So I was thinking about what the entire world has been thinking about; the Coronavirus. I must admit, when news of the pandemic started gaining more traction, I didn't think much of it or take it as seriously as I obviously should have. I guess I thought America was safe and wouldn't be struck as drastically as places like China or Italy. I thought people were over-reacting and simply giving in to media induced hysteria. After that, I was under the impression that the ONLY demographic that could be negatively, even fatally, effected were elderly people. Then, I learned that immunocomprised individuals were also at risk, which includes people who are diabetic, asthmatic, have cancer, etc. The pieces of the puzzle all came together for me and FINALLY locked into place in my brain when the Governor of Illinois mandated a "shelter-at-home" for the state and as more American cities/states followed suit. I began to pay closer attention to the rising number of cases, the increasing mortality rate, the steadily falling economy, and other factors and news related to COVID-19.
What seemed like a frighteningly disturbing episode of Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone became even more real as the unwelcoming ramifications of this virus began to inch closer and closer to home. It went from news from thousands of miles away to knowing somebody who knows somebody who encountered somebody who was infected to knowing somebody who knows somebody infected to knowing somebody infected to actually losing my former manager/old friend to this seemingly stealthy invader.
I get it now. This is real. It isn't fake news. It isn't just going to fade away suddenly. Hospitals are filling up, resources are running low, people are DYING! But, for some reason folk STILL aren't getting it! We need to stay the (fill in the blank with the most emphatic word that works for you) home!! DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. IF YOUR JOB IS NOT ESSENTIAL, THERE'S NO REASON TO BE OUTSIDE. YES. GET FOOD AND MEDICINE AND NECESSITIES, BUT ANYTHING ELSE CAN WAIT! LIMIT THE TIME SPENT OUTSIDE YOUR OWN RESIDENCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. STOP VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS. DON'T HAVE CHURCH GATHERINGS OR HAPPY HOURS OR BIRTHDAY PARTIES OR SLEEPOVERS OR DATES OR GYM SESSIONS. IF THEY DON'T LIVE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD, CATCH THEM LATER! THINK ABOUT SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF. BE A PROTECTION AND A HELP TO OUR ELDERLY AND OTHERS WHO MAY BE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO INFECTIONS. IF YOU NEED TO, DROP FOOD OR SUPPLIES OFF TO YOUR LOVED ONES AND THEN SKEEDADDLE!! COUGH AND/OR SNEEZE IN A TISSUE AND IMMEDIATELY THROW THE TISSUE AWAY. CLEAN AND SANITIZE SURFACES. WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER!!
I may not know all the medical terms or may not be able to articulately explain the "flattening of the curve", but I DO know it is better to be safe than sorry. I'm constantly making a conscious effort to do everything within my power to be as safe as possible and am encouraging others to do the same. No, we don't have to live in fear and panic. Pray, have faith, be positive, stay hopeful, etc. All of that can be done while being wise, thoughtful, cautious, patient, and using common sense. You have time. Use it to educate yourself on what's happening around you and why it is important to adhere to social distancing and what it will mean in the long run. Stop being naive and thinking you or those you love are invincible. Be thankful that we live in an age of techonology where there are a plethora of ways to virtually keep in touch with anyone, at any time, in any place. Take advantage of FaceTime or Zoom or Skype or email or texts or Marco Polo or WhatsApp or Instagram voice/video or Facebook voice/video or good old fashioned picking up the phone and placing a call! Get on Al Gore's internet and find all the freebies that are available now; free concerts, free media subscriptions, free workouts, free deliveries, free classes, free tutoring, and more! Journal, read, exercise, meditate, pray, clean, work on your business plan, dream, watch your favorite tv shows or movies, listen to music, sing, dance...whatever you do, STAY THE (BLEEEEEEEEEEP) HOME!
So I was thinking about what a lot of us have been thinking about since Sunday: Kobe Bryant and the other lives lost in the helicopter tragedy on 1/26/2020. I know we've all been inundated with news stories, podcast specials, social media posts, etc, and that's one of the reasons I had to go ahead and write. This has been on my mind and heart so heavy, I wouldn't be able to move on like I need to without an outlet to release all these feelings I have. Forgive me if things are all over the place. It has been hard for me to gather my thoughts.
