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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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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?

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.

I’m dying for a love song.

On my way to work today, I carefully listened to the words of Rico Love’s “They Don’t Know.”

The beat was sexy. I was about to drift off into my sexy thoughts and get in to my Mrs. Carter/Crazy Horse Dancer mode when something stopped me dead in my tracks.

The actual lyrics.

I’ll put them at the bottom of the blog. It’s actually worse if you read them. But I found that as I kept on driving,  I kept getting more angry.

I used to rock out to “OPP” and all sorts of songs about ratchet behavior and man-stealing, and still consider myself a classy chick, so I asked myself: “Self, what about this song in particular has you so upset?”

Welp, I do think it’s my three-year stretch of bad dating and no real relationships being formed that last past two months. I can do the chicken or the egg thing and wonder if it’s me or if it’s who I’m picking and why I’m picking who I’m picking. But the nearly 32-year-old who has just had it, and is over it was pissed at this song, pissed at the people who wrote it, sang it and the people who will consume it and love it. I’m pissed for the young women who think as long as a man gives them lavish gifts and trips in return for their bodies, loyalty and silence to be “shared” with his wifey, (who apparently lives under the same terms and conditions as the beloved, discreet side chick, but with the title, and probably the kids) that’s the ideal life.

The funny thing is, there’s nothing new to this. And some women will argue they have given it up for far less on far more ridiculous and unworthy suitors.

In this song, Rico’s lady love meets up at hotels, goes to the all-star weekend, with the latest Birkin bag on her arm. She is prime, on call vagina.

What have I been doing with my entire life? Why didn’t I think to sign up for such a thing?

Oh, Rico would have us believe as he croons, that the situation is puppies and kittens. Two women who know about each other, and (it is implied) are willing to have sex with one another with or without him and everyone is pleased as punch with this arrangement because, they are living the lush life.

This is on the radio.

There are no words of love, there isn’t even the illusion. He says so himself. Because Rico gets a kick out of no one except his wifey even knowing who this girl is. She’s just in the shadows, dressed to the nines, flown to where he is in the G5. He won’t even say, girl if loving you is wrong I don’t want to be right. She’s just something to be used up, and quiet and just take the money and the cars and the stuff. This fool takes it further, and says his name is on her body, so this chick took permanent steps to tat his name on her body, and he says you belong to me. I guess so. She was bought and paid for.

There has always been the concept of bitch, look pretty, shut up and open your legs as long as I’m paying. But in a day in age where women have come so far, gained so much and in a lot of cases actually out earn men, have more degrees, the fact that this kind of music can be so popular, that we say it’s only music, and we don’t demand better, it breaks my heart.

I’m going to have to listen to Stevie Wonder for the rest of the day, to get 4 minutes of Rico Love out of my system. I guess I am getting old. And that’s fine.

“They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know

We be in the same room N’ we don’t ever say shit Let’s  keep it between me and you N’ we cool, ’cause they don’t know

I’m the one you’ll be texting When you be up at cho job  (they don’t know) I’m the one that bought that Benz That’s in your garage  (they don’t know) I’m the reason you don’t stress when shit gets hard And  anything you want It’s all yours (they don’t know)

On your birthday I’m the one who saw yo birthday suit (They  don’t know) That the Birkin bag It bought that birthday coupe (they don’t  know) I keep it all real I ain’t gotta tell lies to you You the only  one who knows, the truth

They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know

We be in the same room N’ we don’t never say shit Let’s  keep it between me and you N’ we cool, ’cause they don’t know

They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t  know They don’t know

They don’t even know I know you You don’t be talking like a  lame bitch You follow the rules but keep it cool ‘Cause they don’t  know

We was at the same hotel Superbowling all star week (they  don’t know) You be acting shy But you chu really an all star freak (they  don’t know) That you got my name tattooed on yo body They don’t know you  belong to me, yeah (They don’t know) bout the cold nights And the secret  island trips (They don’t know) when I be up in that pussy I be calling you  my bitch (they don’t know) They don’t know you like me They don’t know you  like me They don’t even know that I share you, with my wifey

They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know

We be in the same room N’ we don’t never say shit Let’s  keep it between me and you N’ we cool, ’cause they don’t know

They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t  know They don’t know

They don’t even know I know you You don’t be talking like a  lame bitch You follow the rules but keep it cool ‘Cause they don’t  know

