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Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Beating the Psychology of Doing Bad Things to Feel Good

I just read an article that doesn’t surprise me at all, but for some reason it hit me in a profound way today.

The article I read was basically about a study that concluded overweight girls are at a greater risk of engaging in risky sexual behavior– such as not using birth control, or not having their partners wear condoms, to even being forced to have sex when they didn’t want to.

Keep in mind the stats were even more unsettling because the survey of almost 4,000 girls ranged from around age 13-18.

Sex wasn’t on my mind as a young girl, until I hit 18, surrounded by beautiful young men in college (who were smarter and better looking than the guys from my small town) and a roommate with an active social life that kept her out of our room… I had a boyfriend. We kissed and we touched and fondled and groped in that room until, I couldn’t take kissing and touching and fondling and groping anymore.

He asked me if I was sure, I nodded and took a deep breath.

I took the plunge.

It’s been a battle of discipline, self-esteem, love, rationality, irrationality ever since. I do see the reason why people should wait until they get married, even though I didn’t. Once you dive down that rabbit hole, it opens up a lot of emotions and challenges and human complexities that even people with multiple partners who claim they are cool with casual sex choose to acknowledge or ignore. Regardless of the choice there’s a Pandora’s box of feelings, of reasons why you are choosing to engage in sex, with whom and why.

I can’t imagine what these young ladies are going through having to think about these things as early as 6th and 7th grade. It hurts my heart, really.

But as a 30-year-old woman, I look back at the times I thought sex would make me feel better, and to my shock and dismay, it didn’t.

The bad news for these young, overweight girls is, self-esteem and the complexities of sex and why they are having sex will continue in their 20s, 30s and beyond.

They will find they’ll still struggle if they lose the weight. They’ll struggle if they are a runway model in Milan. They’ll still struggle if they got a degree, or a master’s or a doctorate. They’ll still struggle if they manage to rise in the ranks of a major corporation. They’ll struggle when they meet the perfect guy and he’s bad at sex, or the guy they can’t stand and he’s awesome.

For me, there’s no greater time for emotionally risky sexual behavior than my infamous “ho” phases post breakups.

Speaking of risky sexual behavior, other studies have shown that drugs and alcohol use are usually the culprits behind people having unprotected sex and making bad decisions.

Looking back, I’d say 99 percent of the time that I had self-pity sex, or spiteful sex, or bored sex, I was drunk. And even then I was drunk because I was feeling crappy about myself or I was stressed, or my job was making me nuts. If I was sober and made the date,  I was getting drunk by the time my booty call showed up.

Getting drunk was to muffle the voice saying, you need to be doing this for love and not to escape. This is not real. This is a waste of your time and energy.

I’m older now and although there are times I’m ridiculously horny, I’ve decided I’m willing to wait for the real thing. I owe it to myself. I know what it feels like to be madly in love with someone and be in a committed situation. Truth be told, when I was engaged, during the act, I’d look at him and I’d look at that ring on my hand and my head and heart would synchronize swim in delight. I’ve had no higher sexual experience than that. I’ve always joked that I couldn’t wait until the day I had married, God-approved sex. I still feel that way. I believe it will be highly intense, especially knowing all of the things I know now about love and committing fully to someone and trusting them completely with everything.

Once you have that high, anything outside of that kind of sex sucks, even if it’s great sex with a casual person who you think is cool. You find yourself reconfiguring your emotions afterwards whether you have feelings for the casual person or not.

You find yourself feeling like you wasted your time even if you briefly blacked out in ecstasy moments before. No sooner than you’re putting on your robe, to see them out the door, the euphoria has already come and gone…literally.

It’s not enough for me anymore.

Real great sex lasts longer after that release. Great sex carries over into sleeping late in that person’s arms, and making breakfast together, drinking out of the same glass. It’s watching that person getting dressed and heading out to work. It’s singing along with the radio while you are cleaning the house and sniffing his shirts and it’s coming right back home to that person when the day is done, and knowing that person is going to be there the day after, and the day after and the day after that day.

I’m alone.

Sure there are guys I could call.

There are hot guys I could call. Hot guys with good jobs, who are smart.

I do not love these hot, smart, guys. They do not love me. There is mutual respect. There is honesty about what we are and what we’re not, but no love.

I can’t see myself with them, and I’m not sure if they can see themselves with me in a real relationship.

I’m appreciating the discipline it takes to take control of my mind and my body.

That makes me feel good about myself. (When I don’t feel good about myself and I feel I’m going to crack, it’s time to break out the list of things that make me feel sexy and do the non-sexual things, lol.)

Feeling good about myself, keeps me from making that phone call.

Or in some cases, maybe I did make the phone call. But the good feeling I have about staying true to myself and having the understanding about what it is I really want, gives me the strength to change my mind, call back and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Love this song and the lyrics by the delightful Elle Varner “Refill”:

My Sexy, According to Me

I wrote down a list yesterday of things that made me feel sexy, whether or not they had anything to do with my outward appearance or even sex for that matter.

