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This Woman’s Worth


When you get yourself out of bad situations, you always come full circle just to remind you how ridiculously low you were. Sometimes you meet up with the person, or the issue, and have the same test from years ago to see if you’ve learned the lesson from the circumstance. Then you make a choice.  You’ve either  grown  or still are  ignorant about an area of your life. Full Circle.  I had one of those moments a month ago when I went to my college homecoming.

Every year  my undergrad celebrates homecoming whether I go or not. I’ve only gone twice in the last 10 years, but I always get “the” call.  HE calls once a year under the guise of seeing if I am in town. For what? You do the math.  The past three years, it always happens on a Friday night,  then I get texts throughout the weekend asking where I am  and what I’m doing. Most of the time, the first one is at a decent hour. The second….mmmm at least 11:30p but never around dinner time or daylight. It was cute when we first met  and  we hooked up. But that wore off quickly eventually when I realized I was in a jacked up lopsided empty relationship. I use the term relationship loosely because even when you aren’t committed, you are still “relating” to that person in some form or fashion. We like to kid ourselves with fake terminology but it’s real.  Like any man, he worked it so it felt like we were together all year-long. He gave tremendously when we were together, but only to keep me distracted by his lack of committment.  At the time, I couldn’t see that though because my mind was blown. And I was  dumb.   Too satisfied with his attention to realize he was just using me and it didn’t matter when he would pull his random disappearing acts. I say it didn’t matter but I didn’t care until I realized what I wanted didn’t matter to him. Ain’t that somethin? We lived in different cities so who knows who and what else he was doing in the spirit of community service. Again, I didn’t care because I didn’t care about me. You ever been there where you know the truth but you ignore it because it’s too easy to see? Because when you admit it, you can only blame yourself for allowing the bullish to continue going on? I think it was one of the lowest points for me as a woman because my attempts to force him to respect me sounded like “please do me right” weak. I could go on a religious rant right now about how your body is a temple and guard your heart, but my heart was hurting so it didn’t really matter who got a hold of it.

So like I said, this year 2012 when I got the call, I was indifferent. Because before, I’d see the number and my mind would say….”I really want to talk to you, but I can’t because you don’t want to talk to me for the right reasons I so I can’t respond to you.”  I hadn’t answered in several years, but I always remembered the feeling of being with him.  I didn’t respond to the texts, but each time he sent one I immediately remembered his scent. I asked him to not call or text anymore almost a year ago, and it worked. Until 2012. Homecoming. This time, I got angry.  Because its public knowledge he has a girlfriend. Call me proper, but I don’t mess with anyone when I know they are in a relationship. Ever. So, on top of disrespecting me as he’d become accustomed to, now he felt it was okay to boldly go into disrespecting her too? Full circle. You get to see it all and smell the scent of the ish you were knee-deep in.   So the “call” is simply now a reminder of his total and utter lack of respect for me. Because if I tell you I no longer want any contact with you, but you do it anyway, you STILL don’t respect me. You only respect what you want. Full circle. Back then, my actions weren’t lining up with my words so it didn’t matter that his didn’t either. I gave away my worth every time I entertained him. Every time I picked up the phone in response. I don’t know how I got to that point, but I do know I’m no longer there. When I got the last text at 12:30am this year, I said wow, is he for real? No longer was it entertaining. Now, it was pathetic. Full circle. My worth, not his. My response,not his. My way, or none of me at all.  Every woman learns to commands respect. Sometimes right from the start, sometimes after the lesson. I knew it before, but not well enough. I learned it again because of him.  THIS strength in knowing there is a man who will honor me. Until then, I choose to  honor myself. Full circle. THIS woman’s worth.

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Is Life Passing You By?


Nothing shakes you more and reminds you of the brevity of life when you visit the hospital. A month ago I sat in my friend’s hospital room while she recovered from a complicated surgery. It started out as a simple female procedure but somehow turned into a week-long stay from unexpected complications. I took turns with friends visiting  her to make sure she wasn’t feeling too down or frustrated about losing the freedom to move around too much. She rarely is sad and it shocked me to see her struggling to keep up her joy. It was at this moment I realized we learn our greatest lessons when we realize what we’ve taken for granted.

