So I was thinking about how much I love to read. It has always been one of my favorite things to do, but as life changed and technology became more prevalent, I found that I had drifted away from my first love. My face was always in some type of screen; the computer at work, my laptop at home, television, cell phone, or iPad. Any down time I had was being consumed with things like social media, games, or YouTube. Now, I never completely stopped reading. My online time did include some Kindle app/iBooks and I still preferred actual books where I could write in the margins and dog-ear the pages. I just felt like I needed to reclaim more of my time and replenish some brain cells. So, a couple years ago, I vowed to reduce my screen action and get back to being the avid reader I had been once upon a time. I got a new library card and started checking out new books and revisiting some of my favorites, but I eventually went back to buying the books I wanted. Which brings us to today. I think it's somewhat of an obsession! LOL!! I buy books every time I think about it. I continue to add to the stack of books I have yet to read. The good thing is, I'm not just buying the books to say I have them, but I committed to read at least 24 books this year and so far I've read 20!
I want to share with you all a few of my favorite sites/apps for books. Enjoy!
So I was thinking about the challenges of being a business owner. Money has been one of the biggest obstacles I’ve encountered since stepping out to do the things that I do. There are two aspects of freelance work that I’ve found to be difficult: Charging what I’m worth and receiving payment once I’ve finished the job. I’ve had instances where people have admired the work I’ve done and shown interest in the services I provide, but when it’s time to hire me, they want something for nothing. I genuinely love doing what I do. It gives me pleasure to provide services that are instrumental in another’s success, but I’m not a non-profit organization. I don’t work for free. I will not be offended if you find other avenues to get what you need done. When I decided I wanted to establish a website and start my blog, I got quotes from various people for photos, logos, web design, etc. When I determined that I couldn’t afford some of the services I was seeking, I figured some stuff out and got the site up and running myself, with the plan to upgrade as I am able. What I didn’t do is ask anyone to lower their rates for me or enter an agreement with someone, have them do the work, then default on my end of the bargain by not paying up. Which brings me to my second point.
I HATE having to chase people for my money. I’ve spent many years, professionally, as a bill collector, so I WILL do it, but I despise having to. If you’ve committed to a financial arrangement and signed a contract, honor it! I pride myself in handling my business with professionalism and optimum customer service. I honor my commitments and if for whatever reason I can’t, I COMMUNICATE! Communication is key. I shouldn’t have to send out an APB to locate you when we have an agreement. Whether it’s $5 or $5000, it’s due to me and I need it when I’m supposed to have it.
It can be frustrating, but I’m learning from each experience and adjusting my practices accordingly. I don’t want a Judge Mathis episode to be in my future...lol!
So I was thinking about my favorite Mary J. Blige song and how I've wanted to write on this topic for a while, but for some reason I just couldn't gather my thoughts. Thankfully, I was inspired after listening to the Just Winging It podcast on Wednesday when Attorney/Author/Happiness Coach, Rochelle Gapere, was the guest. It was an awesome episode. Click here to check it out!
"I’m expecting this year to be 100 times better than 2016 and I’m doing everything in my power to make that so. No matter what, I’m choosing happiness and positivity! I know there will be ups and downs, but I choose not to stay down and not to let anybody else keep me down!"
I've been going through a transformation and it all started with that journal entry on January 1, 2017. I had no idea how life changing that declaration would be! And, it wasn’t just what I wrote that was life changing, it was the commitment to and action behind those words that ignited the onset of permanent change to my existence. We often quote, “Write the vision, make it plain”, but writing it is meaningless if there’s no actual work toward the vision.
I had been back and forth with my state of happiness for many years. Whether I was happy or not had been based on abundance or lack and my status in life. I had been particularly low in 2016 and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, which sparked the desire in me to DO something about it. I had perfected the art of plastering on a smile and a putting on a good front, but I was yearning to experience genuine and long-lasting joy!
Choosing to be happy and positive did not start off as an easy feat. I had been so used to surrendering to negativity and allowing my circumstances to determine my mood, that it was a challenge to do anything different. It was and still is something that I have to make a conscious effort to do daily. I basically went through a total renewal of my mind which resulted in a leveling up of sorts in several areas of my life. I realized that self-care was a major factor in being happy. I began to make changes to my diet. I added and eliminated some foods. I became more disciplined and stopped letting my cravings and feelings dictate to me how and what I ate. I added more physical activity. All of this resulted in weight loss and me just feeling better over-all.
I stopped allowing other people's issues to consume me. I refuse to let anybody or anything; friends, family, my teenager, my job, or Kanye, stress me out. That doesn't mean I don't have concerns. It's just that I do or don't do what's in my power and I am no longer overtaken with worry concerning things that are beyond my control.
I adjusted how I post on social media. Although sprinkled with humor, many of my posts were full of gripes and pity parties. I cringe in embarrassment at some of my past posts that I come across, then quickly beam with gratitude as I reflect on how far I've come.