It was a fun exercise. Because I think if I do these things more often, I’d probably feel more fabulous. We should want to feel more fabulous.

Here’s the list.

1. Long baths.

2. Freshly threaded eyebrows.

3. A flattering shade of lipstick.

4. Knee high boots.

5. Back seam pantyhose.

6. Form-fitting clothing (before eating).

7. My glasses. (It took me a long time to get to this point! I was always taking them off trying to be sexy. Blind, but damn it, sexy.)

8. Fresh sheets.

9. Sleeping naked.

10. Pencil skirts.

11. A good night’s sleep.

12. Form-fitting jeans and high heels.

13. Lacy underwear under a business suit.

14. A genuine compliment.

15. Black eyeliner.

16. Yoga pants.

17. Bootie shorts in the house.

18. Painted toe nails.

19. Pretty slips.

20. Laying under a slow ceiling fan after a shower or bath on a hot day.

21. Being an arm piece for a man wearing a suit.

22. Cooking breakfast in my bootie shorts after lovemaking.

23. My gap.

24. Laughing.

25. Passionately arguing my point with a handsome, equally passionate man.

26. Perfume.

27. Candles.

28. Sade’s voice.

29. Crabcakes.

30. Cold Stone cake batter ice cream. (I have to eat it alone because I let out soft involuntary moans while eating it. I accept this now.)

31. Raphael Saadiq’s “Stone Rollin” (I really think I’m the girl in this video.)

What are the little, simple things that make you feel sexy?

Inch By Inch: I See It, Sort Of…

I don’t know if I’m going crazy or not, but since I’ve started doing Zumba twice a week for basically two months now, I haven’t dropped serious weight, but certain pairs of pants are not cutting off my circulation anymore. One pair of pants actually looked baggy yesterday.

Pants I normally wouldn’t wear because I couldn’t button them, I can button if I hold my breath.

Certain shirts don’t make me look like a boxy, shapeless blob.

One of the warning signs that I was gaining weight was the fact that there wasn’t a defining separation between my boobs and my stomach when wearing a tight shirt. It was just a square blob.

One of the warning signs that my health was being threatened by my horribly inactive lifestyle was a bad pain shooting up and down my left arm and shoulder. That was the moment I said enough was enough, and that I need to do something. Truth be told. It scared me.

Since I’ve been doing Zumba, I haven’t felt that pain since.

I’ve been trying to eat better, (but that’s been the most difficult part for me) so I know that’s part of  why I’m not dropping significant amounts of weight yet. And I know I need to kick it up one more notch and either add another day of Zumba or add another day of doing some other form of exercise and then kick it up from there to see for real results on the scale.

The funny thing is, I’m not going nuts over the fact that I may have only lost about 3 pounds in the process, I even looked it up because while my weight has been holding steady, I feel better and I think I look better. I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and she said that I look fantastic and I look more in shape. So that’s good.

Well, this article helped explain what’s going on with that. I was encouraged to read that sometimes this happens because as you are losing fat, you are gaining muscle. The article said if you are losing inches, that’s a good sign you are heading in the right direction.

The author concludes with this : “Now that you understand the different characteristics of fat and muscle, you are probably likely to reconsider your weight loss goals. Losing inches doesn’t seem bad at all. Believe your clothes; only they will tell you the truth first. (check) Second, believe your mirror; it never lies. (check) Third, believe what your BCA indicates. Fourth, your friends and relatives. (check) Fifth, your weighing scale.”

Looking at the scale last, I think is a really great idea. My goal is to just keep moving, and keep working on feeling good and not out of breath. That’s another thing, I was able to run with luggage to catch a bus and I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t feel as tired or out of breath as I would have a few months ago just from walking up a few flights of steps. And I see a difference when I get out of the shower. I’m starting to see the difference between boobs and boxy blob (thank you God). So I feel the little differences! Whoo hoo!

I’m dog tired from traveling (and my period), but I’m going to go to class today anyway. I can’t regress from my progress. Just wanted to check in and give an update! Go me!

Does anyone else have that issue where they can see and feel positive differences in their body, but the scale isn’t moving?

Tired But Inspired: A Quick Conference Wrap Up

Apple’s Eyes Studio/freedigitalphotos.net

So I went to a fabulous leadership conference held at Columbia University by an excellent group of NY-based go-getters called Rising Affluent.

There were a number of speakers and panel presentations that were geared toward inspiring folks to step their game up either in their current profession, or if they want to completely change directions and do something else.

No matter what you were there for, there were a number of recurring themes that popped up throughout the day that stuck with me and was totally worth the price of admission, and then some.

I met wonderful people who were highly intelligent, driven and just downright interesting, from a variety of backgrounds. It was repeated throughout the day that it takes a special kind of person to get up early and spend an entire Saturday talking business and self-improvement. So the folks who showed up did have something special about them and we all had a common goal.

Even the wildly successful people leading the panels and keynote speakers were personable, fun, and brutally honest about their challenges and setbacks.

