Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Love & Happiness Fest- Create The Ticket!

Something new for summer! The Love & Happiness Fest  Saturday 26th August, is set to embrace the feel good vibe and surprisingly, gives artists an opportunity to share their talents. Performers are actually being given up to twelve minutes to sing or perform a different genre, enabling them to add 'appeared at a festival' to their bio-  artists, it's definitely worth planning your time now and going along to this event!

Love and happiness is what we all seek and this event celebrates different musical genres from the traditional such as Gospel to more recent phenomena: Afro Pop and Grime. Spoken Word will also be integrated with appearances from Uncle Sid and Positive Beloved One- I've been invited myself so will make the most of this opportunity too- I might even read, 'A Tropical Tale,'- more of a story than anything else. I think the inclusion of Poetry is well times as it has risen in popularity recently, especially in TV adverts!

Now for a little background. The festival concept has been created by Michael Arkk who was busy listening to Al Green one night and simply thinking about musical possibilities as in what next? Having previous interest in creating a festival, it occurred to Michael that he could organise a small yet very open festival based on the universal term, 'Love and Happiness.' This is a much broader concept than One Love and embraces a common desire understood by just about everyone! This fits in well with the idea of creating a variety world music fest, creating scope for future growth.

Musicians usually enjoy many genres of music. The same goes for Michael who had just finished an event at the Ritzy where he came across some friends who did Afrobeat and enjoyed Afrobeat for the first time. He also discovered Afro Pop which has a different tempo and led him to book Deoba Authentic to perform at his festival as it was so fantastic!

Michael Arkk started out in the world of Gospel, but on this occasion Gospel songs will be performed by The Soul Deep Band featuring David Skyers, who is also a brilliant pianist and keyboard player.  IMichael has known David for many years and he is a Gospel star. David and the band will be travelling all the way from Sheffield and will treat us to some songs from the new album. Interestingly, this is the first time Michael has included Gospel in any of his events since he ceased performing it himself many years ago.

Other featured artists at the event include D21, a Grime artist whose material is upfront, current and positive. There will be Ska, Lovers Rock and Soul Roots Reggae, all of which Michael will be performing. Lovers Rock and definitely some Roots Reggae will also be performed by other artists such as Ana Joseph and UK Principal.

Buffaloo, who started performing at the beginning of the year, will bring his music delivered in charismatic style and usually Ana Joseph supporst him in addition to performing independently. UK Principal is extremely well known, having performed consistently for many years in London and recently in Europe quite a bit too. He has a wide repertoire and is incredibly versatile so it will be interesting to hear his selection.

Michael is also hoping that as there are many international performers in London at the moment he might receive support from one or more on that front.

Two major DJ's will be bringing the sound to the Love & Happiness Fest. DJ Ruff Ryder International will be coming over from Jamaica for the event and will be spinning discs along with Selector C, Galaxy Radio to keep us dancing when the live show ends. Both of these DJ's will play a real mix of music including some of the latest sounds that are hot off the press. It is likely that there will be other DJ's too on the night.

The Programme:
Free entry before 8.30pm when the general admission fee of £8 will apply
4-9pm will be the open mic session
9,30pm- the live show will commence

'It promises to be a very happy and positive night; love and happiness all round that everybody who wants to feel love and wants to exude that happiness will enjoy. Because it's contagious we will create a community atmosphere. You don't know me and I don't know you but we will create a happy, fun comfort zone,' ~ Michael Arkk

Venue: 228 Calvary House, Brixton Hill, SW2 1HG   Excellent transport links

Thursday, 10 August 2017

It's not an Illusion! ~ Working with Errol Kennedy~ Imagination

I used to dream of the day I'd have a celebrity in my flat, naturally it was Lenny Kravitz- those of you who know me know Lenny is my greatest inspiration. What we understand is that the universe delivers, so imagine how bowled over I was today having Errol Kennedy round my flat to discuss coverage of a number of his projects.

It's so strange how life works, especially as I recall dancing back in the day to disco floor shakers- yes, we had the funk, at least, Imagination had it bigtime with hits such as 'Just an Illusion,' 'Flashback,' and 'Body Talk.' Those hits are as fresh today as they were back then and you'd be hard put to sit still through them. I never could- turn up the beat and I jump up whatever the music- provided I liked it! Have to say, I don't get rare groove outside the bedroom, but there we have it. Funk and disco, Reggae and Soca, Drum and Bass- even House will usually find me on my feet because music flows and dancing is the natural outlet.

First ever selfie on Its Braap!
Let's return to today. Errol is a man filled with passion for his band, other works he has in progress and ideas in various states of conception- aha- you can try and guess but I doubt you'll get there. The point is that Errol is man whose belief and determination has turned dreams into reality. Everyone faces challenges so the fact the band split is simply prove of that fact- however, Errol believes in keeping dreams alive therefore re-formed the band and has released more music under the title- Imagination featuring Errol Kennedy. What I really like is that Errol is down to earth and very upfront about the band, giving factual accounts without drama or malice- so refreshing, especially as we see glorified celebrity battles in the media. There is nothing to be gained from bad-mouthing people and it is so much easier to work with people who refuse to do this; the atmosphere remains comfortable enabling progress. Those of you who have followed my blog know that this is a dirt-slinging free arena! Definitely not my type of journalism.

