A New Way To Think. The Interview.

gus 19
 
The world can be filled with Love or it can be filled with Hate. It’s your choice. The following interview was sparked by my want to spread more Love in this world in response to the countless and senseless violent attacks that are occurring every day in the US, Europe, The Middle East and many many other places across the globe. Specifically we touch on the terror attack in June 2016 in Orlando, FL at The Pulse Nightclub where 49 people lost their lives to a gunman who opened fire. As of June 2016, It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history, as well as the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
 
So I pose this question to you. How can you spread more Love in your every day life? Think about what’s possible….
 

A New Way To Think. The Interview.

 

 
 
Me:

Welcome to A New Way To Think. I am Adam Walker with Sister City Properties and I’m here with Brittani Richardson, one of my great friends and I want to take a minute to, well a few minutes actually to ask her a few questions and I hope you enjoy:
 
Brittani,
 
Brittani:

Yes sir.
 
Me:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
 
Brittani:

So I have to speak as though no one knows me right because you know everything about me I think.
 
Me:

You do, I do, I know everything.
 
Brittani:

Oh that’s not true, I don’t think. Maybe, I hope not.
 
Me:

EVERYTHING.
 
Brittani:

Well, I’m thirty seven years old, I live in Brandenburg Kentucky, and I have my own business. I’m a professional pet stylist, which I like to say because it’s saying a glorified groomer. But I manage my own business and it’s been pretty successful. I’m pretty pumped about it. I have two dogs and three cats now….and that’s about it right now. I mean, we’ll get into the questions now, kinda figure everything else out.
 
Me:

So aside from that, how can you describe yourself, describe yourself in maybe a paragraph.
 
Brittani:

Oh No, oh I need like three pages.
 
Me:

Well alright alright, three pages…
 
Brittani:

No, In a paragraph, umm, I would say that I’m a very hard worker. I am very passionate about the things I believe in and the things that I don’t believe in…I like to ask questions so I’m inquisitive…I guess you could say. I care a lot about the people around me and I love animals. That’s about it, me in a nutshell.
 
Me:

Speaking of animals….Who is Gus?
 
Brittani:

Augusten Yellacat, um, Gus is I guess you could say she was abandon by her feral mother, um, I had a surrogate lined up for her but that didn’t work out.
 
So I ended up bottle feeding her from…I think she was like five or six days old maybe at that point. And I was bottle feeding her all the way up until about two and a half weeks ago. She’s ten weeks old now, very sweet girl, very smart girl and basically she goes everywhere with me and she’s well known. She’s met celebrities, and she’s gone on tour with me. So Gus is my sidekick, my absolute sidekick.

 

 

Me:

You say she’s gone on tour with you, so where has she traveled?
 
Brittani:

Nashville to see At The Drive-In (At The Drive-In Music), which didn’t work out for me, but it worked out really well for her since we sat out in the car and listened to them, um, it was really good. Um, we went to Indianapolis last weekend and she met Zoe Bell (Zoe Bell Imdb) which was awesome and Scout Compton (Scout Compton Imdb) who was in the Halloween movies…she’s kind of like an up and coming star, um and a number of other people but…she, she comes to Louisville with me, um, anywhere I can sneak her in like Kroger, they don’t know about it, but she is in my shirt the entire time, um, and she goes to work with me everyday and I actually have people that come to the salon just to see her, because they’ve seen her on Instagram or they know somebody that knows of her so they’re like…Oh go to this salon and see this cat, they do, so…
 
Me:

And that’s the power of social media, for sure..
 
Brittani:

Yes, yes absolutely

And even the old school word of mouth, you know people actually communicating without a computer or an iPhone…
 
Me:

So that really happens?!
 
Brittani:

From time to time, from time to time it does.
 
Me:

I will have to say that we are in a fine Mexican California establishment called El Camino (El Freakin Camino). Enjoying it’s last few days here in the Highlands (The Highlands of Louisville) and they are very pet friendly.
 
Brittani:

They are, in fact they’re making toys for Gus and they brought her saucers of milk and water and she wants for nothing. She wants for nothing in her life. That’s a good thing and it’s not, it’s not just me that makes that happen it’s anybody who comes in contact with her.
 
Me:

I’m glad you said that….so…
 
Who specifically has she met, not necessarily the names but the type of people that are attracted to her?
 
Brittani:

Anybody and everybody, there’s not really one group of people. Kids….Absolutely love it….I mean all kids squeal but and they say, “Oh it’s a kitty!”, and blah blah blah….But in the same respect I’ve seen grown men that were like thirty, forty years old in leather at a Pride Festival scream and their voices go straight up when they saw her. They were just like, ‘Ahhhh, It’s a Kitty!’, just like a kid would.
 
