Thankful every day

Originally written in Nov 2009.

As I open various social networks, I come across a plethora of “Happy Thanksgiving!” messages. I understand that many people celebrate this day as something special (most just want a really heavy meal, but I’m not here to judge).

But then I wonder, “What will everyone do tomorrow?”

To be truly thankful, we must give thanks daily, continuously.

I woke up this morning and greeted my son (who’s visiting from Pittsburgh). He was already up and at his PSP.

“Did you thank God this morning?” I asked him.

“No, not this morning. But I said my prayer before I went to sleep last night,” which I guess was his own way of patting himself on the back.

“So you didn’t thank Him for allowing you to wake up this morning?”

“Uh…” he muttered.

I replied, “When you said your prayer last night it should have been to thank Him for getting you through the day. This morning is another matter. You woke up.

“How would you feel if you gave someone something special all day long and they only said ‘thanks’ once?”

His response: “Okay, I see your point.”

I don’t know if he followed that statement with an actual ‘thanks to God,’ but it makes me think about all the Thanksgiving salutations.

Certainly, giving thanks is always a good idea. But whether you’re thankful for life in general, grandchildren, family, adequate transportation, food or the air we breathe – the true meaning of “thanksgiving” should not be limited to one day a year that’s posted on a calendar.

Every day should be a day of thanksgiving.

Be thankful every day

Be thankful every day


Tweet On / Tweet Off

…so here’s the thing…

I read a post where the writer was ranting about ‘someone’ (who was not me) had un-followed him. He was quite vocal about it…almost as if his lifeblood was pouring out as the un-follow was solidified. He was truly upset that he wasn’t ‘notified’ by the person that he was no longer in their ‘line’ (my word, not his).

So I got to thinking, What if I DID un-follow him? What’s it to him? Would he win/lose a distinct amount of brownie points for the un-follow? Is there some kind of tweeting contest that I am not privy to (and there just might be)? But, seriously…is it really that serious? What?! Are we breaking tweet laws by un-following? And quite honestly, why on earth would anyone notify you that they’re un-following you? Wouldn’t that be counterproductive? The very antithesis of the un-follow? Just plain ol’ stupid?

…and when I finished thinking it through, I realized that the jerk who wrote the piece and I had absolutely nothing in common. He wasn’t a vested interest of some kind (as I was not of his)…so I un-followed him.

…and no, I didn’t tell him before I did it.

Tweet on / Tweet off.

Shout out to my mentor: Ruby Dee

I was talking to someone the other day about people who are admired and those who are actually worthy of being admired (they’re NOT the same thing, believe me).

We determined that there really aren’t many people we admire for the right reasons. There are too-many-worth-mentioning so-so performers, musical acts, (un-)reality ‘stars’, and just plain ol’ losers that – for whatever reason – people look up to.

I’m not referring to the teachers who taught us how to read; the crossing guard who watched over us daily; the ministers who teach us about the Good Book – all great examples and those whom we should admire. I’m referring to those on the big screen, little screen, or even who might appear on your iPod.

I told my friend that, off-hand, I could find just one person in the industry who is note-worthy of my admiration. In fact, I said, “If I ever met her, I’d blubber like an idiot!”

Hence, I pay homage to the great Ruby Dee.

Class Act

“Ruby Dee? Really?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” I responded. “She represents all that there is [and still can be] of my performing years. Her life made my life possible,” I proudly proclaimed.

Indeed. I cherish Ruby Dee. This isn’t to say that I don’t admire Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, the late Ossie Davis (Ruby’s husband) and all the rest of those who came before me. It’s just that, point-for-point, for me at least Mrs. Davis personifies the struggles, pain, endurance and excelling virtue of many African Americans in the industry. In those early years it was nearly impossible for any one of us to be portrayed as someone other than ‘the help.’ We were slaves, maidservants, menservants and any other occupation associated with servitude. And that was just on the screen.

Off the screen, most Americans didn’t see us for anything other than that. That’s the reality. Just watch any film or TV series prior to the 1970’s. (NOTE: I-Spy and Julia do not count!)

But I digress. To get back to my point: at a time when we were actually living those days, there were the heroes, the dignified icons (like Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Sydney Poitier and so many others) who waded in it, breathed it in deeply (and daily), had it thrown on them with a shovel – so that those after them (like me) could accomplish my goals, my dreams, my desires of standing before an audience – not merely entertaining (as in minstrel shows) – but to stand proudly for one’s craft; the gifts we were given.

