Embracing Inclusion

Embracing Inclusion is the EI (Emotional Intelligence) of Leadership for 2021. It consists of three principles.

1. Learn.

2. Practice.

3. Share.

How do we bring these principles together?

1. We must learn about others. We must learn who they are and what are their experiences.

2. We must practice appreciation for who they are. We do not need them to assimilate and or ask they erase their identity. We must practice respect for their otherness and create a space that is large enough to welcome the existence of our differences. We must honor human equality of all and protect the basic alienable rights of all. We practice coexistence, collaboration, and community.

3. We must share what we learn and what we practice. Our lessons are for our individual growth but for our common growth as well.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Blogging: My 2021 Commitment

I haven’t blogged much this year. However, I have written a lot. I wrote and published many posts and published articles and a book. I’ve made more than a few short entries that could have been posted as blogs, but I found that I lacked commitment and dedication to take those steps. I felt that blogging did not fit in my 2020 identity of who I wanted to be. It was definitely something I felt I could do. I had proven that in 2019 and when I first posted. In 2019, blogging excited me.

The Excitement Wanes

The excitement began to wane. I didn’t like editing. I didn’t like the tech parts to post the blogs. Moreover, I did not like the lack of responses. I never found a niche topic. I was interested in so many things: Artist dates, diversity, uplifting others, and the list goes on. I never quite found my community.

Blogging just was not 2020 Zen. I did not identify and resonate with blogging to maintain a long term commitment. I even shared with my close friend how I felt that I was falling out of love with preparing a Sunday morning blog. But I never shared my feelings on paper and got clarity. Our relationship went on a hiatus even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

It is unfair to leave this relationship unsettled as we head into a new year. It’s complicated. Blogging was that first small step —the initial public exposure, the willing vulnerability that ignited my passion for telling more stories. Blogging opened the door for other writing. I am grateful for blogging, but I am not a blogger. I am a writer who may blog when that feels like the appropriate platform.

My 2021 Commitment to Blogging

Afternoon Writing Break

Hence for 2021, I’m not making any promises around blogging. This may be my last tryst with blogging or If I go onward, I don’t know how often I will post or if it will be on one topic or hundreds. I want my self-expression and freedom to be who I am as a writer. That is my priority and the vision I’m willing to lean into for 2021.

By the way, my book is Coffee and Conversations: Inclusion and Belonging. It’s available on Amazon. You may order copies at https://www.amazon.com/Coffee-Conversations-Esq-Zenell-Brown/dp/1734086548

Coffee and Conversations Book Cover

You’ve Gotta Have Artist Dates

If you are a person who gives your goals 100 percent of effort, you must take breaks to ensure you recharge and refuel.

I looked up from the work on my desk last Friday and left town. I’m in the Amen Corner when it comes to Artist Dates. I use every time out of town as an opportunity for Artist Dates.

Julia Cameron describes the Artist Date: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” … art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

I’ve filled up on Artist Dates:


The Harvey B. Gant Center of African American Art: I hung out with the Stroller Tour, moms and dads pushing toddlers around museum. You are never too young or old to enjoy art.

Bryon Wilson’s Naturally Speaking #1

Adventure & Fun

The NASCAR Hall of Fame was a good time. I’m not a race car enthusiast. I failed and crashed out on the Qualifying Simulation.


However, the history of NASCAR Ann France, the wife of NASCAR’s founder Big Bill caught my attention. In the midst of all the men, she managed the finances with an adding machine and cigar box to hold the loot in the infancy of bringing racing to the masses. I imaged her as a spirited woman thriving in this space dominated by men.

Whimsical Art

The second leg of my trip was Naples, Florida. I enjoyed 20 minutes touring a small gallery and was introduced to Hurt Slomen and his bunnies. The gallery assistant welcomed my intrusion and shared that history of Slomen who uses acrylic, resin, and crushes glass to render bunny and butterflies art with price tags of $20,000.

A Hurt Slomen’s Bunny

A little light on cash to make a purchase, I enjoyed the opportunity to take a photo of the an infamous bunny.

I also enjoyed the Hoffman’s The Naples Sculpture installation “The Dash” by Kevin Barrett. Shiny and beautiful abstract.

Dash by Kevin Barrett

Back to The 9-5

As I pack to head back to Detroit, I feel relaxed, restored, and refreshed. I’ve explored and reflected. Ready for work and to give 100%! “You Gotta Have Artist Dates.”

