Monday, November 30, 2009

Platonic Plague

I think if the word "friend" had a price tag attached to it, maybe folks wouldn't be so quick to toss the title around so casually. With that in mind, I'd love to say MY friend circle is small and intimate...but once I realized my bridesmaid list would either be one or 10 (not including the couple guys I also wanted to add to the groom's side)...I accepted that my insider circle may be intimate...but one thing it ain't is small. So I'm not pointing fingers, I get that we all have our personal cool kids club...but I'm just saying...some people definitely DO NOT need to have a membership card.

1) Exes. This includes any relationship that progressed beyond high-five homies. I mean really, what good are they to you now?? Unless I missed the memo that NEW relationships require references and background checks, being friends with an ex is a disaster waiting to happen. In case you don't believe me, 94% of women who "befriend" their ex take twice as long to move onto a new relationship. Ok, I made that up, but if you can be such great friends, why can't you make the relationship work? (I bet money you'll ask yourself that at least once in the "we're just friends now" stage.)

2) People who don't check on/call YOU. Now I don't mean occasionally, I mean NEVER. If you're sick, lost your job, lost a family member and they aren't there to make sure you're needing a ride to the ER, naked on a rooftop, or crying in the closet...they are no longer in the club. Deactivate their membership immediately. I know, you give great advice and they rely on you...NEED you. However, look at it this way, we all need to hear our own good advice periodically. If you always share the good stuff with folks that aren't ever around when YOU need to hear it, you're wasting your breath.

3) Someone you'd otherwise date that is currently in a relationship. Um hello? Can you say t-o-r-t-u-r-e? AND, not only is karma a mutha, but God forbid a hot, intelligent, down to earth, charming woman like yourself be-all-"friendin" up (yes, made that up) on your man (when you finally find him)! No indeed. Now usually these friendships start out honest, but after a while either you will end up frustrated, foolish or just f-ed up for interfering with someone else's relationship. If you are SO sure that the big picture is the story of your destined love together, then surely you can let her have ONE chapter without meddling. It makes for a better story anyway. *kanye shrug*

4) Someone that wants to date you, that you don't want to date. Now that's just mean. We all deserve a loyal fan...but it's just not right. In the process you will probably end up ruining someone that would otherwise be a great match for someone else. Play with it if you like, and one day that loyal fan may be you. Did I mention the long work hours and no benefits?

All too often we allow ourselves to be entangled in the facade of platonic relationships with hopes of "one day." Occasionally we may even protect our own vulnerability by hiding behind unavailable options. Pause for the cause, and figure out what you really need in your relationships, and communicate accordingly. No fronting. Hopefully then, when you do call out for a friend, (s)he is exactly what you need.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Cool Pop Chronicles Vol. 1

My father is arguably the coolest man I know. Swag on 100,000 trillion? Yep that's him. You can recognize him from a mile away because his walk is a dash of Iceberg Slim and a sprinkle of Denzel's smooth. As a child I was the Woodstock to his Joe Cool, the Rudy to his Cliff Huxtable...I wanted to be just like him.

Over the years he has taught me much...about self value, religion, discipline, conviction, professional success and most recently relationships. Although you can never tell if he's about to clown you or drop inspiration, undoubtedly I often leave our conversations wishing I had a tape recorder. After recently sharing some of his words of wisdom among friends, I realized how much his words have helped me. I was reminded of the days when Dads were gods, I was just a little Woodstock and everything he said was golden. Today, I hope to share a few of these golden nuggets with you. It's ok, I think I have a few cool points to spare...

1) On competition/intimidation: Don't let anyone interfere with your A-game. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Stay focused, and play your top game.

2) On pushing the envelope: Remember ABC: Always be closing (sales terminology for finalizing a concrete action/sale to move business or advance your agenda)

3) On awkward silence: Don't be so serious. When tension is high, always have a clean joke. It may be corny, but it will break the tension.

4) On breakups: You have to take the 'e' out of 'emotion' and get in 'motion'. We don't feel sorry for ourselves. We keep moving.

5) On misfortune: Whenever something good happens to us we say "Alhamdullilah" (all praise is due to God), but when things don't go well we say "woe is me." We have to remember to praise God always, even during misfortune. Sometimes a seemingly good thing is bad for us, and a seemingly bad this is good for us.