So what can you expect here on Its Braap? The answer is information on occasion and reviews. I will be applying my word magic where appropriate to Errol's various forums, an exciting proposition as there is far more to this man than his back catalogue!

Finally, Big thanks to Macky McPherson, Urban Delight Entertainment, for the recommendation. When I agreed to work with Macky a few years back I had no idea where it would lead except to success. This is a journey that is winding its way in a  forward direction and I believe many people's dreams will be met along the way.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

#errolkennedy #imagination #itsjustanillusion #illusion #livingthedream #newmoves #urbandelightentertainmnet #funkymusic #discomusic 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Its Braap-Much needed change!

Hello Braappers!

Just a few words regarding the passage of this blog. Life takes its course and at times the water becomes muddied. Part of the reason for this is firstly, life’s challenges and secondly, our inability to see round bends. I have experienced various ‘moments of epiphany’ that produced a level of clarity following which I altered the original path of this blog. I had a plan however different projects have arisen causing a split in focus, so now I am assessing all of my commitments and planning how to execute everything in unison.

Having focused primarily on entertainment during the last couple of years, I finally realised that I was no longer feeling the full vibe of Its Braap whose original aim was to seek inspiration from life itself- the arts, business, everyday occurrences. After all the blog is titled, ‘Its Braap~Its Life,’ and not, ‘Its Braap~ Its Entertainment!’ Life is about everything and life should be Braap.

So what is Braap? I think of it as a statement, hence 'its' and not 'it’s' Braap- more of a noun really, a done deal. Basically Braap’s a reaction to the things we really appreciate- you see it online under posts and especially in response to songs people love on internet stations- BRAAAAAAAP. Its Braap is about appreciating and learning from others; sharing their joy, revelling in people’s success and learning from their experiences. By doing this we become inspired and motivated. We are encouraged to look at our own lives, think about what we want and how we can achieve it- in short, other people can trigger the ideas which help us to dream and create our own realities. Other people show us the way when they overcome the obstacles on their path and help us realise that we can find ways to overcome things ourselves.

The same applies to our relationships. There are brilliant teachers in our world who help us better ourselves, strengthen weaknesses, change attitudes, gain confidence, become fearless and, above all, learn how to love ourselves. Becoming a rounded person helps us function to our full potential. This is important. There are very successful individuals in business, music, sports etc, many  of whom are amazing however some of these people you really would not want to know. They are people who are often disliked; usually believing they are right about everything and often treating others badly. Money and success alone can fail to satisfy because life is based on relationships- with ourselves and others.

Back to basics. I have run blogathons on Its Braap in the past, a weekly series based on an annual theme. I will not be doing annual blogathons anymore although I might create mini blogathons based on specific subjects if I feel the calling! The blogathons were inspiring and had titles such as, ‘Live Life~ Love Life,’ and ‘Give Thanks~Be Joyful.’ Joy is and always will be key to creating our ideal life. As it says, when we are joyful we are thankful, creating the ideal conditions to attract whatever we want- positive attracts positive which ultimately leads to success.

Obviously Its Braap will continue to include music, the arts and poetry along with inspiring projects; and will resume adding other features. One of he plans is to re-introduce ‘Be Braap~Be Inspired,’ as a regular feature- more to come on this. I plan to update you on up-coming features more regularly, so let’s move forward with an excited and expectant attitude everyday and watch as our plans unfold!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

#inspirationforlife #bepositive #musicandthearts #gratitude #lawofattraction

Friday, 4 August 2017

Out Of Sync- Quick poem by Jaz McKenzie


I don’t know why we get out of sync... but we do
You only have to blink... and time runs away with you!
There’s a significant shift... with a twist... that escapes your eye
And instead of flying high every ounce of energy is drained
Leaving you off kilter... scrabbling around to re-arrange
Elemental functions back into harmony... easy... take care
Your body and mind know what you need... stay aware
And devise a new plan ... jiggle the pieces in place
And make enough space to balance your every need
But don’t check your watch... time knows no bounds
And will always do its thing... as they say...
Because you are seconds away...
From being in or out of sync every minute of the day
So sharpen your general awareness.... and do not stray
Too far from the path you have chosen to walk...
So that sweet, sweet success can have its way!

Jaz McKenzie ©2017

I wrote this because I'm struggling to meet different commitments in life and create some sort of balance. Currently I have a fortnight off work and yet it's filling up with things to do leaving a lack of time to complete the priorities I wish to deal with. So having already used up week one, next week needs to be arranged with care allowing ample time to schedule my priorities such as re-organising Its Braap! I really feel this blog needs more care and attention than it has received recently as it has been somewhat over-shadowed! 

External demands such as work, commitments or even family can tire us and sometimes we need to take a deep breath and assess exactly where we are and where we choose to be. Speaking of which, right now, I need to be heading out - however the new plan will be made and I aim to post more regularly than previously.  Looking forward to seeing you soon! 

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

#timeflies #organisationalskills #commitments #prioritising #maketime #modernpoetry

Friday, 21 July 2017

Cassandra London - Magic Touch [Official Video 2017]

The Magic Touch- Something that is definitely key to Cassandra London's musical talent! Cassandra has the knack of creating songs people will easily relate to and I have drawn great inspiration from her music, especially, 'Just Cool.'

