Goodbye Instagram & Facebook

Last night I deleted my personal Instagram account and deactivated my personal Facebook account. I would have deleted my Facebook; however, I was worried that it would delete my business Facebook page along with it being that they are connected. I’ve been wanting to delete my social media accounts for some time now, but this week a few things transpired that pushed me to it.

The feeling that we are all doing things just to get photos and videos of it to post online has always bothered me, in myself and in others. I’ve always been a person that forgets to pull my camera out during events or vacations because I’m wrapped up in the moment. Somehow, this ability to be in the moment became an unfortunate thing, because I had no evidence or pretty photos of what I was doing and with whom. This kind of makes me sick.

The past few months when I’ve looked at my Instagram page, I’ve been starting to feel that I’m not sure how to convey the entirety of who I am by what I post. I know that social media is not meant to convey the entirety of a person, but I began to realize that I didn’t like that.

I have been having experiences lately where I am in touch with a universe inside myself. It’s everything that I am. From these experiences of myself, I no longer feel satisfied with certain aspects of life such as social media. It all feels empty now.

Additionally, I don’t want to be a part of a world that is so disconnected from truth. I was viewing a photo of a model where it was very obvious that she was surgically enhanced as well as perfectly made up and styled - not to mention the photo was edited to perfection - and her caption was the Helen Keller quote: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” 

Now, I love physical beauty and I love good photography and great editing, and I have no issues with plastic surgery, but why not just own what your photo is expressing instead of putting a quote that completely goes against what your entire look is aiming at? What I don't like about Instagram is that so many accounts are not calling a spade a spade: if you’re a hot woman and want to be sexy, then fucking own it instead of purporting some ideal about inner beauty.

I’m a little scared. Scared that I’ll be irrelevant in my industry without posting a constant stream of videos and photos showing off what I can do on a pole and what my body and face look like. I’m scared I’ll never get another modeling gig again. I’m scared I’ll make less money because I don’t have that platform to advertise my services. I’m scared that I’ve become more reliant on social media than I previously thought and that I’m going to feel alone.

I’m glad I made this choice though. I have a feeling life is going to be better despite my initial fears and that I’ll actually feel closer to people and closer to myself. We’ll see what happens.

Experiencing Abandon

Last night I watched a Nick Broomfield documentary called, “Fetishes”. I’ve never had any fetishes but was drawn to this documentary. The film focused solely on BDSM and a New York City dungeon, “Pandora’s Box.” I started off with a scared feeling as the head mistress gave Broomfield a tour of the dungeon (the medical room made me feel really scared), but about 15 minutes into the film, my mind was completely opened to what BDSM actually is.

Broomfield was able to capture footage of the sessions with the clients and their mistresses. I realized through watching these encounters that BDSM is really all about two things: sensation and trust/total abandon. Firstly, these clients were so in touch with what gave them pleasure - many of them had been aware of their own distinct pleasures from very young ages. And they accepted it as part of their sexuality.

How many of us are in touch with the fact that a sensation felt at some point in our development gave them “good feelings” and then subsequently accepted that into our identities? Most, I would imagine, would feel shame about such “weird” proclivities and disassociate from them, relegating them to the realm of suppression.

Secondly, these clients are courageous enough to venture out in order to partake in this very particular sensory experience with another human, thereby showing some of their most vulnerable aspects to another. I was awestruck by the level at which these clients were able to trust.

There was a man that had a rubber/bondage fetish and he liked to be outfitted in a full-body and face rubber suit with only two tubes coming out of his nose so he could breathe. His mistress had total control of his sensory experience and whether he breathed…or not. He trusted her that much.

I found myself jealous of his ability to trust someone that much. I don’t want to be in a rubber suit, but I want to be able to have that level of abandon with another person. I want to be that intimate and vulnerable with another person. I think these clients are able to be completely themselves during these sessions and that is mind-blowing to me. I once thought BDSM was scary and strange but I see it now as something pure and actually very beautiful. It is not about pain, it is, at its core, about experiencing utter and complete abandon.