6) On unexpected surprises: When the universe gives you a gift, it's our obligation to acknowledge and cherish it.

7) On effective communication: Think three times before you speak.

8) On seeking truth: With knowledge and life choices, too often we respond as if we are starving. Consequently we "consume" whatever is placed in front of us...even if it is not good for us. We must be selective with the information we accept for truth and in our decision making... just as we are selective with what we eat. Just because a plate is put in front of us does not mean we must eat from it. You have the right to push it away, and to choose what you ingest mentally and physically.

As we all continue on our individual journey to find our truth, may we also find our voice, our swag and most definitely our cool.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time Out

Just want to take a moment to say thanks for the crazy support, encouragement and enthusiasm I've gained for my writing. If you enjoy reading my banter as much as I enjoy writing, please share my link with the girls in your circle. I also invite you to weigh in on anything I say whether it be a "who are you to say..." or simply "me too." What I'm noticing about writing is I don't have anyone to interject or shut me up when I go deep. So don't be alarmed if you see shorter posts. I'm challenging myself to say more with less. After all, your time is valuable. I just want to make sure I spend it wisely.

With love and gratitude,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Know your role

Am I the only one perplexed by the current expectations of today's woman? Nowadays women are expected to work the same hours as their husbands, AND have the dinner on the table by 6. We must stay fit and exercise so our husband's eyes don't wander while making time for the cleaning, laundry and ironing. We must remember birthdays, anniversaries, doctor appointments, ballet lessons, soccer games and carpool schedules. Thankfully husbands do take out the garbage, bring in (not shop for) groceries and will lift their feet as you vacuum, but aren't the scales a tad imbalanced? Now before you start with the hate mail, I know there are exceptions...God bless such men...but these men are anomalies, statistical outliers. So for the sake of my brief time on this soapbox, they don't exist.

Whether you quote Qur'an or the Bible, gender roles have been religiously defined. Essentially men are tasked as providers, and women as responsible for the children and home. However, over time it seems that the role of the woman has expanded, while the load of the man has lessened. Let me be clear, I am an advocate for marriage, and a strong advocate for gender roles, but if understanding gender roles were so simple, the divorce rate would not be nearly 50%.

Women are tasked to be confident, assertive and competitive in the workplace, yet demure, nurturing and obedient in the home. Yes, I know...the dreaded "O" word. I'm sure that I don't speak for just myself that at first glance, this word is...unsettling. The confident, assertive, fully capable and independent woman in me screams "What do you mean by OBEY? Dogs OBEY." And I, for sure, am nobody's b#*@%. But I realize, after *mumbling inaudible number* years, I'm tired. Wait, lemme re-frame that statement. I'm ready. Ready to love. Ready to be relieved of the weight of the world. Ready to not have to make all the decisions all the time. Ready to lean vs. being leaned on. Ready learn vs. having to teach. Ready to ride in the passenger seat. Ready to listen. Ready to be lead.

So I guess that also means I'm ready to obey. But hell, if I'm going to draft a quarterback, I at least want a top draft pick! Just because he can throw and call a couple plays doesn't mean he is the best one to lead this team. I have to trust him. I have to believe in him and his leadership. I have to believe he can make me better. This is only possible when a woman feels her voice is heard. He must be kind, and so in tune with his star player that he sees you need help...even if you are too stubborn/pissed/crazy to admit it. Women all WANT to be Superwoman, but it sure is nice to see a man rip open his button up to show the S on his chest once in a while too.