So, I’m going to quickly breakdown some of the most valuable themes that I’ve still been thinking about in terms of my career and small business. My brain has been going full throttle, and I’ve been scribbling new ideas all weekend long. It’s time for some new vision boards. It’s going to take me no time at all to fill them up after getting so much info and inspiration this weekend.

Honesty: You shouldn’t be fudging your credentials or your skill set. Pump up what you know, learn more about what you don’t know, or have people on your team who know what you don’t know well to help propel you, your project, business or mission forward.

Connection to community: How is what you are doing connecting to the greater good? What are you doing to help others either through your professional life, or in your personal life just to feed your soul and serve others? Derek Fleming, who is the director of business development for the Marcus Samuelsson Group  said keeping the community, culture and residents of Harlem in mind at all times was crucial as he and his partners brought fine dining restaurant Red Rooster into the rapidly evolving (i.e. gentrifying) neighborhood.

Networking: This one was huge, well because it was a networking event. Don’t look to gain something from everyone you meet, what do YOU have to offer them?

Sponsors: This one was a funny one, because the joke was to find a powerful, older, white man (the folks who are usually in power) to align yourself with and mentor you. But it doesn’t always have to be an older, powerful, white man. You just have to align yourself with people who are where you want to be and get them to like you so much, that they want to bring you along for the ride to the top.

Support: You need a support system of like-minded people who will say, “yes you can do this and how can I help you?” These people can be family, friends and mentors. Some of these people may even help you raise funds for your endeavors and you shouldn’t overlook that even if you want to do everything on your own. Author and global spokesperson for LinkedIn, Lindsey Pollak said “It takes a village to be successful.” And sometimes that village has to include a life/career coach and or therapist. Get the support you need professionally, mentally, spiritually and for your health and fitness.

Hard work: You can smooze all you want to and make friends with the big boys, but you have to be a hard worker, you have to be knowledgeable, prepared and confident in order for everything to truly come together. Fleming said if you’ve put in the time, the hard work, the research and you are over prepared, no one can deny you when your opportunities do arrive.

Patience: It’s not all going to happen right away. I was particularly impressed with panelist Tricia Lee Riley, the owner of Polish Bar. She was grinding for years with makeup giant MAC, and then it still took her six years to get from business plan to opening her first Polish Bar store. That entire time, she was grinding, planning and saving and sacrificing to make her dream happen.

Risk: Sometimes you have to leave a comfortable situation to go for whatever it is that is pulling and tugging at your heart. Demetria L. Lucas of the Belle in Brooklyn blog/book fame walked away from a full-time glamorous gig with Essence Magazine to write her own destiny as a writer, t.v. personality, advice columnist and life coach. Riley probably could have stayed with MAC, continuing to build their brand and make it better, but she knew it was time to do her own thing and she did it.

The last that really resonated with me is to take my side hustle seriously and not to apologize for it. It hit me like a ton of bricks with Pollak gave this advice to a person asking her a question.

She said to stop saying, “I do this but I do this too. Say I do this and this.”

I was totally doing that all the time. I was downplaying my small business because it hasn’t officially launched yet, and well because it’s scary. It’s time to own it, after all I’m putting so much time and effort into it. Why not?

So I’m retraining myself to say AND!

I’m a journalist AND tee-shirt designer launching a website devoted to women’s empowerment. Whoo hoo!

Love it.

Now, I need a nap.

Keep Calm and Stay Busy

A humorous take on the popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan. Photo courtesy of youwerespring.tumblr.com

I see all sorts of signs and shirts and bookmarks that have a variation of that slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Interestingly enough, it’s a British slogan from propaganda posters during the beginning of World War II. According to Wikipedia (I cringe at using them as a source, being a journalist, it’s a no-no) the phrase was thrust back into the lexicon and suddenly made a resurgence into popular culture after some woman unearthed some of the old posters from her father’s belongings and was featured on Antique Roadshow.

History lesson aside, it’s been everywhere and people have even made up their own funny versions too (there’s a tumblr page devoted to this).  It seems like this slogan is the recycled, classier version from our British cousins of “Keep on Truckin” a popular U. S. phrase from the 70s.

I’d like to add one to the list. Someone else probably already thought of it, because, it’s really simple.

“Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

I have a friend who is a master at this. She volunteers, she likes to travel and visit her family and friends. The girl hardly sits still. She’s active in civic organizations; she’s just a busy little bee. She finds things to do, she finds me things to do and she lives hundreds of miles away!

I have noticed, that even when I pack my schedule, or I have a specific place to be at a specific time, I’m happier.

I’m happier because I feel like I’ve done something, that I didn’t waste time or brain cells.

I move more quickly and with purpose, I don’t hit the snooze button (as much). I’ve already thought of what I’m going to wear, and I’ll have it ready.

I’m more organized. Because, if you have a lot to do and places to be, you have to be more organized in order to do it all.

