The Balancing Act

I actually had begun writing this about 3 months ago and never got around to finishing it.  It was then part of what I desired for my next relationship.  Now it is what I actually have.

Women are sometimes neurotic.  I am no exception.  When I was younger, at times my emotions blurred reality.  I would go off. I would assume.  I would presume.  While this is not the norm now, I would be lying if I didn’t admit irrationality sometimes creeps into an otherwise sane existence.  That in mind, it takes a very special, patient, and vocal man to handle me.   Did I mention patient??
As I reflect on my past relationships, the men all had one thing in common- they balanced me. Nowadays, I’m a lot calmer and emotionally consistent.  I am still silly.  Very silly.  A fool yet laid back.  So they were as silly or sillier.  Well, that is not a balance for most, but it is a balance for me.  Sometimes, I feel like being the life of the party, and other times I seek refuge in a cave with a good book and strawberry lemonade.  They were cool with going out as much as staying in the house. Whereas my frustrations are usually goal related- where I am versus where I want to be.  They would brainstorm solutions.  I am super forgetful.  They always remember.
If relationships are supposed to be an (better) extension of who you are, I find myself questioning what I bring to the table.  What do I enhance?  What truly separates me from the crowd?  I am a modern traditionalist.  I love to cook.  I can’t stand filthy environments so I am compelled to clean.  Yet, I am educated, opinionated, and vocal.  While I have my own, I am very dependent.  It is a whole team of beautiful people that at one point or another help keep me afloat just when I feel like I am sinking.  I make no claims of being every woman.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I lacked that I was finally afforded the opportunity to build upon what I do have.  No one has it all together.  We all lack pieces of the puzzle. It is with that realization that it dawned on me that I balance him too.

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No Record of Wrong

I love wedding shows and I love weddings, when I am not watching Around the Horn, of course! One of my favorite shows is Platinum Weddings which showcases these elaborate affairs where every detail is taken into consideration. I had the privilege to attend one of these affairs this weekend. To say I was in awe is an understatement. But despite all of the décor and details the thing that resonated with me the most was “love keeps no record of wrong doing.” It is a verse from of a very familiar passage, I Corinthians 13, that is often cited at weddings but it wasn’t until this weekend that this particular verse struck a chord with me.
In relationships it is easy to keep a running tally of how one has wronged the other.  It is a mental scoreboard, if you will, except the game never ends and the tally is never reset before the relationship dissolves. It is super easy to bring up past incidences without thought in an effort to prove a point or hurt the other. But for most of us, at some point, the tally runs too high and we feel the need to leave. It is just in those relationships and friendships that we intend to last a lifetime that the scoreboard must be reset daily.
But how do you ignore instinct, or the need to be right, and to prove points?  I suppose this true love, the one that holds no records of wrong, focuses more on what is lost, hurt, and damaged in the attempt to be right rather than the need to be right. Reasonably, there are times when the ties need to be cut but that is after the love has expired and love is no longer given or reciprocated. Those times, no one is acting in love. But for those that are looking for the lifelong love, the past errors have to remain there and the decision to love has to be renewed daily.

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Death of the Love Letter

Earlier this year as I was packing in preparation for my move back to D.C., I came across a photo box.  A feeling of nostalgia arose, and I decided to go through the old photos.  Then of course, one box leads to the next until I came across a box full of folded pieces of paper.  Letters.  Love letters. Hours went by as laid on the floor reading each one, reminiscing, laughing and daydreaming.  It was a good day.
I don’t remember the last time I received a love letter in its purest form- pen and paper.  I just know somewhere along the way, pen and paper where replaced with frequent “love emails” to my old hotmail account.  By the time gmail came along, these love emails became more and more scarce.  Then there was myspace and facebook with wall messages that made the once private exchanges, public.  But I believe the final blow to the antiquated love letter was when phone companies finally created unlimited text plans.  For an additional low price, you have the option to text as much as you like in 160 characters intervals.  160 characters-that is all spaces and punctuation included.  The letters I came across were pages, some were essays explaining the hows and whys of their love.  They gave examples of how they have showed their affection and proposed new ideas to woo me in the future.  You can’t woo in 160 characters.  So when I get these 160 character love texts, I am underwhelmed and under-wooed.
Maybe I will run across a renaissance man that owns college-ruled notebook paper and a bic pen that is not afraid to venture into the world before laptops and ipads, before blackberries and iphones, and simply write.  So maybe, 15 years later when I am cleaning up, I will run across his letters and waste the afternoon away reading them and reminiscing about our time shared.  And just maybe, we will still be creating new memories for future letters.

