Thursday, November 7

Almost 70% of The United States of America Have Some Form of Stand Your Ground Laws

There are 34 states that have some form of stand your ground laws. With the recent shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride (both unarmed teenage Black/African Americans people), it becomes even more cause for concern among our communities. Some of these laws state that if a person FEELS threatened or PERCEIVES that there is a threat, they have a right to use deadly force to apprehend/stop the person they FEEL threatened by. I capitalized the letters of the words “feel(s)” and “perceives” because it’s important to understand that if someone already has a bias/prejudice or discriminates against a specific group of people, they can claim they FELT threatened and be within their rights to act on their EMOTIONS. A lot of stand your ground laws will protect someone, as illogical as that sounds, THIS is our justice system. It cannot get any clearer that it is STILL not safe to appear/be Black/African American. 

Here is a list of the states, in case anyone wants to research the statutes/limitations in their area:
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Friday, October 18

This Thing Called Love...

It is my belief that every person alive is capable of loving something/someone, no matter our personal opinions/judgments of others. From personal experiences and some observations, there's an ongoing battle of WHAT love really is, HOW we should love, and WHO should be loved. Some say that WE ARE love; others believe that love is something that has to be cultivated before we can give or be it; yet and still there are others who do not freely give love because their understanding is that everyone doesn't deserve that exchange with them. 

Depending on how we are raised, the life we've lived, and where we're headed, the definition of love changes. On a surface level, it can also be understood that the kind of love we all deserve is one free from negativity. So why set a time limit on when we can give deep affection to others, especially when it causes them to have positive exchanges with others?

If that stigma disappeared, it is my belief that the act of love would occur more frequently. Instead we're told that we have to KNOW someone to love them. Know exactly what though? How much knowledge should we amass before we share pure emotion with others? We could spend everyday with someone for 10 years and STILL not know everything there is to know about them. On the other hand, I've spent months with some people and acquired more knowledge about them through intimate conversation/interaction than they've shared with people who've known them all their life. 

It doesn't really cost us anything to give another person love. Granted, not everyone will want to be loved by us for a multitude of reasons and as much as that might hurt our ego, it should be understood that everyone isn't going to like us enough to be vulnerable with us. If there is one thing I know, regardless of our style of love, it should NEVER be forced on each other because it won't feel or be viewed as something positive. It's my hope that we can get to a place of being comfortable enough to say "this isn't working" without retaliation because the feelings aren't mutual. It would keep us from wasting valuable time that could be spent on those who want to love/be loved by us, specifically.

When we effectively communicate, give people space and allow them their right to say what works for them and what doesn't, we create more room for healthy love. We'd get happier people and a byproduct of that is...more love being given and received. Positive exchanges of love don't rub us raw but actually have been known to heal parts of our souls and minds that have been damaged by negative experiences. The lack of love? I've grown to believe a lot of us have experienced this far more than we'd like and that's what makes this thing called love so difficult...

Friday, September 27

The Great (g)od Hype Complex

I've always thought it was irrational to think that everyone should like us. No one is created to be liked by every human being. Granted, there are things that some people choose not to like simply due to preference but to think people are being fucked up because they don't like us? Mind boggling.

Our opinions of ourselves are always what's most important. Think greatly or lowly of yourself. Definitely your choice. If we want to pull a Kanye and call ourselves a god, by all means, do that too. Being delusional about our entire persona doesn't assist in more people being enamored with us. 

We can believe our own hype for the rest of our lives. The problem, I see, is when we try to force everyone else to accept the greatness of who we believe ourselves to be. Everyone isn't going to care. They'd sooner make fun of us than see what we're trying so hard to prove. If we sincerely have no fucks to give about being liked, everyone in the world could have a reason for not liking us. It won't affect our self-ordained godliness...or at least it shouldn't.

I guess that's the paradox of having a God complex...we actually care a WHOLE lot.

Wednesday, July 24

Being Close-Minded Slows Down Your Brain

I'm not a doctor so there are no scientific facts behind MY statement that being close-minded slows down brain function. However, if you took a topic that appears to be unfathomable, a close-minded person tends to form an opinion and stick with it before they consider any other possibilities.

Sometimes entertaining and accepting the idea that there ARE different people and ways of doing things, is too much for some people. Life is easier when we don't look at it outside of the bubble we know. Some of us choose to sign up for a lifetime membership of ignorance simply to attain the bliss associated with not knowing. So I get it; some people don't want to retain or consider MORE knowledge because then they have to "do better". The reality is, everyone isn't the same so close-minded individuals will probably always exist. The big thing is, deciding what type of thinker we want to go through life being.

Wednesday, July 10

The [Colored] Elephant in the Room

 The tragic thing about Colorism is that we'd rather fight each other or pretend to ignore the elephant in the room, than appreciate the variety we have and become unified..

Motivating Yourself to Success

(I wrote this 2 years ago but it's still relevant. Enjoy!)

We are always encouraged to be our own biggest motivator in life. However, there are those who will judge what we are going after, without even knowing our driving force. 

I was reading a Rolling Stone article about Nicki Minaj and she stated what her motivation to succeed in life was. Her father abused drugs, alcohol, and her mother. So she credits her ambition to that.

