29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the category “Taking Care of Yourself”

Vision Boards May Be A Window to the Subconscious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I take away from this?

Do I want to be married? Ever?

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

Do I want kids? Ever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

32 to life??? Coming Soon… Real Soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

The good, the bad and the ugly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

A Person’s Definition About Success Says Soooo Much

I’m obsessed with a song called, “Happy” by Pharell. It’s off of the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack.

I heard it and saw the video for the very first time over at my parents on Thanksgiving. I instantly fell in love with it. Like you listen, and it does make you happy. You want to dance. And Pharell sounds really good!

It’s crazy, because I’ve been in conversations with people lately about success and some people’s answers disturbed me.

One guy asked me what I thought success was. He said, “What, you want a big house in Bowie, don’t you?”

Gag.

I told him, big house or small house, I want it to be a place that feels warm and feels like love and feels like home.

I’ve known people with too much house and just delinquent and deficient in love.

I’ve known people with studio apartments that were filled with joy.

When I was a kid, my little mind told me success was being rich and famous.

When I was a teenager, success was getting good grades, getting into college, passing my driver’s test and straight up independence and having my own pocket change.

I got to college, and the hill got steeper. Success was completing my degree and then gulp, actually getting a job in the field I spent the last four years studying.

After college, it was getting the job and working my way up. Where up was, it was supposed to be a large newspaper or magazine, where I became the editor, and had a nice office and being able to walk into a room and people be impressed by me.

I’m 31. I became a reporter, I became an editor. I live independently and I’ve got a list of things to complain about, but at the same time I know I’m blessed. I recognize it every day. But the biggest thing I learned this year is that dreams change, definitions of success change and that what? It’s actually ok. You didn’t abandon who you are, instead you are listening and listening more carefully.

I think there’s a big difference in people who haven’t found themselves and switch jobs every six months. You have to be grown and responsible. But if you take certain other risks, and you were a doctor for 10 years and decide you want to fly planes or build furniture, and you’d been taking lessons for a while and loved how you felt in the air, and long for that feeling when you see your patients or on weekends people admired a table you build, then why the hell not? The seeds had been planted. This may in fact, be who you are.

I’ve seen my friends and my family and other folks go through a number of life changes. Some folks got married, got divorced, had babies, lost loved ones, buy homes, launch businesses, go back to school and change ish up completely. I’ve seen people leave behind “dream jobs” to find peace of mind. I’ve seen people up and leave the country to seek themselves and new adventures.

I’ve seen friends on Facebook who I’ve gone to high school with defend being stay-at-home mothers and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.

I’ve seen friends on Facebook climb the ladder, gaining big promotions and going on lavish trips.

Who is the most successful of the two?

If both are happy with their lives as they are, right now, then both of them are. No contest.

We cannot define or dictate success to anyone else but ourselves.

There are a few people me and my friends joke about and sometimes say not so nice things about in terms of their life choices and where they are today. And one day, I asked a friend if the person we dogged so much was actually more free than any of us. My friend thought I was joking, but I wasn’t.

We considered him a loser for a number of reasons, and he kind of is. But if he is genuinely happy with his life, by my definition, he may very well be successful. It’s not up to me.

The older I get, the more I hate folks who aren’t genuine, and who are stuck on appearances and material things. You’ve read the blog. I love clothes and I swear before the good Lord, if I managed to increase my earnings, I would shop at high-end stores. I just would.

But at the same time, over and over, I’ve heard from friends who “seemed” to have it all complain over and over, that those bags and shoes and houses weren’t all they were cracked up to be, or they were still unhappy because they weren’t in a relationship, or they didn’t have kids, or someone they know on Facebook appears to be doing better than them.

If you are lucky, you can learn how to think for yourself. It’s not always easy. And maybe my risk-taking, bleeding heart, creative friends, and not growing up rich, but with a lot of love, makes it a bit easier to see the world this way.

Lately, I’ve had a really big desire to live my life fully, beyond the illusion, to seek beauty and wisdom and knowledge. I don’t want to be trapped in my thinking, or in my living. We have this huge gift of life and just one and the ability to love and feel and be.