It got me to thinking about if I was really living the life I say I am when I ended up chatting with a mutual friend at the hospital.  It was a Saturday but she was diligently typing away on her laptop when I walked in my friend’s room.  I brought my Kindle Fire along but only had it for fun and not work. So, I asked her how she’d been and said, “Are you working on a project?” She quickly responded “Oh no, I’m just completing work. That’s all I do.” I said “Really?” Her head was buried in the laptop when she said….”Yea.”  I remembered she was in a sorority and mentioned seeing some of her soror sisters involved in a community service project over the weekend. I asked if she was active or ever worked with any of them. Again, she said, “I don’t even know when they meet. I should get more involved.”

I’m stunned because this woman was beautiful, smart, successful, but largely isolated from anything but her job. Here I was telling her more about organizations she’s affiliated with  just because I was paying more attention. She admitted she didn’t get out much unless it was related to work. We talked a bit more and she shared that even though she had her own moment with a life changing and personal illness, she hadn’t taken hold of truly living instead of focusing her energy on work.   Somehow, she’s  still clinging to work as her life’s purpose.  Here’s the deal. We all have the tendency to cling to what we know and what’s comfortable  out of fear. More than likely, we don’t   realize that we shortchange ourselves by doing so. Unfortunately, I saw alot of myself in her. Of course I can cushion the blow by saying I’m not that bad, but alot of my life is patterned around work and finding more opportunities to work. That’s where alot of my value comes from (which I constantly battle). I volunteer here and there, but I’ve gotten comfortable being by myself and fail at going out alone or if I’m not with a friend.  While I love what I do both as a counselor and as a singer, it won’t always be there.  And since it won’t, it’s time to start focusing more on creating relationships that last and not based simply on what I do for a living. I certainly don’t want to wake up one day and realize I’m all I got.

It was ironic that as I listened to this woman maybe five years older than me, I learned that while I am chasing my career goals, other more personal ones are getting slighted.  It reminded me that if I’m not careful, I’ll end up the same way dragging my laptop around as my friend. I’m so careful with my life choices sometimes to the point that I’m almost afraid to make a move, but my conversation with the laptop lady  reminded me that it’s important to create a sense of  balance. I’ve made more of an effort to spend time with family and friends and even seek them out to nurture our relationships. In the next months, I’ll be sharing my experiences and difficulties of  trying to even out the time I spend in my personal life and my career. I don’t want to look back and see missed opportunities because I was afraid of failure or too focused on moving up in the world. My friend is out of the hospital now and recovering like a champ. So, I’m challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone even more so that I don’t only have certificates of attendance and job promotions as my only proof I was here.

Growing Up Means I’ve Outgrown That


1st Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

We all have friends that we used to run with in high school, college, and even our first job. We probably ran the streets with them, did some things we might be ashamed to admit to our current boss or our significant other. As we get older, it’s absolutely normal for a person to change their priorities and focus. It’s called growing up.   People get involved in relationships, marry, have kids (or not)  or get highly involved in their career and academic exploits. So it was odd to hear a friend complaining that an old college buddy didn’t party like he used to. Like in college? Like when his reputation in the business world didn’t matter? Or when he didn’t have enough sense to know what he did in his personal life mattered? Hmmmm…..

I don’t know about that one. I feel like when we grow up, we also grow out of some of the things we used to do. For example, you might stop trying to impress people with how much liquor you can throw back or how many men/women you claim to be sleeping with. You may decide you want a family or a committed relationship and cut out all the one-night stands. Or you may decide your circle of friends who support you as long as you aren’t trying to do anything needs to be  cut. You finally figured out that you need friends who will challenge you and help you grow.

