Build-A-Man: The Women’s Molding Complex

One of my favorite stores is Build-A-Bear.  Most of you are familiar with the concept and layout of the store.  You enter this bear factory and pick a bear color, size, and appearance.  You go to the next section and to stuff the bear and stitch up the bear.  Then you get to dress the bear how you like according to  your tastes.  And finally, you get to name the bear and he is yours and has to do what you say and go where you go…  This is how most women approach relationships.
Any man who loves me has to love me as is.  It is a sentiment I share along with many other women I know.  I am not changing.  I am not lowering my standards.  I am not compromising my integrity.  I am not going to be somebody I am not.  I am not going to try to fit someone’s expectations of me.  I will at all costs stay true to myself.  The person I have grown into and have enjoyed being for the last 28 years is the person anybody I enter a relationship will have to love.
Then we enter these relationships with what could be the most perfect of men – these poor, unsuspecting men.  We find one flaw, maybe two or three.  I suppose the right thing to do would be to love them as is.  Accept their flaws in the same manner they accept ours.  That would be noble.  Instead, we become magnifying glasses to these one, two, or three flaws pointing them out every time without fail.  Some of us actually have the audacity to ask them to change to adjust to our standards or expectations.  But we love them so we want them to be better- the better that is defined by us, the women, of course.
Dare a man ask us to change or to improve without the unforgiving wrath of a woman coming down upon him?  How preposterous is the notion for a man to inflict his standards upon us.  Or what if he became the magnifying glass to our shortcomings until self-consciousness and insecurity seeped in to a once secure place.  I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be loved conditionally- only if you do this or do that, then and only then- yeah of course, I love you.

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The Something Behind the Nothing

Allow me to set the scene…

Lady enters room obviously aggravated.  Her man asks, “What’s wrong, baby?”
She replies, “Nothing.”
He follows up with “Are you sure?”
She reaffirms by saying, “Yeah.”
Then she proceeds to slam doors, breathe heavily, and mumble under her breath in between shooting evil glances in her man’s direction.   But, she said nothing is wrong.  Well, something is clearly wrong.
After a lively conversation this weekend with some friends about relationships, we’ve concluded that this scenario happens frequently.  To men, it seems like a childish guessing game.  And well, the women agreed it was a guessing game but one in which the answer has been told at some prior time.
For instance, you politely ask your man to take out the trash whenever he gets a chance.  You have been out running around all day and return home. Your man is in the same place you left him and so is the trash.  Now you are pissed the house smells like trash, so you are slamming doors to take the trash out.  You walk back in and now nothing is wrong because you have done what you asked him to do.  But you are upset you had to do it.  Of course, this is just an example and the gravity of the situation varies.
I suppose it could be easier to answer whatever it was the first time versus replying “nothing.”  However, I believe the method behind the madness is to make it an ordeal so complete and undivided attention is given to the issue.  Often a woman’s rational, indoor voices falls on deaf ears.  So the next time, we take the more theatrical approach.
“Nothing” is always something, you just have to figure out what something that is.

Get Tested. Be Informed. Know Your Status.

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Dating the Complete Opposite

Everyone makes lists.  You have grocery lists, to-do lists, and your ideal partner list.  Once upon a time, I was completely opposed to the latter.  I felt a list constricted your ability to meet great people and ultimately who God has for you.  However, the problem was never the concept of the list but the lists I heard often lacked substance and were very superficial.  I am still very much opposed to those lists.  There are lists that can serve as guidelines for what you really want in your next relationship.  Even the posts over the span of this blog have served as a list of traits needed in a man and things I never wanted to repeat from past relationships.
Before, I suppose I had a mental list, but like most women dated the complete opposite.  The traits that are concrete in theory are actually waived, if not completely ignored, in practice.  So when I see comments like women truly don’t know what they want or women say one thing, yet date the complete opposite—maybe there is some validity in those statements.
But the truth of the matter is men do the exact same thing.  They have these lists for the ideal wife. She has to meet whatever requirements, yet consistently wife up less than chicks.  Of course, it doesn’t work out and they blame the women for falling short when they never should be allowed to play in the first place.
So today, I am simply promoting writing lists.  Write it out old school style with a pen and paper.  Try to be your least superficial self.  Keep it short and meaningful.  Trust what you have learned thus far in life.  And this time try something different, save yourself a headache and heartbreak, and actually stick to the list.