Ultimately, we have be honest with ourselves and each other. We can't start to resent the opposite sex because of our varying interpretations of gender roles. Truthfully, we often times drive ourselves crazy being the "perfect girl/woman/wife" based on expectations WE have for ourselves...not because of anything men actually request. Men are simple. So when you find yourself reaching your breaking point, I suggest the following: 1) Pause for the cause. Pull out your wedding album or something to remind you why you love him and to give you a minute to fix your face. 2) Get him and yourself something to eat or drink. 3) Check for commercial break-hey, I'm trying to set you up for success. 4) Say verbatim "Hey honey, (insert time reference like "after the game" or "tomorrow") will you (insert task/chore) for me? I'm getting a little overwhelmed and it would really help me out a lot." 5) Do something obnoxiously sweet (but genuine) to say thanks. Whatever you do, don't start out with "I was thinking"...because of the male levels of testosterone these words actually cause their ears to fold inward and you will not be heard. Scientifically proven. But seriously, if you need help, just ask him. Most men will step up...because ask any divorced man, it's still cheaper to keep her. *kanye shrug*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Confessions of an empty pocketbook NOT...a good look...for your girl. It's hard to believe that a year ago I divorced Corporate America and financial prosperity in search for a life of greater meaning. Before then, life was GOOD. Budget? For what? I traveled when I wanted and bought what I wanted. But my heart yearned for more. At the time I was living in California, isolated from my family and friends, and my greatest accomplishment was my beautiful home and my career. No husband. No prospect. No children. 9-5? H-no. More like 7-7 with a few extra hours on Sunday to prep for the next week. In search of the pot o'gold at the end of the rainbow, I looked at the lives of the female execs at my company and realized that work-life balance meant either 1) No children 2) Full time househusband 3) Divorced with live-in nanny. In my BEST Frankie voice: Absolutely not.

So, I prayed, and decided to move on faith. Soon after, I lost my job, rented my house, and moved back east in pursuit of a new plan. I moved to put my focus back on family (present and future) and to pursue a career that is fulfilling because of what I do and not what I make. I believed that life isn't about the money...but good people, let me be completely honest: MONTEY MATTERS. Helleeeer! (You gotta say it like Madea).

Although I am thankful for my journey and still confident with the choices I made, the optimist has evolved into a realist. We should all pursue our dreams, and especially if you are miserable it's long overdue to make some major life changes. However, unless you have permanent funding for your dreams, you better balance your dreams with your means. Otherwise, you'll end up like me...lingering in a purgatory of sorts between Need and Want.

In the few days I was engaged, having to make permanent decisions about joint bank accounts, investments and managing debt was like a cold splash of water in my face. I don't disagree that once you marry, "me" becomes "we". However, it is essential that as individuals we stack money and manage our finances responsibly BEFORE marriage. This way, each person can demonstrate not just a relationship commitment, but a financial contribution, and investment in the marriage and shared future. Just think about it, if you have more debt than money saved in the bank YOU become yet another liability to your spouse, regardless if you have great "assets."

In a recent career discussion with a dear friend she asked "Should we search to find the dream career, or is your career intended to fuel (and finance) your dreams?" Hmm. Great question. Either way, we owe it to ourselves to follow our hearts. Just be sure that part of the plan is keeping yourself and your pocketbook fed. Because being broke ain't no joke. So please excuse me...I think I'm going to reconcile my relationship with Corporate America. Immediately.

Oh, and a quick pause for the cause: Happy Birthday Daddy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My eyes (were) green

...'cause I eat a lot of vegetables...or so I'd like to think. Envy, is truly a beast. The amazing thing is those of us who share the hater gene (it's not our fault, it's genetic honey), will never admit that our "hate" really stems from envy...otherwise we wouldn't care. All the while we hate aloud, our subconscious is secretly wishing for something someone else has, that we don't. Unfortunately, I'm learning the hard way that you have to be careful what you wish for.

Now despite this genetic predisposition to hate on others, I have been making a diligent effort to genuinely share in the success and joy of others. I'm proud to say that 98.9% of the time it works...but 1.1% of the time I do think "why not me?" My mind starts to drift and I start wishing, praying for, and obsessing over specific things I've seen others obtain. Hindsight is really 20-20, because I did not realize how fixated I was on this idea, until now.

I know, spit it out already. (I'm getting to it, I promise) I think pretty highly of myself. Not in a pretentious way, but more a "I know I have flaws, and I'm trying to grow, but I am happy with me" type way. I also believe that we should be good to each other, and charitable because what you put out into the universe is what you receive in return. So essentially, I sometimes become disillusioned that ALL super fantastic wonderful things should happen to me TOO. This is a farse, I know...but I told you I'm flawed. Anyway, I once heard the story of a friend who's ex stomped his heart. Like Rick James on Eddie Murphy's couch stomped. Ouch. Right. A year or so later the ex begins dating someone new, and five months later she's engaged.

