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Wellness Recharge

Wellness Recharge

A new year brings new opportunities for change. In a fast paced world with political struggles, an economy still in need of much repair, violence, social media wars, weather disasters, and recently another flu outbreak, taking care of yourself and overall wellness is becoming increasingly important. One of my goals this year is to take an active stance in increasing and maintaining my overall wellness. That means more attention and intentionality in the way of my finances, career, physical and mental health, , spirituality, and in my personal life.

I recently read in article by Gina Roberts-Grey that included some great advice and tips on recharging the mind, body, spirit and maintaining wellness. Below are some of the tips from the article:

One of the first steps in recharging yourself, if getting a clear and honest understanding of where you are now. This means taking some time to assess your overall wellness. One way to do this is to create a personal roadmap by doing the following:

  • Take four sheets of paper and label them with the following: “Relationship”, “Health and Wellness”, “Business and Finances”, and “Spirituality and Faith”. Make two lists for each of these categories. One list should contain things about that area that you do not love or things that need to change. From that list circle the first two things that you want to being making improvements on. It can be the two things that are most important to you. Then on the other list write down the steps that you need to take to help you achieve those goals.
  • Find an accountability partner that you can trust to keep you on track. Share your roadmap with them and establish a system of accountability. Be sure that they know that no matter what, they are to help hold you accountable!
  • Set short-term goals and checkpoints of the course of a quarter. Be very specific and realistic about these and be sure to inform your accountability partner.
  • Remember that each time you accomplish one of your short-term goals or successfully pass through a checkpoint. CELEBRATE! It is ok to boast about your success. This will motivate you to continue.

Personally, I have decided to use the next week to create my road map and find an accountability partner. Then I will begin on my journey to wellness!

Source: Essence Magazine, January 2013.

“Situationships”

I recently read an article in a magazine about the expectations and desires of young Black/African American women on romantic relationships and getting married. Within the article was statistical information from a variety of sources and researchers alluding to the overall desire of more than 50% of the women surveyed for getting married despite the issues they seem to believe are present among the “pool” of available Black men. Some of the issues included: 1. Gender differences in communication styles, 2. The seemingly inability to be monogamous, 3. Social values on gender equality, 4. Social & family pressures towards women to marry, 5. Black men on the DL, and finally….the one that I found most interesting…6. The influence of social media, and its effects on communication between men and women, and how this further hurts the pre-existant challenges associated with the communication styles between genders.

Within the article, was further explanation of how social media and text language, as well as dating website profile misperceptions, twitter and facebook posts, relationship and status updates, and a host of other challenges to overcome. To me, the most interesting challenge discussed were the differences between how men and women communicate and how this leads to communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and misconceptions about everything from the actual relationship status, to clearly defining what each person in the relationship wants and needs. I believe that what was stated regarding men believing that they can have meaningful conversations and truly “get to know and be known” by women of interests through text messaging, IM, BBS, and other forms of instant messaging as the sole or majority of the communication. Women on the other hand, prefer to communicate less via messaging and more face-to-face and if they have to, over the phone and via video chats for long distances. It would seem to me (although I may be totally biased) that the best way to truly ensure that one is understood and understands the other, is to openly communicate and ask questions regardless of the mode…I do believe that having the opportunity to observe and experience someone in person and in certain surroundings and environments does have a greater influence on one’s perception…simply put, it is more difficult to truly understand and get to know someone if you do not spend any time with them, but if you clarify statements when asked, ask questions when clarification is needed, and are honest with others about yourself, it is not completely impossible.

Call it the romantic in me, but I do think you can date “long distance” and online, or whatever…and still have an actual “relationship”….but it is going to take a vast amount of mutual understanding, expectations, desires. Both people will have to be on the same page, and when doubts and misunderstandings arise, bring them up and settle them in a timely manner.

In the latter part of the article several scenarios and personal stories of dating and relationship disasters were cited by various women who also believe that misunderstandings behind social media and messaging either ruined or significantly hurt their relationships…yet in the end, 71% of the single Black Women surveyed stated that they do still want to get married, except unlike 20 years ago, when the average age women wanted to get married was 25…it is now 30 with 35 being the second average age…so it seems that Black women have not given up, they are just willing to wait longer to find the right person and the right relationship in order to avoid “situationships”.

