Love Is Not a Guessing Game…

If there is one thing I’ve learned (or relearned) recently, it is that love is not vague or ambiguous.  We have all been there where we are trying to figure what someone’s words or actions really means.  Women are especially prone to dissect every word of a text or tweet to find some latent, underlying deep profession of love- that 99% of the time is not there.
When you like someone it is easy, for both men and women, to create their own fantasies about a relationship that can have absolutely nothing to do with reality.  For example, if a lady goes out on a date with a man twice, he may say that she is his girlfriend when in reality, she is not.  Women often take the activities immediately before and immediately after a sexual encounter to mean more than the just sex it is.  Anything done right around that time span is just a mean to get sex and get more sex, it is not a relationship nor the foundation for one.  Then there are often the gray lines of friendship and sex where you can love a person as a friend and love the sex but doesn’t mean that one is in love with you or wants to go beyond the parameter of a friendship.  But as emotional creatures, as a defense mechanism and to justify our unsupported impulses to garner love, we hang on to the belief that there is more just if—the time was right, or he was single, or I tried a little harder, or I was a little smaller, or a little freakier. Or (my favorite) “I don’t even want a relationship” claim.   While some may not want a relationship, it is the ones that state that sentiment that yet do very “relationshipy” things in order to prove they are in fact relationship material.
Love, however, is not a guessing game.  It is very clear about its identity and goes through every effort to make it known to its intended recipient.  Love is full of the “good mornings” and “how is your days.”  It is the listening. digesting, and recalling.  It is caring enough to be moved into action.  Love is transparent and it is available.  Love is never too busy to return calls, texts, or emails.  Love prefers to see you over a call and a call over a text.  It is personal.  Love is not a subtle hint or a hidden code.  And while it can be shown in countless ways depending on the individual, it will always be an effort outside of your normal comfort zone.  It makes sure it leaves with no question about what it is and what its purpose is.  It is kinda obvious.

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Is It All Out of My System?

Recently, I was posed the question, “Have you done everything you wanted to do as a single woman?”  I answered confidently, “yes.”  It wasn’t until long after the conversation was over as the question still lingered as I begin to really dissect both the question and my response.  I was baffled because I wondered why I, in all of my relationships, had never been asked that question before.  Moreover, I wondered why I, in all of my genius, have never thought to pose this question before now.  If I had stopped to ask this before, I am positive I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache— but then again, I wouldn’t have been able to answer “yes.”
Initially when asked, flash frames of everything I have done passed quickly before me.  I’ve done a lot.  I even reflected when my friend read an excerpt from The Single Girl’s Manifesta stating that you should go on 20 no-strings-attached dates before settling down….or something to that regard.  I have dated plenty, a few times over that number.  I was even lucky to fall in love a few times.  I was blessed to have my heart broken because it was that pain that facilitated my growth.  I have had more than enough experiences to know exactly what I want, and more important, what I need.  I have travelled both domestically and internationally.  I have witnessed and now know my own strength and resiliency.  I have lived with others and have lived on my own.  But, I wondered, if that was enough…
People undervalue the benefits of being single.  There is no checking in, no explanations, no accountability… I realized I was being childish.  I have to check in and be responsible in every other facet of my life.  I am held accountable for everything I do or omit- professionally, academically, spiritually, and financially.   Why should relationships be an exception?
However, as the question continued to haunt me, I thought more about the things I haven’t done.  The list is endless.  Then I concluded I was asking myself the wrong question.  The real question is, “What have you not done that you don’t want or can’t do within the confines of this relationship?” I replied out loud to myself, “Nothing.”

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Reflections of a Sick Lady

Man, I missed ya’ll…

So feeling like you are near death has a way of giving you a brand new perspective on life.  It will also teach you a few lessons on life.  The first lesson is to follow your doctor’s orders and not improvise with my own remedies and substitutions.  Well actually, that is all I learned this week.
However, as I reflected, I realized I have nothing.  I own nothing.  It kind of made me sad because when I planned my life out at 18, by this point I would have lots, plenty, and an abundance.  Yeah…very little about that plan has turned out as I predicted.  Contrarily, the only things of value I have are the relationships established over time.  It is weird the people that God throws in your life.  I am often surprised that the people you least expect become the best of friends and the people you expect to be great fall short.  Despite this, love is consistent.  It exchanges hands often, it increases or decreases depending on its supplier, but the balance of love always remains intact.  This makes it easier to let go of and move forward when you know that the love supply in our lives will always be replenished by someone.
Well, I did learn another lesson. Those who love are there to help carry our load and vice versa.   It is easy for me to fall into superwoman mode and think I can handle it all by myself.  Or moreover, that my problems and shortcomings are nobody’s business.  And while it is a fine line to tow, I am blessed that I have people I can share the things in which I struggle or projects and aspirations that I am working toward.  These people help hold me accountable – both to myself and to my dreams.
After further reflection, I do own two more things.  I own my actions which lead to my progress… or my demise.  And I own my words that either speak life… or destroy.  People don’t put enough stock into these things nowadays.  But I see them as the most valuable thing I will ever possess.  These along with my relationships,  will bear my prosperous future.

