How I Lost 19lbs In 5 Weeks

This blog is going to sound like an infomercial.  It’s not.  But it’s the truth.

If you know me well you will know that I like to eat.  Hell you can look at me and tell that I’m not an “I’ll just have a side salad and a glass of water” chick.  I’m not much of a “snacker” and I don’t often crave sweets or junk food but when it comes to just sitting down with family and friends and enjoying food and drinks I’m all the way in.  Throw down!  Most social events include food.  That’s what we do.  I usually eat healthy food but I eat a lot of it.  I also come from a father who knows what it’s like to be hungry and both parents lived through the Depression.  You eat what’s on your plate, you eat what will fill you up and stick with you, and when you can’t finish all of your food you definitely have to eat all of the most expensive item on the plate.  These are the rules that we carry over to our own kids so that they will always be full.  It’s why restaurants have to give us portions that will serve 5 people on one plate.  It’s why we are fat.

Another thing you may also know about me is that I do not diet and I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not going to calorie count or worry about carbs and all that mess.  For the most part it’s because usually when I hear other folks talking about some diet they are on it’s almost always one of those off the wall, there is no way in hell you can be serious, does your doctor know you are doing this? kind of diet plans that in my mind are a big waste of time and certainly not healthy.  I’ve witnessed people drinking gallons of cucumber water telling me they are going to have a flat stomach all the while they are eating Chipotle for lunch and pizza for dinner.  I’ve heard people say that enormous amounts of green tea will burn belly fat.  And oddly enough most of these people stay overweight.  There’s the no carbs all protein diet, the grapefruit diet, Atkins diet, master cleanse, and so on.  I hear people talking about this stuff, see them start it, and then a few days/weeks later it’s back to Chipotle and they are just as heavy (or heavier) than they were before.  Not everyone of course.  Some people have been very successful with their diets.  But the lose weight quick diets are a big turn off to me.  I don’t want to drink lemonade with cayenne pepper for a month.  No thanks.  I have teeth for a reason.  I need to chew something yummy.  Plus I have a family to feed too.  I just can’t do it.

So I guess when I posted one of my January Facebook statuses exclaiming that I was cutting out coffee, sugar, dairy, wheat, and alcohol among other things, people who knew me thought I had lost my mind.  At the time I didn’t tell anyone that I was on a “diet” because I promised my husband I wouldn’t.  He wanted to wait and surprise his family who he would see in February with his weight loss.  Yes the “diet” was his idea.  So while then I could only share this with my close friends and family, now it’s safe to come clean about it.  We are following “The Fast Metabolism Diet” by Haylie Pomroy. 




Yes I know…I said I don’t do diets.  It’s not really a “diet” to me…it’s a new way of eating.  It was my husband’s idea.  And even though we started this early January, it was not a New Year’s Resolution.  I actually jumped on board at the last-minute.  For him it was a series of “signs” that brought him to this diet.  Coworkers and random acquaintances had spoken of it to him, and then one day he was given a pile of books to donate or trash and in the pile was “The Fast Metabolism Diet” book.  So he brought it home.  I didn’t even look at it.  I hate diets, remember?  The promise that you will “lose up to 20 lbs or more in 4 weeks” didn’t even sway me.  But I came home one evening and here is my food loving husband, surrounded by groceries to start this program and making a big pot of soup.  What the hell was going on?  So I had to read the book.

The first thing that sold me was that the author didn’t talk about being thin.  I don’t want to be skinny.  She talked about healing my body.  She talked about the chemical and hormonal processes that slow our metabolisms and keep us from burning food and feeling good.  She didn’t care about calories or points.  As a matter of fact she said I would always be eating.  Every 3 to 4 hours I have to eat even if I’m not hungry.  HA!!  No problem there honey.  As a matter of fact she said DIET stands for Did I Eat Today? So I was intrigued.  And since my husband had already done the preliminary work all I had to do was join in for the four weeks.  Knowing that it would be easier if we were both eating the same things, I hopped on board.

There are rules though.  Big scary rules.   The rules have to be followed or the plan will not work.  No exceptions.  No cheating.  You have to follow the rules.

The rules are:

*No Sugar: no artificial sweeteners, no honey, no agave.  Only Stevia and Xylitol in small amounts when necessary.  No fruit juices or sodas of any kind.

*No Caffeine: no coffee regular or decaf, no black tea, no green tea, no white tea.  Only herbal caffeine free teas. 

*No Coffee: this is separate from caffeine because coffee messes with your adrenal glands, a key player in your metabolism. 

*No Alcohol: pretty easy to understand as it is really liquid sugar and it’s processed through your liver.

*No Dairy: no milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, blah blah.  No “lactose free” milks.  No soy milks.

*No Soy: this surprised me but she said that soy is the one thing to eat if you want to look tired and bloated.  When she is getting actors ready for a role where they have to play an alcoholic she has them eat lots of soy.  LOL wow.

*No wheat: No bread, no pasta, no white rice, no flour.  Only sprouted wheat bread/tortillas, spelt, and brown rice or quinoa pastas.

*No nitrates: No processed meats, lunchmeats, bacon, etc. 

*You MUST drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day.  This is outside of any tea or lemon water you drink.  I weighed 186 lbs when I started this plan so I had to drink 93oz of water a day.

*You must eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. 

*You must eat 5 TIMES a day (every 3-4 hours).  No exceptions.  Breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up, and then every 3 to four hours as follows, a snack, lunch, snack, dinner…and if you are up and doing stuff 4 hours after dinner you have to have another snack.

*You cannot eat “fake” or “diet” foods.  Nothing labeled low calorie or fat free.  No calorie counting and no points.

*Each week is broken into 3 phases.  You can only eat foods that are included in your phase (there are a LOT of them).   The only fruit not included is bananas.  The only vegetables are corn and white potatoes.     