Relationships, Big Love Style!

Some may already be aware of this, but one of my favorite shows right now is Big Love. If you are not familiar with the show, it is an HBO series about a mormon polygamist family in Utah. The husband is a successful business owner and he has 3 wives and 9 children. The show is literally “awesome”!

But to get to my point, a friend of mine asked me a very good question the other day, “would I ever big love it up?’. LOL, meaning would I be a polygamist. At first the answer seemed very simple, “No”. I was thinking about it from a religious standpoint, and it does not align with my beliefs, but he (my friend) opened my mind to the fact that it does not always have to be linked to religion. So as we talked about it more I realized that maybe it was not such a bad thing. Our continued conversation led to other thoughts and I wondered how natural is monogamy, really? I wondered if we as a society have been tricked or hoodwinked, no maybe conditioned to believe that this husband and wife monogamous thing is “morally right” and that it is what all people should work to obtain.

I started thinking about what I have observed and how I was raised. For as long as I can remember the images of family and marriage have always been present in some way in my life. My parents married young, and they have been married for almost 31 years now. Also, looking at toys, cartoons and all of the images children see that notion of “heterosexual monogamy” are thrown in our faces at a young age and continue through adult media and societal images. I am beginning to believe that is the reason why so many people are confused  about relationships and their own feelings. This is the reason why people believe that if they’re not monogamous they have issues and some go so far as to seek counseling.

I am well aware of the religious/biblical context surrounding getting married and “being fruitful and multiplying” but….I am also aware of those mentioned in the bible who had several wives. Polygamy is present in the Holy Bible  which is the foundation of so many of our religious principles…so why then is it illegal, frowned upon and thought to be horrible? I will be the first to openly admit that I do not live my life based upon the bible….. but if people bring that and religion up into many arguments about things that concern society, morals, decisions etc… then how can you discredit the presence of polygamy? It is implicitly applied in the most natural way… I digress from that part though.

Moving back to the main point, I don’t think it is horrible. My firm belief is that relationships whether the people are married or not, hetero or homosexual should be defined, described and lived by the people who are in them. Our government should not be able to dictate who can and cannot married nor how many marriages one can have at a time. If you are a polygamist so be it; if you are in an open marriage so be it. We spend sooo much time worried about what goes on in the lives of others, judging and scrutinizing people for not living their lives the way we think they should or they way we were taught to believe they should but what that really boils down to is insecurity within ourselves.

That was the lesson I took away from all of this thinking and conversation and I learned it from my friend. He said he believes that our supposedly “innate” beliefs that monogamy in relationships and even in marriages is an excuse for us masking our own insecurities and selfishness for believing that we must be the only “one” for another person. I concur! In my short but adventurous and experienced life I have learned some important things about relationships:

1. A relationship should only be between the people who are in it! It is no one else’s business what you all do within your relationship. It is left up to you to define it, to determine how it will go. You should not ever let anyone else make you feel bad for the terms of the relationship you are in.

2. Based on number 1, you should also COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! with the other person(s) involved in the actual relationship. If I have an issue or a problem with my partner, I need to talk to my partner about it. Not my mom, dad, brother, friend, Benny from around the block or anyone else. No one else knows the other person(s) they way you do, that’s why you are with them, so why not talk things out and be honest and open with them?

3. Based on number 2, be OPEN & HONEST! Every day will not be a sunny, happy day. People will make mistakes and feelings will get hurt. But if you hold things inside for too long resentment and anger build up and that leads to confrontation. You should be able to talk and work through issues, but know that the other person(s) is most likely not psychic so you have to TELL them what you want and don’t want, do and don’t like.

