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Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Stop Hiding

So there has been a recurring theme that’s been popping up lately.

I came to an epiphany while talking to a good ex. He was wishing me a belated happy birthday and we started talking about a lot of random things. And he said to me some very positive things about me to me.

I asked him if I had changed and to him, he said not one bit, but he was very worried when I was going through my rough patch. He told me he didn’t like it when I would be down on myself because I could do anything.

He said it so simply and with so much love and admiration it made me miss our relationship so much. And it reminded me that whoever I choose needs to shower me with that kind of support. It didn’t feel syrupy at all, because as soon as he said something sweet, he said something absurd and silly as he often does to break the moment. And I enjoy that about him.

I disclosed to my good ex, that for the last several years I had been hiding in a sense.

After what I thought was a failure at a newspaper I worked at, I went to another job for security and got satisfied with consistent raises and well-deserved promotions. When I fell in love, and was preparing to get married, I saw my impending move as a way out to something else; a convenient excuse for a fresh start that I was all too ready for. At that time my comfy job was making me miserable with a tyrant of a co-worker trying to ruin my life.

And finally, the feeling that the last time I had to choose between career and love, I chose a career. So to show I was all in, I went all in and chose the man. But, that still didn’t work out, I said laughing. I was existing and hiding after the split, just trying to survive. I was too unhappy to think about purpose, I used all of my energy to simply get out of bed and make it to work.

To that, the good ex said, no way. And that I was awesome for holding it down everyday and paying my bills and staying employed which a lot of people in our industry were having a very tough time doing. I was glad we were texting because I was blushing.

I told him about grad school and how it scared me a bit, but how in some ways, I had no other choice. It was time for me to take control and live up to my best self. And I can’t keep doing that being satisfied where I am.

Which brings me to work and a certain project my big boss personally selected me for.

I thought I could hide.

But for some reason, my big boss chose me. So, I was given a task and I did it, I represented. I was prepared, confident and cool. After a conference call today when I asked her a few questions about the direction of the project and preparation for a larger presentation. She basically said aside from her I was one of the best people on the team. And this was in an area I knew nothing about and had to study in the span of a week. But I brought my ideas. And people were receptive and enthusiastic. It made me feel good. She also basically told me to take the ball and run with it and I will be a presenter in a major out-of-town meeting.

Whether I liked it or not, I could not hide.

God gave me a whole lot of time to sit on the sidelines and occasionally step forward at work with moments of brilliance and leadership even when I didn’t want to, or when I just wanted to lay low. He gave me time to rest and heal and deal with my own confidence issues and insecurities.

But I’m noticing more and more, God presenting certain opportunities that say, it’s time for you to shine. Do the work, don’t fear, if I’m telling you to go and you do it, you will not fail. You will have favor.

So I started being thankful for this season, even if it means if I do something impressive today, folks are looking at me to do something even more impressive tomorrow. That’s a good thing and like my ex said, its beyond high time to start seriously believing in myself the way I used to.

When I was busy questioning why my big boss chose me to do something way different from what I do everyday, I had to stop and say why not me?

Take this challenge and impress the heck out of everyone in the room. You belong at the table. You can lead. And with the full endorsement of the big boss, I am very much empowered to do so.

Then it made me think about the bigger picture and how God gives us tasks of varying degree of difficulty to prepare us for greater things and higher things. So I started thinking about what I’m studying and the kinds of things I want to do, like be a guest on Melissa Harris Perry or be a thought leader in public health or in public health communications, and what’s going on right now with work is practice.

God is letting me practice on a smaller scale so I’ll be ready to work at the CDC or NIH or even the White House. All things are possible.

But I can’t accomplish any of those things if I’m hiding. Or if I’m doubting myself. He sent me a bunch of signs in unexpected places that I cannot ignore.

So join me and come out of hiding. If you have a gift and a skill and a sincere desire to do something, then come out of hiding, put aside your fear and do it, even if it feels like it’s on a small-scale. When you are honest, when you do things from the heart and you are trying your best, the right people notice and you find yourself rising. When you show gratitude to people who give you chances, you get more chances. When you give other people chances, you get bigger chances. You notice you aren’t where you were a few years ago and you are in places you’d never thought you’d be.

Don’t hide anymore.

No Ma’am, Birthdays After 30 Are So Worth Celebrating

A co-worker of mine recently had a birthday. I consider her a peer in a lot of ways. She is also a young thirty-something like me. She started at the company about a year or two before I did. And we both worked very hard, were early adopters to switching hats from straight up writing and editing to the tech side of publishing and I think she’s a super cool person. I admire her grind. Sometimes we just give each other a knowing sigh on days folks are acting a plum fool.

She also celebrated a birthday this month, and I wished her a happy birthday and asked her if she did anything fun.

And with a straight sad face, she said, “After 30, there’s not much to celebrate.”

The “urban” side of me was wanting to say, “Girl, bye.”

Or:

“Lies you tell.”

tamar braxton the braxtons gif from theofficialstacey.tumblr.com

However, I simply smiled and said, “Girl, what are you talking about? The 30s are great!” We were walking and parting ways to our desks by then.

But the look of defeat on her face, and such words of defeat made me sad for her.

Here she is, this pretty girl, who is married to a well-off man, seems to be a doting step mom, very physically fit and has accomplished really difficult grueling physical activities like marathons and such, who seems to be so unhappy.