"When I first came to America, I would go in my room and kneel down at the foot of my bed and pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother. Because I always felt like if I took care of my mother, my mother wouldn't have to stay with my father, and he was the one, at the time, that was bringing us pain. We didn't want him around at all, and so I always felt like being rich would cure everything, and that was always what drove me".

Unfortunately, her money has not coerced her mother to leave because "her parents still live together, and her father isn't happy about her airing his past". Now that she has a successful career as the current leading lady in hip hop, I am sure she is not just going to give up because her driving force has changed. She has a "five-year plan [that] includes a film career, a perfume line, a clothing line and maybe record that feature her singing as much as rapping". 

[UPDATE: Nicki has already accomplished everything in her five-year plan mentioned above. She's been a voice over in a movie, slated to be in another movie next year; was the executive producer of her own documentary, Nicki Minaj: My Truth; starred as herself on several television shows; we've definitely heard her singing on her own albums as well as features on others.]

I am not highlighting these things because I have thrown on my cape to come to Nicki's rescue. I am sharing these things because it is easy to look at someone like her and attack them for the obvious. She is doing what she feels is necessary to succeed and even though we personally might not go that route, it IS working. So who are we to really say it is wrong? Who are we to say that she wasn't blessed with the very thing she prayed for? She was a child, probably saying that prayer every chance she take that from someone is essentially shitting on another person hopes and dreams.

For those who cannot get past the character that Nicki presents herself to be, consider the following example.

Millions are inspired by the success of Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) and that speaks volumes. Some of the people who idolize him, despise their neighborhood drug dealer. Morally, ethically, and legally, we know that selling drugs is wrong. However, if your contribution to society is larger than what you took from your neighborhood, people are quite forgiving. Shawn has ALWAYS been Shawn but he only became Jay-Z when he made an effort to remove himself from the drug game. His end, justified his means.

I used these two megastars as examples because morally, they can be easy targets but still relative to people we know. Many individuals will pardon the struggles that celebrities have experienced to get what we believe is their final destination of success. Are we that understanding of 'normal' everyday people we rub elbows with? Unfortunately, I see far more judging.

When we see certain routes that others take to accomplish their goals/dreams, we should view it no different than how we see those who've already succeeded. Everyone has a different journey in life and we get there the best way we know how...or the best way we can.

Friday, May 31

Online Social Networks & Relationships

With the growth of social networks, more and more people are developing relationships online that become truly worthwhile. While some still view it as weird to make friends, meet the love of your life, and hang out with someone you interact with through tweets, wall statuses, and blog posts, there is no denying that these people are still flesh and blood. Some might go to great lengths to pretend to be someone they really aren't because when they log out out of a social network, their offline life isn't as enjoyable. Either way it goes, social networks aren't JUST some imaginary place to talk to imaginary people. No matter the level of delusion we make ourselves succumb to in order to say "these people aren't real to me", it sends the message that when you log on, you don't consider yourself to be real either.

While we all use social networks for different things (business, socializing, out of boredom, for attention, etc.), there's no denying, we're STILL on them. No matter how close we allow ourselves to get to others, to discount any interaction we might have had is to also diminish who we are. So what happens when the social experience has worn out its welcome with certain people?

As in real life, it becomes difficult for some to walk away because they don't want someone to get upset. However, if it's JUST Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/Instagram, why does it matter all of a sudden? It didn't before they unfollowed you or are people really honest with themselves about these networks just being something to do to pass time? It becomes obvious that there is a bias, depending on who it is that unfollows some people. If you know them offline or knew them before online social networking took over the world, feelings tend to get hurt.

I've been accused of getting into my feelings about being unfollowed when that wasn't the issue. If we are REAL friends AND have an offline friendship, I will ALWAYS address anything that seems off. This is not some right I only give myself; I extend it to anyone who has ever called me a friend. Otherwise, we don't have a real friendship. Do I feel ALL my friends NEED to follow me on everything for us to maintain a friendship? Most certainly not. ALL of my close friends could unfollow me today and while it would strike me as odd, I'm not going to be bent out of shape about it. Maybe they don't like what I have to say when I'm online and they're allowed that. A REAL friendship dictates that we have something of substance whether we can see what each other are saying/doing online or not. 

Why aren't we seriously asking ourselves why online networks play SUCH an important part in whether we stay friends with people if we had a decent relationship before the internet existed? If they were SUCH awesome people we could brag about online, what changed when they unfollowed us that made them less worthy of friendship? If we're fortunate enough to meet quality people online that we care to meet offline, shouldn't our bond sustain us past a follow? I would like to think so but the evolution of the word friend and various levels of maturity state otherwise. 

I've been the unfollowed and I've been the unfollower. Offline, I've been unfriended and I've had to unfriend people. Online, while it might be an easier task, the after effects when someone's feelings are attached to it, are still the same as offline. There should be a clear line of distinction though that if I'm telling you we're still friends after an unfollow, it isn't the same as sitting someone down and saying "I don't want to be friends with you anymore". Being tolerant of others involves leaving people alone to do as they please on their social networks. So if you're constantly contradicting yourself after I've sat and had hour long conversations with you, being excessively negative, an online bully, and/or lying about your life, I'm going to unfollow you. I don't want that experience offline and it's far easier to control ONLINE. 