4. Be true to yourself and never lose sight of who you are! This is the constant mistake that I have made in past relationships. There is no reason why you can’t be one piece of a pair but not still be an individual. Everyone always talks about compromise this and negotiate on that. BULLSHIT! I believe in reciprocity but it should not come at the expense of losing who you are as an individual. You should not and do not have to change everything about you or always be the only person compromising. In the past, my mistakes in this area have truly come from me not being comfortable with or knowing and loving myself more which leads to my last point…

5. It is about YOU! Everyone will face some sort of insecurities at some time, but it takes a person who is emotionally ready and mature enough to be able to work through them. This is where I failed…Epically! LOL. I was not ready to commit to anyone else, because I had not true commitment to myself. I based how I was in a relationship on what the other person needed and expected from me, as well as what they wanted me to be. I was very insecure and I didn’t really love myself. The age old saying comes into play here, “If you don’t love yourself, how can you love someone else?” Very true. Loving yourself is knowing yourself; being able to define yourself on your own terms; being comfortable with who you are and if you want to make changes, changing because you want to; you have to be committed to yourself! Never let anyone tell you that’s selfish; that is sanity! It is alright to believe that it is about you! Regardless of how many relationships end, how many friends you gain or lose, you will always have to live with you. Why not take care of and look out for yourself, your own wants, needs and desires??

Wow, I know I have put out quite a bit here, but I stayed up really late thinking about this and I had to express it here. The bottom line is, love how you want to, whether it’s Big Love style or not, it is about you and who you are in a relationship with. Keep the outside out! I knowI will…this time around 🙂

Leave the shit alone

If it doesn’t belong to you, never belonged to you, you didn’t pay for or or acquire it in any way……..then don’t take it. It is not yours!! I can think of worse things in life to be besides a thief, but it is still highly frowned upon, and not cool….so do yourself and the other person a favor and leave the shit alone if it isn’t yours!!

If that’s what floats your boat

An associate of mine told me some bullshit about how I would NEVER find a man because I am not the type of woman who needs to be helped. He stated that Black men want women that they feel they can help in some way. Whether it is financially, around the house with handy work, counseling and giving advice, sexual needs or even with their kids…it makes them feel like more of a man to know that they are needed. He said that successful Black women or women on a mission to become successful and independent cannot be helped and therefore we should get prepared to either go through life constantly breaking up and ending relationships, or…alone…..And the last thing he said was…..that’s why so many Black men date and marry White women….because White women know how to let a man be the man. Whether they can buy it, fix it, satisfy it, open it, or do it themselves, they offer their man enough opportunity to do things for them…to help them! I am still in shock!

Someone call CPS Now

On the local news today I saw a story about a 3 and a half-year old girl who was raped in the restroom of a nearby Wal-Mart. The reporter stated that the little girl was in the toy section of the store playing with her 7 year-old brother. She apparently told her brother she had to use the restroom and a man (stranger) offered to take her. They went into the restroom and the perpetrator masturbated and then raped the little girl. He was not caught at the store, but was arrested trying to lure another child into the restroom at another Wal-Mart. This horrible incident has several red flags….. First of all, where in the hell were the children’s parents or guardians??? Why would two little kids be allowed to play unsupervised? Why would  a seven year-old not know better than to not allow his sister to go off with a total stranger? Why can Wal-Mart catch someone stealing toothpaste on aisle two, but not see who entered the women’s restroom with a small child???? How is it that no one else entered the restroom or saw what happened and reported it? On all levels, this situation was absolutely ridiculous and should have never happened. I don’t have children but there is NO WAY I would allow them to be unsupervised in public if I did. The girl was on her way out of the store with her mother after she was found by a wal-mart employee and then told her mom what happened. Damn Shame!

Security Alert

Has anyone ever wondered why we have so much security? Why do we have surveillance cameras, high profile security checkpoints at airports, secret service agents, the CIA, FBI, and private investigators. Just wondering if this is another form of institutional fear?

The Biggest Disappointment

I’m really not sure why it took me so long to realize this. If I really sat and thought about it I am sure that someone, at some point in time along the way has tried to tell me, but I guess it’s one of those situations where if you are not ready to truly receive the information, then regardless of what someone tells you, you just don’t get it. Well I got it!! I tend to be a little late sometimes (perhaps because I am an analyzer) or perhaps I was just standing in the way of my own truth. Either way, it is never to late to start over, so here goes.

