When Being Miss Independent Goes Wrong

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This time last year I was preparing to go to Roatan, Honduras to assist with When Love Works couples getaway. After the trip I wrote about a poignant experience while there, but never posted it. Here it is for you to read now. Enjoy!

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Standing on the wooden platform with my helmet adjusted just right on my afro, sunglasses on my face as sweat persisted to slide them off, and oversized brown gloves on my hands. I wasn’t sure if the sweat all over my body was because of the July heat or nervousness as I wiped my face, and inhaled deep breathes several times. 

I had gotten myself into something that only 13 lines through the forest by myself could get me out of. 

I’ve always prided myself on being independent. My parents always told me how independent I was even as a baby. They weren’t shocked at all when I moved across the country by myself with no friends or family TWICE to strike out on my own. 

It was never a second thought getting up and doing things I wanted to do alone when friends weren’t available. This year more than ever I really began to go overboard with my independent, single woman mindset. Buying myself tickets to shows and events, without even inviting my friends first, and calling it date night. Granted solo date night is needed, but some things are just better with other people to enjoy. Admittedly, I have always enjoyed a certain level of singledom and dating the last few years, but started to find myself with very little space for others in my life. 

While actively trying to date I would have my weekly schedule filled with things to do solo or with friends fitting in dates however they could. Most of the time they didn’t fit, and we dissolved quickly. I was trying to establish myself as a woman who didn’t need a man, but wanted one. A woman with a life and not waiting around for anyone.   

Until I found myself hanging on a line in the middle of a forest in Roatan, Honduras terrified. 

After about a week with five couples, as the only single person, assisting with the When Love Works Couples Getaway, I learned a lot about love, partnership, and relationships. But I was determined to spend time by myself on the trip. I walked the beach a few times in the morning, went to dinner my first night, but found myself with the group most of the time. 

Our last day I decided to go ziplining by myself. I was fearless… until I got to the top of the forest and read the waiver. I initialed and signed my life away leaving the company with no liability if anything happened to me. As I stepped into the harness allowing the guide to hook, snap, and pull around my crotch area it started to become real. 

I listened keenly through the guides accent, and mesmerizing eyes, as he explained what to do. “Wait, say that again,” making sure I heard him correctly and clearly with each detail. Once on the line there was no turning back. I’m not one to back down from a challenge I set my mind on, but I was scared and felt alone. Hell, I was alone besides the two guys that worked there to ensure I made it all the way down. 

Snap, clamp, click I was secured on the line after jumping up crotch first and landing on my tippy toes. The first guide zoomed across to the other side. The one with mesmerizing eyes was behind me as I crossed my legs and allowed the line to support my weight. “Now drop,” he said. I glanced at him, took another deep breath and zoom. I glided across the line with the air in my face terrified I was going too fast. 

I used my glove as instructed to slow down, and accidentally stopped myself in the middle of my destination and starting point. I was stuck. This excursion was resembling a metaphor of my life. 

Taking many leaps towards my dreams, but stopping abruptly when I didn’t have control, felt unsure, and lacked the support I needed, but didn’t know how to ask for it. My independence hasn’t just hindered my love life, but every aspect if I’m being honest. 

The guide in front of me zipped back and pulled me to the end of the line. Reality set in once my feet touched the wooden post- there was no turning back. I had to go through 12 more lines by myself. 

Still terrified I tried to calm myself down breathing in and out rapidly. It wasn’t working. 

The guide with mesmerizing eyes could see my angst and talked to me, asking me questions to take my mind off what was ahead of me. He reassured me I would be okay, but all I could think about was the waiver. Finally, I repeated the same steps again to get across to the next post. 

Although, that went much better than the first one, my nerves were bad and in shock at that point. “How many more do I have left? I need a minute,” I said to the guide while trying to talk myself into the third line. “I’m going to go with you,” as he connected himself to my harness. “Just trust me.”

Even though he was a stranger, he was also the expert. My options felt limited. He looked in my eyes and instructed me to cross my legs, sit, and drop down as I did twice before. “I’m right here with you.” As I glided through the trees and swung around no longer holding the line with my hands there he was right behind me. Connected to me. 

We talked, laughed, and got to know each other line after line through the forest. I embraced his support and enjoyed the experience a lot more with him behind me. Before I knew it we were done. It turned into a metaphor for my support and success. The same support the couples talked about during the trip. I still had to do the work, but he was there behind me making it more enjoyable despite the fear. It was never about needing him as much as just having his presence.

