your hope is that someone more qualified can help you. Here is where you decide one of the most important things in your life. Are you going to stand there and watch how they unraveled it for you or are you going to be distracted while someone else does all the hard work? I can assure you, if you allow yourself to be distracted, you’ll end up in the same position later on with tangled headphones, without the skill to unravel them. If you really need to learn the life lesson, no one will be around when you need the help. And then it’s just you and those tangled headphones ready to drive you crazy until you actually learn to sit there and figure it out.

It’s important to note here, that going to just anyone for divine intervention can tangle those headphones up even more. Use caution and the spirit of discernment to guide you. If you feel worse, if those headphones look worse, that’s not the one. If you feel good around the person you asked for help and you leave feeling refreshed and wonderful, Good for you! That’s it!

Why in the world is Toi going on and on about these headphones you ask? Because it’s not about headphones sweetheart. It’s about YOU.

Our lives are a set of tangled up headphones. It’s a mess and it’s ok to admit it. We’re human and unfortunately, that’s all part of the deal. But at some point, we have to evolve past frustration, past hurt, past guilt, past everything that holds us back from our full potential of being our best selves.

Ask yourself. Do you want to be the person who’s always trying to unravel headphones or do you want to be the one who is cautious in the 1st place #1 and/or #2 the person who has learned the lesson and is able to help the next person unravel their tangled headphones?

The world is a huge distraction, everything in it, everything of it. It’s built and made to distract, but what they don’t teach on a large enough scale is that the most amazing experience in life lies within you! You already have the juice! Everyone has the juice, but the world is built to convince you that you have to do the most extreme things to get it. You need trillions upon trillions of dollars to live your best life, you need undeniable fame to be happy and well loved the world over. But when you truly love yourself, you don’t need the love of others.

Self-awareness is knowing that there is a higher power, I call him God. He’s created you in his image which means although your vessel (humanity) may not be perfect, what lies within you, your living breathing, thinking spirit is something truly amazing. It’s outright phenomenal. Our spirit is who we are, sometimes we confuse our identity for spirit, but it’s not. We can’t fully understand who we really are until we begin to unravel it like the headphones (just making sure you’re still following).

You know you’re on your spiritual quest when you begin to question everything around you. I’m aware this sounds like the Matrix movie, but writers of that movie were truly insightful. If you’re very surface and literal about things, you just see Neo flying around like a superhero trying to save Zion. But if you’re one who begins to question everything, you see yourself as Thomas A. Anderson (Neo’s birth name), looking for answers, afraid to step out. But, the overwhelming feeling of curiosity of what else there is, and who you really are leads you to your true destiny. If you’re really bold and want to be the one who helps unravel the headphones, you’ll see yourself as Neo wanting to save Zion and release as many people stuck in the Matrix so that they too will be saved (Mr. Anderson has evolved into Neo – wanted to make that clear).

When you begin to question why, to everything from politics to religion, to workplace habits, to why humanity is the way that it is (that was my catalyst – what is wrong with humanity?), those who “know” you begin to look at you like “What’s wrong with you?”, “This is the way it’s always been.” “Why are you treating me differently?”  And you begin to realize that the world you’ve been blissfully living in, feels like a sham. It walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, but is it really a duck or is it a rabbit? <—– I’d enter a  hyperlink here to take you somewhere else to explain this reference but, let’s keep it cool and simple for now. If you already know what that means, kudos to you. I’m still grasping it myself.

Anywho, it can be difficult when you begin on this journey of self-discovery because your self is alone. You came into this world alone and you’ll do what? Yeah, I knew you knew the phrase. So to everyone else you seem unraveled.

To them, unraveled means “Uh oh, he/she is losing it.” But to you, it should be the greatest compliment!

You have chosen to unravel yourself and you’re “losing it”, congratulations! That’s breaking the chains of everything holding you back. Depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, confusion, disillusionment, distorted self-images. You’re breaking through. If you’re familiar with spiritual leaders and you hear them “pray for your breakthrough” they’re not praying for your new car, your new house, your new job, your new friends. They’re praying for your unraveling, for you to see through this disillusionment we call the world. They’re praying that you have an open and pure relationship with God for yourself who will supply all of those needs you thought they were praying for. They’re praying for better decision making, praying for healing your mind, body, and spirit. Praying that the woes of the world break from you so that you may break – through into the glory of who God set out for you to be.