You deserve the rewards G5 planes, you deserve the board Tell them other lames They can swerve of course And I swear to God Imma  curve the broads ‘Cause they don’t know Vacations they don’t go You  stay patient and I respect that ‘Cause you know how to play ya post

Them other bitches get antsy That’s why a nigga never  treat’em fancy You get urs off, in Bergdorf While they bargain shoppin on  Delancy You ain’t even tell ya sister Mama thinking you don’t even like  niggas Instagram, you don’t even like pictures That’s why I’m fucking  withcha

They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t,  they don’t know They don’t know

We be in the same room N’ we don’t never say shit Let’s  keep it between me and you N’ we cool, ’cause they don’t know

They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t  know They don’t know

They don’t even know I know you You don’t be talking like a  lame bitch You follow the rules but keep it cool ‘Cause they don’t  know They don’t, they don’t know They don’t, they don’t know ‘Cause  they don’t know”

Read more:  Rico Love – They Don’t Know Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Creatives and the Cost of Living

People often think that being a writer, a journalist, a creative and artist is sexy. 

And the people themselves, we are sexy. How we create, that’s very sexy too. However, the life of writers and people who chronicle humanity through whatever medium, has a lot of pain and struggle that goes along with it.

Folks joke about the pained, struggling artist, but there’s truth to that. The grind keeps creatives humble, and even if they do reach massive success, being a creative knowing there is no cap or no limit on creativity, if they are true to their art or craft, they will keep stretching and reaching and changing things up to try to be the best at what they are doing.

I was able to do a lot of leisure reading and I came across two very interesting, yet different stories on two types of creatives living and working in New York City.

The first article I came across was about how folks from all over the world come to New York City in hopes of becoming writers, working in the publishing industry or fashion or whatever, working a second job they didn’t love to pay rent in a small apartment with about five other people.

But these days, with the average apartment costing $3,000 a month, folks wanting to move to NYC to follow their dreams often find the dream is harder to reach when you want to actually eat and have a half way decent roof over your head in a safe-ish, crime-adjacent, neighborhood.

There are a bunch of articles that have been floating around about this very problem.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/07/new-york-1percent-stifles-creative-talent

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/12/expensive-cities-are-killing-creativity-2013121065856922461.html

And in these articles, the authors suggests to young creatives to look outside of New York.

I actually agree.

I cut my journalistic teeth in cities like Washington, D.C., Detroit, and all over the state of Mississippi. And in those places, especially in Mississippi, I worked on my craft and was able to live very well due to the low cost of living. (Two bedrooms two baths for $525 and yes, this was in 2005, thank you very much)

No. Those places did not have the hustle and bustle of NYC, but in their own rights, they had very real individual, identity which makes all of those places near and dear to my heart. So don’t count them out.

Creatives are now flocking to Detroit and to the south in places like New Orleans, creating thriving creative communities, building their reputations and portfolios and enjoying less expensive housing, food and living expenses, and from there, if they want, they can make the big jump to other places.

Speaking of preparation and planning and starting small. I was struck by this story. http://fashionista.com/2013/12/keija-minor-brides/

Keija Minor, Editor-in-Chief of Brides Magazine, well, she wasn’t a poor upstart when she left a six-figure law firm salary to become an intern for a small travel magazine, but she employed planning and starting small to get her dream job in the publishing/creative world. Her humility was the most refreshing part of this.

I also felt this way about NBA basketball player Rajon Rondo, who took his internship with GQ very seriously. I tip my hat to people who have more than one passion or interest and have the guts to take the time to nurture that, even if they are really good at what they are already doing.

Minor was already well-established and by normal, regular working people standards, well off and highly successful. But it took a lot of effort and dedication to decide to squirrel away enough money to pay her mortgage for one year, while she looked for and secured an internship with a publication. Most of us can’t take such a leap strictly for financial reason and you know, needing food and shelter. 

I had a good laugh to myself because Minor expressed some of the sacrifices she had to make. Splurge purchases were a no-go during this time. 

“The same week I left the firm, I saw the new Marc Jacobs handbag, the Stella bag, in Barneys. I called my best friend and said, ‘Remind me why I’m doing this?’ ‘Because you want to be happy,’ she said. I did not buy the bag — I later did — but I never had another moment.”

I laughed because folks who are not as well of as her would be lamenting to their homegirl, “Yeah, no Starbucks for me this week… or EVER.”

Or, “Oh no, I’m not hungry. I got this ramen. It tastes DOES better with hot sauce.”