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In Preparation for Her: The Wedding Edition

Brides are to expected to be the picture perfect Barbie... at least for the first month or two.

August is here and we are in the midst of wedding season.  Beautiful brides-to-be, in preparation for the big day, are constantly being offered unsolicited advice on how to perform their wifely duties.  They need to be good cooks, good housekeepers, the best lovers on earth, so on and so forth.  In essence, brides have the pressure to be perfect.  So I found it only appropriate when my friend whose wedding date is quickly approaching posed the question, “What does her fiancé need to do to prepare to be a good husband [to her]?”
Grooms seemingly are only posed two questions: “Are you ready for the big day?” and “Are you sure you are ready?”  There typically is not an onslaught of must-dos for the groom-to-be.  Additionally, there is not an abundance of black husbands and fathers to serve as role models.   And sadly, since the finale of The Cosby Show the portraits of black man as a husband, father, and businessman are scarce.  As usual I took matters into my own hand and created a small council of married people- two wives, two men, none of which were married to each other.  Per these conversations, I devised a list of things a man must do in preparation to be a good husband to his wife.  It’s only right.

Yea, we need more images like this flooding the networks.

1) Lead by serving: The title of husband comes with a ton of responsibility.  Now in addition to take care of yourself, you take on a family.  Your personal needs sometimes take a backseat to the needs of the family.  So while women are told to cater to their man, sometimes a man will have to cater to the needs of his wife and family.  A great husband understands that by doing what is necessary to keep his wife happy, she will innately go above and beyond for their husbands. By serving her, you give her the morale boost needed to keep going.  It is also a symbol of appreciation for all she does on behalf of the family.

2) I ain’t yo momma: Apparently men are prone to thinking their wife is supposed to be a replica of their mother.  However, the wives expect the men to fully weaned before entering a marriage. T hat means don’t run to your mother after every argument.  Don’t expect your wife to clean up after you daily.  In other words, don’t make your mother a THIRD person in a two person union.  It also means that you will have to use your words to communicate your thoughts, wants and needs and not pout like a child so the wife have to play the guessing game.
3) Be Married before you married. According to both men, you need to already be in full husband mode before you even make it official.  Neither women nor men should expect a dramatic change overnight.   And we all know practice makes perfect.
4) Patience. Seems obvious, right?  However this is not so much in the dealing with nagging or arguments sense as it is to learn that everything will not come instantly.  It is kind of like when you were single, and you wanted to go to get something to eat.  It only took a few minutes to get dressed, leave the house, grab some food and get back.  But whenever you add another person in the equation the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B usually increases.  The time triples when children are involved.  In the marriage, things that were once simple are now a process and it takes patience to handle those old challenges as well as tackle the new challenges.   However, this time it is different, now you have a wife dedicated to helping you tackle these challenges together. And well, that is the blessing of marriage.

