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Archive for the category “Self-esteem”

Pop Culture Is No Longer for You After 30. Guess What? That’s Perfectly OK

We are self-centered. We are built that way. We know nothing else.
I’m not saying this in a bad or negative way. I’m saying it in the I-only-have-one-life-i-can-never-be-anyone-else kind of way.
Our perspective is the only one we can go on. Can we empathize and sympathize with others? Yes, and we should so we don’t become complete assholes and are able to have successful healthy relationships with the other people we share this planet and our lives with.
So we don’t see it. As kids, our parents usually center their lives around us, and then as teenagers, we know that this world is all about us, for us and eagerly waiting for us to grow up so we can solve all the problems and make this place better, because we have the energy and the heart and we aren’t jaded.
In college, we attempt to equip ourselves with the intellectual tools, to in fact, go out there and make the world a better place, make the workplace a better place and be able to afford the lives we want.
So during those kid through college times, there’s a lot of marketing geared towards us, and towards us nagging our parents to get us the things we swear we need, so we can run faster, be cooler, etc.
The marketplace seems to be for the young. The music, the pop culture, the clothes we see on the racks in the stores.
It’s not until you reach your 30s, you realize that your tastes are changing and that you are looking elsewhere to find the types of things you want to spend your money on. Or based on certain habits, those things are finding you.
Over the years, I find myself in the mall less and less. I’m either bored or outraged with the options.
I look around in the mall, and I see kids who seem so young, but they are in their 20s. Then, I see women my age or older attempting to wear the same clothes, and I feel embarrassed. I try not to look too hard, but I can’t help it.
Then a moment of fear comes over me. When I’m not at work, do I have some ill-fitting clothes? Should I give up on shorts as my 40-something sister has resolved to do?
I wouldn’t take it that far, but I am conscious that I don’t have the same body I did in my 20s, and I think that’s perfectly fine. I actually am pretty glad about it. While there are certainly things I can improve to make sure I’m not cutting off circulation, or I can triumphantly put on certain slacks or skirts without elastic waists, but generally, I’m cool.
Things are going to continue to change, so I need to care about my health and I need to do my part to ease the aging process on my body. Fine.
But, I do notice my distance (ok, complete lack of knowledge of) from current slang and lingo. I gravitate to certain radio stations and certain music, and I don’t know who some of the biggest stars are now, because I hate their music. Me and my friends commiserate over how wack the new hip hop is, and discuss with great affection the old days of the 80s, 90s and 2000s. We gasp that some of our favorite movies are older than 20 years old, or that some of our favorite musicians have been gone for that long too. Some newer artists that I’m giving a chance to, I notice in their lyrical content, or even the style of how they are singing, they are not of my generation. They are something else, they are speaking to someone else. They are speaking to their peers and not to me.
It’s ok that 20-somethings have SZA, because I had Lauyrn Hill, Mary J. Blige and they were speaking and still speak to me on certain levels.
A lot of women spend their 30s wanting to turn back the clock, and we can’t. Even if we did, what we think we’re looking for is no longer there and we won’t fit as we are.
So, we have to embrace the present. We have to champion the things we like, and the things we love with no apology.
Blast the music you love to blast. Play a CD or vinyl if you like. Rock those jeans in the larger size, they look just as good as long as they fit your body correctly. Eat that piece of cake. Take a walk later. Go for a swim. Dance for three songs straight while you’re blasting the music.
We spend our teens trying to eek out who we are based on who we were around, who raised us, who we wanted to be like and who we didn’t want to be like.
We spend our 20s really trying to validate all of those findings.
I don’t want to spend my 30s searching for youth in a time that does not belong to me. I want to spend my 40s free and my 50s in unapologetic truth, bliss and satisfaction with the life I’ve been leading.
So, maybe we’ve passed a time where everything appeared to be for us, be it t.v., fashion and music.
That’s ok.
Because being older means being wiser and it also means enjoying the satisfaction of truly doing you.

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When Grown Men and Little Girls Have Tea

I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that really bring joy to my heart and put an automatic smile on my face.

One of them, hands down, is seeing grown men take the time to play with their daughters, nieces, and/or granddaughters to have tea.

The little girls are absolutely ecstatic, and happy to serve water or air from their play set, usually surrounded by stuffed animals. The tea set fits their little hands perfectly, while their grown-up male companion, looking awkward, yet equally adorable, struggles with tiny cups and saucers, bringing said tiny cups to their lips and engaging in polite, tea conversation with baby girl.

I also think tea parties do something for men’s souls too. It reminds them of innocence and it provides them with memories that they probably go back to over the years, well after that little girl has grown into a woman. It’s a moment to be silly, it’s a moment where other men totally give other men a pass, because they know that warm feeling they’ve had simply drinking tap water or no water at all.

Just as when a baby passes you a pretend, plastic telephone, you have to answer, when a little girl invites you for tea, you must RSVP.

A conversation with a co-worker reminded me of the times my father and even my grandfather joined me for a cup of imaginary tea and how that image of two very strong, black men, who just couldn’t say no to me in my braids and big smile.

That memory is probably the very reason why, I just ADORE it when men take the time out to have tea and I melt when I see photos or video of these special parties.

I also think it speaks to something even deeper and the importance of little girls having an early image of a man spending quality time with her, paying attention to her and the mutual and very real doting that’s allowed to take place naturally. It takes root in your soul. I truly hope that all little girls, and every man who has influence in a little girl’s life can sit down for tea, because as simple as it is, it is truly a precious moment for all parties.

To this day, I love making tea for my loved ones. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, tea-making is probably one of my love languages, truth be told. I don’t have tea with people I don’t like. It’s a moment to love on someone. You don’t understand the joy and satisfaction I have putting in just the right amount of sugar, based on the individual, or breaking out my best loose-leafs for my guests and then having a long conversation.