There are moments I just want to be a hippie making music and art and love and to not worry about anything else. I want to sit in a cabin and drink tea and write or design tee shirts.

Then there are moments I want to be an academic, speaking and giving lectures. I want to pour over documents and find connections and be a part of some major think tank and lead thought to societal problems.

There are times I want to cook, and let the sweet smells fill my house and fill people’s bellies. I want to set beautiful tables and burn sweet smelling oils and drink from beautiful wine glasses with the people I love, well-dressed, healthy and happy.

There are times I want to be someplace beautiful on the other side of the world and be amazed by its wonder and let my mind wander. I want to be in crystal blue water, floating on my back and letting the sun warm my face and just look up at the sky.

The idealist in me is mad there is racism, and classism, and that smart, poor people may not ever get a chance to rise from their circumstances.

The older I get, and the more I think I’ve changed, the more I realize all of these things, these moments where I want to be those various things, that’s all me. It’s all of me. And I don’t have to be just one of them. And I can’t be. I’ll never be.

I told someone success is living the way you want to live with peace of mind despite outside forces. Success is understanding your power and beauty and what it is you bring to the world and having the humility to know you are such a tiny piece of the puzzle, but still essential to it.

When you know all of those things and you understand it, that’s huge.

When the stay at home mom says she has the most important job on the planet, I can’t knock it if that’s what she knows to be true in her heart. Same thing for a cop, the president, a baker, a butcher, candle stick maker, crossing guard, or teacher or grave digger or janitor or the CEO of Walmart (well that’s controversial) but still. Honestly, I want most of the people doing any job to all feel like it is important and bring pride to it.

Success is being able to sleep at night, knowing you did everything you could that day. Me and my boy talked once about what we would want people to say about us when we died. I hate the thought of dying. It scares me. It really does. But I did say this.

I want people to say that I was real, that I was genuine and that when I loved people, I meant it and I told them so and I showed them. I want people to say that I was funny and silly and gave what I could, whenever I could. I want people to say I was creative and loved creativity and being inspired by art and music and that to me nothing is greater than creative expression except God, who is the ultimate creator. He made the creative process so powerful on purpose, I believe to give us a glimpse on a micro-ist of micro levels to see what it’s like to be like Him. Watch any great singer or dancer or artist work. You can’t tell me it isn’t spiritual the place they go, the way they give themselves up. I want people to say I was appreciative and grateful, and gracious, and classy, and kind of mischevious, but I still had high expectations. I want people to say I believed in thinking and growing and learning and education and access and exposure.

Weird way to end. But that’s how I felt. Thanks for sticking till the end.

On VACATION and Keeping It Simple

Simplicity. Simplicity.

I’ve been trying to apply this to my upcoming trip to Curacao TOMORROW!!! Yes, yes, yall.

Your girl is finally taking a relaxing 5-day getaway and I haven’t had a trip like this since 2008. So this is nuts.

Anyway, I was packing last night, determined to get everything into just one carry-on bag and one large tote.

I’ll admit it, when my friend said, “You’re only taking a carry-on? It’s an international flight we don’t get charged extra.”

I told her after being the long distance queen, I used to be able to pack a carry on like a pro and I don’t want to be bogged down with luggage. It felt cumbersome when I went to New Orleans with two bags and I was angry standing in long lines to have my bag checked and nearly missing my flight with the mass exodus leaving New Orleans after EssenceFest that Monday morning. Also, I hate standing around staring at bags circling the carousel that look just like mine and knowing it’s not mine yet and jockeying for position to grab it as quickly as possible.

Nope. I want to keep this trip simple. So much so, I added my own cornrow extensions last night. They don’t look professional, but they aren’t completely terrible. I can live with it. But I don’t have to do my hair or bring extra products to tame it.

Simple.

Simplicity. The first day of my trip I have no choice. I’m poor. My paycheck doesn’t arrive into my account until Friday so I got to make a little bit of money last.

I realized instead of lugging my awesome Coach tote that I love and live by, I would take a much larger, pink recyclable tote I got from the National Book Fair last year and carry a bunch of crap and not worry about it getting lost or stolen or sand in it.