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I Didn’t Want to Know Her Name

I told him I didn’t ever want to know her name.  Her is his ex.  I explained that in this case, less is more.  The less I know, the better.  You see before, I wanted to know it all – name, pictures, how often they communicated, etc.  It may have been the beginning of the end for my last relationships.  It was then when I lost control of our present worrying about his past.
As women, better known as detectives, it is easy to become completely consumed in wanting to know everything about any woman that may even think about every wanting to come close to your man.  It becomes a full time job.  Conversations with your man turn into interrogation sessions.  It is a red-flag of insecurity that I used to wave.  It is almost like there is a training course for insecure women to train insecure women on how to be more insecure.
Men are much different in that most time, and within reason, they could care less about their woman’s past.  Most times, a man’s confidence after he gets the girl is unmovable.  However, I still decided I will limit my conversations about my past escapades.  It is not that I have anything to hide, but because like me, I want him to focus on us and not my past.  It is a delicate balance being an open book yet exercising discretion.  But the reward is that despite our pasts, we can focus our energy on building our future.

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A Man Scorned

Women, specifically black women, are often labeled as bitter due to past relationships with men.  It is a pretty obvious transition from the once optimistic and hopeful to the visage of resentment.
But men have feelings too.  I think we, as women, forget that.  Men are often socialized to not show emotion.  This concept is hyper-emphasized in the black community, so much that a man showing feelings for anything less than a death is considered weak.  It has stifled our relationships and our communities.  However, the lack of a direct response to a hurtful statement or action doesn’t mean that it has not affected the man.  The hurt may not even surface in that relationship; but just like women, over time, from one broken relationship to the next a man can eventually grow bitter as well.
The bitter man, I believe, is worse than the bitter woman because once a man reaches a state of bitterness; it is the point of no return.  A woman can be loved out of her bitterness, but a man will not allow anyone to get close enough to receive such love.  It is a sad sight to see.  From that point, women are a constant source of agony and disdain.  The once internal hurt surfaces in the form of hateful sentiments, scolding, and the general “women ain’t shit” mentality.
So the next time, you run into a man just angry at women for no apparent reason, remember he may be a man scorned.

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You Can’t Turn a Jump-Off into a Husband

We have all heard of the phrase, “you can’t turn a hoe into a housewife.” It was once widely accepted as an universal truth.  However, that seems to be less and less the case nowadays.  But there is a much lesser known phrase that still holds true: “You can’t turn your jump-off into your husband.”  Well actually, it was just some insight a friend shared this weekend that I felt needed to be shared with the masses.
Men, most men, have very clear and distinct separation of someone they would marry versus someone in whom they would just have sex.  Hell, they even have standards between who they would be in a relationship with versus who they would marry.  The traits a man wants his wife to possess are typically more defined and enforced than someone who would never be a potential wife.
Women seem to not have that standard.  Oh there is the standard in theory!  Some women go as far as to make detailed lists and vision boards of their dream husband.  Contrarily in actual practice, it is take whatever you can get mentality.  If he only offers sex, you’ll take that.  If it is dating, you take that. And if he wants a relationship then you’ve hit gold and from there you readjust the list of things that are important to you to fit who he really is and willing to offer.  But women, like men, must embrace the you can’t turn your jump-off into your husband philosophy.  Allow that man only the opportunity to serve whatever role in which he is currently qualified. Just like companies don’t hire people that haven’t finished sixth grade to be CEO, you shouldn’t allow a man that doesn’t meet your minimum requirements for a husband take up space, time, and resources that should only be available to someone worth it.  And honestly, if he is worth it, he won’t take away from, he will only add to your overall well being and way of life.
It is the holding on of things less than what we desire that inhibits us from receiving what we really want and what we really need.  It is also the amplifying of the mundane that distract us from the real goal and lowers our standards and expectations.  So if you have a jump-off, let him be just that- ONLY that.  Definitely don’t make him your live-in boyfriend and give him husband access.  Reserve that for the right one.  Keep your standards.