I say all this to say...I'm of the old school when it comes to having REAL friends. If I got $5, you got $2.50. If you don't want to be lied to, don't lie to me. If you want me to herald you as great, you better be extolling me too. If you say you love me, it requires more than liking my pictures on Instagram, replying to tweets, and/or feeding my ego that doesn't need any more stroking as it is. While the internet has made life easy in tons of areas, ALL relationships STILL require human, not electronic effort. If you don't have it to give or don't want to be honest about preferring not so deep interaction, it isn't going to work. So an unfollow should be the least of our concerns when it comes to our REAL friends.

Tuesday, May 7

Introvert Doesn't Mean Depressed, Sad or Hater of All Living Things

While there are Introverts that are depressed, sad and hate humankind, those aren't the defining characteristics of who they are. 

Living in a world that expects you to be extroverted all the time, can become uncomfortable to an Introvert. Some people want to force them to be around others, participate in things that are of no interest to them (for the sake of the crowd), and smile when they just want to sit and think. Contrary to what lots of people might think they know about me, I'm not an Extrovert. The people I share this with usually stare at me like I'm lying but I enjoy time with myself more than I do being surrounded by others. 

It has made it difficult to be around certain people without being drunk and/or high. When I was younger, I didn't want to have to explain why reading on a Friday night was more enjoyable than chasing guys. Often times, I'd disappear and remain that way until someone came looking for me to hang out. It was always an indicator that I had been by myself for a [more than] reasonable amount of time. It is also the main reason I don't really like unnecessary attention. Many Extroverts will argue (unknown) Introverts down about everyone wanting attention like they do. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Being the center of attention is not an Introverts idea of a good time. So what exactly is an Introvert?

notice who he's with? no one.  he isn't lonely/bored.
more than likely having a himself. 

Introverts are people who don't feel the need to talk all the time. Silence doesn't bother them, in fact, they look forward to it. Chatty Cathy's and people who demand you engage in small talk are at the top of most Introvert's list of Annoying People. Introverts, while liking time alone, do engage in fun activities with others but might disappear from the action out of nowhere. It is the alone time that recharges our internal batteries so that we can feel up to hanging out again. Constant human interaction can be draining and trigger behavior that begins to look like they hate people. Asking them what's wrong, why they aren't getting drunk, why aren't they dancing, why, why, why every 5 seconds, only makes them "hate" YOU, not humanity. Many Extroverts take it upon themselves to pull Introverts out of what they believe to be a shy shell. Not all Introverts are shy. Sometimes they just want to sit and observe the world in peace. Getting in their face about it only pushes them farther away from wanting to be around you.

Whereas Extroverts come across as being activated 24/7, Introverts reside in the land of chill unless provoked to leave. They're about doing things when they're ready to; not a moment sooner. Some people think that Introverts prefer to be Mutes. This isn't the case. If you asked my husband how much I talk at home, he'd tell you that he wishes I would shut up sometimes. We tend to have far more interesting conversations with each other than I do with others. So I have a lot to say. However, he can also attest to many days I will be in the same room as him and have nothing to say to the point that he asks me several times, "Are you okay?" Introverts don't talk just to hear the melodic sound of their own voice. They usually speak when they have something worth saying.

I've been labeled everything from weird to snobbish, to rude because of who I naturally am. Plenty of misunderstandings have been had because what is considered normal to Extroverts, just isn't my cup of tea. I even had someone stop being my friend because she said I didn't want to do everything she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. according to her, this made me a bad friend. Totally irrational thought process and it happened because she didn't understand who I am. If I had to ask one thing of Extroverts who insist on Introverts liking them, it's to make a better effort to understand those who are not like them. While being an Extrovert is considered normal, introverted behavior is often seen as being anti-social, that we're mean, and that we need to be psychologically evaluated. When none of that is usually the case...we're just different.

Friday, May 3

Trying to Understand Artists

If I had a dollar for everytime someone referred to an artist as "crazy", with disgust in their tone, I'd have enough money to never need to work for anyone else. I use the word 'crazy' heavily because I don't view it as a bad thing. It is my belief that every human being has a level of insanity they reach; others just get there quicker and more frequently so it's easier to identify their "different" behavior. From observance, if your differences are more obvious, you "earn" the negative connotation of 'crazy'.

Regardless of how we individually see mania, It becomes easier to look at these creators without bias when we can comprehend why they behave as they do. 

Trying to understand artists can be difficult as hell because they can be very picky about who they let into their life. A lot of times it is due to the above judging. Other times, it is nothing more than them not caring about others being uncomfortable with who they are and rightfully so. One thing that no one can take from an artist is the beauty that can be produced by redirecting their 'crazy' into their craft. Without obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, multiple personalities, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, being an introvert/extrovert, autism/aspergers syndrome, sociopathic behavior, and a plethora of other things that can be associated with disorderly behavior, we wouldn't have awe inspiring murals, record breaking musicians, literature that changes anyone's life that reads it, movement that evokes every range of emotion possible, and fashion that greatly contributes to the beauty of the person showcasing it.