And while I’m poking a bit of fun at Ms. Minor, it made me think of micro ways us regular folks can take risks to with proper dedication, planning and determination.

In the movie “The Great Debaters” one of the young debaters quotes his dad who always reminds him, “We do what we have to do, so we can do what we want to do.”

Ms. Minor, and the gazillions of people who work jobs they dislike, but with purpose do just that. They see the bigger picture, and most importantly in that picture, they don’t see themselves where they currently are forever. There is an expiration date.

And for Ms. Minor, I presume that date was when she secured enough for her mortgage for a year as well as her living expenses. Go girl. Suze Orman would probably give you dap for that.

2014 is going to be a year of the grind for me, and strategic planning. I need to get serious about a number of things I took for granted and get back to the days of old where I had a worn planner that I wrote every little thing down in.

A good friend of mine had reminded me of that planner that held together one of the most hectic years of my entire life. I’d actually forgotten that I was, “that chick.”

Well that chick is about to resurface.

A wonderful friend of mine is about to set out on a journey and live a life-long dream of living in New York. She’s also a creative. I read the first couple of articles, and I was sincerely worried for her. I even thought of sending her the articles, not to crush her dreams, but just out of concern.

Then I stopped myself.

My friend did step out on faith and I believe in having faith and knowing sometimes that’s really all you need. And if I believe in faith, I believe my friend has the faith that it takes to pull off such an effort.

There was no point in making a friend who was already a bit nervous about such a drastic change more concerned. And I certainly didn’t want her to think I wasn’t supportive. She was preparing for this, doing her research and she secured an apartment. So that makes me even more confident she’ll be just fine. That was the hard part, in my opinion.

I didn’t want to write about New Year’s Resolutions, or promises. I don’t want to be the first person in the gym today. I may just work out at home. I don’t want to bum rush the grocery store to buy nothing but veggies. But I do want to make incremental changes that will last.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Let’s just do our thing this year. Let’s feel good about who we are. Remind ourselves of how far we’ve come, and allow ourselves to dream. And once we dream, we can plan, and once we plan we can do.

So let’s do, shall we?

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You’re Heard (Digging in the Drafts)

Note: I had written some blog posts sitting in my drafts that for some reason I wasn’t ready to share or haven’t flushed out yet. This actually wasn’t a bad post. Don’t know why I wasn’t feeling it enough to post when I wrote it. Oh well. Enjoy.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a guy I went on a pretty good date with over the weekend (Yes, folks, it’s Renaissance).

This was all via text.

We got into a conversation about things we wish we were better at or wanted to improve upon.

All of you know about my patience problem, my aversion to mathematics and my control issues.

So I shared, but tried to make them not sound too horrible, but also sound self-aware and open to improvement. I mean, I don’t want to send him off screaming. Geez.

He mentioned that he wanted to be a better listener.

Which threw me off.

A big part of his job requires that he listen to people and help them solve their problems. So how is it a man who listens to people everyday for a living says he wants to be a better listener?

His answer was a good one, an honest one and as a result, basically turned me on.

He went a few steps beyond just saying he wants to generally improve as a person, but he dropped these gems on me, and then I really got what he was saying.

It’s kind of like when black mothers ask you, “Do you hear me?”

Then grab you by the arm and say, “No, no,  do you HEAR me?” Meaning, I’m not saying this for my health. I’m trying to help you and you need to not only just listen, you need to process this for real, for real.

He mentioned that it takes another skill set altogether to “understand what listening looks like to the speaker.”

Whhhhattt boy?

You better say that.

“It all incorporates making sure the speaker feels listened to. That doesn’t come naturally. Or even making the speaker feel comfortable speaking with you. Each person is different so the cues you pick up may be different too.”

So it hit me. He’s right. People always want to feel like they’ve been heard. Even if you disagree or never had a similar experience so you can say you understand. There is an art to hearing people and a skill that has to be honed.

I’ve been told that when I’m passionate about something or mad, or I want to be heard, I tend to repeat myself and I can get loud (even when I’m not mad).

In the past, I blamed it on being the youngest and having to fight for and command attention from the older family members who were bigger than me and physically taking up more space.

But I do this because, I do in fact want to be heard. Sometimes, especially in relationships, you do have to wonder when you speak, what is your partner actually hearing?

Our life and experiences not only shape us, but it shapes the way we listen to and interpret information and while we may speak the same language, things can get lost in translation if one person grew up in a nurturing family, and the other did not. If you are male and I am female, if I had a certain level of education and you have more or less.