Simple.

I’m still bringing five swimsuits. (In case I feel really fat and bloated) Oh well.

I picked up a cool pad of sheets that say “I tried It.” I think it’s a good idea to bring it along and just jot down new things I attempt to try during my trip and will encourage my travelmates to do the same. I think it will be fun. On the sheets of paper, it even has a space to check off and talk about how you felt after you tried that new thing and whether or not you’ll do it again.

I’m strongly considering trying snorkeling.

There’s this weird-looking local slimy dish, that I probably should try, but eh. I’m not so sure about that.

Either way, I’ve decided one bag. I’m keeping it simple. I should have everything I could possibly need in one bag and I’m not going to make myself nuts about shoes and bulky things like that. I don’t want to spend my time trying to decide what to wear. I want to spend time on the beach, in or by the pool, exploring the island and trying new things.

I’m beyond excited! It’s going to be an adventure!!! Can’t wait to tell you all about it upon my return. In fact, I picked up a small journal so I can jot down and share my thoughts. Super happy!!

 

 

 

 

 

So Blessed

“Woke up this morning feeling fresh to death, I’m so blessed, yes, yes.” -Jill Scott

I’m in a really good mood today. The sun is shining, I have on what I call my Michelle Obama blue dress, that reminds me of something vintage. My hair is curly and shiny (a little upset about the shrinkage, but oh well). I’m wearing my favorite heels.

My car runs, I’ve paid all my bills for the month with a little left over. I have a job to go to. A job I’ve been at for 7 years. I’ve been able to grow and learn and work with really great people. I can work from home once a week. People trust my judgement and they know I’m smart. That’s a huge blessing. Even somedays when I feel ungrateful, I still know I’m in a position that many wish they had.

I’m going to lunch with one of my favorite co-workers today for Restaurant Week.

I found swimsuits on sale at Macy’s that allow me to feel good about my body while on my trip to Curacao in a few weeks.

A pair of shorts I really wanted finally went on sale. It was the only pair left, in my size and I got to use a $10 off coupon to reduce the price even more.

Oh, and I’m going to Curacao. I’ve never been there. I’ve been watching videos and pinning photos from pinterest. My excitement is increasing. I haven’t gone on a vacation like that since, hmmm 2008, I think. Cabo San Lucas. I’m thrilled. And like before, my homegirl had to push and peer pressure and I finally took the days off and made arrangements to go.

I feel so good today.

I have an apartment that reflects how ecclectic I am and it’s homey and comfortable and filled with things I enjoy.

I’m becoming a better cook everyday. I can feel it. I just made some simple drumsticks last night and it made me super happy. Old Bay on baked chicken is my new secret weapon!

I’m blessed.

I have wonderful friends and family and people who love and support me. My friends and my family are loving people, they are smart and even when I’m feeling jerky, or distant, they still reach out to me they still care and I know they do. They make me smile and they make me laugh.

I’m proud of them when they accomplish something that’s important to them and I rejoice with them. I’m glad when they try something new and escape their comfort zone.

I want to find a great book to read, that tends to make me happy and make me feel smarter.

When I was pumping my gas, I thought to myself about an article that said women will be their most prettiest and sexiest in their 30s. 31, to be exact. Ding, ding, ding.   I thought, wow, I’m not going to be this physically awesome with such great skin and hair and strength, so enjoy this girl! And I held my head higher. I totally felt better. It almost seems fitting I’ll be celebrating a dear friend’s 31st birthday with her in gorgeous Curacao. I’ve been 31 for several months now, but what a great year, to go on such a great trip.

So when I shared with un-Common this morning how wonderful I felt, he told me to make the day count. And I will.

I encourage you all today to just count your blessings one by one, even if it’s being able to have a cup of green tea in the peace and quiet of your home when you got up this morning.  Sit with those blessings for a minute and think about how fortunate you are. It will be an instant pick-me-up! I am simply blessed even by you visiting my blog. Thank you!

Jill Scott “So Blessed”

SBW Seeking Balance

I’ve had a lot on my mind, especially relationships.

I’ve been reading books, talking to friends and loved ones.

