Monday, December 17, 2007

I Think: This Is What It's About?

This Is What It's About?
By: Mia L. Black

I woke up on Sunday morning to the soft cooing of our 19 month-old daughter down the hall in her crib. My eyes flickered and I turned to roll over to my snoring husband, only to hear, "ouch" from our six year-old daughter, who had snuck into the bed in the wee hours of the morning. I apologize for elbowing her and relay that I did not see her, only to be interrupted by a loud, "Mooomeeeee" from down the hall. Apparently our voices had traveled and now she wanted to be included in all the fun. It was going on nine o'clock as I swung my feet out of bed. I had actually gotten to "sleep in."

I stepped into the hallway and caught a glimpse of my daughter facing me with arms in the air, ready for me to scoop her up. My major dilemma at this point came down to, do I go pick her up, change her, and let her begin her day, or do I make a quick pit stop at the bathroom and listen to her scream and cry as I disappear from sight? I opt for the latter. No sooner do I get into the bathroom...the wailing begins. The door is wide open, I try to soothe her as I finish my business and wash my hands. Meanwhile, my husband still lay at rest and my six year-old is standing in the doorway giving me the second to second update of her sister's tantrum. Mind you I have only been up for four minutes.

I get the kids situated, fed and begin dinner. Because I am going to make a beef stew and crock pot it all day, I want to turn it on for at least six hours. What should take about twenty minutes from beginning to end, takes me close to forty-five. I have opted to only get involved in my daughters' arguments if they become physical. Unfortunately for dinner that happened three times....all the while, my husband lay at peace in the bedroom. I finally finished dinner preparation and tried to figure out what I would eat for breakfast at about eleven o'clock. I made me and my husband breakfast, which of course made my daughters hungry again. As we were finishing our breakfast (going on noon) I had the idea to write this exact blog. My husband said he would take care of the dishes and put the baby down for her afternoon nap. With the girls sharing a bedroom, nap time means our oldest must remove everything she wants to play with before the baby goes down. This usually means all of her toys take over my living room.

I get to my couch, coffee in hand and pull my laptop out. I check my emails and try to formulate in my head what I am going to write. I kick out my first sentence and my daughter leans on me to view what I am writing. I know this doesn't sound right, but after about four times of telling her to stop leaning on me and go play, I wanted to just push her. Yes, I said it, a grown ass woman felt like pushing a six year-old. I was not able to get through three more sentences with any type of flow, because every time she moved I would punch the wrong key. I spent more time correcting than I did typing. Meanwhile, my husband had gone back to bed. As I complete my first paragraph, she now tells me she wants lunch. I am so annoyed at this point, that I tell her to go tell her father.

Finally peace.I reread what I have typed and erase it all. Not at all where I wanted to go with the story. Two minutes into my peace, I can hear my daughter running towards the living room. "Mommy, Daddy said come quick into the kitchen. He's not even playin'. It's really an emergency." She retreats. I close my computer down defeated. I make the decision not to jump right to my husband's rescue, but instead lean my head back and take a quick doze. Upon his messenger's second request, I drag myself into the kitchen. My husband is wiping spillage around the crock pot with my good hand towel. This is the emergency? I think to myself. How could this be an emergency? I'm only glad I came into the kitchen when I did, after he tells me what he was going to do to our dinner. He was going to dump out all the "juice." I'm thinking "juice?" You mean you were going to dump out the stew? I repot the stew and save dinner.

My daughter goes and eats her lunch and I begin my blog again. Again my husband returns to bed. At this point I begin to think, is this what it's all about? Is this life when you have no plans? If not for the horrible weather, we probably would have gone shopping or to go visit someone, but I had no plans. I wasn't pulling the family out into the storm. So now all four of us are stuck in the house, all trying to do our own thing, but I seem to be the only one jumping to everyone's rescue. Because no sooner am I a paragraph into my blog, when our youngest wakes up. I try to outwait my husband, but he is not trying to budge from his rest. All the while our six year-old is running to each one of us, to announce that her sister is awake. I finally get up annoyed and stomp to our daughter's room. I peak up the hallway to see my husband act as if he is going to get out of bed. I kiss my daughter, take her out of her crib, and bring her and a new diaper to my bedroom. I drop them off and turn to leave the room. I stumble over my six year-old because since I left the living room, she has been inches from me.

She follows me to the bathroom and I gently push her back from the door, and proceed to shut and lock the door behind me. I don't have to go to the bathroom, but it is the only door that has a lock. I sit on the toilet and hear my daughter cry outside. A minute goes by and the crying is joined by, "Moooooomeeeeeeeee". I'm not sure how much time passed until they realize I wasn't coming out. But I finally won when I heard the sweet sound of victory, "Daaaaadeeeeeee." I smile and listen to him tell them to go find me. They tattle and relay I am locked in the bathroom. My victory is short lived because then I have all three of them on the other side of the door trying to get in. Again I question myself, is this what it's about? Is this what my life has come to? Locking myself away from my family? In the bathroom at that?I summon up the courage and unlock the door. I look into hurt confused faces and try to step around them and make my way back to the living room. Before I take a second step, my husband wants to know what is wrong, my six year-old tells me she is going to poop and will need help wiping herself, all the while in the background, "Mommy, Mommy, Mooommmeeee."

