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

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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!

 

 

 

 

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I’m Ready for Change, When I Change My Lip Color

I think that there is an emotional tie to our lip color, the same way we feel about a signature fragrance we may wear or even a signature hairstyle.

These things can help distinguish us from everyone else in the world, the slightest change in any of these physical things, people will notice. I think it’s fitting that we are moving into the fall season. I’m about 10 pounds lighter (13 on a really good day) and I’m loving the way some of my clothes are fitting in a more flattering way, and the way some of my clothes aren’t quite fitting me anymore, because they’re loose! What an awesome “problem” to have!

But anyway, as I think of sliding my fine ass into some new sweater dresses and knee-high boots, to welcome the fall my thoughts turned to a new lip color.

Now I have some favorites that I just can’t live with out. Totally toffee and crazy for coffee (work), red velvet (sassy night on the town) and there’s another color I like when I’m feeling edgy and vampy that has a deep purple tint to it. But, I kind of want to introduce something new into the mix.

Changing a lip color isn’t something I do lightly. After all, finding the right shade of anything that compliments my skin color and makes me feel good is hard work. So when I change up, I really take my time and I think about it.

Is this for everyday? Is this for special occasions when I want to turn it up a notch and shut it down.

I have big lips, and a bright gap-toothed smile, so people notice my mouth. It may be one of the first things they notice (I think one of those online quizzes said so). Anyway, I do give new lip color more thought than most, maybe because I’m not a big makeup girl to begin with. But my lips, I will put effort into those.

A lip story that I cannot forget is when I was out shopping with my ex. I tried a bright red lipstick and he hated it. Told me I should never wear red lipstick. It just doesn’t work for me. Stick to the soft browns and neutrals.

Shortly after we broke up, one of the first things I went and did was try three different kinds of red lipstick, til I found my favorite, lol. Now, red ain’t red, and everyone can’t wear the same kind of red, so maybe the one I tried that day wasn’t really flattering, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. When I found the right one, it was symbolic to me. It said, he may have hated it, but he ain’t here now, is he? Do what you like to do, be who you want to be and if there’s a day or a week you want to be bolder than usual, be that, because that’s a part of who you are too.

Now, I know some people who actually rock, blues, oranges and greens. There are even some pinks that make me look crazy, but I will be patient. I’ll test some out and hopefully for fall, I’ll have a new favorite to represent some of the new changes I’ve been experiencing.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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?

It’s All Practice

The longer we live and the more experiences we gain, we should start noticing some patterns if we are smart.

Over and over, I keep finding that EVERYTHING, every moment, every experience, every success, failure and mistake is essential to our growth and essential to our preparation for the “What’s Next” moment that’s going to show up.

It’s funny how we (I include myself in this) are always looking for the next big thing. We’re looking for the next relationship if we’re single (I hope you aren’t if you are married, lol), we’re thinking about the next job, the next promotion and we are thinking about all of the steps it’s going to take to get there. Then we get to there, and we’re looking for the next.

It’s sad and ridiculous all at the same time, but it keeps life interesting and it makes sense. As long as we’re breathing, we have the capacity to learn something new, do something new, change something we don’t like about ourselves, make a new friend or get rid of trifling folks who don’t add any value. We’re always rebuilding new cells, and shedding hair. Our nails grow, so it’s natural to always be in some kind of transition because our bodies are doing this every single day too. We’re healing ourselves even if it’s from a cold we caught, to pain someone may have caused us when we were a kid.

So ok, we’re always going to be looking for the next thing.

But just as we grow hair, shed dead skin, the things we are doing daily are kind of like those unglamorous changes we go through each day, there are unglamorous tasks we are doing consciously and subconsciously in an effort to move us forward and prepare us for whatever the new “next” is.

There are times especially professionally or in our love lives where we don’t see what’s at work, even in the small things we do each day.

I’m learning to examine those things and try to see new opportunities in everything.

I was recently bothered at work by how it seemed like the really talented people get overlooked or seen as a threat, meanwhile others boast and brag about mediocre things, or they talk to hear themselves talk, or create more problems so they can “solve” them and make themselves look better.