Now, before you think I’m getting all preachy because I started typing the letters G.O.D at the end of this post, you feel like I suckered you in, think about this. Are you the headphones or are you the unraveler? Because I once too was the set of tangled headphones, but I stuck around and still am to see how to unravel them. But my spirit is relentless and I am the head and not the tail. I’ll show you how to unravel them as I Iearn. Will you stick around too or will you allow yourself to be distracted and have to do this all over again, 10 years from now?

~ Toi Powell

My Heart Was Built For War

I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war. ~Toi Powell

Memories of my past and moments not so distant, reverberate within my chest as I summon the pain I once buried. The pain, it hurts. It burns within me like hot lava beneath a violent earth, promising to rupture at the slightest disturbance.

There ought to be another word to describe the breaking of ones heart besides “heartbroken.” The word just doesn’t do the act, nor the result of it, justice. It is much deeper than that. A heart and spirit so shattered and bruised should not, by any logical standard, function, at all.

The calluses surrounding my heart has formed a protective barrier, enshrining the glowing red shards left over from life’s battles. Whatever is left of it still feels, still hopes, still hurts.

When the first thing you have ever loved introduces the sting of betrayal and dishonesty, there is a special kind of “pain” that seems unrelenting. No matter how much modern medicine has tried to heal it, it cannot heal this. The pain of disappointing, hurtful, abandoning parents/loved ones, the first gods before you knew one, that kind of pain, it never leaves you. Therapy is but a tool, although helpful, tricks your mind into looking past it — to move forward so that you can function as a decent human being in society. But the heart, it knows. It never forgets.

Love is, of course, what our souls desire. It is our purpose. It is what the universe is made of. Procreation, mating and passion, begets life, creation and continued existence. So beautiful, so magical, yet at times, so unattainable. How exhausting is the journey, to have found it and in no fault or in every fault of your own, you have lost it?

Oh the heart, my 5 star general-ess, tired, worn and battle ridden. On the front lines, disabled, yet always charging full steam ahead. My general-ess is bold and brave. She feels and fights not only for her host, but for others who have fallen in life’s battles along the way. She expands, beyond her capacity to love those who cannot love for themselves. Her compassion reaches to the darkest corners of the earth, straining to touch them all. But compassion comes at a price.

Compassion cannot exist without feeling. As overwhelming as it is, one must feel. But how can a broken, wounded heart absorb the pain of others, being so close to the brink of its own devastation? Displacing ones own pain to make room for more, is like playing shuffleboard in a small box, the size of a deck of cards. The worlds pain is my Titanic, and I am desperately stuffing it into a small…box of cards.

Everything hurts. I feel everything. From war ridden countries, to babies without mothers. Genocides to homicides my heart aches to a throbbing beat. Civil rights, women’s rights, Immigration, religious rights, African American rights, LGBTQ rights, Native rights, justice for rape and domestic victims rights. Any basic rights denied to a simple human being on the face of this earth infuriates me. It tears at me. It haunts me.

My fore-fathers and fore-mothers taught us what institutions of education has failed to instill within us. When pain becomes unbearable, and betraying thoughts of surrender to the forces of evil begin to weigh down, there is a moment, if you catch it, where your fear blossoms into courage.

My ancestors had courage. They learned how to live with the pain and used it to fight for freedom, for equality, to fight for the right to love. Blockades of injustice tried to sever their spirits from their souls purpose, tearing families apart, litigating against them for being, different. Still, they used that pain to push on, the fire in them ignited forever. Every strike against them, armored their hearts for long, weary battles and equipped them with the capacity for compassion along the way.

I am a daughter of my forefathers and mothers and I am learning, as they did, to live with and to use the pain. Harnessing strength from them and within, I summon the pain from my memories past, and moments not so distant. I exhume the horrifying truths and disturb the slumbering, violent earth. I arm myself with ammunition against tyranny, patriarchy, discrimination, racism, sexism and greed.

My chin ascends to the heavens from which I came as I use these tools life has given me along the way, to fight. My compassion isn’t without consequence as I grasp the red hot blade of the worlds pain to wield it in battle against the rising evils.

Love is my saving grace. For it is because of love that I have the courage to fight. My 5 star general-ess is bold, strong and brave. She lives to fight another day. I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war.