I somehow feel like a bad mom, because I have done nothing with my family. I decide to make Christmas cookies. My husband finds a new location to do nothing, the living room with the football game. I pull out bowls, ingredients, and the mixer. I take the youngest into the living room and ask my husband if he can watch her while we make cookies. He doesn't budge and says yes. I don't even make it back to the kitchen before I hear a little pitter patter following me back into the kitchen. I go back and stand in the doorway and glare at my husband. He is completely dumbfounded and asks me "What?" He looks back at the TV and calls for our youngest. I manage to make the cookie dough and then have to deal with a meltdown with my daughter, because she doesn't understand why you have to refrigerate the dough after you make it.

By this time I want to fall on my face and I am checking the clock at three in the afternoon. Five more hours, just five more hours until bedtime. Again, is this what it's all about? Six hours in with these people and I'm already wishing it was their bedtime? But I won't allow them to break me, I press on and walk into the living room. My husband is getting on his shoveling gear and the kids are within inches of him. I've come to notice with these little people, there is no such thing as personal space. They have to be right on top of you. I decide to let them get a little energy out...I simply lie on the floor. I don't make it all the way down until they are on top of me. Laughing, giggling and having a ball at my expense, all because I am laying on the floor and they are able to sit, jump and play on top of me. My husband goes outside to shovel and I play as their jungle gym for the next twenty minutes.

I look at their happy faces and am able to answer my question with the question. Yes, this is what it's about. It's about being the occasional jungle gym, the referee, the cook, the refugee, the caretaker, the problem solver...all and all, it's summed up in two words, mother/wife. So it may be two days later that I am now getting the peace to write and post this blog, but these past two days with my family have been worth it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I Think: Friendship

Forever Changed
By: Mia L. Hazlett

You never know when the first day of the rest of your life begins with a person. In fact, it’s not until sixteen years later that you look back on that first day and thank God for His life changing blessing. It was the day you waited for your entire teenage life…turning eighteen and going off to college. It’s that day when you found yourself wandering aimlessly on a new college campus, like a kindergartner on their first day of school. You smiled back at anyone that showed you some sign of attention, just so you didn’t have to endure the entire experience by yourself. But as they passed you by, you gave up the chance to introduce yourself and embark on a new friendship. You got to the point that you wanted to start crying, because you actually missed your parents and home. You realized that you were out of your safety zone and you wanted to put your security blanket back on.

As you scanned your list of events for the day, a familiar face smiled at you from across the field. Not familiar in the sense you thought you recognized them, but familiar in the sense that you now knew you were not the only black girl again. You returned her smile and welcomed her company as she came to sit down next to you. She introduced herself and gave you a small piece of paper. It had something about “Afro-Am”, but you didn’t want to waste your time reading it and pass up the opportunity of having your first conversation of the day. Two hours in and you hadn’t talked to a single person. You’ve ignored her piece of paper, but she goes on to explain her organization and tell you the meeting time and place. At the end of her sales pitch she bid you a farewell and walked away.

With that brief five minute encounter, God introduced you to your best friend. Because from there, you would end up attending her meeting and becoming part of her organization. You would abuse her open-door policy and begin to share your darkest secrets. You would embrace her with your arms and all your heart and soul as you depart, knowing she is going home to tell her parents she’s pregnant at 21. You would run full sprint up a flight of stairs with her back pack, all in the name of a pregnancy prank. You would impatiently pace the waiting room anxious for the announcement of her firstborn. You would lend her your shoulder as she announces her divorce to you. You would cry with her when she tells you she is going back home to California with the baby. You would celebrate with her when she returns from California baby in tow. She would stand by you as your bridesmaid in your first wedding. She would laugh with you as you both realize she has the peanut butter, you have the jelly, but neither of you have any bread. She lends her shoulder as you announce your divorce. You both celebrate each other as you become adults…she moves away to Texas and you move to Virginia. She supports your pregnancy long distance. You fly to Texas for her second wedding. She understands your paycheck to paycheck struggle with your newborn. She comes to visit you when you move back home to your parents’ house. She gives you a hearty congratulation when you remarry. You are overjoyed at the announcement of her second pregnancy and blessed at the birth of you Godchild. You both offer stability through the stormy years of your marriages. She announces to you that you may be pregnant again and advices you to get a test. You support her decision to end her second marriage and open your home as she looks for homes in your area. You both agree that Texas would be better for her and the kids. You bid her farewell and good luck as she leaves you again. You pray for her as she builds her first home and thank God for her success as she stamps her mark on Corporate America. She pushes and edits your writing as you struggle through the first year with your publishing company.

You look back to the first day with that person and sixteen years later realize who God brought into your life….your guardian angel, your advocate, your biggest fan, your biggest critic, your shoulder, your patience, your conscience, your children’s second mother, your marriage mediator, your doctor, your pastor…all and all your friend and sister. And by this one person being in your life, you have been forever changed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

At Peace

By: Mia L. Black

As we move towards the holiday season and work on stretching the household paycheck and budget, I’ve approached this season with a much needed peace. Peace of mind with my marriage, family, friends, finances, job, and self. Usually at this point of the year I am frantic with trying to figure out how I am going to pay this bill and buy that gift, but I shed that anxiety by approaching the new year without drama.