There are several celebrities whose deaths have impacted me and who I have sincerely grieved for; Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, and a few more. It's like I grew up with these people. I listened to their music, watched their movies, saw them on TV, watched interviews, and read articles. Thankfully, I got to see Prince in concert as well. I even remember ministers using some of their songs as titles for their sermons! Until their death, MJ, Prince, and Whitney had been around and heavily visible for my entire life! Aaliyah was just a few months older than me and I followed her career from the beginning. Because of their talent, their status in the entertainment industry, their high profile relationships, and for some, their even higher profile troubles, I knew more about them than some of my family members! Shoot, we have so much celebrity access via various media outlets, they can start to seem like family/friends.
Now, I'm not the biggest sports fan. I mean, it's cool but it isn't my cup of tea like it was in the 90's, especially basketball! I was born and raised in Chicago and grew up during the Jordan era when the Bulls were on fire! I used to actually watch games and not just during the playoffs. I may not have been familiar with their positions, but I knew all the players on The Bulls and many from the other teams. I watched the games when Jordan led Chicago to 6 championships. I remember when Chicago's Kevin Garnett went straight to the NBA from high school. And I remember when Kobe Bryant did the same after him. Like those I mentioned before, it's like I grew up with him! I remember he was a year older than me. I remember he graduated in 1996, and that he took Brandy to prom! After 1998, when The Bulls won their last championship, I didn't watch much basketball, but it didn't matter because Kobe Bryant became a household name. I know he spent his 20 year career with The Lakers and that he became what many consider to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I didn't keep up with his stats or keep track of the number of championships he led his team to, but I did pay attention to what I saw in the media about his family, I was aware of his various business ventures, I enjoyed various commercials and guest spots, and I did watch his last game before he retired in 2016. I even remember when he tried his hand at rapping...lol...this loss has struck a major cord. I've been legitimately grieving since I heard the news on Sunday.
Before I get into my personal feelings about everything, let me just say this: I already have a love/hate relationship with technology and social media and things like this cause me to lean more toward hate. I keep hearing that families found out by seeing it online like we did. Can you imagine the added devastation?? The other annoyance that comes to the forefront during these times are the folk among us who are extra "woke" and hypercritical. They're quick to spew their disapproval of humans caring for "this" and not for whatever "that" they deem is more important. And why is it okay for us to care about some people we don't know and not others??
Even as I type, I'm still trying to understand and properly articulate why this has hurt me to the extent it has. Maybe it's the nostalgic element. Perhaps it's knowing that he was young, healthy, and doing something that he did often. It's probably because I'm thinking about how close we were in age and this incident has reminded me that of the few certainties we have in life, death is one. We can't control it. We can't predict it. We have no say. When it's our time, it's our time. It's unnerving, but also motivation to live my best life and live, love, and serve like every day is my last. It's possible that this traumatic event pains me to this degree, because my heart is bursting with sympathy and compassion for his wife, his daughters, and the other families of the rest of the passengers who lost their lives on that helicopter. I even think about what their last moments must have been like as they were going down. Did they get to say anything to each other? Did they pray? Cry? Scream? Were they afraid when they realized what was happening? Or did they find their peace? Did they hold hands? Hug? Maybe I've been crying off and on since Sunday, because this freak accident reminds me of my own sudden loss. It'll be 13 years this Sunday, 2/2/2020, since my 19 year old brother died in a car accident as he headed to get a haircut before work; young, healthy, doing what he did often. Both occurrences sparked questions of; Why him? Why now? Why the good people? Both reignited an acute awareness of human mortality and God's sovereignty. Each incident caused me to take inventory of what is really important and shocked me into remembering the insignificance of temporal and petty things. I've also gotten a greater realization that though death is an inevitable part of life, we're still not 100% ready when it hits and the timing or the way in which it happens will not always make sense. I can't control death, but I CAN control how I live my life and how I treat others, so when I leave, it's with few regrets.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2a, and 4 (KJV)
So I was thinking about how this is my son's senior year of high school. I dropped him off for his first day a few hours ago. As the day approached, I anxiously worried myself into a frenzy. For some reason, I’ve just felt really overwhelmed, nervous, and...terrified if I’m being completely honest!
