Black Dreams, Fantasies & Realities (Opinion Piece)

cropped-blackmaggie2.jpgIt’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We take this time to honor the life and vision of a man who unapologetically risked it all to work towards equality employing a strategy of non-violence. His stance on not fighting fire with fire helped shape and control the narrative to highlight exactly what was going on around the country.

His power was not in his “hands” but in the strength of his mind to do the thing that goes against every human instinct for the sake of further proving his argument and developing a stable foundation for an entire movement. His leadership in maintaining this strategy was met with opposition from within the Black community as some felt as though fighting back and taking an eye for an eye would yield better results. There were some that felt as though Blacks should completely disengage from White society as a whole and focus on building wealth.

Who was right?

This depends on who you ask and how they see the end goal. If your family suffered on the back-end of desegregation with store closures and farm profit decreases you may hold one opinion. If your family suffered from mass incarceration as a result of Jim Crow laws you may hold another. However, had the foundation not been established with undeniable video evidence of Black peace being met with extreme violence perpetrated by the State as well as White citizens at the time, would any school of thought have a place to take root? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that there’s only one right answer to how we achieve better treatment and equitable economic standing in our given environments over the years.

The social constructs of discrimination and racism are multifaceted and manifest themselves in almost every avenue of life in America (Work, worship, education, financial access, voting, socializing…) so we need every type of Hero we can muster to tackle this beast. Nobody’s wrong, but not everybody’s right in every situation.

Where does that leave us today?

Just like in every other portion of history, Black is not a monolith. Not even Black in America… not even Black in the same city. We each have a realm of experience that shapes how we would like to see the future of people who look like us. Even when we isolate the last 6 years, most of which we spent with Obama as President, we didn’t all have the same outlook on the state of Black America.

I’m sure from the outside in, it’s evident to those paying attention. The same time that we had President Obama in office, we were enraged and mourning the fact that Trayvon Martin died because of the suspicions of a White Latino centered solely on his race and presence in a decent neighborhood. While we couldn’t have seen the day of anyone other than a white male holding the highest office in our country without the work of Dr. King, there’s a hole in the tapestry that still makes horrible people feel as though they can treat us how they see fit and never have to answer for the crimes they commit. Here’s the piece that makes it even trickier, there’s no proven formula that keeps Black people from getting gunned down and/or manhandled like dogs just for being Black in a particular space. Poor kid in Ferguson to Harvard Professor… we’re not a monolith, but we are all candidates for similar treatment.

How is that possible?

Even though we have come so far on the shoulders of those that went before us like Dr. King, we have failed to establish any real infrastructure for systemic change. We have some black owned banks, but not enough to stop frequenting establishments that have been proven to discriminate against us. We have lots of black owned businesses, but not enough are in a position to employ large segments of our communities and provide alternate avenues for economic sustenance. We’ve climbed, but not together. We’ve achieved, but not as an organized unit.

How does that affect how we treat one another?

The internet is an animal that Dr.King didn’t have to endure. He was able to execute his strategies without the ever looming comment section or editorial page posts. Would we be able to accept and respect his strategy today without coming down with a case of the “If I had been there..” syndrome where behind a keyboard we fancy ourselves some version of Luke Cage or T’Challa? In this age the incidents are more easily reported and the power of the narrative is in the hands of either the one with a badge, or the camera with the clearest angle.

We look at incidents like the young woman being beaten in a pizzeria in Pittsburghand then shame the cameraman and the only visible black female employee for not going all John Stewart and Storm. We don’t ever stop to consider what’s at stake for one another. It’s easy to say, “you should have jumped in the middle of the mob” or ” you should have called the police” and “what good are you doing behind the camera?”. We’ll support a woman risking her job and possibly her life, but won’t have an answer for her as to where she can then feed her family and pay her bills afterward. We talk bad about the cameraman, calling him a coward, but he’s the only reason that there’s been an arrest on the correct side of the incident. We aren’t fair with one another as much as we could be.

Now what?

We have a present need, to understand and respect that there’s room for all of us. Not just room, but each of us have something special that we can bring to the table and in any given situation we should seek to use the strategy that fits the circumstance. Dr.King was not docile and mild, he was strategic and emotionally intelligent enough to know how to prick the hearts of those that stood in the way of progress. He knew to devise specific goals and work to achieve them. We need to move forward with a balance of proactive and strategic reactive methods if our goal is to see major and measurable positive change.

