Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Love's Innocence

Remember back when we were young and love was honest and innocent? Me too :0)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Importance of 'Y-O-U'

For the past two months, I've been on a journey of sorts. My downtime has been filled with meditation, prayer, yoga and church. And it all started with this:

Maybe you can tell what that is, maybe you can't. It's a charred, black ass piece of paper. A piece of paper that once contained all of the things I hated in my life. All of the things that were currently causing me stress and pain at the time. Out of the blue, I decided I would take up meditation and during my first session, I wrote all of those things down and at the completion, I set it on fire. As I watched the paper turn orange and then brown and finally black, I seriously felt as if weight was being lifted from my shoulders. As dramatic as that may sound, all of those things that were written down on that piece of paper had been weighing me down and hindering me from being the best me possible, and the truth is that I hadn't even realized it.

Over the past couple weeks I've been indulging in reality TV shows, Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop, in particular and I've been able to sort through the ratchet behavior and pick out a common theme. Whether it's Gloria deciding to get space from Matt Barnes or Emily B attempting to distance herself from Fabolous, I'm witnessing women embark on a journey of self-rediscovery. Often times when you get entangled into imbalanced, needy relationships and also when you have children, it is easy to begin living your life for others. Women are emotionally giving by nature, so that's understandable. And it's not really a bad thing, but what tends to happen in those situations is that we lose sight of who we are and what we want from life. And when you can no longer remember what is important for you  to continue to be YOU, it's time to take a step back and evaluate things.

I remember when Jada Pinkett-Smith came to speak at Spelman during my senior year. One story she told really stuck with me. She recounted an interview she had where she was asked who the most important people in her life were. Her response was 1. herself, 2. her children and 3. her husband. She went on to explain why she had put herself as number 1 instead of somewhere further down the line.

"In order to be there for everyone else in my life, I have to make sure I'm the best me possible."

This was 5 years ago, so I may be misquoting, but what she said was extremely close to that. Her response sounds so simple, but it truly is something so many of us forget.

If you aren't happy and healthy, how can you be the best girlfriend, wife, mother (or boyfriend/husband/father) or even just friend, possible? You can't. If my life has me down in the dumps depressed, how will I be able to support others and be there for them when they need me? While saying that "you" are the most important person in your life may at first seem selfish, it really is essential to being in a position where you can even think to make anyone else a priority in your life.

It's unfortunate that many of us don't realize how important we need to be to ourselves until we get to a breaking point. And once that point has been reached you're forced to either fall over the edge or pick up those pieces and work on putting them back together. I know that was the point I reached right before I was moved to meditation and setting that paper on fire. I had gotten to a point where I felt backed against the wall and didn't see how I was going to make my way out. And sometimes you need those moments to show you that, enough is enough, it's about time you put yourself first.

Deciding to put myself first is the main reason why I'm on the dating sabbatical I mentioned in previous posts. I realized that I wasn't making decisions that showed how important I was to myself. I was putting other people before me who wouldn't do they same if the tables were turned. I was slowly but surely wearing myself thin (literally if you ask some folks).

Learning the importance of me and how to love myself all over again has been one hell of a process, and I know it's not over yet. But I'm glad it's a journey I was compelled to take because I know when I get to this journey's end, I'll be ten times more fabulous than before :0)

If you haven't done so today, tell yourself "I love you". Seriously, say it. And throw in a self-hug while you're at it. You may be surprised by just how good that feels.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Daddy Issues Pt. 2: I'm Single Because I Have a Dad?

"So now I have to have bad luck in love because I have a positive relationship with my dad?? Bullshyt." - Me.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how absent fathers and negative father relationships adversely impact men. While writing that post and speaking with some of my girlfriends about "daddy issues", I began thinking of another take on this subject that seemed worth writing about.

Most of my close girlfriends are single. Not just, "I'm not married yet so on applications I check single" single, but "I don't have a steady man that's even worth talking about" single. They're attractive, educated, smart, ambitious women with pleasant personalities, but they're all single. Maybe it's just a sign of the times or merely a correlation between singletude and living in big cities with terribly uneven eligible male to female rations. But then again, maybe it's more than that.