I’m at the point where I  don’t want anyone who isn’t trying to improve their life around me. I said trying because  if you are making the effort, you are at bare minimum taking baby steps and will eventually  learn how to make it happen. So, if it’s really that important to have a hot party, maybe throw it yourself? Or let go of the past and realize, as we get older, we don’t always do what we CAN because we now it’s  no longer beneficial.  FYI, it cost a lot of money to impress people who don’t care about you.  So once you figure that out, you stop.  Sounds like someone’s growing up.

Learning to Listen #30in30


It’s true when as  you get older, your social circle shrinks. I’m not talking about that list of  “friends” on facebook and twitter that con you into thinking you have a bunch of people to lean on when your friend list has 1000 people in it. But the core group, your girlfriends, are the ones who you can share your deepest disappointments with. Like when you’ve given up on your dream. Or your heart is breaking because you found out your husband cheated. Or, you simply  scared to lose a parent whose getting older and keeps going in the hospital with no improvement.  Somehow, it makes life better when you can call that one person who will simply listen.

Listen.

I know the value of listening. Not giving advice. Not telling them what to do. Not spitting out a Bible verse. But listening. I didn’t always understand it. I used to find special joy in being a problem solver. But as I’ve grown up, I realize it’s not about that.  When I get a call, and hear the distress, I stop and listen instead of waiting my turn to jump in and save the day. It’s changed the way I perceive my relationships because I have realize some people just need a safe space to talk. They didn’t ask me nor do they need me to tell them what to do. They just called because they are hurt and need to vent.

If we take the time to listen, and not attempt to solve our friends problems with our best ideas, we might hear the hurt in a person’s voice. I wonder if we choose not to listen closely because we can’t handle hearing that kind of pain. We say we’ll call them back after they’ve dropped a bomb that’s going to change their lives. We get quiet when she calls back and think, I hope she doesn’t want to talk about THAT again. Or we go into solution mode and offer a book, a video, that has helped us with our own junk.

Everybody’s journey is different even though we are walking down the same street. Most of the time, the solution is within us, we just are working through the process of our emotions. So the next time the urge pops off  to say “girl, look -this is what you need to do….” Just hush, listen, and  allow a different dimension fo friendship to develop.

No one wants you to be Oprah with the best answers a girl could ever ask for, but a friend who loves and is willing allow them  to spazz out without judgement. I’ve got great friends, with great difficulties at times, but the best gift I’ve been able to give them is knowing when they call, I’m all ears because it may be the only place they can share their fears. Life is messy, confusing, and downright unfair at times, but having a friend whose willing to hear you out can make all the world of difference.

I’m working at being a better listener, because I know now it’s not my place to solve your problems. I need friends who are willing to do the same, and sit in the uncomfortable silence of not knowing the solution, but trusting that eventually, I’ll get there. I value my friends, but value their process of growth even more. So, I’m learning to listen.

Knowing When It’s Time to Leave


“I want to remain committed to a purpose, not a position.-Cory Booker

I ran across the Mayor’s comment  at a time when I was questioning my commitment to a leadership role in church ministry. An interviewer asked him how long he anticipated staying in office. I was surprised by his answer because it wasn’t the pat political response. By nature, I feel like I tend to stick around too long in situations that I’ve outgrown  for one reason or another.   I  didn’t want to be the colleague  who drives everyone  nuts at work by asking questions during the  last five minutes of an 1 1/2  staff conference call. Seriously, who does that?!! That person doesn’t understand the beauty of boundaries and honoring limits.  And I really  didn’t want to feel like the woman in a relationship whose waiting for the words she already knows have been spoken in the crevice of her heart:  it’s over. Like any relationship, or job,, it’s important to check in and evaluate what’s still effective and  useful. 