It’s perfectly fine to have lazy days to decompress from all the action. But it’s more fulfilling to fill your time with things that are important to you, your health, your spirit and your fun. By the time you take care of all of these areas, you will have a full schedule and a happier heart, indeed.

Your health: Having a scheduled workout at the same time, even twice a week makes a difference. I know people who schedule their daily workouts and they say they are at the point they feel like crap when they don’t work out. Their body notices it. I think I’m on week seven now of zumba twice a week for one hour. I may even start going to three classes, because I really like how I feel and today, I’m wearing a pair of pants that used to cut off my circulation. Those pants may still leave an indentation around my waist, but I can breathe, thank you.

Your spirit: If you are religious, having that set time you go to church to practice your faith can contribute to keeping your spirit busy.  Outside of worshiping with others, it’s good to sit down alone and meditate or pray privately. In addition to that, doing community work, or helping others also feeds your spirit if religion is not your thing. As I’ve found and my super active friend often tells me, once you volunteer to do things and you organize and do it well, somehow more people find you and ask you to help them too.

I’ve decided that I’m going to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness, volunteer from time to time and be an advocate for my mom and families who want to support the people they love. The outpouring of support from yesterday’s blog post, especially from fellow blogger, suestopford of The Happily Single Chick, really gave me the push I needed to do make this decision.

Also aiding in the efforts to stay busy for my spirit is the tee-shirt line I plan to launch at the end of this year or early next year. I’m planning an amazing photo shoot and I can’t wait to start working on content for the website. The whole vision is extremely exciting and I think it will really empower women, which really sends my spirit into a happy frenzy.

I’m going to an all day conference on leadership Saturday at Columbia University. It wasn’t so much about my job or my business, but it was about me getting more tools, and meeting new people even if that means getting on a bus early in the morning to go to NY from the DC area. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and go the extra mile to do things you know are good for you and will help you grow. I could possibly meet an investor or a potential client who can take me to the next level or even just make a new friend at this event. I can’t take that for granted.

Your fun: All three of these things are crucial and I think all three can overlap, honestly when you come from a place of sincerity in all that you are doing. You gotta have fun. You gotta do things that you enjoy. Thanks to living social, goldstar, and meetup, I’m just trying things. I’m going to new restaurants and seeing shows and checking out concerts. Taking a class, whatever, opportunities are all over the place. I’ve even convinced my friends to go to a fancy high tea one day soon (never done it and there’s a historical mansion literally down the street from me that does one monthly!).

These things make me really happy and you have to make time and the investment to do them. I love spending time with my family and friends and it just makes me feel really good.

With that, despite my challenges and emotional things I deal with from time to time, I’ve got to take a page from my uber busy friend’s book and “Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

Mom’s Lessons

“Maybe I’m just like my mother, she’s never satisfied…” -Prince

As Mother’s Day is approaching, I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot.

For the last several years, Mother’s Day has been difficult for me, and no. My mother isn’t dead, she’s very much alive.

Mother’s Day is tough because, my mother had a nervous breakdown from which she has never recovered when I was just 16 years old.

Since then, I’ve had aunties and career mentor moms, an older cousin and older sister who picked up the slack and carried me through when my mom just could not.

I appreciate those women and their impact on my life, and while I still struggle with my feelings and insecurities involving my mother’s mental illness, I know for a fact it made me the person I am today.

It taught me compassion. It taught me that life was unpredictable, unfair and cruel. It taught me not to take my mental health for granted. It made me painfully aware whenever I felt really overwhelmed, that I needed to pull myself from the brink and do whatever it took to get back to center.

Prior to her illness, my mother was just absolutely fabulous, vibrant, gorgeous. In my mind, she was Claire Huxtable in real life.

She grew up in the South, and was determined to get the hell out. She knew she was different. She never had a southern accent, my aunt and grandfather attest to this oddity. My mother’s dreams were always bigger than her coastal town and newly integrated high school. She graduated a year early.  She met my father, “an airman” serving at a near by Air Force base. They fell in love, and when he decided not to re-up, he took his bride away to New York.

My mother always had a deep respect for teachers and any job that required a woman to wear pantyhose and high heels. She worked for sometime as a teacher’s assistant in a special education class and even years after she left to work for and rise through the ranks of a large insurance company, former students would happily flag her down in the grocery store or even stop by our home to say hello.

My mom had an amazing effect on people. A huge laugh, big reddish hair poofed to perfection thanks to that massive aerosol can of hair spray and a strict regimen of sponge curlers every night complimenting her soft, brown skin.

My mother taught me how to sit properly. She made me hold my ears, so she wouldn’t burn me while straightening my hair for special occasions. I watched how she walked in those heels, her quick cadance when she talked. She walked so fast. She’d go to work, shuttle her children around, serve on countless boards at church.

I was fascinated with this woman who would cook dinner still with her heels, pantyhose and office clothing on. She was so strong an opinionated, always had a joke and held you captive when she’d tell a story or gossip about someone at her job or at church.