I’ve found that some people would rather create their own problems they can swoop in and solve to keep a job because they fear that actually solving the problem means there’s no need for them anymore.

That kind of thinking is operating in fear. There will always be new problems even after you solve the old ones. Have faith that people will be so impressed with how you handled the first problem that it’s a no-brainer that they’ll need you for the next.

And have faith you’ll have the skills to meet the new “next” head on.

I’ve been learning that the difficult people you are dealing with today are probably slightly more difficult than the most difficult person you’ve ever dealt with or slightly less difficult than the most difficult person you’ve ever dealt with.

That first person is your new lesson because you’re about to have to deal with someone much worse. You’ll need those skills and new ones to defeat the new beast. The last person is a reminder that you’ve dealt with worse and can deal.

Any opportunity you have to present or be in front of an office or lead a meeting take it and take it seriously. Be organized.

I learned this lesson this week when all of a sudden an informal meeting I was leading started to grow larger and larger when my supervisor noticed that I was organized and that people were engaged, expected to be ready to contribute and actually looking forward to it.

I turned around and started seeing that he extended invites to the project manager and people outside of my team who really had nothing to do with what this meeting was about.

This was my opportunity to put on a clinic. If there were things that I didn’t like about how meetings were run, well, this was my meeting. Instead of bitching about it, I had the power to show them how it’s done. And it took a very successful friend to point this out to me.

“As much as you say they are haters, he invited hater number one, two and three to your meeting. I work with idiots all of the time, and there are some smart idiot managers. The smart idiot managers tend to want to learn from people who they’ve identified as smart and organized. They may take all of the credit, but they know they need you and you can stack the deck in your favor. You can always stack the deck in your favor once you know this.”

So I’ve also decided that how I execute this meeting isn’t about the haters. It’s about me preparing myself. If I’ve said that I want to go back to the White House someday to talk about health disparities or before Congress, there are going to be far more important people who may not like me or what I have to say and the stakes will be much higher. So why not practice right now for that moment with this one little meeting with just a handful of haters…

Reconnecting to My High-Achieving Self

It has been a tiring week, that was filled with crazy highs and neurotic lows. Moments that made me feel unsure and tired and other moments that made me feel ridiculously proud of myself.

It all surrounds the project I’ve been working on for my job.

At the beginning of the week, I was vexed because the ideas I presented to my group was originally met with a meh, kind of tepid response. To the end of the week, me having a breakthrough moment and actually being inspired getting out of bed to present my ideas through a well-produced, high-quality video.

I’m normally reluctant to get on camera, but for whatever reason (God, prayer) it just came together. I felt good, I felt confident. I hadn’t been this passionate about anything in a while.

My big boss seemed to even feel inspired and I haven’t spent this much face time with her in a long time. When I’d come in to her office, she’d stop what she was doing, and we’d end up talking for two hours. She seemed just as excited about my ideas as I was.

When she got in the door the same morning that I woke up with a script for my video concept, I made a beeline to her and shared my even bigger idea. She gave me full support. By the end of the day, I had a product and she was thrilled. She began to heap credit on me, and I reminded her of the people who quickly rallied around me to make the project turn out as amazing as it did.

So she looked at me and she said, “I’ve never seen you this happy.”

I said, “Oh, boy. I must look pretty unhappy most of the time.”

We laughed and she assured me I didn’t look unhappy most of the time, but it had to have been clear to both of us that I’d been in a professional rut. Her giving me this opportunity ended up being much bigger and better for me than I really initially anticipated. As I mentioned in the last post, I really wanted to play the background, but the ideas kept coming. Then the confidence kept building. I was working for my own integrity, and doing it from my heart and an honest place. And that’s what made it feel good.

Then I felt like we had an ultimate mentoring moment. And I do respect my boss. She is one of those started from the bottom now we’re here type women. And at every level she’s gotten to she’s had to learn things the hard way, she’s had to make mistakes, she’s had to make really tough decisions and she’s had to fight harder because she’s a woman. Sometimes she’s had to walk blindly through somethings or put on a brave face, but she’s tough, she’s sharp and she has an insatiable curiosity. For some reason, I feel like our interactions this week did just as much for her as it did for me. My favorite part of the conversation was when she asked me what I thought of my finished product.