' Magic Touch,' is a very different type of song, being upbeat and joyful, easy to join in with and relishing in the clever use of a popular, catchy phrase, 'Let your fingers do the walking.' I really like this modern take on Reggae that is without doubt commercially viable.

Last words- Lovey Dovey couples~ This is your song!

#cassandralondon #magictouch #reggaemusic #ukreggaemusic

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Conceive and believe so you truly achieve
The wonders that lurk in your subconscious mind
Beneath the ripples of thought and you will find
That gradually as all thoughts drift away
They'll pop to the surface, so you can say
'That's a great idea, an incredible dream
But right now it seems beyond all imagining,
So complex, too huge and far out of sight
But I must find a way to prove myself right
However long and whatever it takes
I'll learn all the moves I need to make
And the road might be lonely, the cost very high
But my rocket will shoot beyond the sky
Because my spirit knows no bounds
And universal force is all around
I will achieve, just watch my fly
I'll cross bridges of doubt as I buy
Into the truth of my ultimate dream
Keep believing and accomplish everything
And as you tick the boxes, open more
For you never know quite what's in store!

Jaz McKenzie 2017 ~ The Word Magician

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Summer is here~Southend Green Festival Vibes speak!

We got it going on!!!

Southend Green Festival last Sunday was an absolute blast! Yes we were under the threat of grey clouds for part of the time but fortunately the good weather held, making it a perfect day for this type of event. Have to say, I just loved the whole vibe of this festival which has a real holiday feel about it, giving you more than the average Sunday afternoon bliss.

With the stage at the bottom of the green nearest to the open road, and many interesting stalls effectively creating a buzzing street market stretching to the station and beyond, there was plenty to occupy curious shoppers and passing cars, many of whom wound down their windows catching a fleeting summer beat.

Food and drink represented London's international flavour from different cuisines to modern trends- let's speak cake- oh yes, delicious red velvet cake which gained Lady Diania of Music Media Management's approval as did this spectacular silver necklace- not much gets past Lady D!
Lady D modelling the star item from above pic
As with all good events, children were well entertained enjoying the modern day phenomena, face painting, and having access to a little fun fair which I'm sure was a blessing for all parents! Animal lovers had the pleasure of a dog show- sadly I missed it so am left with memories of Kaos, the family Mastiff/Rotweiler cross, and Dolce it's predecessor- now that's another story but I'll dig out the dog poem for you...

The festival was a real community event organised by Southend Green Association with the help of local venue, The Fiddler's Elbow who supplied excellent musicians and sponsored the musical aspect of these proceedings. I was fortunate to be invited by Kareem Shabazz and we arrived during a blues set, 'The Experience Makers,' I really enjoyed the little I heard of them- wish I'd heard the whole set and judging from the programme  some excellent acts had already performed- 'Hats off Gentlemen It's Adequate,' who are a multi-rock genre band, 'John Etheridge & Vimala Rowe,' now we're speaking serious jazz and guitar; and also the cleverly named 'The AutistiX,' a very unique rock band. Links are all in place so you can check the bands out yourselves.

Moving on, 'The Fabulous Micky C & The Wasted Playboys, had a very individual feel bringing a real mix of music- most entertaining and almost defying description! Good job guys and great fun!

The Beautiful Game
Taking a serious turn, we switched to indie rock and enjoyed a pretty amazing set from 'The Beautiful Game.' My first thought was- what's up with the lead singer? His voice was a little weak but that didn't last long and by the second and third track he (I'm guessing Steven Foxley,) was in full swing. Afterwards we were informed that he was standing in for the band's lead vocalist, Jason Crowley who had been unable to attend. Regardless, I was very impressed by the energy flowing through their music and if Jason has great stage presence and charisma, this is truly a band to be reckoned with. The Beautiful Game did an amazing job,100% energy flowing through their Indie Rock and I was pleased to see a few fans dancing and singing along.

Headline Time- Kareem Shabazz and the Ryddim Kings who blew the crowd away! 

I absolutely love this popular band who create Reggae music from a fusion of musical backgrounds. Kareem has an amazing quality to his voice and you can read more about their live performance here; Previous Review- Live*on Fire! The band got into its flow from the minute they hit the stage so it wasn't long before the crowd welled up around them, joining in- dancing, clapping. Kareem really surprised us when, speaking of love in a general context, he unexpectedly gave us his rendition of Marvin Gay's 'Sexual Healing.' Even took me by surprise! This went down a storm as did Clinton 'Rock' Jones outstanding guitar solo- I believe heaven really is on earth as I felt every note! Clinton ended with a typical rockers melt down and smashed the cymbals with his guitar.

Kareem went on to introduce all his band members who did a terrific job throughout, entertaining us with their solo's. He then invited DJ Sparky Rugged to join them during the band's last song 'Way Dem Ah Gwan,'(from their current album Born on the Streets.) Sparky, the epitome of cool, smashed the crowd with his confident delivery and pertinent timely lyrics that included tributes to well known recording artists and people in attendance- King Tubby's, G Star, and Music Media Management who, with Robert Rex, have a fierce reputation as promoters.

