Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pitiful or Powerful?

Back in the day, I used to have a beautiful head of long, thick hair and when I was in my late twenties, I began losing it. It started as just a small patch at the crown of my head that was easily covered by the rest of my hair. And then it began to progress to the point where I just needed to use one track of weave to cover the spot and then eventually needing a full head of hair weave. The process of losing my hair was very painful; from the embarrassing stares and whispers at the beauty shop when I would get my hair done to the sideways glances of other sisters trying to figure out if my hair was “real” or not.

It’s been about 10 years since I’ve begun this particular journey and I wish that I could say that I’m completely comfortable with my hair loss, but I’m not. Because I can talk about it without shame, people wrongly assume that I’m okay with it. I still feel a little twinge of discomfort when someone asks me about my lace wig. I’m still disappointed and slightly angry that I get judged by how my hair looks. After all, I am NOT my hair, as India.Arie so eloquently put it. However, this is my reality, and I have a choice to make. I heard Joyce Meyer say that, “You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you can’t be both!” That statement really resonated with me. I had to decide: Do I want to sit around and wallow in self-pity? Bemoan my situation and ask myself why? Quite honestly, the whole pity-party thing doesn’t work too well for me. My life has been a series of challenges, and sitting around whining about them has never been my forte. Instead I choose to use my adversities as tools of empowerment to myself and others. The truth of the matter is that WE ALL HAVE ISSUES in one regard or the other.

The difference between triumph and defeat is based on the choices we make. Two people can experience the exact same hardships, but their attitudes and actions determine their outcome. There is real power in taking a situation that seems completely unbearable, completely hopeless and completely un-survivable and using it as a means to encourage others. No one says that you have to have a huge platform for others to hear you. But your day-to-day choices and conversations will convey to others that you can roll with the best of them and still come out on top. So the next time you find yourself faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, ask yourself, “Do I want to be pitiful or do I want to be powerful?” Think long and hard and choose wisely, ‘cause we’re depending on you.

Last Week's Poll Results..

Last week’s poll question was: On your first weekend off in several mos., you get a frantic call from your girl, GiGi, asking you to babysit for her tonight so that she and her new boyfriend, Tre, can have a romantic night alone. What do you do? Ninety percent of you said that you would call her back and apologize for not being able to help her out and encourage her to call someone else. Now I know that your initial Superwoman Instinct may have felt a twinge of guilt for not flying to the rescue to help your girl out, but remember, you hadn’t taken time for yourself in a minute. If GiGi was really your girl, she would have been sensitive to your need to refresh yourself and found someone else to dump on. Remember that even well-intentioned people can sometimes become life-drainers. It’s important for you to set boundaries, minister to the needs of others when you can, but don’t forget to take care of you!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Growing up I loved to watch the DC Comics series. You know, they had some bad chicks in them like Wonder Woman and Super Girl. Those girls would be regular sistahs one minute and saving the world the next. Now that’s something to aspire to. Who didn’t own a pair of Super Girl Underoos and run around the house jumping off the couch exerting her super powers?

As women of color, we’re known for our strength. We’re known as being the ‘Go-To’ Women. We know how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. We can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never, ever let you forget you’re a man! We wear this badge with honor, and very well, we should. But there’s a downside to being a Superwoman. In an effort to appear as if we have it all together, we can sacrifice ourselves physically, spiritually and emotionally. Afraid to let anyone see a crack in our armor, we secretly suffer unnecessarily. We think that we will be perceived as weak if we show vulnerability. So we keep on truckin’ even though we’re struggling with addictions, low self-esteem, depression, or a “I-don’t-need-nobody,-I-got-this!” mentality. Why do we do this to ourselves? Some of it is culturally learned from our Mama’s and Big Mama’s where we were taught not to have to depend on anyone but ourselves. And some of our behaviors are adapted behaviors in an effort to insulate ourselves from hurt, rejection and disappointment. Whatever the root, the fruit is spoiling.

While our resilience is admirable, it can sometimes be a cover-up for being broken and bruised. While we sometimes appear like we always have it ‘goin' on’, we’re only fooling ourselves. Like a beautiful vase with a crack in it, eventually, the contents will seep through. Those toxic contents manifest themselves in a lot of different ways, but one of them is what I call the Superwoman Complex. That’s when we appear to be able to handle all of our drama and everyone else’s too. And when our cup approaches the full line, instead of saying, “You know, I would love to help you out, but I just can’t right now”, we heap more stuff on our plates, and begin to neglect the things that should be important to us, including ourselves. That type of behavior will put you on the fast track to destruction. Know that it’s okay to be vulnerable and transparent and take some time to take care of you. Because after you finish saving the day and running yourself in the ground, those same people you tried to rescue will just step right over you and continue doing what they want to be doing anyway, despite your efforts. So leave the superhero escapades to the media, and do yourself a favor, retire the ‘S’ and bid ado to Superwoman.

Last Week's Poll Results...

Last week’s question was: After several months of spear-heading a special project at work, you complete it and submit it to your boss. Impressed with the work, your boss goes to one of your team members and offers them the promotion you’ve been seeking. What do you do?

Sixty-three percent of you said that you would arrange a meeting with your boss, outline your list of contributions to the company and request that the promotion be given to you instead. A few of you thought that maybe you should resign and some of you even thought that maybe your contributions were not as good as you thought. It’s important to be confident in your abilities and be assertive in displaying your talents. The people that advance are those that believe in their gifts and are not ashamed to tell the world. We all know people who are not necessarily all that talented, by our standards, but somehow they seem to be successful in their ventures. I believe that part of the reasoning behind their success is their willingness to put themselves out there and be immune to failure. The only thing that shyness will get you is a back seat on the bus! So keep doing yo’ thang, girlfriend, ‘cause you deserve it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You Deserve It!