I told her, “I think it’s fabulous.” She noticed me catching myself and trying to turn humble. And she laughed. She laughed really hard.

I explained that it was an affirmation for me. I woke up this morning with an idea. Just this morning, I had this vision in my head and now it’s something real. In one day. I’m so happy about that. I’m happy that people rallied around me to make it happen and they also believed in what I was trying to do and eagerly supported me. That’s what made it even more special. It seemed like the excitement was infectious throughout the office. People saw me standing in front of the cameras, some watched and smiled. Some people were thrilled I asked them to participate or do a quick cameo. I realized, people want to feel acknowledged and even feel like a star sometimes… little did I know that I did too.

So here I was, channeling one of my favorite television host personalities Rene Syler, proudly rocking my natural hair and I found myself calm and cool and confident on camera.

I gave my boss all the details that the final edit would be done soon, but even the rough cut made me very happy. I told her that I did wonder what our group would think of it, because sometimes they could be downers and she said to me, “What do you think of it?”

“I love it.”

“Well that’s all that matters.”

And she smiled.

Even though I’ve been exhausted every night this week, I haven’t felt more excited or happy about my work. And that hasn’t happened in a really long time. I had a meeting today with my group and even the most critical ones of the bunch loved my video concept. It seems to have reenergized everyone and we might create a lot of buzz during our out-of-town business trip next week. Everyone wins.

I did put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best. I won’t lie, I did tell a friend earlier in the week that I wanted my presentation to be so good, I want anyone going on after me to have a panic attack in the restroom.

When members of my group were trying to figure out the order of presentations, people quickly suggested I go last because no one wanted to go on after me. “I can’t follow that.” “Me, either,” they said.

So this week, I felt like I was reconnected to my high-achieving self. And I won’t lie. It felt good. It felt right. It felt like me. I believe this is truly the start of a new season in my life. New opportunities are opening, some of which are very unexpected. But I’m glad I threw myself into this experience because what I’m feeling right now is worth being tired or feeling a little uncomfortable. This is worth it.

Now, I just hope it goes over with the really important people at the meeting next week!

Stop Hiding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thought I could hide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t hide anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

Or:

“Lies you tell.”

tamar braxton the braxtons gif from theofficialstacey.tumblr.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Confessions

It’s not a juicy as you think.

But here we go. There’s loads on my mind.

I’m still reeling from the reunion I had with my ex last weekend, and noticing his increasing reluctance to have the post weekend “talk” about our feelings and where we are with everything.

He’s dragging his feet.

Confession. So am I. I’m not sure how any of this is supposed to work out. No matter what road is taken, I feel like it’s going to be an emotional challenge that I’m not quite prepared for.

I still don’t regret the weekend or how it went or what happened. I feel like it was necessary for us to either move on with or without each other going forward.

The second thing I’m struggling with is I took out my fabulous braids. Well it was time. But I kind of realized that being a natural hair girl, having those long braids and minimal upkeep gave me a lot of time to sleep in longer and it gave me a real confidence boost. I really liked how I looked in them and now, I’m kind of having to readjust to my own hair.

I’m even thinking what used to be the unthinkable… getting a weave.

Taking the braids out and having to face my own thick, tightly coiled hair again, reminded me of the daily work I had to do to affirm myself and my own beauty. Sometimes, I really dig the fluff. It makes me seem artsy and confident in my own skin, but I had no idea that taking the braids out was going to have such a psychological effect on me. As I stood in my bathroom mirror trying to decide if I felt like sitting under my dryer for an hour, or just slapping gel in it to make a bun, I suddenly felt overwhelmed, tired and unpretty.

I can’t go to work like this by Monday…

No, my hair wasn’t straight in the braids, but it was long. And easy.

I was getting more attention from men. And, super big confession, I was actually happy my ex got to see me in all of my Poetic Justice glory and not with my fro. He doesn’t like natural hair and has said so in the past and said it’s difficult to imagine me with it. So I felt like when he saw me, I was at my best. I had enough to worry about and thank God it wasn’t my hair.