Finally, an event isn't an event without the all important Master of Ceremonies, in this case actor and lover of the arts, Mr Steve Bowyer. The festival was so successful the audience were left begging for more! It really was a fabulous event and great memory maker- you can see from the final pic just how much fun we had!

King Tubby, Lady D, Me, G Star
Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

For Dolce... Amazement! (Puppy Love)

Before we acquired a puppy of our own, my Son begged me to look after his friend's pit bull terrier for the weekend. This poem tells all!

(Puppy Love)

Soooo Dolce...cute little puppy... a pit bull at that!
Tell me... 'How did you manage it?'
How did you manage to reach out with that paw
And claw your way through the sign
Across my heart that said
'Dogs are okay but they're not allowed here?'

2 days... 6 days... 2 and a half weeks!
But all it really took
Was that first little look!
You were so sweet cupped in the arms
of my strapping great lad.
Nose twitching with curiosity
Eyes so bright, connecting with mine
Tongue flickering across my hand as I stroked your neck


Jaz McKenzie 2008

I don't like to think of Dolce now due to the fact she was bred too early and when I saw her again some months later she was so thin it broke my heart. Young lads owning dogs they are unable to care for is yet another of society's issues, so please, think carefully when taking a pet on. We ended up with Kaos- a somewhat larger dog, but at least she wasn't ill treated- just walked at strange times by my teenage son!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Sunday, 25 June 2017

How do you appear to others?

This is a very intriguing picture, a challenge- and boy do we like a challenge! So I'm going to challenge you further!

We have a whole range of looks and there are many amongst these faces; serenity, happiness and degrees of darkness, light and shade; all of which form our personalities. Interestingly, we often speak about ourselves as having a public and private face, referring to our overall demeanor, but there is also a difference between how we look and how we imagine we look! Being aware of yourself and how things affect you, follwoed by how we express this is a key skill that we neglect far too often, so let's challenge ourselves!

To create awareness of inner emotion and external reflection. 

Our faces so often show our feelings so it is good to know how we look to the external world. It is good to create an enhanced awareness of how people react to you. Instead of just talking, tune into people's receptivity. Are they chatting comfortably with you or do they seem reserved, on edge, bored? Look at how you're looked at! This is not direct mirroring but it is certainly a reflection of interaction. People's expressions during conversation may be a response to the way you are looking at them. You could be in a bad mood and have lightened up your speech but not your face! It's easy to do if you are feeling impatient or upset yourself, so it's worth checking in with your emotions and making a concerted effort to change your expression before relaying information to others. There's a very common phrase that comes to mind, especially when dealing with children- as my son says to his eldest, 'fix your face!'

Sometimes we can be so focused on thought that we drift from conversation and may look distant; this can be deemed rude by other people. If you don't feel like contributing, excuse yourself. If at work, you are paid to do a job and throughout your working day mental attention is mandatory. It's no good looking miserable at work or in similar situations, this brings the team down. Take a couple of minutes where possible to pull yourself back together, after all, your problems are not other people's concern and they deserve the best of you. Even if your work colleagues are your best friends they need a break, so discuss things outside working hours.

It is very easy to pull faces without realising it. Shock is an automatic look as is anger in the first instance. When you feel an emotion, let your mind take over for a second and correct your expression. This takes practice but will assist you in many situations, especially job interviews! Example- Okay, that's a tough question but I'm going to continue smiling while I gather my thoughts- done it many times.

There are people we have all the time in the world for and others we can't stand! Truth. Never allow your feelings to enable disrespect, even if you feel you have reason to do so. If people think differently to you that's fine, even if their argument makes no sense to you. Be courteous and listen to other people's points of view. If you don't you will probably look impatient and as if you're just waiting for your chance to get a word in.

Facial expressions are an important part of our body language and very often we read them automatically, hence our reactions to others, so it is good to know how we come across and whether our expressions are appropriate. There are times when we have no idea how we look. I read in a fictional story about a woman who was smitten with a guy and as she approached him, before he saw her, she saw him looking annoyed and checking his watch. Something in his expression told her she had misjudged him, so you took a cab home! There's a lot to that so think about it.

I'm going to round this off quickly by saying, getting to know yourself is an important, on-going process so it is wise to understand your expressions, after all, your public face speaks volumes!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Dancehall Lovers- Macini Hits Spain this Friday!

Sharing a recent Facebook update:

'Popular Dancehall/Reggae artist Macini is thrilled to announce that he’ll be performing again in Europe on Friday 23rd June. You’ll find him pumping up the party vibes at Sin’s Villa Pool Party, Cala Tarida, Sant Josep- perfect for Ibiza. ‘Man A General,’ as he’s become known since first performing his song in Gambia where he thrilled an audience of over 20,000 at the NationalStadium, has found his career spiralling upwards. Macini was invited to Germany off the back of this song, and Shaggy was so impressed when Macini sang it at Shaggy’s single release party where Stylo G also performed last year, that he called him back on stage and shook his hand! More recently Macini has blown people away with ‘Bad Gal,’ a song for the ladies, receiving airplay worldwide which has resulted in countless interviews and invitations for live performances including the Pool Party. Macini’s next interview is ‘the biggie’ on Jamaican Station ‘Nightly Fix’ at 3pm Jamaican time, Tuesday 13th June; so catch it if you can! Make sure to link with Macini on your social network sites for more updates.' 