So this is a hearty shout out to Mrs. Ruby Dee Davis, my hero and mentor. While I never met you, I certainly have admired you…and you are worthy of (at least) that much.

With sincerest regards,

Judith Blair Brown, Harrisburg, PA

Ms. Brown is a freelance writer, PR and marketing consultant. Learn more about her rants at and at her Web site at

Rumor 13,042: BILL COSBY IS DEAD…and TUPAC’S STILL ALIVE. What gives?

I never understood the rumor mill. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve contributed to the mill in my younger days (admittedly that was a l-o-n-g-g-g time ago!), but as of late, I think the rumor mill just stinks…like some putrefied raw fish head left baking on the sidewalk in the July heat.

NOT dead!

THAT’s what I think of the rumor mill today, especially when it comes to falsehoods like the latest “Bill Cosby death” rumor. (For the record: BILL COSBY IS NOT DEAD!)

Who starts a rumor like that – and for what? Is there some understated benefit to reporting Cosby’s death that I don’t know about? I mean for most of us who never knew him? I understand his family and friends benefiting (the man’s loaded!) – But the rest of us? What’s in it for us?

It puts me in mind of Mark Twain’s statement, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Indeed, sir.

Cosby is the latest in a long line of celebrity victims who were pre-deceased

...a hot mess!

before their actual time. I remember the Whitney Houston death rumor. Now in defense of the rumor mill, Houston’s behavior (and her appearance) gave more credence to the rumors than they general do…they just never came to fruition. Thankfully. There was also Paul McCartney’s reported death back in the 60’s (no doubt girls in the U.S. and abroad were fainting out of hysterics over that one!); Eminem’s deadly car crash in 2000; Paris Hilton’s unfortunate demise is 2007; John Goodman’s 2005 “fatal heart attack,” which was even accompanied by an obituary; and too many more to mention.

Gone too soon

I don’t know which is worse: reporting a false death – or not allowing the (truly) dead to rest in peace. I remember my daughter trying to convince me that Tupac was still alive…he’d only left the country to start a new life.

There are the extremely devoted Elvis fanatics – rivaled only by the “it-cannot-be-true!” fanatics of Michael Jackson. Remember the endless rumor that President John F. Kennedy was really hidden away for several years following the Texas shooting (as in the film “Dave” starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver)? This one left me bewildered as a kid, but proves the theory that the rumor mill was in effect long before the Internet.

But that’s the danger of rumors…people tend to believe in them. But again, what value is there in creating these falsehoods and does anyone ever give thought to what such rumors do to the family and friends of the so-called “deceased”?

In short, I’ve concluded that folks who have nothing better to do than to start a rumor of someone else’s death, AND their counterparts (those who refuse to let the dead rest in peace) should all GET A LIFE! (And yes, the pun is intended.)

Are you “in it to win it”? or just going with the flow?

Running your own shop is hard work. It doesn’t matter what that “shop” might be – grocery store, graphic design shop, barber shop – you name it. Point blank: Business (any business) requires diligence and effort.

Plenty of folks simply “wing it” each day, but that won’t give you the impetus to ride the long haul. I’m talking about endurance, sweat, hard work – all that good stuff. In today’s economy, you better be “in it to win it,” meaning “Perish even the thought of failure!”

For certain, just saying it doesn’t make it so. If you’re not willing to expend yourself, work double duty, and trade your dignity for humility – you’re not ready. If you’re not keen on the idea of additional training, networking with others and educating yourself – you won’t succeed.

I know plenty of folks who have brilliant ideas…always coming up with that next Big Thing. And that’s as far as it goes: a though process and nothing else. They’re clearly not “in it to win it.” They’re just winging it. Doing whatever comes next…going with the flow, so long as the flow doesn’t include a challenge.

But when you’re “in it to win it” you welcome the challenge. You thrive off the challenge. Because you KNOW what’s waiting on the other side of the struggle. And you won’t rest until you stare it down face-to-face.

So are you “in it to win it?”

Are you ready? Really ready?

Then get on your mark…

And GO!

Judith Brown is a nationally published freelance writer out of Harrisburg, PA. With nearly 30 years in the work force, her varied background represents county and state governments, non-profit organizations and the advertising and health care industries, among others. Ms. Brown also conducts writing workshops, provides on-site staff training in matters pertaining to workplace culture, and serves as a PR/marketing consultant for small business industries.

Sometimes it’s the little things

The following is a revised version of an original story written by me in January 2008. It’s well worth retelling.

I had none...until...