~ Toi Powell

toi-bw

 

 

#ThisIsWhat Democracy LooksLike – Women’s March 2017 – NYC By Toi Powell

#ThisIsWhatDemocracyLooksLike

Women’s March 2017 – NYC
By Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

There are a million words I could choose  to describe my experience at yesterday’s Women’s March in NYC, but I feel they just won’t be poetic enough. My best, is to string together enough of them to help paint a picture for those of you who couldn’t or didn’t attend any of hundreds of sister marches held around the world. Millions of women and men worldwide descended upon their cities in solidarity and if my words aren’t enough, I put on my photographers hat in hopes that you could feel through my lens what I felt in person in NYC that day.

On Saturday morning, on the 21st of January, my Aunt Amanda, my friend Tasheea and I journeyed into Manhattan from NJ to march the streets of NY in support of the rights of women and everyone else who has felt the sting of discrimination, racism, sexism and all of the “isms” that are unfair and unjust to all human beings.

Book bags filled with our cameras and Project Pixie care packages of tampons, pads and wipes to distribute to homeless women in need of menstrual products, we marched onto the crowded streets to serve our purpose and the purpose of those around us. Women’s rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1

My friend Tasheea has founded such an amazing campaign soon to be an organization to help women with low income- to none at all -access feminine hygiene products. This march is what we stand for, and what an amazing sight it was when we arrived. Tasheea’s campaign is called Project Pixie. Visit her website at iheartprojectpixie.org to see how you can make a change in the lives of women in need today.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Tasheea N. Founder of Project Pixie at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

When we arrived, the air buzzed with electricity, hummed with voices of every race, creed, gender, religious background and sexual orientation. Flags waved from poles, bridges, store front windows and apartment balconies. Witty posters, relate-able phrases, fists and handwriting on thin white pages soared through the air, thrust upwards by passionate demonstrators. Demonstrators who merged onto the streets of NYC to voice, shout and demand fair, equal, justice for all including gays, African Americans, women, Muslims, and anyone who has been discriminated against and whose very rights have been threatened by this incoming administration.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell and her Aunt Amanda at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

Men joined us in step, marching a long side their wives, friends, daughters, girlfriends and children. Chanting and demanding justice for us and for all.

My favorite chant of the day was the call and response from men and women, “My body my choice” as the men would respond with “Her body her choice.” Empowering and uplifting, every person there, sharing the same positive contagious energy.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Without typing a long drawn out story, I must say my experience will stay with me forever. There were occasions where I teared up as I captured special moments through my camera’s lens. Moments that were not meant for me, but were being experienced in real time by my focal subject. Seeing the amazement, the love, the pride, the teaching, the curiosity and the awe in that “split” second where I was able to capture a moving target is what you will see in the galleries below.

Some of my favorite shots were on the bridge as we walked down 5th Ave, as I used my long lens to capture a group of young men above me, chant to the sea of demonstrators below, “Show me what Democracy Looks Like!” and the crowd responded with love, cheers and chants “This is what Democracy Looks Like!” The pride in their eyes is what held my heart.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

In a similar shot you can see them engaged in  chanting, but it is the gentleman to the far right in the red jacket who caught this moment. I felt a similar feeling when I went to higher ground to capture the sea of people. Yet, higher than I was, I can only imagine what he is feeling in that moment. Awe.

womens-march-2017-nyc-photo-credit-toi-powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Seeing the amazement on the faces of these children below was priceless. Mouths gaping, a sight to never forget I am sure.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Even those who could not join us in the streets, witnessed the magnetic demonstration from buildings above, joining us in spirit and solidarity.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Symbolism in architecture and art, lined the route, giving us more purpose, more energy and more strength to stand, march and fight for our freedoms and rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

As we come together for a common cause, with branches of injustice written upon boards, shouted from every mouth and supported by every stranger who marched shoulder to shoulder, the message is clear…

Love Trumps hate. We will not go quietly into the good night. My body My Choice, and this…is what democracy looks like.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

View My Special Gallery Below

Take a look at these cool shots from the entire day. (Read the signs!)

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

When you stop to think about how vast the universe is, how many planets, comets, asteroids and stars there are, remember your place within it.

You are but a grain of living energy sailing within a single galaxy, within a minute solar system drifting among millions, on a tiny infinitesimal planet, orbiting but 1 star, literally floating in the blackness of space.

You actually exist within a colossal body of glorious life which literally spins of its own accord with 8 sister planets in a harmonic dance that has lasted for millions of years.

And then, there’s you…you, who is only here but for a mere half of a blink, a flicker of existence. Living life, giving life and ultimately exploring it. Would you waste this miraculous moment, which is you, dispirited, tormented, dissatisfied and unmotivated to be anything but?

