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Failures, Set-Backs and Resets

As I get older, I’d like to believe that I’m gradually doing a better job of handling failures and set-backs.

Life tends to teach you that as long as you don’t give up completely, you’ll recover, you’ll readjust and a new unexpected path may open up, leading you to where you were supposed to be.

The failure or set-back is actually trying to put you back on track. It’s sometimes intended to stop you, and give you a chance to reevaluate what’s important, reset then forge on.

It hurts to write this, but I was placed on academic suspension from my grad school program.

I’ve spent the last two years working extremely hard, while working full-time, fighting each semester to avoid academic probation. The times I’ve failed to do this, I always missed the necessary gpa by a tenth or two tenths of a single point. It’s a feeling akin to being an olympic athlete missing out on a medal or the difference between gold and silver being only one point or a fraction of a second.

I’ve heard the saying that when people fail they should “fail miserably.” They should put it all out there.

But how do you console people who fail when they come really close to winning?

I’d already completed more than half of my program requirements.

Three math-related classes, one of which I had to take twice (which resulted in a B+), one of which I got a C+ and finally the last that I’ve failed completely was keeping me from my Master’s degree.

In my heart I hoped that I’d squeaked by.

But the reality was, taking two classes while working was too much for me. An hour commute each way, was taking its toll. The burn out was real as other projects for work began to increase and deadlines loomed.

I found out this information only a day or so after being shaken from a car accident, during which I was not injured or my car damaged.

I attempted to log into my new class that just began and I was locked out of the system.

After making some phone calls and finding an email from my advisor, I was given notice that I was suspended and dropped from my current class.

The feeling was overwhelming. The tens of thousands of dollars in debt that had already accumulated felt like the weight of several large rocks on my chest. It was hard to breathe, the backs of my eyes began to warm and sting with salt-laced tears.

This degree was supposed to be my victory lap.

It was supposed to be my fuck you to the depression I felt in previous years, and the sense of accomplishment I was longing for.

This degree and program represented me returning to a person I once knew. A woman with purpose who was motivated and could face any challenge.

I got used to this identity and the way people would express their admiration for my ability to juggle work and school and go after a dream.

And it felt like it was all taken away.

I do have options. I can and will appeal to the dean and if my appeal is accepted, I could be back in class as soon as the summer under the academic probationary conditions. I probably would not be eligible for financial aid, because I’d been on probation before and was granted an appeal on the condition that I wouldn’t be placed on probation.

Or, I can wait the entire year-long suspension period and reapply to the program only 15 credits shy of graduating.

I was also told that I could try to transfer to another program.

Failure hurts. There’s no getting around it. But being an adult, you don’t have much time to lick your wounds. You have to get creative, and figure out alternative ways to reach your goals, or understand that circumstances may delay your desired outcome. Above all else, you have to protect your sanity and your health.

I’m very disappointed, and I’ve been spending the last few days wondering about what it is that required this abrupt halt in my plans. What is it that I have to reprioritize and reevaluate? What do I have to go back and learn or do just for me?

I asked myself if I deserved to be in the program or if I reached too high. I didn’t study any of this stuff in undergrad, and yet I had the audacity to pursue a Master’s degree.

But I had to stop myself from that level of thinking. I did deserve to be in the program, I did deserve to pursue a masters level degree in this area. But it did make me think about the school and the feeling I had been feeling along the way.

Is this abrupt stop a moment to let me figure out if my current institution really fits me or was I more concerned about the brand name? There were some things about the program and about the lack of connection I felt between myself and the faculty and students due to the nature of it being online and a highly competitive program.

Is there another place where I could transfer and get the type of education that I really wanted and the connection that was important to me, that I thought I could do without? I still have a lot to think about. A lot.

You all know me. I’m not a quitter. But on the other side of 30, with bills and debt, how you execute not quitting, has to be realistic and strategic with self-care at the forefront of every decision.

It was hard for me to write this post, because I have an image of me that I like to present to the outside world. It’s an identity I’ve shaped for myself, that I’m proud of. And in most cases, I’ve always been able to back it up.

I’m still me. And if anything, what happens next will be more of a testament to my true identity. And at the core of everything I am, there lies and will always lie a woman of resilience.