*You will exercise only 3 times per week.  Each phase has a mild to moderate exercise.  1 day of cardio.  1 day of weights.  1 day of stretching/relaxing.  No more.  You don’t have to exercise but you will increase the metabolism effect if you do.  However you will still lose weight if you don’t.  You cannot exercise more than those 3 days.  (other than walking we didn’t exercise at all)


Lots of rules….lots of sacrifices.  But as hard as it seemed I did it for my son.  He’s 6.  I’m 49.  That isn’t his fault and he deserves a mommy who isn’t tired and weighed down.  2014 added lots of physical and spiritual weight to me.  I lost my father, my job, and I was on autopilot keeping everyone else around me “okay”.  I was tired.  I didn’t want to feel like this anymore.  So I removed the “I can’t do this…I can’t give this up” mantra from my brain and just jumped in.  I let go of all of my vices.  Go hard or go home.

I didn’t think I could give up coffee for 4 weeks just because I loveeeee it…not for the caffeine…just for the yummy goodness.  Sugar seemed easy because I don’t even crave sugar but I didn’t know that sugar was messing me up as bad as it was until I cut it out.  This is a direct result of my coffee drinking.  The ONLY thing I put sugar in is coffee and I drink at least 4 cups a day.  I also drink wine (and Fireball) and that is even more sugar.

Let me tell you something…the first week was an evil, ugly, sick, horrible week.  I called out of work twice thinking I was getting the flu.  Every part of my body ached.  My joints screamed at me.  Any place there was a weakness was even more inflamed and painful.  I was nauseous and just wanted to curl up and die.  This is no exaggeration.  Thank God I had an acupuncture visit that week.  She said “Um honey you are going through withdrawals from cutting all that stuff out at once.  Sugar is the devil.”   No shit.  A white powdery devil.  But after the first week things were on an upswing and I was dropping about a pound a day.  My husband lost 10lbs the first week.  Honestly I was skeptical as hell when we started.  How the hell can I eat lots of food all day and lose weight.  HA!!  It was working.  Craziness.

And let me tell you something even better.  Close to 3 weeks in I noticed that my chronic sinus issues and post nasal drip that is a singer’s worse nightmare were gone.  GONE.  My joint painGONE.  The dark cloud of hormonal misery and doom that hangs over me at PMS time.  GONEBreast painGONE.  Some of these things were lifelong issues.  They were all gone.

I felt WONDERFUL.  For the first time in a very long time I wasn’t tired.  And interestingly enough all of the vices I gave up I suddenly had no craving for them.  I was delivered!  Lol

So we are now done with our 4 weeks but we extended it out to 5.

In 5 weeks my husband has lost 31 lbs.

In 5 weeks I have lost 19 lbs.

We have decided to keep going with the format but abandon the phases in the week.  I am still not eating sugar.  I had my first cup of coffee last weekend and it was okay.  I don’t need it anymore.  I had two mimosas on Sunday and didn’t like the “flushed” feeling in my head so I went back to water.  I think I might be healed.  I feel so much better that I’m going to get back to my yoga practice and maybe some running.  Time will only tell if I can maintain this way of life.   But right now I can’t see myself every going back to feeling that horrible again.  I’m lighter and healthier with no drugs.  Everything changed just by changing what I consumed.  How can you give up all of those vices for 4 weeks?  How can you not?!  🙂

Love and Light (much lighter light lol)

Janice B.










The Yellow Bead

**Note..I wrote this blog a few years ago when my friend April Sims  asked me to do a guest blog for Black History Month.  I recently saw a news article that was giving statistics about what races were more likely to have friends outside of their own race and I felt a little sad that someone actually felt there was a need to research that.  It reminded me of this blog I had written and how adopting trans-racially has made me look at my world quite differently than I did before…even with a circle as colorful as mine was before my son came along. 

The Yellow Bead 

(Alex in his Korean Hanbok *photographer: Thomas Aaron)


I sat with my paper cup in one hand and a pile of multicolored plastic beads in front of me waiting for the next statement.  The adoption class teacher said, “Most of the people in my church are…..?”.   I struggled with this because my church is very racially mixed.  But reluctantly I picked up a white bead and put it in the cup.  I had to admit that MOST of the people at my church are white.   I looked down in my cup at the white, black, and brown beads all mixed together in fairly equal numbers.  I was pretty happy seeing that I had such a colorful cup.   The key word of course is “MOST”.  I’m white.  So “MOST” of my relatives are white.   Question after question….”most” of my friends are…, coworkers are…, neighbors are…., etc.     But despite how diverse my circle is, there wasn’t one yellow bead in the cup.  The yellow bead would soon be my son.  He will be the only Korean relative, the only Korean neighbor, maybe the only Korean friend in his class.  I won’t see him as anything other than my beautiful child and my love for him transcends the color of our skin.  But I know the rest of the world isn’t always so loving.

This exercise opened my eyes to how my son would feel in my world and how I take my skin color for granted.  And that no matter how open minded I am, no matter how many brown and black beads I have in my cup, I’m still a part of the majority of the beads.   And quite honestly no matter how often I may be the only white person in the room, at the end of the day I can go to my parents’ house, go to my church, flip through a family photo album, and I will be surrounded by people who look like me.  I won’t be the only white bead.  My son will NEVER know what that feels like.

When April asked me to do a guest blog during Black History Month I thought of so many topics I could blog about but every one of them came back to race and how we view each other.   So many conversations I have overheard or unfortunately had to endure simply because the people talking assumed since my skin was the same color as theirs that I also would share or tolerate their ignorance.  Or in contrast since I am “down” with African Americans that the derogatory comments about white folks won’t offend me.  “You’re not really white Janice”.  I’m not?  I’ve heard white and black people speak of each other as if we are of a different breed.  As if we aren’t all humans.  Some of the things I have heard are pretty disturbing.  I don’t need to recount them all.  It’s disappointing.  I recently heard someone say, “Why do THEY need a whole month for Black History?”  I always cringe at the “us” and “them” mindset no matter who it’s coming from.  Sometimes I will speak up and defend the truth but let’s face it, sometimes you are just wasting your breath.  Some folks just got a whole cup full of white beads.  These folks probably don’t want to hear that the truth is until “THEY” have more than just a chapter or a mention in “YOUR” history book then there will always be a need for Black History Month.  I never really understood why history isn’t just history.  I’m not preaching or looking for approval…that’s just the truth.  And here’s a good one….since the human species originates from Africa then we are all related, right?  It’s OUR history, right?  (I’ve learned that some folks with all white beads (and some with all black beads) really hate that little factoid.)  But hate it or not that is a fact.  I shouldn’t even have to explain that.  That should be common knowledge.