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Keeping Her Happy

Recently a friend tweeted, “You can never make a woman happy.”  Of course, all the men chimed in and retweeted this statement affirming its validity that is indeed impossible for a man to make a woman happy.
Of course, this is not true.  It is rather easy to make a woman happy.  Her favorite candy, a sweet mid-day text, or a big, long hug are all easy, reasonable ways to make women happy.  In essence, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way with women.  I think we can all agree on this.
KEEPING her happy—well that is entirely different story.  Women have very short memories and convenient amnesia, so whatever a man did last week has already been forgotten.  It is not because it wasn’t sweet, thoughtful, or whatever sacrifice wasn’t appreciated either.  However, the process of keeping a woman happy is literally a never-ending process.
Usually when you think of long, never-ending processes, you associate the task as hard and tedious.  However, as stated before, it is easy.  A man just has to keep doing it.  Men have a tendency to begin a relationship by going all out.  He opens all doors, plans nice dates, calls and texts often, and is willing to do whatever is needed to secure his position in your life.  Two months into the relationship all of the wooing is gone.  Where does the woo go?? A woman who has become accustomed to certain behaviors from a man expects that treatment to always be the case.  In addition to the things a man does initially, as the relationship progresses, the expectations of what a man should contribute to her life grow as well.
Initially it can seem like a lot, but a relationship should be treated as any other living creature.  You have to feed it, tend to it, trim it and make sure it has a nurturing environment in which both the individuals and the couple collectively can grow.  You can’t expect a plant to continue to live if its owner expects the water it gave it last month to be sufficient for this month. Whenever that person decides to go back and check on that plant, it will be dead.  Relationships are the same way.  Both men and women must check in, but it seems to come more naturally for women.  By time a man realizes he needs to check in, it may be too late.
The key to keeping a woman happy is simply for a man to be consistent in his care.  If she is happy, then she will go through great lengths to keep her man happy.

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A Lemonade Toast to the Good Life

About 5 or 6 months ago, I decided to take a drinking hiatus…for a month…during the summer…while living in D.C.   It was quite a challenge because there was always something going on- a friend’s birthday, concert, a house party, or it was just a long Tuesday.  For anyone that lives in a major city with a predominately 20 to 30-something population knows that going out and alcohol typically goes hand and hand.  But I was determined to get through this hiatus to make sure I never got to the point where I felt like I needed to drink to have fun.
While I know heavy alcohol consumption in your twenties is nothing new, it seems my generation has decided to take it a step further.  We want to be the most drunk, go through the most bottles, have the biggest hangover.   Where before there was a stigma associated with the people that always got wasted every time they went out, now it seems to be fashionable.  Yes, getting wasted is trendy.  It is almost laughable, but then you realize how sad it is.
So, the hiatus was for me to go against the trend and tune back in to me- sober.  After the first week, I realized I enjoyed the sober me way better.  I used to only drink occasionally prior to working for a company in D.C whose employees were mostly in their twenties.  Then I started going out after work with my white co-workers (whom I love). Yeah, it was pretty much downhill from there.  They give you something like try this.  You do, you live, and so you go harder next time.   Tolerance is an exercise, and well, I was in shape.  Then life took its course and I ended up back in Dallas and no longer felt the need to drink often.  I was back to having a drink on a rare occasion.  I still went out all of the time.  However, though I was still hanging with the same age bracket, alcohol was no longer the prominent trend but rather a backdrop to the social scene.  I experienced no pressure to drink or received crazy looks, if I said I was just going to have lemonade tonight.
Then I moved back to D.C where again the social environment damn near demands a few cocktails on any given day.  And I found myself drinking just because it was available.  Pointless drinking.  I was not drunk all the time because I still have a high tolerance, but just back drinking again because it is trendy.  It was after my hiatus that I realized how productive and more focused I was sans liquor.  My Saturday mornings were filled with breakfast and great ideas with enough energy to implement them.  My life began to take slow turns for the better.  By day 30, it dawned on me that my life is great.  I have no sorrows to drown like the generation before me drunks did.  And while I am by no means giving up alcohol altogether, I am just completely over the excessive drinking just cause.   There is so much life to offer and this is my prime.  I don’t want my best years to be a blur especially when life is this good!

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Rather Hear It From a Man?

