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Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Do Our Money Fears Hold Us Back From Our Happiness?

Last week, I asked the question if professional women could make great wives. And of course I said they can. I got a glance at the other side in the most unlikely of places.

Some folks from my job were holding a send off for a young woman who is about my age who quit to be not only a stay at home mom, but also watch other children she knew needed child care. Being an artist and one who loves to cook, she happily makes meals for the kids and gives them plenty of fun projects to do throughout the day.

She has the support of her loving husband, and she basically as a three-year old and a five month old to keep her busy.

It made me think of feminism and choices and women and work and family.

I don’t consider myself a kid person, so just the thought of having five or six small children running around and needing my attention all day gives me the heebie jeebies. But there are some women who really love kids and are great with them. And the world needs more of these people for sure.

Anytime someone walks away from a full-time gig for whatever reason, I count them as brave.

I guess I think about my family and how they think of money and work.

The attitude was/is you have to work and work very hard to survive. Not working isn’t an option.

Even the concept of me going back to school, leaving my job was not an option. I had so much fear surrounding the level of comfort I’ve built up with my steady paycheck, I couldn’t dream of being a full-time student. And why?

I know other people who have done it. They’ve had to scale back and with the scaling back they actually had a lot of freedom. But for some reason, doing that frightens me. I worry I don’t have the kind of financial support to do that.

I do think our parents do plant seeds of how we react to money and I realize that I do treat money the same way my parents do. My folks weren’t necessarily the worst with money, but they weren’t the best. My dad often tells me to be wise and smart and save. And it’s like I hear him, but there are times I feel like I’m waiting for someone else to help me or make me do it, when I should be doing it myself. That is the ultimate sign of independence.

When you know better, you do better. This actually makes me want to talk to my sister about how she sees money and if how we were raised impacts her decisions. We always had everything we needed and even a lot of things we wanted and we were good. And it seems like that’s the way I live my life now.

But I do have friends who I admire who are great savers and when they do run into major financial emergencies, they aren’t happy, but they sigh and dig into their savings and they get the job done.

I tend to sweat it out a bit and get horribly stressed. Things manage to get done, but I struggle.

Over the years, I’ve read books about financial literacy and in my last relationship the one thing I could appreciate was seeing how being accountable to our joint savings account made me feel good when I saw our balance grow and that we always had what we needed.

A wise person asked me, “How on earth could you do that for someone else, but you can’t do the same for yourself? Why do you feel like you can’t do it alone?” And the answer to that is I don’t know, or I’m scared. Money scares me.

Not having it. Not having enough. When I was a kid I didn’t see the sacrifices my parents often made to give us everything. But once I got to college and as an adult, sometimes I felt like my father let me in on too much. Which led to me feeling guilty when I do spend money. But there are also times, when I say screw it, I deserve a treat a break and I splurge. So where’s the happy medium?

I won’t lie, I have always associated the freedom to choose to stay home or work with wealthy women or upper middle class white women. It’s something my mind can’t fathom. But as I think about it, I do actually know other black women who have businesses out of their home and are great moms. Or working black women who walked away from paying gigs, sometimes with no real back up plan to save their sanity. And those choices were always the right choice. It was just about having the courage to ignore the voice saying you’ll fail or you’ll end up on the street.

The point is we all have choices. We shouldn’t let fear tether us to jobs we don’t like, but if we can make our lives work for us in a way that makes sense, we shouldn’t be afraid to change things up.

All of the people I’ve known who’ve taken these kinds of leaps have actually been alright and happier and will say, they may not have a whole lot of money but they enjoy not punching in everyday, but they do have their own set of challenges and problems that do come with their choices.

I know people who have gotten divorced and are trying to rebuild their lives alone as a single woman for the very first time in their lives. How scary is that? But we have to keep moving. We have to push beyond our fears and live.

Do your money fears hold you back from the things you really want?

Fine Guys Who Get Away With Everything and Meh Guys Who Must Work Harder

I had a thought cross my mind today.

Do we throw out our rules for people who we find ourselves attracted to?

I think the answer is yes and it’s totally reflected in something I saw a friend post on social media a few days ago and I found myself doing this.

It’s a tale of two guys.

One is hot. One is aight.

If one is late, I’m irritated beyond belief. The other, I’ve gone to his house after just one date and brought him food I cooked. The other suggested having take out at my place and he was shut down quickly. He keeps asking for an invite to a home cooked meal.

And he’ll keep asking. Until the other one screws up.

One gets hugs. The other got some tongue.

Both do a solid job of keeping in touch, but when they both called at the same time, the not as hot guy got rushed off the phone and I called him back later.

Both of them seem to enjoy my company and actively listen to what I have to say.

But with one, the thought of kissing him and touching him basically melts my panties.

The other is nice, but all I can muster is a meh.

The problem now is, dating has made me confused. I told a friend today, “I’m more prepared for let downs than I am actual dating success and just being happy and enjoying it.”

I’ve looked for an IT feeling. Then I said that was irrational and go for the guy that I wasn’t that attracted to or into, but seemed like a safe bet and those guys actually ended up showing their asses in the most egregious ways. Apparently their opinion of themselves and what they thought they deserved in me was greater than my opinion of myself and what I deserved in them. Sometimes they had unreasonable requests, sometimes they expected me to deal with moody or suckie behavior. No one should put up with that no matter how attractive, but let’s face it. When someone you aren’t attracted to is acting stank, oooooh you feel like they have all the nerve in the world.

