Sexuality: “As straight as they come.”
Children: “Nope … unless you count the cats.”
Relationship Status: Married
Throughout this journey, I dropped a few thug tears, laughed hysterically, clutched my pearls, and experienced just about every human emotion in between.
But I had a blast …
Because I … NO … we made something pretty dang cool.
I wanted to give us all a place to tell our stories, to talk about our high points and low, our triumphs and failures.
And I think we did that. And I think that’s pretty dope.
So, I saved this one for last because I knew about 10 minutes into our conversation that this discussion would be the perfect way to end this adventure.
You see, I started this series talking about the things I learned throughout the week in hopes that sharing these experiences would help people understand that:
- we’re all out here struggling
- it’s ok to not have your shit together
Plus, I know you would rather laugh at my weekly shenanigans than do anything else … IN THE WORLD!
But the irony is that while I was writing about what I learned, I learned that these lessons we encounter (and whether or not we ever recognize them as such) are based in our perception.
If see we something as a barrier, it will be a barrier.
If we see something as crippling, it will cripple us.
And this young woman knows that too.
She spoke unabashedly about one of the most difficult things we can take a critical look at: HERSELF.
But she did so with a perspective of learning HERSELF, unlearning HERSELF, relearning HERSELF, and being open to the lessons in front of her.
Now, this one is a long read, but I promise, it’s worth it.
So without further ado, I introduce you to Brianna.
|How do you spend your free time?
My free time is spent perusing social media, reading for both professional growth and leisure, spending time with my husband intimately and doing other fun things. I’m pretty social, so I tend to fill up the calendar with activities pretty quickly. For example, last night I went to see Nosferatu in a cemetery. I spend a lot of time with family; I have a large family. And maybe like 5 hours of TV a week.
|When you think back on it, can you think of anything you learned this week?
YES! I have been telling anyone who will listen about this book called “Answering the Central Question”. It’s a science based study on the combination of two separate philosophies. One is neuroscience the other axiology, the study of value based judgments.
So what this book is doing is talking about a new science that has been born out of that combination. It looks at how value based judgments are impacted by neuro-transmissions. And at the end of the day we really all make decisions based off the value that it will create for us. Now value is a subjective term, because all of our values are different and the perception of what that value is can be different.
Take the word “wealth”. Some may look at it as monetary, another person might take wealth as an abundance of life when it comes to family or friends or social circles. So it depends on your perception. And it’s that perception that impacts these two people’s decisions. Because something may not be value creating to one person, but value creating to another. So this book seeks to guide your perceptions and take into account other people’s perceptions when you make decisions..
And here’s the most exciting part!
I went to a networking event recently with Teresa Hummel, a local learning and development guru. She does all kinds of corporate team building exercises. So anyway, she hosts this series called Meet the Author. And the author of “Answering the Central Question” is going to be her next guest. And I won two tickets to go during the networking event!
So, here is what I learned. I’ve been having this internal based struggle for the last several years. Especially as I learned more about James’ Buddhist practice and my Christian background. In reading this book, I’ve been trying to determine “am I really Christian?” Because Christianity, as it is perceived in the world today, is not in a positive light. Human interaction has tainted the purity of the original message and it’s become really messy and cloudy and I struggle with being associated with that. I’m like, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t not want us to hate gay people or molest children. And as I learn about the Buddhist organization James is a part of, I find that that original pure original message is present there … in the principals of Buddhist. They are talking about the same principals, they’re just doing it differently. I talked to a leader within the Buddhist organization and he said, “Ok, if you’re feeling confused, that’s fine. What I encourage you to do is pray or chant and ask for clarity on where your confusion lies between your two faiths.”
That’s a big one! <laughs?
I define happiness as being able to … experience everything that life may throw at you … and doing so with grace. There are two different kinds of happiness. There’s this one that’s kind of on the surface. And there’s this other one that I want to define for myself … like this engrained happiness. Even when you’re in moments when you’re experiencing huge struggle, I try to think like, “How can I still be happy when facing moments like this?” And that means to me that you don’t harbor grief. I don’t want to focus on the grief. I want to allow myself to feel and experience it, but in that experience, I want to ask, “How can I make this beneficial to myself and to others?” It comes from being able to see an obstacle as an opportunity and not something that you can’t climb over or something that there’s no way out.
The long term happiness comes from knowing that the short term obstacles are not the end.
|Are you happy?
On the short term? Definitely!
In the long term? I think I’m close. There are moments when I’m better at experiencing it than others. Sometimes it’s situational, sometimes it’s the human condition that prevents me from being able to do it. Probably 7 to 8 out of 10 times, I’m good at remembering that obstacles doing have to be permanent.
|What makes you happy?
Finding the good makes me happy; especially now that I’m commuting into the city and I’m around a lot more people every day. Being in the city and working in a 35-story building, I see a lot more. So the little moments that I pick up on when I see someone headed to work … they stop to high five the homeless guy they talk to every day … or the other day, I saw a mailman with 3 big bins on a hand truck hit a curb. The whole thing fell over and 2 guys in business suits stopped to pick it up. So seeing little things like that helps to combat some of the things you see things on social media and all of this stuff we get bogged down and frustrated with. It’s moments like this when I see the good in humanity and that makes me happy.
|What was the best moment of your life and why?
