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Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Then and Now: On Writing Stuff Down

A very long time ago I wrote a post about the power of writing things down.

This blog, in itself has been therapy for me, it’s been a motivator and it’s held me accountable. You folks who take the time to read it and offer comments and encouragement have also helped me along the way.

As I’m cleaning out my desk at work, and my final week at my job is coming to a close, I found a memo pad. Of course I found memo pads, I’m a journalist. We have way too many.

But as I looked in the pad, I found that I wrote a lot of random thoughts, tee-shirt designs, scriptures and drawings or simple things on my mind along with work stuff and research and reminders.

I’m going to share with you one series of thoughts I wrote down and I wrote down the date too, but not the year, after digging through the rest of my notebook, I may have written this in March of 2013.

I want to be happy.

I do not want to be upset or miserable.

I do not want to push people away.

I do want to take risks.

I do want to trust my feelings/gut.

I want a new job.

I either want to buy a house or rent a great place I love.

I want to travel.

I don’t want to be uncertain.

I want to be loved.

I want someone to understand me.

I don’t want to complicate things.

I want to be courted.

I want to feel secure.

I want to be healthy.

I want to be in shape.

So, this morning, I smiled at the person who wrote those desires and next to each point, I wrote back.

I want to be happy. I feel pretty good. June 18, 2014.

I do not want to be upset or miserable. I’m not!

I do not want to push people away. I feel even closer to my family and friends and God. No man though. LOL

I do want to take risks. I held a stingray two weeks ago. I went snorkeling in the ocean. THE OCEAN! I’m leaving my job after 7 years. I’m currently in grad school. No scholarships this time baby. LOAN.

I want a new job. I repeat. I’m leaving my job this week, after 7 years for a new, amazing opportunity. And girl, we about to get paid… and girl we about to craft national/global messages on mental health. Ya heard me?

I either want to buy a house or rent a great place I love. My place is cool just the way it is and it suits me for this period in my life. The rent to damn high though, but I bet you’ll be outta there in the next two to three years. Bet.

I want to travel. Boo, we’ve been to Curacao, Durham, the Cayman Islands, and Kansas City in the last nine months. International twice! You were just in the Caymans two weeks ago and Kansas City three days ago. Holla.

I don’t want to be uncertain. That’s going to happen sometimes. Know God will keep you in the safe space so you can get it together.

I want to be loved. Girl bye. Bye Felicia. You on some self-pity type stuff right now. God loves us, the fam loves us, we got us some great friends. And we are getting a hang of this loving ourselves thing more and more. You’ll be aight, pumpkin.

I want someone to understand me. We are of the aquarius kind. We are aloof and mysterious and always thinking high, lofty, deep, far-reaching thoughts. Folks don’t have to understand you all the time, but they should respect you, they should listen to you when you speak. They don’t have to understand you all the time, just stand in your truth daily. That’s it. That needs to be enough for you. Do everything from a place of truth, do everything from your heart. Don’t do stuff that doesn’t feel right to please other people. You have a right to opt out.

I don’t want to complicate things. Then don’t. We are way too busy right now for extracurricular foolishness. But do remember closed mouths don’t get fed. Your definition of complicated ain’t like everyone else’s. There are times you over use your right to remain silent. Speaking up for yourself may rock the boat or complicate things, but sometimes you have to do it. Don’t be afraid of that. If you do things from your heart, if you take care of yourself without belittling or tearing down others, that is not making things more complicated.

I want to be courted. I concur. You ain’t never lie.

I want to feel secure. Nothing wrong with that either.

I want to be healthy. We’re doing okay in that department, but we need to work out wayy more, more sleep and a better diet.

I want to be in shape. We still want that, but we seriously got to get it together. We’re traveling now, but we were way too winded running to catch that flight last week. Just saying.

 

 

 

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Be Yourself, Demand Love Unconditionally

Folks have said all the time to “be yourself.”

For a large part of your life, you swear they are lying.

You do what you deem is necessary to fit in at work, or to make friends, or to be in a relationship.

But those words are the truest words you’ll hear.

You just have to be brave enough to actually do it.

Why is it that something that should be as natural as being yourself so damn hard to do?

Well, it’s because we are acutely aware of our faults more than everyone else is, hence we have the power to alter it, mask it and pretend. But that only works but for so long. Folks who truly know you, know when you are genuine and when you are not and thank God.

The lies we tell ourselves are the worst and most potent and hardest to break and reverse.

The reason I’m on this kick today is because this morning I woke up with about 30 epiphanies. I had to text them to myself so I wouldn’t forget.

I went to a beautiful wedding this week of a fantastic college friend who I hadn’t seen in years.

She was absolutely stunning, but what made her glow all the more enchanting was she was truly happy. She loved that man and he clearly loved her. It was in the little things, the way she picked an eyelash off his face, and the way she still made silly faces with exaggerated eyes and smirks even in her formal photos. Every inch of that venue had her mark– from the songs she selected to the party favors. Individual, unique, simple, understated but not buttoned up.