This piece is a summation of my opinion based on my observation. I encourage you to seek out the perspectives and research the concepts presented here for yourself and share your conclusions. This is a safe space for the exchange of ideas. Links provided in-text for reference.

Black & Bossy Pre-Motherhood…This Ain’t Cute.

I have been a solid Dog-Mom for the last three years, and like a Black small-footed Peggy Hill, here I find myself pregnant with a son that I never imagined would be. Yes, I know where babies come from. No, I didn’t think that I was in the danger zone. I was wrong.

Now I’m 34 weeks into this deal, and I’ve finally landed on a solid feeling about this whole situation.

This Ain’t Cute!

Don’t get me wrong, I can intellectualize the fact that this is a beautiful scientific process, but I need someone to articulate that to my hips and my plans for the future.

Seriously.

I was the kind of girl that collected horror stories along the way to help me stay on the kid-free path, despite the ticking of my biological clock. While that helped create a nice callous around my heartstrings, trying to undo three decades worth of opinion is harder than it sounds, especially in such a short time frame as 40 weeks.

I’m shook.

Even with my Rolodex of easily accessible worst-case scenarios, now that I’m in the go zone of this “journey” I’m finding out new and unnerving things.

Here’s where I get graphic and say things that my family and church folk shouldn’t read. If you’re trying to keep me in a certain light stop reading right now.

I mean it, it’s about to go down. Go read the post about Grandma.

Ain’t cute thing #1- 

When you really have no idea what you’re doing, and you have no desire to start a new dynamic in your immediate friendships in which you start discussing bodily functions; you get on the Internet like a respectable nerd and find out things from strangers. That action leads me to the realization that there’s such thing as a “pad popsicle”. The young lady on the post (not the article I just linked) had concocted a menagerie of aloe, coconut oil, sage, bitters and wheatgrass (who knows, I zoned out) for the purpose of freezing the mix on a huge sanitary napkin, to place in her panties after giving birth.

I had to scroll to the comment section to see if there was anyone else completely confused with me. Nah. Everybody on the thread had their own recipe ready to rock and the old school moms had stories of how there’s a contraption at the hospital that you just twist and it gets cold like something out of a hiking kit.

Do you know what kind of beat up your “purse” has to be for COLD to feel soothing? I’ve had some… “oh Lord just leave the hot rag in place” moments in my life, but NEVER in the history of this kitty box have I been so swollen and that I have ever even contemplated an ice pack.

Help, God!

Ain’t cute thing #2- 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmfcRaQAcZo

I’m out here trying to take over the world. Same thing I do every day, Pinky. So there’s not a lot of room for dramatic emotional shifts. As a person that has dealt with anger issues that reach as far back to the age of 5; hormonal imbalance, physical changes, and mouthy people just don’t mix. I’ve found myself having to pray aloud to keep the urge to heel kick someone in the mouth at bay.
The fact that I’m not in prison is proof that prayer works. I’ve found myself feeling levels of mad as hell that rival my years as a brand new teenager. Who has time for that? Remaining sociable and acceptable in public is probably draining more out of me than this huge baby inside of me that likes to boogie to music and wiggle when the food I eat is tasty.

Between that and moments of crushing sadness, I’m ready for this kid to get done cooking and come on out, so I can establish his LLC, schedule his music lessons and teach him how we roll. I’ve lost and missed out on enough things that I generally don’t spend a lot of my normal time being sad. So, this whole tear act is beyond annoying because I absolutely know that whatever it is, it’s not that deep; and with the emotional swings comes the act of faking like everything is just fine. I honestly don’t know the answer at any given time. Sometimes I’m cool, sometimes I break things that I don’t care about. This is stupid.

