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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.

Domestic Violence: Even Good People Can be Abusive


As a college counselor, I hear incredibly painful, unbelievable stories when students come into my office. It’s expected because most people go to counseling when they’ve reached crisis level. But there’s one topic that continually leaves me baffled and struggling to keep my focus. That topic is domestic violence. Not because of the obvious reasons, but because I’m noticing a pattern where students are blaming themselves for other people’s bad behaviors.

College students are at that critical point of figuring out what life looks like away from Mom and Dad. They’re learning how to manage roomie conflicts, deciding the best way to express their sexuality, and trying to figure out how to match their career with their calling. So, when I hear someone tell me they were hit, or verbally abused, and they excuse it, my heart hurts. My head hurts. Today, I’m sharing  3 assumptions today that need to be changed before we can stop domestic violence in any relationship.

Assumption 1: To be in a  relationship, I have to accept behaviors that are hurtful and harm me.   ABSOLUTELY FALSE.  And it isn’t just one person’s experience. A beautiful, intelligent young woman  clearly grasping at straws says, “I did something to make him hit me.”  Huh? I nearly jumped out of my chair when she said that. What can you possibly do to MAKE someone hit you? Nothing. They are CHOOSING to hit you in response to their poor communication and inability to control their anger. Please know that everyone  at the very least should have their boundaries respected EVEN  when you disagree with their opinion or choices. In other words, just because you and your significant other are screaming at each other does not mean you can hit them to express your point. So the next time you hear “you made me do it”, understand it’s a lie.

Assumption 2: Good people can’t possibly be abusive. This goes back to blaming ourselves for other people’s behaviors.  Get this concept mixed up and it will have you questioning your sanity if you aren’t careful.  There are supportive and loving spouses who unfortunately  beat their children until they have bruises on their back.  You may have grown up with men and women highly involved in church activities who were also physically fighting behind closed doors.  So, take this to heart. When someone shows you who they are, believe ALL of it. It doesn’t matter if your boyfriend is on the fast track to success at work when he comes home and slaps you for being a “smart-mouth.”  Nor does it matter if your girlfriend is the “Top Chef” of your kitchen  if  she belittles and threatens to leave you when behind closed doors. In other words, if their goodness only exist when you behave the way “they” want you too, you’re in an abusive relationship.   It’s been said that we teach people how to treat us. And every time we allow disrespect and then take the blame for it, we’ve silently agreed to being mistreated. You are worth far more than allowing anyone to treat you poorly. So yes, even good people can do bad things.

Assumption 3: It’s not abuse unless he/she hits me. This is a biggie because we assume a person can’t be abusive unless there’s physical proof.  Words are sometimes more powerful than physical force. Constant insults about your weight like ” You’re too big, don’t be surprised when I find someone else.” Nitpicking and constant criticism like “no one wants you”.  And what about the threats…”why do you always make me angry?” or “No one will believe anything you say.” Verbal abuse is often overlooked because it’s subtle and it often plays on our insecurities. Heard someone say “you’re just too sensitive?”  It doesn’t matter if he/she never lifts a hand towards you. If you are constantly questioning your value due to your significant other’s words, its time for an emotional check up. If you are afraid of displeasing them or worried they will lash out at you, another sign for a check-up. Verbal abuse leaves you questioning, doubting yourself, and it’s not healthy. It’s still abuse.

I haven’t had a physically abusive relationship but I have experienced the painful mess of verbal abuse. It was the “relationship” in which my then boyfriend was never pleased.  Every encounter left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough. So I know how some of my clients feel when they wonder….what did I do and how can I get out of this mess? It took counseling, prayer, and the realization that after I ask and believe “Who does God say that I am?”, all else  (including his criticism) falls away.   Invest in yourself to do the work to get over your past hurts, your family junk, and learn to take better care of yourself.  The right person for you will value you and encourage you in your strengths and your weaknesses.  Doesn’t matter if you have a good man/woman if  they don’t  know how to share their goodness with you.

**Written for  college students, but applies to any age group or gender struggling to understand their worth. Stop assuming and find the truth about who you are, the peace you deserve and the peace you can have.**

Hair Chronicles: Weaves, Wigs, and Simple reasons why we should love our own hair. #30in30


(as I write this, please note my wig I wore today is lying next to me on the couch)

I’ll never forget the night I was out on a date, walking in cute jeans rockin’ my  bob wig with the wispy bangs  as we walked downtown to hear friends play at a new jazz club.  I had just taken out my microbraids, had my wig cap on underneath my “alternate do” until I could get an appointment to put my hair back in. Notice how I called “my hair.” I didn’t want to perm my real hair so the wig was the easiest choice to cover my eagle’s nest for the time being.  The wind was blowing so I could only turn my head a certain way. He would make a cute joke, and I’d turn my heard towards him, then quickly back so I could make sure my hair was in place. The wind blew so hard one time, the wig shifted and I had to turn the other way to make sure my  cap wasn’t showing. This was way before the clips and half wigs had made their debut into the hair stores. It was a mess. I can laugh now but back then I was trying to be cute fake giggling/grabbing my hair to make sure it didn’t fly off  and I end up looking like I was getting ready to rob a bank.