I am a child of the 70s.  I remember growing up with the very cocky notion that we might be the ones to make a change in the world when it comes to race relations.  We might be the ones who will look at each other and see how much we are alike and not just how different we look, yet still be able to celebrate who we are.  After all, there we were sitting next to each other learning.  There we were going to dances and proms together, playing sports together on the same team, riding the bus together, graduating together.  We saw adults dividing themselves and we laughed at how narrow minded they were.

But now I’m an adult and we work together, shop together, worship together, create together, LIVE together.  And 30 something years later despite all the black and brown beads in my cup we still have so much to work on.  We still aren’t looking at each other and seeing the similarities.    I’m disappointed in us.  Not “THEM”….”US”.  All of us.  The bottom line is that even after all this time we still haven’t gotten it right.  We are appalled at the idea of the “Whites Only” establishments that wouldn’t allow black people to sit at their lunch counters.  It truthfully wasn’t that long ago.  And there are a lot of people who still draw a very distinct line between themselves and other races.  They are very comfortable in their ignorance.   I know this blog isn’t going to solve that.  I just know that the missing link is the knowledge and acceptance that we are all one in the same and that somehow folks have forgotten that or just never learned it to begin with.  I have to accept that although I was so sure my generation would change things, I really might not live to see that world.  But I have faith that there are a lot of people out there with multicolored beads in their cups.  And I know the love in our circle is powerful and growing.  And I hope that one day it won’t be odd for some people to learn that my son is Korean and his uncle is African America, his auntie is Mexican, and we are all a family.  We all belong to each other.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  ~Mother Teresa

Love and Light,

Janice B.

More about me:

The “N” Word


I was working the evening shift at a store in a mall a million years ago and I was ringing up a customer at the front desk.  She was an older white woman….sweet as pie….but she appeared uncomfortable as she stood there looking all around her.  She pulled her purse close to her and leaned in over it as if to tell me a secret and asked, “Aren’t you afraid to work here with all these N….uh….(pause because she was searching for the best term to use)……COLOREDS?”

Oh my……

This blog is about the “N” word.  Okay and it’s about white privilege too.  But let’s start with the “N” word…

I will assume the majority of my readers know what I’m talking about and no I am not going to type the word.  Why?  Because as a white woman (and a human being) it is not a part of my vocabulary or thought process.  I don’t secretly say that word to my white friends in private, I don’t “think” that word in any context and especially not in regards to someone else and as a matter of fact I cringe when ANYONE says it.

Over the past month I have either overheard or have been a part of conversations about race including the use of the N word.  Some were mentioning that there really is no racism anymore and we are all equal so why are black people so “sensitive”.   Some conversations were about how white folks sometimes think they can say the N Word because of the crew they hang with, friends they have, etc.  All of this is bullshit.  (Sorry for the language)

I don’t know, maybe the most recent racial commentary started with Paula Deen…. and then the George Zimmerman trial/verdict really got folks talking about race and the lack of fairness and justice that occurs when anyone who isn’t black is on trial for killing a black man.  I have zero to say about Paula and her dumb ass.  And I’m not going to go into great detail about the Zimmerman verdict and I have a whole separate blog on the murder of Trayvon Martin.  I will say I think it’s an outrage that this man is “not guilty” of anything.  As I’ve stated before…Neighborhood Watch reports suspicious activity to the police.  DONE.  When you get out of your car with a gun and pursue a teenager and shoot him that is your choice.  That is intent.  There is no need to defend yourself if you are in a locked car watching a teenager walk down the street. Clearly they would never have picked me for the jury!

Anyway, let’s tackle the use of the N word first, shall we?

WHITE PEOPLE….I am talking primarily to you.  When is it okay for you to use the N word?  Write this down…..


It is NEVER okay for you to use the N word.  NEVER.   Actually go ahead and consider “NEVER” to be your new N word.

“But Janice, you don’t understand.  I have a lot of black friends, listen to hip hop, grew up in the hood, have a platinum pass, work for a black owned business and my coworkers say it, that’s how it was back in the day,  people used to call me names too, have a black boyfriend/girlfriend, blah blah blah.”   I do understand that you think its okay.  But it is still NEVER okay for you to say it.  NEVER.   I know there are groups of white teens who think because they are into hip hop and dress the roll and talk the talk, that they are somehow allowed to use the word they hear so often in the music they love.  And maybe your little circle of “brothas” accepts you saying it…..but please believe that it will NOT be accepted outside of your circle.  In the real world you will get your ass kicked.  This is white people 101.  I’m sorry you missed the class but hear me now….it’s not okay for you to say the N word.

It is an offensive racial slur to MOST people.  Yes black folks say it to each other sometimes.  That doesn’t give you any kind of permission to say it.  And no it does not matter if there is an “a” instead of an “er” on the end.  I realize this can be considered a term of “endearment” to some but trust me that there are a lot of black people who still find that offensive as well.

Another important factor is that even if you don’t understand WHY it’s offensive to someone, just the fact that it IS should be enough for you to never say it.  And please, when someone tells you it is offensive to them do not go on and on with a litany of reasons why it shouldn’t be.  Just respect that it is and stop.  I personally don’t want to hear ANY racial slurs.  And I actually find people who feel they have some privilege to say it even more offensive than those who are just plain ole ignorant.  I know I’m probably going to upset people.  And I know that they will look to my pictures on Facebook, my creative circle, friends and family, and tell me that it’s not the same for me because I have “a lot of black friends”, etc.  I hear that craziness all of the time.  All I can tell you is that as accepted as I am in most circles I enter, I would like to think that it’s because I am true to who I am and never try to be something I’m not.  This is me.  It’s not a charade.  I’m not trying to be anything to fit in with any particular group.  I fit in because I am me.  I am considered family by a lot of people who don’t look like me.   And maybe I also fit in because I understand what white privilege is.  I didn’t earn this privilege but no matter how cool or “down” I am to folks, at the end of the day my white skinned, Welsh/Scottish ass has privileges in this world that other people including my closest friends and some family members don’t.  I didn’t earn this.  I was born with it.  It’s not fair.  I am highly aware of it.  So let’s move on to that topic…..