Ain’t cute thing #3- 

There’s apparently a protocol to doing this whole thing, from pictures of my waistline disappearing gradually to inspirational quotes and deep shit I’m supposed to be spewing to the masses about how I’m transforming as a woman. I’m 33 years old, at this point I’m as grown as it gets until I start going through the change of life. Since the beginning of my pregnancy there’s been a wave of articles on how black women are the most likely to die during and after childbirth so excuse me if I can’t give a damn about all the mushy stuff until after I get through this thing I’ve feared and avoided my entire life, alive. Thanks. Not to keep talking about the emotional piece, but with that, I check my blood pressure on a regular basis, especially after a mood shift. I also weigh myself twice a day, in the beginning, it was to be sure I didn’t lose too much, and now it’s to be sure that the gain is within reason to my height. I’m much too busy trying to be my own advocate, watch his seemingly rapid growth (his ass is over 5lbs already) and be sure that there’s absolutely nothing else that I can do to create the best situation. I don’t have time to be cutesy. Sorry.

Ain’t cute thing #4-

I don’t ever like to be touched in places beyond my hands and shoulders. There’s something about a pregnant belly that makes people feel like they need to reach out and put their possibly washed,  but more likely to have just touched a doorknob hands on your good clothes. I don’t even remember who it was that did it, but I’m at my Grandmother’s funeral trying to be all dignified and comport myself in a manner that wouldn’t embarrass the deceased if she saw me, and missed a belly touch dodge. I let it ride on the strength of time and place, but I was visibly upset according to my Sorority sisters that caught my body language from over my shoulder.

If you wouldn’t rub my belly to admire my work in the gym, randomly touching my belly because I’ve been screwing just seems weird to me, but hey, let the spirit move you as you see fit… it’s creepy. That’s my uterus. If you’re not directly connected with what’s on the way out, what’s the obsession?

Ain’t cute thing #5- 

I’ve been doing Kegels since the age of 15. So imagine my surprise when I find out that sometimes when the moon is just right, a gag or a good joke can undo over a decade and a half of pussy power and send me into peed in panties.

You’re talking about one disappointed woman.

I take joy in the small things in life, not stinking, being clean, having control over bodily functions. Here’s the conundrum, I’ve doubled the exercises but this baby’s head has an 8cm diameter as of last Thursday so there’s a piece of me that can’t put together a loosening and tightening routine that will soothe my paranoia.

All jokes aside, I’m looking forward to what this little life is going to do to the rest of my world. However, freaking out about strangers being around him to not knowing exactly how my leave situation is going to work, as a planner I have way more questions than answers and that sucks the last little bit of what could be fun right out of it all.

Even more, I’m bringing a brand new Black male into the world and if my Punnett square analysis is accurate, he’s going to be big and chocolate. I’m preoccupied with determining the balance of making sure he’s exposed to multiple cultures and hoping that he has a healthy understanding that everything that this world has to offer isn’t necessarily for him in the same way that all people enjoy them.

Can I afford to try and skip all of that, and if I do, will that allow him the maximum room to grow, or will it get him killed? See…it ain’t cute.

Life After The Big A$$ Deal

Here’s what they don’t tell you about life after you’ve hit a number of your goals:

http://lemerg.com/881846.html  

Just when you think you’ve made it out, life is going to draw back and hit you square in the mouth. The trick is, it’s not about the punch… it’s about how long it takes you to wipe your face and get back in the fight.  Because life doesn’t need a timeout, and it’s going to keep swinging. So while some may learn to block and weave, the ones that really “make it”, learn how to take the blow and just keep going.  It’s because they know that getting hit is inevitable when you’re trying to get the title. They aren’t surprised, they’re prepared.

If it hurts, that means you’re still here to feel the pain. Figure out what it takes to get you back in your stance and let loose on that #%. Now is the time to get comfortable with the fact that you have the power to turn a thought into a thing. It’s a strange pill to swallow. You can’t let that freak you out, and you certainly can’t look at this as the end of the road. There’s always something new that you can do. There’s always a next thing.

People always push you to dream big and chase after them, but nobody really explains that overwhelming feeling of “What now?”. It’s normal, and there’s nothing wrong with you, however that energy is going to bring into orbit a lot of people and situations that were once kept at bay when you were completely driven. Whatever you do, do not get back into the rotation of that low vibration nonsense.

I know that I started talking in “Shea Butter”, but follow me.

You do not have any obligation to get back into a toxic groove just because those people and things have been waiting on you to finally take your eyes off a prize. But here’s the trick…you only need something new, you don’t have to try and top the last thing, you don’t have to make a bigger splash. You just need to continue a positive and healthy path.