Our connection was not romantic, he was just doing his job. The overall experience was eye-opening to just how tight I was holding on to my ‘I’m single and independent’ flag out of fear. There’s nothing wrong with being single or independent, but I was wearing mine like a badge of honor. Taking care of myself is easy, allowing someone in for the journey takes courage, vulnerability, and work. I’ve been avoiding those things since breaking up with my high school boyfriend, Mark. 

After my break-up with Mark, who was clear about wanting to be married and have children, I felt freedom. I recognized how hard it was to be in a relationship, especially with no tools to navigate things. Years after our break-up, I felt satisfied when he called me requesting I come outside my childhood home to see his baby, only to tell him, “I’m not home. I’m in Washington, DC in my dorm room at Howard University.”

“Oh foreal? Let me call you back.” I never heard from him again. 

I always knew there were certain accomplishments I wanted to achieve as a single woman i.e. have my own apartment, live and travel abroad, and be able to take care of myself.  Up until recently, I had a very limited ideology of being an independent woman. Now I understand you can be independent and a team player.   

Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean giving up who I am, my dreams, or giving up control over my life. It’s just support and encouragement on my journey through purpose and vice versa. Support from my man and others in my life doesn’t take away from my dreams being realized.  

My trip to Honduras helped me to really see that my blindspot in life is trying to be independent and operating out of fear instead of love.  

 

Reimagining My Life Led Me Back To Bikram Yoga

I’ll never forget the day. I was enjoying my day off from working fast food, and mentally preparing to start community college after deciding to no longer join the navy. Sitting on my mother’s old washing machine I found solace as I replayed someone saying, “think about what you love to do, and make it your career,” over and over in my head. Since my sophomore year of high school I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but as I held an issue of Cosmogirl in my hand it seemed to click.

I always loved reading magazines since I was a tween. I had my first subscription to Teen and YM magazine at 12, and had countless magazines all over my room. I loved reading the featured stories- they were always so interesting, eye-opening, and in-depth. Even if I didn’t see myself in the mainstream magazines I always had Vibe, The Source, Honey, XXL, and Sister 2 Sister.

That day on the washing machine is when I decided the magazine industry was going to be my focus. I never gave up on that dream over the years. Fast forward past attending Howard University, internships, and moving to New York City, and things didn’t pan out exactly as I had hoped over the course of my career. Being on the other side of 30-years-old has me reimagining my life.

What I want now looks different. What I value has shifted. I’m clearer on the lifestyle that brings out the best in me. This has been one of the hardest self-realizations I’ve had to have about my career EVER.

Luckily, I’m a millennial with access to various new options thanks to digital media. But I’m still not sure what I want my new career to look like.  

At the Pretty Powerful You Vision Board and Manifestation workshop with OmNoire and XONecole, I asked life coach and feng shui expert, LaShell Wooten, about how to imagine a new life when suddenly you no longer want what you wanted, and don’t know what’s next. She advised me, and the rest of the audience, to lay in bed when waking up, and think about what you want to do that day before getting ready for work. It could be whatever I wanted. There were no limits.  

Necole Kane and I after the Pretty Powerful You 2018 workshop

As I practiced this exercise almost everyday since that sunny, late January afternoon the one thing that has stayed consistent is going to bikram yoga in the morning. I wake up just wanting to have that 90 minutes to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually connected to myself. I’ve been doing yoga since I was 19, but tried bikram five years ago when I first moved to New York City. I ended up falling in love with it.

It wasn’t until January 2016, when I found myself unemployed (again), nursing a broken heart, and trying to figure things out that I attempted a 30-day challenge. Those 30 days changed the way I saw myself, and felt about my strengths, weaknesses, judgements, and resilience. I was empowered by myself in the mirror, and by Stephanie Pope Caffey, the black women who led the class (and owned the studio).

My first time doing bikram yoga documented on Instagram June 28, 2013

For the first time I realized how disconnected I was from myself, and was able to change that in a way I wasn’t expecting. I always think back to that month in hopes of practicing consistently again. The older I get my health in these areas have become paramount to me living my best life.

Here are the things I discovered in each area while practicing bikram:

Emotional

To be honest I don’t like feeling emotions, especially not several in a day. I’m more of an analytical person #virgo.