Now drama for me equals stress. And I refuse to have anymore drama in my life. This does not mean that I won’t have trying moments that test at breaking my spirit, it just means that I am going to tackle them as soon as they poke their ugly faces out and resolve them with sanity instead of emotion. I’ve begun by paying all my bills first. I know that sounds logical, but it means that December’s bills get paid before Christmas shopping begins, not something I have done in past years. I have mastered the catch-up game, but no more playing catch-up. I have also made the decision to leave the plastic at home. No maxing out the credit card this year…again logical, but a change for me. With just these minor changes, I have alleviated a huge 3-month headache. Because when I would forgo a bill or two in December for an overpriced gift, it would take me until February or March with that stupid catch-up game. I know that underneath the Christmas tree will look a bit bare, but after watching my children fight over a diaper box the other day, I’m not going to make myself crazy.

I’ve also started to work on feeding my spirit and doing things I have always wanted to do and take part of. I’ve always wanted to start a club of women that is inclusive of people that I know and don’t know. A club of women who are married, single, and that come from different financial and educational backgrounds. This club is designed as a safe haven for women to come and vent about whatever is going on in their lives, or to share their successes or goals with other women that may have traveled in their shoes or are walking right beside them right now. It is a chance to network and make connections with people that you may have never met before had you not attended. I sent out an e-mail a week ago to set up the first dinner. Almost everyone has responded and I can now check that goal off going into the new year.

Part of feeding my spirit is working on my publishing company. I am awaiting an estimate for illustration for my first children’s book. Once I receive this estimate back, I will work on the funding to make my dream a reality. I will hope from those profits, I will be able to launch my first novel. So the wheels for this have been set in motion. But the reward of accomplishment has already set in. I’m so happy for me.

I can also say that I have a happy home. A home that I look forward to going home to and a life with a family that brings me joy. So many times I have harped on the negative, but I just refuse to have time for the negative anymore. My husband and I have resolved our issues or differences head-on lately, which has lead to unrest with almost immediate peace. Just this subtle change in our disagreement style has allowed for civil confrontation, rather than two days of a silent treatment and outside gossip (I’m talking about him, not me).

All I can reiterate is that I have taken all my walls down and focused on peace and happiness for my life. It may leave me vulnerable, but I am okay with that. Because whoever tries to make me stray from my path of peace, will have to answer to my Maker, because I know He has my back.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What I know about: Getting Advice

As I have mentioned before I am one of the people that many of my friends call for advice. I expect it is because I generally shoot from the hip. I am not as concerned with sparing feelings as I am with sparing my friends from pain.

Recently I spoke with a good friend who called me in a panic. She was sure that her boyfriend was on the way out the door. She recounted to me the story. If her version is correct, his words were harsh, and inappropriate given the situation. But I told her to "hold steady because people sometimes freak out and have moments of bad judgment when faced with a number of difficult situations at the same time. Keep it in mind but keep it in perspective."

She was relived to hear my advice, because the person she called for advice before she could get a hold of me had another story to tell. I asked her "Why did you call her for advice on this subject, has she ever been in this situation before?" Look at how she deals with similar issues, and then decide if you think her way is the best way for you.

Be cautious in who you seek advice from.

I can tell you what I know about lots of things. But there are plenty of things that I know nothing about. I have never adopted a child, I have never flown a plane, I have never run a farm. I could not tell you anything about those topics. If a friend came to me for advice in these subject areas, or many others, I would not even TRY and advise them beyond...Why don't you go look it up, or find someone who had done this and ask them.

Advice from friends is a wonderful thing. These are the people that love you and know you, sometimes better than you know yourself. The outside perspective they have is a benefit when you cannot see clearly from the inside. Just know who your friends are and what their areas of competency are before you rely on their every word.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Battle is Not Ours

The Battle is Not Ours
By Shelly Johnson

If for every conflict we had our own solution, then there would be no need for summoning the advice of friends. Friends bring experience to our newly found conflicts. They bring a new sense of self worth to a situation. They allow the blinders to come off of our eyes, so that we can see who we really are, when we face danger. Friends let us hide behind their situations and play a back stage role to their drama. With friends, drama is viewed through the eyes of all. No one stands alone when they have friends. The battle comes to the individual, but is conquered with the wisdom of the collective knowledge and experience of our friends.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Think: The Battle is Yours

The Battle is Yours

By: Mia Black

When faced with an adverse situation, how do you let the chips fall where they may? Are you a person that welcomes conflict? Do you avoid it at all costs? Are you ever the cause? I've learned that in life we will have controversial situations on all levels, personal, professional, financial, spiritual...but in the end it comes down to how you resolve the conflicts facing you...or someone else?

I come at you today with a sense of peace that has long been missed by me. I have not felt so at peace with my life in probably over a year. And now within the past month, I don't know what to do with myself. Because I fall into the category of welcoming conflict. I get so caught up in it, that peace becomes awkward for me. And right now my home is at peace, my job is at peace, and I feel closer to God than I ever have. So now I'm diving into my friends' controversies and taking on the emotions as if the events are personally happening to me. You can see from my previous post how upset I am with my friend's mother. How dare I. Who am I?