So now I’m back to going with my feelings. If I tingle. If no matter when the phone rings or buzzes for a text, whether the conversation is ten minutes or two hours, I’m glad the person thought of me or if a kiss makes my knees buckle 20 minutes later or I actually think I can still taste the person’s lips on the drive home… I’m going to go with that. That’s going to tell me to proceed. Especially if the person involved is reciprocating my actions and showing genuine interest.

And if the man happens to be fine as hell, I’ll just consider it a bonus.

That little chart I posted told so much truth. I want to make the meh guys jump through hoops to convince me that he’s so into me, he’s so patient with me for making him wait for kisses or an invite to my house that fine, he can wear me down and eventually win me over.

Hmm. Well that’s not fair to anyone. Because if I’m taking risks for someone who I find attractive, I hope they too are taking some risks for me. It would be a let down if they weren’t and also a waste of my time and energy.

Here’s to going all out and getting the kind of man that will make my toes curl.

 

 

 

 

 

Can Professional Women Make Great Wives?

Now that’s dumb.

Yes.

Any woman can make a great wife or a great girlfriend if one, they find the right man. And two she works at it with even more enthusiasm than her career.

For some reason, our culture has, when it comes to women or feminism or anything it always wants women to choose one path and stick to it.

Working moms look down on moms who stay at home. Moms who stay at home write venomous blogs about how what they do is more important than what working moms do.

Women who don’t have kids or don’t get married trash women who do and say they aren’t living up to their truest potential, while on the flip side the married moms rail on about how the over worked childless women don’t have values, they aren’t real women if they haven’t given birth or wiped poop, they don’t know tenderness they are selfish and cold.

I was having a discussion with a man the other night when he asked me what feminism was.

And I started to laugh.  I said feminists are people who basically support women choosing how to live their lives as they please, they believe women should get equal pay for equal work and that there are no limits on what women can do in their private and professional lives and they should not live with shame or be shamed for their decisions.

He was surprised at my answer. I was like, what did you want me to say? I feel like there are stereotypes of bra burning angry women who are always mad about something and who want to be better than men and who don’t need men.

I don’t live on Amazonia. I’d never agree to that. So he asked, well can men be feminists under your definition?

I told him most certainly.

But anyway, I’m all riled up because I was engaged in a conversation on twitter with a relationship blogger from Canada who I dig. I think he is an intelligent brotha. He brought up an interesting topic and I just couldn’t resist. I made one comment and then he pulled me all the way in. Then some other dude jumped in and at that point I got tired.

Most of what this guy said, I agreed with and said so. But as the discussion evolved, it made me think. And there are so many levels to this convo, it’s hard to even encapsulate it in a twitter discussion.

It started with the blogger saying that “When professional women bitch and moan about being single I wonder if they realize their job title doesn’t make them wife material.”

At first, it sounded harsh and felt a little offensive. I even replied ouch. But I did say it was something to think about and that it was true.

I further said that I have noticed on a number of occasions while out with my professional friends that we know or met other women who didn’t have the same education and careers who were married.

So the blogger and his co-signer were going on about how men aren’t looking for degrees and high-powered jobs when they are looking for women, they are looking for a good woman.

But I call bullshit on that, for a couple of reasons. One in society, men are expected to be breadwinners and leaders. It isn’t uncommon for men to not care about a woman’s ability to bring home money or support the family because it is assumed he will do it. So you see it all the time with athletes and musicians. They can grab women and hangers on out of obscurity and it’s all to the good. They just have to be pretty and go along with the program.

In that case, it’s far more easier to date and marry a less educated woman who may not make as much if she is working. That will help eliminate a power struggle that I will admit, a lot of professional women have, especially if they do date men with less education or who make less money.

Women of all backgrounds no matter how professional, do want to find men who can be financially stable. I hear it all the time. However, yes, in gaining education in working our way up, we display more aggressive tendencies, we are clear on what we want, what we don’t want and that may seep over into our love lives. But I did ask the blogger, doesn’t all this talk put the onus on the professional woman to change and try to be “nicer” and more “palatable” but absolves the man from maybe dealing with his insecurities that may come with dating a professional woman?

So he said he doesn’t have a problem with dating a professional woman, and his home boy jumped in saying that “As soon as they walk across the stage, they forget to be likeable.”

Gulp.

So it’s magic. We take off our caps and gowns and put on our bitch hats with our Jimmy Choos. Excellent (Mr. Burns voice)

Cmon. That’s so easy.

So professional women forget to be likeable. We are just garnering degrees and success and forgot how to be people.

Ooookay.

When I asked if they gave up hope for professional women, the homeboy said his girlfriend is in fact a professional and degreed woman, but that’s not what made them compatible.

See, I think it may not be the primary thing (even though in DC it is), but your education and status play a huge role in who you date. I don’t care what anyone says. In theory, both of these well-educated men could make the philosophical argument that it doesn’t matter. Actually, the blogger was wise. He said it SHOULDN’T matter.

So for that, I give him props.