I’ll be honest and say I’ve held on too long  in relationships, jobs, and even petty arguments just so I’d feel like I had some sort of control. (That’s a story for another day). But even more so, I kept positions  because I worried what other people would  say. That ranged from my working as church ministry leader to being in a half-baked, terribly unhealthy relationship. Would the church volunteers  be proud of the work I attempted, or say I didn’t do enough? Would I be called disobedient in the spirit or faithful for trusting my voice? Even in my relationship, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore but I was too afraid to let go. What would he say in the end? Was I good enough as a woman or was it truly a bad fit for two people who just wanted  love?   It wasn’t a good time in my life as I struggled with these decisions.   As I look back, I knew what was best for me, but hadn’t learned to trust that God was leading me in the right direction in spite of the negative chatter spewing through the grapevine.  

I was stuck as a result  of not learing  the art of release. To me, the art of release simply means being self-aware of what’s working and what no longer fits in a person’s life. Then, having the willingness to make  changes before being forced to do so in crisis mode.   If you need an example: what about being fired from a job because you are underperforming? For my Love and Hip Hop Fans, what about staying in a relationship that puts you at risk for STD’s as well as constant emotional abuse? And my sports fans, what about Dwight Howard sticking around In Orlando when he knew that’s not what he REALLY wanted to do? Perhaps you can identify with this.   Staying put was hurting my ability to heal and move on in relationships and my career. 

This was the time in my life where I just wanted to be needed. If I wasn’t seeing anyone, I’d  take on project after project at work and church  as most single women do. See, it  fills up your schedule and you  can avoid instead of learning how to balance work and your personal life. I’m writing this from the perspective of a woman whose heart belongs to God and loves to serve him. I grew up  in church and believe strongly in  the power and purpose in serving in ministry. If anyone asked me to work on a project, I did it. Because they asked. And that may have been part of the problem. Who knew there were would be a time when I  have tapped out my  potential in a position and really needed to move on? It’s tricky and sometimes difficult to know when you are serving connected to your purpose and simply being busy  and stagnant after the goal has been met. I liken the word stagnant to dirty, muddy water after a rain. Stinks, huh?

In my relationship, we tried to adjust and it didn’t work. I pretended he was happy, he continued being unhappy, I was unhappy and the both of us kept bumping into each other with fake hearts.  It made us more uncomfortable. The truth was we weren’t a good match for each other and our needs weren’t being met. Now,  my involvement in ministry has the same concepts. I chose to step down at a time when there were multiple departures in other units within the church. And I stayed longer than I wanted to because I felt guilty. And it made leaving worse, and more difficult, and like a slow death both my volunteers wanted the transition to be done.   Thank God for his grace. Through that, I learned that  part of growing is moving forward. And knowing most of all, when it’s time to let go.  I was sad, but I would have been even  more despondent if I stayed. Not because I didn’t love what I was doing, but because there were other lessons for me to learn outside of the church I spent most of my time at. 

 I now pay more attention to the signs of change in my dating and career world. I am often the first to say, “I think it’s time for  a change.” Not because I’m bored or disatissfied. But because my purpose  and my understanding of who I am has become more clear.  And  that’s a good thing. I now know when it’s time to leave and have less  worry of what others will say. Guess what? Those who talk about you will talk whether you are present or gone. But that’s no longer my focus. I am.   