I’ve heard several times over the years that women shouldn’t seek relationship advice from other women.  Others have gone as far to say it doesn’t matter if the woman is single, in a relationship, or married that all relationship advice for women should come from a man.  Well, of course that has never sat well with me.
Before I completely dismiss the ridiculous notion of the statement, I will say it is possible for a woman to give another woman bad advice, of course.  It is also possible for a man to give a woman piss poor bad advice as well.  I believe the claim is based on an assumption that all single women are bitter and women in a relationship don’t want you to be happy either, which to say at the least, is erroneous.  Not all single women are unhappy or bitter.  Women in general typically seek advice from someone they trust and someone that genuinely has their best interest at heart.  When my friends are in healthy, loving relationships, I have always been super excited for them.  Their relationships serve as an example that true, real love is possible and plausible.  It helps give me a realistic sense of how long-term relationships work.
When I worked for an organization last year in Dallas, I had the privilege of befriending two slightly older ladies- both black and both married.  I am most grateful for those friendships because these ladies were soooooo open and honest about the inner workings on maintaining a happy work/life balance.  The love and commitment they had for their men was abundantly clear, however, it was also clear that commitment is work, hard work.  Love is easy.  Lauryn Hill once commented about how when you go to Disneyworld, all you see is the beauty, but they took her behind the scenes and had a chance to see the real laborers and the machines and the grime and grit it takes to make everything work.  I feel that is what these ladies did for me- take me behind the scenes.  What it taught me was that I had a long way to go before I was really ready to be in a lasting and fruitful relationship.  There were still lessons I need to learn, pride I needed to let go, and still personal goals I needed to achieve on my own before I dare even think about bringing another person into the equation.  Out of those real conversations, I decided to write and document my journey for myself in the effort to make sure my lessons are retained and that just maybe I can provide a short cut for someone that has been in similar situations because I definitely took the long way!
All of that to say, genuine people give genuine advice- man or woman.  And truly only women can understand the complexities and intertwining that come with being a woman- irrational moments, love, lust, wants that contradict needs, and just trying to hold it all together.  As a woman, I try to find the balance between my emotions and plain ol’ common sense.  Most times, I can make them intersect.  Other times, I need to call a friend- a woman, who has been there, and not afraid to open up the back entrance to show me the behind the scenes view of the how to make this thing work.

I found the link I referenced!

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Putting a Cap On It

I wasn’t going to make this a personal post, but ahh well.  Let’s go.

I have a bad habit of throwing up things up in men’s face, specifically the men in which I enter long term relationships.  I know I am not the only one, which is the only solace I find in being this open.  I’ve always understood that people are not perfect therefore anytime you engage with people- imperfection will occur.  It is on this premise that I find it easy to forgive people that fall short of my expectation.  It is comes easy for everyone except those I love the most.  It is near impossible for those whom I have a complete emotional investment.
Forgiveness requires three things:  understanding, a willing heart, and the ability to forget.  The first two are no problem for me.  I have both an open mind and an open heart, it is the forgetting parts that gets me.  I believe the “forget” part of forgiveness often is taken out of context because I don’t believe it means a complete erasure of an event from memory.  Our memory serves to protect us from our past so some things need to be remembered and reflected upon so you are aware when you might need to leave a toxic and unfruitful situation.  However, I believe in relationships, to forget is simply to not hold on to it to pull out and throw out whenever deemed necessary or convenient, ESPECIALLY after the situation has been addressed and been reconciled by both parties.
I believe the reason for my lack of forgetting, in part, is that maybe the reconciliation wasn’t as mutual as I thought initially.  Some wounds take more time to heal.  In rather than being an adult and using my words to say “xyz is still bothering me.”  I calculatedly wait for the most opportune to throw out the issue in the person’s face.  They can’t see it coming that way.  Defenses go up.  Emotions run high.  It is really not productive or beneficial.  It ultimately closes the door of honest and open communication because it negates the safe zone that should be the foundation of a healthy relationship.  The safe zone is the place where you can be yourself, honest, open about anything trusting that the other person will keep those words, feelings, and actions protected.
So in effort to grow and be better than I am, I will follow Kevin Hart’s advice and put a cap on it. I will use my words to communicate how I feel instead of using them to declare war.  I will remember that love, real love, has no leverage against each other.

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To My Exes’ Currents

 

 

If women had their way, these would be sold in stores to permanently remove exes from their boyfriend's database.