I think the idea that most people hold of mistresses is that they are very mean, yet powerful amazons. What I saw was that these women are fully present, creative and loving. And yes, powerful. Who doesn’t want to be around that type of energy? I connected to a part of myself when I was watching the mistresses and seeing the unreserved, demonstrative and devoted energy that they brought to their work. I saw myself in that.

I also have always enjoyed grabbing, smacking and biting the ones I love (sometimes bringing them to the edges of pain but then scaling back and “doing nice” again). I never really knew why I did this, I just thought it was something weird about me that I probably shouldn’t talk about (an ex used to shame me for it, insinuating there was something wrong with me).

Now I realize - because the mistresses modeled for me a different reality - an internal experience I have always had but never understood. I don’t think I’ll become a dominatrix any time soon, but I can accept and subsequently enjoy this part of myself now because I understand it more.

I feel invigorated today and that the world is more mine. I am connected to it and the people in it in a new way.

This Life of Mine

If you would’ve told me 8 years ago when I was working as a technical writer for a DoD subcontractor that I would be doing drop splits off a pole in a bikini I would’ve said, “That would be a miracle.” Needless to say - I believe in miracles. 

I’ve added another stretch class to my Citrus Park schedule… I teach “All Level Splits N Straddles” every Tuesday night, 8:30PM - 9:15PM, and every Saturday morning, 10AM - 10:15AM. Let’s get weird

The Shadow Side of Authenticity

Yesterday and Today were days of epiphany and processing - two themes that are dear, old friends of mine. Some time ago I chose to live open-hearted and with this, I knew I’d be wide open to not only the “good” authentic aspects of myself and of others, but also the “bad”. I was scared but I chose this path because once you see behind the curtain there is no going back. 

With this choice comes the realization that I will experience the highest of highs but I will also know deep pain as well. I continue to chose to be open because even though the pain is scary, what it brings are Helpers - and I mean this in a very real sense. 

I had a text conversation today with a person that completely changed my perspective. Had I not been open to my own pain with myself and subsequently shared that with another, I imagine I’d be trying to “figure it out” on my own and that has always been a paltry crumb compared to the connection and revelation brought on by another.

Living authentically is not all rainbows and glitter. But pain is part of “doing life right” and it shouldn’t be made into a monster. Pain - and joy - mean you are experiencing this thing called life to its fullest. And this is where all the miracles are.

What would someone that loves themselves do right now?

“What would someone that loves themselves do right now?” 

This is an exercise I’ve been practicing for the past few days. With the end of the fall semester upon me, running two studios full time and just getting over a breakup, it’s been a challenging time for me for sure.

Asking myself this question multiple times throughout the day has yielded results that feel so good. I was on hold with the IRS this morning and started to get frustrated getting passed from one customer service rep to the next when I remembered to ask myself, “What would someone that loves themselves do right now?” 

My irritation quickly faded and my intuition told me, “Keep the phone on speaker and go pick up the cat.” I immediately felt better and got done what needed to be done with the taxes. It’s funny how our intuition always tells us what’s best for us, we only need ask....and then listen. 

This holiday season I invite you all to ask yourself this question anytime you feel overwhelmed or unsure of what decision you should make. I’m really loving the way it’s making me remember who I am, especially in the hardest and most stressful of times!

Love to all of you, Brandi

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⭐️November is for Miracles⭐️


A “Facebook Memory” from 6 years ago popped up on my timeline this morning. It was a post written when I was running my business out of a 150 sq. ft. space. In November 2012 I went to work every day with my to-do lists, I decorated that tiny space with the heart of someone decorating the Taj Mahal. I put my sign out on the street everyday. I worked. I waited. I worked more and my heart was the holder of a constant anticipation. Less than three months later my entire life and business took a new direction.