Analyzing them less and feeling more can open our minds to whom they are. Even artists who aren't big on conveying feelings outside of their work are still walking balls of emotion. Making everything they do about them being difficult and/or out of control, removes the focus of the real subject: their art.

Sometimes the beauty of who they are resides in not being able to quickly figure them out. It's safe to say that they'd much rather you FEEL them through their work. Due to their gift being part of who they are, they can't help but to include parts of themselves in their work so get to know their work. All the darkness, mania, and perceived negativity begins to look very human and real even to the most skeptical eye. Of course you'd have to appreciate art on that level. Otherwise, they'll still just look like a deck that's missing more than half its cards.

When all else fails though, stop trying so hard to interpret the artist and just choose to experience the art.

[post can also be seen on !kohaus Art !s]

Sunday, April 28

short hiatus. back this week!

Haven't posted anything lately because I've been without my computer. All of that will be a thing of the past this week!

Monday, April 8

Be You. Don't Send Me A Representative.

There are so many people who claim to be "real". Kind of like people who say they're humble. It's one of those things that if we were, we wouldn't have to let anyone know. Our actions would speak for themselves. From time to time, I've been accused of not wanting the "real" from others, which is far from the truth. The thing about being genuine is, if we treat it like a light switch, we aren't being authentic. We're playing a role that relies greatly on how well of an actor we are, not portraying who we truly are.

No matter the level of relationship[romantic, friend, family, etc.] we get to know others on, if we make ourselves appear one way, knowing we operate totally different when we're comfortable, we've already succeeded at poisoning the relationship. Putting up facades tend to damage whatever we're trying to build. Human nature doesn't leave much room to conceal who we are for long so, our true selves seep out, whether we notice it or not. So why front in the first place?

By sending our representative in to establish a relationship, we cheat ourselves out of being around people who genuinely like us. There are things and people in the world that can be beneficial to our growth and all the energy we use to impress them as someone we aren't, is a waste. If it's extremely important to be liked, it only takes a second to understand that no matter who we are [pretend or not], everyone isn't going to like us anyway. No human alive is built to appeal to everyone. Even the most lovable person we know is disliked by someone.

So when someone sheds their facade and I distance myself, it is never about me not liking the real them. I might actually be fond of the "real you". People can become turned off when it becomes clear that all the time spent getting to know this "other you" was in vain. Personally, what turns me off is that I STILL don't know the real you...and there is no telling when I'll be allowed to see. All the time spent getting to know a representative could have been spent getting to know YOU. It can also make people question what else you're hiding in a relationship, sending the message that you aren't to be trusted. 

So in the end, is it really about people not wanting the real you or is it more so you not giving people the initial opportunity to know who you really are?

Tuesday, April 2

The Conversations We Have With Ourselves

Several people have either written or talked to me about the conversations they have with themselves. These mental chats aren't to be confused with serious self-exploration in an effort to better ones self. It has been made clear that it is contrived, MADE UP dialogue in their head [or out loud] of them and someone else. Some have laughed it off, others are serious as hell when they relay this information. I sit in awe, not because of the freely expressed psychosis [we all have a little "crazy" in us, I don't care about that] but at the fact that bad communication is a deal-breaker [of some sorts] with them. It quickly becomes clear that communication isn't defined the same across the board...and that they expect great communication from others but don't plan on doing it themselves. 

For some, if you let them say whatever they want to, when they feel like it, THAT is good communication. If you have something to say in return, that doesn't play a part in their definition of exchanging words. Others consider communication talking to everyone [themselves included] but the person they need to speak to. As long as they're getting it off their chest, it doesn't matter that the problem still exists. They've vented and some communication has taken place. Then there are those who encourage arguments because then it can't be said that the other person didn't get to say what they wanted. Never mind that both people were too busy talking/yelling to actually listen to what the other person was saying.

The problem with all of the above is that even though words might be exchanged at some point, none of it is effective communication. Monkeys can scream at each other. It doesn't mean they are accomplishing anything.

So what's the big deal with having conversations with ourselves? Nothing if we're perfectly fine seeing everything from our own narrow tunnel vision. It's a huge problem if we actually consider ourselves to be open-minded, good listeners and communicators. 
In order to effectively communicate, we have to be willing to accept that the other person doesn't see things as we do. Just as we have reasons for why we think and do something, so does EVERYONE else. It doesn't matter how trivial or significant the reasons. While it might be tough to digest, we also have to be open to the fact that we could be wrong about how we're seeing/approaching things. Acknowledging that possibility, indicates we're willing to listen to others. Hashing things out in our head, convincing ourselves that we know exactly what the other person is thinking, and then deciding how things will pan out is as pointless as talking to a brick wall and expecting it to give responses.

In my daily efforts to communicate better, I've processed that depending on the person, our levels of effective communication tend to change. Sometimes this clouds our judgment, leading us to believe we are exceptional speakers/listeners across the board. I'll use myself as an example. I use my language very deliberately. It comes across harsh to some people who rely on their feelings to open up to others. I had to come to the realization that while I might be great at this with SOME people, it isn't with ALL people. Once that epiphany smacked me across the face, it became a choice versus a stubborn incorrect opinion of myself.