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Your life is the most precious, most miraculous gift the star-dust of galaxies has ever formed, ever created. Live in your moment. Breathe your purpose. Explore your being and never waste it on anything less than the miracle that is you.

Overall, the endless vastness of space and all of the immaculate life it holds is so much bigger than any type of adversity you shall ever face.

Be encouraged and be motivated to make your moment, your time, your existence in this universe worth it.

~ Toi Powell

 

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The Wiz Live – Review / Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

The Wiz is a Classic. If you don’t agree…Ease On Down The Road

I watched The Wiz Live last night and absolutely loved it! I joined the live twitter feed and of course like always, the Black Twitter family along with some honorary NON-Racist members of society, tuned in to watch together. When I say the amount of love, support, and connection that was felt through social media and throughout our culture was beyond overwhelming. It was! To laugh, applaud, shout in excitement and cry together with people you don’t know at all– but are connected as kin of the same struggle…it was epic, moving, chilling and glorious. Imagine 2 million people laughing, crying and making jokes at a family BBQ and you’re ALL related… yeah that’s Black Twitter. It was absolutely the best and proudest moment we could experience together and we LOVED @NBC for showing the magic of black actors in The Wiz to the world.

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Shanice Williams, let’s just say, I was very impressed by her musical theater presence. Being so fresh to the scene she showed a certain comfort-ability that most seasoned actors take years to attain.

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Mary J. Blige was spectacular, she was amazing, she sang DOOOOOOOWN and I was sooo proud of her. She has so many great moments in her performance and I was extremely impressed with her acting. Sure I can bypass some tiny moments of coming out of character a bit, because the amazing-ness coming from her and that amazing costume gave me all the life I needed for the night. I love her all over again!

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Neyo, David Alan Grier and Elijah Kelly were amazing as well. I was impressed wtih Neyo’s stage presence and David amazed at his role playing that Lion. Loved them. Elijah Kelley stayed in character the entire time and THAT was impressive!

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Season: 2015 -- Pictured: Common as The Bouncer -- (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: Common as The Bouncer — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Common, was ok. I could honestly do without his character. Maybe if they gave him more of a role, but how could they. I think he did pretty well for the amount of speaking lines he was given.

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Queen Latifah, I love her love her love her… but something with the songs I wasn’t really getting everything I needed from them.  She looked amazing and she was better playing herself than the Wiz honestly. Can we talk about the makeup and costumes?!! FLAWLESS! All I know is, she better work! She was still awesome to watch!

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Honey!!! AMBER freaking RILEY!!! SANG for the GODS last night! She was everything you would want in a good witch of the North! I didn’t know what else to do but stare, mouth open and absorb everything she spit out! I mean, Brava to her! She was getting DOWN with those munchkins!

Enough about my brief review – (trimmed it due to this nonsense I’m about to get into.)

I was so excited, I went to bed singing “Home” until 2 am this morning. Sang myself to sleep and woke up with the songs still in my heart. I couldn’t wait to read some reviews online because I just knew it was spectacular. And then I came across this article from Yahoo! Critic-at-large, Ken Tucker

Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

I am appalled. I speak to Ken now and any other people who don’t understand the magic of The Wiz (and no, I’m not even giving a paragraph to the idiots who said The Wiz is racist and there should be an all white cast of the Wiz. Look up Judy Garland and go back to sleep).

Ken, to say that…

The Wiz “simply isn’t a classic piece of material”

…just makes me sick. Your critique of performances is understandable, although I may not agree, I agree to disagree. But where I draw the line is when you discount a musical, one of the ONLY musicals that represent the black culture, and one of the ONLY successful earlier black productions ever to grace Broadway. To say it “simply isn’t a classic” is ridiculous!

Just because it doesn’t speak to you and people like you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a classic!

You don’t understand the IMPACT this production, the movie and this newer modern version has had on our culture, on our creative talents and on our youth!

There are so many reason’s WHY the original “The Wiz” on Broadway may not have translated to “contemporary” audiences in prominent venues.

LIKE VIOLA DAVIS SAID: The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is OPPORTUNITY!

If there is no opportunity, how COULD it translate to “contemporary audiences”?

And who the hell is a contemporary audience anyway? If you were on Twitter last night, It was FULL of an audience who could relate, who loved it, who cried, who applauded, who had viewing parties. It was the top #1 trending topic all day AND night yesterday! So, AGAIN…. who are the members of the “contemporary” audience you speak of.