You never know where you’ll get your inspiration, your motivation, your drive to move forward in this world.

To illustrate, I have a twin sister named June. She’s actually the better of me. I often think of us as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Twins. Like the part in the movie where the evil scientist is explaining how this fascinating plan went awry. He says they took all the best components and mixed them up in some sort of test tube.

As he looks at Schwarzeneggar, he says (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘All the good stuff went into what stands before you.’ Then he turns to DeVito and says, ‘All the crap left over is what you see in the mirror every day.’

i'm the short one

Between June and me, I’m the crap. But don’t feel sorry for me. Quite frankly, I’m okay with it. I’ve made peace with crap, and crap and I get along just swell.

My twin sister’s beautiful, highly intelligent—just like Arnold, she has all the good qualities of the ‘stuff’ that made us. So her response to one of my stories was met with great delight. It was truly what I needed to move forward in my writing career.

To set the stage, I was sitting at my desk at the ad agency NOT writing, but rather, answering phones and setting meeting schedules—my usual routine even after five years. How did it come to this? I’d even taken two copywriting courses to prove to myself and anyone else who cared that I had a real passion and devotion to the art of writing.

I’d get frustrated in my endless pursuit to do more, be more, and then vent to June. She always responded in kind. “You should really start writing seriously. You’re good at it.” Or, “Juice (her nickname for me), your writing’s da’ bomb. You need to do more.”

That’s just June. Always kind and encouraging. Always the rock. I’d listen to her suggestion…and then go back to work and answer calls.

Of course, all the self-improving techniques, all the writing courses I’d taken made no difference whatsoever to my very intelligent but equally stubborn boss, who believed my only purpose in this world was to answer phones and to care for his schedule. (But we’ll save that for a future, Can You Believe My Life? article.)

Anyway, I’d been struggling with how to make a smooth transition from working full-time at the agency to writing from home full-time. This particular morning was no different.

I just had my article, Outside My Window, published on another Web site. I sent it out to several friends and family members to view, but hadn’t really expected to hear from anyone. Several hours later my phone rings at the front desk. I answer it and hear a stern and familiar voice:

“Get up right now! Get up, get your things and walk out that door and never look back! He [my boss] does NOT appreciate your talent! You are wasting your time at that place! You should NOT be sitting at that front desk …”

I was taken aback. In fact, it took me quite some time to recognize the caller and what she was referring to. I knew that voice, but the ranting and raving was unfamiliar territory.

It was June.

She’d just finished reading my article and felt the need to call me with a “Come to Reality” good talking-to! It worked. After remarkably putting things into perspective for me, on that day and in that very hour I knew it was time for me to take my writing much more seriously, because when June—one of the most intelligent, analytical and reasonable persons I’d ever known—tells you to jump ship, your only response should be, “On which side of the boat?”

I worked vigorously for months to get something suitable to, at least, keep me in the lap of luxury in my extremely small efficiency apartment where I reside (heat included). As it turns out, I now have a national client in the health care industry who actually matched my salary from the agency. On the 28th of December, 2007, I resigned from my full-time position and am now writing full-time from my home office. At the time my “home office” was a four by five extension of the bedroom/kitchen area. Small steps indeed.

Point is, today I have a hopeful outlook for my professional career, and I have June. That’s my girl. She doesn’t say much, but when she does she packs a wallop.

If not for June, I’d likely still be sitting at that same desk, answering that same phone, making those same reservations for that same man. No doubt I’d still be depressed and wondering ‘How my life came to this.’

don't remind me...

It wasn’t some grandiose speech from a soapbox, just a simple, “if-you-don’t-get-off-your-butt-and-do-something-with-your-talent” call that pointed me in the right direction. A simple phone call made all the difference.

Indeed, sometimes it’s the little things.

Try Anything!

If you’ve followed my journey for any length of time, you probably noticed that I’m always trying new things: freelance writing, which led me to writing for the healthcare industry, real estate, travel, and many other industries; marketing, which led me to become “partner of sorts” to a local entrepreneur with three businesses of his own; public relations, leading me to become publicist for the region’s oldest jazz organization, as well as contributing writer for the area’s only professional indoor football team; online radio talk show host; and now author of the soon-to-be-released eBook, “YOU Can Become a Freelance Writer in 59 Days!”

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking of this stuff……but my point is this: sometimes you just have to “try anything.” Opportunities are few and far between, and exceptional opportunities are a definite rarity.

So take whatever you have and make something out of that. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or even a lofty goal; it just has to be ‘something.’

In other words: try anything.