Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Ex-Files: Should You Keep in Touch?

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference..." -Elie Wiesel

This weekend, I got into quite a debate with a friend of mine about the idea of staying in touch with former lovers. Personally, I don't believe in the idea of befriending or keeping in touch with exes. And when I use the term "ex" let me be clear. I'm not talking about that person you casually dated/screwed/kicked it with for a short amount of time without any real feelings. I'm talking about that person you have history with, the one you invested your time, energy, and emotion into, only to have things go sour for one reason or another. I know that some people swear by keeping those connections alive, but I'm of the opposite opinion. Once I've decided that you've hurt my feelings for the last time, I couldn't give two shits about you or what's going on in your life. I'm not sending any "Hey, just checking on you" text messages, not calling your mama to wish her a happy birthday, not following your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...hell, if I were walking past you and you burst into flames, you'd be lucky if I stopped to piss on you to extinguish the fire. (Okay, that last one was a little extreme. If my ex was in serious life or death danger and I had the power to help, of course I'd do it...maybe, LOL. But I digress...) 

So back to this debate I found myself in the midst of:
Her: "He still calls sometimes to see how I'm doing and who I'm dating, and I look at his Facebook every now and then just to be nosy. It looks like things aren't going so good between him and the new chick."
Me: "But why does it matter? Who cares if his relationship with the new chick is working out? He decided he didn't want to be with you, so f*#k him!
Her: "Because it makes me feel good to know that I was right about his new situation. I want him to recognize that I was a good woman to him, and he messed that up."
Me: "And again I ask...why do you even care?!? Why does it matter to you if he ever recognizes that you're a good woman? It's over! As long as you know you're a good woman, who cares what he thinks?"

And back and forth we went. My point is this. If you've truly moved on, keeping tabs on your ex should be one of those things that might occasionally cross your mind, but in the grand scheme of things doesn't really matter.  Even though we all get a little satisfaction from knowing that the one who did us dirty is feeling the effects of karma, if you're exerting even the slightest bit of your time or energy into seeing if that is indeed a reality, maybe you haven't moved on as far as you initially thought. 

These of course are just my thoughts, and we all know that I'm no expert when it comes to love or relationships. What do you think? Is checking up on your ex (texting, calling, emailing, Facebooking, etc.) a meaningless way to keep in touch, or does it mean that you really haven't moved on? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Might Be a F.A.N. (F#ck A$$ N*gga) If...

Its no secret that the dating scene here in Atlanta is one big cesspool of crazy, to say the least. It seems like I meet men wherever I go, and while some of them end up being worth my time, for the most part a lot of them come with their own unique brand of loser-ness. My best friend Monica and I have come up with an affectionate nickname for all the bozos that fall into this category: F.A.Ns (fuck ass niggas). F.A.N.s are everywhere: at the grocery store, at the gym, at the car wash, posted up at the bar of your favorite lounge. You know the type... that cocky guy who steps to you, yet seems to be completely oblivious to his inherent lameness. I present for your entertainment ten true F.A.N. stories from the mean streets of Atlanta.

You might be a F.A.N. if...

1. You lie about having your own place, when really you and your dog sleep on the couch at your brother's girlfriend's house.

2. You invite me out, then cop an attitude about paying for my $12.00 meal.

3. You claim to be Kurupt's younger brother, and expect my panties to become instantly wet from that irrelevant tidbit of knowledge.

4. You try to bribe me into dating you by offering to buy me gift cards to my favorite store.

5. You say you don't have any kids, but your cover photo on Facebook shows you hugged up with two children who look like your identical twins.

6. You offer me Molly on our first date, then become angry with me when I refer to you as "being on drugs."

7. You divorced your ex-wife over a year ago, but you still have her old makeup and toiletries in your bathroom.

8. You think meeting at Starbucks for a cup of coffee is too expensive, and you get an attitude when I decline your offer to hang out at my place instead.

9. You text me like clock work every two weeks to see if I've changed my mind about sleeping with you.

10. Your homeboy dropped you off for our first date, and you made no plans for a ride home, because you fully expected that I'd be giving you a ride back to my place.