I'm an over-thinker so of course I started to look for a common thread or theme among us. And as I started to do so, I thought about our family backgrounds. Almost all of my friends, myself included, who are super single, either come from two parents households or family situations where they have great relationships with their fathers. Could women with positive father relationships in their lives be negatively effected by such a great thing when it comes to dating?

I've talked to one of my married friends who has a different family background about this, hey Mira boo!, and she sort of agrees here. According to her take, women, like the aforementioned, create fairytale-like qualifications for their future mates based off of the positive relationships they have with their fathers. Instead of just dating guys for the fun of it, they want to find a man, THE man, who is going to be their husband because that's what they're used to seeing. I don't necessarily disagree here, but I don't exactly agree with that take either.

I look at it like this: how often do you hear people say, "I want my kids to have it better than I did. I want to be able to give them more than I had."? Pretty frequently right? When a woman has a great relationship with her dad, this is exactly what happens. Instead of saying, let me settle down with this guy who may not be bringing much to the table, they(we) want the guy who we see has the potential to give us AT LEAST what our fathers gave us. Is that so wrong? It doesn't mean we won't give a guy who hasn't quite made it, but is on his way there, a chance. It may however, mean we're less likely to let a man stick around who doesn't have it together at all and doesn't exemplify those characteristics that we love in our fathers. For many of us, our dads are our frame of reference for what we want in a man.

I love that my father was a great provider for us growing up. He worked hard to keep the roof over our heads and food on the table. And at the same time made it possible for my mother to be a stay at home mom until I reached 7th grade. Do I think i'm going to meet a man right now who will be 100% cool with me being a housewife while he goes out to work everyday? Not necessarily. But I do want a man who realizes the importance of love, trust, family and sacrifice and how those factors work together to create a successful family unit. My dad also has drive and ambition. He's helped to create plans that have impacted pretty much every person in the DMV if you ride public transportation. Ever rode an express metro bus or used a student pass growing up? My dad's ideas/plans(yep! I'm bragging right now). With a dad that great, why should I be aiming to settle for a man who lacks those very same qualities? Just like I have a father I can brag on, I want a husband I can brag on as well. *Cue Drake - Make Me Proud*

I'm sure this may be an unpopular opinion but eh, it happens sometimes. What do you all think? When it comes to daddy issues, are women "damned if you do damned if you don't"? Or am I merely blowing smoke out of my a$$?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winter Time Date Ideas

So, I'm on a dating sabbatical. Yup, no dating and it's by choice. No biggie, just need some time to work on "me".
All of that aside, I've been hearing about some really cute winter date ideas (who knew cold-weather wasn't just for cuddling) and I figured since I'm not about to partake, I'd pass on the ideas to you guys. If any of you all try these activities/places, I'd love to hear about it. Enjoy!

Ice skating, followed by hot cocoa
This is my fav winter date idea. What's cuter than holding hands while you glide across the ice trying your hardest not to embarrass yourself by falling and busting your ass? Not much. And after spending time on the cold ice, a little hot cocoa is a great way to warm things up again. If you're in the DC area, try out these outdoor skating rinks:
National Gallery of Art - Sculpture Gallery
Pentagon Row
Veteran's Plaza in Silver Spring

Enjoy an exhibit that's only available during the winter
 - ICE! at the Gaylord National Harbor ICE! (I'd cook a dude dinner if he took me here! lol)
 - ZooLights at the Washington DC National Zoo
 - the ATL Botanical Gardens Garden Lights

Neighborhood Christmas lights tour/Winter market
I don't think there are any in DC, but I feel like other cities/towns have them. A nice drive through a neighborhood Christmas lights tour would be cute annnnnd it's free! A stroll through/visit to an outdoor winter market, such as the Union Square Holiday Market , could also be fun. Take some time to check out wares by local vendors and even indulge in holiday/winter foods such as roasted chestnuts, hot donuts, mulled cider and the like.