And then one of the things I ended up saying to someone stuck with me and it also goes back to some things I heard at Essence Fest during Iyanla Van Zandt’s session.

Being in order. Having balance.

So this week, I have been praying for and meditating on balance.

From my own mouth, I told someone that black women have a serious issue with balance. We go hard with everything, every decision, every issue can be dramatic and life and death and just huge and cumbersome, if you let us tell it.

So where’s the balance?

I had to step back and think about that.

Where is the balance in my own life?

I’ve been bouncing from one extreme to the next, bouncing from large goal or dream to another. Or, getting over one hardship or heart-break, only to barely have strength for the next. But there’s no room for real rest, or regrouping.

I feel like we’ve been conditioned this way. We’ve seen our mothers and grandmothers work and toil and give to family, and hell, take care of other people’s families and homes, in addition to community or church, but we struggle with letting other folks handle things because we want them done right, our way and in the time frame we had in our mind. Our mothers may or may not have complained out loud, their sacrifices were admirable. But weren’t they raging inside?

I don’t have nearly half the familial responsibilities that they do, but on the flip side, I probably have more economic responsiblity, but regardless, the same attitude is there.

We are tired and hurting and feeling unheard and not taken care of.

In this season of singledom, where I’m determined to at least learn some more about myself, even though people have said it before, I didn’t listen. I am impatient and I do want to be in control of EVERYTHING.

I think being impatient and wanting to be in control of everything is a dangerous mix. I’ve always seemed to have a clear-cut vision of how I want things to be and how I want things to look.

This kind of attentiveness is an excellent trait for planning a party or leading projects at work, but in the area of love, it’s so much more difficult. And for me, the folks I’m interested in or who I want to be interested in me, they NEVER follow my script.

At all.

It’s hard to surrender your control to others.  You know that when things are on you, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. You are involved in all the steps of making it happen, and even if something unexpected is thrown your way, you are in control of switching gears and finding the solution.

Surrendering control requires trusting others. Trusting people means you agree that they’ve got it. That you have the understanding that they may not do it the way you do it, but you have faith they will produce the result that THEY say THEY will produce. Not necessarily YOUR vision.

So while I’m upset my volunteer weekend coming up in August was canceled, I’ve decided to fill those days with activities to reenergize and regroup according to me.

I’m going to fix meals for a men’s homeless shelter, get a massage and throw together a book club party with some women I adore to tie it all in a neat bow. Some time by the pool and generally doing things that please me will be on the schedule.

So that’s what I want. Some balance. Instead of feeling like the world is always on my shoulders and that there’s pressure coming from every angle and this feeling of “what next?” always haunting me personally and professionally. I’m spending four days to opt out, to serve others, to love on myself and my friends and see what happens next.

 

 

“Black Don’t Crack, But You Should Start Early, For Only $500…”

I knew I was in trouble when the siren call of the mall was completely drowning out that of the gym during the later hours of work yesterday.

So I listened. After all, the day after tomorrow, I will be in the fabulous city of New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival.

This will be the third time I’m going. I went for the first time in 2005, and then again in 2008.

Let me break this down for you. The Essence Music Festival is always held fourth of July weekend and draws hundreds of thousands of primarily black women from all over.

This straight up is black woman/girlfriends/exhale weekend. It’s a spring break for black chicks with wall-to-wall concerts with the most amazing R&B, neo-soul, jazz and gospel artists on the planet. Beyoncé is headlining. That alone is a reason to go, but I’m foaming at the mouth to see the following artists:

Friday, July 5: Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Brandy will take the mainstage. While Blackstreet, Anthony David, Les Nubians, Emeli Sande, Maya Azucena, Simphiwe Dana, Mali Music, Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs will perform in the superlounges.

Saturday, July 6: New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and Solange will grace the mainstage. Faith Evans, Bridget Kelly, Big Daddy Kane, F. Stokes, PJ Morton, Jody Watley, Leela James and Avery*Sunshine will rock the superlounges.