My hair has always been up for discussion as I’ve tried one style before going long to short to permed then natural then to wigs to weave and back. Sometimes it’s fun, but other times it’s honestly been traumatic. Hair is a deeply personal part of a woman’s image and for Black women, even more so. Ask a black woman to go swimming and you’ll get two responses. “Sure, it’s easy exercise” or “Hell no, I’m not getting my hair wet!!!” Black women will also rip a woman to shreds based on her kitchen or lack of “combed-ness” when it’s natural. It’s the  “pretty perm or die” chicks who would rather have their hair fall out due to disease than let it be chemical free vs. the “you can’t make me comb my hair like a white girl” natural crew. While we shouldn’t be defined by our hair, we can be wise with how we treat it.

The Grio just published an article about the dangers Black women risk when they continually pull and tug at their hair with braids, too tight weaves, and wigs. The article interviews a dermatologist, Dr. Phoenyx who says, “It’s easy to forget about maintaining your own hair when a weave or wig is on top,” says Dr. Phoenyx. “It’s about taking care of what’s underneath — now you have another layer of hair you pay attention to.”

It’s uncomfortable to see Naomi Campbell’s edges or what’s left, but she ain’t the only one.  Black women continue to cover their heads to the detriment of nurturing their real hair. And this includes women with their own mane of healthy hair adding a piece to give themselves the length they see on many reality shows.  What is it that makes us risk our own hair’s health, the best version of us we could give, to take a short cut and stress our “crown and glory?”

Maybe it’s self-inflicted pressure we put on ourselves to hide the stress and toll of not taking care of our spirit and mind.  Maybe it’s the tendency to try to please the men in our lives. And add to that the fact that we neglect being physically fit to save the $60.00 we spent on the perm and cut and we have an unhealthy (but fly lookin’) woman.

I don’t like to wear wearing wigs because I feel like I’m giving a false presentation. Ask the many men who are sadly disappointed when I show up the next day after a date with my baby fro. But I do experiment from time to time with a new hairstyle  when I’m in a bind or just want to exercise daily and and still need to look together for my auditions and work. Fake hair is an alternative and not the solution.  I don’t know about everybody else, but when my hair is done and  it’s  not a question if it’s mine or some Indian lady from overseas, you can’t tell me nothin’. If there’s any reason to give up the weaves, and wigs though, it’s because we are always the best version of ourselves when we use what’s natural to showcase our beauty. So, the next time the wind is blowing, or your coworker suddenly fawns over your long tresses that appeared overnight, or your friend tells you to try a quick weave, remember your real hair is underneath just begging for a chance to shine. Tell your edges to thank me later.

The Hair Chronicles…Gabby Douglas #30in30


Gabby's hair....or unimportant thingsAll the talk about All-Around Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas’ hair took me back to the days when I was in middle school. I had long, pretty hair and it was really important to me because my closest friends had flowing hair.  It defined how I saw myself and in turn how I felt I looked to other people. After all, all the cool, popular kids had pretty hair and hair that was always laid. My mother took me every week to get it pressed off of South Post Oak in Houston, Texas.  And then I begged her to get a perm. I’m not sure she wanted to, but since I begged her, she obliged and immediately I started acting differently.  If only in  my head, I was officially a young woman.

In the summers, my mom forced my brother and I to go swimming . We loved hittin’ the pool and rarely came back before early afternoon.   We were active kids so we didn’t mind being out of the house.  So, off we went, and when we came back we were peeling from sunburn and looking like dark Rolo chocolate bits. But we loved it. I loved it. Until something happened.

Somehow, the chemicals from the perm got together with the chlorine from the pool and my hair started shedding. And then it broke off. It was a gradual thing and I didn’t realize it until it was ready to go back to school. I lost half the length of my hair right before the fall semester. Ugh.  I remember the hairstyle I ended up with  that had me looking like a 30 yr old woman trying to sell Clairol. It was rough.  Even now, I’m cringing because hair was so important to how I felt about me but it shouldn’t have been.

Which brings me back to Gabby. Obviously talented and gifted beyond her years, she pulled her hair back and went to work on the beam, the vault, the floor and the bars.  Her hair was the least of her concern, she was mesmerizing the world with her all around talent. The entire world! But unfortunately, the Black community paid more attention to the barrettes in her head and new growth peeking out instead of her incredible, monumental accomplishment. It took me back to the place where kids were cruel and would judge you based on what you looked like instead of who you were overall. Hell, it takes me to do a place even now where we judge a woman’s kids by how their hair looks. Gabby seemed to be affected by the criticism as she didn’t do as well in the  days after the critical tweets and Facebook comments hit the web. Gabby is a stronger teen than I was and my prayer is that she continues to ignore the negativity and ignorant thoughts from the Black community that “hair makes the woman.” I remember a quote from a man I dated years ago who believed you weren’t a real woman unless you knew how to do your own hair without the salon’s help. In other words, can we get to the point where we learn that the bigger picture is more important than the minor details? I mean, she won Gold!!!!!  I imagine with a little money from the endorsements, she can hire a stylist….but then we’d complain because she’s being wasteful and frivolous with her money. See how the cycle continues? Hair is an accessory that ADDS  to who you are.   It took me a while to get that lesson, but it seems like Gabby’s teaching us all something about substance. She’d prefer to be an all around winner than a diva with a done do but too prissy to sweat it out on the floor.