Get Familiar with Talented Generation

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Secret Life of Petty: 15 Things Only Petty People Will Understand

Being petty is fun when you know how to do it right. For the vets (like myself) the petty actions are hardly ever done with malicious intent, but sometimes you have to be petty to put people back in their place. 

Take it from someone with Petty in her DNA: Don't ever mess with a petty b*tch. We set aside time in our day just to be petty. We usually spend that time being petty with our friends, but if you choose to challenge us we rarely turn down an opportunity to shut you up. Here are some of our favorite ways to put the petty on front street: 

15. When You & Your Bestie Get Petty Together:

14. When Someone Throws Shade After You Decided to Stop Being Petty:

13. When You Realize You Have The Perfect Opportunity to Be Petty (& you're about to take advantage):

12. When you See A Subliminal Post About You & You Like it Anyway:

11. "Oh. We're being petty AGAIN today?"

10. When You Speak to Someone You KNOW Doesn't Like You:

9. When You're Petty and Pretty:  

8. When you didn't start it, but you're still prepared: 

7. That ONE Time When You REALLY WEREN'T BEING PETTY and No One Believed You:

6. It's "You're petty" not "YOUR petty" boo boo: 

5. When You Go To Follow (or stalk) Someone and Realize You're Blocked: 

4. Reminding Folks You Were Trying to Mind Your Own Business:

3. When Someone Who Never Shows Up Comments "Dang No Invite":

2. When You Were Trying Not To Be Petty, But Someone Mentions Your Name:

1. When You And Your Friends Are ALL Petty So It's A Term of Endearment:

Don't be petty tell me whatcha think then share this post. 


Saturday, May 07, 2016

8 Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day That Do NOT Involve Buying Gifts (Crazy concept, I know!)

You've gotten the flowers and the chocolate. You've reminisced on all the hell you caused her. You're older now and Mother's Day means more than a handmade card and some chocolate. Mother's Day is a day you get to reflect on the life your mom gave you. Regardless of what you life was like once she gave birth Mother's Day is a day to honor the fact that your mom chose life for you.

I know this week has been difficult for some struggling with the loss of their mom and also those coping with infant loss. There is no one who can take your mom's place or your unborn child's place. I hope you remember God and the universe are restorative. Although you may not have your mom or your child in the physical sense I can guarantee that you have someone in your life that you can love on and that can love you. Try not to focus on the loved ones you have lost. Try to focus on those people who are still alive and stand ready to pour love and light into you.

It is the night before Mother's Day and I know some of y'all are just now shopping for your Mother's Day gifts. Here are 8 ways all of us can celebrate Mother's Day.

8. Take Care of Yourself. The Best way to to take care of the people you love (including your mom) is to take care of yourself. Take care of your own finances first. Take care of your own mental health first. Take care of your own home first. Address any issues you may have and learn to love yourself just as you are.

7. Stop asking women without a child when they will have a child. It's none of your business.  CAN YOU NOT encourage people to have babies who aren't ready to have babies? THANKS. 

6. Stop asking women with a child when they will have another child. Are you gonna help pay for the extra kid? People take for granted the emotional and physical price a woman pays to give birth to a child. If she wants to procreate again it's her choice. You will know she's ready when you know. If she's anything like me you'll know a month after the baby is born.

5. Stop staring at kids who throw tantrums in public. You were once a kid. Chances are you threw at least one tanrum. Chances are your mom felt helpless and hopeless in the heat of the tantrum. The child you're staring at is your younger self. That means the mom you're staring at is your own mom.

4. Forgive Your Mom. I know there are some people who do not consider their moms their best friend. I am one of those people. It used to be so hard on me because my friends all consider their moms a best friend. My mom is not a bad mom we just are not close. I know she will be there for me if I need her, but our relationship is not quite a friendship per se. My point is moms are people too. We are not superheroes. We make mistakes. We forget things. We get tired. We all do the best we can with what we have. Forgive your biological mom if she has ever fallen short in your life. Forgive your motherly figures, too.

3. Celebrate your "bonus" moms. You didn't get where you are without the help, prayers and sacrifice of other people. That "auntie" at work who shares her lunch. That "grandma" at church who loves on you when you need it the most and always has mints. That "sista" who looks out for you when you are too ashamed to ask for help. Celebrate all of the people who have stood in the gap for you to propel you forward.

2. Stop Judging Other Moms. Whether she allows her kid to have Cheetos, Cheerios, or Goldfish crackers every mom doing her best deserves some slack. If you are a mom please support other moms. Acknowledge the challenges. Support her. Tell her she's a good mom. Tell her she's doing a good. Tell her good things.

1. Don't Isolate Your "mom friends." I get it. Moms are busy. We have a lot on our plate. Sometimes we have to cancel plans last minute because the kid gets sick. Don't isolate us. We are still around. We still like to go out. We still want to see you. We still want to talk to you. Yes we are adjusting, but we don't want to lose you as a friend. Work with her schedule to allow time to continue your bond. Trust me your mom friend needs to see adults!

'Tis all. How are you celebrating Mother's Day this year? 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Dear Miss "Too Much": An Open Letter to All Women Seeking REAL Love

Dear Miss "Too Much,"

Girl guess what?

You got "too much" attitude.

You got "too much" hair.
You got "too much" sass.
You got "too much" going on.

How many times have you heard those words? How many times did you internalize them and receive them as truth? Someone said the words and now you believe them. You think you've got too much hair, too much sass, too much class, too many rules, too much ass (ok there's no such thing as too much ass lol), and too much of all the things that make it hard for a lover to love you.

You've got too many rules.

You've got too many things you won't settle for.
You've got standards no one will ever meet.
You've got walls bigger than the ones #thatguy wants to build.
You've got skin darker than midnight.
You've got a painful past and baggage you need to unpack.

I'm not sure when it happened or who planted the seed, but someone told you were too much to handle and it has blossomed into an orchard of doubt. They tell you your "too much" is why it didn't work. If you had just been "less than" things would be different. If you had just had less attitude it would have worked. If you had been more submissive. If you had been less sassy. If you had been more agreeable. If you had lower standards. If you had a different set of standards. If you were just a little bit less of yourself you would be more deserving of their love.