My mother had no college education, but she was clearly intelligent and driven. The young girl from Mississippi had it all. A handsome, devoted husband, pretty and intelligent daughters, and finally the office job she held in high esteem.

My mother adores my father. Even after her long days of work, and his long day of work, after his shower, he’d sit on the floor, between her legs, shirtless and still damp. She would take a comb and dip her fingers into a red can of Royal Crown hair grease, and slowly part his hair, and massage the oil into his scalp. Sometimes they’d chat, sometimes they’d both just watch the t.v. together. It seemed the stresses of his day melted away with her touch, she seemed to get pleasure from seeing him become more and more relaxed because of her touch.

It was a tender moment, and humble lesson for me in this age of women not wanting to appear weak or subservient. She was a strong woman finding joy in taking a moment to take care of her man. She wasn’t lowering herself to do it, she did it because she wanted to, and she knew how it made him feel.

This ritual, was hardly sensual, but the image has been seared in my brain as one of love, respect and a strong, strong woman simply taking care of her weary, hard-working man. Working the oils through his hair, saying, “I love you,” and “Thank you” without saying a word.

When you see someone you love go through a terrible thing such as suffer from mental illness, memories of who they were can be the only thing you have left to hold on to, because the person they are can scare you. Can frustrate you. Can make you feel like you’ve been robbed, that you’re whole family has been robbed of a most spectacular member.

There are two moments that I look back on, and it makes me think how similar I am to my mother, in terms of our spirits and our love for fashion and for things creative.

My mother had gone shopping for a cousin’s wedding. And she saw the most glorious bone colored strappy heels. The store was an expensive boutique, and my mother prided herself on having a well-dressed family. This one particular day, she really wanted those shoes, but there wasn’t a price tag on it. She looked at me and said, “That usually means it’s too much.”

She looked at the shoes and then paused for a moment. I was about 13. My mother said “Size 9 please.” She tried them on.

She took a moment again, and said, “I’ll take them.”

We got to the register and we both held our breath. The shoes were about $200, but she finally treated herself. She walked out with her head held high. I walked out with my chest out too, holding our bags. Yep, I knew it. Mom was Claire Huxtable!

Flashback a few years.

My mother was working very hard, juggling it all.

Then all of a sudden, she purchased a casio keyboard and set it up in the living room. She declared that once a week she was going to take piano lessons.

And so, for several months she did. Scales, and little ditties filled our home as she prepared for her weekly class.

I wondered why my Mom did this religiously and was not to be disturbed.

Then I got grown. I started working a crazy job with crazy hours and when I decided I wanted to take guitar lessons and have a standing appointment– job be dammned– it clicked.

I understood why my mom was so intent on those weekly piano lessons.

My mother needed something for HER. She needed an outlet where she could be herself, and learn something completely new, and do something that had nothing whatsoever to do with her husband, her kids, her job or other civic duties.

When my mother splurged for $200 shoes, she decided to do something for her. I now totally recognize that look in her eyes while deciding to do it, because I do the same thing. You rationalize, and then you say, wait, I deserve this! I’m doing it and I don’t care!

Who knew me watching her do those things for herself was going to have such an impact on me in terms of realizing, no matter what, you have to take care of you.

But the lesson of the piano lessons didn’t end there.

She’d be mortified if I told this story, but she had prepared a piece to play for our church’s annual Christmas program.

She’d been practicing and practicing at home.

She had it down.

They called her name. She sat down to the piano, and nothing.

She froze completely.

She went to her seat completely embarassed. Until someone, probably my dad, encouraged her to try again.

She went back and she played her song.

Afterwards, in her amazing way of telling stories, she said, “I saw nothing on the page. Literally, all of the notes, just jumped right off. I couldn’t play a thing!”

And she laughed. She was horribly embarrassed and admitted it, but she still could laugh at herself in the end.

My mother has always been brutally honest, sometimes silly and sometimes even crass. I see flashes of that even now in the thick of her illness.

I love my mother. There have been times I have been angry, and even ashamed, then angry and ashamed at myself. My mother is a recluse and is scared to leave our house. She hasn’t gone further than our front yard in over a decade for sure. She hears things and sees things and believes the government is watching our every move. It’s difficult for her to sleep for very long.

I don’t know why these things happened to her and happened to my family, but that woman who raised me and taught me how to be a vibrant woman, who speaks her mind and always has a fresh pair of pantyhose on standby, is my mother, for better or for worse.

She is the only one I’ve got. She had to be one hell of a woman, to influence me so much and make me so strong, even though it seemed like I had her at full capacity for a very short period of time.

She got me to 16, and she is still teaching me, she’s still making me stronger and better and compassionate and a fighter. Sometimes she has these moments of clarity, where her mind is still and she’s speaking to me so clearly. I want to cry because I know it won’t last, but even for a few moments, I am like my friends, who can go to brunch with their moms or have a spa day. I listen to her words, I sip tea and I cherish it.

The moment slips instantly and she’s back to patrolling the house for signs of government infiltration. My heart sinks. I had her. I saw her again, I heard her voice.

