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

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Where did the mojo go?

I used to blog about a wide range of things when I started Its Braap. Why? because just about everything is inspirational in some way and the more open we are the more this world speaks to us. With time I have narrowed the blog content somewhat sticking more with arts and entertainment, but my mind is telling me that business and motivation remain the foundation of our lives, so it's time to expand once again!

We need to allow ourselves the freedom of expression in all its forms as without it the mojo goes and it's hard to generate enthusiasm for life. I love this quote from Napoleon Hill and I guess we all hit the wall from time to time- the same one marathon runners face during the course of the race. It is the moment when you sit in front of the computer whilst your fingers are stationery and your mind, a million miles away, assuming you even get as far as the computer in the first place. It's not necessarily writers block, just life dragging us down for a bit whilst we try to re-group all our inner resources and get back on the proverbial horse.

We do not necessarily recognise a shift in our output immediately and are left thinking, 'hang on a minute, when did I last xxxxx? If that's the case, why has it happened? Sometimes practicalities play a part and other times our emotional perspective may have changed causing our mood to dip or worse still, crash.

Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to discover the cause behind the change. I'm on the cusp of a number of things right now and need to push myself forwards hard because it is time to achieve and not allow procrastination a foothold. I guess there's a little seed called 'fear of failure,' which takes the form of self doubt- how can you possibly achieve what you want just because you have potential? Self-belief and the refusal to look at your current circumstances in favour of the desired outcomes takes some doing. Having been listening to 'Abraham Hicks'- Esther Hicks, check it on youtube, for some time I have come to realise that we can become exactly who we choose to be provided we practice the right mind set. The thing is we need to be consistent and recognise our humanity and the natural desire to give up that may occur. We can be very good at talking ourselves out of things, so it may be time to talk ourselves into things instead, Even when we have a great mindset we need to understand that ups and downs are natural and it is only with practice that we can make any real headway in our bid to control our minds.Mindset is the difference between success and failure- check my page The Word Magician  for regular mini motivational hits on a number of aspects.

The word 'temporary' is key. Recognise that your weakest desires are temporary and admit that they exist. Make sure you allocate the temporary label to them before thinking about where you want to be. As i said to someone yesterday, no mountain is easy to climb so there will be times when we take a breather and lose momentum, but we can take a deep breath and carry on. Giving up is an option however it is the least satisfying thing you could do whereas 'time out' enables new thoughts and ideas to flow which may prove very valuable. It's important to understand that true joy comes from fulfilling our desires and life can prove difficult at times, especially when re-arranging our circumstances to meet desires we may not realise we harbour until a later date. Everything works out in the end so accept your natural state of being and work with yourself; ultimately everything changes and you will become all that you are meant to be.

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

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Up Soon- That's my Life- and evening with Angie LeMar

Last week I attended an event that made a deep impression on me- an evening with Angie Le Mar, and will be sharing the key points with  you later. One of those events that makes you take stock and inspires change~ Jaz