Now I find myself becoming angry with this heffa that is trying to catch and attitude with my girl. That's right, I am name calling'. Why? I have no idea or right, but he acted in a manner that hurt my friend's feelings and has her second guessing her decisions. How dare he....okay and me again. I think it is just the fact that my friends mean so much to me that I don't want to see them get hurt and take it personally when someone has the nerve to hurt them.

So now I guess my self-controversy is, how do I embrace peace and and not make it my personal mission to tackle every adverse situation that has nothing to do with me? Answer is: I'm working on it. I'm trying to just listen and be the shoulder to cry on, rather than taking offense for grown-ass women that can handle themselves. I have resovled the conflicts that have faced me, with their help and the grace of God, but ultimately they have been true friends and alllowed me to live me life...fall when I've needed to, but they have allowed me to fight my own battles.

I Think: It's Time to Step into Your Womanhood

It's Time to Step into Your Womanhood

By: Mia L. Black

Can your mother still make you cry? I ask this question after listening to one of my friends this weekend and realizing what her real problem was. It wasn't what her mother was saying to her, but the fact that she didn't feel she could stand up to her. How can you truly become an adult and truly call yourself a woman if you can't stand up for yourself in the face of anybody, even your mother?

Now don't get me wrong, I am not walking around cussing my mother out and speaking with no fear; because I am only two years into being a true adult. My "wow" moment came when I was actually scared to call my mother and tell her I was pregnant with my second daughter. I had our first daughter out of wedlock and telling her about that pregnancy is not a moment I want to relive. With our second daughter, we were married, financially stable, both working and had wonderful benefits...oh yeah, and I was a grown-ass woman. But because of my fear of somehow disappointing her, I held off on telling her immediately. When I did finally work up the nerve to tell her, I received a forced "congratulations".

Well I dwelled on that moment for days and was pissed. Finally it just hit me, I am a grown-ass woman that is about to have our second child and I am allowing this woman to steal all of my joy. At that point I created a mental shit list. It was made for people that were not going to be happy for me. Not just about my pregnancy and not just for my mother, but for all people that felt like they had a right to put in their two cents about my life. I've been living that way ever since and now I am able to "talk to" my mother, rather than "ask for" her approval, about the things that are going on in my life.

Now one of my friends allowed herself to be cursed at, spoken down to, and her mother got so elementary as to name call. Now my friend is the perkiest person you could ever meet. She even sounds happy when she is cursing you out. But I could tell when she called me, that her spirit had been broken. She had called me after she had finished crying and was able to relay her story to me. After hearing her story, I realized that it was none of her mother's damn business. Not only was it none of her damn business, but how dare she become so aggressive with her reaction. All I could do is share the experience I had with my mother when becoming pregnant with our second daughter. Letting her know that she could still be respectful of her mother, while letting her know she will not be spoken to in any inappropriate manner. Telling her she now had to embrace equal opportunity. Meaning if you would hang up on your co-worker or friend for cursing at you, you need to hang up on your mother too. Respect comes when boundaries are set.

My friend sent me a copy of the apology her mother sent her. It was an e-mail that showed her mother's lack of faith in herself, rather than in her daughter. And I think this is a key as to why many mothers act as they do, they don't know how to pat themselves on the back and trust that they have raised us right. Her mother still views her as a child and we all know a mother is supposed to protect her child. But it will be up to my friend to set the boundaries so her mother will begin to view her as a woman, and it may be at that point her mother will be able to see what a truly amazing, strong, intelligent, genunine, kind, woman her daughter has become.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Think: Marriage and Faith

By: Mia Black

What do you do when you call yourself a woman of God and you find yourself knocking on the door of divorce? For me I got down on my knees and prayed to God. I don’t know what I prayed for, but I can say that He has stepped in and renewed my faith in His power, His strength, and His on-going presence in my life. No doubt my husband has his shortcomings, but mine are there right alongside his.

My problem stems from my mouth. I talk things to death to all the wrong people. The only person I should be sharing this with is God and other married women that have been in my shoes and stuck through the bad times. But unfortunately I run to my group of friends. Not that I don’t get their blessings, but it is not the same. None of my close friends are married. Some have walked in my shoes and some have had long relationships with the fathers of their children, and some have no children at all, but ultimately marriage was not their final decision like mine. It doesn’t make anybody right or wrong, it just breaks that commonality that once linked all of us.

Because for me right now, I know I am not going to leave my husband. I know that when I came to do this the second time around, that this was it, hell or high water, and God willing; I am going have a 50 year anniversary. Because the one thing I did in this marriage that I didn’t do in my previous marriage is have kids.

Now I’ve been told by numerous people don’t stay married just for the kids. You need to think about you and what’s best for you and your happiness and you, you, you, you….blah, blah, blah. I’m sorry, but I will stay married for my kids. I apologize for my Whitney quote, but I do believe our children are our future. The day I chose to have kids with this man, was the day I vowed to make every effort and sacrifice to ensure they have both parents in their house everyday. This is not law or the way it should be, but it is me being true to the morals and values I was raised with. You marry the person you have children with. And I am not ashamed of these morals or values, to the point that I want to pass them down to my kids. And the only way I can pass them down is to lead by example.