I don’t know. Discussions like this give me an icky feeling about the labels being put around the necks of professional women. And on the flip side, what do these arguments say about women who are less educated and may not have certain kinds of jobs? Does that mean, because they aren’t making as much money or in high-powered jobs, they have a greater capacity to please their men? To not be as difficult?

I wouldn’t dare paint my other sisters with that brush. It’s not right. To me that’s an insult.

Let’s face it. The two gentlemen are right status and education has nothing at all to do with love. They are often avenues by which we meet like-minded people and form connections.

So in saying that, can we say it’s safe to say whether you work at a fortune 500 company with an office on the executive level or you clean the bathrooms in that building. If you are a human being you are going to love who you love, you are going to give your all to who you want to give your all to and it’s not limited to what you do, or what school you graduated from.

I’m a professional woman and I’ve loved. I’ve loved so hard. I’ve cooked and cleaned and encouraged and prayed for. I joked around, and danced and grinded on, and freaked and massaged. I’ve treated and picked up bills and I allowed myself to be treated. I took criticism and I gave it. I know how to sacrifice and give. I know how to smile and laugh and play and forgive. And no, I don’t need a degree to do those things.

But being a working professional also taught me a few things about negotiation, understanding your worth and fighting for what you believe in, speaking up and being a little selfish sometimes. Now anyone can learn these things, but in your every day working life, you will sharpen those skills and see the results. And in a lot of cases, as I mentioned to the blogger, women will carry these things over into our personal lives. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But some women do need to learn the art of balance.

So can professional women make great wives?

Of course. Cmon.

TIME…tick, tick, tick

I was having a conversation with a guy and somehow we got on the topic of rapper Nelly, then we started talking about his relationship with singer/actress Ashanti.

Homeboy says, “Ashanti wasted good years of her life on him. I mean, what if she wants to have kids? Women have to think about those things. You can’t be with somebody for like five years and if the guy isn’t making moves, it’s not even on him anymore. It’s on the woman. She doesn’t have time for that.”

I needed a moment.

First of all, I made him look up Ashanti’s age because I was pretty sure she and I are the same age or pretty close. So, she isn’t old by any means. I pointed out that Ashanti’s eggs are far from drying up, and because she has money, even if she decided to have a child at 40, she would be in a great position to still have a happy, thriving life.

And straight up, if you are busy and career driven, you may want kids, but you may just want the relationship more. You might be happy with the way things are. You may feel like you have time. I’ve already said that if and when I get into a relationship again, I don’t think I want to be engaged at two years even if I’m madly in love. I’m skiddish. I’m nervous. I could probably just be in the relationship for three or four years before getting married this time.

But according to this guy, time isn’t on my side. Especially if I want kids. But that’s the thing. Because I’m so scared of having kids, I need to know I have a solid relationship before I have them. I do not want to do it alone. It is my greatest fear and I’ve had two horrible dreams about being a really awful single mother and in those dreams I was so depressed and unhappy and felt like a failure.

I have some friends who work on the flip side as we get older. They want the kid and if they lose the man or if it doesn’t work out, they want a guy who will be a good father and capable of co-parenting. They say no, it isn’t ideal but they could handle it.

For me, I say nah son. They go hand in hand. I don’t want to co parent. I want a family, a unit if I’m going to bring a child into the world.

“Regular women like me, who won’t be able to afford nannies and have regular jobs, the wear and tear on us having a child at 40 would be really tough.”  Personally, unless God has some other plan, I kind of want to close the window at 37 and even that is a stretch. But maybe not really. I’m finishing grad school at 34. Oh boy. Hmm.

It just dawned on me, that I’m going to start a somewhat totally new career at 34 and I made the decision to go back to school because I didn’t have a family to worry about. But I spent my 20s building a career as a journalist and I dated and had boyfriends and in my late 20s a fiancée, but I always felt like I HAD TIME. Hmm.

I know going back to school and switching gears is important to me and it is the right thing to do. But I never thought of it from that angle. I think whatever is going to happen relationship wise is going to happen. And the kid thing, well that’s up in the air. But I did mention to some friends that I’m certainly not anti adoption.

But his thoughts made me wonder about men. And as they get older what they think about fertility. I mean this guy summed it up. “We can still go around and just have kids, but it’s different for yall. And if having children is important to you, you really have to think about it and not have someone waste your time.”

But a few moments later, this same guy says that folks don’t really need to have the “Where is this going?” talk until a year.

So that’s when I balked. He said asking where is this going at three months and even six months is too soon.

I told him right then and there, how you gonna get on Ashanti for being with Nelly for so long in defense of her aging eggs, but then say folks should wait a year before they decide they are really together or exclusive? Nah son.

I was like three months is a volatile time. I said a lot of stuff craps out by then. But if you are consistently on the phone hanging out a couple of times a week and you know you are going to see that person at least once every weekend, you already know you are on your way to something. I think it is important to ask men specific questions because they are counting on loopholes.

I said I like to be clear, because if I’m feeling someone, I’ll say, hey I really like you and I want to be exclusive. I’ve stopped talking to the other guys I talk to because I really like our situation and want to focus on building what we’ve got going on. Do you feel the same way?