This is probably the hardest thing someone who gets accolades for being a good communicator will have to accept. However, just because we tell ourselves something everyday, that doesn't necessarily make it true. Just like this talking to yourself thing. At some point, productive interaction with others has to be more important. It is only then that we'll stop having one-sided conversations and start having them with the people we've been leaving out of the exchange.

Monday, March 18

Answering a Direct Question w/a Direct Answer is Brash & Arrogant?

brash: impertinent; impudent; tactless
arrogant: making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud

I was recently called brash and arrogant for stating that I didn't wear makeup because I didn't need it. In an effort to keep things in context, I wasn't tooting my horn. There was a discussion being had about wearing a full face of makeup. I was asked why I chose not to. My response was:

"because I don't need it"

I was met with a turned up nose and the statement that I must think I'm better than women who do wear makeup. This confused me because my reply wasn't about ANYONE ELSE but ME. You asked me why I didn't wear makeup and I answered you; because you didn't like my answer, you assume I think I'm better than you and any woman who chooses to wear makeup. Ok.

This lead me to ask someone else if the woman who asked me the question was being a little sensitive. After playing back the conversation to them, their assesment was that because I didn't offer any further explanation as to WHY I didn't wear makeup, it makes me come across as brash and arrogant.


How did I become the bad guy for answering a direct question, directly? I didn't give my opinion as to why other women wear makeup. I didn't even say that I don't think women need makeup. I said nothing in reference to anyone but myself. So I can't choose to not wear makeup because I don't need to? Or is there a problem here that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me? I'm going to say the latter.

The other day, a makeup artist stated that all women should wear makeup and those who don't, need to "get their life". She went on further to assume that if you don't wear makeup, you must not really love yourself because why wouldn't you want to enhance what you already have. Her statements were not in regards to just herself. She targeted an entire group of women to attack...simply because they weren't anything like her. I don't agree with her at all and I definitely don't think that all women's self-esteem is tied up in their beauty. Never mind that everyone can't wear makeup and there are some women who don't like it on THEIR face. 

I'm brash and arrogant though, right?

This is the perfect example of up being down, left being right, and right being wrong. Had she asked me a question that focused on all women and makeup, she would have gotten a totally different answer. However, her question was directed only to me. When did communication change to where I should be answering every question as if I'm speaking for everyone? I will not speak for all women in a LOT of areas because I do some things differently. I don't want someone who does things differently than me, speaking for me either. 

Yet, I'm still the problem.

This is why I've never been a fan of majority rule because it brushes aside those who think outside of the norm. Being different isn't something that I do so that I can get brownie points for being unique. EVERYONE has something about themselves that contrasts from others. At no point should they be called tactless or accused of feeling superior because of their diversity. Different doesn't automatically mean better or wrong. It means not the same.

Sunday, March 17

Being Fearless

I was once told that having courage does not mean being without fear. Some of the most courageous people in history were fearful of the path they had chosen, at one point or another. If we were to think about all of the world leaders that have left lasting impressions on us, it would stand to reason that with the things they were intent on accomplishing included rightful moments of fear. Fear of failing…fear that someone powerful was going to get in the way of them accomplishing their goal…fear that someone else would have and fulfill the same goal. So, what does it really mean to be fearless?

         Much too often we let our dreams, ambitions, and goals get crushed or thrown on the back burner because of that debilitating four-letter word: FEAR. It can leave us in stagnant waters all our life, wondering why we never excelled as far as we had planned once before. When we get to that point where we begin to doubt ourselves and what we are capable of, we have to realize being fearless means recognizing what we want to accomplish is more important than any setbacks.

There will be some apprehension when approaching anything that seems to be a challenge. It goes without saying, especially when we are setting ourselves up to do something that is truly innovative and will affect many. Not letting anyone or anything stand in our way is the key to following through.

My life has been filled with moments that others would deem as courageous but they were actually some of the most terrifying moments I have experienced. Moving out of my parents house at 16 years old took two years to plan and muster the strength to follow through. It was necessary for me to continue personal growth. Leaving my hometown at 21 years old to reside on the other side of my country took even more gumption. The first six months of living in a new state, there were many days I'd sit in my room and let tears fall. It was a big change that wasn't automatically a smooth transition. I stuck to my guns and never left. Deciding to have my daughter at 29 years old, despite having to take a huge pay cut, weighed heavily on my mind. Choosing not to take my life as it spiraled out of my control for the last four years, took a tremendous amount of tenacity. I wake up [now] everyday knowing that my dreams are more important than any self-doubt I can muster up.

 So, the next time we are faced with scary situations that threaten what we want to do, we can't let skepticism settle in where our faith should be. We will be okay and fulfill our dreams because fear is something we can always choose to remove from our mental process. As long as we're moving forward and not letting our thoughts get the best of us, nothing can stop us from being the awesome person we are destined to become.