So I think what it does is people see her and they resort back to childhood and even if they had a crappy childhood they’re resorting back to that one second that was actually decent. So they become vulnerable which is awesome because it’s not a bad thing to be vulnerable and they kind of go back to a naive state of where everything is just fluffy kittens and rainbows…
 
So I mean, but it’s a wide variety of people, I mean her like my, the peak of her meeting someone for me and not to get, well to get specific is Zoe Bell. She’s a hero of mine and when I met her I told her I have a kitten that I would like her to meet and she made me leave the table to go get this cat, she was just like I’m glad I met you, you can come back and talk but go get the cat basically and I did and her like she’s like this stunt woman she’s been a really hardcore movies. She’s been in Quentin Tarantino films, she’s been bloody and gutty and shooting people in the face and all this crazy stuff that when she saw Gus she was a child again.
 
And I think that’s really cool because I think childhood is like the best years of our lives and then we turn into adults and become, you know, jerks again.
 
So I mean, like I said, not getting too specific but she’s met people of the LGBT community. And at that time, I think it through the entire community we were going through a lot of feelings of having our safe space invaded and feeling exposed to the world to the point where we could actually be harmed. We knew, we we’ve always known that we could be harmed because we are a vulnerable group of people but now it’s even more apparent because forty nine people died just a week prior because they were gay and not all of them were even gay. I mean, there was a mom involved that was just there to support her child. So, um, but like going to Pride and people seeing this kitten, I think it was a sense of comfort. You know for a second they let the fear drop out of their head or any scare thoughts that they had about going to Pride and they just kind of were like, ‘Oh, it’s a cat! I want to be a part of this.’
 
I actually had people breaking down and crying because they saw a kitten and I don’t think that was just a drama queen or king kind of way of going about it, I actually think that they were just like, Thank God it’s something kind of relief. So, there you go.
 
Me:

Nice. Her specifically, but animals of her nature are, in particular, a positive aspect that we can focus on in times of violence and quarrel….
 
Brittani:

Yeah, well it’s kind of something that I was discussing earlier this week with someone at work like the difference between human beings and animals. Just randomly because I work with a vet, so you know animals are constant. We’re seeing dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, all sorts of things they see and my response when they were like….”OK, well what’s the biggest difference between animals and humans?” I said, Well one species is dedicated to their nature and kind of organized and almost live by a code of ethics, while another species is wild and untamed and kind of flies by the seat of their pants and that’s very dangerous. And the thing is is the first species that I was describing are the animals.
 
Because animals have been around before we were here, they’re going to be here long after us as long as there’s not like obviously a world explosion. And the fact is is they have adapted to their environment to keep their clan going and they kind of bend and sway with the motions but they stay true to their pack. Where as human beings are just, I mean we have free thought, we have free will, but that can be very dangerous in the wrong hands as we’ve seen in Orlando and seen in Sandy Hook and things like that. I mean we have a tendency to let hate and things that we’re so deadly afraid of rule us to the point where we’re like, well we have to kill em all, we have to get rid of em. We have to go Nazi style on everyone. We have to get rid of this because we fear these people not because they actually pose a danger but because they pose a danger to ourselves because we have to think…”Am I a part of that group? And if so, how am I going to tell my parents who are against this group, you know? Or how, you know like, with the LGBT community, the man who did what he did in Orlando, He had had run-ins with that club before. He had gone there before, you know, he had been on gay websites and things like that, like, talking to guys and it’s kind of like….was it really something deep inside of him that was so scared that he could actually be gay or was it because he was actually a terrorist? I don’t believe he was. I believe, when I first heard about it, the first thing that I thought was this is one hundred percent a hate crime. And really it doesn’t matter if it was against, you know, gay people or if was against, you know, a different race or a different religion.
 
If you go up to kill somebody it’s because of hate….it doesn’t matter if you’re a part of ISIS or anything. It is a hate crime because you have to have hate in your heart to be able to commit a crime like that.
 
So as far as animals go….They…even you know, bears and….
 
(As we talk, a number of employees and patrons have gathered to say hi to Gus, hold her, play with her and, of course, take selfies with her for Instagram and Snapchat. Gus is more than willing. She graciously poses like an experienced famous actress meeting her fan club.)
 
Brittani:

Gus’ fifteen minutes of fame just keep stretching out…she’s a good girl though….anywho…
 
Where were we?
 