Sunday, July 7: Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank) will storm the mainstage while Rachelle Ferrell, Mia Borders, Mint Condition, Luke James, Daley, Tamia, Kourtney Heart, Greta Prince and Alice Smith perform in the superlounges.

http://www.essence.com/2013/04/04/2013-essence-festival-night-night-concert-schedule-revealed/

Let’s also keep in mind that every year I’ve gone, I’ve gone with dear friends that I really love. We’ve enjoyed the amazing food that only New Orleans can offer (including Brothers chicken, the most amazing chicken you can buy in a convenience store 24 hours for like $3 for a three-piece), the drinks (I will have a hurricane or a hand grenade or both at nearly all times) and just the fun and revelry of being in such a sexy, awesome, historic city.

This year is the first year I won’t be with one of my most fabulous travel partners. I’m going to miss her. Instead, I’m accompanied by some EMF virgins- my college roommate, and two older cousins. These ladies are a lot of fun, so I’m sure they will bring an interesting vibe to all of the festivities.

This will also be the first year I actually spring for nicer seats at the concerts, so it’s going to be cool to enjoy that perk. I had loads of fun in the nosebleeds getting plastered and making friends with the bartender, but it’s nice to take it up a notch in that department.

Because there are droves and droves of women, men make it their business to come and take advantage of women loosening up because they are on vacation and in New Orleans, fueled by liquor and the atmosphere.

I won’t lie. I’ve packed short, shorts, revealing tops and a freakum dress or two. I’m ready to get loose. I’ve got cute flats, breezy summer dresses (truth be told I’ve been shopping for this trip since March.)

But the initial inspiration for today’s post comes from my visit to the mall. A sweet charismatic young lady got me to walk over to her kiosk for high-end, paraben free, mineral make up.

Her presentation was impressive. I did enjoy how the eyeshadow could transform to a lip gloss with just a little bit of water. I was most impressed with the foundation.

I won’t lie. I hate make up and I want things to be as simple as possible. If someone can help me find a foundation, that’s half the battle and that’s why I let her do her thing, and that’s why I forked over the ridiculous amount of money for it. It was light and it did make my skin look great and naturally glowy.

But what killed me was her partner who was giving me a facial with all of this stuff that’s supposed to tighten my face and fight aging. He went on and on about botox and how even at the tender age of 31, the key is to start with all these creams and gels.

“You look great, you look beautiful. But everyone thinks in 20s and 30s they don’t have to start with the creams. In 40s and 50s, you are already too late. You must start now. Black don’t crack right? But you should start early. For $500 I will give you…”

And he starts stacking boxes of so many products, I just couldn’t take it and I knew for damn sure I wasn’t going to spend $500 on any of that mess. I’d buy a new bag or some damn Jimmy Choos before I spend that on those kinds of products. Beauty products are not my drug of choice. They just aren’t.

The women in my family age beautifully. My late aunt was a faithful Oil of Olay user. So I’ma stick to that and my occasional bentonite clay mask.

He can go somewhere with all of that.

AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT, SIR!

So I would like to share a few tips for the newbies.

You need flats. Or wedges you know you are comfy walking or standing in (standing particularly if you hang in the superlounges). Most people walk to the Superdome every night because the weather is awesome, the people watching is great and most people want to burn off the calories from all of the amazing food. Now for the more practical reason. Traffic near and around the Superdome is stupid. You’ll just be sitting in your cab. You’ll get there faster if you walk. If your hotel is in a mile radius, hoof it.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I know, you are going to be taking down those hurricanes and hand grenades, but seriously, get you some water, you are going to need it.

Sundresses are the way to go. It’s a music festival, they are cute and sexy and women of all sizes usually look pretty nice in them. You feel better when you catch a breeze. Trying to teeter around in heels or things that are too tight, you are going to end up looking silly as the night goes on, unless you have VIP tickets. Keep it simple.

Buddy system. Ladies, you are grown, but seriously stick with at least one other person in your party at all times. It’s easy to get lost. Put your section number in your phone and text it to yourself. One of my homies came up with the brilliant idea of texting the address and room number of our hotel to herself. I’d suggest that too. The street names can be hard to pronounce anyway and when you are stumbling in with the sun in the a.m. remembering your room number is harder than it looks.