Just because you are pretty and fit and well off, doesn’t mean you have bad days. I totally get that. But right in that moment, I said a little prayer for her.

I thought about a conversation with one of my dearest best friends and we discussed getting older and said we looked forward to being senior citizens traveling together and sexually harassing young waiters when we’d go out to eat. We were looking forward to when it’s socially acceptable to talk that ish and folks let it slide.

But for now, warts and all, we agreed our lives so far have been filled with blessings and opportunity. We were relieved we’ve learned from our mistakes. And while we both traded stories about being single and how we can’t seem to find men who suit us, there was still a quiet confidence we shared about being grown women that we can be proud of and that our families can be proud of too.

We may have had a regret or two, but overall we were blessed to catch the lessons that accompanied our not so wise decisions. And that’s cool. That’s the silver lining of bad decisions, the lesson, the scar that reminds us, “girl, don’t do that again.” The reminder of our pain and consequences gives us a knowing twinge in our tummy when we are about to enter dangerous territory. As someone past 30, I appreciate developing that sixth sense through the dumb mistakes of my 20s.

You all know, that for some reason this year I really wanted to celebrate my birthday and I’m not one of those people who want to do something every year. But I felt good about who I am and where I am, and I wanted some friends around to have a good time. And we did just that. I wore something that made me feel good and we had a blast.

Every birthday is worth celebrating, whether it’s a quiet observance at the house, spa day or moments of reflection or flinging yourself out of an airplane, or buying a bottle at the club.

Everyday is worth celebrating. Even if you are past 30. Girl, get your life! I’ve never felt so self-aware, EVER. I’m so excited that I’m really getting to know me, and that I’m less and less afraid to say no to others and say yes more and more to myself.

Oh Baby– On Office Shade for Unmarried Folks With Babies

I’ve been on a work-related post kick lately.

But something came up that was fascinating to me that I really want to delve into an examine. But first I want to share with you this very moving clip from a poet during the Arsenio Hall show recently. He is discussing what black male co-parenthood is. And when his voice cracks, I nearly started crying for this man. There’s a reason I’m including this clip. http://www.arseniohall.com/video/show-highlights/4127_Prentice_Powell_Performs_Good_Father/index.html

I hope you watched it.

There is one black young male that works at my job. There are a total of four black women. He’s a nice guy. He’s quiet and he’s knowledgeable about his work. There have been times that people who are uncomfortable with his presence have said they’d wait for another person to help with their problems, even though he was available and more than qualified to get done what they needed quickly.

It made me sad to hear that. It made me mad to hear that, because he worked a miracle for me while I was working from home. I know he’s smart.

I’d noticed it seemed he’d been out of the office for awhile, but I’m only in the office three days a week now, and with all the snow, sometimes I’m there barely two days.

But I didn’t think anything of it.

Today an email pops up, and he’s announced the birth of his beautiful son. And attached is a great picture of the new father holding his baby boy swaddled in a blanket in his arms.

Amid the replies of Congratulations via email… there were quiet, yet still audible whispers.

“What?”

“We didn’t know? Did you know?”

Then there were uncomfortable silences, where you could practically see other questions running through people’s minds.

“Wait, he’s never mentioned a wife or girlfriend.”

It ran through my mind too. I don’t recall seeing a ring on his finger. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t married either. I haven’t gotten to talk to him much about his personal life.

Which leads me to something else in my predominately female and married office.

I have a feeling my co-worker did want to keep it to the vest that he was a new father, because he may very well not be married. And in truth, that isn’t anyone’s business. It has nothing to do with his job.

And keep it to the vest he did.

Even his supervisor didn’t know.

Which means, this brotha just asked for some time off and didn’t give much detail. And according to HR, he doesn’t have to unless he wants bonding time off through FMLA. (Family medical leave act). And men on my job have totally used their three months or broken it up to help their wives. So he should take it.

When his supervisor was asked, he shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know either and that he guessed the guy was just really private. While the folks on my job are well-meaning, they are nosey and they gossip. I really don’t blame my co-worker for his CIA-like steathness.

The very few men we have on the job, there were showers held for their wives who were asked to come into the office and baby gifts were collectively purchased. My job loves babies and weddings and they never mind ponying up to buy an expensive stroller.

But I think my co-worker knew his situation was different.

Since I don’t have any facts, I can’t confirm any possible scenarios. But I think if his situation involves a woman he really doesn’t want to marry or isn’t in a committed relationship with, but wanted to still keep the child, it’s very hard to go around prior to the birth without dealing with those kinds of questions around the relationship with the mother. It’s also hard to be completely excited about the birth, knowing he is going to have to deal with a woman he may not have wanted to for the rest of his life. There can be all kinds of sticky details.

But I honestly hope that is not the case. But even if it is, I want him to be the best father he can be to his child and have a positive relationship with the mother/girlfriend/wife/surrogate whatever she is.

Two, he knows the stereotypes placed on him as the ONLY black guy in the office. He knows even if he wasn’t married, people would already lump him into a category- which no doubt is probably happening right now and people still have no facts. Here goes the young black guy. Having babies. That’s what they do. Child support.

The email simply stated the child’s name and that he is a welcome addition to the family. There was no mention of the mother or a reference to my girlfriend or wife. His silence and the careful wording of the email kind of suggests, that he will be in a co-parenting situation. I wish him the best of luck.