This is a huge deal! It’s the end of high school, the end of “childhood”, and the beginning of the rest of his life. And, I’m just worried that he isn’t ready. My baby is still a baby and I don’t know if he’s ready to grow up! I know what you’re probably thinking, “Cheryce, YOU’RE the one who isn’t ready for him to grow up!” That isn’t it. Really. I actually felt excited that he’s getting closer to 18 and almost out of my hair. I was ready to let him go spread his wings and figure out this thing called life for himself, ESPECIALLY since he thinks he knows it all already! Who was I kidding though?! Him getting older just brings about a new set of concerns and a different level or stage of parenting.
As his senior year drew near, I was extremely reflective and stressing majorly over everything from his haircut to clothes, from grades to college acceptance, from graduation fees to prom costs, and every little thing you can think of in between. I harshly critiqued my parenting and shoulda, coulda, woulda’d myself to smithereens. My boy has endured way more in his little life than I ever intended. Situations we’ve ended up in haven’t always been ideal and he’s had many challenges to deal with, go through, and overcome. Although not always easy, many times frustrating and upsetting, I’m proud of my son for his strength and resilience. However, I was a MESS thinking about it all...just really TRIPPIN! Even as I write this, I’m realizing that even though hindsight is always 20/20, there’s nothing I can do to change or fix the past. What I CAN do is move forward with 20/20 vision for what’s right in front of me and for what’s ahead. I can stop beating myself up for what I think I could’ve done better or differently and use previous mistakes and experiences as lessons and stepping stones. I’ll continue to do my best as a parent, using any previous mistakes and experiences as lessons and stepping stones. I’ll keep encouraging my child to do and be his best, applaud him for his victories, congratulate him on how far he’s come, affirm his greatness, lovingly push him to his potential, and in the process, enjoy what life has to offer through it all. As a result, I’m certain this will be his best year yet! Salute to my wonderful child and all the class of 2020!
So I was thinking about turning 40. Why? Because I’m 40 today. Lol! Yep, today I’m the big 4-0. Right now, I’m in Mexico having the absolute time of my life, but for months leading up to this, I had all types of mixed emotions about turning 40. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m happy, grateful, and looking forward to this new decade of life! I haven’t written in a while, but today I wanted to share 40 important lessons learned during my 40 years of life. Let me know if you relate!
So I was thinking about how walking down the street can be quite the arduous task. I travel all over Chicago/the Chicagoland area via public transportation, so my commute includes a generous amount of walking. But, the struggle isn’t because of distance. It has nothing to do with the shape I’m in. The chalkenge of my walk isn’t due to weather or the type of shoes I wear. It’s just that I’m always greeted with a certain level of anxiety when it’s time to leave my house. This happens especially when the weather starts to break. I know you’re probably thinking the difficulty is caused by the fear of violence in my city or the safety of my neighborhood. I DO live in the hood, however, that ain’t quite it either. Once the sun starts shining, the weather starts warming up, and layers begin to disappear, more people are outside, and as a woman, I can’t walk down the street without men in vehicles beeping their horns or yelling out their windows. I’m not even exaggerating and it isn’t flattering, it’s irritating.
Many times, as I pass by guys on the block or those walking toward me/behind me or when I see the working fellas outside or stand with the bros waiting on the bus/train, I’m met with all sorts of x-ray vision type stares, hey babies, what’s up sweethearts, and other catcalls. When a guy speaks to me, very seldom is it to be courteous or neighborly. Their words may seem polite, but they’re accompanied by sleazy glances and elevator eyes. When I’m approached in these ways, I don’t even want to speak...not only that, but sometimes I’m just in a hurry or in a zone, but I know that I must snap out of whatever apprehension/rush/trance I’m in, plaster on a smile, and have just the right inflection in my voice when I say hi. Why? Because as a teen I learned it was in my best interest to always speak when spoken to, whether I wanted to or not. At that age, I had boys call me ugly or a b***h or say that I was bougie when I wouldn’t respond to their advances. As I grew to be a young adult, I thought “men” would be different, but it was more of the same. There was never any physical assault, but because of the level of aggression I’ve experienced at times, I try to make sure I always grin and speak, because I just never know.