*shout out the council*

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The Struggle

It is around this time in my life that people are moving out of the post-college transition and are making headway in their respective fields.  Most are happy that success is in within grasp and relieved that the struggle is over.  Others had no struggle at all and success has always been a given as they have sailed through life this far with no major setbacks.  But there are some lessons in life only the struggle can teach.
I’ve always said I never wanted to be with a man that has never known what being broke feels like.  There are serious life coping skills that come having only a dollar to your name.  Here are the lessons I think the struggle teaches:
1)      To be compassionate.  If you have always had everything you needed, it is hard for you to be compassionate toward those that need a helping hand.  These people tend to think the system is fair and their taxes shouldn’t go to help others and thus become Republicans.  However, it is the man that picks up an extra sandwich for the homeless man outside that wins my heart.
2)      Lose that sense of entitlement. After a while of good things coming your way, it is hard not to feel like success is a given.  However, good things require hard work and even then our efforts can be futile.  In the struggle, you find there are no shortcuts to long-term success.  And in every set back, there are the valuable lessons of how to be more effective and more efficient in pursuit of greatness.
3)      Learn how to make do. This one is most important to me in a man because everything may not always be in abundance and I need for you to be able to make do.  Every night there might not be shrimp and steaks, some nights there may only be an 8-piece and fries and I need you to be okay with that and not flip out.  I’ve seen one too many recession stories of a man taking his whole family out before killing himself after he lost his job.  I don’t have time to be dying because you can’t handle the idea of moving back to the hood.
4)      Find a way to have a good time anyway. Speaking of the hood, everyone knows the hood has the best parties, hands down.  There are no fancy dresses or tuxes, no champagne with chocolate fondue fountains, and no live ensembles.  All you need to have a good time is some music, some red Solo cups, and a few friends that can appreciate a good time without the bougieness.

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Love for the Game

Is it too early to talk football??

With the ESPY’s airing last night, I can’t help but reflect on my love for sports, football, and the Cowboys (in reverse order).  As a woman, sometimes girly and other times grungy, I often find myself defending my knowledge of the game, players, and organizations.  While I consider those questions fair game, I am always disheartened when my love for sports is reduced to a guise to hang out with or get men.  Actually, it disgusts me.  The men I’ve dated have never liked me because I liked sports- most men are more concerned with looks, personality, and intelligence- all of which I have an abundance of.  Contrarily, my love for sports can be traced back to one man- my father or Daddy, as I call him.  When I was little, I would follow my daddy everywhere.  Wherever he was, is exactly where I wanted to be.  You might say a true Daddy’s girl, but actually more like a Father’s son.  My daddy treated me the only way he knew how and didn’t subject me to gender roles of what I should or shouldn’t do.   So just like he taught me about cars, how to build and fix things, and wash cars, he also taught me how to cook and iron clothes.  My point is that he spent quality time teaching me the things he knew and love- one of which was sports.  And I learned it just like I learned all the other things.
My love for the Cowboys, I guess can be moreover traced back to my family.  We are a beautifully animated, super passionate group of people.  So every Thanksgiving, the men would make their way from the dinner table to den with the television to watch the Cowboys game.  But by halftime the whole family (men, women, and children alike) was in the den cheering, yelling, and coaching our team to victory!
From there, I suppose my love for sports has spilled over into my relationships, as I typically fall for fellow sports fanatics.  In my relationships, I have been exposed to and learned to appreciate every sport covered by ESPN (except race car driving, I still hate it).  But that is just pure coincidence, or is it?  Maybe it is me that innately go for guys who share my love for the game.  I would much rather accept that as truth rather than the former accusation that it is just a ploy to bait men.  As far as I am concerned, men could be using sports to bait women like myself!

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My Letter to the Quiet Guy

I have always had a thing, a serious thing, for the cute, quiet guys. You see most of my close friends have strong, dominant personalities.  We tend to run the show, start the parties, and are very used to being the center of attention.  So I find it extremely refreshing and even more intriguing to see you relaxing in the back simply taking it all in.
When I was younger, I believed I enjoyed chase and catch of the quiet guys as opposed the ones in my face.  But in my experiences with those quiet guys, I was surprised to learn that not only are they not pushovers but are very opinionated, well-spoken, and well read.  And well, I am intellectual groupie. Additionally, there is nothing more alluring that quiet confidence.  You require no fanfare to draw me in and gain my undivided attention.
Now, I am no longer thrilled by the hunt and much more at ease with being actively pursued.  But you, the quiet guy, still present a challenge when it comes to placing interest.  How do I let you know?  You are so careful and deliberate in your actions not willing to jump to conclusions or misstep your boundaries so my subtle hints of “I think you are awesome” have seemed to go unnoticed for far too long.
I have learned patience and now value and embrace that time before the first hellos to the first dates to the first kisses.  The quiet guys before you taught me how to make sure those moments linger for as long as possible. Haste, rash decisions are no longer my friend. And now I appreciate you for taking your time to get to know more about me and to respect me.  And when you are ready, no, sure that I am all that I say I am then I am sure you will make your move.  Until then, I will watch you sit quietly in the back, watching me as I can’t help but watch you.