I heard someone say that racism doesn’t really exist anymore.  And quite honestly in my opinion THAT is one of the biggest problems we have as human beings right now.  The fact that people cannot understand that racism exists, that we are not really “equal”, and that we have so much personal and interpersonal work to do.  Hell we can’t even talk about it on Facebook without people attacking each other.  We keep taking steps backwards.  We aren’t learning from our mistakes.  We are idiots.  We aren’t teaching our kids about respect for everyone and how can we when as adults we don’t even respect each other.  This is how we create George Zimmermans.  This is how we create people who view any black guy in a hoodie at night as a threat or suspicious.  This is how we maintain the “Us and Them” mindset that is keeping us from getting anywhere close to peace.

Let me try to explain white privilege.  I KNOW that because I am a white female I can get away with pretty much anything in this world.  I can drive fast, I can forget to renew my tags on time, I never have to get out of my car if I get pulled over, I never worry about a police officer driving behind me,  I can walk out of stores with merchandise by accident, I can dress however I want and never be followed around a store, it is assumed I speak “well”, I never get stopped at customs or by security, no one labels me a thief or suspect without even knowing me, etc., etc.,…the list goes on and on.  THIS is white privilege.  Because my skin is white I never have to experience what my African American friends, colleagues, and family deal with every day in this country.  Yes…MAYBE if I am up in the midst of a situation with them I might be treated as they are.  But the difference is I don’t have to be there.  I can turn around and go on about my white way and for the most part not ever have to worry about being treated with disrespect, unfairness, injustice ever again.  I have that choice.  I have that privilege.  It’s real.  If your skin is white you need to realize and own this.  THIS is white privilege.

Because of this, you really should be much more sensitive to the fact that people of other races do not experience this freedom that you do.  I think this is difficult for a lot of white people to grasp because in doing so they feel that they personally are being blamed for whatever situation is on the table at the moment and they get defensive.  And in a sense it is partially our fault if we don’t SEE that there is a difference in the way people are treated.  Once you see it happening, accept it is real, and change YOUR actions and perceptions, then there is a ripple in the water…a movement toward change.  It’s not an “overnight, let’s sign an official document, make a law,” kind of change.  It’s a change that comes from inside of all of us.  It’s a shift in the culture that won’t happen easily if it can happen at all.

My friend Ellen Gee* posted a photo on her Facebook page of a T-shirt that Adidas was selling.  It was displayed on a black faceless mannequin and it said “Run Like You Took Something”.  (By the way this was right after Adidas had those sneakers out with the shackles around the ankles and everyone was outraged.)

adidas shirt

There were a million comments on the thread under this picture, some amazed, some confused, some not surprised a bit, but one white man was going off on my friend.  “Why is everything about race?  “Why are we still having these conversations?” “I’m a white man who once lost a job to affirmative action” “I’ve been discriminated against just like you have” “We have bigger problems in the world than a black mannequin” “Quit playing the race card”…on and on and on.

This was my friend’s page. She is black.  She was offended by the shirt and the choice of color of the mannequin.   Yes everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But instead of TELLING her why it shouldn’t be offensive to her and even ridiculing her…maybe we should LISTEN to why she (and everyone else commenting) feels offended if it isn’t already clear to you.  Try for a second to put yourself in that person’s place.  How did it feel to you sir, the ONE time you lost a job to an African American because of race?  Were you feeling angry, sad, helpless, less valuable, etc??  Did you feel isolated and not accepted?  Can you imagine feeling that way on the regular?

I posted a reply to the thread comments going back and forth that day.  This is what I said….

“I personally don’t think ANY white person gets to say what is offensive to a black person. Just like anyone with a penis doesn’t get to tell me about whether or not I’ve been “legitimately raped” or what to do about the child I am carrying. It’s not about white folks. I can get followed around in stores every day for the rest of my life and it will never equal the racism, prejudice, and racial profiling that black people deal with 24/7. I’ve seen it. My friends live it. Yeah I’ve been discriminated against in my life. But when the police pull me over 98% of the time it’s friendly and I drive away with a warning. I never have to get out of the car. I could walk out of a store accidently carrying an unpaid for item and the clerk would probably run out after me and I could laugh it off as a mistake. No security need be called to follow me around the mall. No one ever comments that I “speak really well” for a white person. No one ever says “there goes the neighborhood” when I move in. People don’t cross the street when a few of my white friends and I are walking in a group towards them. Old ladies don’t clutch their purses close to them when I get on the elevator. It’s a privilege that I was born with….I didn’t earn it. It’s not fair but it is the truth. Yes there are bigggg problems going on in this world. The economy, the school systems, health care, etc. But that doesn’t change or minimize racism. That’s a whole different thing. And unless you live it every day with a skin color that for a lot of folks has branded you a thief, guilty, suspect, etc. then you can’t truly ever understand.”

Obviously I don’t have a brilliant solution for any of this.  As artists we write…we sing…we try to reach people to create some positive movement. Every time I think we are making a difference and opening minds through art and music, something happens that sets us all back again.  It makes me sick.  I don’t know what we can do other than LISTEN to each other without being defensive and TALK about what we can change in our own hearts and lives to create the shift that is needed to move a little closer to peace.

All we have is each other.  What affects one of us will ultimately in turn affect all of us.  Have you been affected enough yet?

Love and Light,

Janice B.


*More About Ellen Gee:

Ellen Gee, Janice B., and Romel Moralez during the shoot of “Feeling Fine”


Mercy, Mercy Me!!

JB laughing1

Mercy, Mercy Me….

Wow it’s February 2013 and I just realized that I haven’t blogged since July of last year.  Damn is that right??  I’ve meant well y’all…I started a whole lot of blogs about a whole lot of important topics.  But I just didn’t like the way they sounded and never hit that “publish” button.  I would rather not say anything at all than to just keep yapping about the same old stuff everyone else is yapping about.  I know that’s not how “artists” are supposed to do…we are supposed to keep our yapping out there so people will stay interested.  Yawnnn…lol.  But you know I gotta be me and it just wasn’t working for me. 