So cheers to the big, strong, tough men who take a little time out for tea with their sweet little girls.

Just Say No (Confidently and Politely)

Not less than 10 minutes ago, I came out of a meeting that was about 10 minutes long.

It was supposed to be at least a half hour, but one word really shut down the entire conversation and ended the meeting abruptly.

The discussion was around coming up with some art to promote a very large section of the website, that had several groups listed within it, that each had their own webpage.

Our goal was to create an image that was going to represent 32 different entities, and invite people to not only visit the page that explains these entities further, but to join one that best fits their discipline.

So, here I am with my boss and the graphic designer on the case. I gave two examples of how we could handle the situation. One would be to highlight each entity with a distinguishing graphic of its own and feature a group each week. The other would be something that I saw where it was a graphic image made of words (all 32 entities) that spell out our call to action “Join this group.”

Yes, I grabbed an example used from “Black Lives Matter” where the phrase was spelled out using the names of the victims in a pattern. I knew this example would have been controversial, but it really was the best visual example of what I wanted to do with all 32 names.

My boss really liked it. We thought this would be a slam dunk.

The graphic designer, basically said no. Actually it wasn’t basically. She said no, period. And was unbothered about it.

My boss tried to sell her on the idea, and the graphic designer said no again.

She wasn’t angry or mean.

She just scrunched up her face a bit and offered that we go back to another previous version of the design for us to present to the client. It was direct, it was simple, and it was clear it wasn’t up for debate.

Then she didn’t even ask if there was anything else, or she’d take our ideas into consideration to come up with a happy medium of what we’d discussed.

She thanked us for our time and bounced.

This instantly reminded me of a line from a new instant classic movie “Dope” where the character Diggy says, “I’m George Bush. I don’t give a fuck what the vote says.”

I was really shocked and amused and confused at what I just witnessed. Did I think her reaction was professional in a collaborative setting?

My boss softly said, “Well, I liked that idea. But she’s the artist.”

It’s a rare moment when I see especially other women, especially women of color (the graphic designer was Asian) just assert themselves and it wasn’t in a confrontational way, but just firmly say no, case closed.

She did it so smooth, in the moment, I couldn’t be pissed.

I feel kind of strange about it.
While I applaud her for a level of unbotherdness I’d never witnessed on the job by a non-white male (she’s only about a month or so in), I do feel as if as a new person, she missed an opportunity to be more collaborative, or even take the ideas given to her and to elevate them.

The reason my boss and I didn’t react in a pissy way, is because one, we were shocked. Two, we didn’t have the time. She said she’d send back the original she was working on and give the client that first. That was her proposal. That would be her action item. That would be her contribution. She was firm, and still pleasant. That’s why I kind of admire her swag, even though I still think she was being a bit rigid. But it made me ask myself why was I so quick to feel like she wasn’t being a team player?

Because I’m a hater. And I wouldn’t have had the guts to do what she did. I would have defaulted to trying to please everyone despite my schedule, or other projects. We’ve romanticized being a team player to the point of emotional paralysis and to the point where true team players get manipulated.

The other flipside to this is, if you are someone who is good at what you do, you know what works and what doesn’t. She also has other projects to juggle, and must prioritize her time. Her quick assessment of what was presented before her led her to a simple answer to our suggestions. No. And as non graphic designers, they were totally suggestions. We are not her supervisor. So was our expectation that she at least put some of these ideas to paper unreasonable? Were we being poor collaborators?

This chick really had me scratching my head.

So I decided to put myself in her shoes. As a professional graphic designer, what we were offering up may have seemed way below her talents and appeared uninspired and trite, but once again, I would have taken that opportunity to elevate what my colleagues offered up which is usually what our lead graphic designer does.

I’ve often said I don’t like my time being wasted. And I’ve complained about non-writers telling me how to write.

This situation revealed to me something very interesting about myself.

Usually, when I say no to something, I have to think of 50 million ways to justify it or explain it to someone. Like, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking of ways to make my no go down a lot smoother, and that I tried my best to accommodate you first before making such a tough decision.

This new graphic designer did not go through such a mental exercise.

Was it appropriate to do so? I’ll let you chew on that, but it did reinforce the concept that’s especially lost on a lot of women that no is an answer, and it’s a full sentence. By itself. No further explanations needed.

I’ll have to try it on for size and see how it works to say the word no, without hesitation, explanation or sugar on top to make it go down sweeter for the listener. In other words, I take an inordinate amount of time being worried about someone’s reaction to me telling them no, that I automatically prepare for pushback.

This was a truly teachable moment for me.

Firmly and politely saying no with no qualms and no excuses, could appear arrogant and may make you seem difficult to work with. But sometimes a well-placed, confident no, can express the value of your time and your level of skill.

I’ll have to learn how to get comfortable with the word no, just as comfortable as I am with saying my own name. No isn’t offensive. No is a choice. No is a person exercising their autonomy. This is why we have difficulty hearing it, this is why we go off on children who say it to us with confidence.

While I believe children do need to be respectful of parents, when kids say no, our inclination is to react to it as an act of defiance and disrespect instead of a child acting as a human being who has likes, dislikes and is expressing discomfort or disagreement with a situation.

We are subconsciously telling our kids that there’s always a negative consequence to telling someone no.But as a woman, and as a person of color, we struggle with asserting our autonomy because when we do, when we are absolutely justified, there is pushback.

Any sign of our defiance can cost us jobs, a professional reputation, and even our lives.

That’s just the reality.

When we are in a store, we don’t have time to analyze it, or when it’s time to go to school or go to bed, those are the nonnegotiables. Children better pretend the word “no” doesn’t exist when it comes to such matters. People of color have to teach our kids to get along and be excessively compliant to authority figures as a matter of safety.