For a long time I didn’t realize she still has been giving to me, even when I couldn’t or wouldn’t see it.

Her illness did not steal my mother from me. It made me see her even more clearly and see the complexities of womanhood and whatever secrets she held from her past held on her.  It made me further appreciate what hard work it is to be a excellent and real woman, wife and mother who is strong, but can be very fragile.

She’s not Claire Huxtable, and she doesn’t have to be. My mother as she is, now and forever will always be good enough for me. I love you, Mom.

Meet Estrogena, The Pink Incredible Hulkstress

On this blog, I celebrate the ups and downs of turning 30.

I tell myself and I tell you that this is an age of discovery and an age of the beginning of accepting yourself for who you are, for real.

I talk about trying not to make yourself crazy if you aren’t married yet. Or if you are married, it’s not a big deal if you haven’t cranked out kids yet, or if you haven’t cranked out a brother or sister for the kid you already have.

I keep this theme of you are enough, and it all is timing. It’s better to be where you are then where you think you are supposed to be and totally unhappy.

Well today, I don’t feel that way.

Today, I feel like I should be married to a great man who protects me and helps me pay my bills, like the huge, expensive car repairs I’m staring down the barrel of over the next several weeks, because well I don’t have nearly $2,000 just lying around.

I would have it if I didn’t pay an ever growing rent alone, or put gas in my car, or eat or survive.

I love my independence, but the shit is expensive.

While I say this, I know better. My married sister always tells me, that yes, financially your husband helps you out, but more often than not, your bills are bigger. You have two cars that break down, you have a much larger home, that requires more resources to operate. Your money is gone to handle business whether you are single or with someone, so there isn’t much of a difference, but having their support is what matters and makes you feel better.

I’m sure my married and divorced readers can attest to my sister’s wisdom.

It’s not just about the money.

Going through this time of separation from my local friends, it would be nice to have someone to hold me and say it’s ok, you’ve got me, or that they will come around, or whatever.

I cried myself to sleep last night, because I wanted to stop loving someone. It’s been a year, for crying out loud.

But why did he have to recently say he still loved me?

Why did those words keep ringing in my head?

Since he said those tragic, beautiful, hopeful, dreadful words, why did I shut myself off from men who were either just as good-looking as him, who definitely had more money and more assets and better careers?

Why do those exact words, coming from him, mean more to me than the combined incomes, good looks and success of all of those other men combined?

Because I guess I hate myself equally as much as I love him. I’d have to hate myself to go through such torture.

But what does him still loving me mean anyway? What would be different this time?

What set me off? Why am I so emotionally unstable today?

My car repairs, and being a stupid Pandora by doing what I said I wouldn’t do.

Go on Facebook to look at who wished him a happy birthday. (I already know. I should have de-friended him a long time ago. I couldn’t do it, and neither did he. If he did first, I would have been mad. So round and round we go.)

Not only did one bitch wish him a happy birthday, she went on about how glad she was to celebrate with him and how they would have to finish their conversation later. And ended with a damn smiley face.

Smiley face.

It mocked me.

It taunted me.

This chick probably still dots her i’s with hearts.

I need to stop. I use smiley faces too.

But see? See how ridiculous one can become because of stupid feelings?

Feelings  make normally very rational women, turn into her worst enemy…

A hormonal, estrogen rage-induced, emotional nut bag.

Think a pink incredible Hulk with a weave, skirt, painted fingernails and toenails, ripping an encyclopedia in half with just her kuckles.  I’ll name her, Estrogena. The Hulk is so scared of pissing her off, he’s not even on Facebook. He deleted his account when he still didn’t change his relationship status a day after they became official.

A year later, with all the progress, all the fasting and praying, and bad mistake making, and enlightenment and business-starting and promotions; all the feeling stronger in my faith, all the relearning to love me, all the going to Zumba, all went out the window in one moment.

None of these amazing things I accomplished by my own strength and intellect mattered.

Facebook. One wall post that could have meant absolutely nothing, or absolutely everything on top of  an enormous bill for car repairs, and having to acquiesce to another year of living in this apartment, paying more than I think it’s worth, having to put off said car repairs for two weeks, winging it, praying the wheels won’t literally fall off my car (as the repair man warned) between now and then.  Finally, contemplating having to give up one or both vacations I had been looking forward to in order to be fiscally responsible, pushed me to my breaking point.

I told a dear friend I’m at the point I may go back to trans fats, heavily drinking and mindless sex with worthless men.

Then, I said I’d write.

Then work out, then take a shower and pray and cry while I’m in it and let the water and my tears become one indistinguishable rush of liquid on my face.

So here I am, writing.

Today, being 30, independent, alone, momentarily emotionally unstable and being fully aware if it, ain’t shit.

Smiley face.

Confession: I Thought I Was Too Grown for Sneakers

Tracee Ellis Ross is a grown woman who rocks sneakers right and appropriately. My inspiration to wear sneaks again. Photo courtesy of solecollector.com

When I was a kid, a teen and through my first two years of college, if I wasn’t at church or a formal function, I was wearing sneakers or tennis shoes– whatever you like to call them.