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Painting a Perfect Picture: The Art of Dating

It seems dating is a lost art.  Once upon a time, a man had to woo and court a woman to get her allegiance.  Men took pride in going all out to win the heart of a woman.  Nowadays, dates have been reduced to movie night at each other’s house.  Or if you are lucky, you will get dinner at Cheddar’s or some other generic low-end restaurant chain.
I personally don’t date or attract the men that think this is acceptable, but that is a post for another day.  Nevertheless, I am not sure if the problem is more of the men not knowing how it should be done or the women that are easily amused and impressed.  Either way, here are some examples of dates done right because some of you don’t have a clue.
Best date– Actually it was our very first date and he set quite the standard.  While living in Dallas, I had a habit of frequenting Houston, to get away from the boredom of Dallas’ social scene.  So when he asked if I could make it down one particular Friday, I was down.  I sneaked out of work early to beat some of the traffic, made it to Houston, and begin to get dressed.   I had no idea what the night had in store, so I decided dressy casual was the way to go. So when he picked me up (that’s right, he needs to pick you up, not you drive, and not you meet him there.  I don’t care how high gas is or how out of the way it may be,) he was very relaxed and laid back and set that set the tone for the entire night… so I thought.  The first stop was a very quaint and intimate Thai restaurant.  I asked him how he knew I loved Thai food.  He said I mentioned it once.  So I decided my entrée and told him.  When the waiter came, he ordered for us. So we began to talk and the chemistry was just crazy.  The food was superb.  We sat there for a while just enjoying each other’s conversation.   Then he asked if I was up for some live music, and I reply yes, of course.  I thought we were headed to a nice jazz spot or something along those lines, but we made our way to a bigger venue.  I immediately see signs for Jazmine Sullivan and I was like oh okay, this will be cool.   But as we make our way to our floor seats, she is already performing so I am thinking we were late, though it was no big deal because of the great conversation.   She finishes and everyone around us is getting excited about the next act, but no one is saying the name of the artist.  It was a crazy conspiracy.  Imagine my face when the music begins to play for “‘Til the Cops Come Knockin’,” Maxwell’s first single.  Yeah, he said it was priceless too.  You see, I LOVE surprises and this was just beyond amazing.  Later, after I had composed myself, I asked how he knew I loved Maxwell, and he replied I had mentioned once on a facebook status.  His attention to detail was leaps and bounds more than what I had expected for our first date.  So after the Maxwell concert, yes there is more, he took me to a little hole in a wall place that had the best root beer floats.  And we continued to talk, although honestly by this point I was flabbergasted and very short on complete thoughts. When we eventually made our way back to where I was staying, and he got out of the car and walked me to my entrance.   We exchanged a sweet and simple kiss and he went home.  There was no mentioning of sex, no trying to stay, or anything to ruin the innocence of this perfect date.  He was the perfect gentleman. Yeah, I may need to go ahead and marry him.
Anyway, I know you are probably thinking it is easy to be romantic with lots of money so I will give you a quick example of the best free date I have ever had.  It was my freshman year in college when no one had any money or a car.  Despite this, the gentleman still came to my dorm to get me so we could walk to the metro (DC train and bus system) together.  We ended up near the Lincoln Memorial and we begin to walk and talk.  As we went along the way, he would give me some history about some of the landmarks.  I asked him how he knew the information and he said he looked it up the day before. I told him I had done a few of the city tours before with my family.  He said he had figured that, but asked if I had ever seen the national mall at night?  I looked around and noticed the sun was indeed setting.  We continued to talk and walk until we made it to the US Capitol building.  He was right.  It was breathtaking at night.  His thoughtfulness and that view was the perfect gift.
What were some of your best dates?  What is the greatest thing a man has done to win you?