There is a double standard when it comes to children out-of-wedlock for other races and for black people. Not taking into account the large numbers of women from a number of backgrounds who are mothers without husbands, especially lower-income women.

Precious is a tragic drain on society doomed to continue procreation. She had AIDS, was illiterate and morbidly obese. Well damn.

Juno was just a misguided girl who made a mistake. Her only afflictions were witty sarcasm and crushing on a married man.

So I watch my co-workers carefully as they try to dissect his situation, and politely ask for details, that they weren’t bold enough to ask him, themselves.

I had a wiry grin on my face during that discussion. Because I one time wondered if I showed up pregnant, unapologetic, and with no husband how supportive would people genuinely be? Would I be dropped down from my pedestal as the black girl who isn’t like the others (stereotypes)? Would I still be harshly judged for making a choice to keep my child as a 32-year-old woman with an education and a home and a career? Or would they look at me with the same lens as precious simply because of my color?

When I got engaged, I was the most popular person in the office. My office is big on marriage and family. They live for it, and they love throwing showers. I felt like I was finally in the in crowd. The women finally had some commonality on which they could finally reach out to me and have conversations. They seemed more relieved than I was. And when the news finally got around that my engagement ended, I may have gotten a few pity glances, but no one rallied around me or asked me how I was doing. Now that, that was my business.

I wouldn’t have wanted to go into details, but simply showing concern would have gone a long way.

There is another young lady around my age who went through a difficult divorce, and well, folks really rallied around her. One of my co-workers suggested that it wasn’t necessarily about race, but a level of openness. And I tend to be very private, meanwhile my divorced counterpart was quite vocal about the breakup. So I decided not to think of it in terms of race. But sometimes I do.

Sometimes I feel as a black person in the workplace any sign of emotion will cause people to equate that with being incapable and unable to handle stress… meanwhile black women have hypertension and diabetes and all sorts of ulcers and fibroids because they are putting on the strong woman front, and bosses continue to pile on the work, bragging about how so and so can handle it. She’s unshakeable. (I was described that way once by a very proud manager. And inside, it made me think of how proud Patsy’s master from “12 Years A Slave” bragged about her picking 50 pounds of cotton every day, out picking the men. And Patsy was being raped and beaten on a daily basis, but still outshone her male counterparts. This is historical yall. Same ish, different master.)

I started off this blog talking about black men and I got sidetracked bringing it back to me and black women. My bad.

Either way, I do think whether you want to deal with the facts or not, the brother at my job was very cognizant of the potential reactions and judgements if he mentioned his new son prior to his birth. And it’s not fair.

But it never is. Is it?

 

 

One Artist Pays Homage to Exes Though Shoes, My Exes Make Great Sandwiches

It’s no secret that I love creative pursuits.

I also love shoes.

I also love love and have tried to become a student of relationships.

So when an artist made shoes based on his exes, I totally perked up. I had to see it and it’s so freaking awesome.

Check the link: http://shine.yahoo.com/photos/12-shoes-for-12-lovers-1386699601-slideshow/the-jet-setter-photo-1386704733985.html

So that made me think of my exes. Then I wondered what could I make that would represent our relationship or qualities each man had?

Then my mind wandered to sandwiches.

So here we go. I’m going to describe my exes/relationships through sandwiches.

The high school ex. PB and J with potato chips. It was simplistic and childish, and you can grow tired of eating it.

College ex #1 Bacon, lettuce and tomato. This relationship managed to be light, but still gave me everything I needed. It wasn’t excessive and when it was over, it didn’t leave a mess.

College ex #2 Tuna tar tar sandwich. This guy was pretentious and unnecessarily complicated. It’s tuna folks. Nothing more. If you got to do so much to it to make it taste good, it ain’t right. When it came down to it this dude was fishy from start to finish and started to stink after awhile.

Ex #3 Philly Cheesesteak. This guy was like your favorite college sweater. You could burp and fart and exchange rude jokes, he got along with everybody and was fun to be around. Not the most sophisticated person in the room, but the realest person in the room. Hard worker, manly, crazy about sports, big on family. All American guy.

Ex #4 Sloppy Joe with ground chicken. A hot mess. A hastily thrown together meal with basic ingredients. No one gets out without getting dirty. One false move, your outfit is ruined. And you can’t avoid it. But think you want it so bad you accept the consequences. It’s not the best choice, but when you’re really hungry it looks really, really good. And I chose chicken for obvious reasons. Punk ass. It seems sensible and safe, but if you have a more sophisticated pallate it won’t satisfy you. It takes longer to get the stain out of your favorite shirt than it did to eat it. And your favorite shirt may have a faint mark no matter how many times you spot cleaned and washed it. Yeah. Yeah I said it. LOL. 🙂

Professional Poor Shaming

When we think of the phrase “poor shaming” you may think of someone posting an angry Facebook post about being a hardworking person standing in the checkout line behind a person buying, shrimp and lobster and ceremoniously whipping out a public assistance card.

They are disgusted this person is flaunting what is apparent mooching off the system, because they didn’t dare fill their carts with, oh I don’t know Spam or government cheese or whatever good respectable folks on assistance are supposed to eat, because they don’t deserve hummus or omega 3 fatty acids. Or soy milk. Nope.