The seeds of my work were blooming. Six years later my seeds continue to bloom. There is and always has been a knowing that I will always be in business. I will always be of service to people and be compensated for it. As I was six years ago, and again last year when I opened my 2nd studio I am again on the cusp of something brighter now. These seeds continue to grow, they’ve been growing like a vine for 39 years. Are you growing? Do you feel this stirring of the heart I speak of here? Do you believe in miracles? My friend, there is nothing I won’t have and the same is true for you.

I believe in the teachers of the world, the ones who make you say, “I will never see the world the same way again.” Something is happening inside, I work and I wait. And then, when I’m least expecting it - in the midst of a practice session or during a joyful editing process - The Call comes. 👩🏻‍🏫 Ms. Wanda Paeka, Mr. Milton Watts, Mr. Richard Geiger, Miss Cindy, Sarah Murray, Richard Fixler, Chris Campbell...teachers that changed my life I’m forever grateful, in my heart always. Thank you for showing me a different way to see the world.

Thank you God for the Love I experience every day from the caring students, friends, and chance encounters of my everyday. I asked for this life a long time ago in my bedroom as a very young child and I will never forget or take this for granted. This is my Life and my Purpose. ⭐️November is for miracles⭐️#brandiland

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Goodbye To What Was Never Mine

I always had my own way about myself before anything happened. And then a thing came along that made me question that way. I thought it was me this whole time, these swirls of confusion, but it was not. I lay it down now here. I no longer need to understand those things, I never again will need to try. They do not belong to me and they never did. I do not need to carry this anymore.

Goodbye.

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Journalists in the Movies

I am closing on my last few semesters as a graduate student in the Digital Journalism and Design program at USF. This semester, I took a fascinating course called "Journalists in the Movies". From the ten movies watched this semester, the overall impression of how journalists were portrayed is balanced. Some movies, such as "Spotlight" and "All The President's Men" portray journalism as a career meant for those with only the purest of intentions, those of sterling character. Conversely, movies such as "Nightcrawler" and "Absence of Malice" portray the darker side of journalism: if one were to only view these two movies about reporters, a person could easily see how their impression of the press would be jaded and suspicious.

In truth, our professor did an excellent job of curating a collection of films that represent the varied personality types and ethical temperatures of a complex and storied group of people such as journalists. Journalism, much like anything in life, is made up of a melting pot of different intentions, agendas and belief systems. Historically, I think journalists have enjoyed an elevated position in the minds of the general public (much of it due to movies such as "All the President's Men"); however, it seems as though with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and the internet age, most people are more cynical now toward the institution of journalism, citing such issues as bias reporting, fake news, and press pandering to one political party or another. Movies about journalism seem to represent rather fairly the wide range of people that inhabit these reporter roles. When journalism-based movies are viewed together as a whole, somehow, Hollywood seems to have gotten it right this time. Journalists are people, and people are human. The human condition exists throughout all time and through all occupations.

Now for a lighter perspective: the Seth Meyer's spoof on reporters had me laughing out of my seat. One thing that drove me crazy through most of the movies was the incessant cacophony of typewriter keys for scenes in the newsroom. I think the spoof is more a funny peek into the composition techniques and shot sequences that filmmakers use when filming journalist movies more than it speaks about journalism itself. Filmmakers enjoy using tried and true shot sequences when filming (and for good reason - because they work) and journalism movies are no exception. The dirty styrofoam cups, the threadbare reporter's apartment, and the long pregnant pauses from the editor are done to death but for good reason: they are painting a picture, a mood and a feeling about the landscape of news. They are taking the viewer somewhere they have never been and most likely never will go, which is what filmmaking is about. I think although some elements of the films are trite, for the most part they are harmless and are fairly accurate representations of a place and a moment in time.

Fundamental Leaps and Peripheral Transmutations

Let's go back in time - way back in time - to A Revolution. Let us do this so as to more deeply understand our present time period. Let's take it back to the very beginnings of our country, where we were only colonies burgeoning with not much more than pipe dreams and possibility. How did we get to where we are now? What exactly was the American Revolution and who exactly was it fought for? What were the ideals behind each group and how can we use the lessons of the past to help us maneuver our current mental and emotional landscapes?