[this post was originally published in a column I used to write back in 2009; it has been edited for relevance. it is a great reminder for me, as well :-)]

Saturday, March 9

Have Some Self-Control. Don't Rape.

Yesterday there was discussion on Twitter about rape amongst minority women. I found the coincidence to be odd considering I was having a conversation with someone about rape, before I was aware of my fast moving timeline's concerns. As I read some of the tweets about date rape, being raped by someone they knew really well, and lots of men not accepting "No" as a serious response to their advances, I started getting a little sick to my stomach. I counted how many women I have in my phone. Of the almost 600 contacts, about 200 are women. Of those 200, 15% have been raped before. Some of them were molested as children, experienced rape from boyfriends, friends of the family, even their best friends. Some of these women have suffered at the hands of different rapists. My stomach sinks even lower to know that some of these predators are women too. 

As alarming as this is, an even greater sadness washed over me when I realized this isn't even ALL the women I know that have been raped. It might sound like an exaggeration, but for some of us, almost 50% of the women we know have been in a situation that could be constituted as rape, unwanted sexual advances, or molestation of some kind. It moved me to ask a few people how many women they knew that had been raped. Most responses were, "1 or 2 people".

It might seem like I'm over-thinking things but...I'm a woman, have two beautiful daughters, and I care a hell of a lot about us NOT being raped. While I could focus on finding a deeper meaning to why so many women have shared such emotionally damaging information with me, it would be selfish to not concern myself with WHY so many people have formed a sense of entitlement over others genitals. This is no laughing matter or something to be brushed aside. Most of the women I speak of that have suffered at the hands of their predators, knew them well enough to trust that they were in good company. Until they weren't.

It makes one begin to think that some of the rapists don't view themselves as such and that there is nothing wrong with their aggressive, predatory behavior. If it isn't consensual, it's rape. Maybe it needs to be clarified as to what consensual is.

If someone is in your bed, that doesn't make it consensual. If you feel that way, don't let anyone into your sheets until it is confirmed that they will be having sex with you. If someone is in the middle of heavy foreplay with you and decides they don't want to move further, that IS a "No". Every woman who says "No" isn't playing hard to get and even if she is, regardless of you being a man/woman or extremely horny, back up. Hearing a "No" is your cue to STOP, whether she is laughing or has to scream it out. 

You just started dating and she's moving slow when it comes to having sex. You decide to speed it up by having sex with her after she falls asleep. Nothing about this is consensual unless she has given you permission to invade her personal space while she is sleep. Some of the synonyms for consensual are agreed, like-minded, of one mind, shared, undisputed, unquestioned. If you didn't get a favorable answer before she dozed off, keep your appendages to yourself. Have some self-control.

THINK first. It might be easier said than done when all the blood in your body seems to have rushed to your penis or your vagina is pulsating. Keep in mind that because you have the crotch of fire raging for sexual interaction, that isn't everyone else's condition. This person more than likely trusts that you would never harm them and just because you make a point to not leave any physical proof of damage, that doesn't mean you aren't fucking up people's head that you touch inappropriately. Molestation is still a form of nonconsensual activity. 

As the examples fill my head to further drive home the point for people to keep their hands to themselves, I begin to feel like this is just banter. I don't believe rape can be prevented by teaching people not to get raped. We as a society have to teach one another that IT ISN'T OKAY TO FORCE OURSELVES ON EACH OTHER. A part of me feels like people would stop and think if the violator's were punished by being raped themselves. When you are forced to have something so personal taken from you, you being to look at the world differently. You understand the fear in some people's eyes of being left alone with someone who looks like their attacker. You understand the women who seem to be all over the place in their relationships because deep down, their trust issues are preventing them from opening up to others. The world becomes a little more clearer than just your control/power issues, need to dominate, and unhealthy ego that says 'If I want it, it's mine".

I hope we can move one step closer to giving a fuck about someone other than ourselves. If rape isn't one of the most selfish things to ever exist, it's pretty damn close. As a woman and a mother, I feel like the universe is trying to deliver a message by allowing me to meet these women who've opened up to me about their rapes. I can't say I immediately know how my purpose in life is connected to this but it is definitely a cause worth fighting for and I plan to seek out ways to educate people on the subject. If it helps one man/woman think before their aggression consumes them, I've done something that mattered. I hope more people choose to be part of a solution for rape, versus becoming a negative part of the problem.

Tuesday, March 5

Actively Choosing to Be Happy

The difficult conversations are usually the most important ones we should be having. I recently had two and while I think there was a mutual understanding with one person, I'm more than positive the other is upset with me. In an effort to refocus and better align with my true purpose, I had to make some tough decisions. Since it looks effortless to others [because I don't process my difficult choices out loud on social networks], I am often viewed as callous, trying to be perfect, and a bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with positive movement forward.

I often use the example of an addict trying to free themselves of the burden of their addiction. The minute they make the decision that they don't want to do drugs, drink excessively, etc. it is suggested they limit/cut off interaction with users. What I would like to know is, why this is viewed differently when someone limits their interaction with those they know aren't mentally healthy for them at the moment?. Surely our mental health is just as important as our physical so why the exception?