I share some of these scenarios on social media, many times making light of it, but it really isn’t funny. Like the one time I was speed walking, trying to catch my train, at the same time talking on the phone, and I pass by this man who says something that’s unclear. But, when I don’t respond he YELLS out: Well f**k you too, B***h! Then there’s the time someone looked me up and down and told me all the gangbangers must like me because I have a nice personality and I’m pleasingly plump.
Having to deal with this is frustrating, disheartening, and upsetting. It’s so unfair that I can’t mind my own business and get to my destination without being harassed in some way. Please, why can’t you let me walk on by??
So I was thinking about this happiness challenge I just completed. A year ago, my friend Shari and I embarked on a "100 Happy Days Challenge". We had been discussing where we were on our happiness journey and I reminded her of this challenge I had done about 5 years prior. The 100 Happy Days Challenge was started by Dmitry Golubnichy in 2013. It was a personal challenge he established where he would post something that made him happy each day for 100 days. He began this journey after finding himself discontent with his career and other "first world" problems, but then realized that his friends were happy with circumstances that were seemingly mundane. Dmitry figured if they could be happy, certainly he could too. He decided to post a picture on social media for 100 days that reflected something that made him happy that day and used the hashtag #100HappyDays. As his friends noticed what he was doing, they wanted to join. From there, the challenge continued to grow and more than EIGHT MILLION people have participated! You can find out more about this movement by clicking here. After I recounted to Shari how rewarding the challenge had been for me, she decided that she wanted to do it and I agreed to join her again. The challenge proved to be such a fulfilling endeavor, that we decided to extend it to a year and continued to post using the hashtag, #365HappyDays.
I am pleased to say that we finished the challenge yesterday and it was just that, a CHALLENGE. If I didn't understand the concept of the word, I undeniably do now! Heartache, death, disappointment, illness, rejection, confusion, mental illness, fear; these, among others, are all things I encountered that effected me either directly or indirectly during this last year. There were many days where it was a legitimate struggle to find something that made me happy during the day, but I did and learned (and remembered) so much during the process. One major key I recalled is that being happy does not mean being devoid of struggle or pain. Happiness is about choice, perspective, and emotional maturity. Emotional maturity is this: acknowledging your various emotions, allowing yourself to feel, and realizing that it isn't healthy to suppress your feelings OR dwell on your feelings to the point that they become toxic. By sticking with this challenge, I have clarity of what happiness is to me. Check out these 10 points.
Focusing on positivity and finding my daily happy, caused me to have more of an attitude of gratefulness, which transformed my perspective. I found myself in more of a state of thankfulness than in pity-party mode. There really is always a bright side, and for that I am happy. ☀️🙂
So I was thinking about job interviews and how I loathe them. Lol...but for real! It’s extremely hard for me to “sell” myself and answer those stupid questions they ask you at every interview. The words “tell me about a time” make me want to tear my ears off and rip somebody’s tongue out. 😩 I can’t “tell you about a time” Susan, because that ish has never happened to me or it HAS happened, but every time I get in an interview, I get a chronic case of temporary amnesia, so I really don’t know what to tell ya. Where do I see myself in 5 years?? Prayerfully, some place far far away from here, finally doing what I love. Becks, truth is, right now I just need to be closer to the crib, doing what I gotta do until I don’t have to do it anymore. Ya feel me?? Why do I think I’m a good fit? Because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do what you’re asking. And you’re in luck, cuz I’m no rocket scientist, although I’m probably way smarter than you, which doesn’t matter since you’re the one asking the questions while I sit here with excessive dry mouth and disgustingly sweaty palms...These are all things I want to say or am thinking, but I replace it with some semi-intelligent, what I hope is convincing, tell’em what they wanna hear bs...