Jaz McKenzie~The Word Magician

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Reality TV- Are we doing our kids a favour?

The world of reality TV has opened new doors- but what do you want for your child? To dream about being on TV and becoming a celebrity or would you prefer them to understand that there's more to life? This is a one of the challenges facing today's parents.

Progress is and was and ever will be. Children used to be children but now they're frequently mini-me's due largely to media influence across the board; but following on from fashion, a new phase has swept nations worldwide to influence us- it's called reality TV.

Reality TV has become so popular it's taking over more than the airwaves, it's actually programming our minds. Top of the list are the talent contests which have gained incredible momentum, giving people their 5 minutes of fame and possibly a great career. Having proved hugely successful, The Voice is now running a children's talent contest. Is this simply ITV capitalising on our hunger for talent and love of child performers or do the producers genuinely want to offer youngsters an opportunity? That's the first debate- the second is; are these programmes of real value to children?

In some ways society seems to embrace talent above and beyond other more basic values. To be a star is a common dream and always has been, but today there are many more avenues to fame, so all children have to do is keep dreaming and keep practicing! Many youngsters have grown up in the talent show era and the only thing they have ever wanted to do is get on the Xfactor or similar. It could be deemed sad given that the vast majority will not make it beyond the auditions, however ambition is a better choice than lack of ambition and gives children something positive to work towards. The Xfactor has a track record of producing huge stars- not so with The Voice, but at the same time it is very cruel; the nature of the business is cut throat so unless your youngster has a steel core they will endure heartache.

There have always been truly talented children who are destined for fame and these children will naturally be obsessional about their dream, rightly believing them to be their destiny. The majority of children on The Voice have musical backgrounds, attending stage school or having experience of gigging and singing in public. They really want to make this their career. But children are susceptible to suggestion and trends, so how many just jump on the band wagon and see this as their escape from what might be considered a less glamorous future? Years ago children wanted to be policemen or air hostesses- thanks goodness we have moved away from gender stereotypes; so is this really any different or do these shows fill a generation with false hope?

Children's pageants have been running for years and we are often horrified by compulsive, driven parents who deprive their children of childhood in order to live their own dreams and drag their children around the country. Children have always been pushed if they show talent; gymnasts, footballers and ballerinas come to mind- but how does this equate with new TV opportunities? That will depend upon the parent, but what is the reality in households where dreams such as these are prevalent and the children are not being coached? Coaching is the key difference here however you could say the application process will weed out the no-goers and acts as a safety net. You could also say that these programmes provide free tuition for children with potential and give them the kind of contacts and opportunities they cannot otherwise access.

Social history is interesting. Years ago the average teenager admired pop stars and had countless posters on the wall, dreaming of meeting their idol, but now huge numbers want to be the star. Is reality TV a good thing or a bad thing? It's definitely not a trend having continued to grow  rapidly over more than a decade. If you have children, it's something to think about. We need to encourage ambition and ambition is born of dreams so it's a difficult balance. Children grow up fast physically and have more emotional pressure than they did a couple of decades ago, so we need to be clear as to our own family values and create as many care-free hours for our children as possible. Keeping it real is key. Family, friendships and school should come first and your children should benefit from using their leisure time as they choose.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Saturday, 10 June 2017

How well do you handle criticism? Reject Criticism~ Reject Growth-

All of us face criticism at times within our personal and professional lives. Dealing with criticism requires a level of self-confidence and maturity coupled with understanding. When criticism is dished out on a regular basis it can impact upon the individual's confidence and personality, creating self doubt and acting as a barrier to natural positive energy. In the long run constant criticism can lead to low self-esteem in both children and adults, who often become easy to manipulate as they begin to doubt their capacity to think for themselves and make good decisions.

When does criticism become intrusive? People who consistently criticise a particular person are actually abusing them through an insidious form of bullying. Sometimes people do this through their misguided belief that repetitive criticism will spur people into action. It doesn't work. People who are constantly told to do something such as lose weight or stop smoking rarely respond to criticism especially if they are made to feel badly about themselves.

Now let's good consider 'good' criticism, the type designed to help us move forwards. When people are very skillful criticism can come across more as suggestion. Example: When shopping, you might pick up a top that seems to drain the colour from your complexion. Rather than saying- that top's dull and does nothing for you, a sensitive person might just offer a couple more tops for consideration. Where this technique is used you create a win-win situation. Even if the person sticks with their original choice, you have presented an opportunity to expand their thinking; the aim of critique.

When we have what we believe to be brilliant ideas it can be hard to accept criticism, especially when we feel flushed with success, but we are all students in life and learn great things from one another. I was criticised by a friend last night and yes, I naturally felt defensive however I have learnt to listen patiently, go away and digest the information. Sometimes I will seek other opinions or research for myself before making a decision regarding the advice received.It is this process that leads to growth. If you receive criticism from an expert, realise that experts usually get it right due to their wealth of experience.The times people refuse expert advice on programmes such as 'Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares,' or 'The Hotel Inspector,' are rare. People often put up resistance initially, especially as people such as Gordon Ramsey deliver their critique likes bulls in a china shop, and barriers may need to be removed before advice can be actioned. If you feel really upset by a criticism, ask yourself why. It might just be they way the criticism was delivered. Alternatively, it could go a lot deeper especially if viewed as personal. Uncomfortable feelings usually point us towards issues needing to be resolved or suggestions that might go against our integrity. Past experiences can be the underlying issues that create a defensive stance. Of course, experts aren't always right so just understand the reasons for your decisions and allow gut instinct to have its say.