Keep in mind none of these things make us better or worse, but it certainly shifts perception and it does play a role in how we take in information depending on who that information is coming from.

I’ve been obsessed with the government shutdown situation and it’s a perfect example. Members of the House and Senate straight up don’t like the Affordable Health Care act, so it doesn’t matter if a budget needs to be passed or not to keep people working changes to the ACA were incorporated and that stopped everything in its tracks. Folks can’t agree.

Some people don’t like President Obama so anything he says or does, they won’t hear him. They won’t care about what he has to say. Some people can’t stand Republicans, so anything Republican, forget it. You won’t be able to break through.

So, that conversation led me to think, when I speak, am I being heard? And am I actively listening to others? Is the intended message getting the most accurate response to what my truth is and to what that other person’s truth is?
Xscape Understanding

The Friend Test

I’ve made friends all kinds of ways.

In the earliest of times, it was as easy as saying: “Hello, want some Skittles?”

Sometimes it was due to an agreement that an injustice had taken place. “She didn’t share her skip it on the playground.” “Yeah, not cool.” “Wanna play at my house after school?” “Sure, just gotta ask my mom.”

Sometimes friendships were born out of group science projects, or after standing up for someone who was being picked on, or just asking a sad person if they were ok.

Some of my friendships were forced arranged situations, like college roommates or some grew out of natural rivalries to be the best at a campus newspaper.

Sometimes if you’ve smiled enough at someone you keep running into on the way to the bathroom at work, you decide to have lunch one day and the hour turns into two. OOPS!

I’ve even made some friends through writing this blog.

But what’s the DNA of friendships? How do we really build relationships with people? And how do these relationships sometimes fall apart and stay apart?

We are told all of the time when on the carousel of friends some folks are a reason, a season and a lifetime.

But I guess the friend-making, relationship-building process always comes down to the same thing.

Attendance. I have friends who live all over the place. I may not speak to them all the time, but my closest friends have spent significant amounts of lab hours with me, practicing friendship. These things consist of hanging out, talking on the phone, traveling, etc. The best way to get to know someone is through spending time.

Some of my fondest friend memories are often me and the friend sharing a meal, laughing or doing something absolutely stupid together. We weren’t anyplace fancy, it’s usually a lazy day talking about nothing and everything.

Listening. Good friends listen. And listen, and listen some more. And listen even if they are tired and don’t feel like it. Sometimes if you have a friend who isn’t a great communicator, you have to work even harder to listen to them when they do share or have something to say.

The voluntary gesture. Actions mean a lot to me. When new friends think of me and show up to something I invited them to, or brought me a favorite candy or offer to take me to the airport, it’s like daum. You really like me and want to be my friend. You went out of your way to do this or that when you really didn’t have to.

Trying new things. Trying new things with new friends can create bonds and memories and trying new things with old friends can breathe new life into the relationship. You may expose fears and or talents that you never knew the person or you had. When you try new things sometimes, you switch personality traits. If you are loud and bossy, you may become quiet and standoffish while your quiet friend may become the leader or the teacher in the moment to pull you through and cheer you on. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a very cool thing.

Reliability. “No, for real. I need a ride to the airport. And the flight is at six a.m. on a Saturday. Yes.” That friend may cuss you the whole way to the airport, but you are at your gate by 5:15, which means they picked you up around 4. Which means they woke up at 3:30 or earlier.

The reliable folks in your life show their gargantuan capacity to love you by doing things like that. These are the people you see through tears in the church as you walk through a funeral procession. They drove all night, but they are there.

There’s a song by Jill Scott called, “Calls” it’s divine. She sings so sweetly, “You always answer my calls when I call, you come.” Let’s face it. The true homies come when you call, and they feel a tingle when you are in need and come anyway if you don’t call. Those are the keepers and those are the ones you want to keep listening to, doing voluntary gestures for and showing up for (Hey, I’ve included the other bolded topics in this bolded topic! Reliability must be huge to me). There aren’t a lot of these people. They are the special ones you treasure.

In a world full of people who do more talking than ever, the reliable people who keep their word are rare.

Admiration. If you can’t name one or two things that you admire about your friends, you ain’t friends. I have some friends where we have straight up love fests about how much we like different things about each other. You don’t have to do that, but even internally, can you look at that friend and say, I really love x quality about them. Wow. No one does this the way so and so does and I’m proud of them as a human being. Andy and Ollie always take it too far on Bob’s Burgers (love that show) but you get the point.

