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Do you see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, hear it or create it to a different beat? I know I do. It's not always easy being different from everyone else. It causes you to stand out from the crowd when all you really want to do is hide. I have been ,"Different!" since I was little kid. I wore ribbons when they were out of style. My mom dressed me like I was going to church or a party everyday. People said of my sister and I, " Clean as the board of Health." I wasn't clear if it was a compliment . Looking back I think it was and it really wasn't meant for me, but more towards my mom who was a perfectionist when it came to my sister and I. Everything had to be just so for Shirley Ann Brantley.

Looking back now, Mama was different too. She dressed differently then most women. She was gorgeous all the time. Even on her bad days she was gorgeous. She kept the cleaniest house this side of glory. Making sure that every single thing was in it's place. She cared about her family and her church and her community. She took care of everyone and sometimes it cost her deeply. She cared about what her Grandmama thought because she planted the seeds of perfectionism deep inside her. She was told that she would never amount to anything good and she fought those words until the day she died. Making sure that prophecy never ever came to pass. Always trying to prove that she was worthy of love and acceptance from others.

Now that I am older, wiser, stronger and just me, I find myself caring less and less about what other people think of me and more of what I think of Vanessa Brantley-Newton . We can be so very judgemental of others. Me included. Not knowing their pain, hurt, diappointments, fears or their lives. We don't know the rhythm of their heart beat. We have never quieted our spirits to hear the sound. I find myself quieting my soul so that I can hear my own first. What is the Spirit saying to me? What do I need to do to be the best me I can be for me and my family. For my friends and community. I am learning more and more that...less is more. Less talking and more listening and listening to what matters most. Keeping in time with the beat that is mine. Tapping to the time that is metered inside of me. It is different and doesn't sound like anyone else. It's got a lot of bass in it. It's active and creative and filled with laughter and joy and so much love. It's different cause it has my DNA in every lick. It has yellows, blues and greens. Some James Brown, Doobie Brothers, Lesidi, Big Boi, Kirk Franklin, and Amy Winehouse in and through it. It's a little wonky and funky, but it's mine and it's all that I can be.

There is a sound and a beat that is in your DNA. It doens't match anyone elses and that is okay.

Encouraging you to quiet your soul and find your beat and when you find it. Play it loud and proud and go ahead and be.... different because different is beautiful.

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