I lived in em. They were easy and comfortable. They were just, me.

Somewhere down the line during my matriculation at the prestigious and oh so fashion forward Howard University, where I watched girls teeter on 4-inch heels, with Louis Vuttion bags sitting in the crooks of their elbows, faces made up to perfection for 8 a.m. classes, their influence– no matter how vain I thought they were– was seeping into my psyche.

I slowly let go of my Old Navy baseball caps, sweatpants and my beloved athletic shoes.

I started to morph from the sporty tomboy of freshman year (to this day people know me as the chick with the baseball caps) to a young woman who wasn’t as extreme as the pseudo model co-eds, but was developing what I thought in my mind,  a more mature look. To truly achieve this, to truly become my more feminine and mature self, it was clear, my all-purpose athletic shoes had to be the first to go.

It all was a gradual transformation. I left the sneakers for leather booties with a two inch heel, to go with form-fitting jeans and shirts to hug my curves. Eventually, I full out fell in love with heels, and wore them everywhere like the “pretty girls” I mocked.  By the time I got into my latter 20s I realized, all I owned were heels.

I looked in my closet and I may have only had one pair of sensible flat shoes that didn’t hurt my feet. So, I turned my shoe obsession to kitten heels and cute flats and wedges. In my latter 20’s I still wanted to be cute, but I still needed to be able to walk, handle business and not take off my shoes at the end of the day and be mistaken for a ballet dancer from the ankles down (ankles up, I’m all about it).

When I joined the company softball team one spring, I realized the only pair of sneakers I owned were the faithful pair I wore in college, before my “metamorphosis to maturity.”

Even when I purchased a new pair for the team and to wear when working out, I never, ever wore them casually. It seemed young.

Since I recently bought a jazzy pair of Nikes for Zumba, and I decided one day to wear my Zumba shoes out with jeans, I had a revelation.

It was cute! And comfortable!

And I didn’t look crazy.

Hold up.

So, as I mentioned in a previous blog, there is a pair of casual Pastry brand sneakers I’ve been eying. I had to ask at least two friends if I’d be one of those pathetic women trying to pretend she’s a teenager when she’s well into her 40s, whose entire wardrobe consists of items from juniors departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s. I like Junior’s departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s, but these days, I purchase few and very specific items from those stores.

I was going to go ahead and buy the sneakers anyway, but this photo of one of my girl crushes and style mentors, actress Tracee Ellis Ross confirmed (so did a mail solicitation from the Scooter Store) for me that sneakers can be rocked right by grown women too outside of the gyms and running trails.

To all of the sneakers I passed up thinking I was too grown/good for you, I’m sorry. I’m so, so, sorry. I was wrong. Take me back, old friend. I didn’t realize how much I missed you.

As for the baseball caps… I never gave those up. I upgraded to a sprawling collection of Kangols that every man in my life, including my father, has tried to steal or trade.

Return to Sender

Maybe, just maybe I’d consider a scooter like this one, one day. Photo courtesy of nationwidemobility.co.uk

Now that I’ve eaten food from my favorite chinese food spot and had a glass of wine, I think I’ve composed myself enough after an unexpected emotional reaction I had to a single piece of mail.

I was feeling good. I had just arrived home after pushing through a challenging Zumba class. I went to my mailbox, rummaged through the mail, and there it was.

A promotional mailing from The Scooter Store.

I looked at the addressee long and hard, because surely, this was a mistake.

No luck.

Sure enough it was my address and my name, spelled correctly.

I was flabbergasted. I was outraged, I was hurt and even vexed.

I’m not even six months into 30, and I’m getting offers to aid my mobility, accompanied by a test to be taken by me or my caretaker that will help me  assess my need for a motorized “power chair or scooter” that will make me “much more independent” than I’ve ever dreamed!

On every stinking page, there was my full name in bold, large, letters, because of course I’m feeble and my eyesight is slip..slip…slipping away.

I took a photo and sent it to my friends. I texted how outraged I was, and that not even *AARP (which likes to offer early memberships to people 40+) has approached me yet.

Don’t get me wrong. I think aging is a gift, after all, there’s only one other alternative.

Usually I don’t get crazy about this kind of stuff. I had a small moment when I spied my first single strand of grey hair in my right temple area at 25.

I blew it off because I was horribly stressed and working like a maniac.

Occasionally that single, defiant strand reappears in the same spot after I’ve yanked its adventurous predecessor, cursed it, waved it in my mirror and in my best Tony Montana voice yelled, “And let that be a lesson to your friends not to come round here!”

I laugh and then I examine it. The color is actually quite pretty, seemingly dyed in a vat of character.

Then I imagine being a sexy old lady, married, but still flirting with boys at least 30 years my junior for fun with a head full of that silky grey stuff.

BUT I AIN’T THAT LADY RIGHT NOW, AND EVEN THEN I’M NOT GOING TO WANT NO DAGGONE SCOOTER!!!

