Black and Quirky

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I’m quirky. I’m black. Sometimes people don’t think the two go together. As if it’s like oil and water. But I am certainly evidence to the contrary.

Merriam-Webster defines quirky as “different from the ordinary in a way that causes curiosity or suspicion.” I can say I have been met with some strange comments and reactions over the years, but I wasn’t put here on this earth to please everybody. I’ve never been one to neatly fit into a preconceived box of opinions.

Quirkiness is an intangible quality. Maybe it’s my humor, style, taste in music/food, interests. Considered an oddity in certain social circles as a child and teen, my longing for variety and expression was met with questions and misunderstanding. I stayed up late listening to Sade, Swing Out Sister and Harry Connick Jr. and by the time college rolled around, I rocked natural hair before it was popular. I became my own blueprint because being anything else was too difficult and like an ill-fitting jacket — oppressively uncomfortable.

A few years into college, I was finally able to visit London and indulge in my love of England. I am fascinated with English culture (aka an Anglophile). British accents, teas, slang, music, movies, literature, London, Idris Elba. 😉 And in the same breath I can dedicate a Pinterest board featuring African-inspired fashion and express my longing for a trip to Santoroni, Greece, on another.

???????????????????????????“Santorini” by Evgeni Dinev

I love Caddys and Camaros, action movies and romantic comedies. My Netflix queue has Bollywood flicks, dramas, thrillers, foreign and faith-inspired films.

I’m in love with several types of music: Neo-Soul, Christian hip-hop, reggae, jazz and world music, etc. I listen to Björk, Paula Valstein, Sean Paul, Mary Mary, Yael Naïm, Nat King Cole, Maxwell, Adele, Lenny Kravitz and Zap Mama.

Unbeknownst to many of my loved ones, I have an extensive old and foreign coin/paper money collection.

CoinPaper$Collection

My rock collection hasn’t been touched in a while, but I could certainly have a show-and-tell moment with local gemologists.

TiffanyRocks1Part of my stone collection.

I daydream about a South African safari, a stroll in Florence, Italy, and a beach holiday in Rio de Janeiro. Variety is like oxygen to me. But I do love my routines from my cozy spot at my favorite Starbucks to the way I like my hash browns (ketchup and Red Hot please).

Monet and Degas make my heart sing, but I deeply appreciate and love art from my local Detroit artists. Shakespeare to Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston to Jane Austen. I’ve come to embrace my eclecticism and my ability to merge and connect with different cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes people don’t get it and I’ve learned not to care and be true to me.

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A Final Goodbye to Old Boyfriends

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So I’m letting go. To all the emotional baggage. To all the what ifs or could have beens. Mr. Almost or Not Quite Right. Even the Nice but Not for Me. It’s starting with all the letters and cards. Words can be well-meaning and pleasant to the ear, but I need the real thing. And I deserve it too. I’m not perfect, but I know I have a lot to offer the right person. But I don’t want anyone having a piece of my heart who’s no longer in my life. It doesn’t leave a place for him — the man waiting to truly love me, flaws, quirks and all. He is on his way and I don’t have the luxury of wasting time. I’m never been about games and playtime is so over. Ladies we know how we can be. Maybe you run into an old flame at the movies or at a concert. And you think, “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should give it another try.” I drove down that street and sometimes that works out, but most times a relationship ends for very real and immovable reasons. So dreaming of happy endings with a past love ends up being just that — a dream. Call it a purge or a detox, but it’s what I need to do right now. I can’t make personal headway with the past weighing me down.

Somewhere inside I think the letters and cards were still affirming me even though the men were not actually in my life anymore. Some of them were not even boyfriends. They were just guys that had a crush on me. I’ve entered a new phase in my life. I prayed for a move in my life in areas that were stagnant and now there’s been a unique shift in my circumstances. It’s exhilarating and sometimes nerve-racking at the same time. That’s change for you. Where I’m moving I need to be lighter, more nimble and have clarity for my next steps. I know I’m not the only one. If you’re ready to move forward in life, it’s time to show remnants of the past the door.

oldlettercardsGoodbye!

“I Don’t Want A Relationship”

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I’m good at taking care of business. You can apply a number of adjectives to my life-managing mind-set: practical, thinker, planner, efficient — sometimes to an obsessive extent. Whether it’s paying bills, scheduling medical check-ups, choosing healthy foods to eat, or deciding on a car to purchase, I am pretty-leveled and adept. Though I do know I haven’t come this far without God’s help. He has certainly given me some great tools to make the right choices. So when it comes to having a mate I can easily say, I am so good on that front. Honestly, I’ve been doing just fine so far.