Sorry…that happens a lot, it happened a lot at Pride and it happened a lot at that horror convention that we went in Indy and like
 
Me:

So no, that’s perfect because that’s definitely something that I wanted to touch on. The reaction that people have towards her and the idea of what we can learn from her because of that…
 
Brittani:

I think it’s just simplicity….stopping and taking a look around and appreciating what’s around you, that’s the whole point. I realize that when I’m, when I’ve got her out which is all the time because she has to be with me and there are gonna be times where I’m gonna have her where I’m not gonna be in a good mood and it’s not because of her it’s because you know of the world around you…You know, you get depressed or you get upset or you’ve had a bad day at work and you have to stop at the store. Well she has to go with me and I’ll go in and she’ll be in my shirt and her head will pop up and somebody will be passing me in the aisle and they’ll just break down, they’ll just freak out and immediately anything that happened to me that day regardless of how severe it was just kind of disappears.
 
Cuz it’s like, ‘Oh yeah! This is Gus, she’s ten weeks old or nine weeks old or whatever the date was, you know, however long she was, and I mean I have to tell her story to everyone because you know they’re new at meeting her. But I love telling that story because not only does it make them really happy to know that this little kitten has survived this long and had to do all these things and been through all this, but it, it makes me feel good that I was a part of that.
 
So it’s kind of a…it’s a confidence booster…It makes me feel good because people will have, you know, resting bitch face and then they see the kitten and they’re just like, “Oh it’s a kitten!” Like they freak out and it’s so good because you don’t see people doing that just because you’re walking passed them in a super market. It takes a kitten for them to react that way.
 
you know so…
 
Me:

While that may be unfortunate, that’s, you know, at least there is that opportunity to spread love, that kind of love, in even a stranger.
 
Brittani:

Yeah it just makes them giddy. I mean if for somebody to be giddy that means that they have to be truly happy. Like truly happy, truly in love with that situation and it’s hard to come by these days because there’s so many reasons to be depressed, there’s so many people on medication because they’re depressed. There’s, I mean, you know, kind of going back to what we talked about yesterday about the pharmaceutical companies like throwing out medication because people have all sorts of mental issues and granted, it’s true….it’s happening, and they do need the help, but sometimes I mean I really do believe that you can be cured of so much just by seeing something so small and so sweet.
 
And yeah I mean I love Gus and there are days where I have bad days and then I realize she’s in my life and I’m just like….’Oh!’ and get all giddy and I do the same thing with Hannah and P.J. and Margot and Moonshine, you know those are my other animals and you know they’re older, Hannah’s the oldest she’s thirteen she’ll be fourteen next year and I get scared, I get scared because she’s getting older but I still see her and there’s some times where I’m in Aw of her. Like I’m just like, you’re my puppy, you’re my doggie. You know you’ve been with me, you’ve traveled across the country and you’ve done all these things with me so, um, but yeah I mean I guess it’s that idea that there has to be some kind of evil in order to appreciate the good and it’s true you know there has to be bad days and things like that. So you look back and be like, ‘Gee, I’m glad I don’t feel like that today.’
 
Me:

We can’t have the sweet without the sour.
 
Brittani:

Right, The yin yang affect is that, you know, there’s a little bit of evil in every good and a little bit of good in every evil. And when I was younger I really got obsessed with that because it was kind of that phase in the nineties where everyone had peace signs and yin yang’s on necklaces. It might have been an embarrassing period but I was a part of it.
 
But I really do understand it now, like you have to go with the flow, you have to live in the now and you have to take the good with the bad and fortunately that helps a lot when you have Gus there.
 
So and I think, just kind of a side note, it’s funny how she can be in this kind of environment where it’s kind of loud and kind of crazy but curl up and sleep at the same time where most cats are like on edge and their hair is standing up…she’s really adaptable and I think that kind of passes off, that idea passes off onto me that I need to be more adaptable to my situations.
 
Me:

So we can learn from these little guys?
 
Brittani:

Absolutely. Animals are way smarter than human beings. I don’t care.
 
Me:

Haha, thank you for saying so.
 
Brittani:

Human beings have come a long way but animals are much more evolved and you know people look at the beaver and they’re like all he does all day is build dams, how stupid. But without the beaver making these dams there’s certain waterways and certain things that would be happening and there’s a method to the madness with animals and they’re much smarter than people.
 
Me:

Okay, so just for formality sake, a recent Facebook post of yours gave way to my want for this interview so I just wanted to have your permission for my readers to read it.
 
Brittani:

Absolutely.
 
Me:

Is that ok?
 
Brittani:

Yeah.
 
June 18, 2016
 
“Yesterday, I took Gus to the Louisville Pride Parade/Festival. Many of you have seen the photos, commenting, liking and sharing. But the photos aren’t showing how much of an effect he had on everyone who saw him.
 
I took him because, when I feel upset, out of control or angry, animals have always made me feel better. Especially mini kittens with larger than life personalities. And, even though everyone was happy and full of pride, I knew they needed more of a boost. And that’s just what he did.
 