We make jokes and remind them that children don’t pay bills in this house, which is true.But underneath it all, we’re giving them a lesson about power and where they fit in all of that. It kind of disturbs me.

But children are still small people who grow into adults who want to either have their way all the time or be chronic people-pleasers with strained sanity, hanging for dear life to the one last nerve we’ve got left. Where is the healthy middle?

But how do we raise our kids to say no at the right time, so that when they are adults they are confident decision-makers while being good people to work with? How do they stand up for their rights as tax-paying citizens without the system turning on them? How do we teach them the powerful “nos” that help them exit unhealthy relationships and uncomfortable situations?

How do we retrain ourselves as adults to be confident enough to say no when it makes sense and to know when to sacrifice for the good of others?

So what do you think? While people do have a right to say no, and in a lot of cases we don’t say no enough, should we be more willing to compromise especially at work? Or have we been groomed as a society to accommodate first, then say no?

Sasha Obama: An Ode to the Little Sisters With Big Presence

sashaservesface

Sasha is serving face in attendance at her first state dinner. Image: Getty/Pool

Ok, it’s been a looong time since I’ve connected with the lifers. I’m sorry.

My life has been out of control in both positive and negative ways. I’ve been going hard at school, facing a lot of challenges and the stress from it all has messed with my health and caused me to shut it down for at least a day and a half this week.

But we’re going to push all of that aside to talk about someone who I connect with on so many levels it’s not even funny. I was so inspired, I had to come out of semi-blog hiatus to pay proper respect.

Natasha Obama is her government name, but she’s so real, her fam is so real, everyone knows her as Sasha. And you can’t get no more government than living at the White House, but folks ain’t gonna call her Natasha or Tasha. Nope. It’s Sasha, baby. So there’s already something kind of counter going on.

Miss Sasha has had swag since day one, and paved the way for the Riley Curries of the world to hijack the hearts of millions with one well-placed honest look or reaction to their famous dad, or even the public.

sasha early years gettyimages-51913478

Here’s Sasha looking at the camera as if to say, “I been on.” Circa 2005 Senate Swearing in ceremony. Riley Curry is new to this. Sasha Fierce is true to this.

The cool thing about Sasha is she knows yall are watching, and she doesn’t care. Sasha has to be the founding member and president of the Sidwell Friends chapter of the “No Fucks Club.” And I’m here for it.

Obama departs Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha (R), along with two of Sasha’s friends, board Air Force One as they depart Joint Base Andrews in Washington July 17, 2015. President Obama and Sasha are traveling to New York City to meet up with Obama’s other daughter Malia for some father-daughter time. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Here’s the thing though. There’s something magical about being the younger sister to a female sibling.

Me and my sister are 10 years apart. The gap between Sasha and her older and equally fabulous sister Malia isn’t as large, but how Sasha goes about this thing called life felt so familiar.

When you’re a younger sister, you spend time really admiring your older sister, but you aren’t blind to her flaws either. You know the personality traits that might be holding her back, and you’re frustrated about them because you think she’s amazing and while you’re working out who YOU are based on what you see in your mom and your older sister and other women figures in your life, you also become very clear on adapting the things you admire and avoiding the things that you may be critical of her about.

As a younger sister, you are, on some level in a mental competition with your sister and this competition is for you.

If your sister met certain benchmarks in high school, your teachers remind you of this, so you aspire to reach higher and basically break family records, you have a family name to uphold, but you also have to set yourself apart.

My sister was the first in our house hold to go to college. I was the first to go on a scholarship. My sister was an honor roll student, but I was an honor roll student taking advanced placement classes. My sister played basketball and was the captain of the cheerleading team.

I played basketball and volleyball. Cheerleading? Nah, son.

Younger sisters are known for being more outspoken, throwing more shade and generally being the hell-raisers who question parental authority, test and push boundaries and get off on going left when everyone else goes right. And while they may give their older sisters grief, little sisters are fiercely protective of their big sisters and will go to war if anyone messes with them. Little sisters will get ugly, down and dirty when big sisters try to keep the drama to a minimum. And to some extent it’s true.

Speaking of younger sisters getting down and throwing the hands if need be…Another famous younger sister sibling Solange Knowles is a fantastic example of a strong younger sister who can follow the beat of her own drum, have the room to speak her mind, try new things and be spared some of the level of scrutiny her superstar sis Beyonce would face if she took some of the same risks or even actually truly spoke her mind.

Beyonce gives a nod to this point in one of her songs “Flawless.” “My sister taught me I should speak my mind.”

Sometimes bad ass little sisters give older sisters the permission and the safe space to let loose a little, even if it’s between the both of them. And that’s a super power in itself, when older sisters who have characteristics of their own, might feel as if they have to be the more responsible and restrained one, especially in public (knowing their younger sister probably gives no damns at all).

As I see the Obama girls grow into gorgeous, confident, poised young women, as we saw last night in a few photos from their first state dinner, I couldn’t help but seriously see myself in Sasha, even though I don’t have the powerful parents or the bank account.

I saw a young woman who continues to carve out who she is in the shadow of parents and a sibling that basically define black American excellence, who is comfortable.

She’s human. Her face is expressive. You can tell when she’s bored, you can tell when she’s amused and you can see straight joy and animation when she’s got her head cocked back holding court with her friends and cousins. You see glimpses of the strength she gives her older sister from a shared photographed glance.

Sasha-and-Malia-Obama-through-the-years_1_1

UPI.com

Shine on Sasha!! Let’s go little sisters!

 

 

 

 

RSVP for one. Bad-Ass Scardy Cat will go to the Gala.