Vulnerability. Can you trust this person? Can you say how you feel? Can this person trust you and tell you how they feel? I’ve mentioned in this blog before that vulnerability is awesome, but it’s something that has to be protected and shared with people who have proven themselves. I’ve also said in real life and in this blog that certain friends have to have certain security clearances when it comes to your thoughts, feelings and emotions and your past. And if you know the weaknesses of your friends, you can save yourself the heartache and disappointment of not going to the wrong one for support on certain issues. Some friends are stronger with business and financial advice. Others are nurturers. Some friends are good at giving the cold splash of reality, while others may take a more optimistic approach and they are good at encouraging you to take risks.

And lastly,

Consistency.  In my world, the people who are consistently themselves and are comfortable with themselves are the ones who end up being the absolute coolest with me. Their courage to be themselves inspires me to accept myself more. And when I praise my friends for their individuality and their gifts, I think it fuels them even more. I know it boosts me when they do that for me. They may grow, they may have bad days or an attitude, but the root of who they are and what they value (core things) and what they believe in DOES NOT CHANGE. These friends may change a job, a hairstyle or city in which they live, and maybe they’ve become vegan, but their general feelings on family, friends, work ethic and respect should be non-negotiable. Consistent attendance, consistent listening, and well, being reliable contributes to being consistent. I have some friends I speak to on the phone. Some via strictly text and some friends I see. Consistent doesn’t mean you have to do these things everyday, but you and your friends have a rhythm. You know when it’s been too long since you’ve spoken and you may drop an are you alive email or text and the person responds right away, or by the end of the day. Consistency to me means understanding the patterns in your relationships with people and sticking with that.

Be a damn, good friend. Damn it.

 

Permission to Demand

I’ve been tweeting some random thoughts coming to my head, which make fertile ground for today’s post.

I need yall to bear with me because I may jump around a lot today.

The first thought of my day is that I forgot that I was awesome. I’m not saying this in a narcissistic way. I’m saying it because when you forget that you are awesome. When you start not thinking so highly of yourself, you let a lot of foolishness creep into your life.

You start allowing and saying yes to things that your usually awesome self wouldn’t even consider, let alone have time for or allow it to cause distress.

You all have read the blog, (and if you are new, I’m glad you are here. But you have a lot of catching up to do if you want some context.) You have a front row seat to my relationship failures and my desire to live happily and with purpose and to just be alright with me.

I had to reread an email exchange between me and a good friend of mine. Because I needed clarity on a situation where I felt a man I just started to have interest in wasn’t really returning the interest whole heartedly. I felt like an afterthought.

I questioned letting him know that I wanted my time valued before agreeing to another date, for fear of him thinking I was angry and demanding.

I questioned whether or not it was my right to demand respect for my time by A) not planning dates and standing me up. B) not calling me late at night on a weeknight because I didn’t want to be the naggy, bitchy, angry black woman who no one seems to like. I didn’t want to be the girl making too many demands of someone too soon.

But when is too soon to tell a guy you don’t want to be called late at night because you have a job and want to go to sleep? When is it too soon to tell a guy that while you want to get to know him, you don’t tolerate being stood up or cancelled on at the last-minute or put in second place to a social group, sport, job, hobby, etc if you want to seriously consider a relationship?

I think as women we have to not lay out long, crazy lists, but when moments call for a brief, real teaching moment, you got to take the opportunity to assert yourself and lay out the rules.

Men, women, horses, cats and dogs will take advantage if you don’t lay out what’s acceptable and what’s not and actively show the person or animal you are for real. You are allowed to voice what works for you and what does not.

I ultimately made the decision to say how I felt and what I didn’t want if he wanted to really get to know me. And he basically said he understood and was looking forward to our date tonight with no interruptions or cancellations. (We’ll see)

Usually grown, confident folks get it when you break something down and do it in a way that’s not mean or nasty, but just honest.

I tend to have a fear of people’s reaction to me when I say what I don’t want or what I don’t like. I don’t want people not to like me, or to feel uncomfortable or to be upset. But if the thing that person does or says to me is something that I don’t like or makes me feel comfortable or upset, what makes them better than me not to at least let them know I don’t like it?

When did I start deciding that my opinion, my feelings should be considered last out of the both of us.

And so in some cases, people and life started treating me that way. And I kept taking it.