If someone makes the decision to remove themselves from underneath a dark cloud, shouldn't we be happy for them? Instead, the responses I've had to contend with are accusations that I'm being self-righteous, I think I'm perfect and have it all figured out when I don't know shit about shit. Nice, right? Of course this is abusive speech targeted at people to get them to do what you want. Fortunately, it doesn't work on me. It has become motivation to keep traveling down my road and further distance myself from people like this.

When someone makes the decision to not let life get the best of them EVERY DAY THEY WAKE UP, it isn't about ignoring things that aren't right in their world. It is impossible for me to not think about the following:

  • in the last 6 months, I've had 3 family members pass away, 1 being my mothers mom and another being my father's dad ; my husband has had 3, as well, one being a suicide
  • I had pneumonia and was laid up in the hospital for half a day
  • my daughter developed asthma and has an ongoing condition called rhinitis [which gives her a sinus infection twice a month]; she's been sick for a year; not off and on, literally not well for an entire year
  • I had a stressful job where I was undergoing harassment during the time our family members were passing, which the EEOC confirmed but I can't press charges because it wasn't within the parameters of their guidelines 
  • the employee that was harassing me happened to be my supervisor; she created a full letter of lies in order to fire me, even though we live in a right to work state so attempting to tarnish my character added insult to injury
  • during all of the above, our cars turbo goes out and we have to purchase another car
  • the car we just purchased, engine fell out a couple weeks ago
This list can continue for another 2 pages because that's life, something is ALWAYS going on. Does it help to sit around feeling sorry for myself because of this? No. Me talking about it to anyone who will listen doesn't make it go away either. If we are truly striving to make the best of things, it's always best to focus on the good things happening around us anyway. For me, it has been the following:
  • we were able to find a more spacious, less expensive place in a neighborhood 10 times better, after leaving a black mold infested house
  • my husband still has his job; one income is better than none
  • we've been fortunate enough to still be able to afford my daughter's daycare so I can write while she's at school
  • our daughter's health has drastically improved since we changed her doctor
  • my stress levels are amazingly low due to not being on edge everyday
  • we live in a neighborhood where basic necessities are within a miles reach so no car isn't as bad as it sounds
  • I have an opportunity to work on doing what I love, not what appears to provide security
I can list more but the point is made. Actively choosing to be happy isn't about forgetting the things we have to deal with. It's about not letting the downers in life keep us in a place that affects our positivity. I'm further uplifted by those who subscribe to the same belief. My friends and I discuss things that go wrong in life but we also encourage each other not to complain incessantly about things that are out of our control. The things we can change, we remind each other to work on them diligently. This doesn't free up much time to negatively fixate in a "Woe is me" manner.

So the next time someone gets upset with you for not stooping to their level of negativity, take comfort that you are doing something right. There is a quote that says "You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully". If those 5 people want nothing but the best for you and encourage you to stay positive, choosing to be happy can become as easy as breathing...

Friday, March 1

Pregnancy & The Public Eye

The above pictures are of me when I was 7 months pregnant and about 3 months before I found out I was with child. Nothing about my pregnancy was easy but my daughter was healthy the entire time I was pregnant. That made me so grateful and I took all the "punches" in stride. The comments about my body during pregnancy from women who had never been pregnant, as well as men who don't know shit about shit when it comes to pregnancy, used to piss me off. 

I was extremely emotional during this time and used to cry a lot when I was by myself. My hormones were all out of whack, I was stressed beyond belief, and couldn't stop counting the days until delivery. The judgments of others did not make this process any better so when I hear/see others calling other pregnant women rude ass names, a part of me taps back into my experience. 

My body changed SO much that I would get upset at what I was seeing in the mirror, more often than not. I was used to my butt looking a certain way; my rear end was ALL OVER THE GOTDAM PLACE. My boobs looked fantastic but were so heavy that I couldn't really appreciate them as much as other mothers. My [now] husband was so concerned about poking his daughter in the head while having sex that I didn't get it in as much as I would have liked to. Another contributing factor to my crankiness while pregnant. When I say that EVERYTHING changed JUST to bring my daughter into this world, I am so serious.

I didn't really talk to many people about my feelings while pregnant. I was experiencing things I never acknowledged in the past and I felt alone during this process, most days. I had a couple friends that (figuratively) held my hand through it all and I love them SO much for being there. I often wonder how some women who are in the public eye deal with this because we all know how insensitive people can be towards the famous. 

I heard/saw people calling Mariah everything from a "fat fuck" to "Shamu" when she was pregnant. Never mind that she was carrying twins and it's expected amongst people with functioning brains that she was going to gain a considerable amount of weight.

Kim Kardashian has also been called Shamu, as well as "a big bitch" and "overweight". Of course because she is the world's favorite person to gossip about and hate, she's rarely spared when it comes to name calling.

Some even questioned whether Jill Scott was really pregnant or just "ridiculously obese". Due to her already being a plus size woman, pre-pregnancy, the jokes were endless and...cruel. It got to the point where I began to question if people valued a healthy mother or seemingly thinner expecting mothers.
I could keep posting pre-pregnancy and pregnancy pictures of women in the spotlight, listing the irrational comments that were made about them. It would only further support my point that the general public can sometimes be mindless as a box of rocks. It caused me to question how many women accepted what happens when you get the opportunity to create life. Some of these same women are eagerly awaiting the day they get to have a family of their own but the level of their immaturity is astounding. 