They said you have too much to say. You should be quieter. They told you you have too much hair. You should press it out. They told you your smile needs to be fixed. You should not be proud of your crooked smile. They told you your thighs needed to be thicker. You should gain weight. They told you your thighs are too thick. You need to lose weight. They told you because of your ambitions you don't have enough free time.  You should be happy where you are. They challenged you to change yourself. They encouraged you to alter and shrink yourself. Make your laugh more of a giggle and less of a cackle. Don't curse so much. Don't demand so much. Don't succeed so much. Be more humble. 

Things would be different. Right?

It's time to unearth all the seeds planted by people who have made you feel like you couldn't allow your light to fill every crevice of yourself. Rise up. Stand up within yourself. Accept that you allowed someone to make you feel like you're no good and make a conscious effort not to allow it to happen again. Decide you will not allow anyone else to make you feel small. Decide you will not allow anyone else to make you feel "less than."

You are capable.
You are strong.
You are worthy.
You are enough.
You can do it.

I challenge you to enter into a loving relationship with yourself.

Take time out to fall in love with yourself.
Fall in love with all the parts of yourself people have told you make you hard to love.
Fall in love with all the things that are not perfect about you.
Fall in love with your thick ass afro and your thinning edges.
Fall in love with your wide hips and your itty bitty titties.
Fall in love with your freckles or your acne spots and your caterpillar ass eyebrows.
Fall in love with every mole, every blemish and every unruly strand of hair.
Fall in love with your skinny fingers and that slight 'stache you grow once a week.
Fall in love with the stretch marks.

Love yourself right where you are at this exact moment.

Love yourself at the exact weight you are.  Love yourself and the car you drive or don't drive. Love yourself for the house/apt/condo/basement/bedroom in your mom's house you live in. Love yourself at the exact mental state you're in. Love yourself for all the help you need. Love yourself for all the help you ask for. Love yourself at your current level of "can" and "can't."

Forgive yourself. Forgive those who have hurt you. Deal with the things you worry about and the negative things you feel about yourself. You can embrace who you are and what you are and what you have at this exact moment. Step into self love. You are worthy of unconditional love.

Let me tell you something about real love:

People who love you will love you for EXACTLY who you are. They will love you for your gap tooth. They will love your bow legs. They will love your for your double digit "body count." They will love your kinky hair. They will love your skinny arms. They will love your hairy back. They will love your FUPA. They will love your ugly feet. They will love your long arms and lanky figure. They will love the way your belly has rolls when you sit down (and stand up). People who are determined to love you will always find a way. Anyone who makes you feel like you have to change BEFORE they can love you is not someone who deserves your love. Those people don't know how to love. 

Let your light SHINE, darling. Develop the courage to stop seeking approval from others. Realize REAL love starts with self-love. You don't have to feel like a victim any longer. I hereby release you from every feeling of unworthiness and every desire to be anyone other than your whole self.

With love,

Miss "Too Much"


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Somebody Has to Do It: In Defense of Tax Refund Stunters

Stunt (v.): To floss or show off one's possessions.

Tax Refund Stunter (n.): One who receives a HEFTY tax refund and spends it frivolously within a few months. See also, tax rich. 

I was once in line at a Walmart Customer Service Center behind a woman who was cashing a $9000 tax refund check. Initially I wondered why she didn't just get direct deposit, but I try to mind my business. She was loudly talking about how she was gonna spend it. None of the things sounded responsible to me. I used my app to check my checking account balance and I didn't have access to that much money. I was also jealous because I had to pay income taxes that year. Before that experience I had no idea people got so much money back as part of their tax refund. 

Every year around the time tax refunds are issued we see an influx of people shopping, taking trips, and getting their lives together. Some people use the money to catch up on bills or save for big purchases like a home, but others use the money to stunt. The "others" get new cars, put rims on the cars they already have and buy their kids ridiculously expensive gifts. The "others" are the Tax Refund Stunters. No need to play the "guess that race" game. We know the people who are the poster children of Income Tax Balling. These people are criticized, hated upon and looked down on because they get a lil "extra" money and seemingly lose their minds. 

Stunters gone stunt.

As a daughter of a single mother who raised 5 kids mostly on her own and still found the resources to take in and take care of extra kids I sympathize with them. I know how hard it can get. Being poor ain't no fun. Still, each year I see my circles divided into 2 groups: (1) Tax Refund Stunters and (2) Those who don't understand them. I realize the popular thing to do is to rank on a TRS, but I am still choosing to defend them. 


WHY THE F*CK DO YOU CARE? Everyone goes in on a Tax Return Stunter because they're an easy target. They're easy to spot. They're frontin. They're flashin for Instagram tryna impress people who wouldn't spit on 'em if they were on fire. We wonder why they don't put the money away for their child's college fund or some responsible sh*t the rest of us claim we'd do with the money. Why do you care how someone else spends their money? 

Admit You're Jealous. Oh I bet you'll stop reading now. Jealous of what? Jealous of who? You get money year round! You make too much money to get a refund! On some level the criticisms come from a place of envy. It's not deep. It's mostly Person A wishing he/she could blow through an "extra" $9k and blow it like Person B. Person A would be responsible and starting thinking about his/her student loans, or mortgage or the tread wearing on his/her tires. You WISH you could be irresponsible with your money just ONCE. On some level Person A is jealous that Person B is not concerned about building savings accounts, or mortgages or paying taxes. Adulting so hard. 

Mind Your Own Money. Worry about your own bills. Worry about your own pockets. Worry about your own money. If you were focused on your own money you wouldn't even have time to think about how other people are spending theirs. 

Tax Return Stunters Spread The Wealth. Ok maybe wealth isn't the right word, but have you ever been around a TRS when they first get their money? They're wiping their asses with $100 bills. Need to borrow some money? They can let you hold something til you get paid. They won't press you as long as you pay it back by Labor Day. Want some new shoes? They'll buy you 2 pair. Whether it's paying up their mom's rent or helping their sister cover unexpected car repairs TRS' typically take care of the people who took care of them throughout the year.