A Personal Inventory Project

The beginning of the year is a good time to take inventory of who we are: our likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses. Our personal inventory can remind us or offer insights into our values and what we really want out of the next 12 months and help us chart our course. JJ was willing to share his personal inventory with us today. JJ and I share a mutual interest in volunteerism. We’ve worked on projects serving the homeless and recognizing Women’s History. And, we also share a mutual liking for sparkling juices. I hope you leave this middle-schooler a few words of encourages and I hope he inspires you to grab a pen a complete your own personal inventory.

JJ’s Personal Inventory Project

I believe I have a lot of personal strengths. I am really good at Social Studies, and I like it. I play hockey and I’m great at that also. I’m well liked, and I have a group of friends. All of these things make me the person I am.

I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t have the support of my parents and grandparents. With their help they made me into a leader, and set me up to make sure that I always do my homework, so I get better at subjects in school. Even though I may not like ELA, I am still pretty good at it. One thing about ELA that I like is reading, I’m always ready to read. 

In my free time I like to play video games. I believe that’s a strength because it ups your reaction time and lets you unwind. I also become better at reading and listening because I have to read subtitles and follow the story by listening to characters talk. I believe relaxing alone is a strength for me because it allows me to regain my energy by doing what I want to do, and not having to worry about the needs of other people.

Eating is a strength for me because it allows me to get my nutrients, especially when I eat delicious food. Having a balanced diet is a strength for me. I love to eat vegetables and meat, especially steak. I love to have steak.

I have a lot of strengths and some I’m able to capitalize more on. When I capitalize on my strengths, I gain confidence in myself and I’m able to do some things I wouldn’t if I didn’t have those strengths.

Meet JJ

Your New Year’s Resolution Check-up

Photo by Plush Design Studio onu Pexels.com

If you are beginning to doubt or need some strategies of encouragement and success for your New Year’s Resolution, read on.  This check-up is for you.

New Year’s Resolutions can be intoxicating.  As we enter the second week of 2020, some of the glitz and glamor of our New Year’s resolutions is wearing off.  What we want to accomplish is going to take effort, perseverance, and repeating small behavior changes over and over.  

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

But, we can do it!  

Remind yourself why you made your resolution. If  your resolution is  just something that you felt you should do, you won’t feel inspired to do it.  You chose a self-imposed punishment.  Forgive yourself, show yourself some self-love, and change your resolution to something that inspires you.  Then design your environment to support your success.  Atomic Habits by James Clear is a quick read to give you clarity. 

Call a friend and ask for support.  Call that one person who gets you and bear your soul:  “I need help!  Can you help lift me up and help put me back on my path?”  Real friends are there for you.  

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Enlist an accomplice who has a similar resolution and use the synergy of two to keep up the motivation and momentum.  Check out Meetup.com and find where like-minded individuals are hanging out.  Create a group if one doesn’t exist.  It feels good and renewing to be in the presence of kindred spirits. 

Hire a coach or trainer who has walked the path.  Find someone who has fallen a few times on the journey.  They know want it feels like to face doubt and rebound from setbacks.  If a trainer or coach tells you that what you want can be done in three easy steps, they may not be the right trainer or coach for you if you are struggling.  Search Google or ask others for referrals and then interview and find the teacher/coach for you.

Finally share your story.  It helps you and those who are listening.  Here’s mine:

I’m on the “Love My Body” Tour this year.  It is my creation—12 months of building exercising and nutrition (eating and taking my supplement) habits for my life now that I’m over 50. I’ve stashed my supplements all over —home, office and car—so I can’t forget them.  I carry around my Back to Eden book and share its wisdom.  I have combined listening to my audio books and online courses with three weekly elliptical workouts.   I’m carrying  plain or lemon water whenever I go so I can stay hydrated and not carbonated. To add in accountability and my love for learning, I enrolled in a free course on well-being taught by Yale professor Laurie Santos. I want to “Love My Body” because I need and depend on my body.  Without my health, my living and life are   compromised.  I’m not asking for a size 5 or the ability to complete an Iron Woman.  I want to continue an active life a clean bill of health. I don’t want to know the names of all the fancy medicines and all of their side-effects like sudden death. My vision is to be vibrant and active at 95!  With that vision and purpose, I’ve redesigned my environment making the “Love My Body” Tour easy, accessible, satisfying, and enjoyable. It’s only the second week, but I give the “Love My Body” Tour a standing ovation.  

Keep going on your resolutions.  It’s week two. It’s time to re-examine your resolutions and readjust if needed.  Check in and see what you need to keep moving ahead in this New Year to a New You!

Healthy Images “Love My Body”