Life isn't perfect. In fact, I've had moments of significant hardship over the last two years. I deal with bouts of sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment. Regardless of my decision to be happy, life still happens and although men may be from Mars and women from Venus, I'm still human. So, naturally, trials come and various emotions arise, so I allow myself to feel them all, but my perspective is different, which allows me to better handle adversity. I don't wallow in the down times. But, I do take time to ponder and figure out what lesson there is to be learned. I've been striving to recognize the "bright side" in most situations and focus on that, while finding comfort in knowing that trouble doesn't last and everything is working for my good.
All this newness has caused a significant boost in my self-confidence and acceptance of myself. I feel like I have finally reached the place where I truly and COMPLETELY love me!
I've had people compliment my weight loss, which is great, but what makes me feel warm and fuzzy are the comments I receive about how happy I am and the noticeable difference or "glow" that is radiating from the inside out! I will be 40 next year, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I am the happiest I've ever been in my adult life! I have not obtained all the material things I wish to possess or met the love of my life or reached my desired level of success, but I'm truly happy with my journey and have faith in my future.
So I was thinking about a couple things that were in pop culture news this past week, both within the realm of reality/docu-series tv programming. The Braxton Family Values closed out the season with a 3 day therapy retreat with none other than THEE fixer of lives, Iyanla Vanzant. In one of the two final episodes, Toni Braxton spoke her truth by saying that she loves her family, but most of the time she doesn't like them. She also stated that if they weren't her family, they wouldn't be her friends. People were surprised that she said that and seemed to think that it was sad that she would say and could feel such a thing. Well er um...I know where Toni is coming from because I feel the same way! Truth be told, I would not be checking for some of my family if we weren't family. I'm sure the feeling is mutual and, right or wrong, I'm totally fine with that! The love we share for each other is undeniable, but the like factor isn't always present. Luckily like is not a prerequisite for love. How do you feel about your family? Do any of you share the opinion that Toni and I share?
Another thing that had some people riled up is comments Miss Tina (Lawson formerly known as Knowles) made on the OWN docu-series, Black Love. She said how Richard Lawson had most of the qualities that she had been looking for in a man. As she was saying this, she also added, "Is he perfect? Absolutely not..." Mr. Lawson says, "No?" and Miss Tina kinda does the sassy woman neck roll/eye roll/head turn combination move and says "NO", but she continued to speak about him having a lot of the qualities that she loves and that they are having a good time together. All the while he is sitting with a hurt and pensive look. First, let me say that I LOVE me some Miss Tina and in my eyes she can do no wrong. I am actually more of a stan for her than that daughter of hers. Don't come for me Beyhive, cuz I'm still a member too. I just adore Queen Mother! LOL! Anyway, when I watched the episode I didn't think anything of it. I thought that their second time around story was cute and it (along with the other couples' stories) gave me hope! I didn't think twice about it until I kept seeing the clip on social media and read some of the commentary. I saw people say that she was being disrespectful, unkind, and even unloving. Yes she was sassy in her delivery, but in my opinion, she wasn't being disrespectful. It was all pretty light hearted. I understood what she was saying, because nobody is perfect. From what she was saying, I got that he isn't perfect, but still has a lot of the qualities that she had been seeking, she loves those, and she's happy! I also understand why she responded the way she did when her husband seemed to be surprised that she didn't think that he was perfect, because why would he even think that he was?! She isn't the only person that I've seen point out that their mate and/or relationship isn't perfect. I've found that people who have a relationshsip that outsiders deem as "relationship goals", simply want people to know the reality. They want you to know that they are regular, imperfect people who have to work at what they have. They want you to know that they argue and don't always like each other. These people just want the world to know that even in the midst of their imperfections, arguments, and all their ups and downs, a healthy, loving, and fun relationship is possible and can be beautiful! What do y'all think? Is it a case of not what she said, but how she said it? Or do you think she should not have made the statement at all? Let me know what you think in the comments!
So I was thinking about this atrocity of a book that I read a couple nights ago. Some of you may have read it or seen it floating around. The title of the book is Sex Me: Confessions of Daddy's Little Freak. It's a young lady's firsthand account of her relationship with the self proclaimed pied piper himself, R. Kelly. Well, I'm sure that we're to assume that it is R. Kelly based on the various details. She doesn't really outright say it. I think one time she says Rob and another time she says Robert, but other than that, she refers to him as "Daddy"... Another obvious tip-off is that every chapter is named after an R. Kelly song. The author also never reveals her identity. She uses the pseudonym, "Daddy's Girl".