Stop Acting Like You Don't Know Poor People. If you're reading this chances are you probably know someone who has been evicted. You probably know someone with bad credit. You probably know someone who can only make ends meet with help from their parents. You probably know someone who can only buy groceries when they get their food stamps. You probably know someone who gets $20/month for child support. Don't act like you are just so disconnected from what it's like to be poor that you can't understand how poor people act. 

In reality I don't see it as stunting. Many of the Tax Refund Stunters have struggled all year. Have you seen the numbers one needs to meet in order to qualify for a tax refund? Who can really live comfortably off of those numbers? & with offspring? Have you ever been so broke someone offered you one hell of a deal and you still couldn't afford it? Well many of the people deemed Tax Refund Stunters were so broke throughout the year they had to focus on meeting their needs. In some way knowing they would get "extra" money in late January helped them keep holding on. Now they get the chance to go on trips, and they can buy the shoes and purses they couldn't afford even with the Black Friday and Christmas sales. It may seem like stunting to you, but they are buying the things others don't think twice about. What is a $300 bag when you make $85,000 a year and don't have any children? It's nothing. What is a $300 bag when you make $21,000 with 4 kids? That's a game changer. 

Managing money is hard. It is a skill they don't teach us in school. I had to pass Algebra II to get my high school diploma, but I haven't used not nary algebra equation. I've never been anywhere and had to use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve a a real life problem. You gotta let people live and learn. You gotta love people where they are. If you know an tax refund stunter try to see them in a different light. They're doing the best they can with where they are and what they have. It's easy to group "them" and talk about what "they" do as if we know so much better. Truth is we are all trying to figure it out and we need to be more kind to others who are doing the same. Teach the babies.

Do y'all have any Tax Refund Stunter stories? Are you one of them? Chime in if you wanna. 


Saturday, February 13, 2016

How to Date a Single Mom: 7 Things Every Person Should Know

I realize there is now a movement to be more specific about the terms used to describe single motherhood. I am told the term "single mom" is reserved for women "doing it alone" and so I do not "qualify."  Somehow the fact that 7 days out of 7 I put my kid to bed and keep her alive but still receive "help" from her dad 1100 miles away (no shade) means I'm a single woman with a child, but not a single mom. Who has time to say all that? That's too much work. Bish let me call myself a single mom if that's what I wanna call myself. Nobody says anything when you call yourself Tae TooTattedSoBlessed Brown. Can I live?

Anyway. . .

It's been a while since I last blogged. Ya'll missed me? Ya'll see my new short hair? I glow'd up like a mug!
I missed y'all. So I'm gonna try to write more often, but I'm not exactly sure HOW often. I've got A LOT going on. Mostly, I'm launching an online emporium of sorts. A chick has taught herself to sew and I have gotten hella crafty. Yesssss!!! I have sewn dresses for Baby Love (who is almost 2 now! What is THAT?!) and skirts for myself. I'll be making many custom gifts from clothing to purses, to makeup bags, jewelry, blankets, baby bibs and so much more. The dates of the launch have changed so many times I'm just gonna announce the launch when it's already happened. In the mean time (shameless plug) I have an Etsy shop called By KeeKs With Love. The url is www.bykeekswithlove.comCheck it out! Buy something! I'm gonna keep that name, but when I'm ready I'm going to switch to a different platform and brand it in a different way. I'm going to incorporate this blog into it somehow some way. You'll see when it's finished.

**Obligatory Single Mom Post**

Full Disclosure: I'm on a dating fast. That means while I have a few male friends I am not allowing myself to get romantically involved with anyone. Not sure how long it will last, but it will probably be for the entire 2016. That means no dates, no chex, no nothing. It's not my first ride at the dating fast rodeo, but I'm entering this round with a different approach. It's been interesting so far. Some men understand and some think unsolicited dick pics will change my mind. When I roll over and see dick pics on my screen at 5am I feel like Kevin Hart "IT'S A DICK ON THE PHONE!"

Moving on. 

In light of the impending LOVE holiday I chose to write about my favorite subject: LOVE. I know dating for some is a travesty. Hell I get frustrated and send a "You're great, but we can't be friends anymore" text at least once a week. Still, I know some people shy away from dating single moms because of fears and misconceptions. Then again, some people just hate women so there's that. 

If you have a single mom on your radar here are some things to keep in mind: 

1. Figure out what you both want FIRST. 

Don't think every single mom wants to marry you. All of us aren't looking for daddies for our kid(s). All of us don't need a savior. You only want sex? Some of us just want sex too. Not ready for a relationship? Some of us don't have time for a relationship. Some of us don't want the trouble. Be honest and up front about where you are in your journey. Cut the "nice guy" bull and get to the meat of it. Pun! She doesn't have time to play games & you shouldn't be trying to play games anyway.

2. Understand you will not come first. 

You might not come second or third either. Let me say that again: YOU WILL NOT BE A PRIORITY (at first). If she's anything like me there's:
A. God
B. Her
C. Her kid
D. Her Family & Friends
That would mean you would come 5th. I haven't had this issue with other parents, but for non-parents here's the thing: You have to be a grown up and accept that it is up to you to show her you want to be there. If you want to be around for the long run you're going to have to be a mature adult and put in work to get on the all-star team. You don't get to become one of her priorities after 2 or 3 dates. Her time is limited and precious and she doesn't have a lot of it to go around.

3. Be Realistic. 

You cannot ask a single mom at 4:30pm to meet you for drinks at 6pm the same night. She has to make sure she has a sitter and that her kid(s) will be set for bed and ready for the next day. Last minute plans are not the move. Plan ahead or be prepared to be told "no" often.

4. Learn about her relationship with her "baby daddy." 

This can be a touchy subject for some, but it is still an important one. Whether she's been broken up with her co-parent for a few months or a few years it is necessary for you to understand where her and her "baby daddy" stand. You don't have to ask about the details of their breakup right away, but you should know the basics to start: 
Are they divorced/separated?
Is he an active dad? 
Does he live close by? 
Does he come to her home for visits? 
Do they ever sleep over with each other? 
Do they do things together with the child?  
What are her feelings about him? 
What is their custody arrangement? 
What is the state of their relationship? 
Are they one "I want my family back" text away from getting back together? 