When Is the Start of a Relationship?

Hey, hey folks!

I was just talking with one of my most faithful readers after working out with her yesterday. And as I was giving her some of the most banging gumbo I ever made, ever, she looked at me with an oh so serious and chiding face and said, “Um, Ima need you to write a new post.”

I explained to her I had a hard time coming up with material as of late. My lack of inspiration was really bringing me down, because I love writing this blog. And usually when I post, it’s because I’m given a thought I just can’t shake and the words just flow naturally.

I usually write about my relationship mishaps, and recently things have been going well with Renaissance. Like scary, well. We saw each other twice this week and I didn’t break out into hives, and I was happy to see him. He made me dinner one night during the week and I made him that awesome gumbo Saturday night and then we went to the movies to see “Prisoners” (Please go see it. It’s an awesomely done suspense film, which had me going nuts the entire time. The entire cast was fantastical.) I found myself snuggling with him and repeatedly hitting his arm throughout the movie and reacting to the madness unfolding.

Things are going so well, I’m feeling superstitious about writing about him and us and how things are progressing. So while I figure out how to deal with that, I was thinking this morning on my drive into work about how relationships progress. How they start and grow and where they come from and then boom, you look back and realize you’ve been with someone for a year or two.

I started to let my mind wander about where relationships come from and how grown folks decide to make it official.

I joked with a friend the other day about whether or not grown people say to one another, “Ok, we are officially together now.”

It seemed like in a lot of cases, folks don’t make that declaration, or when the declaration has been solicited, it usually comes after a discussion from the woman who wants the man to put a title on their meandering relationship so she can feel secure and remove all doubt and ambiguity. Ok, we’re together now.

We are on the path to the future. Together. You said it, no going back now, sucker.

Or, for some women, the moment happens as soon as her man actually introduces her to someone else as his lady, his woman, his girlfriend, his girl, etc. And in that moment, she has to play it cool in front of these people, because this title is just as new to her as it is to them.

Some men tend to take the tack that if they have been spending time with you multiple times in the week, talking everyday, usually ending the night with a phone call, peppering each other’s day with text messages and starting to know each other’s schedules, it’s pretty much a done deal and nothing really needs to be said.

You both are already in it hard-core. He is doing things a boyfriend would do, if he didn’t see you in that way, he wouldn’t do it .

But women, Oh, women. We want it signed, sealed and delivered. We need that confirmation.

We want the verbal contract so that now you can’t back your monkey ass out of the deal, and if and when you slip up, you can say, no, no sir. You said and agreed we were in a relationship, therefore you are held to a higher standard, therefore you clearly agree to be a responsible participant in this relationship and the nonsense men get away with and women allow because they don’t have a title, yeah, you just can’t do that anymore. And you sir, need to verbally acknowledge that and be held to that.

It seems these days, that when the male publicly acknowledges the relationship, that it is in fact a relationship and he is officially all in.

Some people mark the moment when the other person says I love you as the official start date of the relationship.

Some people believe getting to meet the family is the point where things are really starting to get real.

I’m not sure where I fall in this. I know that when know I love someone, there are times I fight to hold the words in my mouth until I can’t anymore. And I blurt it out and take cover. Especially when I know if the other person may not be the one to say it first. I’m actually the one who doesn’t say it first.

But when I’m ready to say it, it’s almost like when a kid looses a tooth. There are times where that tooth is just hanging and hanging and either you let it fall out, or it’s going to come right out eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, or even though you are scared as hell, an anxious family member, knowing that tooth is ready and aching to just come right out is going to help you tie a string, tie it to a door, tell you to look the other way and yank that sucker out.

There is a word that Renaissance keeps saying in regard to relationships and it is helping his case a lot in terms of winning me over. That word is responsibility.

He said as a man, in a relationship he has to realize he is responsible for someone else, and their feelings, besides himself and be honest with himself about whether or not he has the ability to do that. Renaissance believes ALL women want a relationship from age 14 on, whether they say it, deny it or whatever, they want and hope that their situations with whomever they are dating, will turn into a relationship. I’ve argued that that is not always the case. He still disagrees and says at the core, all women want and prefer having the relationship. He believes women want to be in relationships and won’t ever turn it down if the right situation presents itself. He said the trouble with men is “there are a lot of men who really love sex, but don’t really like women.” Meaning, men at certain points in their life don’t want to take the time to get to know a woman and really like her, they love the act of sex way more and women end up getting hurt.