So then he started to back pedal. He was saying well it depends on the vibe, every situation isn’t the same.

Surrrre homie. Sure.

So should women in their 30s have a time table for their relationships especially if they want children?

Can One Picture Ruin Great Conversation?

As usual, I’m feeling some kind of way.

I’ve finally accepted that in the online dating world, men assume you are a fat ogre if you don’t post more than four photos on your profile and if most of them are shots of your smiling face, you are by default, the mom from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

I do have one full body photo on my profile, which I felt is a sufficient representation of me, my size and my body type. I was feeling confident and my outfit was cute.

But I noticed that when I was talking to a fitness model/personal trainer who talked about his fitness regimen non stop, who seemed to be interested, everything came to a screeching halt when he asked me to send a full body photo of myself while I was at a New Year’s Eve party.

So, I took it, hit send. There wasn’t really a response. And then there weren’t any responses. He started fading me out politely with fewer and fewer messages, hellos, good mornings and how’s your day texts. I know that trick. I use that trick.

Deep down I knew I didn’t want a man who was that obsessed with the gym. I knew he was going to have unrealistic expectations of me and even if he found me attractive, he’d feel like I wasn’t working hard enough to improve myself. Because he’d ask me questions about what I was eating and if I had worked out. So I didn’t need that kind of pressure. I didn’t want a man that bad. And when I go to the gym, I want to do it for me. No one else. To make me feel good about myself.

But truth be told, I could use a little more help in that area. And it seems these days men who are in shape explicitly and implicitly say through words, and actions that the woman in their life should be as fit as they are. Not sure if it’s a fair standard, but people like what they like and want what they want.

This isn’t where the story ends though. I have been sending messages back and forth with a really cool guy who happens to do a lot of business on the West Coast. Last night, we talked on the phone into the wee hours of the morning. Which was a terrific sign to me. He was funny, he was charming, he was passionate about things and opinionated. Twice in the conversation he made jokes about me “beating the house” by meeting him and that I could call my family because he is the dude.

Keep in mind, I’ve heard this stuff before, but it was refreshing coming from him. So the discussion turned to why I only had two photos on the dating site. I told him I had more but I started to take them down slowly because I was considering giving up online dating for a nice long while. But I told him I didn’t have any problem sending him a few photos.

So I sent my cutest ones. And most are selfies from the chest up. He mentioned that I didn’t send a full body pic, so I went for broke, I sent the same New Year’s Photo that seemingly scared away Mr. Fitness Model. I took a deep breath, and hoped that on the strength of the nearly three-hour conversation we had and the several texts we shared throughout the day, he’d see something that Mr. Fitness Model didn’t.

He commented as I sent the previous photos. He mentioned my beautiful natural hair. I told him I was heading to bed, and sent the last.

Radio silence. So I stayed up with the sheets up to my neck and I waited 10, even 20 minutes to get a response.  A nice, a beautiful anything positive. And nothing.

So I wondered and wondered if one, it wasn’t a very flattering photo or these men don’t like my body type.

I told myself that I am attractive and beautiful and no one should need that much convincing.

I told myself that I did say I was going to bed, so maybe he would reserve his comments until the next day, when he said earlier he would indeed talk to me.

But did that change after that one photo? There’s the three-hour time difference. Surely he’ll say hello by lunch time east coast time.

I won’t be insecure. I won’t even ask him if he liked the photo or not. Didn’t he enjoy our conversation?

How did I end up in such a war with myself approaching 32? There are so many ways that I feel powerful and sexy and good about myself, and then in other ways I am so aware and it feels like my insecurities share my apartment and space like mooching roommates.

My cousin tells me I tend to think of the worst possible scenario and that I am not patient. So, I’m going to wait it out. And I may even post the one photo of myself that seems to be at the root of my rejection on the online site to see the reactions and if I’m nuts.

Welp, he’s online now. And hasn’t said anything. That might be my answer…

My Ideal “Regular White Man”

**I don’t think this post is as controversial as the title suggests. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Jimmy-Fallon-Roots-Tonight-Show

Awww. I love Jimmy. (Photographed with The Roots) Photo credit: Okayplayer.com

I was having brunch with friends Sunday and we were swapping stories about our bad luck with men.

I got real specific and complained about black men over the age of 30.

So one of our friends, who is in a relationship with a black man, but who has dated white men came back to the “Well, why don’t you date white men?” point.

My other homegirl quickly answered before I could open my mouth.

“Because, the kinds of white men we’d want don’t want us either,” she said flatly.

My friend looked at us puzzled.

“What???? What in the world do you mean?”

That’s when I had to elaborate.

“Let’s put it this way. The few white men who have approached me were almost always blue-collar (nothing wrong with that) and had grown up in predominately black, or impoverished areas, or have mostly black, blue-collar or underemployed friends (nothing wrong with any of that either). They aren’t what I’d call, ‘the regular white guy’.”

My home girl had to jump in and further flesh it out.

“Exactly. We’d still have nothing in common with them and would be more educated even though those types of white men are more willing to date black women.”

So then my other friend ran off the quick list of über successful white men who have ridiculously intelligent and successful and beautiful black women. (Mellody Hobson and George Lucas; David Bowie and Iman; Tina Turner…)

We countered that we didn’t have access to that.