I am beyond tired of being used by others, especially those who call themselves my friends. I can take other people that I know don’t give a shit about me attempting to use me, but for those who are close to my heart (and that is very few people) that shit just down right sucks.

When no one else was there, I was. When I listened every single time you needed someone; I didn’t just hear you, I listened. I made sacrifices within my own life to help you more times than you truly know, and yet when it is all said and done (because now it is) I end up stuck out and you just move on.

I know there is no need to continue to put myself through this pain, and I know there is no need to continue to speak on the past (because when I wake up again, this will be the past) so I have just decided to move on and leave you all behind.

I can no longer live my life for others; this statement I have made many times, but this time it is different…because this time it is true. If you think I have disappointed you lately because I finally learned how to say “No” or “I can’t help you” or “I’m busy” or I just didn’t even offer like I always did, then now you know why, and you may surely be more disappointed in the future.

But I cannot worry about you or that, for the first time in a LONG LONG time, I will worry about me. What makes me happy, what’s best for me. The biggest disappointment that matters to me right now, is not yours, it is mine. It is the disappointment I have in myself! Thank God I have a chance to turn it around!

Good Bye

Who’s being used? The institution or the athlete?

During the summer part of my job is to help freshmen students register for their first semester of classes during freshmen orientation. We have a 2 hour window of time in which students come in to the computer lab and register. All was going well today with registration (since students have mapped out way in advance what classes they want to take and are just ready to enter them into the computer), but something a little different happened today….It was about 10 minutes until it was time for registration to end and in comes a group (6) football players (all Black) who were there to register.

Well, me and another co-worker and one advisor decided to stay and help these students register while everyone else shut down and left. We expected to possibly run over the cut off time by a little but since it would take a few minutes to log them into the system, register, check their schedules and print them. What we did not expect however was to be there over an hour past time.

So this is what happened….they were not sure which sections of the classes they wanted to take, meaning they had not looked up specific classes online ahead of time. When we asked why, we were told that there coaches said not to worry it could be figured out today. One of them had a piece of paper that had some courses (Music 105, Nutrition 101, etc) written down on it. He stated that all of them needed to be in the same classes and this list was what they could choose from.

I looked at the list and noticed that all of the courses on it were bull shit! As listed above Music 105 (which is music appreciation), and Nutrition 101 were on the list, in addition there was an intro to health class, a kinesiology class which when I looked it up was yoga, a student learning lab (which might be helpful for freshmen) and they informed me that they were already enrolled in a theater class for the summer and may take another one in the fall! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of music , kines, health and theater majors, but taking all of the beginning classes which would probably only count as electives for them would help them how? So….basically none of them were going to take any core classes (required by the State)such as: english, math, political science, history, you know the basics?

They still didn’t know which days or times they could take the classes so they called their coach to come in and help. They told me he just dropped them off and left them with no instructions or direction as to what to do. I hoped, even wished that when the door opened a white man (who probably wouldn’t give two shits) would come in, but to my dismay and surprise their coach was Black.  He proceeded to tell me which professor’s they needed to take for these classes (which he was adamant about) and my co-workers and I had to look up these classes to get them registered. What I noticed looking on the system was that at least 4 of them had not passed the accuplacer exam (state mandated placement test for college students ) in all of the subject areas which would allow them to register for classes such as Math, History, English etc.

When it was all said and done, and they had a schedule (with only 12 hours each, although the school sets mandated tuition based on 15 hours, and one of their classes is Football!) and they were leaving I couldn’t help but feel sad. I will not name the institution where I work and obtained my master’s degree (Big 12, cultish, maroon & white), but I will say that there are not many Black students (especially males) and many that are happen to be athletes. What exactly was the purpose of recruiting them here if not to gain an education?