There was an overwhelming amount of support (crushing the naysayers and racists) for this production and it went on for hours! If you tuned in, you would see how our culture and others appreciated this momentous moment TOGETHER. You would see the hundreds and hundreds of tweets from people of multiple races express how they loved it as a kid, performed it in high school musicals and were actually watching it with their children…ECSTATIC to be able to share this CLASSIC with them!

To be so removed from our culture, our relations, our art, our appreciation, our CONNECTION to this CLASSIC production and movie, shows exactly WHY television needed this, why WE needed this, why this COUNTRY needed this.

Sure, Ken doesn’t need to sugar coat his critique of the performances. Ken, tell it like it is with all of your professional due diligence. BUT, do your homework, understand what’s going on here and WHY it’s important. Understand that YOU sir are just as bad as everyone else who discounts ANY and EVERYTHING we do or attempt to do, putting your “denied a classic” stamp on it because YOU are ignorant of its magic, its impact and its influence on our community!

This line here from you:

“Here’s a challenge: Name a song from The Wiz other than “Ease On Down the Road.” “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” maybe, but that’s about it.”

…. Goes to show your total and complete ignorance of this production and the “Contemporary Audience” your article is aimed at.

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“HOME”… “Home” is the biggest song of the production and movie. Stephanie Mill’s career took off from this song and it’s been a talent show staple song since! The Ballad piece is the most spectacular and popular song from The Wiz and you don’t even name it!

And What about “You Can’t Win”? Michael Jackson Slaaaaayed that song in the movie! That’s MY favorite! C’mon man!

Me AND Michael are looking at you crazy!

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As far as I’m concerned your critique means NOTHING because you KNOW nothing about the magic and the message of The WIZ.

This line you say here:

“The idea of seeking out some powerful wisdom that will grant intelligence, courage, and freedom, only to realize that these qualities reside inside, not outside, oneself—that’s a potent, enduring theme.”

Yes, it’s a potent and enduring theme, but do you understand WHY it’s important to “our audience” to “our culture”? Because when you have people like you who call the most epic piece of African American theater “Not a classic” you, Ken, enforce the idealism that minorities are not AS important and some of us therefore have to STRUGGLE through our OWN insecurities to find the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE and FREEDOM inside of ourselves to become better versions of OURSELVES. To create art, to succeed at what our hearts desire. Your insensitive remarks enforce and reveal your ignorance of a culture you know nothing about.

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

When Uzo Adubo sang “Believe in yourself” she brought tears to not only the cast on stage but to thousands of people on twitter live. Most of whom did not know that UZO is a TRAINED OPERA SINGER! That song, that message speaks VOLUMES to those of us with shattered dreams, to those of us who have to overcome way more obstacles than your “contemporary audience”. As she hugged Dorothy it was as if she hugged US. That moment, that song was pivotal and encouraged HOPE & FAITH in us but in your words:

“Uzo Aduba was positively adorable as Glinda the Good Witch.”

And… that was it. What an UNDERSTATEMENT!

While I accept your critique and agree to disagree, I am going to ask you to “simply” Ease on down the road with that “Classic” BS.
The world loved it and if you don’t believe me, go ‪#‎TheWiz‬ or #‎TheWizLive‬ on Twitter and see for yourself. Your article was mediocre at best. Have several Theater seats. Thank you!

Patti Pie! Behold the Power of Patti LaBelle!

Patti Pie! Behold the Power of
Patti LaBelle!

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(Courtesy of Patti LaBelle.)

Hey everyone, welcome back!

If you haven’t heard, there is currently a major viral, tweeting, sweet potato pie frenzy happening across the country at sold out Walmart’s over Ms. Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie!

Last Friday, an incredibly hilarious and entertaining video review of Ms. Patti’s pie, by a very talented personality by the name of James Wright swept social media by storm. He indulged in this unknown sweet potato pie that you can only find at Walmart for $3.48 and claimed that you were going to sing like Patti LaBelle after eating it– and honey did he sing! Hilarious, yet entertaining, James belted line’s from Ms. Patti’s classics –Onnn my owwwwwn….why did it end this waaaaay….(Watch the video below and prepare for a good laugh)

The video that started it all!

The video was shared on his Facebook page over 7 Million times since last Friday and it literally sent people across the country to every Walmart they could find, only to find out:

1. It’s only sold at Super Walmart’s
2. Many of them were SOLD OUT!

Walmart needs 2 Million pounds of sweet potato’s to restock the shelves with this delicious pie! Heaven help the bakery’s night shift!

This just in – Walmart needs 2 Million pounds of sweet potato’s to restock the shelves with this delicious pie! Heaven help the bakery’s night shift!