But there’s another kind that isn’t so easy to see, that you probably won’t read about or hear about, because the victims of what I call “professional poor shaming” would never want to be outed. It would destroy the persona they’ve built at work or in their social circles. But as sneaky as professional poor shaming is, it’s managed to work its way into workplace culture and it has a lot of people who are financially in the margins, living in fear during every business trip, or business lunch.

One of the best illustrations of this is reflected in a scene from a movie called “The Pursuit of Happiness” you know the feel good, keep dreaming working story starring Will Smith and his son Jaden (when he was little and super cute).

Will Smith has killed himself to earn an internship with a major company, he hides the fact that he is homeless and sleeping in public bathrooms at night and fighting for beds at shelters and emerges as one of the rising stars. He is in a cab with one of his very wealthy bosses. The cab ride is but a mere $10, and his boss says, “Hey, I don’t have any cash, can you take it?” Will’s character is mortified because basically that is the only $10 he had which would be a meal for he and his son, but the shame and the desire for this man to see him as an equal steps in, and you can feel the pain as Will has to hand over that money to the cabbie.

This scene plays out at lunches, where if you are a young professional, single and paying most of your bills and paying back large student loans or repairing your credit, surrounded by people who make more money than you and live in dual income homes you are overwhelmed with the feeling of being able to keep up, pay your share, or even take the tab for the entire group, because the last person who opted to pay for everyone reminded the whole table it’s your turn.

This scene plays out in an institutional way if your company sends you on a business trip, but turns around and says you have to use your credit card to pay for the trip and once you file expenses you’ll get the money back later. But what if you don’t have the money or the credit now?

The panic sets in. You may ask your boss a whole lot of details about the cost of things, and they will wonder why you are so uncomfortable. “Just charge it, you’ll get reimbursed. It’s no big deal.” Will be the response.

They don’t realize, nor the people who put together these reimbursement protocols that everyone doesn’t take home the same check they do, or face certain financial difficulties. Just like the boss in the movie, they think about money, but they don’t really think about money. And if you are in the world of the powerful or wealthy, everyone in the circle kind of assumes everyone else’s financial status and no one is going to be crazy enough to admit, I just can’t do it.

Especially in business, it would seem you are weak or irresponsible if you just can’t quickly muster up $300. In some people’s mind it may pull into question your judgement. But for people trying to make it everyday, you best believe that $300 they had to use on a trip or the additional $30 to make up for Frank’s tab at the restaurant since he treated last time, can put people in a financial tail spin. It will cause people to hold their breath when the card swipes, it will cause people to go without other necessary things at home, to keep up a good face at work.

I feel like professional institutionalized poor shaming is like an invisible electric fence to people who come from lower incomes who are making strides to enter another professional and economic level. You want to feel your talents are what get you in the door, and it is. But a “little” thing like paying for your own hotel room at the conference so you can show your talents and show people why you belong there are an added and in my opinion unnecessary pressure that management can easily resolve. But those in management at a number of companies that don’t send socioeconomically diverse people anywhere do not see or understand, because they are not quite in touch with being an educated, professional person still living in the margins.

Educational professionals don’t want to admit to it because they are ashamed, and it is taboo to discuss salary, when most folks know a lot of people, especially women and minorities are statistically underpaid. It seems that if you are able to boldly pick up the tab or have no questions when the company says you have to come out of pocket for a company sponsored event, you are implicitly saying, “Yes, I belong here. I am better than, those people.”

If you raise a question, in order to brace yourself for the costs and how it will affect you and your money and your life, which you are responsible for, you may get clarification, but now people are questioning you. And your professional currency is losing value.

It’s a form of poor shaming, and these practices are exclusionary to really bright people who can contribute something valuable, but because they may not have enough credit, or any credit or they are repairing their credit, they are being discriminated against or missing out on other opportunities that can really boost their career and in turn their earning potential. It further frightens me that this is a very real barrier to some people getting ahead. It is something to think about and if you are in a position of power within your organization, you should take a look at company-sponsored events, group lunches and proactively think of ways to even the playing field for your lower paid workers so they can participate without fear and not just lower paid workers, but employees who are struggling regardless of income.

God, Dating and That Unequally Yoked Business…

I’ve been trying to think of ways how to effectively write this post. I felt so many feelings. I was wondering who is to blame? What is reasonable? What is the best way to go? I asked friends male and female, religious and non-religious their opinions…

But let me back up.

I go to church with two of my girlfriends. Then after we usually grab something to eat and catch up on our lives. It’s very nice. We feel refreshed and revived to take on another week. Last Sunday was the start of a series, that made us all perk up our ears. “Don’t get married until…”

The first message was “Don’t get married until you hear from God.” Ok, awesome. The speaker did a fantastic job breaking it down. But that’s not what this post is about. He asked folks to bring the men in their lives to the next Sunday service because the message would be geared toward men. The following Sunday for women and the fourth Sunday a wrap up.

Well one of my friends is in a very serious long-term relationship with her man. They’ve been together a really long time and they are on the marriage track.

Here’s the rub. It doesn’t seem he’s very into church, and that seems to be one of the sticking points for her. Kind of the, dang if he did that, that would be awesome. She clearly loves dude a ton, but as she wants to grow more spiritually, well, he isn’t necessarily along for the ride. She managed to get him to go to service but she said the message kind of washed over him and he was quite apathetic. She also neglected to tell him what the message was going to be about.