I can be very hard on myself and judgemental, but in bikram that just makes the class harder. I had to give myself grace and permission to try, push, and start again if I needed. With everything in life some things are easier than others, and bikram is no different. I wasn’t emotionally in a space to accept that truth at that time.

In the beginning, I made myself wrong or bad for what I couldn’t do. Eventually I had let the feelings pass like a wave and keep it moving. The kinder I was to myself the easier it was to get through the class.

Over time, I learned when it comes to having control over my emotions there’s a difference from stuffing my feelings, and letting them pass. I had to let go of what I wasn’t or was, and just be or else the bad emotions would follow me from pose to pose. I recognized that every day was going to be different, and that was okay. The highs and lows didn’t have be a “thing” every time. It is what it is, and can remain that way.  

Spiritually

When I read The Purpose Driven Life by Robert Warren, (I wrote more about that experience here), I remember in the book it saying how everyone worships different. Growing up in church I thought you always had to be loud, singing, dancing, etc. until I read that. I instinctively knew I was a quiet worshipper, and that was how I connected with God. I love peace and quiet.

As much as I LOVE the city and turning up I’m actually a very quiet person most of the time. With other workouts that I enjoy there’s always music playing to get you hype and motivated. This was the first time I worked out in complete silence. The only sound was my breathe, and the instructor giving the poses- after a while I began to tune the instructor out and just flow.

Staring at myself in the mirror as I maintained my poses made me feel deeply connected to myself and God like never before in those moments. I felt like I was worshipping God through each pose, breath, and sweat bead dripping from my pores. Through that I also connected to myself. It was a connection I didn’t even realize I yearned for.

Physical

Being a plus size girl I’m aware of other people’s limitations put on my body. During my 30 days, the instructor didn’t limit me. She pushed me to go deeper and stretch further, and gave me modifications- which never happened in classes led by white instructors. I saw, and felt, my own strength and capabilities through various poses.

I became more intune with my body, and what does and doesn’t work for it, and I listened to it. If at no other time in my day I had to listen to my body in bikram.

Also, I love sweating! It’s not as enjoyable when I’m all dressed up with make-up and stuff on, but half naked in a yoga studio is perfect. After a couple of weeks my face cleared up. My body was detoxing, and my appetite changed. Eating the wrong foods before bikram (i.e. dairy, alcohol, fried food, and carbs) can make a big difference in performance and the intensity of being in the hot room. I also had some of the bed sleep in my life! #Ilovesleep #sleepovereverything

Living in New York I’m constantly walking around, so I never underestimate the power of stretching. My ability to move quicker, swifter, and without the limitations of tight muscles was liberating after every bikram class. I felt taller, my posture was better, and my breathing was deeper.

Mental

I love the heat. I’m a summer baby, and grew up on the west coast, but being in a room at 106 degree is completely different. Moving, twisting, turning, going up and down while literally sweating everything you have inside takes mental focus and stamina.

Bikram is a safe space for all body types, races, and physical capabilities. Everyone is practically naked. In any other circumstance I would be self-conscious of various things about my body, but I have to let it go. If for no other reason, but to concentrate on not dying from a heat stroke.

You have to be able to control of your thoughts to get through it all because once class starts you can’t leave the room. Focusing has never been a strong area for me, but when it’s either focus or mind fuck yourself into feeling like you’re about to die- YOU FOCUS! One bad thought will have you believing you’re suffocating or can’t breathe. Mental and emotional focus are not optional. I’ve had to take complete accountability for how I’ve shown up to the mat and performed whether good or bad.

Some days were better than others, but the more I did it the more the heat and time were no longer a thing for me. I realized how little it was about physically doing yoga, and being able to have mental stamina. Something that I’ve struggled with no matter how much meditation and other tricks I’ve tried in the past.

One of the best things a bikram instructor said was think of it like you’re swimming. I love to swim so I always go back to that when the sweat becomes too much.

As I reflect on what was once a dream for my life, and discover what is to come for me I’m glad I have this marker of confidence to pull from. I saw, felt, and believed in myself just because, and that is power, love, and faith.    

The Misconceptions Of Having A Mentor And What I Know Now

There’s so much pressure on having a mentor, but what people don’t tell you is that is has to come natural. It has to be a genuine relationship, not forced. I’ve been pretty clueless for years. 