So has this reunion made me shrink back into an insecure person wanting validation?

Has the ending of my braid hairstyle made me regress back to the days of wanting my hair to flow in the wind?

Not necessarily. But it all has been making me think about the way I see myself. First of all, some might say, if the braids make you feel good, then just keep redoing them. That was a thought that crossed my mind. I mean what is 7 hours every other month?

Then I thought about going to the Dominican salons and getting blow outs from time to time.

Then I thought about the weave.

Really not sure what to do next about all of these feelings surrounding my hair, or my ex.

Truth Moment: Confidence Is Key With Me

You know what?

I’m frustrated. Beyond frustrated with the guy formerly known as pseudo-boyfriend boo thang.

I’m irritated because it seems like he’s kind of trying.

But that’s the thing that kills me, he’s kind of trying.

It ain’t a full push, like hey. We are going out to dinner tonight. I want to see you right now, because I haven’t seen you in two weeks and you haven’t really been responding when I hit you up.

It’s a passive aggressive way to date.

It tells me you ain’t sure, but you want to kind of have me around.

I can’t be about that half way life.

I guess it’s because I’m used to being pursued. Hard core.

I’ve actually told men to exit stage left because they were too pushy.

His ambivalence annoys me.

But, he’s young.

I’m finding youth and inexperience is biting him right in the butt.

Earlier today, he talked about some changes happening at his job and how he may take up stripping. In the joke, he asked me what I’d like to see.

I didn’t respond.

After the long 20 min text silence, he says, “LOL never mind that question.”

My thing is, once again. Go all the way.

I call it “George W. Bushing it.” If you wrong, be adamant about going all in and dare folks to question you. Like give them a side eye so strong, that they question their own beliefs.

He punked out of his own joke.

He went on the line, put out a feeler, hoping I’d cosign on wanting to see him naked, hence solidifying his confidence.

I didn’t and I  don’t. Not anymore, because everything else fell apart.

I would have actually given him credit if instead of him asking me what I’d like to see, he’d say, something like, “Girl, you better act right, I may stop by and do the Magic Mike.”

One, you’d still get the laugh. Two, you may get a flattering response, that I indeed, want to see you pop, lock and drop it, and three, you’re showing me that regardless of my reaction, it doesn’t matter and somewhere, somebody is going to dig it.

SMH.

Sometimes you have to take risks and fake it til you make it.

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog how an ex of mine made the ballsy move to just snatch me up and kiss me. He later told me it could have ended in me reciprocating (as I did) or a slap in the face, but regardless, he went on the vibe and went in for it.

I should have expected this person to be passive because the first time he kissed me, he asked me to and it was on the cheek.

At the time, I thought it was respectful and charming, now I know I need a man who takes charge.

I once boasted that I was attracted to and loved assholes.

I’m going to revise that.

I am attracted to and need confidence.

Things are starting to add up with this person.

He says he wants to buy a home. He can’t decide. He thought about renting an apartment. He backed out of an apartment when someone said he should buy a home instead.

He said he doesn’t like his commute from my neighborhood, but actually looked at an apartment in my neighborhood.

He wants to leave his current living situation with a relative, but now he’s going to move in with another relative.

He’s been real wishy, washy and I’m not liking it. Not liking it one bit. As a 31-year-old woman that grates on my psyche.

Now I thought this person could afford to live alone, but I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m starting to see that he goes wherever the wind goes and according to whatever the last person said to him.

Once again, I feel like he needs more life experience.

He’s a really sweet person, but he needs more experience. He has to be confident in himself and in making decisions.

I feel like he is quick to apologize and people please and take responsibility for things he shouldn’t.

I had to give him a speech about a co-worker basically throwing him under the bus and how he needs to watch his back and stand up for himself and not let people put blame on him for things he isn’t responsible for thinking it’s noble to take one for the team.

In life and in business these days, that kind of thinking is going to get you nowhere.