I swear I couldn't make this stuff up, even if I tried. And while the faint of heart would probably give up on this dating thing altogether, I can't lie, these F.A.Ns and their antics keep me thoroughly entertained. Hell, if I can't find Mr. Right, I might as well get a good laugh (and some fodder for my blog) while I try.

Till next time, folks!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Blueprint (Momma Loves Me), Inspired by Jay-Z (Yep, She Writes Raps Too...LOL)

Anyone who knows me well knows that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers, and The Blueprint is one of my favorite albums of all time. On my way back to Atlanta from Charleston earlier today, I found myself stuck in Labor Day traffic on I-26. As my frustration level started to rise, track 13 from the album, "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" came up in my playlist. I don't know what it is about being stuck in traffic that makes my creative juices start to flow, but as I was listening all I could think about was what a dope poem/personal remix this song would make. I starting rummaging through my glove compartment for any random piece of paper I could find, and came up with an old CVS receipt. Excited, I started scribbling down my version of the song, and forgot all about how annoyed I initially was by the holiday traffic. Here's the actual song, followed by my version.

Momma loved me
Pop left me
Julie fed me
Leona dressed me
Saisha fought with me
made me tougher
Love you for that forever,
no matter what, girl.
The Hike raised me
and whether right or wrong
my life gave me all
that I write in this song.
Tasha babysitted,
changed my diaper
Jason introduced me to the blunt that
changed my life up.
Fab Five grew me,
had me skipping school,
first boyfriend Michael
had me making moves.
Momma raised me,
Pop I miss you,
God help me forgive him
I got some issues.
Lisa cleaned my ears,
Sandra shampooed my hair
Leona was fly,
Shit, I used to want her gear.
First grandchild,
I could do no wrong
Years moving past fast,
let's move along
College campus,
picked up some shady skills
Dig made me believe
our shit was real.
Wilding, getting high
couldn't foresee
a stint in rehab would
bring me back to me.
Tiffany fucked with me,
Camea did too.
Shoulda kept in touch,
Moved on to something new.
Momma loved me
Pop left me
Grandma dressed me
plus she fed me
banana pudding,
was in the hood then
puffing on blacks
with my girl Apryl.
Kim rolled with a chick,
fell out over dude.
Your ass was right all along,
I didn't have a clue.
Danielle fucked with a chick,
always had my back.
Carl played his part,
until he broke my heart.
Getting my head on straight,
but still a little wild now
then came the call to teach,
time to slow it down.
August '08, got my shit in line,
now I'm six years in,
still shaping minds.
Momma loved me
Aundrea, Auntie D
loves you to death, won't let no trouble
come your way.
Oh, can't forget my boy in the middle east,
he's gone till November,
how can I not remember?
One of those great loves,
helped change me
but you had a wife
wish I could tell her sorry.
Unless you was me,
how can you judge me?
I was brought up in pain,
y'all can't touch me.
Past pursues me,
to chase, cuff, and subdue me
Despite my mistakes,
I'm young, fly, and free
and breaking every chain.
Not living by the rules
Wanna see a real woman?
Take a walk in my shoes.
Monica, you still with me
Nigga, what did I say?
We still do it big,
taking over the A.
That ain't the whole story,
just part of the game,
she made the transition,
to the peace from the pain.
My momma loves me....


Monday, June 24, 2013

Straight from a "Dark Girl's" Mouth

This afternoon, I finally got around to watching "Dark Girls," the much talked about documentary exploring colorism and prejudices against dark-skinned women. Being that I'm one of the few people in the universe who doesn't have cable, I initially had no plans on watching it; however, after reading the rather interesting commentary from Facebook and Twitter I decided to take a peek and see what all the fuss was about. While I sympathize with some of the painful reflections that the women in the documentary described, as a dark-skinned woman, I honestly couldn't relate to any of their experiences. Maybe I grew up under a rock, but my skin color was something that never really crossed my mind. I always knew that I was beautiful,  and from the time I was old enough to walk I was taught to enter a room as if I owned it, and not to entertain   anything that suggested otherwise. The idea of having unshakable confidence in my beauty was not something I learned from being told. It was something I learned from watching and observing. The women in my family come in a variety of hues, from my lighter-skinned grandmother to my darker-skinned youngest aunt, and all shades of brown in between. Regardless of their skin tone, the one thing they all had in common was a confidence and regality in the way they carried themselves...a sense of esteem that made people sit up and take notice when they walked into a room. And fortunately for me, I didn't just see confident dark-skinned women in my family. I saw them in my church and in the hallways of my elementary school, demonstrating for me day in and day out that having that "It Factor" had nothing to do with your skin tone; when you know in your own mind that you're "all that," the world can't help but to think so too.