Aside from my sincere concern for his acceptance, recovery and happiness, the hater in me wondered how the hell she did it...and what the hell I needed to be doing. Keep your minds out of the gutter good people. I started reading books, and seeking advice from married friends and completely changed up my game plan. My intentions were to get happily married...but my subconscious was strapped with a stop watch. Like a miracle, Mr. Fantastic (and fine) appeared. And since the moment we met it was like riding a solid gold rocket ship to heaven. Five months later he proposed. 25 days later he broke it off with a forecast of 0% reconciliation. The next day I shrugged my shoulders and resolved "if not him, someone better" and I believed it.

So as I get back in the market for Mr. SUPER Fantastic, I recognize that a speedy engagement isn't a guarantee for a lasting marriage. I realized that only time can produce unconditional love and genuine friendship...the foundation for a successful union. THAT, is worth the wait. I'm thankful for the chance to begin anew, and hopefully get that part right next time. Now, instead of wishing for what others have, I will pray to accept what God has designed for me. But I think my mother said it best: "Well, you're making progress. At least this time you got a ring. Next time will be the real thing!" You said it Mom. My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

It seems like the more people I talk to, the more I realize life ain't easy. Marriage is hard. Being single and dating is hard. Parenting is hard. And most surely each paycheck received from working on that 9-5 slave ship is hard earned. So when is the reprieve? Is the fun and carelessness of our youth (and irreplaceable college years) just accrued debt we repay as adults with compounded misery? Or, have we grown used to a culture that complains all the damn time? A culture that has us trained to first seek to blame others for our hardships and misfortune BEFORE looking within.

Now this isn't a verbal lashing, but more a "what if?" I never thought I'd be the one quoting my mother, but I remember once (among many occasions) in a bit of despair I sought her advice. She told me to "re-frame it" and to look at the situation with a new lens. We choose the lens with which we view the world, so why not re-frame it and climb out of the ditch of misery? Stuck in traffic? What if you've been spared from being the cause of the traffic? Winding up in the same situation over and over? What if you're ignoring the lesson to help avoid this situation in the future? Single and depressed? What if your disposition is the reason you are single?

I hope I don't seem like the rosy type...all I keep thinking about is that annoying doctor on Grey's Anatomy that skips and smiles non-stop. I'm NOT that person...ok, I do skip...but merely to burn calories. I digress. My point is that we can choose to be miserable, or choose to be happy. If you land in a ditch, spending time figuring out who pushed you in won't help you get out. Take a moment, visualize how you could have avoided the ditch, dust yourself off and climb out. Trust, we'd ALL rather hear stories about how you climbed out rather than to see you sitting indian style at the bottom, playing in the dirt with a sad face repeating "woe is me."

Now, don't let me be callous...just like we earn sick days and vacation at work...trudging through the obstacles of life do earn us a few sympathy days, water breaks, and even a couple "woe is me" cards. However, use them sparingly. Ultimately you will be healthier, happier and a more enjoyable person to be around simply by how you choose to view your life. Oh, and try skipping periodically. Trust me, at least you'll have a reason to chuckle to yourself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's in a name, anyway?

PING!!! has to be ranked top 3 on my list of pet peeves.

I am among the ranks of loyal crackberry addicts (disclaimer: I may exercise the right to rescind the aforementioned association when Sprint has the iPhone), and bbm (Blackberry messenger) snobs. SMS is soo 2007...but I digress. So my brother, the tech guru, told me the purpose of ping is to send a test signal to ensure proper function. Like a defibrilator, it seemingly shocks the system get things working again...or something. I don't know, but the point is to share that ping has a technical function.

However, in the crackberry world, the ping feature is used to grab your if you've left a question unanswered for too long, or just to see if you are there. The problem with ping is the message appears on your screen as PING!!! *gasp* How rude! Everyone knows that typing anything in all caps is equivalent to yelling, and-if that wasn't enough-bold red font and (not one, but) 3 exclamation points?!? Whiskey tango foxtrot. Wouldn't "hello?" or "still there?" or "hey" suffice and be a bit nicer? At least with the latter I would be more inclined to respond vs. my knee jerk response "oh no (s)he didn't" (insert lip curl and neck roll here).

But I get it, sometimes we all need a subtle reminder. Not a slap in the face...but a little sleeve tug to keep us focused. Not necessarily a PING!!! but just "ping." Still attention grabbing, yet non invasive and simply stated. We can all use a little ping(period) in our lives, and hopefully share a few laughs along the way. So... Nice to meet you! And oh yeah...if the blog fits, (please) follow.