Keep your cell phone charged. For some reason, I remember my service being spotty in the Superdome. But who needs a phone? It’s too loud to talk. Just use it for selfies and cute pics with the homies.

Safe sex. That’s a no-brainer. Let’s keep it real. People relax their standards during these kinds of trips. Wrap it up. No exceptions.

It’s always a good idea to have blotting papers and hand sanitizer. The heat and the nastiness of Burbon street will get all up on ya. It’s nice to be able to freshen up a little.

No large bags. You do not want to be fumbling with a huge handbag. Get yourself a cute, small cross body or a wristlet with just enough room your id, cash, cards, room key, phone, lip gloss and blotting papers and hand sanitizer.

Carry a little cash. The restaurants are packed. If you and your party pay in cash you can get the hell out a lot faster. Also if you pay in cash, you may be able to haggle with the fantastic street vendors for art and various things. Now, I’ve never managed to make it to the convention center, but this year, I plan to check out the day time events over there. It should be pretty cool. So I don’t have tips for that.

Oh yes! The superdome is freezing. A cute cardi is a must.

So if you’re going, have a fantastic and safe time! It’s going to be amazing!!!

xoxox

 

 

Dating Has Become My Second Job

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling like crap.

I spent a greater part of the previous night chatting with a guy on the phone into the wee hours. You’d think it was awesome until my high came down.

I was achy, tired. Grumpy. Work dragged on and I was edgy. Didn’t want to be bothered with anyone. Finished a project and left early to get some chicken pho (my go to cure-all for everything) and some sleep.

Talked to the same guy again for a while, while languishing on my couch last night, but it was almost like the club effect. Turn on the lights and you don’t see the same person you thought you were dancing with. You see a slovenly drunken, ugga bugga.

Beer goggles. Ciroc shades.

The really funny, easy guy I was talking to the previous night turned into a judgemental, Uncle Ruckus, who has an issue with my hair all of a sudden. I decided I didn’t care about his opinion because he is an unexposed, non-cultured person. And I’m not even being jerky about it. This guy really hasn’t been exposed and I don’t think he cares to expand his world view at all.

Black people who go on ad nauseam about how they hate large groups of black people or neighborhoods with too many black people irritate me. He actually said he feels better when he sees more white people. This guy is from the South and I can’t decide to call him Uncle Ruckus (A black self-hating, black people hating character on The Boondocks cartoon series) which I did to his face or Jim Crow.

He went on and on about how black people just want to eat fried food all the time with hot sauce and are unhealthy. Have you looked at the entire country? Poor eating habits are rampant across color lines. GTFOH. Negro, you probably have too many people in your family with diabetes and high blood pressure! Earlier he asked me to send another photo of myself and asked me, if I had just gotten out of bed, because my hair looked messed up.

Clearly, I was wearing full make up. I felt insulted. I’ve been getting a lot of reactions to my hair. Some men think it’s pretty awesome, which makes me very happy. Some just don’t really mention it, or they may ask me when I decided to go natural and why and when I explain my reasons, they tend to leave it alone.

My hair was styled in a similar way to how I had it styled in my profile pics. I told him “um, yes, it’s styled. I have natural hair.”

“Well do you wear it straight?”

“I can wear it straight, but it doesn’t last for very long, especially in warm weather. I’m getting braids next week because I don’t want to fuss with it on vacation.”

“Oh.”

I’m thinking the whole time, “Seriously, Negro? Seriously?”

Then when he talked about all of the foods he wouldn’t eat or try, and asked me if Vietnamese food was Oriental, I decided this ain’t gonna go far.

Oriental? Might as well call me colored.

So I’ve decided that he has a serious self-love problem and no wonder he’s screwed up. His mother named him after one of the biggest white American Rock and Roll stars of all time and he grew up in the south. So I give him a pass and pray for his happiness someday. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with African-American history and with Pan-Africanism. I love talking to my friends from other cultures within the Black diaspora and understanding their experiences and how they look at the African-American experience. I love my heritage. So someone like him, yeah, I have no patience for it at all.

So after further discussion, this dude got married early, to a woman who barely out of her first marriage (who wanted to be with him during this first marriage) and asked HIM to marry her.