As I said, this is a touchy subject so I encourage you to proceed with caution. Don't become obsessed with discussing him. Try to touch on the major things initially and delve deeper as things get more serious. If she is truly ready to date she should be open to discussing this subject with you and she will understand your concern. Be direct with her if you need clarity.

5. Be Involved. 

I don't like this term, but a single mom is a "package deal." When you're dating her you're dating her, but when things get more serious her child will become involved. You may not get to meet her child for a while, but the time will come. You should show genuine interest in the well-being of her child.  Ask questions about how her child is doing and show that you realize it's not just HER.

This leads me to. . . 

6. Don't be PUSHY About Meeting Her Child(ren).  

After a 1st date a guy asked whether I could bring my daughter on our 2nd date. When I declined he became very hostile and defensive asking whether I thought he was a "bad man." He was a "nice" guy. He thought he would sweeten the deal if he offered to buy her lots of toys and to fly us all 1st class to Florida to Disney World. He went so far as to offer to fly Baby Love's dad up here so we could all have dinner together. He just did not understand why IF I liked him I didn't also want him to meet and connect with my child. We were chatting for a month before we both had the chance to go out so he wasn't a complete stranger, but still he was stranger enough. We went on one more date, but his persistent pushy-ness was a huge turnoff. Don't be like that guy. My daughter is very young and I don't want her looking at every man with the "Are You My Daddyyyy?" eyes. Besides, when it comes to my kid I don't trust anyone 100% who ain't me. 

7. Spoil Her. 

Being a single mom is one of the most thankless jobs in the world. We cook, clean, organize and take care of ourselves and our kid(s) day in and day out. We usher them to school each day and go on about our professional lives to make sure we keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. All this while balancing egos and co-parenting to the best of our ability. We rarely hear thank you and often our kids are ungrateful unintentionally. Yes she would love fresh flowers, but does her grass need to be cut (pun, but not really lol)? Can you take the trash out? Can you hire a maid for her? Does something need to fixed around the house? Can you get her car detailed? Can you get her car serviced? Think outside of the box when you want to do something nice for her. Try to make sure your nice gestures are not actually things that will burden her. Nothing is sexier than a man who wants to take some of the weight off of a mom.

BONUS: Listen.  It is not easy doing it all (or mostly) on your own. Sometimes the kid is sick and she doesn't sleep for 3 days. Sometimes she spends 24 hours cleaning up toddler vomit. Sometimes it takes her 4 days to finish laundry. Sometimes she just wants to cry and be vulnerable. Allow her the space to do that. Allow her to talk about how hard it gets and to be honest about her worries and fears. We all fear we're going to make huge mistakes, but we are all doing the best we can do. If you're trying to be part of her life you will have to understand sometimes she just needs an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.

If you have decided to date a single mom these are just some things to keep in mind. Do you have any you would add? Any experiences you care to share? 

I know these rules won't apply to every person or every parent. If it don't apply, let it fly.

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Living In Truth: 5 Lessons Learned Since My Last Birthday

I usually carve out time in the few days before my birthday to reflect. Below 5 of the lessons I've learned since my last birthday. 

1. Owning My Story

I'm no longer ashamed of my story. I know some of you still are and that is ok. I have learned the longer I hold it close in secrecy the longer I will feel a sense of shame about it. Being ashamed of my story won't change anything. So here goes: I don't have parents that have been together all of my life. I don't have siblings that share both my mom and dad with me (we're all 1/2 sisters, but we're all black so we don't "do" that). I don't have 2 super saved grandmothers. Indeed, I learned to cuss and sass from my grandmas and I love them so much for that. I have never met my biological paternal grandfather. I don't even know his name or where he lives. I've never heard his voice. I have watched my mom struggle to provide for her children. Sometimes my stepdad lost our rent money gambling. Sometimes he hit it big and we went shopping. My stepmom paid for some of my college supplies with money she made after she picked up a job cleaning businesses at night. We went years without seeing or having contact with my baby brother (my mom's 5th child). I yearned my whole life for a meaningful relationship with my baby brother, but it didn't happen until 4 years ago. I have seen my dad in a physical fight. I didn't have my own room until I went off to college. I don't know anyone that can give me a small loan of a million dollars.

I was in 6th grade the first time a boy called me ugly. Girls had called me ugly before, but we all know how mean chicks can be so I brushed their comments off. He was a 7th grader and we were in the after school program. I was waiting to buy snacks before I went to my drama club practice. He asked me why my skin was so pale and my lips so big and so pink. He asked why my cheek bones were so strong and my hair so curly. He asked as he pointed to his own features and said, "Nobody else at our school looks like you. Look at me. Everybody looks like me. We all have NORMAL black skin and brown lips. Nobody looks like you. You ugly." He was so sure he was right. I believed he was right too. 

I responded with a strong and IGNANT "Ya mamie ugly" and walked away. I've been petty most of my life. It comes naturally to me. He hurt my feelings though. I wish I could say that was the last I saw or heard from him, but it wasn't. He got all his friends to tease me too. They made up songs saying my hair wasn't real (I had waistlength curly hair) and teased me about my super plump lips. 10 years later they would all compete for my affection, but that did not undo the damage. 