I finished my MBA and everybody’s like “When are you going for that Doctorate?”, but if I know that what I want out of life is to own my own business and help other people achieve the same thing, I know it does not require the next degree to make that happen. If I didn’t have a firm grip on what I’m trying to accomplish overall then I can see how I could easily fall into the what’s next trap of trying to achieve some undefined next level.

So back to the fight analogy.

Roll with the punches, stay in the fight, and know that endurance, strength and speed all have a place in the match that they need to be deployed. Very rarely is it all at the same time. Chill. You got this!

Manage your own Subscription

There are so many things that we subscribe to on a daily basis…Gym memberships that we never use, streaming apps, news feeds, podcasts and the like. All things that we initially engage in an effort to create an increase in our lives. Either more entertainment, health or knowledge. These things all have opt-out terms. You always have the option to suspend or cancel these connections. Some of us are so good, that we can subscribe and opt-out before ever getting charged.

Not so much as it pertains to the constructs and imposed norms of society. These subscriptions have cancellation fees that seem too high for us to ever gain the courage to complete the un-subscribe process. Many of these all too high fees reside only in our heads.

Let’s get on the same page:
By a show of hands sitting right where you are reading this, how many of you believe that you should own a house by 30? How many of you believe that you should have a degree by 25? How many of you believe that you should be married by 28? How many of you believe that you should have about 2 kids by 35?  How many of you believe that you should be independently wealthy by 40?

Now I know that not everyone raised their hands at all of these things, but I’m going to guess that one of these got you. Now my next questions are; What happens if that doesn’t take place? Are you any less “you”?  Do you consider yourself a failure? Do you even want any of the above?

Finally… Who told you there’s only one way?

There comes a time in all of our lives to make an assessment of what we value, which goals are worth chasing, and which things we pursue that we qualify as actual goals and not just stops along the way. Do not allow someone else to put a clock  and ruler on your life. Do not allow anyone else to opt you in on what’s in store for your life.

Last month I got a chance to share a portion of the long story of how I got to college with the MSJU Upward Bound youth as part of a panel. Some kids had concerns about job availability after their years of hard work in school… I thank God that He opened the door for me to get on my soapbox about jobs but as I write this I want to apply this to the whole rest of life.

So what!?!?

If you have a skill that you are willing to provide to a company to help make them profitable, you can take that same education and energy to create something for yourself! If you feel like people won’t give you a chance,  MAKE YOUR OWN CHANCE! The same goes with every other life-happening that your experience a setback. Detour as needed and don’t ever devalue yourself, just keep moving forward and if you get a chance to catch-up or get ahead, simply be grateful.

Rejection/failure is just an opportunity for a different type of success so do not be afraid of hitting the un-subscribe button on things that don’t apply to you. Don’t hold yourself up to the thoughts and ideas of other people, and know that if you keep waking up, you’ve still got a chance to make great things happen, whatever that looks like.

Be Strong out there people.

They don’t want to see you moving at your own pace. They don’t want to see you reaching your own goals! -(inspired by DJ Khaled

You are who you REALLY you are. (Reflective Opinion Piece)

http://www.damyhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/I-am.jpg

There’s an old saying “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell who you are”.

Lots of motivational speakers like to drop that line and make people feel like the power to push your life in the direction that you choose is up to the circle that you curate. While there are elements of truth in the transference of energy and the ability of friends to both open and close doors to an extent. The uncomfortable truth is. You are who you REALLY you are.

Let’s examine some things.
What do you value?
I have friends that I can call anytime, and I also have friends that have to call me… Among all of them the common threads are loyalty, kindness and solidarity. In all cases the diversity of my friend base has helped me learn to survive/thrive in many situations, from knowing what to do while staring down the barrel of an AK-47 (I’ll tell that story one day) to how to make a great impression at a country club fundraiser. If you surround yourself with people that care about you and want to see you live and succeed, then it doesn’t really matter how many connections they have that you can use. They love you and they do things for you because they feel like it.

I had a professor tell me that she curates her networking list to only people that she believes would do a favor for her. While I’m sure that she thinks that this is a very business savvy idea, she’s one of the most friendless people I’ve ever met. Out of respect for her I refrained from commenting but I wanted to tell her. “Don’t you know people don’t like you for real?” Her whole life as she’s described it is a series of transactions. She counts every thank you she receives and notes every let down. She values favor trades and not the genuine connection. Real friends couldn’t tell you if you’re even or not. In this case her friends may be seeking a genuine connection, but she’s undeniably a user.