In high school, I thought someone (re: a successful adult or teacher) would take a liking to me, and show me the way to success and a thriving career. Junior year I began to see teachers form these relationships with acquaintances, classmates, and friends, but it never happened to me.

I’ve been praised for my work and excellence in classes throughout my academic career, both high school and college, but never really taken under someone’s wing like I’d always imagined. Granted, I probably missed many signs of someone trying form this relationship with me. By the end of college I asked a couple people to mentor me who had similar interest, and a career paths I (thought) wanted to be on.

After college, things only got worse for me in my pursuit of a career and mentor. I’ve met so many women and men through various programs, events, and social media, but I still struggled to get my footing as a mentee and full time professional writer.

After years of failed attempts at one day meeting this “magical” person to help me I took the advice of an online mentor, #blackgirlmagic personified, and Culrbox founder (also fellow Los Angeles native) Myleik Teele. On an episode of her podcast she told a story about “just doing the work” and mentors finding her. So, I took her advice of doing the work, and stopped worrying about things that come once the work is done.

I realized after years of trying to build the walls, windows, and stairs in my metaphorical house I actually needed to lay down the foundation of my life. The foundation in not only my career, but also spirituality, mental/emotional health, and most importantly my physical health. I understand now how important it is to have a strong foundation more than ever. The world comes at you with so many things, especially with social media, a strong foundation makes a huge difference.

I still don’t have a “mentor” per se in my career field (sorry to disappoint), but I did get recommended for a great job opportunity last year. I didn’t get it, but it was nice to be encouraged to step into something bigger than what I was already doing. Also, I was hired as a freelance editor for an online website which helped me see the muscles I have in my career field already, and strengthen them even more.

Mentors In Unsuspecting Packages

I will say outside of my direct career path I do have great women mentors in my life that have been confidants, and advisers when I needed encouragement (and a clue). These women have encouraged me, sponsored me, and held me accountable in my life when I needed it the most.

As a college educated, ambitious young woman I’ve put so much pressure on having a career mentor, and didn’t realize all the incredible women who have seen the light in me already. I had to let go of all the people who curved me, dismissed me, and made me feel disposable. Focusing on the people who feed my spirit, encourage my growth, and let me know I’m on the right path has been invaluable to my life.

Invested In Myself

I’ve gone to go a number of conferences, weekend workshops, and have taken classes online and in-person, along with reading books to add tools to my toolbox.

Not having a mentor means having to seek more information on my own to grow personally and professionally. Investing in myself has become pivotal in taking responsibility for my life. I’ve been able to recognize conscious and subconscious blocks, ask myself the difficult questions, and go after things despite possibly failing. It has also given me opportunities to meet people inside and outside of my career field.  

Diversifying my network, with people in various industries, has given me new ideas, perspectives and experiences. It also takes the edge off of getting to know them and forming a genuine relationship. 

Friend Are Mentors Too

I’d like to think of my friends as my mentors. As I watch them succeed they’ve always given me ideas or exposed me to new information they learn. Being in great company reminds me that I must be doing something right, and inspires me to do more.

Issa Rae said it best in her interview with Roland Martin about networking with your peers. I’ve learned so much from talking to my friends and peers over the years. As they enter into new rooms and learn new things they share it with me, and I do the same.  

Not having a mentor has added to my insecurities, especially as a writer. I would wonder if people didn’t like me, my writing was terrible, or people just didn’t care. It could be those reasons or something else, but I can’t let that hinder me from moving forward. There were plenty of times I just didn’t speak up, didn’t send that email in the draft, and was easily discouraged in the past.

Letting go of what a mentor is or should be has taken the pressure off having one. Yes, having a mentor is very beneficial, but being present in your work and the relationships you already have is even more important. Taking care of myself, practicing gratitude, and therapy has opened my eyes to the support I do have. I’ve learned that my value is not lesser or greater because I don’t have a career mentor.

What has been your experience getting a mentor or being in a mentoring relationship? Comment below.

 

How My Biggest Challenge Helped Me Grow In 2017

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced this year, besides my dad dying, was with my body. On my vision board this year instead of claiming I wanted to simply lose weight I put “have a better relationship with food and my body.” I had no idea all the things that would come from that statement.

As a receptionist it gives me A LOT of access to food, especially free food- pizza, pastries, bagels, sandwiches, salad, cookies, and the list goes on. Besides the free food are all the restaurants, bakeries, and drug stores in the surrounding area to fuel my other cravings. I gained roughly 20-30 lbs since I started the job in 2016. My indulgence in all of the above at work plus my off work eating and drinking habits have played a part in my weight gain.