I’m thinking her expectations may have been too high. Maybe she hoped he would have been emotionally moved by something the preacher said and it would prompt him to instantly change into the God-fearing, church going man she’s always wanted him to be. But nope. Didn’t happen. Even if he did take that walk up the altar and gave his life to Christ, you are changed…but maintaining that change is a conscious effort and choice a person will continue to grow into and evolve. So that still doesn’t mean he’d come home and be the perfect husband.

Their house hold afterwards was just tense and uncomfortable. My friend felt discouraged. I felt horrible for her. On the flipside…

Her man probably felt ambushed and that probably caused him to shut down. It wasn’t that she invited him to church, but she picked THAT Sunday, with THAT message. Ouch. I had a feeling if she did manage to get him to come, that was going to be the outcome.

So basically, this goes to something church girls/guys often struggle with when it comes to dating. There are very clear directions the Bible gives in terms of dating and finding the right person, but let’s face it, we don’t do it. We bend our values and beliefs sometimes because we want to be with someone so badly or be with a particular person so badly. We hope they will change or they will want to start coming to church. But truth is, in most cases, they won’t. Some friends say, well shouldn’t I be winning a soul for the kingdom? Sure, but if you’ve been with someone that long, that may be a soul you won’t win. But the problem comes in where we will feel tormented because that person may not necessarily share your faith or they may be at a different point in their faith than you. You may love everything about them, but you know they don’t want to step foot inside a church.

And there are some cases where people who are romantically involved do get their partner to go to church and the person has a breakthrough moment and boom they are serving God together. But I feel like that’s the exception and not the rule unless that person already had a foundation in church.

I guess the whole concept of not serving two masters and God spitting out lukewarm people is proven through people like me who seem to have a toe in both worlds. You can’t have it all. I’m not a holy roller, scripture-quoting person. But I’m not entirely heathen either. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but sometimes religion itself frustrates me. I pray and sometimes I fast. I meditate and I think about all sorts of spiritual things. But I drink and have premarital sex. I cuss from time to time, and I’m a recovering closeted twerker. I’m wrong for that. I know all of this. I haven’t completely taken off the old things to follow God completely and I struggle with that, and for that reason, it’s difficult for God to bless me with someone who has a deep spiritual relationship with God if I don’t have one. It’s all connected.

Anyway, one of my other friends said she wanted to bring a guy she was seeing to the service. She said she needed to get him into church early… but my thing is getting him into the routine of church early is a non factor… if church isn’t already IN him, it’s going to be a struggle.

I said when it comes to dating, if your faith is a big part of who you are, then you should put that out there. Don’t be ashamed of it.

I tell men I’m dating that I was raised in church, in a very strict church at that and while I go fairly regularly, I don’t have a church home (fear of commitment) but I pray and it’s a part of my life, that will probably increase as I get older. I know that I want a man who acknowledges God. And believes in God. I want someone who I don’t have to force or beg to go to church… which brings me to another point.

There are women who really think that because church is important to them, if they date a man who doesn’t really go to church, he should go FOR HER.

Um no. God gives us free will and He’s God. So why on Earth should a person feel obligated to go to church because you do or because of you? Nope, not going to work. I think if you are a church girl/guy, you should ask this question of your date/partner.

1. How do you feel about church/religion? Leave this open-ended and let them speak honestly. Let them feel comfortable about giving you an honest answer. If you are team God, you aren’t supposed to be judgemental anyway… that’s another post.

2. Do you believe in God? Why? Why not?

3. Do you pray? What do you pray about? For? Do you pray only when you are in trouble or when times are hard or if you want something? Do you pray prayers of thanks? Do you pray for other people?

4. Do you go to church because you want to? Or if you grew up in church is it a habit or obligation? Or you know your mom/dad/grandma will ask you if you went and you don’t want to lie?

Usually if a person goes to church independently and because they actually want to, that’s a good sign. That means they are going to go with or without you, and they’d been going before they met you. If being with someone who goes to church is important to you, then I think those are questions you really need to ask.

Now I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t seek differing opinions. So I asked my friends who don’t go to church, but are morally upstanding how they felt about it.

One friend said, a lot of people in church have issues so what is wrong with people who are good people, but who just don’t want to go to church? Why is it such a deal breaker?

Another male friend was saying because he does not subscribe to religion, he feels that women put him on a second tier status and that bothers him. He is accepting of all kinds of religions and if his woman was into church he would never get in the way of her relationship with God. “I’m a good man. So does that make me not suitable?”

That all sounds good and nice, but the church girls I know will say that logic doesn’t work for a marriage. Being a good person isn’t enough and you got ta have da Lord. They want the entire family to participate in church to keep the harmony and provide a united front to children. The women did not want to be the bad guy, dragging their children to church who are asking why daddy is staying home.

I get both sides of the argument. Church and most religions place a strong emphasis on family and home unity and the parents leading their households- the men in particular.

The irony of church and all of this pressure on men to lead is, church is full of women hearing about what men should be, and they are amening and agreeing but there aren’t enough men to hear and apply the message to their lives. And there aren’t enough men to go around that congregation full of women WHO ALL WANT HUSBANDS.

I’ve read a number of articles about why it is difficult for men to participate in church.

1. Men don’t want to be told what to do. (And a relationship with God requires full surrender and humility)

2. Church is a place of vulnerability and a place to seek and receive correction and direction. (Men don’t like to be wrong, men don’t like to be vulnerable let alone in public).