I don't even know where to begin. I was finished with the book in about an hour. It was less than one hundred pages and definitely a page turner. Reading it had me on an emotional rollercoaster. I was appalled, angry, sad, shocked, confused, and in utter disbelief. Disbelief not because I'm not certain that the pedophilic crooner is a sick scumbag, but disbelief that the story as it was told is 100% true. The book is supposedly a memoir, but it reads like a work of fiction. It reminded me of those "urban" novels. You know, the EXTRA hood ones? If you're like me, I haven't read many of those, but I DID read Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah. You've probably read those too, so you know what I'm talking about. What this sister wrote and claimed to recall was so outrageous that it seemed like it was just a bunch of stuff added for entertainment purposes. The book was full of drugs, alcohol, unreasonable amounts of reckless sex, orgies, physical/sexual/verbal/emotional abuse, betrayal, and just all things bad!
Kelly, the king of Rhythm and Blues Clues, is described (indirectly) as a sick and manipulative monster. Even if everything that the writer alleges in this book is not true, I do believe that it contains some truth. The girl claims to have been sixteen years old when she started dealing with R should be in Jaily. That's easy to believe because of his track record. Aside from all of the heinous things that the young woman accuses the singer of doing, what's most disturbing to me is that she still puts some of the blame for what he did on herself! She was a CHILD. Nothing he did was her fault. Regardless of how "fast" or calculated she was in her initial pursuit of the celebrity abuser, she was still a minor when this all started and the burden of responsibility was on him...and not only him! In her situation, and all the others that we've heard about over the years, there are plenty more people who can share the blame. I blame his employees and families of the victims who have agreed to turn a blind eye to his activities because they value a paycheck more than standing up for what's right and more than the safety of the girls/women he constantly took advantage of. I blame his "friends" in the industry who have done an awful job holding him accountable. I blame those of us who have continued to defend him and support his career. When is enough enough? How long can he be excused because of his good music or because his momma died or because he can't read or because he was molested? How many more girls/women need to come forward before we believe what he is?? We've been hearing stories of his shenanigans since the early '90s!!! He needs to take responsibility for what he has done and the lives that he has destroyed. He needs to not sing another note, write another song, or go on another tour until he truly acknowledges the problem and seeks/gets help. I pray that he does and that all of the people who have been effected by his sickness are healed and made whole!
If you're interested in reading the tale of "Daddy's Girl" and you haven't already received the book in your email inbox, via text message, or in your Facebook messenger, you can click here. The book is available to download for $10 and it is available in paperback form for $20.
So I was thinking about the downfalls of getting older. I’ll be 40 next year and I’m actually really excited about it. I’m not completely where I want to be and far from where I expected to be in life at this age, but I’m okay with that. I feel like I’m on the right path to reach my purposeful destiny and I’m content. It’s weird, but as I type this I’m thinking that this is the happiest I’ve been in my adult life! I look forward to the next level of freedom and euphoria that I’m certain 40 will bring...more on all of this in a future post.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself, “If she’s so happy, what are the downfalls??” It’s this, as we get older, our loved ones are aging as well. The realization that my parents are not immortal has hit me like a ton of bricks and I see it happening all around me. Of course we know that people can’t live forever, but we still tend to think that our parents are exceptions to that rule of life. To see their bodies become more fragile is a shock to our psyche that forces us to accept the reality of this temporal existence.
Earlier this year, my father was faced with a major illness and that’s the first time I had to seriously think about the possibility of life without him or either of my parents for that matter. It freaked me out, but it also caused me to put some things into perspective and work on putting some other things in order. I’ll share with you the top 3 take-aways I gained from the experience.
So I've been thinking about the various goings on in the world today, especially the subject of rape and sexual assault. Of course, this is top of mind in light of the high profile stories of Cosby and Kavanaugh that have been in the news recently. I have been struggling to gather my thoughts and words regarding this and I'm still not certain that I am able to properly articulate my feelings. I'm also apprehensive about even addressing this matter. The dialogue that I've seen on social media has been so harsh and combative, that I started to think that maybe I wouldn't even touch this with a ten foot pole! Some people have resorted to insults and name calling due to differing opinions. I understand that folk are passionate about their stance, but as adults, the least we should be able to do is RESPECTFULLY agree to disagree and then continue to interact or not interact accordingly.
Instead of going back and forth on social media, I wanted to use the platform that I have to share my opinion. I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet. Rape and sexual assault is wrong! Regardless of what time a person visits another person, regardless of attire or the lack thereof, regardless of occupation, previous encounters, drug use, etc., it is never warranted. No human being has the right to violate another human being under ANY circumstance.
I'm disgusted by the extreme lack of empathy for victims of rape and sexual assault. It saddens me that we tend to not believe victims when they don't come forward in the time frame that we deem suitable. It fills me with sorrow when we continually blame the victim. I'm remorseful for ever having either of these flawed ways of thinking. A culprit's financial status or position of power and prestige does not excuse this ultimate violation, neither does their race. Just because white men seem to experience more leniency when it comes to suffering the consequences of such crimes, it doesn't excuse minorities and justice should be served either way. The call for justice shouldn't depend on whether or not another person who did the same thing was tried and convicted.