A boy and a girl, both aged two grow up together as siblings in the same home with the same parents. Both children are well-taken care of and tended to, being fed the same foods, given the same warm beds to tuck into each night and the same caring, parental arms to embrace them should distress cross their young minds. However, when the young boy goes off to school to be educated, his mind cultivated for the challenges he will meet as an adult, the girl is “confined and limited” to the duties of the home. One is empowered and encouraged to explore the corners of his young and unfolding intellect, the other falls victim and is deterred by unconscious, prohibitive yet customary child-rearing practices. Although by their nature the boy and girl are intellectual equals, the boy goes on to accomplish a great many achievements, while the girl grows into a bitter woman, and because her mind is untrained by proper education, giving her the ability to reflect on greater ideas, her diminished sense of self diminished, she is thus preoccupied by destructive pastimes such as gossip, and other such trifling thoughts such as “the mechanism of a pudding, or the sewing the seams of a garment".(Murray, 14) 

“As their years increase, the sister must be wholly domesticated, while the brother is lead by the hand through all the flowery paths of science. Grant that their minds are by nature equal, yet we shall wonder at the apparent superiority, if indeed custom becomes second nature; nay, if it take the place of nature, and that it doth the experience of each day will evince.” (Murray   )

This anecdote as described by Judith Sargent Murray in her most important work, the feminist essay, On the Equality of the Sexes, illustrates the world as experienced by women before, during and after the American Revolution. The essay analyzes and criticizes the traditional cultural narrative of male superiority as it relates to the abridgment of female education and its effects on the overall mental and financial enterprises of the female population. The essay was published in the era of the revolution, a time when fundamental leaps in a country’s independence were made in addition to many less visible, peripheral transmutations. Although it is obvious that the clearest winners of the American Revolution were the free white men, women, African Americans and although on a much smaller scale the Native Americans, did in fact benefit from the revolution when the progressions made during the era is viewed through the lens intangible success – many seeds for future equality were sown - as opposed overt expression of liberty.

During the 1760s and 1770s women’s domestic activities took on great political meaning: when men went off to become soldiers, it was the women that began to take ownership of the responsibilities of running the family farms and businesses. Women were slowly moving into more traditional male roles and learned to excel at hiring farm workers and selling crops. Such ownership of these ventures can be attested to in the letters that wives wrote to their husbands during the war – one example being that women had evolved from earlier periods in the war when describing the family farms as “yours” (the husband’s) to “ours” and more so several years later going so far as to call the farms “mine”.  Such ownership – even though mostly in thought though in deed as well – would not have transpired had it not been for the revolutionary landscape of the time.

Women benefited from the revolution in another way as well: a republican motherhood became the newest credo for women. Because Americans knew that their republican government would fail unless ordinary men lived and breathed political virtue, it became the responsibility of women to instill this patriotism in their sons and daughters, making motherhood and child-rearing a civic act. One could say, emboldened by the spirit of the revolutionary times, the collective American mind had been opened so as to receive such radical ideas as espoused in Murray’s On the Equality of the Sexes. The need to have mothers properly instruct their children in virtue, to fulfill this republican motherhood, was a catalyst for new fields becoming available to women in history, philosophy, and political theory. In her essay, Murray argued that women are not intellectually or otherwise inferior to men, but in fact have been extremely prohibited in the development of their mental faculties, stating that the “province of imagination hath long since been surrendered to us” and that traditional female roles such as “seamstress” and “chef” do not bring out the breadth of expansive creativity that lie dormant because education has been deprived to them. During these times of the early republic, there were a great many that did believe a woman’s place was solely in the domestic realm – what changed after the American Revolution was that there was now a space for women like Murray to make her voice heard – a voice that was in stark contrast to the conventional themes carried on by generations , a voice that spoke of such treatment as degrading treatment such as the denial to access to education.