Seriously though…up through the end of December I was overwhelmed.  My musical endeavors kept me spinning along with my impending day job layoff, sick relatives, and the usual mommy stuff we all have to deal with rendered me blogless.  LOL   But here I am now so let’s go…

I feel it’s important as an artist (and human being in general) to give something back to your community and the world.  While I do frequently give what I can I really wanted to be able to do something with my music as well.  I know there are a lot of important music charities out there but I really wanted something I could be a part of and experience on my own right in my hometown.  I’ve spent quite a long time looking for a LOCAL organization that strives to make a difference while using music as the means to help others.  And as it so happens with all things I’m looking for, the perfect organization crossed my path at just the right time… 


Through the magic that is Facebook I bumped into Robin Fay Massie-Pighee, the director of Musicians of Mercy.  I’m not even sure what the first event was that she posted…maybe Patterson Park or the Jubilee Arts benefit.  But it was an open call for musicians to donate their time/talents for a show to raise money.  Something drew me in.  Maybe it was the fact that once I emailed her to inquire about being a part of the show she responded in all caps and exclamation points!!  “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!”  I would soon learn that this is no act or internet persona…she really is THAT exuberant in real life!  🙂

So Musicians of Mercy, (MOM for short) seemed to be the organization that was a good fit for me.  They don’t give to just one cause, they respond to whatever needs are out there at the moment both local and worldwide.  MOM raises funds for humanitarian causes through the production of benefit concerts. All performers volunteer their time and talents in concerts that are open to the public at little to no cost. MOM showcases a variety of artists…solo performing artists, chamber ensembles, jazz combos, spoken word, and a full orchestra.  It all started when Robin learned of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and wanted to do something to help.  Maybe that’s what I connect with the most.  So many times I’ve wanted to do something but didn’t know where to begin.  She just grabbed her viola and jumped in!!  I admire that!  I know this is a labor of love for Robin and all the musicians involved and quite frequently she has to pay for some of the expenses associated with doing these events herself.    

I’ve performed for a few Musicians of Mercy benefit concerts and I always walk away feeling blessed to be a part of such a great group of artists coming together for a common cause.  Truthfully I always wished I could do more.  And my wish was heard with an opportunity that presented itself in an unlikely situation. 

QueenEarth asked me to accompany her for her set as a part of the World AIDS Day event at Creative Alliance.  After the show we were approached and asked if we would like to have a concert in the spring.  We were told we could have a few acts together and select a charitable organization to donate part of the proceeds to.  After some late night brainstorming at the Double T Diner, meetings over chicken wings and whiskey, and gmail conversations, we had a show and a charity!! 

Have mercy flyer

So with that being said, on Thursday, March 28th  8-10pm at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, instead of Musicians of Mercy having a concert to benefit another charity…WE are having a benefit concert FOR Musicians of Mercy!  Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good, QueenEarth, and me, Janice B. together on one stage!  It won’t be 3 feature acts…we are performing together!!  It’s gonna be a blast!  Proceeds from the ticket sales and 20% of CD sales that night will go to Musicians of Mercy to help them continue with their humanitarian efforts. 

I’m really excited and blessed to be able to have this opportunity to perform alongside such amazing artists and great friends while giving something back with our music.  As my circle of love widens, the blessings continue to flow.  I hope you will join us on March 28thPic 3

Check the following link for details:

Facebook event page:!/events/144271515722657/?fref=ts

For more info on Musicians of Mercy:

Love and light,

Janice B.

Sticks and Stones

He was a pimp.   Not the first one I had dealt with for sure.  He had a superior attitude, loud, rude, with several women tagging along with him.  The women were strung out, incoherent, dirty, and dressed in provocative clothing.  Obeying his every word. 

This was a million years ago yet I remember it vividly.  I clearly recall the store full of customers on that Saturday night.  I was the manager on duty at a  clothing store in Landover Mall.  People reading this probably won’t know about Landover Mall.  All I can say is it was a colorful shopping mall with all kinds of people passing through…good honest folks and then the folks who were trying to steal a whole display of leather coats all while smiling and talking to you.  Drugs, shoplifting, fights.  Never a dull moment.  You had to be on your game.  So anyway…back to the pimp.  He walked in the store and I was working behind the counter with a long line of customers.  My staff on the floor glanced at me knowing they needed to be alert.  So far so good.  He seemed harmless.  Arrogant.  He was talking loudly ordering his women around.  They picked out some things to try on and went in the fitting room.  I stood behind the elevated counter ringing up customers and keeping my side eye on the pimp. 

He stood in the middle of the sales floor talking loudly to himself and kept glancing at me.  Then he pulled out a cigarette and lit it up.  He looked straight at me while he did this because even though back then you could smoke in the mall, you couldn’t smoke in the stores.  I guess it was a test.  He was waiting to see what I was gonna do.  I excused myself to interrupt the customer I was helping and then I said out loud… “Excuse me Sir.  I’m sorry but you can’t smoke in my store.”  Everyone in line stopped talking.  LOL  I remember that clearly.  Everything stopped except for the music playing.  Of course I remember the song..I’m a scorpio..hello!  It was Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show”.  LOL! 

He looked right at me.  I knew he wasn’t expecting me to say anything to him and he definitely wasn’t happy.  Then very loudly he yelled  “BITCH!  I GOT WHITE BITCHES LIKE YOU WORKING FOR ME!!!”  It sounds silly now.  But that is what he said.  It was like a bad movie.  LOL  There was a collective gasp in the line at the counter.  Everyone looked down or anywhere besides at either of us.  I never flinched.  Me.  The only white “bitch” in the room at the moment I suppose besides a few of his women in the fitting room.  And here I am telling a pimp what he can’t do.  I never changed my expression.  I replied calmly, “Sir I’m sure that is true,  however you still cannot smoke in my store.  Would you like for me to call someone to show you out to where you can smoke?”  Silence.  He looked at me and kept smoking.  He looked at the mall security guard who just happened to walk by to give me a wave and see if we were cool…and then he mumbled something and walked out of the store.  I continued to ring folks up and act like nothing had happened, talking to people in line and keeping it moving.  It was still way too quiet.  The man next in line said, “You handled that REALLY well.  That attitude is gonna serve you well in life.  You are gonna go far.”  I remember that clearly.  That African American man with his kind round face telling me about myself and where this little incident was gonna take me.   At the time I was very young and it really didn’t seem like anything but another crazy Saturday evening.  But now I really understand…