Like I said, “Well, I mean she was barely out of the first marriage what made you ask her?”

“Well, she asked me.”

Silence.

Because she was his first and only sexual partner he agreed. The marriage lasted 10 months.

She was cheating.

No kidding.

So yes, yall. Dating has become my second job and the stress from it I think caused me to just break down yesterday.

I foolishly tried to plan drinks with Kyle Barker, because he said something about him no longer being immune to my intoxicating vibe and energy. And of course, he stood me up.

I didn’t go to the gym as I planned and I sat at home eventually shedding clothing and pouring wine in a glass, disappointed in myself.

But the pull of new messages from POF keep making me go back and try and try again.

There’s one guy, who is really wordy with the most wonderful lips who I’m talking to and another guy who’s messages I seem to enjoy. I’ve booked drinks with him after I hang with some friends tomorrow night.

I don’t even want to get into the one dude who I talked to off and on and have never gone out with yet.

He asks me to a barbecue this weekend. Cool. Then he says it’s a guy from work, there’s free food and a dj.

Fine.

Then he says he only knows the guy from work, so it’s a great chance for us to get to know each other.

Record scratch.

I tell him, if he wants to get to know me, we don’t have to go to the barbecue. Barbeques are social and honestly, if we don’t know the people that well, we are going to look like moochers.

So he said he agreed and would like to do lunch. I told him lunch was cool. Besides I didn’t want to drive all the way to that side of town to be non-social and looked upon as a mooch. I can afford to make my own burgers. Come on dude.

But I haven’t heard anything else sense.

So do you see why I’m drained folks? Do you see?

One more work week and I’ll be vacation bound in New Orleans. It won’t just be a vacation from my real job, but a much-needed one from dating…

It can’t come soon enough…

Professional Bullies Are Real. Stop Those Jerks Too

When there are people in your life who continue to bully you, block you from achieving your goals, who seem to take pleasure in your failures and rage when you succeed, all of these high-minded people remind you to never sink to their level.

These folks are apathetic to your cause and it’s the right thing to say.

Higher minded people take it a few steps further and psychoanalyze the person and tell you that these people are over compensating for what’s lacking in their life, and for whatever reason you represent or remind them of what’s wrong with them.

The very awesome book that I recommend to everyone called “The Four Agreements” calls all of this not taking stuff personally.

Don’t take people’s negative attitudes, their rejection of you or your ideas, or what seems to be a real dislike of you and anything about you personally.

They may even say, “you are ugly,” “you are stupid,” “you can’t do that.” But when people lash out on you, it really isn’t about YOU. It’s about their baggage and their stuff and their hurts from the past. It’s a deep thing to accept, when folks are saying YOU and using your name and then bashing you to others.

I’m talking about all of this because there is a woman on my job who I’ve had serious problems with over the years. At one point she was my supervisor, and that’s when things got horribly bad.

And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. She seemed to pounce on me even more when my engagement ended. She’s even waved her hand in my face a month after my relationship ended bragging about a new ring her husband gave her. She said, “I know you are going through what you are going through, but you’re still a woman and we like shiny things.” She was delighted to add, that she knew my world had fallen apart, so let me flaunt my ring and my husband and my marriage.

And anytime I tried to pick myself up, apply for a fellowship or come up with a new and exciting idea to pull me out of the funk, there she was trying to shoot it all down. She went as far as making a bootleg version of my idea and trying to present it, and compete with me, to the point of interrupting my meetings and even asking if her version was better than mine.

Everyone in the room was shocked. But I felt fine. She showed how ridiculous she was and this act helped me solidify my case.

I was fixated on this woman. I had anxiety everyday over this person because I felt like she was always watching me, and always wanting to see my downfall.

The back story is this woman, I think really wanted to be close friends with me and because she was older, thought she should be my mentor. When I basically wanted to keep things professional and had boundaries with this woman, I think it offended her.

But after I pulled back some layers, I realized she was a sad, sad person. But she’s horribly prideful and has a tendency to be bossy, smug and not very nice to people. She was always posturing to show people how smart and capable she was.