I’m starting to see the light a bit and the timing is fortuitous.

I’ve had to have folks I hold in high esteem write letters of recommendation for my grad school application.

Having folks talk about you through their eyes is an interesting thing because you can’t see what they see or things that were small and didn’t seem to matter in your opinion, did count for something to them. A talent or skill that you may feel has been lacking, they noticed your growth and your passion to at least try.

I took things a step further when I had a recent catch up conversation with an old ex of mine. Geez we haven’t been together in several years and we ended amicably and can call each other friend.

I told him about my difficulty dating, I told him about recently getting stood up, to which he emphatically replied, “Fuck that dude.”

Ahh. Then I told him about an article I read about letting your ex actually write your online dating profile. So we played a game. I asked him to describe me. What I like, what I don’t like, who I am, in his own words. (This is enough for another post)

And he did that. He gave me a glowing review, but he also reminded me of somethings I had forgotten. That I was awesome. That I was highly interesting and intelligent and that I had certain high expectations of everyone around me.

My heart sank when he wrote the words, “she takes care of herself.”

I knew that had changed. Yes, I recently went on a great vacation, but it took me about five years to take off six consecutive days and not visit family. Yes, I get a massage once a month. But what am I really doing to take care of me for real? Beating myself up for the past? Not feeling good about myself professionally, feeling lost, feeling like I’m not making an impact. Making excuses to not workout, gaining weight. Beating myself up for making excuses and gaining weight. Beating myself up for not being better with money. Beating myself up for letting other people beat me up. Beating myself up for things I couldn’t control anyway.

If an ex I dated about 8 years ago, who I hardly speak to can gush about how good a person I am, how beautiful, kind and sexy and smart, why wasn’t I doing that for myself?

Fantastic people can vouch for me. They can verify that I’m worthy, yet I’ve been giving myself the bad wrap for a really long time.

A dear friend of mine posted what is now my favorite profile of himself on Facebook this week. He said he liked the pic because it made him feel good, he was smiling right into the camera and he’s totally not the type to promote selfies. He basically said we have to love ourselves, feel good about ourselves and pump ourselves up.

So today, I’m saying I’m worthy.

I’m worthy and capable of having a great relationship where what I want and how I feel will be respected. I’m worthy to have the career I want and I have every right to embrace who I am as I am right now and whatever isn’t quite perfect, well I can change. I am allowed to ask for what I want. I’m allowed to demand respect. I’m allowed to feel what I feel. And I’m allowed to shut out negative voices and forces so I can get myself together.

You are too.

 

Knowing What You Want Simplifies Your Life, The End?

After having a conversation with a dear friend recently, who I had to catch up on my ex-fiance’s visit (I know that was a million years ago (August) she was overseas), exasperated, I told her, while I had the butterflies and feelings were flying from the both of us hither and yon, the dream was over.

Reality set in that he was not serious about even trying to repair our friendship out of whatever fears and issues and excuses he has. “He is unable.”

She burst out into uncontrollable laughter. I had to wait a good five minutes for her to stop cackling and snorting. I guess I sounded just tired of it all. And I was. Over two and a half years of healing is exhausting.

“What did I say? I mean it’s true. He is incapable of giving me what it is I know I need. He just can’t do it. He is unable, therefore, I can’t.”

So, when a dreamy guy I went out on a date with recently and I had a wonderful text conversation about men and women, I found myself stating very clearly what I expect from a man.

I kind of surprised myself with how clear, and honestly simple it was.

Ah, yes. He kicked off the convo by saying that he, like most men are simple.

And I said, eh. I don’t know about that.

So he clarified that most men want simple things from women, like the innate things that women do well.

Once again, I needed him to clarify. Because some things that may be considered traditionally female are not innate in all women. Some things are learned.

But I knew at the root of it all he meant nurturing. I quickly asked another male friend what his answer was, and he also said nurturing.

And by the time I looked at my phone again, dreamboat aka Renniassance (I think that will be his name since he is well versed in the arts and intellectual things) said he was referring to the nurturing nature of women.

Then he turned the question to me about men and women.

I basically said that women do have an innate ability to provide comfort and create safe emotional spaces for their loved ones to enter and be vulnerable and that I found it ridiculously sexy when a man and woman get to a certain point in their relationship where the man can privately be vulnerable with his woman and go back out and face the world.