I’m tired of folks hitting each other. #30in30


So, I’m on my way home tonight and hear that Chad Johnson had been arrested. For headbutting his wife, Evelyn Lozado. Actually headbutting his wife. Apparently over condoms that either were hers or his. It irritates me to no end to hear this because my first thought was, I can see her hitting him over this too.Was that wrong? Probably, but as a counselor, I’ve learned from experience that men AND women are aggressors in their relationships. So, for five seconds, I thought Chad is dead wrong for this. But then I remembered how aggressive and confrontational “Ev” could be in general. It’s a mixed bag of tomfoolery. But my major concern is……why has physical abuse become so commonplace in relationships? Full disclosure, I’ve been mistreated in relationships before, but never physically hit or threatened. It’s just not something I would tolerate even if it meant I would have to be alone. But for many, it’s become something we now accept and think is normal. I cringed as I wrote that last sentence because it’s true. We argue, state our point, may raise our voice and even become dramatic. But, when the point that I feel physically threatened comes, I’m gone. But not every woman takes this stance. And some are also of the belief that I will fight you if you fight me. It’s all a big mess, because as roles change, we take on different personas and are independent as women by choice or by force. But, one thing is clear to me, it’s a dangerous pattern that continues to grow out of control. I’ve seen women hit while pregnant, men punched by their wives, and fighting become the common way to deal with  conflict. I will never forget my freshman year of college when walking across campus witnessing a woman beating her boyfriend up in public. He took it, obviously embarrassed, but I don’t know how their relationship continued. I don’t know the details of Chad and Ev’s relationship, but I do know that a healthy relationship requires trust along with the ability to respect their body and personal space even when arguing. Since Evelyn and Chad already had a strange relationship where she expected him to inform her  if he decided to have sex with another female, this headbutting incident takes the dysfunction to another level. If Chad hit Evelyn, he was wrong. If Evelyn hit Chad, she was wrong. But somehow, I have the feeling this will be described as an “argument”, a “misunderstanding”  and that’s what bothers me the most. Misunderstandings come when we forget to pick up something from the store for our man. Headbutting is actually intending it hurt someone because you don’t have the social skills to resolve conflict in a civilized manner. There’s so many ways to touch this subject, but domestic abuse is never acceptable and never will be. I’m getting tired of people hitting on each other and it’s time to make it stop. Please seek a counselor if you are being hit on, pushed, shoved and STOP seeing any man or woman who behaves in this manner. You deserve better. And you can have better. And your safety and well-being more important than any “misunderstanding” that could ever occur.

Where’s my Treat?


Every day, I walk my shih tzu “Paisley” in the morning &  evening as part of her daily ritual. I like to think of it more for her than me since (1) it’s her restroom time outside of the house and (2) it’s a surefire way to get her a doggie treat. When we return from potty time, she stops at the front door, turns around politely and waits patiently for her doggie treats. It boggles my mind how she has become accustomed to this being the spot where she will receive her treats for being a
good dog and going outside.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the daily walks have become the walk of dread because I now have a sinus infection.  I have no desire to walk Paisley, let alone even move sideways in the bed to blink my eyes because it hurts so much. I do what I
can and slide out of bed with a sweatshirt over my pajamas because if I don’t, she will take it personally and let it out on my carpet and floors. How ironic that she taught me a valuable lesson about expectations while I could barely breathe.

When you are sick, you go on autopilot because everything seems to take so much more effort.   My goal with Paisley was to cut it to five minutes outside, rush her to go for five more (don’t judge me) and hurry up so I can get back in the bed. Because I’ve forgotten the deal, I jumped back in the bed after setting my pillow back up for maximum comfort and went back to resting. It took me 30 minutes to realize that Paisley was nowhere to be found.

I got out of bed, a bit delirious since I can’t remember if I locked her out accidentally and roam around to find her at the door. She’s sitting perfectly, quiet, and waiting expectantly on the rug for her treat. Ain’t that something? She didn’t move from her spot because she hadn’t gotten her treat yet. Instead of pouting, giving up, barking, or even lowering herself by going in the garbage to find her own treat, she simply waited patiently at the location she was used to receiving her reward for doing what she was supposed to do. I was sick, but I couldn’t help seeing a lesson that sometimes is easy to forget. How often do we start whining or plotting our own way of getting what we want when we get tired of waiting for our “treat?”

My ten pound dog reminded me of the need to be faithful in waiting on God’s promises, to continue to do my part, and not to move out of position while waiting for my blessing. She could have easily gone in the garbage, but that still wouldn’t have gotten her the treat she really wanted. According to Paisley, some things are worth waiting for. So says the Lord God as well. Stay in position and don’t get weary. The blessing or “treat” Paisley would say (if she could speak), is on the way.

Galatians
6:9 Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a blessing if we don’t give up.