 

To My Exes’ Currents,

Most women whether they are over their ex or not have innate animosity to whoever replaces her in his life.  It seems the natural response to the new woman in an ex’s life is dissent.  The dissent can be constant whether the ex dumped her boyfriend, she got dumped, or the breakup was mutual.
It is out of this opposition that most “new” women seek to prevent any future arguments by requesting that all of the old flames be completely removed from the picture regardless of their current status.  This preventative measure is usually standard to include removing of pictures, phone numbers, and the elimination of all communication without exception.  For the new woman, it is the equivalent of having a magic eraser to erase prior women from his memory and database.  I have been on both sides of this erasure that is deep seated in insecurity and lack of trust.  Of course, there are cases where unhealthy and disrespectful ties should be severed.  However, the man, out of respect for you and what you both have, should take the initiative to evaluate and respond accordingly.  Honestly, if you can’t trust him to handle that much then is there really a point to move forward???
It is out of this sentiment that I decided the current women in exes’ lives deserved a shout out.  As I’ve stated before, I am cool, if not good friends, with the majority of my exes.  As friends, we talk, joke, and support each other’s various endeavors.  These friendships over time have become indispensable parts of my life.  However, if their current ladies had decided to enforce the erasure of all exes, such friendships would not be possible.   So today, I thank them for giving the previous women in their man’s lives a fair trial.  Even beyond a fair trial, these women gave time for the adjustment of interactions to take place.  What a thought? Beautifully secure black women.  I believe they deserve an applause.  Thank you for allowing my friendships to stay intact and thanks for setting a new standard.

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Laughing Til the Tears Came

Yay!! It has been a year since I started this blog and well I can say is THANK YOU!!!

Well, I am back from vacay after spending time with my family and friends.  I was running on empty, but now I feel completely rejuvenated and ready to conquer these next hurdles to successfully close out 2010.  A little time away from the rigorous routine and good people will always feed the soul.
It is funny, I may have missed some of the moments if I wasn’t told the first day I was home visiting with my family to “put that phone down.”  In D.C. my blackberry lives within the security and comfort of my hands and I am often tweeting my experiences as they happen like most of my peers.  It is also how my friends from anywhere in the world connect instantly and interactively with other mutual friends.  It is genius.
However, back in the Deep South, prolonged phone use in the presence of others is still, even in 2010, considered rude.  At first, I was prepared to defend my stance on how the world is now a hybrid.  I have been well trained to multitask between my present reality and my virtual networks.  But I knew my case would fall on deaf ears and instead took a moment to understand their point of view.  Reluctantly, I placed my phone in my purse which is where it would remain for the majority of the trip.
While my phone was somewhere in the bottom of my purse, I had time to really enjoy the people I came to spend time with in the first place.  I was able to take in entire conversations and laugh hard without having to pause my outbursts to inform my virtual network so they could laugh too.  Usually, I would miss the next moment in my reality to respond the virtual reactions to my initial post about my reality.  Then I have to ask what I missed in my reality while I was interacting virtually, and it is never as funny as hearing it in real time.  I had forgot that laughing so hard and thoroughly bring tears to your eyes and eventually make your stomach ache…and your eyes sparkle and smile brighter.
So that is what I did.  I took it all in and lived in the moment in the presence of those who I was physically around.  And believe it or not, the world did not end.  I know, it’s crazy.

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The Grind

It is impossible to go a day in the life of social networking without seeing a status or tweet referring to the grind.  It seems that everybody is on some sort of grind.  I would dare to say that most of the grind is really 95% in their heads and the rest can actually be accredited to some actual physical progression.  Whether the grind is real or fictional, I am tired of hearing about it.  I would much rather you show us- your results, that is.
I am fortunate enough to be surrounded around a vast array of people making a significant impact in their respective careers and communities.  Regardless if I know them personally or merely an acquaintance, I can constantly find inspiration on my news feeds and timelines.  However, the inspiration is not a status per se but rather newspaper articles, video footage, and links displaying the success in their fields.  That moves me.  It motivates to press forward.
Beyond the personal success stories, it is the success of those whose life’s work is dedicated to serving others that sets the standard in life goals.  Success that makes an impact on our communities is what I use to gauge where I am and where I want to be.  It is what separates the businessmen from the community leaders.  I truly believe that you can have both- servanthood does not have to be sacrificed in order to establish profit. Furthermore, it is those that see social, political, academic, and economic progress as the true reward that are the most inspiring.
So this post is to those that grind, but it is such a way of life that it warrants no status, and for those that don’t even have time to update a status at all.  That is the true grind.

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