Now, what I CAN do is write and if given the time, opportunity, computer or pen and paper, I could knock these interviews out of the ballpark! Like seriously, why can’t interviews just be like essay questions on an exam??
You know the other thing I hate about interviews? The fact that per HR policy a certain number of interviews have to be done within the company or whatever the stipulations are for conducting interviews even though they may already know who they want to hire. Recruiters, hiring managers, or to whomever else this may concern, if you see my name up for a position where this is the case, please do NOT pass go. Skip on by me, k? And stop kee keeing with or grinning at me and oohing and aahing about my answers making me think I got this in the bag and you KNOW you have the “Thanks for coming out, but we’re going with another candidate and you’ll no longer be considered for this position but you can keep applying” email ready to send in your drafts! And even if you don’t know, I’d rather interviewers keep the poker face. Don’t get my hopes all up with your flattering reactions and body language.
Can you hear the rejection and bruised ego in my tone here?? 😫😢 I hope whoever was hired instead of me, quits their first week...(sets reminder to remove my website from my email signature when corresponding with a potential employer🤣).
So I was thinking about Candy Crush and the epiphany I had while playing. First off, don’t be coming on here judging me. Yes I still play Candy Crush. And yes, I make in-app purchases. It’s my escape! 😂 Anywaaaaaay, I woke up at 4:30am to use the bathroom, came back to bed, and started playing Candy Crush. Now, even though I consider the game as an escape, a way to just relax and rid my mind of the cares of life, there are those times when my brain actually functions while playing and I contemplate life’s (at least my life’s) greatest mysteries. Somehow, as a rainbow of candy colors exploded across my screen and the corresponding points flashed brightly and ostentatiously before my eyes, my mind wandered to a(nother) dating app I’ve joined. I haven’t an inkling as to how the vast array of hues and the spontaneous bursts of the sweet treats on my cellular device led me to thoughts of my drastically less colorful or sweet love life, but alas, here we are.
The app I recently joined is BLK. It’s much like all the others; Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, etc. What makes this one stand out is that the majority of the potentials are black. So, the thought I had was that I didn’t turn on the notifications. I established my profile, did a few swipey swipes, didn’t approve notifications, then didn’t look at the thing for about a week. When I went back on after that time, I had several messages which I responded to, but still didn’t turn on the notifications, and now another week or so has passed and I probably have more messages. Could be. Could be not. Who’s to say? Whatever the case may be, this flash of reflection thrust me into a vortex of thoughts surrounding my dating experiences and the consistence of nonexistence when it comes to my relationship status. As I quickly plummeted down that black hole, I was struck with a realization I had, surprisingly, never before pondered. I have a thorough, comprehensive list that I’ve compiled and tweaked over the years of everything I want and need in a man/relationship. But the one thing I didn’t include or emphasize or require with any man I’ve dated/talked to/liked is that the person needs to be sincerely interested in me.
Let me see if I can articulate this clearly. As I reflected, I recognized that the men I’ve dealt with all had a lot going on, whether it was in their current job/career, a dream they were trying to fulfill, a skill they were perfecting, a degree they were pursuing, a family issue they needed to rectify, or even an internal/mental struggle they needed to control or come to grips with. I was always the sounding board, the encourager, the helper, the brainstormer, and/or the pseudo-therapist. But what about me? What about how I feel?? I’ve had tons going on over the years. Even as far back as my ex-husband, nobody really showed much interest in MY thoughts, feelings, hobbies, dreams, etc. Things were always pretty surface and one-sided. What I need is a person who is genuinely concerned with my desires, pursuits, fears, triumphs, failures, and joys. We can bounce ideas off each other, be a listening ear to each other, encourage each other, etc. etc. That’s what I’ve been missing!!
Yep. All this from an early morning trip to the bathroom and a frivolous (or is it?) game on my phone. Maybe now that I’m aware of this huge element I’ve been lacking, I can attract a love as colorful and sweet as Candy Crush...