3. Some people may have had bad experiences. Therefore they associate all churches with that experience and they leave it alone.

So when it comes to relationships one can say, your relationship with God is the most intimate one you will have. It’s not one size fits all so your partner shouldn’t matter because they have their own relationship or lack thereof with God they have to deal with and answer to.

But, while our relationships with God are very individualistic (and I’m thankful for that), we are also here to support one another and we need others to go along on this journey with us.

A non-church friend of mine gave me an interesting tidbit. She said that if you find a man who is active in the community or participates in a number of community organizations, he will more than likely be involved in church. Even if he isn’t, men who are in community organizations know how to work in teams, be accountable to the group, will know how to be a financial giver as well as someone who gives their time and talents and these are the kinds of men, church women would love to have. They prioritize and have to manage their time well. Sometimes, church people need to step out of church and join other civic groups and they will find more like-minded, community-minded people who share similar values. I told my friend that what she said was a brilliant assessment that I really needed to include in my blog.

If your man says, “I don’t need anyone, I’ve been taking care of myself all my life” and you are a church girl, you may have trouble getting him to go to church.

If your man doesn’t have community activities where he shares his talents, gifts, time and money (charitable giving), you may have trouble getting him to buy into the idea of church.

If your man says that he doesn’t believe in God. Girl, you know he ain’t going to church. So stop.

If your man says, “I made all of my success happen.” He is probably not going to go to church.

If your man is an individualistic person who doesn’t play nicely with others and he just goes to work and home and “plays the game” yeah… you may have trouble getting him to go to church.

So I’d like to say this. Church folk. You can’t apply the word to someone who doesn’t apply the word to their life. If they haven’t come into the knowledge of God, you can’t hold them to that standard. It isn’t fair. Stop doing that, or date someone from your church who you know is being taught the same thing. You can’t go to church, and come home parroting what the pastor said and expect them to live by that. They have to want to live that in their own life and it has absolutely nothing to do with you. So you also can’t take their non-acceptance personally, if you choose to be with someone who doesn’t want to go to church with you. You just can’t.

Over and over when it comes to dating in church, people throw around the phrase don’t be “unequally yoked.”

On the basic level, it means don’t date non believers. Some people are very strict on that. Others, not so much.

Some people feel unequally yoked may apply to education, income, social status and all sorts of things. So the interpretation has been totally stretched out beyond belief.

So church folks and non church folks… sound off. I’m curious to hear what you have to say. Are church girls/guys bending their beliefs so they can get a date, hoping they can change their partner later? Is it stupid to do that? Are they being impatient and not “waiting on the Lord?” Are you a guy? Do you feel pressure to go to church when you really don’t like it?

Going Back Out…

I’ve come to this conclusion. It’s time to hang up the online dating for a while. I’m toying with erasing my online persona from a dating site, but I just don’t think I’ll log on for a while. Who wants to start over?

I’ve made this decision because It’s frankly becoming a rote exercise of empty discussions, false starts and first and only dates. No real followup. And that’s happened on my end too.

So it seems you can’t depend on going out all of the time to meet someone and you can’t completely depend on the internet either. You have to do both.

Online dating was making me impatient and lazy. I was reading one blogger who said, sitting at home in your sweats trying to talk to someone and be sexy and charming and interesting, feels like a lie. You aren’t really trying. You are in your sweats on your couch. You subconsciously aren’t giving your best.

Now that doesn’t mean you should dress up to exchange messages, but it made me think of the benefits of going out. Which I was adamantly against once I started online dating. I was over it. I was tired of it. I wasn’t having fun anymore.

As I thought about things, I noticed that when I met men while I was out and about, I went on multiple dates with them, and some of them, I still get a phone call or a text from now and then.

I do think when a man meets you in person, it’s quite intentional. He made up his mind that he found you attractive and interesting, and decided that if he doesn’t take the chance now, he may never see you again. Urgency aids the process. Scarcity aids the process.

With online dating, Plenty of Fish, in particular, some men do see you right away and they want to speak to you and they do.

Some men add you as a “favorite” like a bookmark to be circled back to later when convenient. They know short of you quitting the site, you’ll always be around. The urgency to get to know you or not let you slip away, no longer exists.

So, while my recent complaint has been that I can’t stand DC nightlife, the posing, the posturing, and pageantry of it all, there is some merit to putting on your freakum dress, high heels and looking and feeling your best and dancing around.

Simply put, men like that.

I’ve had a number of conversations with men about when they first saw me. They saw me laughing, smiling, politely turning someone else down, being cordial to strangers and they said they had to get to know me. They remembered what I was wearing and my confidence in that moment. Or if I seemed deep in thought, which led them to want to know what I was thinking. With online dating, it’s mighty hard to convey any of those things.

My problem was, I was, in fact using online dating as a crutch then getting mad things weren’t working out. I think the men on the online dating sites are officially bored with it too, and if you meet one person and they aren’t what you wanted, you can go back into the fray, immediately and see if someone else fits.

It really feels like the lost and found. People are trying on things, putting it back, someone else is picking it up hoping it works.

So I have resolved to spend a little more time on going out. Doing my old thing of stopping at a bar or restaurant after work for dinner and a drink, looking like I tried and seeing if I can strike up some convos.

Men I’ve met in person, seem to be more inclined to keep in touch and want to know more about you. They’ve already seen what you look like and the immediate attraction is real.