I said it and I refuse to take it back. 2016 is not only the self-proclaimed year of the unexpected, it’s also the year of the bad-ass scardy cat. AKA, me.
I spent a previous post talking about what that exactly means. It may also extend into my dating life or how I attack it, without letting it attack me.
One of my biggest problems is not knowing what I want, or thinking I don’t know what I want in a relationship.
The problem is I know.
The problem is I kind of don’t believe I can have it.
So while I’m doing the match.com thing, I’m going to jump out on a limb and take a risk.
Every year, Howard alumni are sent a lovely invitation to the annual Charter Day events held each March. There’s always a super swanky gala, that basically costs $350 per plate. And hell, the amazing Debbie Allen is this year’s chairwoman.
Me and my friends have joked, that we’d attend once we’ve “made it.”
This gala attracts many of Howard’s most prestigious alumni, and supporters. It’s a collection of folks you’d be proud to say you share a legacy with.
But in the same breath, its intimidating. IT’S FUCKING INTIMIDATING. I’ve been out of practice going to things like this post my journalism career, so going to this solo is daunting to say the least.
But I keep staring at the invite. It just keeps calling me.
I’m not a baller, shot-caller by any means, but I’m a self-sufficient person who is about to add some expensive-ass letters behind her name this year (from another well-respected Washington, D.C. University) and is in need of connecting to inspiring people again, if only for one night. At any event at Howard, I am reenergized. So, I know this will be worth it.
And yes, I’m going to Rent the Runway so I can shock and awe. I may even visit the brick and mortar Georgetown location to select my ensemble.
Hmm, I guess, I’ve basically said I’m going. I guess, I made the decision now. Ha!
I was going to use this blog post to kind of give myself all the reasons I should go, and I wanted to also discuss a byproduct that I wouldn’t mind happening.
…. Me snagging the man of my dreams. This is some fanciful, storybook, meet cute, starring Sanna Lathan type shit. And just when I thought I’ve been dragged to the most cynical cellars of my soul, I meet a brown unicorn who reminds me how much I like to do what I think I can’t even if I complain or doubt myself along the way. There’s a tiny ray of hope.

It’s freaking dangerous to go to this gala, thinking I’m going to drop my napkin and a chocolate dreamboat decked out in a tux is going to pick it up and we’ll lock eyes and the rest will be black history and we’ll be planning our nuptuals at historic Rankin Chapel on campus, but IT’S MY FANTASY. DEEP DOWN, in the places I want to deny that exist, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. Excuse me now for the rant. I do feel better saying it. More on this later…

I recently participated in an online relationship boot camp of sorts, and this month’s video was about “dating down.” I was practically in tears by the end, because it called out a number of things I’ve already addressed in this blog.
They basically strummed my pain by outlining the following: my need for control, my need to feel emotionally and intellectually superior and how dating down is actually taking the easy road, just to have someone in your life.
After killing me ever so softly (Roberta Flack went to Howard, btw) it made me think.

I had to get back to the basics.
Deep in my heart, I wanted a good, stable, sane Howard man, or a man who went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). This man would be able to totally understand why I love my alma mater so much and celebrate this love with me. I wouldn’t have to give him cliffs notes on my experience. Or what led to my decision, or why I felt everything Ta-Nahesi Coates describes in his epic colorful description of Howard in all it’s ebony-coated excellence in “Between the World and Me.” Even if he went to a rival school, it would be fun to take photos rocking alumni sweatshirts and talking crap to each other on gameday. Even if he disagreed with me about politics and pop culture, he’d understand my perspective.

Howard, much like my father, shaped for me an ideal of the kind of man I wanted and believed I deserved. But somehow over the years, I’ve deviated. I’ve acquiesced to dating and entertaining lesser beings to not give truth to the stereotype of the professional black woman too good to give folks a chance. I tried to temper my expectations, but it still didn’t feel right. I’ve dated men who didn’t attend HBCUs, but they were still missing something… or lacked some level of consciousness that never sat right with me, or they didn’t see themselves in the collective “we” in the black diaspora. And I don’t mean that in a dashiki-wearing, anti-white, afro-wearing, ankh-adorned, shea butter-scented way.

But there’s something about Howard that awakens your consciousness and how you walk in it, how you live it, is entirely up to you and shaped also by your own experience, but above all, it’s informed. It’s multifaceted.

So here it is. It’s the season of finding someone whose light reflects my own.

That’s been the biggest thing I’ve been afraid to ask for out loud, but the missing ingredient that I keep summing up and dumbing down as an intangible, when I reply two oactives higher than usual “I don’t know.”
So at this point, where are those kinds of men? Welp, my guess is they are doing all sorts of things. They are friends of friends. They volunteer. They may be in the clubs, but I’m over that. I will not do that.

However, friends, I’m consciously and to some degree defiantly making a $350 investment in myself (+ the cost of my rent the runway dress), my badassery and my future. Sometimes if you go to places you’ve never gone, you’ll have experiences you’ve never had. In the year of badassery, it’s time to not put a price tag on me living up to my potential. Besides, I’m nosey. I want to see how the other half lives… I do wonder if they’ll let a sister register as a student, using her George Washington id, tho… lol.

So that settles it. I’m good enough to be in the room. I AM GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN THE ROOM.

I deserve to go to the gala because well, I was invited. That should end the argument there.

I’m an alumni. That should also end the argument.

And with a swipe of a credit card, I’ll be in there. And let’s face it, my credit card going through is probably the only thing Howard is thinking about anyway. LOL.

The only person who can say I don’t belong for whatever stupid reason, is me. So I’ll stop. I’ll start looking for a dress. The Golden Globes and Oscar season have me feigning to slay in my lane at  some event. And I’ll go. Bad-ass Scardycats unite!