To me, one of the first steps in repairing the rift of colorism is in shaping the minds of our young ladies. There is nowhere that I'm more cognizant of that than in my role as a teacher and mentor. Everyday that I step into my classroom, I try to model for my female students self-confidence in action, the same way that my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, and other women I knew growing up modeled it for me. Our girls (and not just dark-skinned girls, but ALL girls) must be taught to own their beauty, regardless of what society, the media, the opposite sex, or people within their own race tell them. That lesson starts with us as women.

So ladies of color, no matter where you are or what you may be doing, hold your head high, square your shoulders back, and put that "I know I'm the shit" sway in your walk, regardless of your skin tone. Some little "dark girl" you don't even know just might be watching.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Are You Really Instagram Flexin' in Church Though? Please Smack Yourself, Then Proceed to the Nearest Exit.

So let me start off by saying that in church, I am typically not the kind of person who pays attention to what other people are doing, wearing, singing, talking about, etc. For me, worship is the ultimate personal opportunity to come to a holy place with other like-minded people and reflect on and rejoice over the goodness of God, despite my flawed humanness. Put simply, I'm there for no other reason than to get my praise on and to hear a good word that I can apply to my own life. Today, however, was a little bit different. At my church (as is the case in many churches), we observe the Lord's Supper through the practice of Holy Communion on first Sundays. For most believers, it is a sacred time to privately acknowledge and confess your sins, and reflect on Jesus's ultimate sacrifice of death on the cross for the remission of those sins. Normally during this time, I am in head-bowed-eyes-closed mode. But alas, the devil was busy. At one point he taps me on the shoulder. I happen to look up, and am quite startled by what I see. The woman sitting directly in front of me has her iPad out, and is taking pictures of herself (duck lip, peace sign, and all), then proceeding to upload them on Instagram. I scrunch my face, and my mind yells out a full blown "What the hell?!?" followed by "Lord forgive me for that, but is this really happening right now?" I look on for another minute or two out of sheer curiosity, in an attempt to make sure that my eyes aren't deceiving me. After being sure that they weren't, I asked the Lord to forgive me once more for being distracted, and turned my attention back to worship. 

Maybe I'm just trippin', but am I the only person who thinks its absolutely not okay to Facebook, Tweet, text, Instagram, etc. while in church? I get that social media has become a huge part of our everyday existence, but at what point do we set boundaries for its use? Have we become so self-absorbed that not even God requires our undivided attention? Don't get me wrong, I am just as guilty as the next person of whipping out my phone and tweeting/Facebooking everyday experiences instead of really being fully present in the moment, a habit that I'm working to break myself out of. At the same time, I have enough common sense to recognize that in some moments (i.e. church) the presence of social media is just not appropriate. But different strokes for different folks, I suppose. And based upon that logic, I will step down from my soapbox and end my judgmental tirade here. But one more thing before I go...

To the woman who was sitting in the pew in front of me "on Instagram straight flexin,' " this side-eye is for you: 



Saturday, March 30, 2013

You Want Me to Wash People's Feet? Say What?!?

Today, I participated in a volunteer outreach with an organization called Samaritan's Feet as a part of the NCAA Final Four festivities here in Atlanta. To commemorate the event's 75th anniversary, the organization's goal was to give out 7,500 pairs of free shoes to impoverished men, women, and children in the area. As I mentioned in my last post, volunteering is one of my passions, so I was eager to jump right in and get started...that is, until I found out what I was really going to have to do. When I arrived at the Georgia World Congress center this morning, I assumed I'd be greeting people at the door, sitting at a registration table, or walking back and forth to retrieve shoes and distribute them to the hundreds of people who were already waiting in line when I arrived. 

"All of those positions are available," said one of the volunteer coordinators in charge of assigning positions. "But what we really need are foot washers."

"Foot washers? You mean we're literally going to wash all these people's feet?" I asked the kind gentleman incredulously.