2. Adopting an Unconditional Self-Love Policy
I love everything about myself. It took me 29 years to feel that way. People like that boy I met in 6th grade and his friends have come in at my most vulnerable times to plant seeds of inferiority. There was always a flaw. There was always something I envied if I saw it on another woman. Maybe her ass was fatter or her boyfriend was richer. Maybe her car was nicer or her smile was brighter. Maybe her mom was her best friend or her dad was rich. I was always focused on the things I did not have. Things have changed. I love my big nose. I love my big lips. I love my skin that gets pale in fall/winter but tans beautifully in spring and summer. I love my sometimes difficult to manage curly hair. I love my skinny legs. I love when I fake laugh at someone's joke. I love the way my face makes it hard for me to hide my true feelings. I love the chipped tooth I got because when I was 91 my big brother broke the brake line on my first "big girl" bike and I rode it anyway. I had set up a BMX style course and tried to do a trick that went awry almost immediately. Without my brakes I couldn't stop so I flipped and slid about a foot on the gravel and some glass. I scraped an entire side of my face and part of my lip. I had to wear bandages on one side of my face for weeks. I didn't need stitches. I ruined so many pillowcases that summer. I could only sleep on one side of a pillow. My great aunt nursed me back to health. She fed me and cleaned up my drool when I couldn't quite close my mouth. When my mom asked me whether I wanted to fix the chipped tooth I insisted on keeping it. I don't regret it. 

In college I had an extended "fling" with a Kappa who took it upon himself to pick me apart after I broke things off. He used everything he knew I was insecure about. Timing was everything for him. That was his favorite line. He told me I was too loud, too demanding and my attitude was too strong. I asked too many questions, knew too many answers, and had too many words to say "about everything." I really needed to work on myself because "no man is gonna stick around while you're like this." So I became less loud. I asked less questions. I picked less fights and raised less concerns. I silenced myself. I began to shrink myself. I became the soft and accommodating woman I believed the man I am supposed to marry would want. Relationship after relationship still failed. I wondered what I did wrong. Was I still not docile enough? Was I not domestic enough? Was I not soft enough? Many of my exes were not in a relationship with me. They were in relationships with the version I became because I did not think anyone could handle the all of me. I'm done being watered down. I am strange, I'm super petty, I laugh loud and I am beautiful. I am an outgoing introvert who sometimes needs a "break" from being social. I am not someone everyone knows how to love, but there are people who know how. 

At least now when a relationship goes south I don't have to wonder whether they would have liked me if I was really myself. 

3. Being Vulnerable is Being Strong.

This year was a trying one. It was dark. It was test-y. I survived! Any of my friends can tell you I went through the storm in 2015. The hardest part was when people kept complimenting me on how strong I was. So many times I wanted to scream and say "I am NOT strong! Stop saying that!" People teased me about my weight (or lack thereof) and some made it an issue in front of large groups. People teased me about not being able to "keep" my man. I stopped talking to God too. I stopped believing in him and trusting him. I stopped praying. I stopped thanking God. I put my bible all the way away. I stopped going to church. I figured if God is who I have read about he must have forgotten about me. I didn't wanna have to be strong. I wanted to be vulnerable. I wanted God to let me be broken and to let my brokenness be out in the open. I sometimes wished I looked like what I was going through so people would understand just how rough it was. Somehow I was able to keep my hair nice, my clothes clean and my fake smile shining bright. At the same time I was able to keep my child alive and happy. Some days I struggled so much to be grateful that all I got by on was an "at least." At least I'm not homeless. At least I have food to eat. At least my child is healthy. At least I can pay my bills. At least I have clean clothes. At least I am not in an abusive relationship. At least I don't have to stand on a corner and beg for money. At least I have my own working cell phone.
At least. . . 

4. Peace on the Other Side 

These days I am grateful because I am who I am and I have what I have. I don't have to compare my circumstances to someone supposedly less fortunate to allow myself to be grateful. I'm beyond "at least..."

Here's what I learned: If you conceal your true struggles and fears from your loved ones you are robbing them of the opportunity to be there for you. I know the reason I didn't share was because I didn't want people to judge me or be ashamed of me. The crazy thing is I held it against them since I felt like they should have known I was in distress. I say this to you with all of my heart: give people a chance! There are some amazing people in this world that can fight their own battles and help you fight yours too.  Let people love you where you are and you love them where they are. Disappointment is a normal part of life so it is possible everyone won't be there for you the way you would like them to. Let people be there for you the best way they know how. If it means a text every now and again that is ok. Don't hold grudges because someone can't be there for you the way you WANT them to. It is not easy to drop all of your own struggles to take up arms and fight for a loved one. Let people fight with you in the best way they know how. If they fight by giving money or sending heartfelt cards open your heart to receive those things. If they fight with a text or call every blue moon let them fight that way. Everyone won't be a General in your army, but that doesn't mean you should turn away loyal soldiers. 

It was my loved ones who gave me the strength to pack up all of my shit and all of my kid's belongings and drive 14 hours to DC. I became determined to change my situation. I changed the way I thought about it. I began to be thankful for everything I have and for everything I do not have.
I realize now that I was so concerned with convincing NEW people to love and like me that I forgot to appreciate the people who already did so. I am 100% myself. I own my past and my present and I am sooo looking forward to my future. I have so much hope and so much faith.

5. Always Be Thankful
I have to thank my loved ones who allowed me to strip down to my most vulnerable self and filled my cup with love and support. They stayed ready to ride for me. They allowed me to acknowledge my weaknesses and shortcomings. They allowed me to be honest about where I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially and they said "we are here for you." They were really there for me too. They saw me ugly cry a few times. They wiped my tears and assured me I was going to come out better than before. They constantly asked whether I needed anything and stood prepared to provide. 

This year was by far the toughest year I have had in a very long time, but my greatest blessings have come from it. I know my own strength. I know how to be compassionate. I know how to be grateful. I am more patient with myself and with others. I also know there is strength in vulnerability. I know that I don't have to be strong. I know I don't have to do it all alone. I know that if a man is meant for me he will be strong enough to handle every part of me. I know that I don't have to shrink myself or silence myself for the sake of making others feel comfortable. 

I'm not where I want to be. Indeed, I'm not even close. That fact no longer scares me. I use it as fuel to propel me forward each day. Some days are easier than others. My dreams are so big I wake up every morning with a little fear in my heart. I wonder whether I will ever see them come true. Then I say a prayer and turn on my motivational videos to switch gears into only positive thoughts. I know I'm going to make it. & with a whole lot of faith, prayer and obedience I know many of you will too. 