It’s becoming so much clearer in my life that where I am is sufficient, not defective or broken and there are still so many areas in my life that are yet to be expressed. In my twenties, I didn’t quite know that I was on the cusp of adulthood with still so much to grow through and mature in. I came through some rough times in my youth that are a little atypical for someone of my age, but there was still a little bit of “puppy” in me. I dreamt of the typical desires of a young woman — spouse, house, and babies. And when I was called to step up and take care of my mother in a greater capacity in my late twenties, I surrendered to God’s plan. I was fiercely protective of my mom and became a stronger advocate as her physical, mental and emotional strength waned. Of course there were times that I wondered when my independent life would begin and at times did my best impression of Jacob wrestling with God. But those experiences, though deeply painful at times built up in me a stronger core. Places that were weak became stronger and produced the character and nature of my Father.

And if I’d been married earlier in my life, I don’t think I would have known the depth of the gifts placed in me. My life is fuller and richer than it has ever been before. I’ve had a chance to see myself as an individual and not defined by a title of wife and mother. But I won’t say that I am so self-sufficient that I don’t want to be married at some point in my life. I remember hearing a woman at my church say that she didn’t need a man and all she needed was Jesus. But less than two years later, she was married. You will never hear me say, “I don’t want a relationship.” That’s a lie and it goes against the way men and women were created. We are meant to connect with each other in meaningful ways that lead to relationships and marriage. Denying those very feelings and urges deny what’s been deposited within our very own physical makeup. I can put windshield washer fluid in my car, balance a checkbook, put together a bookshelf by myself, but the intangibles of a committed relationship are more than having a Mr. Fix It or a lover. The chemistry between a man and woman goes beyond the physical and though it can be a complicated space to navigate, the rewards are truly worth it in the end. Right now I am excited for the present. It’s an invigorating place with new professional and personal opportunities. I am still a work in progress just like anyone else, but I am healthy and whole enough to say that where I am is good and I look forward to what is already prepared for me. Let’s not shortchange ourselves by attempting to ignore the very nature God has given us, but go on to see what He has prepared for us while enjoying the journey along the way.

How I Discovered My Professional Passion

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We all probably know someone who’s an extreme go-getter, a type A personality on steroids. These people are so driven and ambitious that sleep is their enemy and progress makes them hungry for the impossible, mysteriously achieving feats that draw envy from mere mortals. Miraculously these folks have boundless enthusiasm and an effervescent spirit, making friends with every person who crosses their path. Not to say that I’m not social, but I am little shy. I’ve talked about this in my “Shy and Social — That’s Me” post back in February. For me my challenge was finding something I was passionate about. No one knew this until now, but I used to beat myself up a bit about not being one of those business-card toting entrepreneurs with my own “mission and vision” for my financial/career goals. I just frankly wasn’t moved by the passion points others had about what they were pursuing. Catering? Uh, no. I can cook, but it’s not something I enjoy as much as the end result. Artist or fashion designer? My drawing skills are mediocre, and I’d much rather buy it versus make it. Financial consultant? Simple answer — hate math. #Fail

I may not have an aggressive, “follow-me” personality, but I won’t jump on a bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it. Quietly I am a non-conformist, but my desire is to be genuine and impassioned in every area of my life, though I stumble at times. I am comfortable enough in my own skin to follow my heart and be true to my essence. So for years while scrolling through my Facebook timeline/Twitter feeds and observing people tackling goals and soaring ever higher professionally, I remained a little detached and wondered what the big fuss was all about. Eventually my life circumstances and the waning interest in my job collided and blossomed into the life I have now. I carry business cards, network, eagerly share social findings, engage with people online and write about whatever my heart desires. I realize that what excites me is its own perfect blend of my interests and my God-given personality.