The moment of the wedding that stopped my heart and hit me like a freight train was during her written vows.

She thanked her husband profusely for loving her for who she is. And I believed her. Those weren’t empty words. Even as she said it, she began to cry, and my eyes began to well. Because I know the impact of those words. And yet, I can’t think of a relationship where I completely felt like was loved exactly for who I was. I didn’t feel like I was enough in every last one and it was frustrating because I truly did my best in all. But it wasn’t on me, that was the thing I couldn’t control, even though I tried to. Either someone is going to love you for you completely, or they just won’t.

They will love you when your house is dirty or when it’s clean. They will love you if you gained some weight or if you stayed the same weight. They will love you and your child if that’s what you came to the table with. They will love you when you are sick and take care of you, as they will love you when you are healthy. They will think you are amazing if you are at the top of your career, and encourage you if you got laid off and can’t find work for a year.

I guess I’m afraid of that kind of love.

Because it’s actually real.

Because I can’t make excuses for it or why it didn’t work. To lose that kind of love would seem devastating, worse than the devastation I felt when the person didn’t love me that much, but I loved them that much.

I’ve said before that love is negotiable. And we have to keep coming to the table and reminding our loved ones what the terms are if they are slipping, and they should require that of us too.

I recently accepted a job. Go me!

I did something different this time.

I asked for what I wanted, what I felt I deserved in compensation and I was willing to keep it moving if they didn’t offer me the job or the salary I asked for. I had already made up my mind what I was willing to accept, and my friends asked well what if it’s this number but not that number? And I said, no. Something in my spirit said, no. This time you won’t take less than what you deserve, you’ve been doing it you’re whole professional life. You can get what you deserve even if it’s not this particular opportunity, this time around.

So it made me think, if I can have the courage to say no to a job if they aren’t coming correct with money, why am I so flexible when it comes to my most valuable possession? Me. My heart.

I had to laugh at myself.

I started thinking about all of the relationships where I broke my neck to be the perfect girlfriend, the cool girlfriend, the compassionate and understanding girlfriend who accepted men as they were, as broken and complicated… but I had to be the one that was whole, for the both of us.

I was broken and complicated too, in many ways. I needed just as much nurturing and care and occasional eggshell two stepping for my feelings too. I didn’t stand in my truth, I pretended that I was so strong that I could live without that, but still provide it.

I kept choosing men I felt I could make better and in some cases I helped in their progression. But I didn’t get the benefit. They’d go on to marry other women and blatantly give them the things they said they couldn’t give me. But I didn’t demand more of them, I didn’t threaten to leave if they didn’t. I don’t believe in holding anyone hostage in love, but I’m learning not expressing clearly what you need and what you want in a relationship is the worst thing you can do. Because if that person really wants to love you, you aren’t giving them the tools to do so properly. And if they don’t want to love you, and you don’t tell them, you can’t be mad that they disagree with the way you desire to be loved.

I was too afraid to say what I wanted. I thought that love was sacrifice and if they saw how much I gave, then clearly they’d return my love in a tangible, fulfilling way.

They didn’t.

And those words the bride said tearfully have rattled around my head since I’ve returned home.

By George, that was it, stupid. Be who you are completely and let him love you completely. Let him decide and if he doesn’t choose you, it’s not your fault, it’s not something you necessarily did wrong. Be strong enough and be fearless enough to be you. Say what you don’t like. Say what you want and what makes you happy. Say when you are upset and hurt.

I’ve often turned my nose up at the women who lash out and raise all kinds of hell when they are mad at their men, but the men do react. And of course they do, those women made it very clear that they were upset, and if the man really loved them, they were going to be about the business of correction.

I confused my silence for class, while being complicit in the demise of my own relationships and my own self esteem. I won’t let air out of tires, or burn clothes, but I have a mouth. My fear of rocking the boat should not be placed above my own happiness. There’s a balance. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. And I always had difficulty balancing that. I hated arguments because I had a fear that there would forever be a strike against me that I couldn’t come back from. But that’s not love.

I wrote in Facebook yesterday, that my father loves me unconditionally and has been ridiculously patient with me over the years. I was a curious, head-strong child who preferred learning the hard way. And he let me. But I always knew he was proud of me and that he thinks the world of me. In that post, I said my dad taught me that I deserve a man willing to fight for me, one who won’t take a day off or who will think the task of loving me is so daunting and intimidating and overwhelming, that he’d prefer to not even take a stab at it.

And these are the men I picked. They always went out with a whimper. And that always upset me. Why didn’t they fight for me? Why didn’t they try harder? But maybe I was the one who set the tone, don’t argue, don’t fight, be classy, move on.

But I got that wrong. Life is indeed a fight in itself, messy and tangled. There are tears and ugly cries, there are yells and screams that are not the end of the world, and that don’t mean you aren’t classy. Life leaves you with far more bruises and scars that fade with time, but don’t necessarily disappear, but it doesn’t subtract from the overall beauty of life. Those scars don’t negate our inner beauty, our true selves.