What was even more sad is when they left, the coach thanked me, the boys were standing in a corner hovered over some white girls exchanging phone numbers and smiles, and they just left like everything was alright. Well IT ISN”T!!! When I mentioned to one of my co-worker’s that I felt this was a sad situation and that it was unfair that these colleges continue to use athletes not really giving a damn about whether or not they get a college education, he looked at me, laughed and said, “but Devan, do you ever stop to think that maybe they’re using the schools?” he went on to explain that he felt like the reason why these 6 young men and many others didn’t have the classes they wanted picked out, were unsure of their majors, and seemed unfazed by the lack of academic rigor they would soon encounter is because they don’t really care about college. They are “using” their scholarships and experience here as a stepping stone to move up and on to the NFL. Most of them believe they will go pro and are only here to play and be recruited up.

I must say that in all of the time I have been studying and working in higher education, this never crossed my mind. What’s worse is that I am getting ready to move to another state and attend and work at another institution that has a reputation for sports (especially football) and it will most likely be the same. My thought is, it doesn’t matter what brings these students (because I see them as students first, athletes second) to college, what should matter once they get here is educating them. Most not all but most of them will never make it to the NFL or any other league (and if we’re talking about all sports, then the Olympics, NBA, etc), so why not open their eyes to the possibility of something else. Why not help them explore other things they may be good at and find field of study that could at least be a backup plan for those who don’t go pro, and something to do after they retire for those who do.

Studying the NCAA (which I think is completely corrupt), and seeing what goes on at this type of institution, has really left a sour taste in my mouth about athletics, knowing how much coaches are making, how few college athletes actually go pro and/or obtain degrees, and how few dollars go towards other programs such as academic affairs! (Yes people, just because a school’s athletic program brings in a revenue of 25 million dollars doesn’t mean that the rest of the institution will benefit!), so cut backs in academics and student services continue to be made, and money continues to go to coaches and recruiters to spend on scholarships and other marketing to bring in athletes who may or may not get a degree and in the end it seems that people just don’t care. So again I who’s is being used?

and one last thing, almost everyone else who was there had a least one parent or guardian in attendance, and these young men only had their coach? hmmm?

Tough as Nails

I could pretend that I am tough as nails.
But your hammer would release me;
And as I was ripped from the wall-
Where I once supported the frames which encompassed your treasured memories,
You could unconsciously step back and allow me to fall to the ground,
So that my rusty exterior-
Would never again stain your hand.

You would pick me up carefully with your left hand (the non-dominant one),
Observe my new worn color,
How what was once so clean and shiny-
So straight and as close to perfection as you’ve ever held in your possession,
Is now bent out of shape, rusty and without –
The fortitude to withstand –
The penetration caused by your aggressively gentle pounding.

You hold me now between the tips of your fingers-
Instead of the palm of your hand.
You turn me around-
Close your eyes and revisit our experiences ,
The way that I once fit so perfectly-
Every position and place you used me-
When you needed me, I was always there.
Every time you moved-
Wanted to change my place or position,
Or simply redecorate-
You gently pulled me out,
placed me neatly into your toolbox,
and brought me back out- to life when it was our time together again.

But like most things, time moves along,
Allows us to see things differently,
Change our minds-
Close and reopens our hearts-
Changes our style-
Or gives us the opportunity to “redecorate”,
And this is where we are now.

So you smile as you think about our journey together,
And smile again as you think about your new frames,
And recent memories-
And how I will no longer quite sustain the places where you will need me to be.
So you drop me on the table,
While you pick up your shiny new nail,
placing it in the palm of your right hand (your dominate hand)-
And then you place it where you want it,
And hang the frame-
Which now holds OUR memories.
You center it perfectly,
Smile as you think about your future with it.
And all the while you do not notice me,
Looking up at you-
And thinking of how that was once my job-
To hold your frames; to keep the memories fresh and alive.
How I was once that shiny new nail,
The one you were careful, gentle, protective and kind to,
The one you loved so much-
You carried it with you always, even if only in thought.
The one that had its own special section in your toolbox.

And now that you are done with me,
This time-
Instead of putting me away carefully until you will need or desire me again,
You throw me away in your trashcan,
Like others before me-
And you walk away never looking back, not even seeing me fall.

And I try to pretend that I am tough as nails,
And that even though your hammer has released me forever,
I can withstand my new place, this new position I am in,
Until someone else comes along-
Sees the beauty through my rusty, bent, used form-
But loves, needs, supports, and desires to use me forever.