Well damn sir. Interesting thought.

We talked about a lot of things this weekend. There was a moment I had a thought cross my mind and he sensed it. We were hugged up and relaxing at my house. I didn’t want to say it. And he looked at me with a serious look and said, “Tell me.”

And I grunted and groaned and heavily sighed.

And he said, “Be vulnerable.” First of all, that was brilliant. Those words shot through me. Here is this big, strong, giant of a man, holding me in his arms (physically creating a safe space) creating a safe space for me to speak my mind, encouraging me to enter.

Now that’s some new shit. And it’s scary. Who does that?

And I looked up at him, and after a long 40 seconds of me fighting myself and trying to decide to say nothing or tell the truth, I chose the latter and said. “I don’t want to be played with.”

“I know you don’t. And I won’t. I really like you.”

And softly, I said. “Ok.”

Tweet “Proceed”

Question (s) of the day: for people in relationships did you have a definitive starting point? Or did it just happen and you both basically knew you transitioned into relationshipdom? Do you have to speak it for it to be real and for everyone to be on the same page?

I’m On One

After having a number of eye-opening experiences this week that required me to look at myself, my heart has been pulling me in strange, unexpected directions.

I was skyping with the youngin and enjoying it. He’s a sweetheart. I like this guy. He is 23, I like him and I’ve decided that’s going to be that. We will keep talking and maybe visit one another and it’s just going to be what it is.

I told him last night if he were six years older, it would be a no-brainer. He began to sulk. But it was my truth.

Speaking of truths. I reached out to my ex-fiance.


Yup. But I sent him an email and I had never been so clear. I let some things off my chest after having all of these discussions about supporting black men and about my own ego. And I apologized to him.

Did everyone just flip out? Yeah. I did apologize to him and I told him that I still prayed for him and his well being.

Several hours later he wrote me back. (I told him he did not have to)

He’s still a sad sack. Which is really unfortunate. He’s still struggling with his own issues and he said that I really did not have to apologize to him and that the breakdown in our relationship was still mostly his fault.

The funniest thing to me is his assumption of my happiness. He said he read between the lines and it seems I must have found someone who made me happy.

I laughed out loud on that.

Now, I won’t correct his ass, because hey, I just won’t. I’m single as a dollar bill, but he doesn’t need to know that.

So me being me, I responded this morning.

I told him I’ve had my share of lumps and some days I feel completely shitty. We all do. Life is quite difficult. From all of the self-help books, shows, the Bible and everything else, I’ve learned that adults have to design and maintain their happy.

As babies, someone can jangle keys in our face or play peek a boo and we are tickled. If someone “takes our nose” oh man, you can’t stop us from laughing.

But as we get older, learn somethings and struggle and fail and be disappointed, it takes a whole lot to make us “happy.”

We think having nice things or money will do it. Plenty of successful folks with a lot of stuff can tell you. They still aren’t happy. Just ask Kanye West. I’m just saying. He’s the unhappiest rich person ever. Always looking crazy.

So as we all go through this planet, we have to keep readjusting our idea of what makes us happy. Somethings get old, and then we have to find new things to spice it up.

I told my ex, that I’m experimenting with what makes me happy. Reading, writing, doing tee shirts, spending time with friends and family, traveling, cooking new things, volunteering, working out or doing active things.

You can’t be happy all of the time, that’s why happiness feels so frigging awesome when we  are happy. Happy is fleeting, just as much as pain and despair is. And just like we can stretch out our pity parties, we got to stretch out the happy moments too.

I told him he’s the one who has to forgive himself. I told him that he’s actually mastered the art of surviving terrible things in life, so now he has to learn how to be a liver (someone who is alive, not the organ).

I took this whole thing to the next level. My fingers were typing ahead of me and I invited him to visit. I told him there’s no catch and I don’t even want to talk about the past. I just want us to spend a day or two devoted to being happy doing things happy people do. I told him we could have ice cream and fly kites and pet puppies all day long. But the goal is to not think about anything else but being happy. We used to be pretty damn good at it.