My only suggestion to the public is to be easy on moms-to-be. They are dealing with enough preparing for the arrival of their tiny bundle[s]. While they might be used to ignoring the mean things people hurl their way, some of us women who are used to looking a certain way, still have to manage our feelings regarding pregnancy. I guess what I'm trying to say is, stop being dickheads about pregnant women. Yes, some of us gain a ton of weight while pregnant, our noses might spread all over our face, and it could look like we're about to give birth to Paul Bunyan. However, if you've never carried a baby past 3-4 months, shut the entire fuck up. It's a process of up to 9 months. Respect this miracle or just be quiet.

Tuesday, February 26

Why Can't We Stay Married?

I had decided a while ago that I wasn't having children or getting married. The level of commitment a person is supposed to devote to their child and their mate was too much for me. I couldn't see myself taking that kind of risk. There was no guarantee that whoever I said "Yes" to when asked for my hand, would view their vow as I did. Marriage was not a game to me, which is why I said "No" to 7 of the 8 requests. Since there was no proof that marriage would last, why would I have kids? I didn't want the burden of being a single mother or have to deal with co-parenting. Neither of those things made me feel like I would still be able to retain a reasonable amount of freedom either.

What did I do?

I had a kid almost 4 years ago and I got married to her father last year.

What changed? Me.

I figured this was the best way to get over my commitment issues; commit yourself to something that you HAVE to take serious. The thing about that is...there is STILL no guarantee that your children or mate will give a damn about that. As my father stated to me, "it's one of those things you have to wake up everyday, continuing to commit to, regardless of what you experience that makes you want to break your vow to them". Of course I don't think he was referring to extreme situations but I understood what he meant. My mother and father have been together 40 years, married for 38 and have 3 children as a result of their union. I can say without a doubt that it hasn't been an easy 40 years but BOTH of them decided to stay with each other and isn't THAT what makes marriage the ultimate success in the end?

So when I look at the increasing divorce rate, the ups and downs of dating that never lead to marriage for some, and how depressed people can become when they feel no one will want them, it makes me question everything...all over again.

What is going on today that we are picking mates that aren't willing to do what it takes to stay together? Was everything good during the dating process or did we ignore important signs? Even if all signs pointed to marriage being a good idea, what happens so that we're getting divorced within a year of getting married? WHY IS IT SO EASY TO GIVE UP ON PEOPLE THAT WE TOOK SUCH SERIOUS VOWS FOR?

Then it becomes clear that these vows don't mean as much as they should. 

One guy asked me why I went so hard for being married for life if I wasn't really big on it. For me, it makes a statement. It ISN'T dating. It is saying that out of all the people you've been acquainted with, THIS is the ONLY person you want to form an unbreakable bond with. It became clear that the union of marriage was overlooked when he revealed that he didn't pay attention to the vow declared when someone is sworn into a marriage. He is married and didn't know this. Which makes one raise an eyebrow and wonder what he was thinking when he said, "I do". Was he even paying attention?

In case some more of us weren't paying attention, here are standard vows:

"We are gathered here to unite these two hearts in the bonds of holy matrimony... Into this, these two now come to be joined...will you have this woman/man as your lawful wedded partner, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love him/her, honor him/her, comfort him/her, and keep him/her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, be true to him/her as long as you both shall live?"

If you're married, you said "I do". So when does it become a good time to say, "to hell with that vow. I just don't like you anymore and I don't want to work at this. I just want to be rid of you and any effort it will take to make things right"? Yet, this is what happens SO often. The sanctity of marriage has been destroyed because we don't take it as seriously as we once did. It's almost as if we reserve our right to get divorced like it's a get out of jail free card.

The solution is fairly simple but definitely easier said than done. Stop being selfish.

Becoming one has to be difficult for people who are used to everything going their way. When you agree to marry someone, you are committing to a life of taking someone into consideration everyday for the rest of your life. If you can pinpoint every time you have an altercation with someone you were dating, it can more than likely be simplified by acknowledging that someone was being selfish. The thing about marriage is that it's a team effort. Two are supposed to become one but if one is hell bent on staying themselves, it isn't going to work. Change is SUPPOSED to happen when you get married and sometimes that's too much to deal with when we want to doggedly hold on to who we used to be prior to being married.

I've been acquainted with my husband for 6 years but we just got married and I'll be honest and say it isn't easy. It wasn't when we were just boyfriend/girlfriend and it isn't as husband and wife. We argue like cats and dogs, hurt each others feelings, and do things that are huge turn offs to one another. It hasn't lessened my love for him, nor my vow. There are two things that I tell myself when I start my day. 

1. I will have a good day.
2. I will have a good day with Joey.

I'll keep telling myself this despite how much he makes me want to pull my hair out, at times. I don't intend to give up though because I have a choice, like everyone else. My choice is to do what it takes to stay married.
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