Where are you going?
Life is a journey with highs and lows. If the only time that you show love is when you’re in the high points, you’ll find that time will take you and those that you’ve connected with to your own versions of low points. Just because a person is not doing what you are doing, doesn’t mean that they are not a positive piece in your life puzzle. What does any of their life decision have to do with your standing on your own principles and decision making skills? If you do things because other people do things then that just makes you a follower.

How do you see yourself?
There’s always someone better, and there’s always someone worse. If you have a hard time accepting this fact then this piece very well may define you. Being the person that lives on one end of the spectrum or the other is going to prove to be hard to find people that want to be around you. In those cases, real friends are the least of your worries, and probably few and far in-between.

If you only find your self worth in what others say about you, where you get invited or how many times you get picked over someone else, it’s really easy to help you figure out who you really are underneath everything shiny… a nobody or even worse, a slave to the favor of others. That means that nothing that you do is juts for you. Your inner art has been squelched by your need to be liked.

What’s the point?
It’s not that your friends define you, it’s that who you are determines who will be in your presence. So don’t even waste your time trying to solve your problems of how people see you with getting certain people out of your life. Concentrate on the one thing in this world that you have control of, who you really are. In owning up to how much of this equation belongs to you, you’ll find that you attract other responsible, accountable, and honest people while people that don’t mesh well with that energy will fade to black on their own.

… but that’s just how I feel about it. Tell me what you think in the comment section. I look forward to the conversation.

Inheritance… (reflective motivational journal entry)

Many of you that have taken the time to get to know me on other platforms know that I’m about my paper. But today’s post has very little to do with money. Today I’m talking about the inheritance that you don’t have to talk to the IRS about. The other day I got called “older people” and as much as it stung, it was a call to action and a realization that I am now being looked to for an “inheritance”.

WHAT YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT MAGGIE? 

When I was a kid, I studied with my parents. What do I mean? I mean, my father would give me the book/ paperwork for his advancement exam to become an engineer on the fire truck and have me read back his highlighted sections. My mother would do her homework all over the house for getting her Real Estate license and even when she took a few classes towards finishing her BS before she officially “went back to school”. It mattered whether or not the tests were passed. It mattered how high the scores were, yet nobody really checked my report card during high school. Why? Because they were secure in the fact that they had given me my inheritance early in life. I had learned that the difference between me living the life I wanted and failing was as simple as failing to do the un-fun part.

One of the first things that my Grandfather taught me was how to read things for myself. He showed me how the bus system worked, and took me to the library as soon as I was old enough to get a card of my own. Some of his last words to me when I came to visit him the Thanksgiving before he passed was “Not everything is fatal.” This was in response to me feeling an enormous amount of shame after having introduced him to my first husband. He didn’t judge people, and even though by the end of the trip we all knew that I’d made a huge mistake… he wasn’t worried about me because he knew that he had given me my inheritance early in life. I can read anything in English, to comprehension. That came in handy when it was time to complete my divorce without a lawyer as well as finishing my BA in Paralegal Studies once I finally gained my freedom.

My mom’s mom (Granny) was extremely credit conscious. She paid for most things in cash, and anything that she bought with credit she did so with a solid repayment strategy. She taught me how to save my change for big purchases and be patient when filling a want rather than a need. She also taught me how to learn to do things for myself. She could fix a toilet, some broken concrete on the stairs, switch out spark plugs, put a new p-trap on a sink. All of the things that she learned to do herself helped her save money even when she wasn’t able to do them anymore because nobody could pull the “lil lady” routine on her and overcharge. She signed up for all of the warranties, so she never bought the same thing over and over. I did my best to inherit all of these things, but Granny was a different kind of tough, so while there are some things that I need to pay other people to do, I make sure that I learn what the job takes before I make the call.

Now the above are just the good things. There’s some not so great things that I’ve inherited as well. Without naming any specific sources I have a fear of germs and most activities that could be considered “thrill-seeking”.  I beat up on myself if I don’t win. I love shiny new things, I have a hard time buying outside of my preferred name brands and I hate inconsequential chit-chat with strangers just to name a few.