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Becoming Better: The Eternal Student

The older I get the more I am coming to terms that I will forever be a student in the life journey.  There is no point of complete understanding.  Love is no exception.  While, I attempt to define its parameters for my life daily, I am constantly learning something new about love’s characteristics.
From a young age, I always sought to hang around people that where I wanted to be.  My closest friends and family were at least a few years older than me.  I watched closely, I mimicked their behavior, and I analyzed the results of their actions whether good or bad.   By the time I reached their respective ages, I had it down pat.  And while I had my own share of obstacles, I had a blueprint to solve them.
Nowadays, I find myself around married couples, and more specifically, married women.  I have always thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spend with them.  I love to ask questions.   What was your first argument as a married couple?  What are the biggest changes?  What is the most rewarding thing about marriage?  And my favorite, “how did you know he/she was the one?”  They all replied the same, “You just know.”
I never thought I would get to the “just know” phase in my life and as I begin this journey from the familiar and safe to the unknown, I find myself looking within for a blueprint to follow.  Little did I know I would find the blueprint in the unknown.
Communication. Respect. And Understanding.
I am very familiar with them all individually.  But the totality of all is the blueprint to loving truly.  It is a tripod, if you will, so you can’t have two without having the third.  One is completely insufficient.  I have no desire to be insufficient.
It was this information and an earlier conversation with a good friend that kind of brought everything home for me.   She said, “Marriage is not just cooking, cleaning, and wearing playboy bunny suits every night.  That still is not enough.  To be a good wife, you have to be willing to be a student and always willing to learn.” I have always prided myself in knowing it all. *smile*  However, I feel there is a greater reward in having someone in who will nurture me to be the best person possible.  Currently in route to my best.

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Walking the Walk

When I first started this blog, I was writing just for me.  I had no idea that anyone would care to read it.  But as people begin to read it (thank you all so much), I held myself to one standard- that I will always write for me.  For the most part, I have maintained that standard.  The most intimate blogs has served as a love letter to me, from me, to remind me where I no longer wanted to be and more important, where I wanted to go – forward.
In these posts, I have touched on everything that I have learned about my past relationships that have shaped who I am today.  I have also tried to negate the superficial and focus on the things that are really important to me and things I feel like should really be at the foundation of any friendship or relationship.  However, sometimes superficiality lives closer to the surface in our real lives than they do just in theories or ideas.  For instance, the size of the ring, the house, and the cars, or the profession, or education begins to come into play, but I have to remind myself they are not the things that make a relationship a loving one.  However, sometimes we get caught up in the appearance of things and for some that is okay.  But for me, I have never been that person where those superficial things matter.  Nor do I judge or think I am too good for something or someone because I am not by far.  All of which is easy to write or say, it is slightly harder to walk the walk that I written to myself within these posts.  Had I not written these posts, I may have missed it and settled for the superficial to maintain appearances instead of taking these steps in the right direction.

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All of You

Everyday we enter arenas where we are forced to leave a piece of us at the door. At work, we are requested to leave our personal lives and our beliefs.  At church, we are shunned if we bring our shortcomings and our weaknesses.  Even with some friendships, we find it easier to leave out certain aspects of who we are to avoid conflict and discord.  In this world, where the most adaptable do the best, it is a great challenge to find someone who allows you to bring all of you, all of the time.
In relationships, it is easy to change pieces of who you are without noticing. It can be anything from the way you speak all the way to religion in an effort maintain or build a relationship.  Some changes a new person brings are great and needed. Other times, you don’t realize the damage until you look up and no longer recognize yourself.  In the latter, the changes so gradual you don’t even know where to start to begin to find yourself again.
Then there are times where someone holds you to such a high and impossible standard, in an effort to maintain this pedestal you repress everything that come naturally.  In essence, you are no longer a human responding to stimuli but a programmed machine going through the mechanics of life void of true emotion.
It is then is a prized gift when you find one that allows you to bring all of your successes and failures, love and laughter, hurt and weaknesses, your God and your craziness into the private sanctuary of a relationship.  In this sanctuary, there is no judgment.  There is only light to see you for exactly who you are- the essence of your being.  The sole responsibility to ensure that essence is preserved, balanced, and grows in the betterment of its purpose.  The only requirement is that you promise to do the same.