 At work we receive performance reviews to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses. SWAT analysis are essential tools for large and small organisations, enabling them to constantly monitor goals, input and output. Achievement is key. Ultimately strengths and weaknesses occur in everyone and everything. Pause for thought: the beauty and strength of the flower lie in it's roots, colour, shape and scent however the stem is usually it's weakest point and if bent, can destroy the flower. It's worth remembering that weakness is natiral, especially when feeling vulnerable.

We often criticise ourselves, but how many times have we done something a certain way for years and suddenly discovered an easier way to do the exact same thing? It's part of our purpose as we are here to develop and expand, not to stay still! Good bosses encourage employees to assess themselves and good bosses seek criticism regarding their own performance. This is why organisations send out questionnaires and sales assistants often ask you to go online and comment on their service. Evaluation is an everyday tool so we should embrace criticism, but not be overly critical and too harsh on ourselves- that can create fear of failure.

Criticism activates the mind. We often pay to be criticised- does that sound strange? If you pay for tennis lessons your technique needs to develop so you will be criticised whilst you're learning- and at world class level when you make a mistake! The question is, how well do you give and receive criticism?

Once we accept criticism and decide to act on it we create new momentum in our lives- change activates momentum. People notice when we do things differently and often comment on our growth. As we improve new opportunities reveal themselves leading to more choice and control over our lives.

Be wise- actively encourage criticism and open the doorway to growth and opportunity- alternatively, stay where you are and critise those who critise you, keeping the ball of negativity rolling!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Black Diamond- Poetical Tribute to Angie Le Mar

Recently I blogged about Angie Le Mar's book launch, an event that quite literally spoke volumes. As I concluded my piece the words, 'Black Diamond,' jumped into my mind; so I immediately started working on the poem! After several edits it has reached a point fit for publication. Many of my works are posted unedited but when writing biographical poetry or poems of significance such as, 'A Change is Gonna Come,'  and 'Warrior For Love,' I like to sit on them for a while as they tend to brew, just like a good cup of tea! I believe that when crediting people who have made an impact on me, attention to detail is especially important.

Just a quick note regarding this beautiful image of Angie, I discovered it at schotheatre.com and decided to go with 'natural' as we're speaking 100% real woman!

A tribute to comedienne, presenter and personality: Angie Le Mar

You’re a black diamond
No debate
Without question
A jewel in Black British history
Your-story, needing to be told
So you led the way by writing immortal lines
Revealing the winding road to your fame,
Whilst riding a horse
In life’s un-ending Grand National
Whose official name is
‘I can open any door!’
You tackled life head on
Setting yourself challenges
And jumping hurdles of ‘ISMS
Whilst blinkered by dyslexia-
So let’s give thanks for these afflictions
Without which there would be no solutions!

Forward vision hastening
Beneath you a concrete foundation
Eyes fully opened to the truth
My future is in my hands
And I am strong!
I will overcome every set back
I will create change, cut a path
Through the carefully laid strata’s
Of British society, World society
When the cap doesn’t fit
I’ll throw it to the wind!
And design the beret of my choice
Using textures and colours
Knit from the fabric of my life

You see- the talents of a woman
Are aligned with the truths of her soul
And there is nothing on this earth
That can keep the cork in the bottle
When personal expression reaches overload
Non-acceptance, ambition, desires- explode
IGNITED- the Black Diamond creates
Energy, fueling her destiny
In the only way she has ever known
Whatever you start... Finish
The greatest lesson imparted
By a loving Father to his Daughter
Absorbed by the Black Diamond
Of comedy, wisdom and ingenuity

Life is an upward spiral of expansion
And satisfaction, a constant evolution
Where love, faith and charity commune,
Leaving the presence of the Black Diamond
To remain in her wake
As a spark of pure joy, an inspiration
Dwelling in the hearts of those
Who truly appreciate the richness
Shared by such an open, honest soul.

But how do we benefit from the richness of her legacy?
By overstanding the core values
In evidence before our very eyes
Laughter, love and empathy
The humanitarian formula
At the centre of the Black Diamond
And therein, lies the secret of her success
The pathway to individual happiness and fulfillment
A great example to our generation
And all those who follow on.

Jaz McKenzie ©2017

Friday, 26 May 2017

BGT- Age is nothing but a number for The Pensionaires | Britain’s Go...

Britain's Got Talent is one of our most successful TV shows and has gone from strength to strength. Every year the acts become more complex and we really do see things we have never seen before. People are frequently on the edges of their seats for many of the artists and it has become the greatest variety show on earth. People fly from as far away as China to take part yet there are always one or two more simple acts.

The Pensionaires are a wonderful example of people who still want to give it a go and live their dream.These guys are 84 and 75 and have such a special bond that actually took my mind back to Morecombe and Wise. Their song choice was brilliant as was their performance. The audience clearly warmed to them and yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if they won and went on to perform at the Royal Variety Show- I'm sure the Queen would really enjoy this!