I just want us all to do better. Put yourself in the victim's shoes. Think about how you would feel if you or someone close to you was violated in such a way. It's shameful that many times we don't have compassion for others about certain things until that situation shows up at our doorstep.
So I was thinking about the 15+ years of experience I have working in call centers. The bulk of my experience has been in collections and I currently work in customer service/central scheduling for a medical group. One of the things that has remained constant across the companies I've worked for and the industries I've been in, is how rude you all are. Yep, I'm talking about YOU! I know it's you because it has been me and I still have to check myself from time to time when I handle my affairs. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I've talked to some of you! LOL!! Some of y'all are seriously THEE WORST! A lot of you positive, upstanding, kindhearted, spiritual, peaceful, and admirable individuals turn into straight up ornery jerk faces when it's time to handle business over the phone (And sometimes in person). Then, after you've showed your tail, you have the audacity to wonder why you received less than stellar service! Now, I know there are times when you get a truly incompetent or rude rep. Though that may be the case, I admonish you to approach them with a certain level of respect, calm, tact, and empathy. Think about how you like to be treated at your place of employment or how you feel when you may be going through a rough patch or having a not so good day, but have to work anyway. This message is for me too. I'm a stickler for exceptional customer service and have been known to be hard on people providing me service. But, this is one of a ton of new leaves I've turned over, so I'm way better and am still working on me.
I'm going to share a few tips with you on how to be a good customer. Follow these guidelines and I guarantee you'll get better service. You'll also keep that blood pressure down!
So I was thinking about all of the great shows that are everywhere right now. In my opinion, the last 5-7 years has provided us with some of the best tv of my lifetime. I watched tv a lot as a child but as time went on and I became an adult, I could go months at a time without even turning my television on. When I would watch, there was very little that I was interested in. For years, I was without any form of cable and I didn't even miss it. I still don't pay for a standard cable package, but there are many other ways to watch quality programming nowadays. I have service via Comcast/Xfinity, but I only have basic local channels, HBO, and internet. I pay for a few other streaming services, but there is still about a $55-$75 difference from when I had cable.
The award show that honors the best in television, The Emmys, comes on tonight and I thought I would share with you some of the shows I watch and the services I use to watch them.
So I was thinking about how I hear/see some parents say that their child is their best friend. No matter how many times I hear that sentiment, I always have the same reaction of bewilderment. My mind just can't grasp the concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a parent/child friendship is impossible, but them being BEST friends makes a bit more sense to me once the child is an adult, AT LEAST. I see this best friend label used on children under the age of 18, all the way down to toddler and infant age! I just don't understand.
Maybe I feel strongly because of how I was brought up. My parents told me that they weren't one of my lil friends. I was taught to stay in a child's place and out of grown folks business. It was ingrained in me that certain conversation, language, and activities were inappropriate between children and adults, especially when they were your parents. Aside from that, I didn't WANT my mother or father to be my bestie and now as a parent, I don't want my son to be my best friend. To me, a best friend is a peer, an EQUAL with whom I can relate on multiple levels, someone with shared interests, someone whose conversation I enjoy, who I desire to spend time with, and most of all someone with whom I can talk to about ANYTHING and vice versa.
Right now, my main role in my son's life is as his parent. I'm here to instruct and guide, discipline and mold, love and protect. We do enjoy each other's company and I've made it my business to establish a relationship with my son where he feels comfortable talking to me about most things, but there are boundaries set and lines drawn which I make sure are not crossed. I teach my boy the importance of relationship and encourage him to develop friendships with children his own age. But, when he needs that extra boost of wisdom and guidance or just needs to talk some things out, and doesn't feel comfortable coming to me, I implore him to use all available outlets; talking to his dad when he feels he can and talking to another adult he trusts, like his uncle. I encourage him to journal and he also goes to therapy. In my opinion, having boundaries and other outlets allows for a certain level of respect to be maintained between the parent and child, ESPECIALLY when the child is below the age of 21. I've witnessed scenarios where parents and children become such friends to each other that the line between friendship and parenthood becomes super thin and the behavior of the child, though usually unintentional, crosses over into disrespect.
As an adult child, I can say that my relationship with my parents, especially my mother, has moved into more of a friendship status. However, she isn't my BFF. She is not my peer. I still revere her as my mother FIRST and there are certain things I don't wish to discuss with her, places I don't want to go with her, she doesn't expect it, and I know that the feeling is mutual. And that's just what works for US!
I'd like to hear from you! Is your child(ren) your best friend? Are you best friends with your parents? And if you have young children, how does being best friends with them work? What exactly does it mean? Talk to me in the comments, fill out the contact form, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.