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.


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.

Don’t Make Me Unfriend You!!!! #30in30

Seen any of this lately?

“If you support Paul Ryan, unfriend me.”

“If you don’t vote for my kid and I find out, we are through being friends! ”

“Unfriend my if you eat at Chik-Fil-A. You  support their evil. ”

“Unfriend me if you support Mitt Romney: he hates poor, black people.”

“Unfriend me if you don’t agree with Gay Marriage: You hate me then.”

“Unfriend me if you plan to vote for Obama, he’s not even a real Christian, He’s Muslim!!”

These rants  occur when a Facebook user is so passionate about a viewpoint they forget the concept of free will. Facebook, created within the last 10 yrs, did not teach me my values. My parents took sole responsibility for that until I hit adulthood. So basically, everyone had their own ideas and beliefs way before clicking the “accept” button when you “friended” them in the first place. Yes, that’s right, you probably work with them, or have some organizational tie to them, and horrors abound, you find out they disagree with abortion. Oh no, they just got cut!  My greatest issue with this? It’s childish. It sounds like “if you don’t like my pink blanket, then give it back, I’m going home, and DON’T TALK TO ME EVER AGAIN!!!!!”

It’s like the cute  3 yr old that doesn’t understand yet that the world does not and WILL NOT revolve around you. Unless it’s your spouse or significant other, no one’s required to give a flip about your beliefs (mine included). Even with my friends, we tolerate or choose  to disagree on issues because we care about each other and value the day-to-day friendship. See, life shows you that while you may have the same values, there is no blueprint on how those values will play themselves out. We’re the ones who put limits on it and that’s when the unfriend method becomes the preferred means of expressing an opinion.

Tolerance. Isn’t that how we learn to respect the opinions of others? Ever seen the Stepford Wives? Yea, robots is what I called them. Same hair, same language, same dress. Boring. No diversity, no opinion. Just the same blah. Boring. We are not meant to have the same beliefs across the board  and that’s the beauty of living in the United States. There are too many people living in one space to have the same train of thought. And you think threatening them instead of talking to them about your point of view is going to help the situation? Nah.

Here’s the deal. If you want someone to understand your point of view, try civil conversation. Talk about why it matters to you. Share an article and say, this is important to me.  But please don’t try to force someone to agree with you just to stay friends with you. Even as I wrote that, I felt like I was back in 8th grade trying to make sure a popular kid was cool with me. (Thank God for graduation!) We are adults right? If you don’t like someone because of their beliefs, maybe you’ve become the problem. This is a big world. So YOU unfriend them. YOU take the time and scroll their feed and decide, does this person like my party’s platform, does this person support my cause? (Note that it also sounds like you are running for office….ahem) In the grand scheme of things, live your life.  But  if you decide I’m not worth being a friend  because I eat meat and you don’t, here’s your blanket back.  YOU hit the button. I’m more the idiot to leave you on my “friend list” just to show you can’t control me, my thoughts, or anything else for that matter.

And here’s another suggestion.  You have more power when you stop supporting the entity you strongly disagree with. Stop wearing Jordans shoes if Black kids keep getting killed over them. Stop eating at McDonald’s if you have family members who eat there having  4 and 5 heart attacks. Don’t like Chik-Fil-A because of S. Truett Cathy? Don’t go. Don’t like Republicans? Donate and vote for the Democrats. Support Planned Parenthood? Donate. You have more power and more influence in when you respond with your money. Un-friending someone does none of that. Get my point?

I have a lot of  Facebook friends who post about Christians. And I mean hate the Bible, hate the faith, and will dog out anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. Basically me. And while I disagree with their means of expression, they have free will to say what they want. I’m still kind to them at work to show them in person that everyone they try to group together in a “horrible, hateful” religion is not the same. So, I may hide their FB feed for a while and abstain from arguing,  or I may talk with them at work and let them know I will pray for them when they are struggling with personal issues. Notice I didn’t ask them to accept  Christ or unfriend me. Sure I can unfriend them, but it shows no tolerance, no willingness to show the love of Christ, and no civility. And note I don’t post….”If you don’t rep for Jesus, GET OFF MY PAGE!!!!!”””

My point in writing this today was.. if you don’t want someone as your Facebook friend, great. YOU do the honors. Hide their feed, or cut the cord and do the unfriending. It’s simply passive aggressive to try to force someone out of a relationship because you found out they have an opposing opinion from yours. Relationships teach us to how to relate to each other. Relationships force us to grow out of selfish thoughts. If you only surround yourself with people who think like you at all times, how are your growing? Oh, that’s right. You don’t.

“Unfriend me if you challenge me unfriending people!” I’m possibly being unfriended as we speak.  Carry on.

Who Are You When No One’s Looking? A Lesson in Integrity #30in30

  Be honest. Tell the truth. Have you considered claiming someone else’s  kid on your taxes since you didn’t work the year before? Maybe you thought about adding a fake position to pad your resume and up the chances of getting the $20,000 raise with the new gig?  Or how about railing on a friend behind her back when you disagree with her choice of husband but smile kindly in her face overflowing with compliments?  We talk a lot about integrity, we know what it is, but why is it so hard to follow through?

Todays blog for  #30in30 is about  me and my struggle to stay truthful even when it hurts. John Maxwell, one of the my favorite authors on leadership,  says integrity means,  “I am who I am,  no matter where I am or who I am with.”

I’m not perfect, I jack stuff up ALL the time even when I’m not trying.   But  I am trying do better and learn from my mistakes.  I paraphrase the biblical scripture Romans 3:23  when  it says that “we all fall short of the glory of God.”  So even on our best days, we need his measure of grace to get by. Here’s my experience with learning the value of integrity. I supervised a student in a counseling setting.  She chose the setting  because it was near  her home,  she could get class credit and it would be a good starting point for the center to branch out into the community. Even with all the benefits, it wasn’t a good fit because of low staffing and our poor communication. We both noticed things we didn’t like but  instead of both of us honestly sharing our concerns, we let it build up.  Sometimes with all good attempts, it’s just not a good fit. But when faced with the opportunity to  be candid about the appropriateness of the placement with her advisor, I shrunk.  One, I wanted to make sure the student to stay in good standing. Two, I assumed (deadly) that if she wasn’t pleased, she would take the initiative to share her concerns with her supervisor on her own. After all, it was her learning process. And third, I wanted to make sure I  looked good to continue developing a network. So, instead of the real, I gave a glossed up review  about her work and productivity. I wasn’t honest and it was the worst thing I could’ve done. In no way did it help her or myself.   If I could do it all over again, I’d address it from the jump and be as proactive as possible.   I  left  a poor impression with her supervisor, destroyed a relationship with the student, and had to deal with a tainted  reputation. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I earned it and realized it’s never worth it to cover for anyone.

Ethical dilemmas exist in every area of life. Do I tell my boyfriend his friend is cheating on his wife? Do I tell the boss my coworker was drinking on the job? There will always be a choice in telling the truth  regardless of who you work with. Just because  you and your coworker work at the same corporation, does NOT mean you use  the same value system. There are ministers who teach every Sunday  and don’t believe the teachings of the Bible.  So don’t assume because a person works/worships with you, their beliefs are the same as yours. Integrity comes down to  money, greed, and selfishness. Whenever  we are willing to manipulate the rules so  we can somehow benefit, it always ends up being a lose-lose situation. It only took me one time to learn the lesson of being honest even when it potentially could be a negative outcome. It was difficult, but I learned one of the most valuable lessons in my lifetime. Who are you and what will you do when the truth is hard?