THE BIG PICTURE: 

Think about the examples that you set in the lives of the young people around you on a regular basis. That’s their inheritance. I have God-kids in which I hope to instill the spirit of entrepreneurship and reading everything, especially before they sign. We go through this life and we do our best to make it to the next level and all the while, the young people are watching. So if we never try to be great, or if we try again after we fail, they inherit the byproducts of our actions.

There’s a unique situation in the Black community when it comes to what we pass down. Not to say that there aren’t many of us that have things in place in an effort to create generational wealth, but we (broad sense of we) tend to ignore the positive impact that good habits and solid strategic planning can have on sustaining anything that we create monetarily. If we are sure to pass down not just cash and words of wisdom, but acts to follow, we can see an increase that can’t be shaken by an “-ism”.

The Grandparents of our parents invested in land and passed down trades. Many of us have decided that the ways of old are no longer sufficient or we got tired of having to continuously rebuild (*cough Roswell, Rosewood, Black Wall Street cough*). But if we just keep in mind that we are going to leave behind something even if we don’t try, we may find ourselves trying to do/be better in the name of the ones that will follow. Because they are totally watching the… “older people”. 🙂

DISCUSSION: 

Tell me what you think. Am I way off base with this one? I’d love to hold that discussion in the comment section as usual. Just an interesting aside, I usually try to add some pictures to the posts to keep you engaged, but I Googled “inheritance” and there were no stock pictures of black hands passing anything between one another. Then I modified my search to “black inheritance” and “inheritance black” only to find the logo of a death metal band and this link….

http://theblackinheritance.com/featured-post-black-health-matters/

Sooo…. maybe we can talk about that too.

Flip a Finna Into a Did

I’ve been away for a while taking care of some business that simply did not allow for much time to blog. I took a stab at completing a review but just like everything else that didn’t make it to priority one boarding on my mind plane, it got left behind. I decided to come to you today because there’s something positive from my journey that I’d like to share.

Finnas shouldn’t last always.

This is derivative of my life’s driving philosophy long before I learned of a bucket list or anything else. My objective in life is to take everything that I’ve stated I’m fixing to/finna (depending on your country upbringing), or getting ready to do, and turn them into a list of things that I did. I should not spend my entire life with that list looking the same, and never checking anything off. If you follow my work from other blogs, you may already know that I have worked so many different jobs, and in so many different industries, especially during the dark times in my life, and that philosophy is part of why I’ve worked that way.

How do those things relate? Well ever since I found out that I needed to take control of my own destiny when it came to getting to college by joining the Navy I set a few long term goals in those moments; I’d have good credit, I’d own a house, I’d get a couple of degrees, I’d learn how to function in all of the parts of a company (walking corporation was the term I used at around 13), I’d start my own business.
This has been the year of the dying “finnas” and I am grateful to get a chance to share my drive and strategies with others via independent management and consulting.

Girl What’s the Point?


I really want to help other people learn how to get into the mode of attacking their “one day” list. Just because I’m the type of person that will work at a doggy daycare scraping poo and feeding dogs just to be sure that my credit doesn’t drop below a place that it can be repaired, doesn’t mean that works for everyone.  There’s both an art and a science to capturing your dreams and I’ve simplified them into a few universal tips below.

1. Be Early for your deadlines. I mean every time you get something to do, kill it as fast and accurately as you possibly can. Look at a task as an enemy that must be destroyed with extreme prejudice and show up early for your meetings.

2. Over-deliver. Top yourself every time you get called up to do something. If somebody wants you to make a hat, make that hat and also make some embellishments that can be interchanged. Do the most because everything that leaves your hands, whether you actually write your name on it or not, is a reflection of you.

3. Give props to anybody else that’s out here doing their best. The positive energy from giving love and good vibes to others in your position will set you up metaphysically to be in the right places and surrounded by the right people.

4. Do not be afraid to change your strategy to reach you ultimate goal. I went to school for a whole lot of things with the idea in mind that I’d use those skills to help me work through college, then the GI Bill changed and even though I don’t need those other things to make a living, they have opened doors that allow me to be extremely versatile in how I survive and thrive. I still stopped focusing on those things and captured the pieces of paper that would take me where I was trying to go. The only wrong answer in trying to win is giving up, everything else is up for interpretation.