As a songwriter and lyricist I know the power of words.  The hurtful ones thrown at someone effectively can break a spirit, shatter a dream, ostracize, demean, and do a lot of damage to a person’s self esteem.  In turn, one kind word can make a horrible day suddenly become hopeful.  A positive word can encourage, motivate, heal, and sometimes even save a life.  To me, name calling is the last weapon in someone’s arsenal and when they resort to hurling insults I know they have already lost whatever game they are trying to win.  I think this is why political advertisements always turn me off.  If you can’t effectively tell me what you need to say without bashing someone else then what you are saying isn’t worth listening to.  It is childish but some adults do this all of the time.  She/he is fat, a whore, a bitch, ugly, stupid, etc.  And with the internet allowing people to hide behind their profiles with no face to face confrontation it’s even easier to be a bully.  Even though we are hopefully above all of that..hearing a harsh word like that about you can still sting.  Even as a grown woman.    

So fast forward from the pimp incident to present time and the reason I am writing this blog.  I just recently I discovered I have a few “haters” out there in cyberland.  I’m not a fan of the term “hater” but we’ll go with it for now.  I’m not even sure it’s me they hate.  It could be someone in my creative circle.  But let me elaborate…

It started the day my husband was in the hospital for his heart procedure.  I was already stressed out and trying to stay above the chaos when I got a notification on my phone that someone had commented on a page of mine on the internet.  It was someone who had apparently looked through all of my content, photos, video etc.  They said I was old, fat, couldn’t sing, the songs were boring, I must be sleeping with my producer, etc.  Damn.  What the hell??  I’m not gonna lie.  I was shocked and it definitely hurt a little.  Who is this and why all of the sudden?  Then I realized after checking it out that this person had created a fake profile and was going around to all of my pages making comments.  Some of my content on the pages was over 4 years old.  So why was this happenening all of the sudden??  I don’t have anything new going on that would warrant such comments.  While it made me angry I just deleted it and dismissed it. 

It was quiet for a while then a few weeks later there was a sudden onslaught of fake new profiles and awful comments.  Some really bad accusing me of all types of things that I won’t list here.  They said I was fat, looked pregnant, had wrinkles, must be over 50 years old, and an awful singer.  They made comments about my race, my hair, my voice, the songs, my horrible close up shots, my chin, my body, my band members, etc.  Jeez.  Why was this happening?  I couldn’t think of anything that had happened that would cause such nastiness towards me.  I hadn’t had any bad words or hard feelings with anyone that I was aware of.  I try to send a positive message with most things that I do and I seem to be gaining a small but very cool fanbase of awesome people.  But these guys weren’t playing around.  They were clearly on a mission to try to tear me down.  And all of them were new, fake profiles created that day with no other history except for bashing me.  It may have even been the same person since they misspelled some of the same words, etc.  But now they were clearly doing name searches on me.  Pulling up anything that had my name on it and leaving nasty comments.  But why?? 

I probably won’t ever know why.  It’s amazing to me that even today, as a 40 something mom, wife, singer, songwriter, etc…there are still people out there who want to tear me down.  I am not some big popular artist.  I am not competing with anyone.  Geez, half the time I am a mommy trying to make ends meet and do this music thing and find some time to rest when I can.  So to know someone is really going out of their way to hate on me is crazy.    But I know there is a bigger picture here.  This mindset…the people who go out of their way to belittle you and try to make you feel inferior and worthless..these are the “bullies” that we teach our children to ignore.  It’s easy to say “just ignore it”….even “it gets better”.  That’s easy to say when you aren’t the one being constantly ridiculed and belittled.  It wears on you.  It is hurtful.  It is unfair.  I’ve dealt with it before.  Jealous people, bullies, people trying to keep you out of their circle, squash your dreams.  But it’s at these moments that it’s even more important to stand firm in who you KNOW you are.

“It doesn’t matter what name you call me….what matters is the name I answer to.”     

People look at you and they see what they want to see. And you look in the mirror and you see what YOU want to see. Sometimes they don’t match up.  To that pimp that night I was just another white bitch.  Someone he was going to overpower.  But see I KNEW who I was. I didn’t need to act out. I didn’t need to get angry.  This is me. And I have found that when I am confidently standing as me…who I am….there is nothing that can hold me back. There is no one who can break me down.  There is no name you can call me that I haven’t risen above before and I may have even at one time looked in the mirror and believed  some of those things about myself.  But it has never stopped me.  Even when it hurts I press on.     

I know that people who act out like this are hurt.  They have also been bullied and hurt before and have never learned how to rise above it or change it.  (Thank you Raven for that insight)  Or they feel small and need to tear someone else down to feel powerful and a part of something.  It takes a lot of effort to create several fake profiles and spend your time looking up Janice B. only to leave comments that for whatever reason you think will hurt me or stop me from going after my goals.  In a sick way I suppose it’s a compliment.  You have to care a whole lot to put that much passion into hate.  My producer MoRece said once that people only start buzzing when there is something there to buzz about.  I know that is true but like I said in a recent Facebook status, I’ve never claimed to be young, wrinkle free, skinny, or a phenomenal singer.  I’m just doing what I love and being who I am.  I don’t need to hide behind a fake profile and hurt folks to feel powerful.  I stand strong in who I am no matter how imperfect that may be to someone else.  I know it’s probably best to just be silent regarding these incidents but that’s not my style.  I don’t hide.    If these people want to keep hurling sticks and stones at me I will just catch them and add them to this big mountain that I am climbing.  I will reach the top and continue to rise.  So I thank them for the extra lift and pray they find something in their lives worth climbing towards besides trying to pull me down.  I also thank them for the extra attention to my pages.  All of those extra hits are great!  🙂 

As for the pimp that night, he came back in the store still talking loudly I suppose to compensate for the fact that he didn’t shut me up.  He got in line with the women.  We rang him up and he took out a wad of one hundred dollar bills and threw money on the counter towards me.  But he didn’t look at me.  And he didn’t speak to me.  One of the women reached up to take a flyer off of the counter and he smacked her hand and told her to put it back.  I felt kind of sick inside.  As a woman, a mother, and a human being I now wonder what kind of abuse one had to endure to get to that level of despair and self hatred…I wondered that for both her and for him.  I pray I never come to understand that. 