Throughout this year of trying several things to lose weight I came face to face with myself and my shit! I realized it had less to do with the food and everything to do with me choosing myself over the bull shit.

Crazy enough I thought I was already focusing on me, but really I was just distracting myself with more shit. I filled my life with so many things that I had no time for me, let alone cooking and exercising. When I did have time for me it quickly involved sleep. Every time I turned on Hulu or Netflix I would be sleep less than 10 minutes into it. I would go to great events, but couldn’t enjoy it because I just wanted to be home. I got a lot of things done, but a lot of things also fell through the cracks.

My weight has become less about my physical appearance, and more about a lifestyle of neglecting myself by putting food inside me that at times I didn’t enjoy (as much as I thought), not being as active as I would like to be, and overall not choosing myself. I know what is healthy and what’s not, but I would choose the latter anyway.  

After a long summer and fall I’ve come to realize a few things about my life, body, and trying to lose weight.

You Gotta Put In The Time

Over the years I’ve made my career more important than my life, and still don’t feel significantly closer to success than I did the year before. I thought if I hankered down and focused on my writing it would yield quick results.  

I began to work my day job 8:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., and then work from 6 p.m.- 8, 9 or even 10 p.m. on any given weekday. I thought I was hustling, focusing, and doing what needed to be done to considered successful. Mind you I wasn’t making that much more money and found myself spending half a month’s rent on food- including eating out with friends for brunch, dinner, and happy hour.

I used to walk home sometimes from work. That stopped.

I even realized I hadn’t cooked in my apartment from June until mid October, unless making smoothies count. It really hit me when I signed up for Weight Watchers in the spring that after three months I never went to a meeting. I never made the time to go. In three months I couldn’t find one hour to go to a meeting anywhere in Manhattan. That was ridiculous.

Looking at my life I saw where not taking the time applied to a lot of other areas I was struggling with. “I don’t have time for that” had literally become my motto since college. Not making time came with a huge cost to my health, finances, career, friendships and overall well-being. Needless to say it was also a cop-out so I didn’t have to deal with difficult things in my life. I see now that it’s best to remove things from my life, prioritize, and take the time to be thorough instead of running, hiding, and avoiding my reality.

I Need To Deal With My Emotions

If I’m honest food is my friend, my protector, my comforter, my everything. I didn’t realize how bad it was until this year after trying to diet time after time. Food allows me to not have to feel the feelings that can overcome me sometimes. Adulting is real. Bills are real. When I find myself unable to shop for clothes, attend that cool class, or buy that ticket out the country I know I can afford a slice of cake, almond croissant, burger, or popcorn to make me feel better.

With everything I had taken on with freelance writing and editing, my actual job, volunteering, and beginning to identify my feelings, it was too much to deal with so I ate more. I noticed after an uncomfortable or difficult session with my therapist I would always eat something even though I wasn’t hungry.

The discomfort was too much. Its still something I’m working through, but at least I can recognize the symptoms. I’m slowly making better choices to not only handle my emotions, but to also treat myself when I want to celebrate or be sad. Finding fun, exciting, and inexpensive ways to add more pleasure and happiness to my life is becoming invaluable to me on this journey.

Being Mindful in Life

My last attempt at losing weight involved me going to see a specialized doctor (results still to be determined). Part of his recommendations to me were to stop watching tv when I’m eating, to take a minute to smell my food and look at it before I eat, and to ask myself two question when deciding to eat something.

This routine brought to my attention just how mindless I am when I eat. Every time I watch tv I’m eating or want to eat. Following the doctor’s order has been very difficult, but I’m so much more aware of my eating habits. Not only do I eat when I’m emotional, but also when I’m bored or avoiding something. Its been difficult watching tv and eating slowly in silence.

When I think back to how long I’ve had the habit of watching tv while eating its been practically my whole life. Breaking old habits are never fun, but necessary. This has allowed me to be mindful about a lot of other things in my life like my social media use, and how I can be more productive. Most importantly I see how I engage with myself when I’m not forcing myself to do something to fill the time, and it too is a very uncomfortable space for me to be in.