5. Recognize the power in sacrifice. There’s lots of things that I’ve had to say no to in the last 7 years in order to be in a position to say yes to the things that are on target with my goals. You are the only one responsible for you getting where you’re trying to be. This isn’t exclusive to financial parameters, but check your energy as well. Sometimes people, places and/or things won’t put you in the right head space making ‘No’ the only answer that makes sense.

“It hurts but it may be the only way.” -Kanye West (the version we all love)

In the interest of keeping this short I just want you to know that I’m still here knocking out finnas, but that list has gotten extremely short in the past six months. I walk for my MBA in May, and I finish all my classes in August (let’s pray this 4.0 sticks). I value being able to come to you all and pour out my heart and mind on things. I hope that you find this post increases your positive energy and if you needed a little motivation to bust a move, I hope that it did that too.

2015 Life Lessons (video)

2015 was interesting and long as hell. This year felt like 3 of them jammed together with 1 Winter and 2 long Springs. This year was so odd that I decided to be sure that I captured the major moments of my own life and share them with you, my new readers.

Things I learned:

  • You can do Epic things with $350 (vacations, electronics, wardrobe refreshes)
  • There are way more free things to enjoy than people are willing to find out about (casino shuttles, first-time Ubers, concerts outside) 
  • Life is full of crazy assholes, try not to be one of them
  • I am responsible enough to own a house
  • Family is everything, good and bad…
  • God is going to always send me something to laugh at when I’m feeling blue and doesn’t really care about the protocol of the given situation. Funeral, Church, School, Work… doesn’t matter
    • Did you know that God was from the Land of Oz, and Jesus flew in an airplane?  I thought that I was going to have to climb in the box with my big cousin because I was getting dead weak… RIP and love you always Tyrone, you would’ve been rolling too.
  • Saying No, and being told No can be the best thing that ever happens to you
  • Tyson Beckford feels like he’s made out of muscles and Shea Butter and has no pores or wrinkles
  • My best friend is hilarious when drunk, but even funnier freshly sober and ready to eat
  • My dog June is my spirit animal, she hates bells, and will kill or die for the noise to end 
  • My parents really love themselves and eat lots of vegetables so hopefully if I follow suit I can look like them when I’m knocking on 60’s door
  • My Grandmother is amazing enough to diagnose her own illness… she made the doctors look again so they could start the treatment early, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of why I love her so much. 
  • I’m still too emotionally fragile to really experience a tourist free Gentrified New Orleans 10 years after Katrina. I love White people, but they only made up 25% of the population when I lived there… Fleurty Girl will have to serve as my stand-in Black New Orleanian. I hope she can tell me what happened to the Gumbo Man that sold to club patrons out the back of the Scion.
  • Every grown person comes with their own list of responsibilities, and if you’re not careful, they’ll try to sneak some over to you. Keep your eyes open and wash your own dishes. 
2015 sent me through the entire emotional spectrum and I’m a little sad to watch it come to an end. However, I am looking forward to what 2016 has to offer. 
I think it’s safe to say that this was “The Year of the Dream Chaser”. When we see a guy go from giving us gospel versions of “Throw That A$$ In A Circle” dressed in someones Red Hat Society regalia, to becoming the face of Patty LaBelle pies in the same year that Donald Trump is taken seriously as a Presidential candidate, we know that anything is possible. 
From all the new babies and marriages, to the near death experiences and people that we lost along the way 2015 gave us all it had to offer and I can personally say; “it don’t owe me nothing” *in my old acquired New Orleans accent*.  Have a great holiday, somebody save me some Kwanzaa bread and I’ll see you in 2016.
Until then, don’t get caught under the mistletoe smelling funny… and remember, it’s not your birthday (unless it really is) so don’t worry about what you don’t get, just feel the love.  