Every step through the parade and festival crowd, people stopped to pet him, hold him, talk to him, hug him, love him and snap photos with him. Everyone smiled, laughed, ew’d and aw’d. People even cried at the sight of him. The small, fuzzy, yellow bobble head looking around in wonder and even snuggling up to perfect strangers. He playfully pawed at their hands and licked their chins. He purred and meowed. And the love was infinite.
 
To all the people who took notice of baby “goose”, I told the same story. How he was actually 8 weeks old, a bottle baby, had a rough start to life, but was hell bent on surviving. I was told that I was a good person for taking care of him, and how lucky he was to have me as his mom. But, I always replied how I am the lucky one. And how he brings the good out of me and everyone around him. It’s his tiny frame and huge heart that makes the good happen. And, I gave big time credit to those who worked tirelessly to find ways to help him live. Those people being Dr. Angalyn Theno, Ashley Stayton, Amanda McMurray and Shelby Ann Fields. I truly don’t think he would be here if they weren’t apart of his life.
 
We had a great time and made so many friends. On the way home, I thought about the faces we spoke to. And how, if everyone on this planet looked at nature and each other like they did Gus, all the hate and ugly in the world would not exist. To see something so precious, something that fits in the palm of your hand, bring a grown man to tears and raise his voice three octaves…that is the power of love and compassion. This was an eye-opening experience. It was a conversation starter. And it felt, for lack of a better word, fan-f&$@ing-tastic!
 
As each petting session ended, many people hugged me, told me to have a happy pride and walked away still cooing over Gus. I told them to be safe and love each other. I really hope they all remember that short time we had together today, tomorrow and forever. I know I will.”
 
Me:

My next question for you might kind of be on the serious side, but when you’re with an animal that you’ve cared for such as Gus, do you find yourself looking at the world through their eyes? Is so , how?
 
Brittani:

I do actually and it’s something that happened, um, I’m trying to think…it was this past week. No was the week before… I had a client which was a pet, his name was Callaway and I had been grooming him since he was a wee wee puppy. The story of Callaway is that his mother is a teacher at one of the schools in Meade County (KY) which is where I was raised. And I’ve known her since I was very very young and I happen to be working in Louisville and just by chance I happened to see her where I was working and she came in with this little puppy and said I want you to groom him and so and so forth. So I started grooming him from that day forward. And when I left that job she actually had me coming down from Louisville to groom him at her house because she liked how I worked with him and she liked how he worked with me basically. And he was kind of a picky dog so if he didn’t like you he let you know. And me and him got along great so I take it that he liked me because I loved him. But she helped me actually get set up at the salon where I am now that I now manage and own. And two weeks ago Monday, tomorrow, it will be two weeks ago, Callaway was very very sick and they kind of exhausted all of their options with him. So it was time to say goodbye to him. And his pet parent, his mom came in and she was distraught so I brought her into my salon. And she sat there with Callaway and they were talking about how they were going to go through all this and how they were going to do it and how they’re going to basically putt him down and I said I know this sounds strange but I would love to offer up my salon, you can have my salon, I’m shutting it down right now, they put him up on my table, they put him asleep there. Everybody, the doctor who had taking care of him, me his grimmer for his entire life, his mom, his other mom was there, people that knew this dog since he was a puppy were all there with her, or with him, and you know he went to sleep quietly right there on my grooming table and you know we were all torn up, we were all crying, we were all very upset, but at the same time I stopped to think not to get spiritual or into the afterlife or anything because that’s a totally different totally different cast, um but just thinking of how miserable he was, like he was a playful dog, he loved people except for those that he just felt were bad and he was a devil dog to them. But he loved the majority of people. And the last couple of months of his life you could just look in his eyes and see that he didn’t want to be here anymore. He was sick. He was blind. He couldn’t hear anymore. I mean he went downhill so fast. So I had to step back and think and take myself out of the situation because I kept thinking I wish he was still here, I wish he was still here. Yeah but he suffering so…look at it from his perspective. Now, whatever is going on in the afterlife, whether he’s just disappeared into the air or whether he’s in heaven, whether he’s in Puerto Rico, It doesn’t matter because now he is so much happier now than he was five seconds ago.
 
So…and that’s a very…that’s an extreme situation because unfortunately I have been with several clients that have put their animal down and they want me to be there…I want to be there because it’s like a family member. You know you want to say goodbye but you have to look through their eyes and see that it is the right time so that you can kind of let go that situation. I’m not saying that for the next couple days I wasn’t sad and I walked into my salon and look at my table and thought that’s where Callaway was…you know all that but…I do feel a sense of you know, calmness come over me when I think that he’s better off.
 
Me:

Sure….Sure, so what I’m hearing is that animals absolutely are a family member, a friend…someone that you’ve cared for and been with and loved for their entire lives…and we treat it the same as we would treat your mother or your father or your brother or your sister.
 
Brittani:

Yes, well like with Callaway…
 
I started grooming him when he was like four or five months old and every month, every month, not skipping one month every month since then and he was nine years old. Eight, nine years old.
 
Me:

That’s a long time.
 
Brittani:

It’s a very long time and because I’ve been grooming for ten years and you know he was…I remember him being there very early on and you know I remember him kind of testing me in the beginning because he was a puppy and puppies test you when it comes to grooming. So when you go to do his nails he would be all happy..and then all of a sudden he would be like freaking out and you had to learn. He really taught me how to adjust to situations, not stress out because when you stress out the animal eats up that stress and will excrete that stress right back to you and then it’s just two people butting heads. That’s all it is.
 
Me:

People do the same thing.
 
Brittani:

Exactly. The thing is, I’ve learned more from situations like that with animals than I have a people because people tend to be very hard headed and animals are just like…It’s OK…It’s OK. I feel like most of time they’re just like, yeah I know I bit you but we’re going to get through this ….and I’m like…oh I’m bleeding…but as far as seeing things through their eyes, I try to think of like the small dogs, what they’re going through when they come into a vet or when they’re just out in the world because you have to take into account, If you were a chihuahua’s size and you’re walking next to a five foot person that’s like walking next to a Tyrannosaurus-Rex, being yourself. You know you’re looking up at every object, you have to look up to see your owner, you have to look up to see people with food and things like that, In fact sometimes you have to climb up on stuff to get to food, so everything is constantly looking up and so you’re, I think it’s a shot to confidence that you know you’re this very small thing in the inaccessible world because you have to look up the stuff to give you those things. And they tend to be the most hateful so it’s kind of weird that small dogs would be that way.
 
But like I said, when I have a small dog and they’re kind of nippy or even a big dog I try to think you know, they don’t understand what we’re doing, they don’t get our world. And we’re pulling them into our world and teaching them to live our way… when their ancestors have been around longer, again, longer than we have and they only know one way and here we are trying to change their entire genetics and their evolution to fit our lives.
 
So yeah, I definitely look through their eyes and try to see the other point of view and maybe if people did that with other people you would have racism, you wouldn’t have homophobia, you wouldn’t have sexism because you would understand that you know…a women needs time off after she has a child because there’s repair to the body, there’s sleep deprivation…You know somebody who lives in poverty is you know…they don’t have the luxury of throwing out food, they have everything they have because that’s what they have. If they don’t eat what they have then they may not eat for days and we just waist food in our world.
 
Yeah, I think it’s definitely something that you can learn from animals so you have to look through their eyes.
 
Me:

I’m glad you touched on that because that’s part of the whole reason why I wanted to have this interview in the first place…was the idea that our culture versus an animals culture and how we’re intertwined….how we can really spread that love that they know that they want to have for not only themselves and their animal family but also us as human beings. And how we can spread that into our lives and our community and our culture versus the craziness that’s happening here and worldwide.
 
So, moving along those lines…..(my next question)…
 
Do you think that it’s truly possible to have a positive impact on the world with the amount of craziness and hate filled attacks that we’ve been seeing across the world?
 
Brittani:

Oh yes. I do absolutely you have to. I mean honestly you have to believe that because if you say I can’t believe that there’s no hope for the world you’re a part of the people that are causing all the death and destruction. Even if you’re not doing yourself because…..Hope is what’s important. Barrack Obama ran his entire campaign on that and he’s shown, he’s done so much. I know there’s gonna be people out there that are gonna disagree and I understand, and I’m not trying to get political, but as far as for my life, what he has done for me personally while he’s been in office…he has given and he said just have hope…we have hope for the future…I kept that hope. And he’s delivered, in my opinion.
 
So taking that off the table, I think it’s something like if you have a gigantic lake and you drop an itty bitty pebble anywhere in that water it’s gonna create a ripple and you may not always see it, but the ripples are gonna eventually go out until they hit the shores. So they’re going to touch every bit of water, that little pebble could be a drop of good in all that evil.
 
It’s going to touch somebody somehow. Like if you walk outside and you just say Hi to somebody that could be the first Hi that somebody’s heard all day and then they may think…”Okay, so maybe it’s not so bad, I actually got a hello today.”
 
Me:

You know, and to stop you there, I have absolutely one hundred percent had that exact same encounter and felt the same way. So I know that that works. Being on both sides, being the person who has instigated that and receiving it.
 
Brittani:

And by no means am I saying If you go out and say hello to somebody that they’re not going to commit murder or anything like that because sometimes it’s more deep seeded but it’s that ripple effect. If you do one good thing one day that could change that person’s life or a group of people’s lives. I’m not just talking about donating to a charity and things like that because you know…having money and giving money away to charities and things that’s great, that’s fine. But people that get in and get their hands dirty, that actually show emotion…..you can’t have emotion in money. I mean you just can’t. I mean I could win the lottery tomorrow and give all that money to the Humane Society or the ASPCA or start my own foundation, but if I don’t go in every day and clean the kennels and talk to the dogs and talk to people that could possible want to adopt or go to the ASPCA and say I want to be hands on, really that money could go anywhere, It could be done for anything, it may not be used for what it needs to be used (for)….If you’re hands are involved…you know where it’s going. You know that it’s gonna cause good. You know it’s gonna help somebody out.
 
Me:

A huge part of the real estate business is working the numbers, not necessarily buying or selling on emotion, but buying or selling on what makes sense as far as the numbers go and keeping your emotions out of it per say, even though maybe you do Love a house or it’s layout or the design…
 
Brittani:

To be smart about it.
 
Me:

Right.
 
Brittani:

And that’s another thing I think, It’s not just about love and compassion and being conscious in your everyday life. It’s also about being smart, just rationalizing….and this is going on a previous question that you asked, but like…you know…animals rationalize. They use their brains, they understand and they stick with a plan and they do it because they know it’s gonna better their tribe. That it’s gonna better their herd. It’s gonna better their community.
 
If we all went out…If we got up tomorrow and went out there and set a goal to better off our community and we actually did it and we did it in a smart way and we thought it through and didn’t just leave with…..’Okay, well I’m brokenhearted because there’s so much gun violence in Louisville.” I’m not just gonna go out and walk around the streets telling people to be nice to each other. You gotta think internally, you have to think…where’s the problem coming from and how can I get the people that need the most help? and start talking to them and don’t and not just talking but listening. That’s one thing that people don’t like to do anymore. They don’t like to listen to complaints, to problems, to issues.
 
Me:

I feel like they’re often times wrapped up in their own stuff, in their own lives, in their own wants and wishes that they don’t want to listen to somebody else’s complaints because they think it’s trivial, it’s beneath them.
 
Brittani:

Or they go into the situation like….”I’m going to be the hero. I’m gonna take all these people out of poverty and give them houses on the hills”….that doesn’t do anything, that’s not going to solve the problem and I think that we throw that word ‘Hero’ around like a lot. A lot.
 
You know, there’s different versions, there’s different ways of being one but I think we just got offer that word up to make people…it’s more of a confidence booster than it is actually saying…”You know you really did something that improved humanity. It made humanity happen. It’s making things happen.”
 
So yeah, you’re original question was about….now I’ve gotta go back. Sorry.
 
Me:

A positive impact on the world.
 
Brittani:

Yes, I do believe that if you go out there and you do something good for your community…you may be doing it for ten people, you may be doing it for a hundred people, but at least one person is gonna come out of there influenced. And if you can just get to one person that’s all that matters because that person gonna go out and they’re gonna try to redo what you did or they’re gonna try to do their own thing and try to influence people.
 
Me:

I love that you said that because for, I guess the last seven years since I’ve been in business with Sister City Properties, I’ve focused on helping as many people as possible. You know, and I want to help thousands, if not hundreds of thousands in the next, you know, thirty, forty, fifty years. It’s really me focusing on that one person every day or every week or whatever it is, that I can help, that really really makes a difference. Whether it’s one or a thousand, it doesn’t really matter from a life standpoint. From a “This is why I’m here standpoint.” From a business standpoint I want help as many people as possible simply because I want to make as much money as possible.
 
Brittani:

And that’s another thing, I can’t remember who I was talking to but it’s been a while back, we were talking about going out wanting to do good for the community and stuff like that. But you have to stop and think, are you doing it because is there something internally that you’re trying to solve or is it because you actually want to see the growth of humanity and there is a difference. I mean people want to go out there to make themselves feel good and if you can do that and help people that’s great.
 
But some people go out there just enough to make themselves feel good and they don’t really hit that mark where it’s going to help, like actually help.
 
So I think people get involved very much, we’re a very egotistical species. We’re very self centered. We are we really are and even though we do a lot of good and there is love and there is compassion and I do believe that we can make good things happen with goodness…there’s still a lot of anger and hate, ugliness and greed out there and I think a lot of that comes from ….(Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline blares overhead and we both get distracted)…But I do you think that there is a lot of ugliness out there because people are so centered on…”Well if I go out there and serve soup at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, what am I gonna get back from it, how am I gonna feel about it?” Don’t worry about it because if you’re doing it genuinely everything else will fall in line. It’s just like En Vogue said, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.” And that’s exactly true. Or the better version which is, Free your mind and you ass will follow, which I like personally. But it is absolutely true, If you go out there to do good for people, if you go out there to just do what’s gonna help somebody, you don’t worry about your own self, you don’t worry about how much money you’re gonna make or what your feelings are gonna be coming away from it, you just do it. I hate to quote Nike because I know that they have a lot of slavery issues across the pond, but it’s true. Just do it. Just be good. Just go out there and put forth more love than you’re getting and all of a sudden you’re gonna look and you’re gonna be getting all this love from all these different directions.
 
Me:

I’ve definitely experienced both of those ideas and I know which one gets better results and that’s what you just said. Just do it and the greatness will follow. Don’t focus on Me Me Me.
 
Brittani:

And it’s also the idea, like I know a lot of people are like don’t think that we should be taking care of each other but the things is is, if you took everyone in the world and just lined them up side by side and you as an individual, you did not care about yourself. You didn’t care about If you ate, if you slept…anything …you only cared about the person to the left and the person to the right…You have to remember the person to your right is gonna be caring about you and the person to the left is gonna be caring about you so all your needs are gonna be met while you’re meeting other peoples needs. So we’re all a part of a chain. And you know if someone doesn’t want to be a part of that chain or there’s a weak link, all of us tumble, all of us fall down.
 
That’s why I try to see, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to see other peoples points of view the older I get because I feel like, no shot to my dad because he’s a great man, but he’s very set in his ways and I’ve found there have been times where I’ve said things and done things the same as him and he can be very narrow minded.
 
And I’ve always prided myself on being more open minded because I am and not only gay but I’m also a female so those are two kind of….in some places those are strikes against me.
 
So you kinda have to learn from those parts of your life and my dad has had a pretty good life, he’s a pretty good guy and there’s times where I found myself saying and doing the same things he does and it wakes me up. And there’s a point to why he is who he is, you know, because he has to be an example to me. Just like I’m gonna be an example to Riley my great nephew or Seth my nephew or Logan my nephew or Laini my niece. You know, I don’t have children of my own but I am an influence to them. I’m an example to them.
 
So me helping other people is also going to help them in the long run too.
 
Me:

Exactly because literally, you know, if you’re blessed with a hundred years on this earth, that’s freakin fantastic. Most people don’t live that long.
 
Brittani:

And the thing about it is…that hundred years is a blip. A blip on the screen. So that’s why it’s about making today happen and doing good today because tomorrow may never come. And then what are you going to be left with? Your live is gonna be…boom…
 
Me:

It’s not promised, absolutely not. I hate to use the cliche term, You only live once, but….
 
Brittani:

Oh God, as long as you don’t say the other thing…I’m fine with that. (YOLO!)
 
Me:

Right, no I get that. But it’s very poignant in being present and mindful of living today. Doing all that you can to make the best of your life, which often times includes Lil’ Gus and the animals in our lives that remind us that there’s something bigger (out there) than just us.
 
Brittani:

Well that’s what happened like in the beginning of her life when I was bottle feeding her. When we talked about this last night…I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have short term goals like what are we gonna do in an hour? What are we gonna do in three hours? The only goal that I had was…Ok, I would set my alarm clock to her feeding times but I didn’t look to say….that’s promised. You know, because it wasn’t. Every time I fed her it was a new experience. Every time I laid down and tried to get to go to sleep or when she was sleeping and I would fall asleep for those 30-45 minutes in between feedings…I was present there because I was like…
 
“I could wake up and she could be gone but the craziest thing is is, her situation was so dire because she was so small, malnourished and she had to have somebody doing these things for her. But just like she may not wake up next hour, there’s a chance that I might not either.
 
And I stopped and thought about that. I was like, “What if I didn’t wake up in the next hour?” Nobody thinks that. They think, you know….”I’m thirty seven, I’m healthy, I’m alive and well, I’m gonna wake up tomorrow”….That’s not true. So it did. It opened up a lot of things in my head to think….”Okay. Well, when I wake up, as long as I wake up and she wakes up we’re still going. This is still on. This is a deal that’s not gonna be broken.
 
And she showed me, whet it got down to a point where she was like 2.4 ounces and I was discussing with the vet that it might be time to put her down because I didn’t want her to suffer…..It was like something woke up in her ahead and she automatically started eating and started becoming alive. It was almost like she overheard it. She was like…..No No No. I still have like twenty years I want to be on this Earth.
 
And she started pushing for it. And although it’s not guaranteed, that fight is still needed. You still have to work for it. You still have to work for it.
 
Me:

Everyday.
 
Brittani:

Some people work super hard and they don’t get that tomorrow. And some people don’t work so hard, they sleep most of the day, they king of loosey goosey it and they live for many years. But she just made me realize that every time I wake up I need to be like…Let’s Do It. Today’s the day. I’m breathing. I’m awake. I’m ready to go.
 
And you know…as long as she’s still around and as long as my other dogs are still around and my family is around I’m gonna keep pushing.
 
