Tag Archive | Relationships

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.

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Good Black Men Still Exist


Whoever said good men don’t exist anymore don’t know what they’re talking about. For a while there, I doubted it myself. But  I was surprised by the random kindness by two men when my tire blew out over the weekend. Side-note. I was already frustrated because my hair stylist told me I was too late to get my hair done. It was 7:20AM!!!!!  UGH. Anyway, I’m driving away wondering should I have burnt her house down and trying to simultaneously eat my hotcakes and sausage, I hit a curb.  My hair is  an afro bushy mess, it’s not even 7:30am,  my tire’s busted and I can’t get home. Great.

I sighed, disgusted my day was starting  like this. And I’m in the hood so I not sure if I should be worried or chill. I knew I had AAA, so I just figured I’d call them and let them tow me home or whatever they do. But, an older man in a van passed by, saw me pouting in the car, and parked his car and walked over. Another man, driving his pick up  truck in the opposite direction, also turned around to make sure I was okay. Again, I’m in the hood, but it’s daylight so I rolled my window down to hear him out. He looked at my tire, asked me if I had a spare, and started changing it. I was a little suspicious, and kept my guard up just in case he expected something or wanted to make a lunge at me, but none of that happened. The other man,  stopped and asked if we were okay, and went on about his way. By the time AAA came, the spare had already been replaced and the rep just added air to the tire. I was surprised that anyone stopped  and was thankful for the help. I didn’t expect to have a feel good moment after getting rejected at the salon but it was nice to see two black men so willing to help me out. And a reminder  not to  feed into the bull that’s so prevalent on tv about Our men. Good men are still out there.  We just have to find them.

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.

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.

Me and My Married Men


Me and My Married Men.

Let’s be perfectly clear that I’m not sneaking around with a married man. Nor do I want to seeing as  they’ve  already got  a wife, and kids that I definitely didn’t make.

This is about me having male friends who happen are now married and treading lightly around the boundary of a couple’s marriage.  “Can women and men truly be friends without any romantic interests between them?  Answers range from “it’s no big deal” to “we ain’t sleeping together so what’s the problem?”   My current favorite response is “as long as you carry yourself in the right way, a man’s marital status doesn’t matter.” As if to say if I carry “it” the wrong way and things get crazy it’s going on me my fault because of what I’m carrying???

Now that most of my male friends are marrying off, I’ve had to clarify  my standards.  Ever get the feeling someone’s husband is flirting with you? Do you ignore it and brush it off or giggle and respond since he’s stroking your ego?  Or, maybe they ask to hang out when you come into town, but you’ve never met their wife and if she walked up on you, you wouldn’t have a clue what her first name was? Crickets, right? I’ve had friends who have cheated and been cheated on and it’s painful to watch. Call me old-fashioned or knowing the power of a scorned woman, but I choose to treat others how I would want to be treated if it was my man.  Applying the “Golden Rule” keeps me from becoming the woman in the middle.

I asked a couple of friends about married + single friends to pick their brains. My dear, married gal friend politely said sorry, but YOU can’t be friends with any married man. In her marriage, the rule is all friends are mutual. No side friends or “inviting temptation to dinner” as she put it. My single and happily dating guy friend laughed at the question and ended up saying no as well.  In his words, ” too much opportunity for confusion” and “what’s he need single girlfriends for anyway?” He’s been on both sides of the fence so I guess he has to know the reasons behind keeping “friends” around, right? Yet, my close girlfriend says it’s not a big deal as long as you’re not interested. Huh? And, in the same breath, remarked, “men don’t stop flirting just because their married. If they do, it’s because they choose to honor their wives.” Interesting. Finally, I asked my single gal friend and she immediately babbled out three questions.  “How do you know each other?” “Did yall go to college together or date at one point??” “Have you met his wife?” That last question nearly punched me in the face because more often than not the wife is NEVER brought up. And lest you think I am completely naive,  when my coworker recently asked me to dinner, I said, “Oh okay, you and your wife right?” His face said it all. Not his original plan apparently.

Honestly, I had to check myself first and admit, I welcomed the friendships because I considered them harmless. I wasn’t trying to date these guys and I got my kicks being complimented about how nice I looked every once in a while.  But, I stopped and thought about if I’d be okay as the wife with the flirting, the social media communications, and the dinners when in town. Most women say they are secure with their hubby’s having friends and aware of their husbands flirtatious nature. But most women also admit anger and disappointment when finding out their husbands have cheated or cross the line. So, where’s the balance?

What I’ve learned over the years is my response is my responsibility. In other words, erring on the side of caution now is more important than confusion later. I do my best now to use the work hours standard for communication. If I have something to say, I say it before 7pm so that I respect their home and family time. I also stopped IM and Facebook chats late at night unless I know both spouses.

I can see a couple of eyes rollin’ as they read this sayin’ girl, please, that’s too much. Maybe, but nothing is more uncomfortable than watching a friend trying to explain to their spouse who “SHE” is or trying to explain why you have more Facebook chats and texts with her than your wife. Nothing is wrong with a short get together with a guy friend as long as the intentions are clear. But it’s interesting how the details get left out quickly when a couple is fighting, separated, and someone steps out just to fantasize about what life would be like if they were free.  I’m single, no kids, and I’m easy on the eyes.  But more importantly, I respect others relationships and want the best for them.   Since I don’t always profess to know what my male friends are thinking, I’ll set the tone.  My goal is to respect all parties involved. Whether or not I ever meet their wife.

Your thoughts?