I know my kids have witnessed arguments and they know when we run short on money to pay some of the bills, but are those reasons worth leaving my husband for? Hell no. Because for the rough times that they have experienced, they have seen tenfold the happy times. In my household, it is not mommy that gets them up for school and all that morning stuff that I just can’t handle; that is all Daddy. Daddy get’s them up, dressed, and dropped off at daycare and school everyday. When Mommy needs a break, Daddy takes them to the park or movies and spoils them rotten. Monday is Mommy’s day off so Mommy doesn’t have to do anything. Daddy has the morning and evening routine. Every Saturday and Sunday they sit down to breakfast and dinner with Mommy and Daddy. It would be more, but my husband’s and my schedule are offset. Then there are the holiday eves and mornings that will hopefully set traditions in their lives as they were set in mine.

I use these examples from listening to my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances along my journey in life, and I do hear about the impact that divorce does have on kids. Not seeing or knowing their father. Having to spend the holidays with just one parent or being battled over in court and having to choose which parent. Sorry, just not something I want to put my kids through. So if I have to shed a few tears or not go on a vacation or two, I will do it. My kids are worth it.

I don’t claim to have the answers to a happy marriage, but overall, yes I do believe I have a happy marriage. By no means is it perfect, but God didn’t promise me perfect. And every challenge and every obstacle He has set in my marriage, has made me and my husband grow as individuals and united us as a couple. I will say we have been through some serious tests that I’m sure most marriages won’t experience in a lifetime. But I must constantly remind myself, we have only been married for three years. In the span of forever that I vowed my husband and God; that is nothing. How can I quit on forever when I only gave it three years? I don’t know what God has in store for us. I have and will continue to pray for forever, because I owe it to myself, my husband and most of all God and my kids. And I have the faith in God that He has my back and is working behind the scenes on my behalf.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What I know: Surprise you’re pregnant!

By Jennifer Texada

A very close friend was recently stunned by the news of her own pregnancy. This struck me as odd because she has been praying that she would someday have a child for at least the past 2 years. She has complained endlessly about her desire to get pregnant, her fears of not being able to get pregnant and her regrets for not thinking about this earlier in her life.

So, on Sunday morning I got a call. The stick had one and a half lines, and she was almost in tears. I instructed her to go pee on another stick. On Monday morning I called her “What’s the word?” I asked. The stick had two solid pink lines, and she made the blood test appointment. My response was Hooray!! I am so happy for you, let’s plan the baby shower!! She did not cry, but it was clear that she was not ready to plan the shower.

Her response to this joyous occasion went something like this “But it’s not the right time, I thought it would take longer, can I really do this? I am not ready…what am I going to tell my mother…but I am planning a cruise in June…”

My answer…there is no such thing as the right time to have a baby.

There are better times than others, but no matter how much money you have, you never think you have enough money. No matter what kind of job you have you will never feel like you have enough time. No matter how much support you have you will always feel like the burden rests on you.

Although it may seem that some are more adept than others at this parenting thing, no one is born a parent. I just found out today that damn Dr. Spock, the guy who wrote the book on parenting, had a son that committed suicide. You are the expert on raising your child. I am not saying you should not seek advice, but you know what you hope for your child’s future and parents are are tasked with doing everything in your power to get that done.

I don’t mean to negate her fear. Fear is a natural response to the unknown. As important a job as this is, I would think a first time parent without any trepidation is a parent that does not realize the gravity of their task, or does not care.

I think essentially all that a child needs a parent that cares. If you are willing to try and love this little person and help them to navigate through this weird world of ours you really have nothing to fear.

I have a feeling that this is not the last time I will talk about this. I will try to share what I can about what I know about being a mommy in relation to the questions I am asked by my friend who is about to become a mommy… Congrats girl I am happy for you even if you have not decided to be happy for yourself yet.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

What I know about: Being True to Yourself

By: JT

You may find if you choose to live your life in a way that goes against the status quo your choices may be challenged at every turn. I am in a place in my life where I have decide who I want to be, and how I want to live. I want to be happy, I choose to be nice, and try and treat people how I want to be treated. I want to respect my body and my morals and live within my own comfort zone. I want to develop my career, and eat healthy and raise my children to love and respect and behave. I thought these were qualities that I should aspire to. Not everyone thinks so.

At Work
In the office this week, I think I was insulted, but I am not sure. I was told that I was too nice. I did not know this, but apparently you cannot be nice to people at work, you cannot help people if they are not giving you something in return.

I don’t agree, so I am sure that my work relationship with people who feel that way will suffer.
When I go to work every day I want to do my best. I want to work in a way that God would be proud. I choose not be easily offended and choose to be happy even in the face of adversity. Being argumentative, judgmental and insulting to people does not does not accomplish this goal. I cannot imagine anything that anyone at work could say or do to me that would make me compromise my joy, or forsake my positive work ethic.