A big part of my healing was the launch of my jewelry business. Check out my site 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm No Longer A Strong Black Woman (Part 1)

People my age are dying. It's scary to think about. I know I sound like a life insurance saleswoman, but it's true. Facing the fact that you won't live forever is scary.
I recently realized I have lived a good majority of my life thinking certain things will not happen to me. 
There were nights I didn't have a designated driver. Cuz I'll never get a DUI or cause an accident. 
I have taken late night and last minute road trips while sleepy. Cuz I'll never fall asleep while driving. 
I have been cruel in the way I communicated the truth. Cuz they needed to hear it. 
I have texted while driving. Cuz it's not distracted driving when *I* do it. 
I have taken pictures while driving.  Cuz I'll never be stupid enough to cause an accident.

I have judged people so harshly and distanced myself from their circumstances because I thought I would never be like them. It was easy for me to demean them because that only meant I could never become them. I knew better and they did not. If only they had finished college or just been born me. Cuz I'm different (I made it out the hood). I'm smart (look at all these degrees!). I'm cute (look at all my selfies!). I'm witty (I bet I can make you laugh!). I dress well (look at all these tailored J. Crew pencil skirts & Anthro dresses and $200 pumps!).

I stopped by to tell you "it" can happen to you.
Read the line above this again.  
Read that muddasucka again.
I don't know what your "it" is, but think about the last time you judged someone. 
Was it the woman who's child had a snotty nose?
Was it the person with a stain on their shirt?
Was it the person who needed to borrow money?
Was it the single mom trying to round up multiple kids?
Was it the person in the beat up car who cut you off in traffic?
Was it the person paying for their groceries with food stamps?
Was it the person who put on a few extra pounds?
Was it the person multitasking and struggling to keep up?
Surely you're different from them and so far ahead of them that you could never be like them. 

You'd never be a single parent because you make better choices.
You'll never have a kid with a snotty nose. 
You'll never get a divorce. 
You'll never have to sign up for welfare or government assistance. 
You'll always be happy. 
You'll never have chipped nails.
You'll never have to ask anyone for help. 
Your hair will never start to break off or fall out. 
You'll always have great credit.
You'll never find yourself jobless or broke because because because because becauseeee!!!!!
Go off and see the wizard. 

Before I became a mom they were the people I judged the hardest. Single moms are so easy to judge with their bad decisions and terribly behaved children. I held them to insanely high standards and never had any regard for the circumstances they might be dealing with. 
Woman pushing a stroller with no wedding ring? JUDGED. 
Mom with expired tags (yes I look at people's tags)? JUDGED. 
Mom with chipped nails? JUDGED. 
Mom with split ends and no pedicure? JUDGED.
Mom who spread her cold to the office because her kid got her sick? JUDGED.
Mom who can't join us for happy hour because she can't get a last minute sitter? JUDGED.
Mom with a diaper bag with stains? JUDGED. 
Mom breastfeeding in public? JUDGED. 
Mom with crying tantrum kid in public? JUDGED. JUDGED. JUDGED like a motherfucker.  

It's sharing time! 
"No sweetie you can't have this" I heard myself explaining as she reached for the glass vase on the shelf. 
She reached for it once more and I gently guided her hand back inside the shopping cart. 
She turned and looked at me with confusion. 
"No sugar you cannot play with that it is dangerous" I said again and gave her a toy rattle. I felt guilt set in as I saw the disappointment on her face. 
She threw the rattle and almost hit a woman sharing the aisle with us. 
Damn this kid has one hell of an arm!  
Then she leaned all the way back and threw her hands straight up into the air. 
It seemed to happen in slow motion and in a cinematic fashion. The world went silent. 
I saw her lip start to quiver and the water well up in her eyes. The imaginary camera zoomed in on her face as the "baby's about to cry" score started.
I saw her lips part as she started to scream. The imaginary camera zoomed out so the audience could see me try to comfort her. 
I went deaf for 2 seconds as I wondered:

Was this really happening?
Could she have picked a worse time?
OMGosh what a terrible mother I am to make my baby cry! 
What kinda mother makes her baby cry in public?
Damn it! 
It was happening. 
She threw a tantrum in the middle of the baking aisle at Publix. My mind rushed and I could feel the imaginary camera zoom in on my face waiting for my reaction. I imagined the theatre audience watching the beads of sweat roll up on my face. Dramatic music played in my head.  I found myself fighting back tears as I thought of all the moms I had judged when their kids threw tantrums in public. I thought of all the times I thought this would never happen to me. Ooooh uh uh I don't play that. Wouldn't be my child. My child would know better. But my child didn't yet know better. How do you teach an infant to know better? They didn't tell me that in the books! 

I noticed people coming on the aisle to check on her and to give me the Make your kid shut up stares. My chest got tighter. This was the big one. I was going to join Fred Sanford's wife Elizabeth. I pulled out all the stops to try to calm her down. 
She slapped away the snacks I keep in my purse.  
She wouldn't take her bottle. 
I picked her up from the shopping cart and hugged her tight. 
She threw her arms about and slapped my face a few times.
I needed her to calm down. I was embarrassed to be the mom with the kid throwing a tantrum.
Holy shit! I was the mom with the kid throwing a tantrum. 
I felt the frustration with myself boiling up and out of my body.
I felt my face flush red.
I knew the only thing that would calm her down was to let her touch the vase, but elders told me I can't let her have everything she wants. I have to set boundaries. I don't want her to grow up without boundaries. She needs boundaries and rules, right?  
So I put her back in the cart and grabbed the vase from the shelf. 

"Look honey! It's a vase! Wow!" I said trying to get her to focus. 
She stopped crying as she reached her hand out to touch the vase.
I laughed at myself for giving in. I've learned to laugh at myself more.  She grabbed the vase with both hands and let go just long enough to let me sit it in the cart next to her.  Go ahead and judge me.  

I bribed a 14 month old with a $19 vase. Fix it, Jesus. 


Remember to do what you can to make someone else's life a little less scary and less lonely. Before you think of trolling me in my email inbox or as an anonymous commenter also remember everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, k? :) 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On Disappointment and Dreams Deferred. . .