OMG! My wedding day was phenomenal. I love so much of that day! I would say probably what tops that is the day I realized I was in love with James and that this was someone who was just a phenomenal person. But it was also kind of scary because it was like holy shit, he’s choosing to hang with me?
|What is one thing you regret? (And you can’t say “nothing”.)
I know it’s a cliché, but I really have to say nothing. There are things that I wish I didn’t do, but the lessons I learned from them are things that I still would have wanted to learn.
Probably the one thing that I do regret is staying in a relationship longer than I should have with my ex. Because I knew at a certain point that it wasn’t going to work. But because of fear and not knowing what to do next, I stayed. So I’d probably say that’s the one thing I wish I would have done different.
|If you could go back in time in your entire life (it can be other people, circumstances, things) and change just one thing about your life, what would it be?
If I had that kind of influence, I would go back and prevent my brother’s death … 100% without a doubt!
|When was the first time you were in love?
The first time I was ever in love was probably, not probably, it was when I was doing missionary work. There was a guy on my second year team that I had very, very much fallen for and that was the first time I experienced actual love. Not the high school “let’s be boyfriend and girlfriend” kind, but more like “Wow, I think I’m in love with this person. I was like 20 at the time. It was crazy because you were not allowed to date while you served on the team. And it was also strongly encouraged that you do not express feelings, because it could be messy for the team dynamic. So it wasn’t until it was a couple years later that we did express feelings and we tried to date long distance and it just didn’t work.
|When was the last time you were in love?
Today! Right now! Hopefully forever! I have a pair of boots that I bought on our honeymoon in Ireland. I get a lot of compliments on them. And my response is always the same, “I hope they last forever like my marriage.”
|What do you think people think of you? Do you care?
Ummm … I could say what I hope people thing. But I don’t know how accurate it would be.
I think strangers … one of the things to toot my own horn one of the things I’m pretty good at is meeting people where they’re at. And that ties into having an empathetic nature. So I think a lot of times I’m perceived as someone who kind of “gets it” or gets them or is friendly and engaging.
I would hope … at least I try to be!
Other times, depending on the person, I could be taken as too loud of boisterous or obnoxious.
People who know me really well? I would say they know that I’m trying as much as they probably are. And sometimes I excel and sometimes I fail. And for the most part, I think they see me as someone who is trying to do good.
For my family? I think they see me as someone who has overcome; who has succeeded. My mom said to me “I don’t have to worry about you.”
But at the same time, I think my close family thinks that I might come across judgmental or a little holier than though. And I don’t mean to come across that way and I’ve tried to explain it. And it’s helped me be self-reflective because I don’t want it to come across that way. I want it to come across from a place of love.
|What you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen? Why or why not?
I had two main career goals: one was to be a singer. I wanted to Whitney/Mariah the shit out of the world. The other was I wanted to be the first female president.
|What’s your favorite song? How does it make you feel?
Oh I have to pick one?
I was not prepared for that question! <laughs>
OMG can I give you a favorite lyric, because I really can’t pick one. But right now, there’s a lyric that runs through my mind. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Dave Mathews Band fan.
“I saw a man on the side of the road with a sign that read will work for food. Tried to look busy til the light turned green.”
And that line has been coming up a lot more time in the city. Because even if I don’t have anything to give him, I still have a smile; I still have words; I still have warmth that I can give them. It’s so easy to look busy and to not pay attention to what’s wrong around us. We have to make much more of an effort to make sure we acknowledge the humanity of the person with that sign.
|Who is your favorite person?
I would probably say Eleanor Palmer!
She’s my grandmother!
Unfortunately, she passed away 10 years ago. She’s someone who if I can even get close to emulate her, I’ll be doing pretty good for myself. When she passed away, we found a journal she kept; and in it there were little notes she would write to God.
My uncle (her son) passed away before I was born and on his birthday, she wrote a note to God “thank you for the leaves that have fallen. I got to crunching them while I walked to church this morning. I loved the colors and the feel of them under my feet and thank you for the 25 years I was able to spend with my son I remembered him today on his birthday.”
Maybe it’s because she had so many years to let go of anger. Because there wasn’t any anger in that. There was a deep appreciation for the time she did have with him and for simple things. And it just blows me away.
And that is why she is one of my favorite people!
|What is your favorite thing?
My engagement ring … probably. I love the thought and effort he put into finding it and the meaning of what it is. It’s not something I would have picked out for myself, but everything he put into finding it makes it my favorite thing.
|What’s your biggest dream? What do you want to do with your future?
There’s so many … um … well, simplified? I can narrow down a few things. One of the things I’ve been focusing on in my own prayer and meditation is that I want to change the world and I want to have the infrastructure within myself to accomplish that. That could be James and I have kids and I raise them to be the changers of the world, or it could be the study I want to do to become an expert in the field of diversity and leadership training; or it could be that I become a leader in the Buddhist community. Whatever it means to be able to change the world.
And when I say having the infrastructure to do that, that means being the best version of myself to be able to accomplish this.
Until Next Time, Folks,
Love and Light,
What did you say?
You miss me when I’m gone?
Well, you know you can keep up with my antics every other day of the week:
Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8022454.Erin_T_McMillon
You can also find all of my books The Becoming of Us, Vol. I, The Becoming of Us, Vol. II, What’s Hiding in the Dark: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, and They Eat on Amazon: