Growing up, I really didn’t have many role models. My mother was the main influence and she was dealing with the horrors of her own life–being rejected by family, PTSD, and homelessness.
Eventually, like many of my peers, I followed music groups here and there, but unlike my peers I always hid out in libraries dreaming of doing my own thing. I would often study art books and lettering. In 8th grade, I discovered calligraphy, but I wanted to do more than just write with a fancy ink pen.
The local library had a copy of The Book of Kells, which is an illuminated manuscript of the Bible in Latin. I didn’t understand it but the art was spectacular. When I first started, I was horrid, but I kept tracing, trying to perfect the smooth curves of letters, detailed flourishes that blended trees, animals and letters into an illuminated masterpiece.
Dreams came and went. In school, they always asked, “What do you dream of being?” Meaning one dream. I had so many and I remember thinking that I want to do as much as I can. No limits. I wanted to be a writer, an author, an artist, a creator. I had teachers mock and laugh at me in high school. One told me I would never succeed. Another one suggested suicide.
I have music to thank for getting me through. Pure sound was the bridge that gave me a safe place to dream. Words of anger and frustration that agreed with my feelings or simple music that was electronic and instrumental that helped me to zone out. I had few friends also, but no one really knew my inner struggles of simply wanted to be accepted.
Usually when you think of people who inspire you, they are childhood heroes, people who you wanted to be like when you get older. As an adult, there are people, now, that I look up to and respect. People who are out there making an impact. People who remind you to believe in yourself again. There are three people who I follow on Twitter and listen to (music wise) today that remind me to be a better person.
“You’ve Just Got To Keep Your Head Up”– Alex Boye
I first heard his music a few years ago when he did a collaboration with Lindsey Sterling. His voice is so raw and powerful and the energy he conveys in all of his music make me feel inspired to do something. Whenever I write, I often listen to him and try to convey his energy in my wire work as well. Yes, I listen to Alex when I am working on jewelry designs.
The reason I love his music is because words are power. When you speak aloud, you are speaking to yourself even when you are conversing with others. So when you sing to a song and the lyrics are “I am made of gold” you are essentially telling yourself that you are made of a precious metal that is known for wealth, life force, and power. Some of my favorite quotes/lyrics from him are:
“Keep my mind sharp like my sword”
“You can be bitter or better”
“I Am Gold”
“If I give love, the universe will find a way to change my fate”
“Living for tomorrow only takes away day”
“What Inspires You?”–Elon Musk
When I first started following Elon Musk, I really thought of him as this random out of touch billionaire businessman. No image to the name in my head, just a thought. But then I started really researching him and he inspired me. Having failed at a lot in my life, his messages about failure really caused me to see failure not as a dead end, but just another obstacle to cross over and keep on moving.
I’ve interacted with him on Twitter and he isn’t out of touch at all. In fact, not only did he read my open letter to him, but he shared it on Twitter. He genuinely cares about humanity as a whole and seeing someone with his level of resources go out and make a difference really inspired me to be a better person. I remember my mom always saying, “I can’t do this,” to anything I would ask her. It was usually due to lack of funds. Once she laid it down, there was no going around it. This was drilled into my head since childhood.No money= I can’t. That’s a formula that I’ve been working on erasing out of my life.
In school we are always asked what do you want to be and then when kids say something like an astronaut or a surgeon the get laughed at with the attitude, “Oh that’s cute,” in a cynical sense that it will never happen. Elon’s message is basically fuck them and go do it. Be it. And don’t let anyone or thing stop you. And that is inspiring. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Elon Musk:
“I think people can choose to be not ordinary”
“Don’t be afraid of new arenas”
“Don’t be afraid of failure,”
“I will never give up”
“Do something bold”
“Everybody Dies But Not Everybody Lives”–Prince Ea
I first discovered Prince Ea on Facebook. Someone shared one of his videos and it moved me. I researched him and discovered that his stage name was also the name of the ancient Sumerian god Enki or Ea and he was the god of water, knowledge, creation and art.
He wanted to be a hip hop artist with the goal of being the best there ever was, but when he failed, he questioned why it hurt. Then he realized that his ego was getting in the way and it really just inspired him to go within and now he shares that knowledge with us all and to me, he is the best hip hop artist there is because he uses his art form to spread knowledge, empower others and remind you to use your gifts.
I listen to him every day, share his tweets and quotes because they remind me to be a better person, to use my gifts, and to take a moment and visualize what success is to me. Right now, I am taking Prince Ea’s 7 Day Mind Detox challenge and I know it will impact how I think for the better. Learn more about that here. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Prince EA:
“What invention is buried in your mind?”
“Before truth can set you free, you must first recognize which lies are holding you hostage”
“Life, ladies and gentlemen, is all about moments. No one in history has ever been able to hold on to one,”
“How about small steps? Short trips with long dances, no distractions?”
“Cherish those while they’re still here”
“Everything that you see around you in the room you are in right now was a thought first,”
Each person I wrote about have their own heroes, influences and everyone has their own path to walk in life. This is the beauty of it all. You don’t know who you will influence whether it’s a random tweet online or smiling at a stranger on the train. The messages these three individuals, to me, are saying, “Give love, be inspired, and cherish each moment”
Of course their messages are more than just that statement. I invite you to check them out, learn from them and also get inspired. Remember, we all have gifts and we all matter.
About the Author
Johnna Sabri is a mineral, gem and crystal collector and wire artist. She loves experimenting with different styles of wrapping and collecting gems and minerals. Her work has been modeled by GA State University students in one of their annual fashion shows.
Johnna has also served customers all around the world including Dubai, Finland, The Philippines, Australia, Canada, the UK, China, and Hong Kong as well as people in every US state.
She learned her craft from Grammy winning guitarist, Daryl Adonis Thompson, son of Eli “Lucky” Thompson, the saxophonist who played with Dizzy Gillespie and Isaac Hayes. Daryl was well known in the Little 5 Points Atlanta community as a master at his craft. Read more on Johnna here.