I’d clutch my pearls, breakout in raucous laughter and bust into a handstand in my foyer. I’m going to have a foyer, and then I’m going to grind up on my husband, while ripping up the Scooter Store’s offer, pass him a glass of water to wash down his happy pill and slap him on the booty.

I’m going to say with a devilish grin, “Maybe I shouldn’t have ripped that up. You’ll need that scooter once I’m through with you.”

Then hot geriatric love with the love of my life for the last several decades will commence.

Back to like, now though.

Now that I’ve written about this, I feel better. This helped.

My recent mail delivery has also prompted me to make the executive decision to buy a pair of Pastry brand sneakers I was debating about last weekend, concerned the brand was too young for me (Yes, I think about these things now. The 30s can be a confusing funky time for your fashion sense. You got to walk the line carefully. Lots of folks get it wrong. I don’t want to be apart of that age-inappropriate community.) and would make me like old women dressing like young girls (think Mama Jones from Love and Hip Hop).

My future purchase is justified. The pair I want is on sale and among the more conservative of styles they offer.

Actually, as I looked for a photo of an older person riding a scooter, I came across this post “12 Badass Mobility Scooter Users,” I literally laughed out loud and thought to myself, these folks are so wrong, but I needed to see this. If you see number 9 and 11, especially, you’ll see what I mean.

*For my international friends, AARP is the American Association for Retired Persons. It’s a pretty powerful group with great membership benefits and discounts on basically everything. Folks get excited about these discounts when they get their AARP card, usually around the age of 60.

Revisiting the Summer Reading List

Welp. I’ve fallen in love with reading again.

As a child, a was a voracious reader. During my long summer vacations, I stayed at the library. I always took out the maximum amount of books (8) and usually returned them all within a week. One summer I declared I was going to read every single book in the Babysitter’s Club Series and I did. I even read the Super Specials, mysteries and a few of the Little Sister’s spinoffs (totally not as wonderful). I was devastated when Claudia’s grandmother died.

I won contests for reading 200 books in a summer. During the school year, I was the kid who stayed getting those coupons for a small kid’s pizza at Pizza Hut for meeting the reading goals for the program they had in partnership with my elementary school. (Yes, I was/am a nerd. I still have my rejection letter from the Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego game show. I’m still pissed about it. I would have killed it! I wanted that loud ass jacket and a trip “anywhere in the continental U.S.” soooo bad. LOL!! I’m cracking up at myself right now. No Hawaii? No Alaska? That’s bootleg. To be a show about tracking a fictional villaness all around the world, PBS couldn’t spring for an international vacay for the kid and at least one parent/guardian? Damn!)

It seemed once I got thrust into the work world full time as an adult, I stopped reading for leisure completely. But I’m starting to get my groove back. I have an entire list of books I want to read/finish in the coming months. I forgot how much I loved reading. And as a writer, how inspiring it can be, and if you are reading great writers, you are going to become an even better writer. Most recently, I’ve read The Human Stain, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, Haiku for the Single Girl (friggin hysterical), and one of my all time favorites: The Warmth of Other Suns.

What I hope to tackle this summer:

The Art of War (currently reading)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Let It Go by TD Jakes

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

That new freaky book, Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James

Son of A Witch by Gregory Maguire (I loved reading Wicked)

The Legs are the Last to Go by Diahann Carroll

Audition by Barbara Walters

I’m Still Here: Confessions of A Sex Kitten by Eartha Kitt (I’m obsessed with her since a friend showed me a pic of her riding a bike presumably in her 20s, taken by Gordon Parks; which kind of looked like me!)

Lately, I’ve been most interested in non-fiction and autobiographies. I guess my background in journalism is a part of that, because honestly real life stories can be just as fascinating and even more complicated than things people make up.

If I read a fiction book, someone has to recommend it to me and it has to be awesome. The Human Stain falls into this category and after reading that, I don’t know how to find something to top it. I’m sure there’s more great work out there, I’m just too lazy. If you have suggestions, please share!

I’m also interested in rereading some of the classics I read in high school, and revisiting them as an adult. I read “Streetcar Named Desire” in high school and I went to see the play on Broadway last weekend.

It was absolutely amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

There were sly jokes and comments that I would have never caught as a teen, that I caught and adored. I had a new love for the material because I’ve spent time in New Orleans and it is my favorite city. I had a special sympathy for Blanche and Stella as a woman who went through my own personal pains. I especially felt for Blanche in a new way, because I saw a radiant woman I love dearly unravel in mental illness.

So I think I need to revisit The Great Gatsby and Vanity Fair and Jane Eyre again as an adult. I enjoyed those books back then, but I’m sure seeing it through adult eyes, will heighten the experience. Just like streetcar, I’m going to see something new this time around and it’s going to excite me and remind me of my evolution in my thinking and absorbing of material and my evolution as a person.

In honor of my recommittment to literacy, I bring you this hilarious parody. Bitches in Bookshops:

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