"Yes, unless they decline it. Its more of a symbolic gesture, but it allows us to look these people in the eye and give them a word of encouragement and human connection, which can mean way more than just a pair of shoes. Will you consider it?"

Hell no! My voice cried out in my head. I was down with volunteering my time to help those in need, but get down and wash the feet of perfect strangers, many of whom were homeless? No. Thank. You. 

"Sure, I'll do it." I heard the words pour out of my mouth, but I don't consciously remember saying them. Its funny how your spirit can speak up for you when you're about to miss out on an experience you  really need. 

He ushered me over to my station, and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. What was I going to say to these people? And would I really be comfortable washing a complete stranger's feet?    I could feel myself growing more and more nervous. You and your damn big mouth, I silently reprimanded myself. You couldn't be satisfied at a registration table, you had to come play Jesus for a day. Welp, here goes...

The first recipient sat down at my station, and surprisingly I forgot how nervous I was. I also realized that I didn't have to search for the words to say. The conversation came naturally, as people shared with me all the various circumstances that had lead them to a program like this. I was so touched and humbled by how truly grateful they were for something as simple as a pair of shoes that I forgot all about my initial apprehension toward washing their feet. My favorites (of course) were the kids, who giggled and squirmed as I told them jokes and tickled their feet, and offered me some of the sweetest hugs I've ever had as I gave them their new shoes. 

I needed today more than all those people who received shoes. Sometimes I can get so caught up in my own ego, pride, and sense of self-importance that I forget a simple truth: that at some points in my life, I was one wrong decision away from being one of the hundreds of people in that line. That at any moment, I could lose my job, or my health, or my financial security and find myself in the same situation. That I was not too good or too pretty or too educated to humble myself and serve others. And while all those people I interacted with today may think I was doing something for them, they actually did way more for me than they even realize. Even though I was uncomfortable with the idea at first, I'm glad I pushed myself to do it anyway. It ended up being just what I needed.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Have You Fed Your Values Lately?

I read a post recently by one of my favorite bloggers, Paul C. Brunson, about the key to happiness (check it out here: "How I Cured My Emptiness"). According to him,"Happiness is driven by feeding our values." It seemed like such a simple concept, yet I had never heard it explained quite that way. For most of us, the idea of "values" is a fairly ambiguous one; we have a general idea of what it means, but it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what our values look like in our day-to-day lives. Put simply, values form the principles that guide our lives, the tangible fuel that drives us and gives us that feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Stop feeding your values, says Brunson, and "you'll feel a substantial part of life is missing."

Hmm...interesting. Reading the article made me stop and reflect. What are my values? What are those things that I need in my life to feel my happiest and most fulfilled? After much thought, I arrived at the following:

1. Spirituality: And I'm not talking about church or religion. I mean communicating with God frequently in an authentic and meaningful way. For me, that looks like starting and ending my day with prayer, meditation, and reflection (in the form of journal writing). Those things (especially meditation) remind me to approach everything I do with a spirit of gratitude, and to fully embrace every moment, rather than focusing my thoughts on the future or the past.

2. Friends & Family: Whether its trading stories with my girlfriends at happy hour, Skyping with my cousin/best friend and goddaughter, or watching a movie with my boyfriend, I need quality time with the people who are close to me on a regular basis. They let me vent, make me laugh, and constantly give me new things to think about.

3. Physical Activity: I didn't realize what a passion I had for working out and exercising until I started running a couple of years ago. Now, five-mile runs, weekly kickboxing classes, karate, Zumba, etc. have become a much-needed part of my life. Pushing myself physically has helped me develop discipline in other areas of my life, and has become my favorite way to keep my stress level to a minimum.

4. Community Service: Using my time, resources, and skills to help others has always been important to me, and being a teacher has helped me to turn this passion into a living. Recently, though, I realized how much I missed volunteering. To help me "feed this value," I joined a community service group on to stay connected with activities that would help me to help others. I can't wait to get started.

So those are my values in action. And when I look back on periods in my life when I felt like I was in a "funk" and things just didn't seem to be going my way, I realize that I had neglected some (or all) of the things on this list.

What do your values look like in action? And are they starving or fully fed? Good questions to ask the next time it feels your tank is running on empty.

Till next time...