I grew up in Los Angeles. You know, the city of beautiful people? La-La Land. Hollywood. While my upbringing was less than glamorous, I was certainly close enough to the action to allow some of the “shine” to rub off on me. In my mother’s more prosperous years, she started taking me to the beauty shop to get my hair done when I was just four years old. I was too little to reach the dryer hood so I used to sit on stacks of Yellow Pages until my hair was dry. A common theme I would hear while the perm was burning my scalp was, “You gotta suffer to be beautiful!” Little did I know that those subtle influences about how I viewed beauty, fashion and even myself would govern my thoughts and actions to this day. Little did I know that even though I kept up appearances, I had a distorted image of myself in my mind that told me that I had to look a certain way in order to be accepted.

Now I love to see a sistah when she has it ‘goin’ on’. Her hair is fly, make-up is tight and, of course, her clothes are banging. I used to put a lot of stock in how a person looks and think that was the sum total of who they were. But I have learned that everything that glitters ain’t gold! That sistah could be steep in debt trying to maintain her ‘flyness’. And as I’ve had an opportunity to meet lots of women in my profession, I’ve learned some things about women, in general. I’ve learned that underneath all of the Gucci and the Prada is usually just a regular sistah who wants to be loved and accepted. And sometimes we want this to our detriment. Sometimes we compromise our values, morals and core beliefs just for that acceptance. Sometimes we settle for Ain’t-Had-No-Job-In-Two-Years-Laying-Up-On-My-Unpaid-For-Couch-Leroy just for the comfort of a warm body in our beds. Sometimes we settle for letting the Undereducated-Low-Skilled-Sister-of-the-Boss get a promotion ahead of us. Sometimes we settle for letting Nina, our girl from college, use our credit card once again to get her hair done.

I believe at the heart of why we settle for less than the best and over-extend ourselves to be accepted is because we don’t believe we deserve better. If you ask us, however, we would say that we are “confident, secure, and our way to the top”, but our actions belie us. What is it going to take for us to realize that we are fierce all by ourselves even if we don’t have the latest Coach Bag or the flyest ‘do’? Clothes, purses and make-up don’t validate you as a person; being a woman of substance and character does. So take some time to think about all the ways that you settled or compromised to gain acceptance and start making steps toward re-defining how you view yourself. ‘Cause, guess what? You deserve it!

Last Week's Poll Results...

The question was: After dating for 3 mos., thrice-divorced, Kenny says that he loves you and is ready to take your relationship to the next level. What do you do?

The overwhelming winning response, at 61%, was to tell Kenny that you’re feeling him, too, but that you’d like to take things slowly and walk through some seasons with him. Thirty-Nine percent of you chose response number 3 which was to ask him if he’s crazy and if that’s what happened with his other three wives! LOL! Nobody picked the answer of saying that you were waiting for him to come around ‘cause you’ve already been ring shopping. Hmmm...I wonder why? Will anybody fess up? LOL!

New relationships are always so exciting and it’s easy to get caught-up. When things are going well, it’s tempting to begin to (secretly) plan your future with him. But time and experience teaches us that a leopard shows his true spots after awhile. If we wait it out, we’ll find out if the prince is going to turn into a frog! Way to go, ladies! Keep holding up the standards.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Don't Be an Old Fool!

I grew up in a single-parent household and I watched my mother struggle tremendously trying to raise my brothers and me on limited resources. Things that other people took for granted like having clean clothes on a daily basis, weren’t always a luxury for me. As a result, the spirit of lack took hold of me and even as I became an adult, that spirit manifested in my life to the point where I was living hand-to-mouth on a regular basis. To look at me on the outside, you wouldn’t have known because I had become a master at disguising my struggle. When I was on my own and earning an income I got into credit trouble where I ended up with two car repo’s and credit so bad that I probably couldn’t even finance a pack of bubble gum!

Now, many years older and wiser, my credit is restored and I can probably buy just about anything I want on credit. Through my many mishaps in life I have developed a motto of, “No experience is a wasted experience”. What I mean by that is that when setbacks occur in life, whether they were based in your own ignorance or not, there is always an opportunity for growth. What having jacked-up credit has taught me, is to never intentionally get myself in a situation where I can’t rent a car if I need to, open a checking account if I need to or get the lights turned on with the power company without a having to fork out a huge deposit. I took the obstacle of having poor credit, and the consequences it brought with it, to learn and grow from it.

I’m sure there are situations that have occurred in your life that you thought you would never recover from. But you did! And although you may have been down, you don’t have to be out. View the apparent set-back as a set-up; a set-up to start a new business, a set-up for healthy, loving relationships, or a set-up for that dream house. Turn those past experiences into gold mines of wisdom-gained and don’t let it go to waste. Getting older doesn’t necessary equate to getting wiser. There’s a saying that says, “There’s no fool like an OLD fool!” Capitalize on the things that you’ve learned and, please, don’t be an old fool!

Last Week's Poll Results...

The Question was: After being turned down twice for a mortgage due to some past credit challenges, what should you do?

100% of you chose to get a second job to help pay off some bills and reapply next year, realizing that faith without works is dead. One of the other options was to call your cousin Ray-Ray because he had a friend that could give you the ‘hook-up’. It may be tempting sometimes to take short-cuts because it seems other people are cutting corners and are doing just fine. But everything that glitters ain’t gold! You may not know what’s really going on behind the Jones’ closed doors. And the final option was to just give up. Well, we all know that giving up is not an option. Delay is not necessarily a denial. The best option was, of course, getting your affairs in order and re-applying. We can’t be daunted by what appears to be a rejection. It’s really more of an opportunity to be set up to be blessed in a mind-blowing way. Good job, sistahs!