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Basically I am a late bloomer. It took a while to figure out what was a perfect expression and extension for me. My answer rested within my reach, as near as the next computer, smartphone or tablet. Honestly I am not a Millenial or 80s baby. Born after the turbulent Civil Rights Movement, I hail from Generation X. When email or “electronic mail” came on the scene, I was a young teenager so I actually wrote my pen pal in England. We penned letters, sent postcards and occasionally called each other on a landline for a quick 10-minute conversation. But fast forward to the late 90s and 2000s and now the Internet is accessible to nearly everyone through a number of devices. The dawn of the digital age allows me to express myself creatively while integrating and sharing so much of who I am to anyone on the planet. If I feel like talking about travel, dating, Jesus, fashion trends or natural hair, I have the freedom and a platform that was not available 20 years ago. I almost feel like technology had to catch up to me to be able to pursue my heart’s desire. I just had to plug in to what was already prepared for me.

So I encourage anyone that’s languishing in a dead-end career that brings no joy or someone looking for a new job to chase your passion. It doesn’t have to be an all-consuming fire. Maybe it’s just a spark, something that moves you and makes you smile. Fuel it, be consistent and patient and watch the tide turn. Pray for direction all along the way. Truly I did not have any idea how long it would take me to make a career switch, but once my mind was made up and I began to speak those things up with supportive action, my world began to line up. Suddenly one day I looked up and my dream came true. Now I have a foothold in the door and I am walking right into the blessing that was destined for me. I can’t say that I will ever be one of those hardcore business types. It’s just not in my general makeup and that’s okay. Everybody has their own personal brand of flavor and that’s the key ingredient for success. No one else can be you but you. You offer the world something no one else can.

If you are looking for a change, it can happen for you as well. Maybe you have a friend or family member that needs to read this. Start encouraging him or her and let them know it’s not impossible. It’s never too late to start all over again and follow your dreams. Carpe diem (seize the day)!!

Dating Red Flags for Women

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Dating can definitely be an adventure. Some moments are sweet and others just downright sour. Couldn’t we all use a little help navigating the journey? So I took some time to pull together some surefire signs it may be time to look elsewhere for a partner. Honestly, some of these tips are either based on personal experience or observations of people in my sphere — friends, coworkers, family, etc.

The Creeper — Okay, I’ll put my own experience out there for this one. So it started off innocently enough. I met this guy at Borders, and he asked me for my number. He was a nice-looking man who seemed nice and polite. So I gave it to him. We went to the movies and nothing out of the ordinary happened. At some point in conversation, I mentioned my future plans for going to a coffee shop for a poetry reading — alone. After I went, the guy told me he saw me there. He never came into the building but saw me through the window and correctly described to me what I wore. Ding, ding, ding! The dude was lightweight stalking me! Suffice it to say, I never talked to him again. Anybody who shows up where you are unannounced and possibly undetected means you no good.

Leftover Lover — Some folks don’t know when to let go and have a balanced life. There are some people that have unhealthy attachments to people or things (i.e., family members, a job or other obligations) and it’s nearly impossible for them to be emotionally present. If you always feel like you are always put on the back burner and not a priority, it’s time to seriously consider moving on. You can have a conversation about it, make your feelings known and see if anything changes, but more than likely this person is not ready to contemplate a serious relationship.

broken-heart

Control Freak — This person doesn’t want to let you out of his sight for a minute. While hanging out with friends more than likely this guy wants to dominate your attention and often wants to ditch the crew early. Be careful he doesn’t begin to alienate you from friends and family and you feel dependent on him for all your needs. Often this is a precursor for abusive behavior.

Mr. Almost Right — So you meet an attractive goal-oriented guy going to school or with a great career. He has a great sense of humor, the conversation is great and the chemistry is so on point. But…your values are not the same. Whether its spiritual beliefs, family goals or political affiliation — the very thing you ignore can become an anchor weighing down the relationship. If your beliefs are very important to you, serious consideration needs to be made regarding a relationship that can cause serious heartache down the road.

Drama King — Guys can be just as insecure as women, but they may express it differently. He may put you or himself down in subtle ways, undermine your dreams or blame you for things that are his fault. Or avoid dealing with wounds from the past. He can be very sensitive but avoids admitting he has any feelings. Or he can dangerously resemble a lit powder keg — ready to explode at any minute. This man could use some counseling and spiritual guidance more than a woman in his life. Run FAST.

Baggage Handler — Baby mama drama. Shady associates. Sky-high debt. Old girlfriends are still calling him. Even his family is giving you the Why-Are-You-With-Him? look. This guy is just trouble. Stay away — period.