The likelihood of that happening might seem far fetched however we are an emotional species and the probablity of this may be a Bookmakers dream or nightmare- I am really not going to guess! Last years winner deserved the title, entertaining us with a highly original programme based around his career in the military. It will be very interesting to see which of this years contestants make the final week and who can pull off the coveted title of 'Winner!'

Jaz McKenzie ~ The Word Magician

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Project- a Jaz McKenzie Poem

A little motivational poem! This came about when I was starting a new project however facts are facts.


We're going to do it
We're going to try
Coz if you don't spread your wings
You're never gonna fly
We have the info
We have ideas
So we'll put them to the test
And forget about our fears
Without venturing
nothing is gained
And pleasure means more
When you understand pain
Challenges are great
Challenges are fun
And the prize is right there
Waiting to be won...
So bring on the battle
Here we go...Round one!

Jaz McKenzie ©2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Are you too helpful and experience rejection?

Are you the kind of person who is continually helping others only to be left feeling unappreciated or worse still, rejected?

This is quite a common phenomena and happens to people who help others with the best of intentions. When we have an outgoing, helpful nature it is very easy to get into the 'habit' of helping others. Some help could go under the heading, 'good manners;' when we help people up and down stairs with buggies, help out with chores or other practical elements. Suggesting a good book to assist someone's studies is a perfectly acceptable form of help but even little things can create tension.

Elderly or infirm friends and relatives who refuse help can leave you feeling embarrassed when they insist on carrying the shopping, weeding the garden etc. Whereas we understand the importance of maintaining independence there are times when it can be foolhardy. It can even be selfish if other people are left feeling awkward when offering help with the best of intentions. I accept offers of help now and hopefully won't be cranky about it in my old age!

If people ask for our help we tend to give it but have you noticed how help and advice can still backfire? There are many reasons. The one to avoid is giving advice where you might open yourself to rejection. Marital situations and our children's relationships with their partners are a case in point. So many times we might utter words that are thrown back at us when people reconcile- very tricky. People can sometimes ask for help as an avoidance technique. This help will not be appreciated, it will be expected and taken for granted; encouraging laziness of mind or body. If you do your children's homework how will they learn and who will get the blame if errors are made? Not the child whose homework it is that's for sure. Helping children too much financially isn't a good idea either. Most of them require some help however they need to learn to contribute and understand the true cost of living and how to juggle money. It is a society of credit cards but financial responsibility also needs to be mastered.

Now on to the big one. Emotional assistance. Your friend has problems and it's upsetting to see, so you really want to help them straighten themselves out and reach a better place. Great objective; the problem is you are not them. Firstly, why do you want to do this? Does their condition make you feel uncomfortable? Do you want more from them than they can offer- if only I could help her get a better job so we could go on holiday etc. Sometimes it is good to identify your desire to help. Some people are constantly down or facing one bad situation after the next.This lifestyle has become their default setting and there are people who would be unable to cope if all was well and they no longer need attention.Subconsciously people might be afraid of losing that type of attention and do not know how they would interact if all was well. If all is good in your world others may regard you as a bit of a do-gooder and then they will resent you.

One of the underlying causes of resentment that is less obvious is, by helping find solutions for people we actually strip them of their power. Does the man in the picture need an umbrella or might he benefit from a good soaking to get back in touch with himself? You see, too much protection shades us from our true feelings and ability to tune into ourselves. Sometimes we just need space to work it all out. The solution you come up with might seem obvious to you however you do not know the processes and learning points another person requires on their journey. We all see things differently and if someone is constantly coming up with solutions it may feel more like conflict, especially if they have very different opinions. For example, a risk taker might want to give up their job and go to university whereas a 'safe minded' advisor might think it a bad idea. If the risk taker requires courage to follow the plan they have decided upon, presenting the safe option may create unnecessary internal conflict.

When you help someone through a difficult time and then they reject you this can be very hurtful. It might be that they don't want to be reminded of their weaker side or having you around becomes a constant reminder of that period which they haven't completely put to rest. If people ask for our help and reject our suggestions that is healthy. It is a rejection of the suggestion and not of you. If you feel rejected then you have an issue to deal with as it has created some insecurity. If you need to be needed, you clearly need to invest more in yourself- more love, more care, more time tending to your needs. Being over helpful and pleasing others continually is not a healthy way to be and detracts from a balanced lifestyle.

Next time you are about to offer help consider:

  • Have I been asked for my opinion
  • How often do I help this person
  • Will my help really benefit them
  • Am I the best person to help or can I recommend another source
  • Am I doing this to satisfy my own needs
  • If things go wrong will it backfire on me
  • What degree of help can I afford to give
  • Will giving help strengthen or weaken this person
Helping people at the right time and to the right degree is a necessary part of all our lives and to be commended, but there are times people need to find their own solutions in order to grow and feel good about themselves. Instead of rushing in, relax and decide upon the best course of action.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Going 'Full Circle' with Angie Le Mar

Full Circle- interesting title for an autobiography as attributed to her book by Angie Le Mar. Circles and cycles are key to life and interestingly attending this book signing came about through one such circle, the circle of friendship and business via Mark Galloway. Thanks to Angie’s inspiring and infectious vibe I’m sure many more circles will be created wherever she goes, and this includes inspiring my circle of creativity- think I’ll stop running rings around you now however I’ll encourage you to study the links within your life.