As for men, I said that men SHOULD have an innate DESIRE to work hard, to be responsible and to do whatever it takes to take care of himself and his family. And he SHOULD follow up with that desire with action, because wanting to do something and doing it are two totally different things. There are a lot of men sitting around, unemployed and wanting to work, but they may have stipulations on where they will work and for what amount of money. There may be men who WANT to support and take care of their children, but they loose steam due to whatever circumstances.

So what separates penis owners from the real men, in my opinion is the desire that is so strong, action is not optional, it’s the law. It’s life. It’s breathing. The kind of man who does what he has to do, even if it’s something he doesn’t want to or feel like doing, because he knows the result of his actions for himself and his family is worth far more than his pride.

He knows the cost of selfishness or laziness is something he and his family cannot afford.

But what sent me into overdrive in the conversation was a point that he made. He agrees men and women should share responsibilities and should be hard workers and that’s not just for men alone.

However, he pointed out that men and women are built physically different to serve certain purposes and it’s a good thing.

“If neither of us lift weights, I’ll still be stronger than you. No matter which wants to feed a child, your body will be more efficient in providing that.”

And in that moment, while I consider myself to align with feminist values, I wasn’t mad at his argument at all.

Earlier in the conversation he asked me if I was simple or complicated.

So approached the answer by saying this.

“If you are lazy and you don’t take the time to really get to know me, I’ll appear complicated. The more you learn, the more eager you are to learn, it will gradually get easier.”

The problem with deciding what we want is winning the war within ourselves between what we know we want and what we think we should want or when it comes to partners adjusting what we know we want because we know that person isn’t it, but trying to make it fit anyway.

Is my ex fine?

Yes.

If he showed up now, I’d let him hit. I just would.

Is he smart and funny? Sure.

Does he know how to let go and love me properly?

Nope.

It’s just that simple. The end.

I created the scenarios that IF he did this, or changed that, I could live with it and that it would be enough. People do this all the time to justify the presence of certain people in their lives.

Even saying the words “He is UNABLE” a few times that night gave me more strength and resolve to let it go, the more I said it. Each time the reality of the situation was raining down on me, but I wasn’t crying, I didn’t feel a hole in my heart. I didn’t die and it actually felt good.

So, “He is UNABLE, therefore I CAN’T” has become a mantra for me, an affirmation.

I deserved to be loved the way I need to be loved and that can’t be compromised or changed. I’m built to be loved a certain way, I’m already wired. And as much as I wanted to adjust it depending upon looks, education and money and charm, my wiring requires a certain kind of love whether or not the man has all of my preferences.

I’m not saying be immovable and impossible to date.

But there should be general things that the love of your life should believe in and then actually do, that aligns with what you want and need. Period.

Simple, right?

 

‘Make Your Own Damn Sandwich’ and Reasons Why We Can’t Surrender to Love

Man, I have been so inspired by a recent article in the New York Post.

This woman’s situation raises so many questions and thoughts and the reaction of some readers also raises thousands more.

I was particularly touched by the story because I totally know the power of sharing and showing love through cooking food for people. It just feels good, you feel good doing it, you feel good seeing and hearing the reaction and seeing a plate picked clean by your loved ones.

A few days ago I made the most awesome turkey wrap ever, and as I ate it, I thought to myself, “I’d love to make this again for my man after we’ve made love. Well, after my post-coital nap, THEN, I’ll make it.

So seeing this article today, had me beside myself in laughter, because while folks were raging on about it, I had a good laugh and I understood.

http://nypost.com/2013/09/24/i-wooed-my-man-with-a-sandwich/

Long story short, this woman happened to make her a very tasty sandwich one night and he loved it. So she started making him more awesome sandwiches and one day he blurted out that if she made 300, he’d put a ring on it.

So of course, people started tripping off of what was probably originally just a funny in-the-moment comment and began to go in on this dude, for “demanding” she make 300 sandwiches.

Homegirl took it literally and started her quest to 300. She’s somewhere around 127 and counting. I have to say after seeing some photos of these sandwiches, I like men very much, but if she was making those kinds of sandwiches for me everyday, I’d switch teams for a minute to reap the benefits. I kid.

But the sandwiches look original, creative and delicious. I actually want to try some of the recipes myself.

So I read the article from Facebook where a number of black women sounded off. Even in the article this chick is catching a bit of hell.

I’ve mentioned before I believe in feminism and I stand in solidarity with black feminism and all of its nuances and complexities. It’s some other ish, and the people I follow on twitter who are part of the black feminism movement have really educated me and gazillions of others.