I recently saw a quote in different variations on the internet but I’m not sure who said it or how the real quote is worded (if you know please tell me!).  But I will share it as best I can since it’s really fitting for this situation…..

“Remember that if people are trying to pull you down it’s because you must already be above them.”

Many thanks to the wonderful friends and fans in my world who take the time to send me a positive message, a kind word, and just something to let me know I am moving in the right direction.  For every negative comment I may receive I have so many more messages of love that you all continue to shine on me.  I choose your light as my focus and we are rising together!!

Love and Light,

Janice B.

**photo credit D. Taylor Images

Revisiting My Quiet Place


I was kind of MIA on the music scene in April.  Actually I was MIA on a lot lof scenes!!  LOL  I sort of took some time off from things.  Of course there are responsibilities I can’t walk away from, but I needed to step back and look inside for a bit.  Before I go on about that let me tell you this story…..

I remember this doctor’s visit like it was yesterday.  I was scared.  I just knew I was dying.  Here I was in my mid 20s, unable to make it up the steps to our 3rd floor apartment without crawling.  I was weak and exhausted.  We would go out to dinner or a movie on my occasional night off and half way to the restaurant I would feel like I was going to be sick.  Chest tight, short of breath, nauseous.  I didn’t feel that way at work.  I worked long shifts mostly on my feet as a retail store manager with payroll cutbacks and a whole lot of extra work.  When I was working I was “on”.  Constantly moving,  constantly aware.  When I got home I could hardly walk.  I thought I surely have some awful disease. 

So I braced myself for the doctor’s diagnosis.   He did all the usual tests.  Then he asked “So what do you do to relax?”.   Uhhhhhhh I had to think.  I said…“Watch TV?”  He informed me that this wasn’t really relaxing.   I started listing all the things I thought were relaxing and he shot me down each time.  Then he asked, “Do you ever just sit and do nothing?”  HA!!!  Hell no.  I didn’t.  My mind was always racing.  There was always something to deal with.  Yeah I might be off work but at any moment someone could call me in the middle of the night and say that the store had been broken into and I would have to go back in.  Or I would think I was getting off work at 6pm just to find out someone couldn’t work their shift and I would have to stay until the store closed.  I was always on edge…always on high.  So I had to admit that I didn’t know how to relax.  I didn’t know how to do nothing.  The doctor said, “You know…stress can kill you.”  Then he asked, “Can you give me just 10 minutes a day?”  I had no clue what the hell he was going to do but I agreed.  Surely I could do 10 minutes of whatever horrible treatment he had for me.  He pulled out a prescription pad and wrote down, “The Relaxation Response” and beside it “Dr. Herbert Benson”. 

A book.  He wanted me to get a book?  For real?  He briefly explained how the relaxation response works.  That when we are under constant stress, with constant chatter in our minds, our body is in “fight or flight mode”.  We are always operating in a panic state.  So in turn when we are in a place where we should be rested, like going to dinner or a movie, our body doesn’t know what to do…it doesn’t know how to be calm.  Enter the panic attack.  This is what was happening to me.  The Relaxation Response was designed to counter that “fight or flight” mode.   It gets your mind and body used to what it feels like to be calm and at peace.  So when something stressful happens, your body remembers how it’s supposed to be and doesn’t panic.  At the time I thought he was nuts.  Several years later I would learn this is the basic principle of meditation.  When I think back to that doctor’s visit I have to say, I am impressed.  He could have prescribed a million types of drugs.  But instead he gave me a prescription to heal myself…to change my entire way of living….by focusing inward.    

Without giving you a big detailed description, the Relaxation Response is basically sitting quietly with NO distractions.  You pick a word or saying that you will repeat to yourself over and over.  You first relax all of your muscles and then you clear your mind of all thoughts that come into it.  Easier said than done but with some time it really works.  You breathe in and when you exhale you say the word you have can speak it or just think it to yourself .  You do this naturally with each breath.  10 minutes a day to start.  It worked for me back then but like any other treatment, once you start to feel better you tend to stop doing it. 

So fast forward to April 2012… the beginning of this past month, I had to admit to myself that almost 20 years later, my body was going back into panic mode.  I had long since abandoned the Relaxation Response and hadn’t even practiced yoga like I used to do regularly.  And now, April 2012, I could feel the results of this.  Although I felt peaceful inside and my blood pressure was normal, I was layering on the “stuff”.   I have lots of stuff to balance and carry and handle.  I’m not going to list everything….if you know me you know my day to day adventures.  And most things I don’t even tell people about  because let’s face it…we all have “stuff”.    Just stuff to deal with….one thing on its own isn’t so stressful…..but we carry on and keep moving and keep layering more responsibilities, more “stuff” on us.  Sooner or later you are gonna fall.  Sooner or later you have to put some of that mess down and just be still or you are going to get sick. 

With this in mind, last month I did just that.  I put a whole lot of stuff down for a while.  I couldn’t clear my head.  I couldn’t focus.  I was edgy.  I was exhausted.  I was in physical pain.  And I had to do something.   I was in the mountains for a few days early April and it was there that I revisited the Relaxation Response and meditation.  I sat on the deck in the sun in lotus position (this position with your legs folded under you works for me because I won’t drift off to asleep lol) I purposefully let everything leave my mind.  It’s not easy.  But as the thoughts floated in….I let them float back out.  I can be so still that I can’t feel my hand sitting on my leg.  I can hear the wind in the trees and the birds chirping but they are distant sounds.  Your breath is a part of the rhythm of the world around you.  When you stop and look inward everything changes….the way you see yourself, the way you see the world, the way you see others.  You stop reacting and start observing.

 When you have a quiet calm place to go, when you visit it often, you start to carry it with you.  The day to day stress is lighter.  The burdens are lighter.  This quiet place is inside all of us.  I think some people are afraid to go there.  Because when you stop the chatter in your head and it’s just you and silence, sometimes people don’t like what they see.  Sometimes it’s hard to face the truth of why you need all that distracting chatter in the first place.  But I think that’s even more reason to go there.  That’s the first step to changing what you don’t like about yourself and the world.  It starts inside you.  You can keep looking for a remedy, keep taking pills to calm you, blood pressure meds, etc.  Or you can numb yourself with drugs and alcohol.  Or you can keep being miserable.   But the stuff is still there.  I think with the state of the world today we all have some chatter going on…we all have some stuff that we need to put down for a while and just be still.     