So I was thinking about Solange's new album, When I Get Home, that I just listened to. Chiiiiiiiiiillllllle. I work overnights, so I listened about an hour ago and now it's a little after 4 in the morning and I cannot WAIT to see what her fans/stans/bandwagon jumpers have to say. I wonder if they're going to love it the way they obsessed over A Seat at the Table. I didn't like that album. It wasn't HORRIBLE to me, but I gave it a couple listens and did not fall in love like most people I know did. I can't even remember anything from that album aside from Cranes in the Sky because that was played out everywhere...a song title, lyric, melody, NOTHING can I recall!
Since I seemed to be drastically outnumbered when it came to my opinion of her last album, I decided that I needed to give her new stuff a try. I thought that maybe I would find in this new album what was missing for me in the last one. *insert eye-roll here* I want my 39 minutes back, plus interest. I mean, that should tell you something there. The album has 19 tracks, which includes about 5 interludes, and it is only 39 minutes long. And when I think about it, I'm glad because I would not have been able to endure another nanosecond. The psychedelic music was distracting and the repetition of some of her words/phrases was annoying. Furthermore, I mostly couldn't understand what the heck she was saying, not because her lyrics were so deep or her subject matter was so heavy, but simply because I couldn't understand her melodic mumbles and groanings. Then, when I COULD make out words, I still didn't know what on erf she was talking about. I actually think I blacked out a time or two. LOL!
Don' t get me wrong, I think she's extremely gifted and I like her earlier albums. These new school tunes aren't doing it for me though. It isn't just her, but I can't get with a lot of the current music. I LOVE all types of music, but the older I get, the shorter my attention span, the shallower my understanding, and the more clogged my ears. Ain't nobody got time to be deciphering the meaning or lyrics. Lol. I could listen to my trusty 90s/early 2000s music all day everyday. I've even been incorporating more music from the 70s and 80s for my everyday listening pleasure. As a matter of fact, excuse me while I listen to my James Ingram playlist. :-)
So I was thinking about love. Valentine's Day is Thursday and it's a day where most of the world focuses on "love". During this season, most businesses are filled with reds and pinks and decorative hearts and cute lil cupids. The stores have seemingly endless suppiles of chocolate and the florists are inundated with orders for extravagant arrangements. Hallmark sells tons of cards, balloons, and the like. Restaurants are booked solid. Classrooms are abuzz with the excitement of giving and receiving Valentines and reading conversation hearts. There's even extra traffic around the water cooler at work with talk and speculation about who got what delivery from whom. The media is in on it. Department stores are in on it. Hollywood is in on it. But is true "love" REALLY the focus? Or is it the commercial appeal that most of us buy into? Now let me say this. I'm not the one for knocking people for celebrating this holiday. Although we should show love daily, I'm not against recognizing a specific day of celebration. However, do we even know what love is? This is my favorite definition/explanation of love:
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogrant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. -I Corinthians 13:4-8a, Amplified Bible Translation
Whew! I felt convicted even as I typed. Even if you are not a believer of The Bible, that it was divinely inspired by God and not just a poetic work akin to that of Shakespeare...and even ifyou aren't the follower of a specific religion or religious sect, or a believer in a power higher than yourself, you must admit that this breakdown is the purest form of what we call love. There's no way that, after reading that passage, you can deny the power that having or displaying a love like this contains. I'm sure you can imagine the impact a consistent, widespread love like this would have on not just your life, but the world! Would not the entire state of our planet be different?
We're human and we're not capable of navigating through this life perfectly. What we CAN do is be our best and strive to do everything with excellence, including love. I'm confident that if we made a conscious effort to actively and diligently love the way the scripture has laid it out, our relationships with our family, friends, and fellow man would drastically improve. I don't know about you, but I'm going to commit to love with more patience, kindness, selflessness, endurance, grace, and faith. And, while I'm at it, I'm going to be grateful for the many opportunities I have to love and be loved. So, as you're celebrating Valentine's Day, think about what the true meaning of love is to you and how you can go about cultivating and spreading that love 24/7/365!