In Dating
I just started dating after being in relationships for the past 13 years. I come out into the world only to find out, in general if you are not sleeping around, you will only get one date. With almost every guy I have met, we have been on a traditional first date, and then asked to come to their house for the second date. I am a smart girl, I know what they want.
I have been told, by people who love me, I should take full advantage of this time. I should go ahead and have a “booty buddy” and a “out for lunch” guy, and fun party guy and just play the field. I have options and choices, I should just have fun.

No thanks,

I can have fun, but my idea of fun is not stringing multiple men along, or selling my body for a plate of popcorn shrimp. I need to feel comfortable with a person before I share that much of myself with them. I need to know that they care about me and don’t intend to hurt me before I let them so close to me. Call me old fashioned but I think you should have a relationship before you have sex. I can buy my own lunch, and attend parties with my friends, what I want is a companion.

I considered relaxing my standards a bit simply because my friends told me that in order to move forward with my life this is what I had to do. But after thinking it through I decided; the guy that is right for me is going to not only be okay with my standards, but he will care for me and respect me even more for having them. True that guy may be hard to find, but I believe that there are still men out there with morals and respect, and those are the guys for me!

Know who you are, know your standards and your limits and embrace them. Be who you are and love who you are. At the end of the day you and God are the only ones who have to be happy with your decisions about how you “do you”.

Monday, October 1, 2007

What I know about: Being Happy in the "NOW"

By Jennifer Texada (I have owed you this one for a while.

I get teased
bit about my always upbeat demeanor, especially at work. In the office, sometimes things are a little stressful, with deadlines, and complaining customers and such. Many of my co-workers tend toward complaining. Sometimes, I don't blame them, people can be mean, and deadlines can be short. Believe me sometimes I want to give into the peer pressure and complain right along with them, but when I catch myself doing it, I stop. I always try to turn it around with a statement of solution, resolution or something positive.

Because "This is a day that the lord has made, I WILL REJOICE and be GLAD in it." It is as simple as that for me. So far there is nothing going on at the office, in my house or in traffic that is bad enough for me to give up my happiness for. The next statement I make, may be controversial. I personally believe that happiness is a choice.
There, I said it.
I believe that if you want to be happy, you can, just like if you want to be offended, or stressed, or mad, you can do that too. I have things in my daily life that have the potential to steal my joy, but it is up to me if I let it. If someone cuts me off and steals my close to the store parking spot I can honk scream, swear and let it ruin that moment in my life, or I can go find another parking spot, and walk a little further. Thank you God I have legs to walk and the strength to get from that spot to my destination.
I love being happy, and I will defend my right to be so. It took me a long time to get here. I fought my share of battles with depression and hurt, and stress. I spent years looking for happiness in men, friends, food and malls. Finally after quite enough of that, I figured out that I can be happy if I want to be, no matter what. Even if there is something I lack at the moment, I refuse to let it steal my joy.
I also choose to speak only good and positive over my life, and the lives of others. This was a hard habit to gain. I think we all say things like "I am so stressed" in the heat of a trying moment. But I find that I am less stressed when I change my inner dialog to something like "It is going to be okay" or "Just hold on, this moment will pass". It is MY inner dialog I can say to myself whatever I want to. I choose to steer my inner dialog toward my joy instead of my decline.
I am pretty young, only 35. So maybe I am naive in thinking I have a choice in my emotional status. The way I see it, I spent many years choosing to be miserable, depressed and lonely, and I did a good job at that. Being unhappy is a hard way to live. So far this has already been easier.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What I Know About: Riding out the Storms

By. Jennifer Texada

No matter how good you try to be, no matter how much as you may pray and no matter how you may be blessed you may feel there are always times in life where things are exactly going as expected.

For me this week it was a terribly high and unexpected car repair bill, a negative experience with my former spouse, then my furniture was not shipped or delivered the way I expected. Then on top of that I had to move into a smaller office at work, one of my new neighbors got their house broken into and I dropped my groceries all over the floor and broke a newly purchased carton of eggs (and as I already mentioned my money is tight)

So as a woman of faith how am I dealing? How am I in the midst’s of disappointment continuing to stay in faith and good spirits?

I am following my own advice.

First, God never said that there would not be storms, he said in the storms that is when you should really lean on him.

Second, I am trying in this storm to listen more carefully to what He is trying to tell me?

In the past, every time I have had one of these experiences I have come out smarter, more experienced, more polished. I equated to a diamond or a tumbled stone. A diamond has to be pressed hard, under intense pressure and heated evenly for years within a lump of coal to get the shine and value that it has. Maybe all of this pressure and heat is for a reason.

Maybe what I gain will be tantamount to the value and shine of a diamond.

I want to cry. I want to swear. I want to figure out my own way out of these circumstances. But what I will do is pump up the music pray until I can't pray anymore and walk slowly and carefully through this time of trial with an expectation that He will not only steer me out of this season un-scarred but let me find myself on the other side wiser and better off than I was when I first met the disappointments.

Friday, March 2, 2007

What are You bringing to the Table?

By: Mia Black

In recent months the topic of relationships has continually come up in my random discussions with friends. Some friends are married, others going through divorce, and some are on the dating scene. Despite the difference in relationship types, I keep hearing the same themes over and over again, to the point that I feel compelled to explore and discuss the current state relationships between men and women as I see it and as they have been presented to me.