Bad-Ass Scardy Cat

I keep telling yall. 2016 will be the year of the unexpected. I mentioned in a previous blog, in 2015, I was concentrating on balance. And it served me well. Focusing on balance brought me to a good place and I think prepared me for the coming year.

I’m getting that much closer to finishing my master’s degree (hopefully in December folks!), and I’m getting much better at just saying no to things I can’t get with and taking a time out when things get a little crazy. I’m learning to listen to my inner voice and my body (which is super important as I’m getting older. 34 next month yall… and when 29tolife started, we were talking about the possibilities of what the 30s will bring! Ha!)

At any rate, I’m the kind of person who, I believe exudes a certain self-confidence (that I fight for daily). People in my life and strangers even compliment me on how I carry myself, and how I can motivate other people or make others feel good too. But at the root of it all, like I said, I fight for it. I have to pump myself up, and I’m elated when people tell me that I am beautiful or I did something well. It really helps. I think on twitter, I mentioned being what I call a “bad-ass scardy cat.”

I may try new things or things that scare the hell out of me, or make a life change that scares me, but once I’ve made up my mind, no matter how scared I am I do it. There you go, a bad-ass scardy cat.

Well on Jan 2, 2016, I may have outdone myself.

I got a tattoo. At 33 years old, I was eating breakfast with my cousin and I said I’m doing it today. She asked if I was sure, and with a piece of bacon in my mouth, I said yes. It was clear as a bell.

I knew I wanted a tattoo right then, that day, just as I knew my name. I just knew I had to do it. So after thinking about local places my friends have gone to, looking at the websites and recalling strong reputations for cleanliness, experience, ability and friendliness to newbies, I set out for the tattoo shop.

The place was pretty busy with folks also determined to get tatted or pierced, most folks adding to their collections.

I have to say my tattoo artist Jen, was the PERFECT person to do my tattoo. She was warm, kind, and had a bunch of bad-ass tattoos of her own. She made me feel completely at ease, even though my heart was beating out of my chest as the needle touched my skin for the very first time.

I asked her to please just keep talking to me, as she worked. I couldn’t bear to just let the buzzing hum of the needle and background noise of other conversations suffice.

Keep in mind, this act of badassery was going against everything my religious family believed was proper, especially for a woman. To my family, it probably would have even made more sense for me to do such a thing during college. But to be an established “professional” woman rolling into her mid-thirties, why now?

Now was the perfect time, because I am grown. I have lived enough to get a really good idea of who I am and who I’m not. I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve changed careers slightly, I’m expanding my education, I’ve changed my hair, I’ve lost weight, I’ve visited other countries. Whatever I choose to put on my body at this point wouldn’t be a whim, but a conscious decision.

That choice, was a lovely quill pen. The feather represents truth. The truth sets us free and makes us light as a feather. Birds are free and fly, they have feathers. I love the connection of it all. Whether I work in journalism or not, I’ll always be a writer. That will never change.

My truth will be ever-evolving as I continue to learn things, experience things and grow.

I think when Jen asked me why I wanted a quill, I wasn’t as eloquent as I was just now, but I mentioned being a journalist, the feather representing truth and how I really wanted this particular tattoo for YEARS, but never had the guts to do it.

By not being in a relationship, it was even easier not to be influenced by or wonder whether or not my partner thought it was a good idea or not, sexy or not, etc.

I truly believe the Belize trip was a catalyst for this. Ziplining through the jungle, getting a mud bath and being butt naked and painted and adorned in flowers and having myself photographed, it was liberating. It was an acceptance of myself that I wasn’t familiar with, but it fit. I saw myself in those pictures being adventurous and happy and comfortable with my body and my hair and just living. I loved that. This is me. This is who I am. This is who I’ve been all along.

Was it painful? Well, it wasn’t a massage, but it wasn’t waterboarding either. The best way I can describe it was a deep scratching, that became more sensitive depending on where the needle went. But it wasn’t that bad. Jen was quick and focused, while making me feel comfortable.

I went into journalist mode asking her about what it was like to do her very first tattoo, what was her own personal first tattoo, and if she doodled as a child. She went to college for fine arts, and found that tattoo artistry would be a reasonable and profitable way to make good on that education and how she enjoyed meeting so many different kinds of people. She admitted to giving a side-eye or two for people’s choices, and told me about how celebrities often send people in in droves to have identical ink.

She also mentioned how an audience can make people more dramatic while getting ink, and that women tend to appear to be in more pain if a boyfriend or group of girlfriends are around.

I thanked Jen and walked out with my cousin kind of new.

I felt a bit more edgy, but then I unpacked that confidence later as I proudly rubbed the After Ink ointment on my brand new tat. I kept looking at it and admiring it. It just felt like I was myself. I was always myself, and this was an outward manifestation of just how bad-ass I could really be, according to my own standards and there’s nothing more bad-ass or revolutionary than that.