S'mores at Cosi
Cosi is mostly known for being a quick lunch stop for salads and sandwiches, but did you know they also offer S'mores? They have a cute setup that allows you and your date to prepare s'mores tableside. At just under $8, they make a great after dinner, or midday, dessert option. You can also buy the s'more set online here . How delicious is that??

Cooking class
Any situation where both parties get to learn something new at the same time can turn out to be a fun time. And since it's a cooking class, the meal and entertainment get wrapped in to one! I'm a foodie, so naturally a cooking class sounds like a great indoor date idea. Spice things up by taking a dessert class. Check one of these spots out if you're in the DC area:
CulinAerie - offers 3 hour classes, some of which are even designated as "date night" and offer wine pairings
Hill's Kitchen
Company's Coming

Visit a museum or 2
I've loved museums since I was a child. Growing up in DC, where most of the museums are free, it seems only natural. Whether it's history, nature or art that you love, there are so many options to choose from. Pick one or a few and make a day out of exploring museum exhibits. Check out the websites for your local museum before going, to see if there are any special exhibits or film viewings in order to choose the ones that peak you & your date's interests the most.

Puzzle night
This is the only home date I will deem acceptable here. I actually stole this from one of my guy friends(shhhh!).Channel your inner kid and spend a wintry afternoon getting to know one another while putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. Puzzles not your thing? Challenge your date to a round or two of scrabble? Nothing like a little intellectual stimulation :0)

Did I miss anything??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Daddy Issues

I know what you're thinking, "Ohhh here we go. The same 'ol discussion on why chics with no father figures in their lives end up looking for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways."

Sorry to disappoint, but that's not what I'm about to talk about at all. How about we discuss men and THEIR daddy issues for once? 

The overwhelming lack of positive male presence in the Black community is one of the biggest issues effecting our current collective state. Men are just as effected by the absence of a male presence in the home as women are. But let me not just make it seem like fathers not being around is the only issue, because many of the guys I know with daddy issues know their dads; and they also know that their dads were no good.

They grew up watching their fathers cheat on their mothers, fall victim to addictive behaviors and emotionally neglect their families. If this is what a boy grows up being surrounded by, what kind of man does he grow up to be? As important as we all know it is for women to have positive "father"* relationships in their lives in order to show them what type of man they should marry, it's just as important for men to have those relationships so they can know what type of man they should strive to be.

I've heard a lot of chatter lately, on twitter and even in Jay-Z's most recent GQ article about the"scars" left behind when a father is absent in the home. I always say that when you grow up around negative behavior, you either fall victim to it yourself or you fight to do and be the complete opposite. That's essentially the sentiment Jay expresses in the GQ article. His excitement over not only becoming a father but also having the opportunity to be the type of father to his child that he never had himself is definitely apparent. And while there are men out there who do exactly as Jay strives to and be the opposite of what they saw growing up, I've witnessed far too many young men who follow in their negligent father's footsteps and use their past as an excuse for their misbehavior. I remember having a conversation with a guy friend once about infidelity and he admitted that he cheated because that's what he had seen from his father and from the other men in his life.

Is that an excuse? Yes. But it's also a reason. How can we truly expect for boys in these types of situations to all grow up and automatically know how to do the right thing once they reach manhood, if that's something they've never been privy to?

The biggest issue I see here is that in our community, and hell, in America period, men aren't "allowed" to freely express the pain and emotion caused by growing up without positive male role models in the home. As I stated in the beginning of this post, everyone talks ad nauseum about the ways in which women are affected in these situations but rarely the way men are. In order for us all to heal and begin making things "right" we have got to start talking about this. Male emotion is not something most of us are used to discussing or are even really comfortable doing so. Nobody's saying men need to go all Emo on us and tap into their inner Drake or anything *cue tracks 1-17 of Take Care* but this discussion is definitely long overdue.

So why don't we turn the tables, men, who hurt you?