Unlike online dating where a person may be disappointed in the real thing in comparison to the photograph online.

So there is a music festival coming up in North Carolina, that I’m strongly considering attending. One because I love music and the line up is going to be dope, and two because I need to be seen. Will I meet people from other places that will contribute to my chronically long distance attraction? Sure. But oh wells. It’s time to just get out there.

I’ve been staying in the house long enough. I have one friend, who I know will read this and say she’s been saying it for the longest. Yes, you are right. It’s time to go back out. Fine.

Impromptu Poetry: I’m here to li[o]ve

I’m trying to unpack my feelings.
My shrink once said, I pack them masterfully so.
Box on top of box.
Neatly.
Boxes full of random stuff. Hurts, pains and disappointments.
But one, day.
Yes, one day, when I go to make room for a new box, unless I clear out the old, they will all come tumbling down.
I met a person.
I thought nothing of him.
I made up my mind that loving him would be an epic, foolish failure that I’d surely deserve.
He is far too young.
He is long distance.
He will make mistakes. Your twenties are ripe with mishaps and lessons and big mistakes.
What can he really do for you?
So I went on.
We talked about our lives.
I talked about the mistakes I made and he listened so close.
So close, I think I could hear him willing his heartbeat not to sound so loud to drown out my laughter.
Oh he makes me laugh and smile and blush. He makes me want to break out my favorite music, shit I don’t think he’d even know about.
And I want him to hear it. To listen. To hear in between the melodies why this song makes me feel a certain way.
I want to see what his ears hear, and let him tell it… with fresh words and thoughts and opinions to make me see it anew.
Something about him reminds me of my younger self.
Fearless, reckless not bothered to be burdened by the reality of, well, reality.
But just thoughts, dreams and wonder taking flight.
Being silly. Wanting to dance and dance.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Wanting to laugh and laugh.
I didn’t want to let HIM make me feel like this.
I reserved that section for someone else. Someone else who was already where I was, who already made the youthful mistakes they were supposed to have already made…
But it seems those men are still happy to make those same mistakes.
Comfortable with the title of man, clothed in degrees. They got the job, they made it…
But they still have others to blame.
I know you’ll make mistakes, you’ll probably hurt me.
It’s beautiful that you know this too, and that you sincerely don’t want to. It’s your truth, and for that, it’s far easier to swallow.
My entire insides say, just be. Ride it till the wheels fall off.
If whatever this is makes you feel good. Makes you smile and blush and laugh and stay up all night playing music, or listening to each other fall asleep, you live this and you live this hard.
You haven’t felt this sexy. Or dangerous or vulnerable.
But you are here right now for a reason.
He is your lesson to learn, that you’ve still got lessons to learn.
You won’t age out of life.
A new morning is that. New and full of promise. A canvas waiting for your first stroke of paint. You pick the color and tone and direction. A line or a circle? A dot or full furious flourishes.
It’s truly up to you.
An inferno of red, a bright, bold, optimistic yellow. A regal purple or a serene slice of blue. Life in green. Something to take root and grow.
You won’t age out of mistakes, you’ll just be more scared to make them, because you’ll have tricked yourself into believing you know better.
Maybe he’s teaching you to leap without looking.
Playing it safe means clean clothes and no bruises.
But the scars we wear tell the best stories. The scars we wear means we either tried, fell or fought.
And the scars also remind us we’ve healed.
We’ve haphazardly dropped tiny, tiny seeds that managed to land in random cracks. Who knew the cracks would drink in whatever rain it could? Who knew a sun beam could drill down so far? And to my absolute surprise small buds have bloomed.
It’s easy to ignore cracks. Or think the sun and rain are much too busy to find them.
It’s a hello beautiful, how was your day?
It was an “I was thinking about you.”
It was the retelling of the day we met and how I was dancing so free. By myself. Alive.
And how you were so bold, yet a little nervous that I’d respond positively.
Being in the same place at the same time sharing a moment then, and sharing the directors cut now.
I’ve said over and over, there is a reason. I want to focus on the big picture reason and be thankful for that.
I do like smiling. I catch myself laughing so hard and blushing.
It’s almost shocking and embarrassing but it’s honest.
So fine. Come here. Let’s touch and talk and laugh. I will not fight your kindness. I will not fight the words you speak, because they feel real. I will lay down my arms against myself. And I will be. I will live, come scars and bruises, come tears and frustration.
I’m here to live. I’m here to love.

Impromptu Poetry– Monogamy

A hand to hold.
An inside joke.
Your scent embedded in my memory.
Knowing where to put my lips when we kiss. My top lip under your top lip, my bottom under yours first.
Sometimes wanting to say, “damn, I wish you didn’t know me so well,” but never really meaning it.
Being relieved you know me too well, because it makes you know better, when others don’t.
Accountability.
You lovingly force me to do better because when I’m too lazy to do it for me, you give me enough strength to do it for us.
A warm cuddle on the couch on a cold winters night.
A playful pat on the flank.
A soft kiss that starts out so innocently, but evolves into something sexy and grown and exciting and rapturous.
You still excite me.
It’s a freedom in our love making. A joy in knowing I trust you completely.
That you will keep me safe. You’ll protect my body, my heart, my sanity, my health. You will honor the covenant between us.
Fidelity is a choice. But one we will choose to choose over and over again, not just because it’s morally right, or we can brag about our discipline, but because above all else, we would never want to hurt one another. Inflicting that kind of pain on one we love most is a two-pronged sword. We will in fact harm ourselves in the process.
Our love and respect keep us alive. We are tethered to one another.
We are one.