I was classy and crying alone in the dark. I was classy and falling apart on the inside or filling with rage on the inside.

There is catharsis is speaking your mind and your truth be it loudly or quietly. There is a time and place for everything.

I don’t place the blame entirely on me, because that’s what I would tend to do. But I did pick men who I allowed to have red flags and flaws up the wazoo and think it was healthy to love them despite of, but not give myself the same privilege.

And now, I know to do things differently.

He will love all of me, because I’m a rare and wonderful being to love. Even on my worst days.

Choices

I was involved in a really interesting conversation this week with a friend of a friend. He was talking to a group of us women and we were sharing or man and lack thereof problems with him. He gave his brutal and blunt assessment from the male perspective.

The thing that stuck out most in my mind that he kept asking one of my friends who said she keeps getting involved with the “wrong” men.

So he responded, that women actually have choices. We can simply say no.

If someone comes to us and doesn’t have everything we want or need, we can say no. We can turn them down. We choose.

Now what makes this thing so complicated is we say yes to people who we know can’t give us what we need or want, and we decide that that’s acceptable because we don’t want to come off stuck up or too picky or unable to accept people for who they are.

More often than not, when men decide to pursue a woman, they aren’t thinking as deeply about it as we do, or even trying to gauge potential.

They see something in a woman. They desire it, they want it. They go for it and wait for us to make the choice to even bother with them. If we say no, they may keep trying. Or they just may keep it moving without much of a fight.

But here we are as women, two weeks, two months and two years in knowing full damn well the situation isn’t working, but deciding to continue to entertain the wrong folks because we don’t want to be mean, or hoping the person will magically change into the person we wanted them to be.

The male friend gave a great comparison.

He asked my friend if she ever had sex unwillingly. He said that he hoped her answer was no, because if the answer was yes, she was a victim of rape.

So if in fact her answer was no, she made the choice and consented to the sexual encounter. She was in full control of her decision to get something she wanted.

So, if she could make that kind of decision with that much accuracy and confidence, why couldn’t she do the same in selecting which relationships she was going to get into and put work into maintaining?

I sat there dumbfounded.

It made a ridiculous amount of sense. As women, we’ve become super empowered in terms of our sexuality and even being more casual in our encounters. We can tell a man how we want them, where we want them and we can surftboard all night long.

But we cannot articulate that we need to be supported. That we are weary and need affection and kindness and strong arms to hold us. We! can’t seem to find the courage to hold men accountable to what they say and do in terms of how they treat and love us. We let a lot of things slide and because of that, we want to blame them and accuse them of not acting right.

Should they just do the right thing? Sure, they should! That’s what decent people who actually care about you do. But until we find the right person, we have a lot of folks in the training program on how to treat us and we have to enforce it. I’m not saying rule with an iron fist, but there are ways to emotionally stand your ground, have standards that you won’t bend from or amend when it’s convenient. You have to be real. You have to be consistent and I think a lot of that hangs on how much we love ourselves and how much confidence we’ve accrued. We want people to like us, so it’s easier than we realize to change up from who we really are to gain other people’s acceptance. But it’s false. Real acceptance and real love comes when you know who you are and you give people the opportunity to love you for it and if they don’t, you can rescind the offer and keep stepping.

As I get older, I’ve learned a long time ago that the quality of my relationships have always trumped the quantity. That sometimes long stretches of no dates was far better than several dates in a row that went absolutely no where, or dates I accepted because I was bored and just lonely.

We can articulate everything that person does wrong to our girlfriends, but when it’s time to do the work and speak up, we freeze. We give second, third and fourth chances.

And the giving of second, third, fourth and millionth chances are actually perfectly ok and fine because it’s your choice to give those chances.

But when you continue to complain about being taken advantage of and give another chance instead of simply saying no, it’s like you totally forgot you actually have a choice in the matter.

The result of your choice may be something you don’t like, or something that is uncomfortable, but you still have a choice to opt out and say no thanks.

The male friend said that it is actually simple. We laughed. He described a scenario where if he was a woman and could sit back and choose men he’d say, “no, no, no, yes, maybe, no, yes, you and your brother too.”

He said as a woman, no matter who you are, where you are, what you look like, someone is going to try to get with you. Now, sometimes and a lot of times it may not be the guy you want to talk to you, but men will always try and you have the choice to give them a chance or simply say no.

But it’s just difficult to say no to the guy who has that smile who makes you melt, but won’t return phone calls in a timely manner.

It’s hard to say no to the guy who you’ll move your schedule for, but will break plans last minute and will still call you at 1 a.m. to see if he can come over.

But we do have a choice. We can deal with the temporary disappointment of not answering that booty call, or feeling alone that night. Or we can accept the little they give us for the little they give us. But it truly is on us.

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