It was a sweet potato pie frenzy! Thousands of people (myself included) drove to Walmart, called Walmart– GPSed the closest Super Walmart! I live by at least 5 so I was positive that I could find some… boy was I wrong!

I jumped on the bandwagon and documented my whole experience searching at least 6 WALMART’S before finally finding some in Secaucus, NJ 40 min away from my house! I actually called and asked for them to put 4 pies to the side for me– the girl in the bakery said they were going fast, someone just left with 20 boxes. Her name was Joyce. Praise be to Joyce! She had those 4 boxes waiting for me. The last 4 in the store.

Yes, I did my own video review of the Sweet Potato Pie because I needed to share every last experience with you all! I documented my entire journey and it…is… hilarious!

And yes, I did my own video review of the Sweet Potato Pie because I needed to share every last experience with you all!

I documented my entire journey and it…is… hilarious!

Check them out here.

How exciting and ridiculous is this entire Patti Pie ordeal? Let’s just say in 2 days, my 1st video of me searching for the pie had over 12K views and my 3rd video reviewing the pie has over 10K…. the day I uploaded it!

Comments from my viewers noted that the pies are sold out in, Cincinnati, New Jersey, Maryland, Los Angeles, New York, Tennessee and many more! According to Yahoo Food, a representative from Walmart said, “For 72 hours, we were selling one per second.” (For a bit of context, Walmart might sell two pumpkin pies every second in the month of November. But still, $1 million in sweet potato pie sales is a lot of pie.)….

In my Opinion: No But’s!!!…You sold 1 pie every second in a weekend–not a month– keep it real. The only reason why you didn’t sell anymore is because you ran out!

(continue yahoo)…Walmart was caught off-guard by the frenzy, Ales said.

“Friday morning, the team was working with the [sweet potato pie] supplier to see how we can keep up with the demand,” Ales said. “The supplier… was having a hard time finding [enough] sweet potatoes. So we walked down the hall to the produce department [and said,] ‘We need about 2 million pounds of California sweet potatoes!’ So that’s what we’ve been working through.”

Ales added that Walmart is working hard to replenish stocks at sold-out locations. “We’re really sorry about that,” he said. “We’re looking at where stores are out and how we can quickly move pies to that area.”

(My “Power of Patti” videos explains how companies market Pumpkin pie around the holiday’s to a general demographic instead of tapping into the African American market who were born and raised on Sweet Potato Pie. The only boxed pie that sells Sweet Potato pie in most supermarkets is Mrs. Smiths… and that’s if you can find it.)

Take a look at the videos below and enjoy! Don’t forget to share!

My Patti Pie Journey!

FINDING Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie – Walmart Pt1
Mission Impossible: Watch how we search high and low on this hilarious journey for Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie!

REVIEW Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie -Walmart Pt 3
Mission COMPLETED: We finally got our hands on Ms. Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie!  have some concerns people! Watch to see if it was worth the trouble! HINT: YOU HAVE TO HEAT IT UP for a better experience!

Why is Everyone Going out to Get Patti Pies?

If you want to know why everyone is flocking to get these pies, I break it down for you in the video’s below where I talk about the power of demand vs. supply, the power of word of mouth marketing, the power of the black dollar and most importantly the Power of Patti. When the holiday’s come, companies market towards a general demographic who they assume LOVE pumpkin pie. But, in the African American community, you couldn’t be any more off base. We love SWEET POTATO PIE honey! Here’s why…

Patti Pie’s – The Power of Patti (Is it that serious?) Pt 1
Many of you have watched my #PattiPie videos (Thank you, You guys rock!) and left me a bunch of question’s. I felt a video could answer some of them with the most important question being answered…Why are all of these people running out to get a Patti Pie?

Watch Patti Pie’s – The Power of Patti (Is it that serious?) Pt 2

References:

MARKETINGCHARTS.COM – “14% of Americans Are Black. 3% of Major Media Ad Spending is Focused on Them.” (Quotes Nielsen)
http://www.marketingcharts.com/tradit&#8230;

FORBES.COM – Word of Mouth Marketing – (Also quotes Nielsen)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlyw&#8230;

NIELSEN: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/about-us&#8230;

SHOPRITE: List of Pies – http://www.shoprite.com/pd/category/G&#8230;

https://youtu.be/Q6pg_r2YXHs?list=PL1G1qx9lLJ0gzKTxh74IQrlRRbePo9ujZ