As adults often say to children, bullies operate in keeping you silent. And the same was here. She was a bully. Plain and simple.

She’s a small woman, plain, and she didn’t even have super impressive credentials, but she knew how to manipulate people and situations where people would give her what she wanted to shut her up or not be bothered with her.

The day I finally stealthily built my case against her, I went to see the big boss. After hours. The boss basically told me they valued me as a worker and that no one should work under the conditions I was working under. They removed this person as my supervisor, and moved my desk to the other side of the building. My big boss said that I should not have suffered so long, and I should have spoken up sooner, but I handled the entire situation with class and dignity.

Since then, I’ve been able to grow and blossom and change titles and get raises. Since then, she’s had some professional humbling experiences. I never delighted in them though, but cosmic justice was being served.

Yesterday, this same nemesis came to my desk and smugly asked me why I had a personal mission statement and why I had it hanging in my cubicle.

She was also interrupting yet another lunch at my desk, so this vexed me even more.

But calmly, I told her it reminded me of what’s important to ME. I wanted to tell this chick, why don’t you have one?

I realized after that this woman had no vision. She’d already resigned her life to what it was and she didn’t like that I liked myself, or that I had ideas, or that I had a life outside of this job. She’s married and has two beautiful children, however, she’s a hollow person. And there are rumors of her husband actually being gay. To make matters worse, she makes jokes that he is more effeminate.

So, yes. I feel bad for her. I’m sad that she hasn’t done the self work to find her self-worth, or she hasn’t found out that she doesn’t have to snuff out my light to make her dull ass light appear to shine brighter.

Nothing about this woman strikes me as genuine and real. She’s always scheming and trying to figure out how to stay ten steps ahead of everyone and this woman, in one period of my work life spread her poison to me. She refuses to let her self be real, or vulnerable, which is essential to living a better life.

I’m thankful to be free of it, and to see her for what she truly is.

She bristles at my confidence and tries to cut it short. I did let her get to me a bit yesterday, and then I realized, I know myself now, better than I did when she was bullying me, and I proved to both her and myself she could not bully me anymore and from that point on, things only got better for me.

I like using the word bully, because we associate it with kids and teenagers. Bully, bully, bully…I’m singing the song.

We need to lift the veil off of the everyday grown bullies sucking up coffee rather than Capri Sun, or sitting spreading their poison in your carpool. This crap is not healthy. This crap is not simply “competition,” and survival of the fittest. We need healthy, whole people working to make our products and services better and we need work cultures that promote that concept and expose the foolishness.

We need to talk about the folks who publicly shame you if you didn’t buy five boxes of their kids girl scout cookies. We need to shame the idea stealers, the credit takers and the folks who play mental professional warfare with us every single day.

Human resource folks need to take the time out and discuss workplace and professional bullying. It will make people take sick days, it will make people drink after work, it will make folks come home and bring that negativity to the house, it will ruin relationships. It may make people take their own lives, or finally lash out on the bully. My ex told me he hated that I talked about this woman every day and it was ruining his day and it impeded me from even asking about his day or listening to him if he had a rough day.

So I’ma call it what it is. We have grown folk bullies running rampant in our workplaces, who seem to believe that everyday they are on Survivor or the Apprentice and that it has to be them or you. Do not accept that crap, and don’t get sucked into playing their game. Call it what it is and get folks to address it. You are not crazy, you are being bullied, and no you are not too old, and don’t let your age shame you into silence. Bullying unlike Trix, ain’t just for kids.

So just because it isn’t taking place on the playground or the locker room, it’s in a corner office at a Fortune 500 company, in the mailroom or in cubical land, or a hair salon, or an auto shop or even in academia. IT’S BULLYING.

People, we got work bullies. Grown ass folks who should know better doing the bullying and grown ass folks who know better and know what it is taking the bullying. We have to stop it here too.

And if you are a popular person at work, and you see someone else getting “picked” on, reach out to that person and help them stand up. You don’t think that now that we are grown these behaviors don’t hurt any less? Get out of here.

Growing up doesn’t mean you lose feelings as you age. We just train ourselves to stifle them even more.

Post Navigation