This fabulous event was held at Nu Dawn Coffee shop & neighbourhood hub in Well Street, Hackney- a new business venture. It’s a fairly intimate little venue and well suited to this type of event.The evening was hosted by Juliet Coley whom I met previously during the Everybody Dreams campaign, a major, newsworthy project in Hackney. Juliet has a lovely relaxed style and read passages from Angie's book, afterwards asking what she wanted to know; in my opinion the way to achieving an insightful interview.

Question: What was so great about this particular event? For me, Angie’s portrayal of her stories, her spirit and determination to take charge of her life in every situation. Angie spoke about how she found ways to overcome each challenge as it presented itself from childhood to adulthood. These included challenges of filling long summers with childhood games whilst other families went on holiday, accepting siblings whom she was unaware of, and several serious 'biggies', battling with dyslexia, professional rejection and living through an immensely painful and almost fatal pregnancy.

Dyslexia is a make or break phenomena that was barely recognised during Angie’s early school days although we are well aware nowadays that many entrepreneurs are dyslexic. In many ways the dyslexia gave rise to Angie's natural ingenuity, creating opportunities to develop her God-given humour. In what way? I hear you ask. Angie loathed school and messed around in class, telling jokes so that she was sent out before being called to do the one thing she dreaded most- reading aloud. Angie trying to read English was the same as me trying to read Japanese- this we understand as the words make no sense! Refusing to be beaten by auditions, where she had to read scripts, Angie conquered Dyslexia to some extent in her own indomitable way later in life, writing highly successful plays- ‘Funny Black Woman,’ being the first of several, and most recently progressing to writing her new book. As Angie said, she was determined to write her place in history!

Angie described many memories which had the audience in fits of laughter as they were re-living similar childhoods. Along with these stories came the serious issue of racism experienced in Angie’s professional life. Racism is clearly rampant within the showbiz industry yet Angie finds ways to stand up for herself and is a great role model for others in similar positions- as Angie says, being black and a woman has the advantage of being a two in one deal! Angie watches, learns and when the time is right strikes back by doing the same thing, only better. Angie spoke about her experience of being thrown off The Vagina Monologues on the fabricated pretext of not being happy, so she faced her colleagues head on and later created ‘The Black Vagina Stories’, which proved even more popular. This demonstrates Angie’s fundamental belief that we need to ‘Keep It Real.’ I believe Angie’s attitude demonstrates the need to acknowledge but not accept the realities of life. So often what appear to be facts are generally creations of the masses, ie: the result of popular opinion. Regardless, Angie has a special talent for delivering her truths to a constantly expanding audience.

Along with creating opportunities for herself Angie made openings for others. In her book Angie displays her empathetic side when speaking about the need to overstep people who have helped you to establish something because you know that they are not yet ready to perform at the next level when the occasion demands it. Dealing with these situations is hurtful' so Angie speaks about putting yourself in other people's shoes and the true art of forgiveness- something we have looked at on Its Braap previously.

Throughout her career Angie has worked with fabulous comedians such as Felix Dexter and Richard Blackwood- and too many actors, actresses and radio guests to name. Angie met several of her idols including incredible poet, social activist and more- Maya Angelou, larger than life Whoopi Goldberg, Sir Lenny Henry C.B.E. and singers John Legend, Stevie Wonder and George Benson- the list goes on! Once again, Angie demonstrates on occasion how this came about through her ingenuity through her ideas, actions and quick thinking. She blagged her way to meeting Whoopi and got a free ticket to see American actor, comedian and film maker Tyler Perry. Angie paid tribute throughout the evening and in 'Full Circle' to her family, friends, co-workers, mentors and those who have been there for her at significant times in her life.

A book is never finished until the story has been told. To be real is true strength and we were all touched when Angie dissolved into tears as Juliet read passages about Angie’s incredibly close bond with her father. Angie went on to speak about this special bond and how she had been encouraged to add a chapter about her relationship with her father before the book was published. In its way this was about coming full circle, fitting beautifully with her Father’s mantra- Whatever you start... finish! This just goes to show that when writing an autobiography where we are free to pick and choose, it is essential that we include the key players in our lives and our greatest challenges. It is equally important that we look at our successes and failures- Angie openly describes some of her worst moments and how the things that are meant to be still come into being.

With my signed copy!

One significant final point out of the many Angie made throughout the evening, which helps encourage us on our individual journeys, is Angie’s self belief. Angie spoke about her deep set belief that she can open almost any door and the reason for this is Angie’s faith resulting from her church background, self confidence and the family love she has been immersed in which she shares with everyone who is tuned into her channel. Angie attended church in her youth and returned as an adult, finding God's purpose; surprisingly to bring her gift of stand up comedy literally into the church!

I have read Angie's book and whilst doing so found myself writing a poem about her called, 'Black Diamond,' which I will blog later. I have to say that the message Angie inscribed in my copy of ‘Full Circle,’- ‘Whatever you start... finish’ speaks volumes, so I am taking this forwards in my on-going journey and will finish by saying, thank you Angie for being such an inspiration.

More links to Everybody Dreams can be obtained via the search button!
Inspirational material also available on my page, 'The Word Magician.'

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk