Continuing Education: Lessons in minding your business from Tabitha Brown

I was having a discussion with my husband recently when it occurred to me, he’s missed a lot.

Background: My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks before Dallas went on COVID lockdown. Within a few months, she was in treatment and — faced with a pandemic and three 20somethings living at home — he moved in with her. We had two pandemic pods: Clyde and his mom; me with our two boys and a bonus girlfriend.

Tabitha Brown was in Dallas two weeks ago. My friend Jill and I stood in line for SEVEN HOURS to see her.

During that nine months, a lot of shit went down. I’m sure we were all in our head a lot more than usual. I was also in my IG feed a lot more than usual. And here’s what I realized during that conversation with my husband a few weeks ago: I learned a million things from amazing people I know only through my IG feed. I feel like I got PhDs in boundaries, feminism, Black women, parenting. All of this while we all earned our doctorates in virology, of course!

To process all of this, I’ve decided to take it one at a time, starting with Tabitha Brown. I actually was an early adapter to Tabitha’s magic. A vegan friend of mine shared Tabitha’s infamous Whole Foods video and I was hooked. Her words, her authenticity, her passion for that sandwich … I was all in. I also got the sandwich shortly thereafter. This omnivore is a huge fan. Tabitha on this video, sitting in her car in the Whole Foods parking lot: “Honey, I’m looking around and stuff look different, that’s how good it is. My life is changing right before my eyes. Good God this thing is good.”

Please watch the video now. I’ll wait.

Now, let me set this stage for Lessons Learned from Tab: I am not a vegan. I have no intention of giving up meat and dairy (although I do support ranchers who do our bodies, their animals, and our earth right). Yet I hang on her every word.

More than that, my friend Jill and I almost died trying to see her two weeks ago. On the last night of her nationwide book tour, she came to a small bookstore in Dallas. Jill and I — along with thousands of Tab’s closest friends — crawled through an asphalt parking lot in Texas (and let me tell you, fall has not quite arrived here!) until we got a hug and a minute with Dr. Brown, as I shall now call her. By the end, Jill and I were almost literally crawling, and the next day it felt like we’d run at least a half-marathon. Is “almost died” an exaggeration? I’m 54. Let me life and die as I will.

Here’s the best life advice I’ve learned from Dr. Brown since I started following her a few years ago and, especially, in the past 18 months:

Let me use it in a sentence, spelling bee style:

“I’m going to add some avocado to this sandwich … and I can because that’s my business.”

“I’m going to work in my pajamas today … and I can because that’s my business.”

“I’m going to have wine with dinner on a Tuesday … because that’s my business.”

“I’m going to go stay home with my husband on a Saturday night and watch Friends reruns … because that’s my business.”

“That’s my business” gives me permission to do whatever I want without any concern for what anybody else has to say or think about it. Now, I didn’t need much permission to get down Tab’s road. But many people do. And now I have succinct words for it. And those words are empowering.

Here’s the other side of this life lesson. If what I do is MY business, what YOU do is YOUR business.

WHA????

You might want to read that sentence again. I might need to read it every damn day!

Being human comes with so much judgment. I literally said to my husband one day when I had babies: “I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone who doesn’t breastfeed.”

Tabitha Brown’s new book is just out, sitting on my nightstand, waiting to teach me!

Where was Tab when I was 30? Because 30something Dawn needed to Calm The Fuck Down. Now, I still will preach about the benefits of breastfeeding, but by the time my kids were in grade school, I can assure you it was no longer a dealbreaker. I walk around in life meeting women and have zero thought to how they fed their babies. Zero!

How many other things are there in life like that — things that would be smoothed over by a bit of “that’s my business?”

It’s your business to … FILL IN THE BLANK. Dr. Brown has put words to the fact that we can do this all damn day. And so can everyone around you.

Now, I still have judgment. Things like putting ketchup on perfectly good fries before you taste them, refusing to take the subway when visiting New York City, and voting for Donald Trump are your business … but I will talk about your choices if you do them.

Why? BECAUSE THAT’S MY BUSINESS. 🙂

I have said this to my husband so many times since he moved back in. He didn’t take Dr. Tabitha Brown’s It’s My Business 101 like I did, so he doesn’t always get it. But I’m spreading the word every day, Dr. Brown. Preach on!

About Dawn McMullan

Dawn McMullan is a freelance writer/editor in Dallas, Texas. Her two sons are now 21 and 24, Sawyer in college and Noah starting his post-college career, and both interrupted empty nesting during the pandemic. Dawn helps run a non-profit in Eastern Congo and is senior editor at the International News Media Association.
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