Cheating, Open Relationships, Polygamy and Double Standards Oh MY

Disappointment is an understatement.

The past few weeks I was nearly smitten by a tall, handsome, smart guy. We were clicking. It was awesome. So awesome that I didn’t and would not blog about him for fear I’d jinx the whole thing. Let’s be honest. I haven’t written about anyone yet, who successfully became my man and stuck around for like more than two months.

So I had high hopes and I wasn’t going to let anything–even this blog– spoil my chances.

Well, as a good friend said years ago, “A N***a will always cancel himself out.”

Coarse words, but true indeed unfortunately.

I made my banging gumbo the other day and promised to bring some by before he left out of town on business. As on other occasions we sat by the fire talking and hanging out.

To get the convo going I asked him about what I discussed with you guys in my last post about TI and Tiny and was it appropriate to “call her out.” So he shared his feelings about respect between a man and a woman in the confines of marriage and that was straight.

Then we were looking at a gossip site online and started talking about celebrity relationships and the Kardashian women came up. I said, yeah black men can’t seem to resist them.

So, he, being a black man said it’s not for obvious reasons one would assume. He said black, celebrity men love Kardashians because 1. “They have their own money. They don’t need his. So he doesn’t have to worry about them having their hands out always wanting something. Black women are stingy, they aren’t giving.”

Oh. That felt like a gut punch to my stomach.

“You really don’t believe that do you?”

“It’s true.”

So yall know me. Yall know I’m mad. Clearly this man came from black cootchie and can attest to his mother raising him single-handedly. If that’s not giving, I don’t know what the hell it is. He has a sister!

So I’m confused. He has a straight face, he never says he’s playing.

2. Kardashian women are desirable because of their ability to adjust to the “lifestyle” ie. turn a blind eye to cheating and still roll with it. Now I’m not a Kardashian, and maybe they are cool with open relationships, but I feel like that’s quite a limb to go on. So I ask. “A woman’s ability to turn a blind eye to cheating is a desirable trait?”

He says, with a straight face, yes. Especially for celebrities and wealthy men. They can cheat.

So I say, “Monogamy is for broke folks? Is that what you are saying?”

“Basically.”

My jaw has dropped again.

3. Kardashians are down for anything in the sack. He said, “Well do you do threesomes or do anal? So if you man likes that, he can’t get that from someplace else if he can’t get it from you? Monogamy is a fantasy. Something created by Americans and Christianity.”

He goes on this whole dissertation about how in African culture polygamy is the way, and just as America allows religious freedom, why are people against polygamy if that is someone’s culture in Africa.

I said, “If you want multiple wives, then live in Africa. I said that’s not peachy either, you have to first be able to afford all of your wives and their kids. And the women will say there is rampant jealousy and worry about favoritism of wives or children. It’s drama. Men really want to sign up for that because they can have multiple vaginas to hit?”

So he said the women agree to it. They sign up for it. I said, most women regardless of culture want to feel loved and feel like a man’s one and only. He said well men are in control and the dominant ones so it’s set up that way. And I said exactly… these women don’t have any political or economic power. In a lot of cases there would often be shortages of men, and this is what villages would resort to, to keep the village going. They have to be involved in this system in order to survive and to live, but they aren’t necessarily saying this is the best situation ever. There are some exceptions, but I don’t think that’s what people want.

So I said, ok, if we allow polygamy in America, it has to be equal. Women should have multiple husbands.

This fool says no, it wouldn’t work. Men won’t sign up for it and women have babies.

Huh? Sure women have babies, oh but men don’t want to live in a communal environment where they know other men have children with them and they are all taking care of other men’s kids and sharing a woman.

So I said in relationships, can the woman also step out and have multiple partners? He paused and said yes, if that’s what’s agreed upon. I said what if she only wants that man, so it’s still okay for him to step out because she agreed? He said yes.

I said, so why is it so hard to believe women aren’t too keen on this arrangement either? He said, “It’s just different.”

I said, “It’s just bullshit and a double standard.”

“I know it’s a double standard, we all know it’s a double standard, but that’s just the way it is.”

This dude was basically more in favor of polygamy than gay marriage.

I was stunned.

Heart broken. I’d been dreaming of this man, fantasizing about him it work, remembering what his kisses felt like and cuddling with him watching T.V. All of this stuff got shot straight to hell, thanks to Media Take Out.

My friends say it’s good I learned this early. I can agree, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I’m highly disappointed. I really liked this one. I really did. One of my girls suggested that I clarify with him if he was joking or playing devils advocate. But I told her, no, he looked serious and not once did he use the term “Let’s play devil’s advocate here.”

I did ask him you are talking about celebrities and athletes but what about you?

His answer was political and in my opinion telling. “I think people need to do what works for them.”

Welp, sir. Monogamy ‘WORKS’ for me. I need that. I need to trust my partner.

He pointed out divorce statistics and how marriage isn’t working in America anyway.

So when he kissed me good night, I felt dejected. I already felt the impending doom set in. Things were forever changed. He wasn’t the man I hoped he was.

Back out to the darkness, yall.

 

 

 

 

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