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My Love Letter to My First Gray Hair

I found you at the tender age of 24.  Despite all the hair I have, you decided to make your debut at the very front of my head,  off to side, in perfect view whenever I rock my beloved ponytails.  I am not going to lie, at first, I hated you.  My life was not particularly stressful at the time so I didn’t understand why you were there and what purpose you sought to serve on my very young head.  My boyfriend at the time began calling me Storm, and that made me sadder.  I knew plucking you would only cause you to bring your homies next time, so I cut you down as close to the scalp as I could to deny your existence.  But you and your damn resiliency just kept growing back.  I don’t remember when I decided to just let you grow.  I decided you were a gift from wisdom and no longer a curse from stress.
That is until I recently found 7 more of you.  Now, I am back to blaspheming your existence.  These new gray hairs are clustered at the crown of my head.  I am not even 30 yet.  Obama is graying but he is the President of the United States.  I preside over nothing but my own existence and that is pretty stress free.
So maybe I am learning a few lessons.  Slowly. My aunt told me, “The same lessons come around until we learn them.”  And maybe per lesson learned I receive these silver strands to remind me that I am getting older and I do know better.  If this theory is correct I have learned 8 lessons to date, which seems about right.  So I begin to think on the lessons these silver strands represent.
1)       I cannot be everything to everybody. In my youth, I wanted to the perfect person to everybody.  So in school, I was the perfect student, after school I wanted to fit in with neighborhood kids.  I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend, so forth and so on.  Oddly enough, I never wanted to be the perfect child to my parents.  Anyway, I got to the point, where I stopped trying to wear all of these different hats and just try to be my most authentic self.  And I learned that being authentic requires fewer apologies than trying to be perfect.  I don’t like apologizing, which brings me to lesson # 2.
2)        Sometimes you will have to apologize even when you are right. I loathe this lesson. But I learned that there is a distinct difference in being right and going about being right the right way.  The latter requires more constraint and discipline that I typically like to exercise.
3)       Despite my efforts, I did grow up to be like my parents. As a teenager, I promised I wouldn’t that I would be completely different from my parents.  And in some ways I am.  In some aspects, I have fallen short of who they were.  They were homeowners by age of 22.  I am not.  And other ways, I am a continuation of their dreams.  But the combination of their spirit and core is by all means who I have become.   And I am finally at a point where I am okay with that.
4)       My cousins made me cool. I am an only child, and my parents were strict so I could have very easily ended up only book smart and lacking any street smarts.  That would have been a tragedy.  But my cousins, particularly on my father’s side, provided me with a balance that has contributed greatly to my persona and my successes.  Though I was trained in ballet, they taught me how to do the snake, wop it out, and to put a little more umph in the electric side.  They taught me how to stand up for myself.  They taught me how to curse, or maybe that was our Grandmother… But most important, they taught me what it means to be loyal and how to cheer the loudest to make sure the person feels your love.
5)       To Love on Their Standard. The saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated” is flawed.  To really love is learning to look beyond how you feel they should be treated them how they want to be treated.  Just because one man likes one thing doesn’t translate that the next man will like it the same.  Or how they want to be treated may evolve; what makes my mother happy now is very different that what made her happy when she was younger.  So in our love, we must be intuitive and listen to how a person wishes to be loved.
6)       The truth cannot be eluded, so wait for it. I used to want all the truth upfront and instantly.  I would damage friendships and relationships because I wanted to know any and all possible deceits so I could adjust my interactions with them accordingly.  As I got older, I know longer want to be Inspector Gadget and I have learned the truth will come out as soon as it is ready to.  I just have to wait for it.  And in this waiting time, I have learned to assess those connections with those people and their value in my life.
7)       Don’t panic. I was never really one to panic easily, but it is even less so now.  Everything will work out.  God doesn’t need my help, so I quit offering it.  God can also work around me, but then I would be a waste.   I prefer to be useful, and I know that everything and everybody has a purpose all working toward a greater purpose.  There is usually an email forward that goes out around the anniversary of September 11th and it tells of all the these incidents that happened to people that were supposed to be in the World Trade Center or on one of the planes that for whatever reason they were running late or missed the flight.  One was a story of a man that spilled coffee on his clothes and went back to change.  Another was a story of a lady with a sick child and so she called out.  Things that typically frustrate us but that day saved them.  So I don’t mind delays anymore because I don’t know what I am being protected from or what is being prepared for me in my delay.
8)       Don’t present a problem without a possible solution. I don’t know where I heard this. But it is genius.  It reduces complaining dramatically.  And then you have one of two options, be silent or become involved in your own progression.  I know some are saying, well it is not my problem, but if you take the time to help others you by default will become better than you were.

I will let you know if I find any more silver strands…

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