Also, my finances were getting out of control. I was just swiping away thoughtlessly trying to keep up with the crowd and feed my cravings. I’m more mindful of where I am financially without being ashamed. A lot of times I just ain’t got it after paying bills and investing in myself. I will be there one day, but for now I have to chill. And that’s okay.

It all boils down to really taking care of myself and no longer waiting unconsciously for something to save me from my life- no book, class, job, man, or trip is going to change the mess that is sometimes my life. Being mindful makes me be accountable for everything going on in my life including my weight. I can no longer blame anything on being fat, but myself.

Keep Trying Even When I Fail

It was embarrassing to fail at Weight Watchers after hearing and seeing all the success stories. It’s always embarrassing telling your friends about a new diet or way of eating you’re trying only for them to see you order dessert after stuffing your face with pizza. Even if I didn’t tell them I was ashamed of myself for myself, but I kept trying to find something that worked.

The constant digging and trying helped me to see my unhealthy patterns clearer. It also helped me recognize that my weight is deeper than eating healthy and exercising regularly. I have some deep rooted shit going on in my being. I’m still trying to get to the root of it all and dig it up, but at least I haven’t given up on myself even if a couple of dress sizes have given up on me.

I see just how resilient I am in the face of adversity. It takes courage to try again and fail, especially when people can see your failure.

What Success Looks Like To Me

All this time spent trying to be successful I “didn’t have time” to call my family, spend time with friends, exercise, and etc. I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Or should I say didn’t make time. I was doing what I thought success was not realizing that I needed to define success for myself.

Yes, I want to have a career I love and be great at it, but I also want to be healthy with my body, relationships, and my money. All the things I’ve been putting on the back burner for “work.” When I had to drop everything to go see my dad in the hospital, put him in hospice, and then plan his funeral, work didn’t matter anymore. I still can’t help but think about all the times I said I was going to call, but forgot because I was working or too busy. Now I can never get that time back with him.

Sadly enough, I jumped right back into the bull shit when I got back to New York. After two months I had to take a step back and reevaluate my life- body, mind and spirit. I’ve decided to make my weight loss a journey, not a destination. Investing the time and money to make sure I’m making healthy decisions for myself is what’s important to me.

Taking the time to go eat instead on being on the go or eating at my desk has become important to me. Making cooking a priority for my body and bank account too. Really thinking about what I’m eating and how it will make me feel. Success is nothing if I feel overwhelmed, and my personal business isn’t properly handled.

My new level of commitment to myself and a life that I love is bigger than my weight, but my weight loss journey has led me to ask myself the tough questions. It has helped me to see what taking care of myself really looks like. I’m still a work in progress. I can’t promise you’ll see me at the gym just yet or passing up a cookie, but I will be reclaiming my time and energy moving forward.

I’m so grateful to my body for being a major catalyst in my life changing from the inside out. I never imagined learning so much about myself during this process. Losing weight became less about the weight and more about what’s going on inside of me.

What have you learned about yourself in 2017? Do you struggle with some of the same things?

#Howmybootyendupintheair: She’s Gotta Have It!

Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It series is set to be released on Netflix Thanksgiving day. After watching the movie several times, and now screening the first episode of the show I’m reminded of how far black women and their sexuality have come, and have to go. In the 31 years since the movie was release (the same year I was born) we’ve gone from a woman like Nola being called a freak to now being a THOT. Even though a woman like Nola is little more acceptable in today’s society, now that respectability politics are becoming passe for many millennials, the show is still a necessity when it comes to black women dating, and their sexuality.

There have been plenty of times I’ve heard men say or imply a woman is single because:

  • she isn’t a pushover and call her mean
  • she refuses to compromise with men and their nonsense
  • she talks shit to men when they try to talk down to them
  • she isn’t impressed simply by gestures and empty promises

I can keep going, but I’ll stop there.

Let’s go back first to my thoughts and feelings about the movie. Throughout my 20’s when I watched the film I was always on edge about Nola Darling. What was the point of the movie? Is this even possible? I was very intrigued and admittedly wanted to date multiple men at the same time like her.

I’m reminded of the different phases in my life when I watched the film. Initially, when I saw it in my early 20, still in college, and trying desperately to be the best Christian (whatever that meant) and failing miserably at it, sex before marriage was something I frowned upon, even though I was partaking in it. It’s safe to say I hadn’t really enjoyed sex at that point in my life. I couldn’t help but wonder how Nola was so free.