For some reason, “regular white guys” who may match our education, our socioeconomic status are not checking for us, because we don’t normally run in the same social circles and they just may not be interested in black women or open to it.

Educated black people hang with other educated black people and they will also hang out with family and old friends who may not have the same status out of solidarity, out of genuine relationships and also not to be accused of forgetting where we came from.

And let’s face it, most of the “regular white guys” whose education and economic status that may mirror ours may only have one black friend who fits into their circle or probably none at all. That guy isn’t going to go to the places me and my girlfriends like to go. We would have to assimilate and go to their watering holes, activities and etc. But even if we did this, my homegirl pointed out we have to contend with competing with the traditional European standard of beauty, which by default became everyone’s standard.

“Girl, they don’t want to bring us home with weaves or natural hair,” she quipped.

The social anthropology roundtable continued as we pointed out how complicated it is for the “regular” “mainstream” white dude to openly date black women. They may even have more negative implications (passive racism from family, friends and co-workers) for it than their really rich or blue-collar counterpart.

The über rich successful white men my friend mentioned have the luxury of money and power to shut up any detractors.

The blue-collar, not-as-educated white man has the luxury to date black women without much ruffling of feathers because he seems to be more accepted by black people of the same status, and white people of higher status really don’t deal with him anyway. It doesn’t matter.

I feel the black women I do know who did end up with or married what we dubbed as the “regular” white guy, usually met that man through work, a grad school program, the military– opportunities that are tied to their status but that also forced both sides to really see the person’s intellect and talents and work ethic– very important things that people find attractive anyway. Those situations help break down exterior barriers and just let people be people, working collectively together where chemistry can build.

I think socially and in terms of dating, we still live in a segregated world. We do tend to cling to what we know and hang with friends we seem most comfortable with. I have friends of various races, but the majority of friends that I spend the most of my free time with are going to be black. We are going to want to go to clubs and bars and events where there are a lot of black people and things black people like. Being the black friend, I’ve felt that I’ve been more willing to go into predominately white bars with white friends to have a good time, than maybe a white person going into a club or party where they know they will be the only white person. And regardless of who you are, being the “only” can be uncomfortable, even if you are comfortable in your own skin and surrounded by friends, all of a different color, you- if no one is is acutely aware of the situation. Me and an ex boyfriend were the only two black people at a wedding of a good friend of his. We had a fabulous time, but yup. We knew that out of about 200 people, we were the only black people associated with the bride and groom. Doesn’t make them racist, but it once again proves that in our social circles the people we choose to have in our lives will more than likely look like us, have a similar set of religious beliefs or values or live in the same neighborhood.

Being the “only” and learning the art of “code switching” and knowing how that added to our success at predominately white schools and companies, people of color do it. White people will never need to know the movie School Daze or the television show “Living Single.” But to move in this world, to make our co-workers comfortable, to show them we are like them and we are safe, we wax poetic over “Grease” “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” They won’t know who Frankie Beverly and Maze is, but we’ll know who Paul McCartney and the Beatles are. We have to know.

But all of that aside, I was trying during brunch to come up with my ideal white guy. Someone who can appreciate my culture and acknowledge my differences, someone who does understand the concept of white privilege and not be offended by it, but recognize it exists and does not feel awkward, or start to mimic black people if he’s around a bunch of them.

I present to you Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon does not pretend to “act black” or talk differently with a whole lot of slang (unless it is an obvious joke). I don’t think I’ve ever heard him try to use or justify using the N word. He has a good grasp of the boundaries and potential faux pas. And that is a great benefit of having genuine friendships and honest conversations with people of other races.  He genuinely loves hip hop, and his professional and off the clock relationship with his in-house band The Roots seems to be based on respect, mutual admiration and just straight up friendship. I like that.  You don’t see him sagging his pants. You don’t see him putting down other types of music he likes just because he likes hip hop too. He won’t just strictly hang out with black men to prove he is cool. He’s just himself, but with an awareness he took the time to cultivate and felt it was important enough to cultivate.

Vision Boards May Be A Window to the Subconscious

Over the weekend, I sat down with a friend. We had wine, we caught up and we made vision boards.

My friend had already started one and it seemed like she could never finish it, and well, it was time for me to make a new one.

Hers was filled with images and words dealing with marriage and babies.

Mine said absolutely nothing about marriage or babies, or rings or wedding dresses. My board seemed to be more about self-esteem, encouragement, fitness, travel and me starting grad school next month. I did mention love and faith and spirituality, but nope. Nothing concrete about relationships. Which is odd, because it’s a prevailing thought in my mind, day in and day out.

So once we pointed out those differences in our boards, I went back to my house that night thinking, dang, I want love. So what’s up with that? Maybe I should be MORE specific.

Maybe I should devote a vision board strictly to love and relationships.

So Sunday, I put on some music, broke out the art supplies and old magazines and I got to work.

The border of my vision board, I wrote all kinds of words that I think are crucial to a happy, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.

It seemed like I focused on the concepts of partnership, trust, honesty, courage, friendship, having fun together, traveling, trying new things, passion, respect.

I finished my very nice-looking board, and once again. No marriage, no mention of the m-word. No babies. I only used the words family and home. I cut out no photos of brides or babies or dresses or rings or flowers.