Me:

So aside from being present every second of every day….What do you want your legacy to be? So, let me poise this question….If you were to die, like you were saying, if you were to die tomorrow, what message would you want to get out there? What do you want your legacy to be?
 
Brittani:

I don’t want it to be….I want to start off by saying the things that I don’t want it to be because that will help narrow it down a little bit. I’ve actually never been asked this question so…and even though we talked a little bit about it before I still don’t know the answer…But…I definitely don’t want it to be that it was like I had a lay down life where I just kind of took things as they went. You have to take life as it comes, that’s a natural, but you always have to be persistent in what you’re doing and you have to fight for the things that you believe and the things that you think are good.
 
And if I were to wake up tomorrow dead….If I were to not wake up tomorrow…which would be dead….I would want people to look back and say, “OK I learned from her that you have to take care of the environment, the Earth, the animals. Because they’re what makes us possible.
 
And you have to take care of each other because if one of us falls apart the whole ship falls apart. Like we’re done. You have to pay attention to each other, you have to listen to each other and you have to be ready to fight for everything you believe in at a moments notice. And I don’t mean by war. I don’t mean like physical. I’m talking about intellectually. You have to know what the hell you’re doing. Again going back to being smart. People want to pull out a gun first before they talk things over, before they understand a group of people. They would rather mow them down in a nightclub.
 
So you know just taking a step back and seeing the big picture instead of focusing so much on one little part that you absolutely hate about life…pan back and see how much you love because you’re gonna realize you love more than you hate. And if you don’t…then go get help, basically. Go out there and talk to people and figure out what it is that you don’t understand. Because you know, I just believe that, I would want people to look at me and say, “She died doing what she loved which was taking care of her animals and the people around her.” And that’s what I want to do. And I think that if we have more people doing that, our worries will be over. Does that make sense?
 
Me:

Absolutely.
 
Brittani:

It’s not perfect but just because the idea of death is scary in itself but honestly I’ve had a really good life. I don’t want to die by any means, but I’ve had a really good life and I think that…I think everybody will be okay. I think everybody kind of, because I’m surrounded by a good group of people that know how to continue to live and how to do good things and how to pass on the good and that’s all that I want people to do is just pass on the good.
 
Me:

And I think that’s the important thing, is that, not necessarily that you’re okay with dying but that when you’re gone, the people that remain are aware of what you’ve done for them and what you’ve done for what you believed in.
 
Brittani:

I think it’s important to let people know one thing though is that I mean like I said…I keep saying they have to fight for what they believe in but you have to be brave about it and you have to not have fear in your heart because if you go into a fight with fear you’ve already lost it. You have to give up the fear.
 
Me:

Sure, and that’s with anything. Absolutely anything in life.
 
Brittani:

Because that’s what…that’s the only thing that holds us back. That’s the only thing in this life that holds us back. That’s what causes death, destruction, chaos. That’s what it is, that’s what it is, it’s all about fear.
 
Me:

Even, you know, living a lackluster, mediocre life, same thing.
 
Brittani:

Well it was like, I was thinking about like with Pride. There were a lot of people that didn’t want to go to Pride because they were afraid that some whack job would show up and just start shooting people. The fact is is, it doesn’t just happen at Pride. In fact, I don’t think it’s actually ever happened at a Pride Festival. It happened at Pulse. But the thing about it is you could be in the mall and it could happen. You could go to the bank and it could happen. You could be a kindergartner, a first grader in the school and it would happen. The simple fact is is, the minute that they scare you, excuse me, as soon as the hateful ugly people in this world scare you into your home where you lock yourself in and you only order food in then they’ve won.
 
They’ve won just as much as if you went some place and they harmed you or a loved one. They’ve won. So you have to keep going out there and you have to understand that every day poses a threat. Sure we don’t want somebody to come into this restaurant and start shooting but I don’t want to walk outside and get hit by a bus. I also don’t want to die of a disease. I also don’t want my heart to just stop beating. I don’t want those things to happen.
 
One of those things is going to happen to me in my life. At some point something is gonna happen and I kind of rest in the comfort of knowing that maybe I won’t know it happened. Like people that go to sleep and they don’t wake up. I’m hoping that that happens. But you know like I’m saying…you can’t let fear overrun you because then everything that you’ve been trying to drive towards….you missed it…you’re not gonna make it.
 
Me:

You’ve stopped in your tracks and you’re dead in the water, basically.
 
Brittani:

It’s a roadblock and you can’t get around it.
 
So just be brave. Be good. That’s it.
 
Me:

You heard it there. Be Brave. Be Good.
 
This is Adam Walker and this has been A New Way To Think.

And a long conversation with Brittani Richardson, my great friend and esteemed colleague. Thank you.
 
Brittani:

Thank you very much.

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