You can be a team player, but don’t take people’s crap. You can be a hard worker, but when you do something above and beyond, you got to speak up and remind folks, because their memory gets real short if you don’t.

I’ve decided this man is the epitome of closed mouths not getting fed. I’m afraid I’m going to have to lay the complete hammer down on Sunday, when I agreed to see him and let it all out.

I like this person enough to not let him walk around living his life like this.

His last relationship did shake his confidence, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.

There are so many guys not as smart or nice or educated as him walking around like friggin King Tut.

When I auditioned for a fantastic choir in DC a few years ago, during my audition, the vocal coach told me that I should sing with more confidence. She said there were people who came in that didn’t have half the talent and showed up like they owned the place.

Same rule applies when it comes to wooing me.

You are selling yourself. If you don’t believe, I can’t believe.

And ask my friends. When I’m in a relationship with a man, I believe in him to a fault. I am the president of the damn fan club. I see more in him than he sees in himself, and I challenge him to believe in and what I see. Maybe it’s messed up, maybe it’s me kind of wanting to “fix” people, but to me that’s how I show love, that’s how I show how much I do respect you. If I have a high expectation of you, it’s because I know you can do it. With out a doubt.

So if a man questions himself, if a man doesn’t believe in himself, you’ve lost me. You’ve just lost me. I think I’m a great catch, so the fact you’re sharing my company means something. If you don’t understand even that, you got a long way to go.

I’m not even trying to be cocky, but it’s the damn truth. Age, experience, failures have taught me all of this.

If you aren’t giving full effort, I can’t give full effort.

Maybe after my speech he’ll hate me, or he’ll want to at least want to remain friends.

Either way, the truth is in order.

I’m about to explode with it.

Hope he can take it.

A Modern Mona Lisa

A dear friend of mine over the last few years has taken up the art of photography and she’s gotten quite good. Forget good, excellent.

Her street photographs reflecting life and people all over New York city is soulful, honest, beautiful, strong, vibrant and full of life. (This is her blog http://streetstories.tumblr.com/)

The people she chooses to photograph are very different. Some are stereotypically beautiful (dancers, models), while others– their beauty, their magic, their swagger creeps up on you as you look at them longer and longer.

In New York, you see interesting people all the time, and sometimes if you are stuck on a train or in a line someplace you do want to just stare at them, but you know it’s rude. My friend’s photos allows you to take a nice, long look and think, without the icky, invasive, judgemental, gawker vibe.

They are children playing without a care in the brutal Brooklyn summer heat, they are soccer moms sitting in a park wearing hijab watching their children play.

They are tough, tatted-up guys with soft eyes.

A girl who is reluctant to smile at first, beams with confidence after a few clicks.

My friend has made these people comfortable and confident and they allow her to capture and freeze them in a moment in their dizzying, fast-paced, NY lives.

I’d love to see these people enlarged and looking down on folks from gallery walls someday. I’ve loved watching her grow as an artist and see her continuously improve.

This weekend, I was blessed to sit for a few photos with her. She sent me a few of the edited photos and I’m blown away.

I’m not being narcissistic, but I can’t stop looking.

It’s not because I think I’m so gorgeous, (I’m aaaight), but I’m studying my expressions, my eyes, what my body language is saying.

It’s so much fun to see her other work and make guesses about the people and their lives, what they’ve experienced or the irony in their personal style juxtaposed against something as simple, yet telling as a wiry smile, or a defiant stare directly in the camera which may be saying something else. A glimmer of something deep below the surface.

But for me, I know my story.

However, looking at the photos, I kept feeling blank. I thought I knew everything about me. I felt like I was seeing myself for the first time.

What was I showing?

In one photo, my eyes looked soft and it reminded me of the pain I felt from time-to-time. But even in that photo, I looked far from a victim, but I did look vulnerable.

In other photos, I looked really confident, like I could take on the world.

In another, one of my favorites, my eyes were closed and my smile was relaxed and showing off my signature gap.

These photos are among my favorite gifts this week and I will treasure this always. What I will treasure most about this gift is the ability to look at myself, and still be surprised, and still be able to question what it is I see and learn from it.

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