It is said “prayer is talking to God….meditation is listening”.  You can make focusing inward a time to listen to God if that’s what you choose.  Or it can just be you and the and your breath/heartbeat….however you decide to perceive it is up to you.  You can meditate, you can pray, you can do the relaxation response….but the result is the same.  It is a peace and stillness that is the center of everything.  Once you are able to go there your world will change. 

Here’s a link for more info on The Relaxation Response:

Until next time….

Love and Light,

Janice B.

Aiming the Gun, Taking a Life (My thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case)

I used to keep a gun in my house.  A revolver. 

I knew how to use it even though I hoped I would never have to.   Even if someone was breaking the door down I would hopefully be able to escape without having to shoot someone.  But the fact of the matter is when you own a gun you have to also own the fact that you might be responsible for taking someone’s life.  Some people think that sounds easy given the right circumstances.  But most people who think it is easy, people who think that they could easily shoot someone who was trying to harm them or their child, for example, have most likely never even held a gun.   They have no idea what the decision to point a gun and shoot someone brings with it.  It should never be easy.  

I am familiar with and have respect for guns because I grew up with them.  My father was a DC police officer and later homicide detective.  He also used to hunt for food.   We had guns in the house.  I knew where they were.  I knew how to use them.   My father instilled in me that guns are dangerous weapons and that thankfully he had never had to take someone’s life as a police officer.  He said that a good police officer should go their entire career praying they never have to take someone’s life.  And that it was a burden that no one should ever have to carry.   But he also said that you never ever pick up a gun and aim it at someone, human or animal, unless you are ready to accept that burden.  If the possible harm to you is greater than the burden of taking that life then you will have to live with that choice even if you feel justified in making it. 

I’m talking about guns because I wonder what was going through the mind of George Zimmerman the night he chose to aim his gun and shoot Trayvon Martin.  Like pretty much everyone I know, this case is weighing heavily on my heart these days.   It seems the details of that evening keep changing as more witnesses emerge, so even as I type this there may be new developments.   But going from what I know now I’m curious about the mental state of a grown man out in his car, carrying a gun, looking for “suspicious” people.   I’m curious as to why a 17 year old child of any color walking down the street in his neighborhood would appear suspect.  And like everyone else I wonder what in Zimmerman’s soul made him believe that he could go out that night with a gun, cruise the neighborhood, stalk this boy, antagonize him, and take his life?  Who gave him that right?  Did he understand the weight of that choice? 

I know we are all outraged about the actions of the Sanford police department that night.  Even if Zimmerman was being attacked and beaten when he decided to shoot that gun he should have still been detained for questioning until the facts emerged.  “Stand your ground” law or not….basic common sense procedures were ignored.  And given the fact that they KNEW he was following the boy.  They KNEW he was going after Trayvon.  It was clearly premeditated.  If he had stayed in his car and reported the “suspect” this would have never happened.  A child would not have been shot and killed.  Black, white, asian, whatever.  The police failed us.  I know people are pointing to the racial aspects of this injustice making it a black vs. white issue.  I don’t know if the police were racist and I’m not even sure that Zimmerman is white.  But quite honestly I’m saddened that this is becoming a race issue.   Because even though there could be a racist motive here, WE as human beings need to be united in this.  

This is about humanity.  This is about valuing another’s life like you value your own.  The truth is, Trayvon is my son.  He’s my brother, my child, my friend, my coworker, my neighbor.   How many times have I gone out in the rain or cold to get the mail wearing my husband’s hoodie pulled tightly around my face?  You can’t tell my race or my gender.  You can’t tell if I’m “on drugs” or planning to commit a crime.  And what if my neighbor is not mentally stable and decides to shoot me because I appear suspicious?  What if it’s my son as a teenager walking home from school?  What if it was my producer MoRece who walked down Calvert Street in the rain wearing a hoodie just to come to my show at the Baltimore Book Fair to support me?   Truth is it could be any of us.  Yes Trayvon is OUR family.  

But here’s the difficult part.  Zimmerman is our family too.  He’s someone’s child.  We may be sickened by his actions and feel hatred in our hearts for what he did, but he is still a human being.   Since his actions were handled improperly and he wasn’t detained by the police we don’t know yet what his story is.  We don’t know if he is sick or what his state of mind is.  But whether we like it or not he is one of us.   He’s that person who clutches their purse closer when a group of young black men walk by.  He’s those people who hate the Korean ladies in the nail shop because they just know they are talking about them.  He’s just like that uncle who doesn’t trust white people or that cousin who says “there goes the neighborhood” when a black family moves in.  He’s just like those of us who judge by the exterior or by the prejudice we have formed in our hearts instead of looking at each person as a unique individual.  He’s those of us who still don’t see that we are all in this life together.  There is no black or white or asian to that.  We were created by the same force.  We were put here for a reason.   This is who we have become.  And only WE can change it.  I know this blog won’t change much.  But this is so heavy on my heart that I felt the need to say something.  I continue to see the racial division on social networks over the Trayvon case and others like it.  I continue to see the black vs. white and “us vs. them” mindset and it makes me sad.  For whatever it’s worth, I pray we can rise out of this together.     

I no longer own a gun.  Before we adopted my son in 2009 I removed it from my house and gave it back to my father.  I know that while I AM able to shoot someone to protect myself or my family, I also know that as a mother I am NOT able to carry the burden of taking the life of another mother’s child.  I’m a different person now.  I know I don’t want to ever have to make that decision.  I live with peace in my life and in my heart.  My father taught me well.  

As for my father, the retired police officer and former hunter…..he now feeds the deer from his back deck.  He is 83 now.  He has names for them and saves up old bread so that he and my son can feed them when we visit.  He no longer hunts.  He told me he doesn’t think he has it in him anymore.  He has changed.  

Me too Daddy.  Me too. 

Love and light….

Janice B.