I did cut out a photo of a man and woman kissing and the woman was wearing a ring. The only other images I cut out were of a couple relaxing and sleeping together cuddled up in a hammock and another couple on a beautiful island, having a special, romantic dinner.

So after I finished, I looked at this board again surprised at my choices.

I don’t think it was conscious. I strictly wrote down things I felt, things that were most important to me and I cut out words and images that spoke to me, so that’s what made this exercise even more eye-opening.

What can I take away from this?

Do I want to be married? Ever?

Yes, I think I do eventually, but not now. I clearly need to feel completely secure in my next relationship and my focus is on building, building, building, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling appreciated. I put down all of the things I knew I needed. And maybe in the past I hadn’t taken the time to really, really delve into the things I needed. I just hoped the person I was with could give me those things whether they could or couldn’t and I went along with the program. Maybe in the past I didn’t know all of the things I really needed.

Do I want kids? Ever?

If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m on the fence about having children. So it’s still a big question mark.

I’ve been telling a lot of my friends about the vision boards, and they’ve all been very interested and asking me how to do it. So here we go. There’s a number of ways you can go about it.

When I was working on my tee-shirt company and preparing for the GRE those were goal-specific.

I put down goals, and even deadlines for those goals. And I’d cross things I completed off. I’d paste words and pictures that were related and inspired me.

The boards I made this weekend were general. But I do think that the more specific your board, the more you can analyze it and drill down what you need to do in order to accomplish whatever your vision is. My general board showed me that I really want to be more physically fit, I want to do well in school and I want to travel and I want to be happy and feel good about myself.

The love board showed me a lot about myself and what I expect from a partner, which in turn might be a great thing to share with a guy who may actually have a chance. That board can serve as a reminder if any man I’m dealing with is lacking in certain areas, then I can articulate what I want and need.

So my suggestion is, for whatever kind of board you make, break out old magazines, glue, stickers all of that good stuff. Be relaxed and comfortable and devote some time to it. Don’t rush. I may have worked on my boards for two or three hours. If you don’t finish in one sitting, that’s okay too. I prefer finishing it so I can take a good look at it.

My friend made positive, affirming sentences out of some of the words and phrases she cut out. That’s also a good idea. The point is to pick out things that really stick out to you. I like taking things from magazines because you can’t predetermine what folks put in the magazine. What you see and how you apply it to your vision will be very unique to you and you’ll cut out certain words and certain images because it says something to you that someone else may not see.

So hey, if any of you make a vision board, please let me know how it goes and if you see something in it that you didn’t expect. This was really enlightening and it was a lot of fun and relaxing.

 

Treat Me Like A Lady

I wrote a post awhile back about vulnerability being one of the greatest gifts of womanhood. We make it look beautiful and through our example, we can create an atmosphere for others to do the same when in our presence. It’s something that should be applauded and celebrated.

But let us talk about reality.

Within the confines of romantic relationships, we can only be as vulnerable as we are trusting of the person we lay our burden down to.

Go ahead, retweet that.

So what does that mean?

Our romantic partners have to earn our trust. Our romantic partners have to show us stability and loyalty and discretion. Can they keep our secrets? Are they quick-tempered? Are they judgemental? Do they make us feel absolutely comfortable? Can we be ourselves around them? Can we be our silliest self? The nerd? The freakiest freak? Are our partners open and honest? Are they judicious with their words? Are they being genuine? Do they think about how they respond and react to us? Do they anticipate our reactions because they truly know who we are? Our thoughts? When we are being irrational? When we need support?

I come from a long line of very strong-willed, fiercely independent and free-spirited women. I surround myself with friends who come from the same ilk.

I have friends who have endured physical and emotional abuse, death of dear loved ones, great loss. We (I’m including myself) have battled depression, we’ve questioned ourselves, we sometimes didn’t like what we looked at in the mirror.

We’ve had very, very horrible days and equally horrible thoughts. Thoughts that brilliant, beautiful, smart, talented women are told that we shouldn’t have.  We’ve contributed to the caricatures painted of us as superwomen, because we don’t want people to know that underneath the great clothes, the pretty hair, the degrees and success, that we cry alone non-stop til our heads are throbbing with pain, we worry about our futures, we get scared and shame ourselves for even feeling this way– as natural and human is it is. We’ve convinced ourselves that sucking it up is the best way and that we have to do it alone, because no one else will do it right, or even understand us.

But we’re wrong. We aren’t using the grand gift of vulnerability. And smart, independent women are always supposed to use our gifts.

It’s crazy to think this way. But when I think of having a man enter my life, I am a realist. He does have his hands full.

As tough as I think I am, I am equally fragile. I’m more fragile. I’m made up of so many things– my flaws, my strengths, my fears, my accomplishments, my grit, my wit. It will take a special kind of person to look at my messy self and see the mess, and see the beauty still shining through.

I told a friend today that the essence of what I want in a man is this: Someone who makes me feel like a lady.

I think there is a distinction. I’m a woman. Every damn day. I’m doing what I gotta do, I’m working, I’m paying bills, I serve as support to my family and friends and co-workers and I take these things on gladly.