Now whether he takes me up on it or not, hey that’s completely up to him. But I saw someone I loved and still love still hurting.

I’m not trying to solve his problems. I learned the first time around I can’t solve them. He has to do that work.

But for some reason, that’s what my heart told me to do. It’s nuts. But I have some perspective and I’m not afraid. Having a day of being silly and kind and loving to a hurting person in need, I don’t feel like I’m giving up something or a part of my soul. I feel like at this time in my life it’s the right thing to do.

Will it open a big ass can of worms if he comes?


But I offered the invite from a genuine, and loving place and because I did that, God’s got it. I feel good about what I did. I actually feel lighter and better. I don’t even have a desire to take it back. Because I did the right thing, I know it came from my heart.

I know he’s difficult. I know he doesn’t trust people. I feel like if I offer him this opportunity to just let it go for a day or two, in a safe place, with someone who he knows cares about him, it could potentially help him. That’s all I want to do and then send his ass home.

Lancelot Asked the Question, And He’s Still Fresh

April Fools is already over.

He didn’t ask me that question. C’mon now people.

But after randomly asking me to dinner via text whilst I was in the dentist chair, I met him at a restaurant not far away and we talked for hours. I spent most of it laughing, which was awesome.

But at one point, he grew serious and asked the question I knew he was going to ask me. I was surprised he didn’t ask it at the first dinner.

“So why after all of this time, did you finally reach out?”

I told him the truth. I told him about the night he slept on the floor beside the couch and how I cried on the way home after.

I told him I was a mess when we met and that it was the real me at the time, but not the best version of myself and how after time passed and thinking and all of that, I wanted him to know the better me. I told him that action and other things he said to me which may have been totally partially game, still managed to stick out in my mind. And even if it was game, I think it came from an honest place.

In turn, he said back then he wanted to be in a serious relationship with me. He was pushy, but he understood where I was. He said he missed me and missed hanging out. To which I asked him, how could he, with me being so messy and so all over the place?

So he told me that even messy he felt I was a great person. He said I must have thought he was a good person and saw good in him to want to reach out again even though he is pushy and a self-proclaimed asshole and horribly, brutally honest, with no filter.

He said he’s still going to flirt, he’s still going to try to sneak kisses. He said that he is a guy. A “cruddy,” guy. But he did say he respects me and always wants me to feel safe around him and that he knows that no means no. He is cool with us being friends, then he raised the power fist.

But then with a devilish grin, he said, “Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get lucky.”

And there it was.

And then I said, “There he is! I knew he was still lingering. I knew he’d come out! You’ve been holding back! We made it to the second dinner, and he came back!”

“You have no idea,” he said rolling his eyes into the back of his head. “Oh the things I could say.”

So I looked at him and said, “See, it looks like we are both making progress. I’m trying to lighten up. And you are turning down the nasty. Go us.”

“You? Uptight? Nooooo!”

“Forget you, I’m putting on my coat.”

We talked about all sorts of things, including his childhood job as a beaver trapper. You heard this correctly. I can’t even type it or say it again with out laughing.

At the end of the night, he reminded me of his progress in not being fresh with me.

“See, I talked about trapping beavers and refrained from making it sexual.”

“I really thought you were going to go there, but you stayed focused. I’m proud of you. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Trouble Sleeping

I can’t sleep. I’m writing this post all riled up. I guess my bout of insomnia is a mixture of things. I was off today for Columbus Day and I basically stayed in my house since Friday evening.

I’ve managed to at least feel like I did something constructive, by getting some car repairs done and applying to two more awesome jobs. One of the jobs is with an organization I’ve applied to about four times now. Geez.

The anxiety of job-hunting is maddening. As the days go by, I find myself getting more and more antsy. More and more dissatisfied. My faith is wavering. I’m trying to pray more. My heart beats faster as I try to sleep. I’ve been sleeping with low classical music in the background to calm my psyche.

Something has to give soon.

Anyway, with so much time to myself, it’s horribly easy to get into a funk, ask yourself questions about what you’ve done wrong in life and watch “Dirty Dancing” then almost killing an entire regular can of Pringles over the course of two days.