 

 

Grown Man Confidence

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to see two amazing musicians, known for their persona of sex appeal almost as much as their mind-boggling musicianship and artistry.
I saw Prince two weeks ago, and saw D’Angelo last night.
Seeing these two amazing performers in the same month had to be Kismet, because there were a few things I peeped about them, that made me think about why people are so enamored and attracted to them. It also made me think about how most women are looking for similar elements in men. You don’t have to be a genius musician, but there are some basics that can be applied to anyone, to achieve real sex appeal and that intangible… attraction.
1. Confidence. So everyone says confident people are the ones who win at life. Being in the presence of confident people make us feel more at ease. Confident people seem to be in control and seem like they will be able to handle whatever is thrown at them.
I will say this about confidence. People say, oh, if you don’t have it fake it. But I say that’s putting a band-aid on a gaping hole in your flesh larger than a paper cut. Confidence develops over time, and is grown and cultivated and forged by failure and being embarrassed and bouncing back after being told no. Confidence develops when you do something someone said you couldn’t do, or when your version of good enough drowns out everyone else’s assessment.
2. Doing things you’re good at and pushing yourself to be even better. Nothing builds confidence more than doing things you’re good at. When people watch you do your thing (whatever that is) and you make it look effortless, watch people get drawn to you. They’ll want your opinion, they’ll want your approval. Watching D’Angelo and Prince perform made me want to pick up a guitar and sing. Now I’ve taken guitar lessons and it’s hard freaking work. I’ve played the drums for years, and it took practice not to suck. So people who have developed a level a mastery for what they do aren’t just sexy because of natural talent, they are sexy because they take it to the next level with hard work, dedication and discipline. There’s a certain devotion musicians have to their work, and trying to get better and experimenting with new sounds and being fluent in music and other artists. They are sponges, they have people they look up to, they study certain sounds or riffs over and over, and then they interpret it, weave it into their own sound to make something unique and new, rooted in the old. That’s levels of sexy.

3. Being yourself unapologetically. Prince and D’Angelo have taken some serious fashion risks. Sometimes they don’t come out with an album right away. Sometimes people don’t get their music. Some people may think certain songs are too sexual, or too political. R and B fans may not like the songs with a more rock edge, the rockers may not like the songs that sound more like R and B… but it doesn’t matter. These artists do what feels right to them, they wear what makes them feel good. Does it stand out? They pull it off because of confidence, but being yourself unapologetically and moving past all of the reactions, leads to the sexy confidence.

4. Inside out. Sexy grown men let the sexy radiate from the inside out. There are some men I know now that aren’t as thin or as muscular as they used to be, but a warm smile, an easy laugh, the sweat they build up from fixing something around the house or an auto repair, makes them irresistible. I’ve read articles that after the massive success of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” he struggled with body image and having to keep up that BODY that teased us in the video. Today’s D’Angelo is thicker, healthy looking and still making women swoon. He has a sly grin that seems like he’s about to lead you into some trouble and you are down for the ride. He had so much energy on the stage, there was joy on his face while he was working the crowd and receiving the love from the crowd. The man was in the moment. There have been times when I’ve observed men I love doing simple things, quietly, looking serene and self-satisfied. In those moments, they were sexy, and in those same moments when I catch them, I might offer them a hug or kiss without a word, because I appreciated seeing them in that moment. They’d wonder, “Oh, what’s that for?” and I’d just kiss them or hug them again and walk away.

5. Maturity. One of the greatest gifts of getting older and living is experience and maturity. Mature people can be confident without being arrogant. They can understand the power of confidence and how it may lead to influence, but they don’t abuse it. They don’t have to win every argument, but can firmly and passionately make a point that sticks with you well after the conversation is over. Mature and confident people don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Frankly, they don’t want to and they aren’t going to. Who they are and how they handle business and how they treat people in the face of adversity or in the pit of failure, in their mind, says what needs to be said. As far as they’re concerned you can take them or leave them, and it doesn’t change their life or who they are, they’re going to keep being who they are. I won’t say that nothing phases confident people, but criticisms, or suggestions don’t turn their world upside down, or represent an accurate reflection of who they are. When people know that, they hold on to their power instead of giving it away to every person with an opinion. They gather more strength to say no when they mean no and yes when they mean yes.

Do you know of any other qualities that make a grown man sexy?

Treat Yo Self To Some ‘Good Jewelry’

Every now and then, a woman should walk into a jewelry store– not your favorite accessory spot, but a straight up jewelry store and buy yourself a piece.
We often place the role of special jewelry hunting to significant others.
Sometimes we hint, or tell folks what we want and we hope around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or an anniversary, we’ll get that shiny object of desire.
Well, I’m single.
And for some reason, while I don’t mind getting jewelry from a lover or a loved one (rare occasions) I tend to buy myself a piece of jewelry as a symbol of power and loving myself. It’s a special moment, because I don’t do it often and I’m discriminating about my selection.
Maybe it’s a special moment to me, because I know I like to wear a lot of costume jewelry, so when I’m ready to throw down real cash for a certain piece, it means so much more.
Fairly recently I purchased a new watch.
I’m very picky about watches and it takes me a long time to find just the right one. Nothing that’s too plain, nothing that’s too dainty, but not too thick and masculine either… not gaudy, but classic. Something I’d reach for when I want to make a statement about my style without saying a word.
I had worn a silver Guess watch for probably the last 12 years. It had been with me through the ups and downs and there was even one moment I was heartbroken when I thought I lost it in Chicago. Thankfully my boyfriend at the time found it. I was so relieved. Sure, I could have had another watch, but it was so much a part of my daily life, it was like me putting on my glasses every day. For the last couple of years, I’d been saying I need a new watch or at least a different watch if I’m not wearing silver jewelry.
So in my mind, I decided I would upgrade from Guess and make sure I chose either a black watch or one that was rose gold.
I always buy my good jewelry during random moments. That old Guess watch I purchased as a student from Lord and Taylor. I felt fancy just buying it.
My new watch, I bought from Macy’s and they were actually having a great sale on all of their watches, it was too good to be true. And after trying on a black one and a rose gold one, I found it and I’ve been loving it.
Interestingly enough, I’ve only been breaking out the rose gold for special occasions. I continue to wear my Guess watch to work. We should have special items for special times that make us feel like we shine.
Today, I bought a lovely ring. Once again it was a random situation, and ironically enough in another store, my dear friend asked me how I choose my accessories.
“They speak to me. And then I can see in my mind how they look with certain outfits I have at home. The thing is all of this stuff will be speaking to you. Some even screaming (those you leave alone, they are probably ugly and gaudy) So you have to just relax and go with what gravitates to you.”
Welp, we made our way to an official jewelry store and that’s just what happened. I was drawn to a rose gold ring with a white sapphire stone because it looked like an antique, it looked timeless and it was on sale for a great price. Shortly after my engagement ended I bought a little sterling silver ring with black stones and I can’t wear it anymore it’s too small. So I decided, I needed an even better ring that just would suit me and my style. And there she was. My goal of being in the store was actually for my friend, but I kept coming back to it. There were other rings, but that one seemed to be the one. It spoke to me.
I like those moments when I decide to treat myself with these kinds of trinkets. I’ve only done it one other time, when I bought my silver pearls and a silver cuff and recently I’ve gotten on the Pandora bandwagon. Those charms suck you in. But it’s a nice reminder to treat yourself, to love yourself and that it’s okay to acknowledge your own beauty and fabulousness through nicer jewelry from time to time.