Yet as with most progress comes the inevitable downslope and although there were many wins for women, there was still a long way to go in terms of suffrage and the change in inheritance laws which placed them still at a severe disadvantage.  However, prior to the revolution, women did not dare think that they might be intellectual equal to men or even imagine a future where they may one day have the right to put their skills as farmers and shopkeepers out into the public. Although not perfect, these rumblings that were cracking the traditional foundations believed in until revolutionary times, set the stage and signaled to a future of women’s rights including that of the all-important female right to vote.

When the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783 the American Revolutionary War came to an end, giving the colonies independence from Britain, and with it, came the most important and overt “win” for Americans, particularly free, white men. In Common Sense, Thomas Paine says, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now.” Women were not the only group concerned with their general admittance to assorted opportunities, education, and social position. For African Americans, the world post-revolutionary war was complicated. When the cotton gin was invented, growing cotton became immensely profitable, and planters required more land and slave labor. Conversely, the American Revolution allowed thousands of black Americans their freedom as well. In the north, many slaves went to claim freedom, with Massachusetts and Vermont abolishing slavery, planting the seeds of its future extinction. The African-American’s dedication to freedom and removal from a slave society is illustrated in the story of a slave named Thomas Peters. Joining the British military in 1776, as a sergeant in a unit of support troops, when Britain evacuated New York 1783, approximately 10,000+ attained their freedom by fighting for Britain, where they were settled in Nova Scotia after the war and Peters became the leader of a large group of black loyalists that “argued that the British had not lived up to their promises of land grants and fair treatment in exchange for their loyalty and service” and “…Peters convinced the British to resettle 1,200 black loyalists in Sierra Leone, Africa, a British colony” (www.ncpedia.org). It was here that they lived as free men with their own government, and served as the foundation for what was to be the modern African republic. Again, although imperfect, the revolutionary era did provide a humble, yet, important chasm dividing the old way from a beacon of possibility for the future.

While there was a mixed bag of achievements and shortcomings from the female and black populations resulting from the revolutionary era, of all the groups populating this time period, the Native Americans suffered the biggest blows and experienced what many consider “an unmitigated disaster.” It had become clear to the Indians that an independent America would prove a much greater challenge to Indian interests than a maintained British alliance. Native Americans were not represented at the bargaining table in Paris and despite the fact that Britain had never purchased the region between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, they ceded this area to the former colonists despite the substantial amount of aid the Native Americans provided to Britain. In additional to the fact that the protection of 1763 was gone, settlers could move west of the Appalachian Mountains, now considered “free territory” although already inhabited by Native Americans. Lastly, not only where the Native Americans absent from the Treaty of Paris, they are also absent from the musical Hamilton. Gary Nash believes African Americans to be the forgotten people; however, it appears as though the Native Americans are the true invisible people of the revolutionary era – and beyond. While most groups went on to experience future success, freedom and individual rights (the Native Americans received but a modicum of recognition, comparatively speaking), it was not until later down the line that the real changes took root. As Dr. Snyder said in the July 7, 2017 video lesson, Repercussions, “If the vast majority of Americans of the founding era received few lasting benefits of the American Revolution, I would argue that the long term prospect was brighter.” Truly, during the founding era, women, African Americans and Native Americans did not receive equal treatment yet the seeds had been planted. There was no going back to the archaic ways of being or thinking pre-revolution. Once the idea of equality had occurred to women, to blacks, there was no “un-thinking” it. Every revolution begins in the minds of the people, and those thoughts - although may seem paltry to what the spirit and scope a revolution inherently promises – are the humble beginnings for great change. Who won the revolution? Everyone won, because “…the whole subsequent history of the United States can be truly summed up as a struggle between the ideals of the declaration of independence the circumstances of its creation and the prospect to which all of these ideals finally came to fruition.” (Synder) It may have seemed that the free white men had yet again triumphed over the vast majority, yet the peripheral transmutations were the beacons of freedom yet to be bestowed.