I’ve been thinking over a bunch of things.

My career/path.

My romantic life. Ironically, one dude who I turned down last year has popped up to ask me how I’m doing. Another sweetheart of a guy, but I just didn’t feel that chemistry on my end.

Was it a reminder that I’m shallow and ridiculous and destined to be alone I am because I keep relying on that feeling I get (the same feeling I knew I felt but still wound up hurt in the end).

It made me revisit and text the guy who makes my blood boil, yet toes curl. He was still up for a little fun and the exchange of dirty messages.

But as I edge closer to a year of no physical lovin, I want it to be right. I don’t want it to suck. I don’t want to get emotionally reckless with the handsome, intelligent, toe-curler, who sends me mixed messages.

One of my good male friends sat in my living room last night, determined to help me at least get out of the house and see a movie and told me, my expectations for awesome sex after my hiatus is a horrible idea.

He’s probably right. I’m also glad that he brought a bottle of champagne. His champagne and conversation did help make me feel better. I returned the favor by making ribs and chicken.

I also thought to myself, I have a couple of close male friends I love dearly and I’m super comfortable with them. I can say anything and they are accepting, they see me as a lady still (I can be raunchy) and they always laugh at my jokes. They get me.

If only the men I’m attracted to were like my close male friends.

Back to the other stuff.

I feel like everything is changing around me so quickly, but the optimism I had as a young 20-something who can take on the world, has certainly subsided.

You couldn’t tell me no. I saved rejection letters from publications I dreamed of writing for.

Because I knew I’d show them all.

And there are some accomplishments I’ve had that totally certified and validated me and I’m so thankful for them. What a ride.

But what’s in me right now? What is inside of me?

I keep trying to push, but it’s been tough. I feel worn out. I don’t know if it is me getting older and jaded, or if that thing in me that motivated people to say yes, is gone.

How did I get people to say yes?

Do I have to start lowering my salary requirements?

I shouldn’t have to. I’ve worked so hard for years. I deserve what I’m asking for.

Can I find a balance between money, career, the business I want to nurture and grow?

Who are my allies? How do I build new ones?

Who and what inspires me? How do I ramp up the inspiration?

I was a little girl who told people I’d be president and I’d be in the White House one day. I did it as a reporter while an intern in college and then later on with another news organization.

I’ve got to find that person again. No is never an option. I say I’m going to do something I will.

In my high school yearbook, my footnote for my senior photo said, the world was going to read my words. They have.

Something has to happen. While I’m disillusioned with mainstream journalism, I have to believe my job that blends writing and health advocacy is just around the corner and that one of these several jobs in that area will choose me. It has to happen.

That’s been the pattern of my life.

About six years ago, shortly after wanting to step into four lanes of traffic because I wanted a few days in the hospital and not wanting to go into a job I hated, an opportunity presented itself. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted a break. I watched the cars whiz by, and I was so tempted to just step in. Folks think I’m so strong.

And when I tell that story, they are shocked.

But that’s just it. We all get tired. We all feel like our problems, our inadequacies, they are all too much. And even though fighting through it is the “right” thing to do, and what we’re supposed to do, sometimes the effort it takes to just stand, keep our eyes open and even ball our fists takes everything you have.

Sometimes the most absurd thing like stepping into the street and getting a few days in the hospital sounds like peace.

We all think these thoughts in some kind of way. It may not be as far as self harm or suicide. It may be staying in bed with the covers over your head and not going to work. It could be ignoring your crying kids, or eating fast food in your car alone. Sometimes, we just get tired. We don’t want to be responsible, we want to be selfish, because fighting through is too tiring. It’s too tiring.

When another job seemed to be too much but paid too little, and I paid for my gas with couch change and I went to sleep hungry because I had to use my entire paycheck for rent, an opportunity presented itself.

I’m not in as dire a situation as the ones I’ve mentioned, and I certainly don’t want things to get that bad, but each and every time, just before I was at the very end of my mental and emotional rope, a window was cracked and I got out to the other side.

I’m hoping that the way I feel right now. This weariness, this tiredness means I’m toward the end of the battle and that the change I’m looking for, the bright side I’m aching for is just within reach.

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