It is a complex subject, so I am going to take baby bites and start at step one with the dating scene, and “The Hunt for Mr. Right.” I will explore this entire subject from a black woman’s point of view and dating/marrying the black man. It is not that other races cannot relate, but the women and men that I talk to and hear about are of African-American descent.

Now back to the question at hand, what are you bringing to the table? I ask this question because I believe how you answer this question is going to determine how well you sustain that life-long commitment that you have made or will decide to make. In order to sustain a lasting relation ship you have to really know yourself and what you have to offer someone else before you gout out there trying to offer “it”.

  • Are you are the type to just show up to the table waiting for dinner to be served, you have pushed at least 90% of your relationship’s responsibility on your significant other.
  • Do you show up at least with the table setting, you are showing an honest effort, and you can raise your expectations a little?
  • Or are you waiting at the table custom place settings and five-course meal spread.

Waiting to be Served: All of us have encountered this person in our pursuit of happiness at one point or another. Men may call her a goldigger, and women may quote TLC and call him a scrub. By either name, this person offers you nothing but a head and heartache. They are needy because they have nothing to offer so they suck the living life out of you. Unfortunately the more soft-hearted person gets caught up in being needed and providing a little longer than necessary, because you can’t do anything but feel sorry for this person.

The Scrub/The Goldigger: This person has no car, no job (by choice), excessive debt, and a couch in their friend’s living room is their home or in other words, no adult responsibilities. I am by no means bashing this person because I believe there is someone out there for everyone. The problem I have is that they always leave the person serving the five-course wondering why their love and efforts have not been reciprocated.

Now I’m not a psychologist or some expert on relationships, but from my experience in dealing with this person, they really don’t take anything seriously. Because when you get to the point to where I was, (wanting to settle down and get married), investing your time on the this person became draining and expensive. Supporting someone who was not ready to become an adult yet, was not who I was looking to raise a family with.

Ready to Set the Table: Now this person may not be exactly where you are in life, but they have getting there. I think this is the person who most of us date and end up marrying. They have their life together, for the most part. By the time you realize that there are some real flaws, you have already let your guard down and are well into the relationship. But you may have also gotten to a point in the relationship that you feel comfortable with disagreeing and voicing your opinions, and begin to feel like all you do is fight. Are these just arguments or warning signs that this is not really the right person for you.

Just an Argument Vs. Warning Signs: There is such a big difference between the two. Let’s be honest, within any relationship arguments are going to occur. For instance you are dating for four months and your partner asks to borrow $300. Whoa! But let’s face it finances can mess up any relationship/marriage. And it’s happening more and more these days, opening our wallets before there’s even an engagement ring. Just an Argument: you’re upset because you are giving up $300, but the transmission in his car just went. But because you have your own car, you know car repairs never come cheap and they have the poorest financial timing. Warning Sign: He wants to go on a trip with his buddies. Hmmm…$300 for a trip you’re not even invited to. Does this make sense? Blowing your last dime on a trip for him?

The tricky part about the warning sign is that we have all at one point in our lives ignored them in the hopes for the “change”. And in the process of waiting for that miraculous change, we have wasted valuable years just to have the relationship end anyways or we end up bringing children into the mix.

The Five-Course Meal: This person is the full package, the one that we are all pretty much looking for. They have their quirks, but basically everyone in this relationship is on the same page (you have both completed your education, you are at the same level in your careers, your financial goals and savings are on point, family values are similar). But unfortunately many of us rushed, out of desperation to achieve marriage and a family by age __ (everyone’s goal is different), and haven’t waited for this person. Instead we have let the above examples in and become comfortable with our lower expectations.

Well this sums up the dating scene players. In a blog to post by the end of next week, I will go into more depth about how we need to date all of these types of people.

WAIT! Before you read the next blog do these two things for me.

1) Figure out which person you are

2) Figure out which person you date

What I know about: Feeding the Monsters

By: Jennifer Texada

Monsters like Fear, Self-doubt, Anger, and Drama come to visit me all of the time. They used to love me, because I would put a bowl of food out for them whenever they would come around. But lately they don’t come around so much anymore, if they do come around they don’t tend to stay long. I don’t feed them anymore, if I do, they don’t get much.

I call them the monsters because they can be so big and destructive. When they creep into your life you can choose to feed them, and give them energy or you can starve them until they go away. And they always go away, eventually.

Feeding the monster is giving it fuel;

Step 1, if I call something drama, no matter how little or big it is, then it becomes drama.

Step 2, I tell my friends about my drama (i.e. Ooh girl, do I am going through some drama…).

Step 3, I let them feed my drama, invite them to comment and get angry or scared right along with me. Now this little issue has become very big, and will continue to grow until it is solved or I stop feeding it.

I know how tempting it is to feed the monsters. It is natural to want to label, validate and discuss your feelings, especially the negative ones. However the key to not creating monsters lies in how and how much you label, validate and discuss them.