But when I’m a lady, my main purpose is to be light and fabulous and sexy and mysterious. When my man allows me to be a lady, he figures out the details. I just show up and I’m a stunner. I am on his arm, without a care and he handles the rest and I’m confident that he handles it. I won’t micromanage, I won’t emasculate. I won’t even reach for my purse. He takes care of me, he dotes on me and he is in awe of me.

I want a man I can chop it up with like the homies, I want to be madly in love and feel passion. I want to share my thoughts and fears and dreams with no reservation. And I want him to make me feel like old Hollywood. Like silk. Like Chanel number 5, like pearls and pill box hats, and mink stoles and red lipstick and stockings with back seams. He MUST make me feel like a lady. And as a modern woman, there is nothing wrong with being strong and independent and wanting that too. I don’t want to make all of the decisions. I don’t want us to assign gender roles to how we express our feelings. You’re acting like the man! You’re acting like the woman!

We react to things, the way that we do because of so many factors. Because of how we were raised, because of whatever life has done to us along the way. We are simply acting and reacting like ourselves. If a man cries, and shares how he is feeling, he is not acting like a woman. If a woman cusses, or if she won’t cry, she is not acting like a man. People are acting and reacting in ways that are most natural to who they are.

If a person earns your love and your trust. Be vulnerable. Take it to the next level. Push back the fear, and give them a shot to love you more deeply. It’s a risk and that person has to deserve it. But if they’ve proven themselves. Do it.

32 to life??? Coming Soon… Real Soon

This blog is called 29tolife. I started it when I was 29, because I was on some kind of journey to 30. I was full of hope and promise thinking 30 would magically unlock doors into who I REALLY am.

So in just a few weeks, I’ll already be 32.

So has being 30 been magical? 31? Yes and no.

This blog has allowed me to examine myself and my situations that come up in such a raw way, I feel alive. I feel. My voice has sound. I’ve never been this self-aware in my entire life. And for those of you who have been rocking with me since the beginning, I really thank you. I’ve shared things with you, that I haven’t shared with others.

Or by telling you first, it gave me just enough courage to speak my mind when necessary, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball.

Maybe being in my 30s was the most insightful, raw, real, emotional, life-affirming time, because I shared it. Writing this blog exposes me.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

But it strengthens me too. It allows me to be bolder in my real life everyday experiences, and reminds me my voice has a sound. Which means, it’s meant to be heard. My thoughts and my ideas have value. My words can help folks and my words can cut down. How can I be responsible with my words, and still express myself in the ways that are necessary to me?

I’m finding in my 30s minimalism has been growing in importance. What do you want? What do you need? It seems like those questions are the first two I’ve been asking myself across situations and they apply. They fit and once I’ve answered those questions, I’m well on my way to solving my problems or figuring out the resources I have or need to get, to get the job done.

In my 30s focusing on what’s important to ME has seemed to be on the forefront too. I’ve learned in my 30s that focusing on me isn’t necessarily selfish, which is what folks would have you believe. Especially as women. Be a team player, sacrifice yourself for others that is the noble thing to do. And being a team player, standing up for people, nurturing people is an excellent thing, but when you are weak and tired and lacking strength because you didn’t say no one too many times or didn’t take the time to acknowledge what you wanted, you help no one. And you feel used and abused and mad because no one is bending over backwards to take care of you.

I don’t want to be a tired, haggard, bitter woman. I want to bring light to people I encounter, and if they need me, I want to have my strength to do a good job, but not to my own detriment.

I talk a lot about love and relationships in this blog, especially romantic ones, but in my 30s, I don’t think I’ve appreciated my friendships and relationships with family as deeply as I have in recent years. I’m very thankful for that.

When I started this blog, I was in a deep pain from the ending of a relationship.

You’ve seen me battle with my feelings toward my ex and the roller coaster ride I’ve voluntarily gone up and down with him on. I do believe I’m healed. Even on the days where I’m not so sure, three years later, I’m where I’m supposed to be, and that’s without him.

You’ve seen me struggle with all sorts of characters and realize what kind of man I want and don’t want. The mistakes have been many.

I’ve traveled a little, and I’ve learned about new passions and interests. And at the age of 32, after being out of college for a decade, I’m going to take the jump and go to grad school. I’m not sure if I would have been as inspired to do it, if it wasn’t for sharing my thoughts and fears and frustrations with you on this blog. It may have become yet another dream deferred.

There were lots of things I used to fear. Talking about faith. Talking about sex. Talking about my mom, and her struggle with mental illness, talking about my flaws.

And by golly, on this blog, I’ve done all of that. And you listened. And you shared your thoughts too and affirmed me and the random thoughts that sometimes haunt me at night and greet me in the morning.

Being in my 30s, I want to live. I want to be hopeful. I don’t want to be jaded. I want to learn from my mistakes. I want to be proud of where I’ve been and who I am right now in this moment. I have high hopes for 32, because I’m taking chances this year. I’m stepping out of the comfort zone and I’m allowed to be proud of myself for that.

Will my love life come around? We’ll have to wait and see.

As you’ve seen with the blog, every time I open up my arms, (and sometimes legs) filled with hope, someone lets the air out of my balloon and I have to start all over again.