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Girl I Don’t Want Your Man: The Sisterhood Files, Part 1

Black women are often stigmatized with not being able to get along with each other.  In media, black women are often portrayed as aggressive, conniving, and manipulative- typically over a man.   Like most things, the overly perpetuated ideas streamed through media eventually will begin to hold some varying truth.
It didn’t used to always be this way.   Black women used belong to many social groups and circles compromised of only women that confided in one another.  They laughed together and loved one another.  Of course, they also gossiped, but would also give of themselves if the same person was in need.  Black women made a point to stick together because they understood then the power in their numbers.  They knew together they could bring about change in their communities, schools, and churches.  A few dared to even change the world.
But now you meet women who are constantly bragging that they don’t have any female friends.  According to these women, they prefer to hang with men to avoid the headache of friendships with women.  These headaches are usually associated with the aggressive, conniving, and manipulative behavior typically associated around some prized man.  In essence, the scarcity of the black men has diluted black sisterhood.  However, it should be seen as a weakness if a woman cannot maintain a healthy friendship with other women that are experiencing similar challenges and victories as their own.
Sans the fight for the prized man, it is really easy to enjoy the benefits that come with great female friends.  This sisterhood knows how to pick up the slack without words being exchanged- they simply understand.  These black women, instead of telling you, will automatically fix a loose a strap, or pull back stray strands of hair, or pick a piece of lent off your shirt to make sure you are looking your best.  These friendships are with the most resourceful people you’d ever know to ensure you successfully complete any project, to make sure you never overpay for any product or service, and to hold you accountable to your goals, dreams, and standards.  This sisterhood wants all included to not only look their best but be their best because they understand the power in their bond when everyone is one accord.  So this circle of black female friends took a vow to never fight over a man, they have bigger goals- they have a world to change.

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To the Black Men That Love Black Women

I know we live in a supposedly post-racial society.  Yeah… no, I don’t believe that.  I do believe that most relationship issues transcend race and ethnicity.  But there is something to be said about black men that still love black women.
Of course, there is a lot to love.  There are the natural curves that create a flawless silhouette, the wide range of beautiful browns, the full lips & full hips.  Yes, any man can appreciate that from afar.  But it takes a special black man to handle the intricacies that come with loving a black woman.
Black women, to say the least, are opinionated.  Well, all women are opinionated.  However, black women are just a tad more vocal with their opinions.  We speak our opinions just a smidge louder than others.  We often upgrade our opinions to full fledged facts.  We are valiant defenders of our facts, I mean opinions.  We own our opinions/facts until the death; not our death of course, but whoever’s death that doesn’t agree with our opinion (figuratively speaking, of course).
Black women are beautifully animated.  Yes we could just tell you how we feel in a very stoic, docile manner.  We could.  However, we feel like you will get our point a lot better if we point our fingers, roll our necks, and wave our hands in the air.  Black women are natural pantomimists, except we add words.  We can tell any story to our friends and make them feel like they were there when it happened.  It is a gift.  Unless, we are arguing, then maybe it is a curse.  Yes we do curse, I’m assuming more than others, but only for emphasis and sometimes alliteration like an orator.  Black women are orators.
Black women are honest.  Our sharp tongue cuts the fat and goes straight to the point.  There is never a question of where you stand with a black woman- she likes you or she doesn’t.  There is little gray area.  Don’t ask black women any questions if you are not prepared to handle the candid truth.  We are also psychic, often delivering our input prior to you asking.  We are helpful like that knowing you would need it at some point.
Black women love hard.  We love our men, our children, and our various affiliations.  We love so hard as to ensure the intended receiver feels it…even if we are not there.  We give endlessly, selflessly to make sure those we love are taken care of to the best of our ability.  Our love, so strong, creates a bridge between our abilities and our needs.  We take on the needs of the ones we love as our own.  Then we take nothing, add our love, to create more than enough, not for ourselves but for them- our loves.
Black women are loyal.  We cheer the loudest.  We go all out to make sure we properly represent what we are a part of.  This is just to ensure everyone knows what we support because we realize that plays a role in who we are.  We are so loyal we automatically expect loyalty.  It seems like a rational philosophy.  We are loyal to you, so be loyal to us.  Maybe that is our sole flaw.  So we corrected it to maintain our perfection.
Black women hold down black men that love black women down like no other.  To the beautiful black men that understand and accept all of this is our saving grace because he understands that black women will infinitely be part of who he is.

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