It is not to say my life is monster-free, but when it they show up I know I have choices. I try and put those things that challenge me into perspective. If it deserves some energy I try to give it positive energy. If I must speak on it try to talk about its solution, or minimize its importance in the grand scheme of life. If I call it small, then it tends to become small in my mind, and in turn I handle it like a small problem.

If it becomes bigger than I want it to, or I feel like it is getting away from me, I give it to God. In the face of these things I draw my strength from knowing that there is no problem to big for my God to handle. As big or bad as something may seem my God is bigger and badder.

So stop feeding the monster and start greeting the challenges. Life is too short to allow obstacles to take over…and that’s all they are, obstacles. Some may be big, some may be small, but know that God will not give you anything you can’t handle.

Next Article: What I know about: Being happy in the now

Friday, January 5, 2007

I Think: We should remember to love...ourselves

By Mia Black

The funny thing about love is that we always refer to it in reference to someone else. But we never examine it when it comes to loving ourselves. I’ve heard, “Love hurts”, “All is fair in love and whatever”, or “Love will conquer all.” But the truth that I’ve slowly become to see; is that loving me doesn’t hurt, it is fair, and love alone will not conquer all. After being in my marriage for two years and my relationship for six, I’ve recently discovered that I have lost me.

I accept full and total responsibility for the changes I have made to accommodate my relationship/marriage. Some of these changes have come because they are life changes that I wanted to make like, moving from Virginia back to Massachusetts, having two children, and getting married. I wouldn’t take back any of these decisions. They have shaped who I am, and I now know they were part of God’s plan for me.

The one regret I have is that I have chosen my marriage above my all of my own needs. I no longer exist. I have become a wife and a mother. I am either doing for my husband or I am doing for my children, but rarely do I ever do for me. The problem I am encountering is that I now want me back. I’m not saying I want to forfeit my marriage or parental duties, but I know if I’m going to be of any value to my husband and my children, my sense of individualism needs to return.

I am slowly finding myself again by seeking guidance through God. It has not been a simple process and I have slipped and fallen many a times, but to date, he has not steered me wrong. I have begun to love myself again for the first time again in about ten years.

Part of loving myself is accepting me for who I am. Accepting that I am far from perfect, and I don’t have to be. Striving to stop looking and pointing out imperfections in others and begin working on my own. Finally, letting go of trying to control the free will of other.

Rather than allowing these things to consume me, I have surrendered them all to God and allowed him to take over the steering wheel. Now, cannot say that I have not perfected this yet and sometimes I am a backseat driver, but He has placed plenty of angels in my path in the forms of my best friends to keep me on course. They remind constantly that it is a process and to pray and keep my faith, and if I do this everything that is meant to be will come to pass.

God has shown me that I have passed the test of loving others, but I now have to accomplish loving myself. The first step in this journey is to find that individual that was here before marriage and parenthood. The second and final step is to trust that God will take me where I need to go.

What I know about: Not looking back

By Jennifer Texada

On my somewhat long list of resolutions having to do with health, wealth and organization there is one that stands out

"In 2007 I will move forward and not look back"

In truly examining how I was going to do this I realized, to truly move forward without looking back I think you have to forgive yourself for your actions of the past, truly forgive the people who have caused you pain and learn to be grateful for the lessons you learned and use those lessons to direct your forward path.

The biggest obstacle to moving forward is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, and truly forgiving the people in your life that you feel have caused you pain. You can't cast blame and move forward at the same time.

If you have done something that has been of detriment to your progress, acknowledge it, pray on it, and let it go. It is over. Re-living and obsessing over it is not going to un-ring the bell. Take the lesson from it. Be grateful that in this stage of your life you have learned such a profound lesson that is SO important to your growth and… keep it moving.

The same rings true for forgiveness outside of yourself. To me, anger and grudges are like stepping in crap. Half the time you don’t even notice you have done it until it’s too late. Then you’d better wipe it clean quickly or you are going to hold on to it wherever you go, and once it gets dried up there is always a little stuck in the crevices.

People often ask, how I can remain friends with people who have treated me pretty poorly in the past. Sure, I get mad at people, but it never lasts long, I have no motivation for carrying negative energy around with me. It is heavy and it makes me feel awful. Anger is an emotion, like any emotion, it comes and passes. At the end of my anger I try to find gratitude for the lesson learned through this person or event. People move through your life for a reason. Whatever was done to you, made you stronger, or smarter, or more self- sufficient. Whatever it is you would not be the polished diamond that you are becoming if you hadn’t been squeezed by that lump of coal.

Someone once told me if you want to figure out if you have truly forgiven someone, buy him or her a gift. Not just a dollar store bauble, but really come out of your pocket and buy something that they would love. I would add onto that, give them a hug; if you have truly forgiven them you won't wince or shrug, you will embrace them with you whole body and heart. We are human, thus all flawed, and everyone makes mistakes. In my opinion, it is not my job to judge you or punish you for what you did to me or anyone else. God has got my back, and if you are not doing right he will take care of you far better than I ever could..

There are some amazing things coming my way, this year, I KNOW IT! I refuse to miss out something because I am too busy looking backwards. I resolve to find and let go of any lingering self doubt or hurt I have accumulated in the past year and truly move forward free of burden, free of fear.