I always tend to buy myself nice jewelry to commemorate a new phase in my life, the end of a relationship to remind me that I’m important, the beginning of a new career. And today, I think I bought the ring because I’m ready to commit myself to a new start, I’m in a good place and I’m blessed. I can support my friends with a full heart as they embark on new relationships and not think about where I may lack in love. I wasn’t always there, and that deserves a treat!!!
S

A New List of Things You Need To Know As A Woman In Your 30s

I feel like I make this list like once a year. Normally, I’m inspired by a conversation I’ve had or an experience.

I’m just avoiding studying. But please add these things you need to know as a woman in your 30s. I may repeat some I’ve said before.

1. If you like it buy it in every color.

I was in NY and Company the other day and I found pants and tops that fit well, and I straight up bought multiples. You’ll see how important this is. You need ONLY things in your closet that make you feel good about yourself and like you are the finest person walking the earth. Facts.

2. Own at least one freakum dress. It doesn’t have to be scandalous if scandalous is not your thing, but going back to number one, it needs to fit and flatter your body and your favorite assets and make you feel sexy when you wear it.

3. Embrace your shape, understand it and find things that work with it.

Sometimes this means you can’t go with the crowd. Or the latest trends. If there’s something that looks awesome on you, stick to it and don’t let go, you will be timeless and polished.

4. Accessorize. I’ve always noticed that older women had tons of jewelry, real, costume, hats, scarves, brooches. They adorn themselves. Lately, I’ve noticed the power of adding a statement necklace to a simple outfit and it takes my ensemble to another more mature and unique level. It helps bring out my personality so I can stand out from the crowd. And shopping for accessories is just fun.

5. Never underestimate the power of the T. Whether you get cheap tees or more expensive ones, plain black or white tees make you look like you woke up like dis. Keep it simple, rock it with a blazer for work, and amp it up with a great necklace and boom. You look all effortless.

6. Keep mints, lip gloss, tampons and at least $20 in your purse at all times. The last part is most difficult for me as I’m always reaching for plastic. But the times that I actually do carry cash, it just feels like a safety net juuuuust in case!

7. Read stuff.

Read anything, read the newspaper, read the magazines, read books, join a book club. Grown women are informed and keep growing and have interesting things to talk about and an opinion. Books are easy ways to develop opinions and provide good party chatter.

8. Vitamins.

I had to learn about this one the hard way, but for real for real, B complex has changed my life this week. I can press on just a little bit further thanks to these energy boosting vitamins recommended by my doctor.

9. High/Low As a grown woman, you have every right to indulge in an expensive handbag, pair of shoes, suit or fantastic coat or pair of jeans. So for big items that you’ll use forever, I say go for it if you can afford to or save for it and then buy your cheaper items to go with them. When you’re grown, you want to stay polished. That’s the goal.

10. Have a signature drink you like to order, signature fragrance, and signature dish you can cook and cook well EVERY time. It just makes you feel good about yourself.

11. Take dance breaks. Throw on your favorite jam and just dance.

12. If you are wrong, beat folks to the punch and own up to it.

13. If you know you are wrong before you do something and you’ve made the decision to do it anyway, then George Bush that shit. Don’t hide. Bask in your wrongness and if anyone has something to say about it, say you did it for America and keep it pushing.

14. Truth over everything. When you know better you do better.

15. Try something new. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, fail, or look silly. Just try. Trying shouldn’t be for kids or folks screwing up in their 20s. As long as you are breathing you better find the sweetness of life and the feeling of accomplishment when you do something you’ve never done.

16. Travel. That’s it.

17. Be cool with going out alone. Start with the movies or a play. Something that doesn’t require anything but your attention and everyone shutting up. Then elevate and take yourself to dinner, but don’t get a table for one… have dinner at the bar. You’ll meet interesting people and bartenders like to give you free drinks or discounts for bringing more boys to the yard who’ll pay full price.

18. Be kind, be giving, be gracious.

20. Smile at yourself, laugh at yourself out loud when you do ridiculous things or look silly or fall down. Like, there are times I got so into it, I couldn’t stop laughing and that felt good. I’m serious though take a moment to smile at yourself in the mirror at work in the bathroom. Don’t give yourself a fake smile either, smile at yourself like yo, I like you. You’re cool people. And after you say that, if you’re me, you’ll start laughing at yourself for even saying something like that. But to see yourself naturally smile at yourself or laugh at yourself, it’s kind of nice.

21. When you have a tingle to check on someone or just ask them, how are you today? Or are you alright? DO IT! IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Even if you text some one and say “I’m thinking of you.” Or tell them something you like about them, it makes all the difference in the world.