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Five Year Sober-versary to Me!

This past week (February 11th, to be exact) I celebrated five years of being marijuana free. To some people, this is probably no big deal; but those who know me well know what a HUGE deal that is. Weed was one of those things that I never really thought you could have a legitimate addiction to, until I found myself spiraling further and further out of control. For about six years of my life, no matter what I did, I had to be high before I did, school, recreation, family events, etc. Marijuana became as important as food or water. I just didn't feel normal without it. The fact that I'm a super intelligent person made it even easier to live in denial about the fact that I had a problem. I had completed college, earned an MBA, gotten a good job at a newspaper and then a magazine, and I was high every single step of the way. Even after I began to recognize that I might really have a problem, quitting seemed like too much work. Not being high meant that I would have to deal with all my insecurities, disappointments, daddy/mommy issues, an emotionally abusive short, I'd have to deal with that girl in the mirror, and she was someone I had grown to hate.

2008 was a turning point year for me. I was tired...tired of living in a perpetual fog, tired of feeling like there was a person living inside me that I really didn't know, tired of feeling like I was falling short of all that I was truly capable of. I knew that I wanted to quit, but I was so afraid...afraid of admitting that I had a problem, afraid of looking weak, afraid of having to leave my friends and old lifestyle behind. But mostly, I was afraid that I didn't know how to quit, afraid that I would fail and end up worse off than when I began. Something made me try anyway. Making the decision to go to rehab was probably the most courageous thing I've ever done, and I truly do believe that it saved my life. For 13 months, I met one-on-one with a counselor, and in the safety of that space, I was forced to confront some dark, ugly, painful moments that I had been attempting to avoid by self-medicating. I also met with a recovery group every week, composed of crack addicts, heroine addicts, sex addicts, prescription drug addicts, alcoholics, and people battling a variety of mental illnesses. I learned so much from sharing and bonding with every single one of them over the course of that year, and I will never forget them. Most importantly, I learned how to heal and move forward, and ultimately love me.

Sitting here five years later, I look back over how far I've come and I am truly in awe. Comparing the broken, confused girl I was to the self-assured, emotionally confident woman that I am now lets me know that there must be some kind of wonderful, miraculous God. High off life? Yep, I'll take that over marijuana any day!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Lianne La Havas, I Am Officially In Love With You! (Wait, Is That Gay? LOL)

I consider myself a connoisseur of real music. And by real, I mean music with noteworthy production, thought provoking lyrics, and a voice that makes me sit up and take notice. Its been a long time since an artist that I've never heard of made me stop dead in my tracks (Amy Winehouse was the first), but Lianne La Havas did just that the first time I heard her voice. I was cleaning the house when her song "Lost & Found" came on one of my Pandora stations. Something about the raw edginess to her voice made me stop what I was doing and Google her immediately. Who the hell was this girl, and why I had never heard of her before?!? My ears needed more of this, ASAP. Turns out, Ms. La Havas hails from the UK, and will be embarking on a stateside tour in a few months, with a stop in Atlanta on April 13th. I will be front and center, acting like the ultimate groupie! If you've never heard of her, check out some of her stuff below. If you're a lover of good music like I am, you just might get hooked :-)


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Vision

I've finally completed my vision board for 2013. Looking back on my vision board from last year, I really surprised myself with how much I've grown over such a short amount of time. Some of things that I wanted to accomplish a year ago seem so far behind me now, while there are other things that I need another year to work on. For example, my health/fitness goal was to workout three times per week; now, I'm an avid runner with a couple of races under my belt, as well as a martial arts student. My professional goal last year was to obtain a new teaching position outside South Carolina; now, I'm settling into Atlanta quite nicely, and setting my sites on moving into administration or higher education this year. While I had quite a few successes in 2012, I had just as many struggles. Becoming more of a saver and less of a spender is still a challenge for me, while keeping in touch with my family members and friends on a more frequent basis is something I still struggle with as well. I'm always looking for ways to challenge and push myself though, and 2013 is no different. My biggest goal for this year is completing the business plans for a mentoring program that I'd like to start in 2014, as well as becoming more diligent in setting aside time for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reflection. I'm excited about all this year has in store, and ready for another 12 months to continue pushing myself from good to great. Ready, set, GO!