I don't know what it is about Sundays, but I feel extra churchy and holy on Sundays. Even if I've cursed like a sailor and drank like a fish throughout the week I feel like a saint on Sundays. Lately, I have been struggling with my faith. I moved last year and I have not been able to find a new church home. I haven't been to church in a few weeks and the closest I come to reading a bible is Joel Osteen's app. I struggle because I wonder why all the things I've been taught no longer feel true. I was told God would give me the desires of my heart. I was told God will not put more on me than I can bear. I was told he would be the source of my strength. I'm not even sure God is listening when I pray. I question why God allowed me to go through certain things. He allowed me to have to deal with postpartum depression and the breakup of my beautiful family. He allowed me to lose friends I've had since 6th grade. He has allowed unprecedented amounts of stress to take over my life. I worry all day and all night. I curse him for the troubles he's given me. The God I know must be a different God from the one I have been told about. Maybe that God has retired. Maybe this is God 2.0 and he misplaced my file. I know people say your test will be your testimony, but right now I'm in the middle of the test and my testimony don't seem all that great. 

In the quiet of a long car ride I felt compelled to think of a time when God brought me through a tough time. 

So here goes. . . 

Two weeks before my law school graduation I was pulled from my class and summoned to go see one of the deans. 

dean: "We received your application for graduation and I am sorry we have to decline it." 
Me: "There must be some sort of mistake! I've completed all of my degree requirements! You need to check again!"
dean: "No Ms (ms) we have looked and it turns out you only received a 74 on your legal writing requirement. You need a 75 to graduate."
Me: "Get out of here! You guys are really going to do this on account of one point? But I got an 88 in the class! How was I ever supposed to know I did not meet the legal writing requirement? It's not on my transcript and I've done degree audits every semester with an advisor!"
dean: "I am sorry. But you will not be graduating this year. You can make an appointment with me after graduation to discuss your options."
Me: "No. I am here now. We are going to discuss this now. What are WE going to do to fix this?"
dean: "I do not have time to discuss these options right now. Please see my secretary to make an appointment in 2-3 weeks."
Me: "No. I am here now. My family has booked non-refundable flights & hotels. We are going to discuss this now." 
dean: "Ok. Well you could go speak to the professor and see whether she would be willing to do a grade change." 
Me: "Great that's what I will do." 

So I sent an email appointment request and an explanation of the reason for the meeting. She accepted it! Thank God! She was gonna see my story for what it was and realize it was a mistake! It was only one point. I could correct a citation and all would be right with the world! This wasn't going to be difficult. We were going to clear up this mess once and for all. 

When I sat down she asked me to go through my story since she did not have time to read the whole email. She did not hesitate when she declined to change my grade. It was the grade I had earned and she did not feel "comfortable" changing it. She told me I had actually earned a lower grade on the paper but she wanted me to get a good overall grade so she gave me the highest possible grade on the paper without actually allowing me to satisfy the requirement. 

As she explained her method to me I had to get out of my chair and sit on the floor. I could not breathe. All of my hard work was being flushed down the drain. Why was this happening to me?

Because of one point. 

I went back to the dean to see whether I had any other options. I explained that I'd just sent off my bar application and spent money I would not get back. I told her about the job I had waiting for me after the bar was over. She told me about a committee that would make a final ruling the following Monday. She gave me the details and told me I was welcome to come and plead my case. She said they would hear me out. She said they were considering making an exception because I was one of the few in our class with an offer of employment. 

I showed up on Monday 15 minutes earlier than she told me. I peered into the window and no one was in the room. I thought I misremembered the room number. I frantically searched my email inbox and confirmed I was in the right place. I went to her office and found her sitting. I asked about the committee and whether they were still meeting. She confirmed and told me they met and deliberated without me. They were standing firm on the decision not to allow me to graduate. 
10 business days left. 

I confirmed the time and asked how they could meet without me. She said they had all the facts they needed and no longer saw the need for me to plead my own case. If hopelessness had been a blanket I would have been smothered to death. I was so mad I could not adequately express my emotions. All I could do was focus on breathing. I could not speak. I couldn't find the words. 

I left her office and went to the main Dean of our school. I ignored his secretary's warning that he was in a meeting and I marched into his office. I said it was an emergency. I told him about the committee. I told him about my job. I told him about the surprise my mom planned to have one of my high school teachers at graduation. He told me he was aware of my situation and it was causing quite the rift between faculty. Some were advocating for me and others wanted me to deal with the consequences. Yes, some professors voted against me. He told me he had broken up arguments because some professors really cared that I was going to lose my job offer if I did not graduate and sit for the July bar. When asked where he stood he said he had to think about it. He said he did not have any authority to overturn the requirements or to compel the professor to change my grade, but I could try meeting with the University President in the mean time. 

His recommendation did not seem far fetched. Our system was set up such that although we were at a different location many things were still processed through the main campus. So I tapped into my network to see who could get me a direct line with University President. Two days of sending emails and I finally got a response. A secretary set me up to meet with her on Thursday.
6 business days left.  

I met with the secretary and took every supporting document I thought would come in handy. I cried. I told her how I was born in a place that many people don't make it out from and I made it out. I told her I had people looking up to me. I told her about all the people I would let down. I told her how my mom and dad were so proud of me. I told her how the whole town knew about my graduation and a charter bus full of people had once wanted to come. I told her how it was all some people were talking about. I told her about my job offer. I told her how they said they had never hired anyone on the spot before and they hired me on the spot. I told her about my sick grandmother with the weak heart who was going to travel to see me walk across the stage. She took diligent notes and explained she would talk to University President and tell him she thought he needed to meet with me. She also explained she would send a meeting request if he agreed, but I probably would not hear anything until the following Monday. 

5 business days left. 
Monday came and I did not hear anything from her. I went to the office and she was not there. University President was not there. They were off that day. 