Most people agreed aiming for an arbitrary number of sandwiches to get to 300 specifically just to get a ring isn’t a good idea.

And under most circumstances, looking at that idea at face value is ridiculous. What does making a great sandwich over and over have to do with marriage? Isn’t it about love and reciprocity and respect and loyalty and honor and discipline and responsibility and maturity? Yes, yes and yes.

And through this sandwich-making, this woman is actually showing all of those qualities.

If you read the description of their relationship, she says she adores him. She says he cooks amazing things for her (a perfect filet mignon), they travel together and they have been accepted and loved by both families. They live together and seem insanely happy.

So what is making a couple hundred sandwiches?

And trust, if their relationship is solid, and she really loves this man she’s got thousands of sandwiches to go. She’s not going to stop at 300, just because she’s got the ring, or 301, just to be on the safe side.

Love is built on various unselfish acts that we do for one another every single day.

But people can’t see past the sandwich, or the fact this intelligent, attractive woman is taking time from her day to do this.

I guess they want her to cure cancer or something instead.

She’s been called a Stepford Wife and accused of setting women back.

Women who attack other women for consciously wanting to reciprocate love to a man that’s treating them well, is what’s setting women back. REAL TALK.

The majority of women responding in the negative on the Facebook post were black women.

This is part of the reason why we aren’t winning. I’m not going to get on the already beaten and bludgeoned dead horse about why black women– particularly successful black women are single. But these kinds of attitudes contribute.

I’m going to add another layer to this. If you haven’t read the article, the woman featured is African-American and her boo thang is a white man.

So, some black women may be up in arms about this educated, attractive sister making sandwiches to “earn” a ring from a white man (who has clearly shown that he’s probably going to marry her anyway), but already planning “Scandal” parties for next week, making sandwiches for their girls, drooling while a married, white president Fitz, fabulously sexes down the brilliant and gorgeous Olivia Pope.

American black women can be a little touchy about relationships with American white men, due to our horrible history together in this country through sex and slavery.

The venom is misplaced.

I think there’s some hate and jealousy in the mix. This woman is getting what she wants. She wants to be loved, she wants to share her life with someone who appreciates her.

And isn’t that the goal? They share a lovely home together, they travel, he cooks. Like he really cooks. Shiiiit. 300 sandwiches ain’t nothing. If Idris Elba asked a black woman to do it, she’d do it in a heartbeat.

We have parameters on who we love, and a dysfunctional sense that if we consistently do something nice for a man like cook or clean or iron or sew a button, we have demeaned ourselves. We’ve made ourselves lesser.

I’ve told you all the story about my sister bringing my brother-in-law his dinner, on a tray to his man cave. The younger me hated it. And I thought she was being weak and a Stepford. But that was her style of giving love and making him happy and making him feel like the man of his house. I know my brother-in-law to be a very hard worker, often working two jobs to support the family and give them everything they need. He adores my sister and you can feel it the way they laugh and joke and play with each other.

In order to enjoy mature love, both sides have to be vulnerable and show a lot more humility and not be afraid to do so. Many of the black women I know, we want to be in control, we want to know what’s going to happen in the future and we want an established record of good behavior from a man in order for us to completely give ourselves over.

But it seems us expecting love to work that way is not working FOR us. That attitude is working against us. We should be cautious and discerning when we pick our partners. Yes, but we have to trust we’ve done a good enough job in the selection process, that we should want to show love in ways others might see as domestic servitude.

We want men to fix things for us, to get up in the middle of the night with a baseball bat against a potential gun if there is a home invader. We want men to lay down expensive blazers in a puddle and or get rained on so we don’t get our hair wet; we want them to kill bugs and remove critters and dispose of garbage— things that an educated man could scoff at, just as educated women could scoff at cooking and cleaning and declare as things a man can “do his damn self” — but would we do all of those things our damn self, if we had a good man who doesn’t have to do it, but chooses to make us feel safe and loved and appreciated?

It’s something to think about.

If I know that I have a great man who loves me, I want to want to do things he likes for him even if it may inconvenience me from time to time, because I know he’s doing the same for me. I’m not going to keep score and with hold my love or positive loving actions because I’m waiting for him to do something for me that I consider equal or greater to my action. That’s not love.

Soon as I get home from work. Babyface

People hated Cater to You by Destiny’s Child. But basically this is the point of today’s blog. If you grown, you get it.

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