But maybe that’s part of the lesson of 30. The lesson of life. That if you opened your eyes today, and took that conscious breath, you are starting all over again. There is something still in you, your spirit is not broken enough not to try again, not to run full speed towards the football like Charlie Brown. Life is precious. Don’t stop running.

In your 30s you think about all sorts of things, your health, your mortality. The mortality of your beloved parents. You see them aging and you get a little ok, a lot scared. You see your children or nieces or nephews growing up, a very clear sign that you are indeed getting older, moving along in this world to make room for those yet to come. So what are you doing while you are here in the now? In the precious beautiful now?

I think having the opportunity to be old is a blessing. And I want to be a happy, healthy, spunky old lady that looks back with no regrets and has the best stories to tell her descendants.

I’ll be 32 soon. That’s not old. But it ain’t 16 or 21. And Thank God.

It’s 32. And it will be whatever it is, just like 30 and 31. I’ll just be glad to see it and take what it will bring.

I don’t think the content of the blog will get dull in this next year. As long as I keep living and as long as I’m me. And yall know me… It’s never dull.

‘I’d love to get out of the game. Be wonderful and take me out of the game, please.”

I told him, “I’d love to be out of the game. In fact, be wonderful and take me out of the game.”

Basically, I kept dancing around his question of what I was doing later, because I had a date. Or at least, I thought I had a date.

I got stood up. And I wouldn’t dare treat this dude like sloppy seconds and ask him out after the fact. He’d totally call me out for it. But he figured I had something else lined up and called me out anyway.

He said it was no big deal and that he expected that I had options. That I could at least appreciate.

The irony of the fact that this guy grew up in the same tiny hick town from which my dad’s entire family started on this earth was beyond fascinating. We did the initial check to make sure our blood lines didn’t cross. I’m still not completely convinced, but the last name wasn’t among most of the names tossed around, so I was willing to proceed.

Our conversations had been solid. He wanted to solidify a date in the coming days, and thankfully he wants to go out tonight.

I also happened upon a neighbor through my POF travels. He was the one who had the nerve to stand me up, which is absurd, because I can stand on my balcony and basically look into his.

After our successful dinner at an Indian restaurant Friday night, we both watched each other as we drove into the complex, curious as to just how close we actually was. I pulled into a space, he pulled into a space, I walked towards my building, he walked towards his, then we met in the middle of the lot.

If both of us stand on our balconies, we can literally wave at each other. He’s lived in the complex for nearly as long as I have and I’ve never met this dude ever. It was crazy.

I will say this… and as I type, he’s apologizing via text. I like his smile. I was smiling all through dinner because I already felt it in my bones, that if the opportunity was right, I’d give him some.

You can imagine my disappointment when he totally with no warning stood me up for a movie. Radio silence. Um you check the movie times, “Ok.”  Then nothing for hours. I refuse to keep following up. So I stayed inside, poured the wine and watched the Golden Globes, giving occasional Twitter commentary.

But that doesn’t even take the cake. Me and the mad scientist went at it. I’ve noticed he is an insecure man. I’ll try to break this down as quickly as possible.

He was having a horrible week, so I offered to cook him dinner Thursday night. Thursday afternoon he informed me he wouldn’t be able to make it, but we should get together on Friday. Well, I was working late so I told him I wouldn’t feel like cooking, but I really wanted some Indian food.

Because he had major flooding in his basement, he had to reallocate funds to home repairs and said he was low on cash. I told him that I’d have no trouble treating especially since he was having such a rough week.

So even in trying to go over the logistics of getting together, we were both becoming increasingly frustrated with one another. I tried in my sweetest voice to ask him what would be the most ideal situation for him and I’d do it, and he complained about finding parking in my neighborhood. So I was through. I was over it. And I rescinded my offer.

Before rescinding my offer I told him, “You see that I tried, I asked you 50 different ways how to make this work.”

So I went to dinner with my neighbor and had a great time.

The next day mad scientist texts me while I’m out with my friends and I don’t answer. So by sunday he sends me a message saying, “I guess you have nothing else to say to me, if so let me know.”

I respond. “I don’t have anything else to say.”

Then he says, “So you’re done, correct.”

“I’m done. I don’t think I can ever make you happy.”

“Make me happy, what is that supposed to mean?”

So this went on and I was getting further annoyed. I told him that truth be told he was acting like my ex and I didn’t like how that was making me feel dealing with a moody person and trying to do nice things for them and they still complain. I wasn’t going to do it.

So he latched on to me comparing him to my ex, called me “ludicrous” because he was having a tough time and he wanted to confirm again that I was indeed finished with him. I was getting more upset that he needed to ask me three times, when the previous two I had already said I was done.

Last night, I really went to bed thinking that I hate dating. That I want it to be over.

I wondered if something was wrong with me. I really did. There’s no lack of men. Fine, they are easy to find. But geez. The meshing has been the trouble. I wonder how much I changed. I wondered if I was losing my ability to go along and get along and I was just being difficult. But, I don’t think I am.

I am impatient. I do want something wonderful to happen and I want to be in the bubble. The happy bubble o love… not even love but intense like where the person is all about you and wants to make you happy and you want to do the same.

I guess I do want it too badly. I guess as the mad scientist pointed out, I have let dating in DC get to me and it’s stinking up my aura.

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