22. Say you’re not ok, when you’re not ok. Some folks ain’t gonna know how to react to this. Expect their inability to react because they are used to folks lying, so this is going to throw them off. Tell them it’s ok that you know they have absolutely nothing perfect to say to fix it, but you are just satisfied with them caring.

23. Ask for help. If you don’t know, ask for help and be bold about it. I don’t know, I don’t understand, but I’m smart at other things, so my ego isn’t bruised. Help me so I can be good at this too. Most people will appreciate that you kept it so real and be very eager to help you understand. This is truth.

24. Be proactive. If you see things about to take a twist or a turn and you know you can prevent it or lessen the blow, then do so.

25. This is linked with 24. DON’T WAIT ON NOBODY ELSE TO FILL IN THE BLANK. If there’s something you want to do and folks keep making excuses or blowing it off go back to number 17. If you need courage go back to number 20 and remember number 15.

26. You are in charge of your narrative. Don’t let anyone else write it or define it. You do that. You represent you. If folks have it wrong, you have every right to correct their uninformed asses.

27. Stop cussin. LOL. Only do so for emphasis and impact to let fools know you ain’t playing and that this is not a drill.

28. If you did it right, the walk of shame is a strut of satisfaction.

29. If you really regretted it and didn’t have a child from the situation, you can subtract that bad situation from your “number” I’ll allow it.. like twice. But don’t get carried away.

30. If you are a woman in your 30s, you already know that you’ve never felt this alright with yourself and secretly looking forward to how bad ass you’ll be at 40.

How do you get to the breakthrough?

My eyes are about to fall out of my head.

I can’t do much more of this homework for tomorrow.

But I really needed to blog.

I met with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and she congratulated me on my new job and all of that fabulous good stuff.

Oh yeah. I finished my first module of grad school with one A-, B and a B+. I think that’s darn good for full-time employment and not being in school for ten years! Patting myself on the back.

But getting back to the point. The friend sighed and said, “What did you do to get to the breakthrough?”

Her question totally threw me off.

While great things are happening to me right now, I still feel overwhelmed a lot of times, nervous and anxious that I don’t want to screw it all up or disappoint myself or not excel to the point where I come short of the blessing of it all. So I’m busting my hump, and I’m not doing a whole lot of sleeping and I’m waking up early.

But her question also gave me great perspective on what I put out there.

I’ve been vocal that my life ain’t been no crystal stair, but it hasn’t been just some long, difficult traumatic experience. I’ve never been abused, I’ve never really gone without and I know successful people who have been in those situations. And they blow me away.

So I sat and thought about it. And I gave her this list.

I made a conscious decision after not getting another really awesome job that fine, God if I’m supposed to stay at my job, you have a reason why I’m supposed to stay here and I accepted that.

Now that did not mean I thought I didn’t deserve better or I should just stay there forever. But I decided to pick out the 16 things that I was thankful for and decided there were advantages to being where I was at the time.

Which led to the decision to get a master’s degree.

Which led to getting the information and having really aggressive admissions officers strong-arm me into taking the GRE and making admission deadlines.

Before I knew it, I was putting my energy into something real instead of coming home every day and vegging out. Man, I miss free time!! I have a deeper appreciation even for my Target runs or times I can go out with my friends.

So once I accepted my situation and started being conscious about telling God thank you, it opened me up to do new things.

Then at work, new opportunities happened where I could try new things and impress folks and that was awesome. It boosted my confidence. I got a chance to lead and I decided to use those opportunities as practice for whenever the next phase of my fabulous life was going to begin and require that level of confidence and aptitude.

Giving up online dating and stressing over finding a man, and even giving into urges to have meaningless flings and being honest with myself that I deserved more and deserved and really desired intimacy, it was easier to ignore the late night “are you up?” texts from men I normally couldn’t resist.

Sometimes you got to give some stuff up.

I was praying more.

But not those formal prayers with all the extras. I started talking to God like anyone else and I was talking to him when I studied, when I was driving to and from work and saying what was really on my mind. What I was afraid of, how grateful I was for everything I had, opportunities, comforts. I told Him about things that upset me, things I didn’t think were very fair or people who pissed me off. I was getting way more real.

I was working on being more transparent, getting more comfortable with who I am and giving myself more credit.

I was constantly writing down things goals, dreams. I daydreamed again about things I’m interested in, the things that make me happy and things I’m passionate about and I wanted to place myself in close proximity to those things. I wanted to keep my thoughts on those things.

I shared with people how much I valued and appreciated them. I agree that an attitude of gratitude can change things. Opening yourself up to people, finding ways to help other people and do nice things for people just from your heart can do wonders.

Appreciating the small things and being happy for other people when good things happen to them and being that way for real. Not in a phony way.

There’s no one way to have the “breakthrough.” You have to break through and that requires work. It requires a bit of risk-taking and stepping out to really examine what’s in your heart, what’s important to you, what your values are and what you believe in and doing things that bring you closer to that. It seems like the rest follows from there.

Being grateful for what you have right now and realizing that you’ve already got a lot and have what you need puts things into perspective. If you are never satisfied, you will never be satisfied. There’s nothing wrong with setting new goals and wanting more, but you should take time to take inventory of what’s good right now and how far you’ve come.

Another friend this week mentioned that I tend to have a positive outlook on life. Once again, it threw me off, because I know the times I felt like I was swirling around the toilet of life. But I take it all as a compliment and a blessing and if people can see a positive light in me, I’m blessed.

The original friend who asked me about the breakthrough, I asked her about what she was passionate about and I encouraged her to pick up the phone and volunteer for an organization that supports what she loves. She may not be getting paid for it now, but an opportunity could come later. We all got to pay bills and that’s real, but I keep learning when there’s something burning in your heart, if you take a step in that direction and do some of the inconvenient, uncomfortable work, you will get to where you want to be.

Breakthrough.

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