Enjoy the video of my 2015 🙂

The Art, Science and Agony of Adulting

They should really stop the normal rhetoric at both high school and college graduations. Although not in my case, that is where most of the new wave of responsible people hear some motivational speech about taking risks and enjoying the ride. While many of those speeches provide the hope and optimism needed to brave this whole new lifestyle that will never end until the day that you die, they usually miss a fey key points. Today I present to you that missing piece, in the Art, Science and Agony of Adulting. 
The ART
The art is in the understanding. Social constructs are like grammar, you have to know the rules first to break them. Here is where you can know that it’s polite to bring a gift to the baby shower, but bring cash instead and still be celebrated as a timely and thoughtful gift giver. This also includes knowing just how late to be for church so that for you it only lasts an hour and a half. There’s no right or wrong in doing what you want to do because you’re an Adult…and nobody can stop you. 
The Science.
When you’re an adult, you’re in charge of several things; when and what you eat and how much, what time you go to bed, how many friends you can have over at one time, how many things you can buy in the store. You are also in charge of funding, sourcing and coordinating all of the activities of your life. The science is in measuring your lifestyle with your income and the obligations required to maintain both. This is where lots of people fail. This is why there’s such thing as credit and even more why people deal with “bad credit”. Adulting is not cheap when you try to live a life like the music videos and reality TV shows that you grew up watching (unless you’re strictly a Survivor fan) and most of the time you need a job to do half of the things. That means that you have to figure out what you need to know in order to qualify for the job that aids in creating the lifestyle you want followed by a coordinated effort to secure it through proper networking and application of the acquired knowledge. 
Yeah, I know… 
#THEAGONY
Here are some things that can happen when you do too much of one and not enough of the other between The Art & The Science:
Weight gain, Alcoholism, Homelessness, Joblessness, Drug Abuse, Loneliness, Depression and in extreme circumstances even Death. 
Heavy right? 
I remember the first time I got out of the house and out of intense supervision. I was in the Navy and even though we had fitness standards, I’d just spent over 10 weeks only eating food that was provided. When I got the chance to eat at a restaurant again it took me years to stop. I even found a way to go on a diet with restaurant food… why? Because I was grown and nobody could stop me. As I embark on this latest fitness journey, I just wish that somebody had, but that’s not how Adulting works..you’re supposed to just know. Why? Because you’re the adult.
Lately my entire life has been revolving around school and work. I have to literally schedule and budget fun. The stinking trick is, that’s not really how fun works. You can plan a trip to Vegas, but it’s the spontaneous decision to sit through the timeshare presentation that gets you free tickets to see Tyson Beckford naked.
 But bills and future money take precedence over right now fun because that’s the formula that we’ve all been taught that keeps us from sleeping on the park bench. So the Agony is in knowing that even though you are totally in control of what you actually do, nobody is going to stop you and also nobody is going to bail you out. It’s a tough pill to swallow this whole Adult thing, and just think, it lasts the rest of your life.
Until next time… may your coloring not rely on the placement of the lines. 
This post is dedicated to my Sister Kristol who’s Birthday I’m missing tomorrow because Grown-Up… 

"I’m Black… but I’m here" (Video)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
This year I was given the task of making the secondary staple of the table, the Mac & Cheese. On my Facebook page I expressed some frustration in creating this dish because I don’t have a tangible recipe. We’ve already discussed that dilemma. 
What I  didn’t discuss is why it was so importan that I come correct on the Macaroni & Cheese.  The dish itself makes me think of my Granny (Ellen). I miss her so much, it’s been a decade but I can still go to pieces about it. My mom took me to a restaurant for my birthday back in 2008 (OK Cafe in Atlanta off I-75) and their Mac was so much like Granny’s, I dropped real tears at the table. 
I tasted what I made last night and it took me back to sitting in her room wishing somebody would make a way to rewind a VHS faster so I could watch The Color Purple again. 
Some of you know that I haven’t watched the whole movie since she died,  but I woke up thinking about what I’m grateful for and the scene below came to mind. There’s nothing that you can’t escape,  nothing you can’t overcome and it’s never too late to start a brand new life.
I’m thankful that I learned this lesson at 8… but I’m mostly thankful that I finally reached the point in life that I don’t feel like jumping in the trunk and riding off… as often as I have in the past. I’m thankful that after several years of moving all around and working my way to a new life that I have a place of my own to call home and no need to put a three fingered curse on the people around me.

My Granny used to tell me “Find you some strangers, they’ll do you better than family.” and with each passing year I find great new strangers that accept me as I am and always have a spot in their trunk for me… just in case. 🙂 

Enjoy!