I got an out of office reply to my email with an alternative contact. I sent an email to that contact who advised me to "just wait another day until she came back." 
On Tuesday the University President secretary responded telling me that they were going to delegate the decision making authority to the dean of our law school. She recommended that I meet with our Dean to discuss his decision. I sent an email to our Dean and he says they were going to have a meeting that afternoon and give the faculty 24 hours to cast a vote. He would tell me the results on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. 

2 business days left. 

I got the email on Thursday. Graduation was on Saturday. I picked my mom up from the airport not knowing my fate. My prayer circle was dispatched and my friends were constantly sending me positive vibes. 

I read it in the bathroom with the door closed. "Ms. (Me) I am writing to inform you the committee has decided to deny your application for graduation." His email felt like a dagger in my heart.  I asked if there was anything we could so I could at least participate in the ceremony. He said if I had been as diligent about graduating the rest of my time as a student I would not have been in this situation. He told me to take this as a lesson learned and that he knew I would be stronger because of it. He told me I had the option to take an independent study summer course. I would have to pay for it out of pocket and I had to find a professor willing to supervise my research. 

With that failure came many losses. I had surrendered $1000 to sit for the bar. I had submitted $500 as a deposit on an apartment for the summer. I had signed a 2 year employment contract. I had booked the flight for my post bar trip. 

I accepted my fate and went into hiding on graduation day. I received over a dozen "Where are you?" texts.  I received a dozen more "I'm sorry this happened to you" as the news spread. I got tired of avoiding phone calls so I turned my phone off. My mother and I wandered the city and she watched in amazement as I ate 1 dozen red velvet cupcakes by myself. I was so embarrassed. I was so disappointed in myself. 

I spent the next week crying and looking at my classmates graduation pictures. Their families looked so proud. My classmates looked so happy. I felt like a huge failure. I felt so alone. No one would understand what I was going through. 

I grew to love my University so much that I hesitated to tell anyone what kept me from the hooding ceremony. Surely I was an exception and they should not love the University any less because of my negative experience. 

One week of crying and feeling like God doesn't love me I got tired of crying. My boyfriend at the time came over to help me snap out of it. He brought fresh flowers and new ballet flats. His mom had offered to hire an attorney for me and she was so worried about me. I got tired of feeling sorry for myself and decided to do something about it. I got up and started sending emails to professors asking whether they would supervise my independent study. I took a few meetings and narrowed it down to 2 professors, Professor A and Professor B. At the last minute Professor B had to withdraw from consideration because of a family commitment.

I sent emails to the HR department and let the hiring partner know I did not graduate and would not sit for the bar. She was sorry to tell me I would have to forfeit my offer, but invited me to apply again the next year. 

It was resolved. While my friend studied for the bar I would spend my summer working with Professor A reading countless books and study results as I crafted a 30+ page research paper. The class would cost me my last $3000. I could no longer afford the my post bar trip to Costa Rica. 

Professor B checked on me via email a few weeks into the independent study course. I was vulnerable and it was like he knew what I needed to hear. He simply said he wanted me to know he was pulling for me to get through it and come out better than before. Those words meant so much to me. It was nice to know someone was rooting for me. He sent encouraging emails regularly and they were always right on time. There were so many times when I just wanted to give up and his emails really kept me going. Every week I sat with my advisor as she ripped my research and writing apart. I left her office feeling dumb and unworthy. Professor B sent me reference recommendations. He invited me to sit and vent in his office. He listened and didn't judge.

I submitted my paper and got a passing grade. Since I could only secure part time work I had time to do some freelance writing. I published my first magazine article. I learned the ins and outs of being a "stylist." I learned how to start a business. I got to explore the city in ways I did not get to when I was bogged down with law school. I figured out what motivates me. I grew closer with my friends. I grew closer with my family. By the time the next year's graduation came I had already passed the bar and was entertaining several different job offers making twice as much as I would have made at the job I forfeited. My network was stronger than ever and I was playing socialite in our nation's capital. I rubbed elbows with the Mayor, City Council members and frequently went to 4 figure plate dinners. At first I was not going to participate in the hooding ceremony, but I felt like I owed it to my parents. My application was approved and I walked. I made it onto our University's main webpage and made lifelong memories with new friends.  

I have gotten over the shame I once felt about my graduation experience. The shame was in keeping the secret. The longer I kept the secret the deeper the wounds became. The most painful part is that I never got to tell my professor how much his encouragement meant to me. I don't think I would have made it through the experience without his contributions. The hardest part was not writing the paper. The hardest part was believing in myself and he helped me with that. I thought I would have time to invite him to lunch or coffee. He passed away and so did my chance to tell him how much of an impact he made on my life. I live with that regret everyday. It would have only taken a few words in an email, but I never sat down long enough to write it. 
The experience with Professor B made me a better person. He could not help me the way I wanted him to help me, but he helped me in other ways. That's the kind of person I want to be. I may not be able to help you the way you think I should, but I will help in the best way I can. If someone makes an impact on my life I tell them as soon as I realize it. I express gratitude and appreciation for everything. I try not to take anything for granted. I'm not afraid to say "I love you" first. I'm not afraid to tell someone how much they mean to me. I know tomorrow is not promised. I never want anyone else to leave this earth not knowing how they have made an impact on me. 

I've started a crafting company with a few orders to fill. I have always known I would own my own business, but I never could have imagined I would be doing this. It's fun. People like my creations. I make chocolate covered sweets, custom treats, accessories and I embellish clothing and shoes. I started out just making stuff for my daughter and now people want me to make stuff for their children. It's amazing. I have also started a coding course and I'm enrolled in Youtube University majoring in photoshop. I have built two websites from scratch and I'm learning graphic design. I love it. 

I decided to share this because I know sometimes we just need to know we are not the only ones falling short. My disappointments may not be the same as yours, but we can still be encouraged by one another's victories. I don't have a glamorous life and I'm not going to pretend I do. I doubt myself sometimes. I am hard on myself. I question God. I have fallen short of glory, but I have not given up. Even on my most hopeless days I find a reason to be thankful. If you are struggling with your circumstances I encourage you to start by being thankful that you have eyes to read this, a mind to understand it and access to Al Gore's internet. 

May peace be upon you. 

Sharing IS Caring