Any of the guys sound familiar? You may have met someone fitting one or more of the descriptions above. Of course this is not an exhaustive list, but overall we know when the person we are dating is not a good fit. It may take a little time to come to the conclusion, but lingering in a so-so situation makes you unavailable for the right person. Keep it moving until the man meant for you comes into your life.

Wordless Wednesday, 5/1/13

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Some things never change. Whether it’s the Beatles, New Kids on the Block, New Edition, Boyz ll Men, ‘N SYNC, Backstreet Boys or Jonas Brothers, boy bands make the girls go crazy.
Beatlemania

Police keeping back a crowd of young fans outside Buckingham Palace, London, as pop group the Beatles receive their MBEs. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Letter to My 21-Year-Old Self

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Dear Young Heart,

I know it looks a little murky right now, doesn’t it? But you’ve come so far already. You are on the cusp of greatness. You’re getting ready to graduate. And mom’s doing so much better now. Enjoy your friendship with her and the blessing of a mother’s unconditional love.

Life’s circumstances have forced you to grow up quickly, but this will be a huge benefit in the future. While some your age may appear to be soaring and you feel as if you’re languishing, it is far from the truth. And despite your knowledge and wisdom, there are parts of you still so tender and new to this world. Cradle your heart carefully. There will be ones who plan to ravish your emotions and your esteem. Their motives are selfish, fearful and insincere. They still have so much growing to do as well. Some will place blame at your feet for their own failings. Don’t pick it up.

You deserve respect, love and affection. Pay attention to a man’s ACTIONS. It’s a true barometer for whether or not his heart is selfless or full of self. Don’t esteem the pedigreed performance or appearance of perfection.

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In preparation for a relationship: Practice putting a loved one’s needs above your own. Nurture your thoughtfulness and desire to be of service through helping your family and others God places in your path. Remember that someone who truly loves you makes time for you, listens to you and makes you his priority and you won’t have to fight for a place in his life because he will want to be in yours. Observe good and not-so-good marriages to learn from others what a successful relationship should be.

Your friendships with other women will change and evolve over time. Some may be for a lifetime while others may be temporary. Be quick to forgive hurtful actions but always remember the lesson learned. Don’t be afraid to let go and embrace new relationships.

Cultivate your interests and passions and you stir the gifts God’s put in you. Your life is not just about caregiving. This season is not just about this moment either. It’s building your core so you can bear the weight of blessings to come. Watch the world around you bloom under your touch. Take time to breathe in the present and resist excessive planning to be flexible for the unexpected.

22Me

Waiting is not a bad thing. Disappointment may sometimes mean you really avoided a disaster. It’s frustrating sometimes but it will deepen your level of appreciation when a promise is fulfilled. Every ounce of provision you will ever need is already prepared. You don’t hold the burden of keeping it all together for your family. Not every step needs calculation. As you walk, watch the road unfold before you. You will be just fine despite attacks that will try to distract you from what has already been won for you — your victory over everything in your way. Before you were born, God has been on your side. Talk to Him often and know He is the author of your life.

You Are Truly Loved First (1 John 4:19)

What’s the Rush?

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At my job, it’s not terribly unusual to hear the swift beat of feet nearly running around a corner to handle the latest “emergency” situation or tackle the next challenge that comes in the door. Do I work at a hospital? No. Perhaps a crisis center? Far from it. I work for an advertising agency. My industry sells dreams, some more attainable than others. Or sadly even illusions of what it means to be a better, grander YOU. And though we do have soaring moments too — when we stand for things that are noble and good, blessing communities with resources or offering the broken and disenfranchised palpable hope — it’s not always the main focus of our workdays. I witness people walking quickly with intensity or distant stares, unavailable for a smile or a hello.

trafficphoto credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Our work doesn’t require us to put anybody on bypass, remove a ruptured appendicitis, or set a broken bone, but it hasn’t helped me avoid a potential physical collision on the way to my desk from the kitchen with a cup of hot tea. Where is the emergency? Though I do agree there is a time and place for the work the advertising industry does, what we do is never directly connected to saving lives.

We can’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s not just the workplace. We do this in our cars, in our conversations, the grocery line. Impatience and an inflated view of our own importance is often the culprit. Lately when I am behind someone in the store going more slowly than I like, I don’t rush past (well, not as much) but wait a bit until I can go at the pace I want. Chill for a minute and realize that life is more than the theoretical “fire” or fulfilling our momentary satisfaction.