The Thanksgiving dinner scene (you have to watch it) made me think she was a bad bitch, yet subtle, coy, and a regular woman like me. She wasn’t over the top unlike my sexual fave Lil’ Kim who I looked up to as a teenager. Even 20 years after the film’s release I had never seen anything like Nola before.

I grew up with Sex in the City and Girlfriends, even Living Single. Here I was in the age of booty models and weave, and here was Nola, a natural short hair, naturally modest black body with nothing extra pulling eligible black men.  

The second time I watched the movie I was fresh out of college and in a celibate phase of my life. I chose not to date until I reached a certain place in my career, or at least moved out of my mother’s house. My beliefs about sex and sexuality had changed, and I no longer believed sex was something just for marriage. Although, I wasn’t participating in it due to my circumstances I no longer felt bad about “sinning” if I decided to do it. This made me less confused about Nola, but I was still very curious.

It was odd how quick men were to call a women a freak or hoe, but still willingly participated in a relationship with her. Jamie, Greer, and Mars begged her, in their own way, for her to change for them. They wanted her to be who they wanted her to be for them instead of the woman they had fallen in like or love with already. I felt it confirmed all my preconceived notions about men, and gave me even more reason to be focused so I could be an independent woman. Even years later I still feel like men love your independence until they need you to be dependent on them.

The last time I watched the movie in my late 20’s I was in a complicated relationship filled with lies. I dated several men during this time too, but always went back to this one guy time after time. I was jealous of Nola and wanted to be her foreal.

I hated that everyone around her (including Opal, her dad, ex roommate, even therapist) made her question herself. By the end of the movie she seemed confused or wanted something that wasn’t really for her at the time- to be normal. I felt the men were not sincere in wanting to be with her. She didn’t need to be fixed, nor was she broken. She just didn’t fit into a box like everyone would prefer her to. It no longer was about her and her wants by the end of the film, but what everyone wanted from her.

With the Netflix series being released in a couple of weeks I was invited to a screening of the first episode. During the screening I see Nola in a 2017 version of herself, and I’m intrigued again as it related to her sexuality and who she is as a whole woman. The dynamic of Nola with other women- her friends- is explored in the show which we needed to see more of to understand her better. The movie made it more about a woman with three boyfriends. Her relationship with women in the film was a lesbian, Opal, who was trying to sleep with her, and her ex-roommate, Clorinda, who had an issue with her sexuality.

The show and the movie shines a light on the insecurities and inadequacies of men using Nola’s sexuality, and shows how women are chastised by men for their audacity to be free.

I can recall numerous times in my own dating adventures or discussions with men about being single. Their presumption that I was a hoe at one point in my life simply because I went to college. The audacity to think I don’t enjoy being single and alone (not to be confused with lonely), and therefore should put up with their bull shit. Even men feeling that their mere presence is enough for me to want to sleep with them let alone fall at their knees and praise them for their non-existent attempts to be with me. How lame is that?

I don’t think all men are terrible, but this show shines a light on black men who feel entitled to a woman who will shut up and fuck them, and the way they go about getting it by any means necessary- manipulation, sexual harassment, sex, gifts, etc. Nola is simply rebelling against it, not for the sake of rebelling, but because it’s just not what she wants. At least that’s what I took away from the first episode.

After the screening there was a panel discussion with actress and star of the show DeWanda Wise, Series EP Tonya Lewis Lee, Series Writer/Co-Producer Radha Blank, Series Writer Eisa Davis, Award-winning author and journalist, Demetria Lucas D’Oyley, and Media Maven, Kierna Mayo moderated by “Image Activist” Michaela Angela Davis.

Demetria Lucas, Kierna Mayo, Eisa Davis, Radha Blank, Dewanda Wise, Tonya Lewis Lee, Michaela Angela Davis (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Netflix)

There were a lot of great things said about the show, character, and black women in general throughout the discussion. Lucas D’Oyley brought up a great point about Nola having three men to make one great man. Nola struggled with keeping and leaving all of the men because they all brought qualities to the table that she couldn’t find in just one of them. No one wants to talk about men being inadequate partners though.

Besides sexuality, I do believe the show is about Nola’s relationships with her art, the men, her friends, (a gentrifying) Brooklyn, and herself. I’m interested to see where the series takes us on her journey. I have a feeling its going to go there.

Woes of a Dark Girl Gone Brown

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End of summer 2013

I’m glad spring is here and summer is just around the corner, but not for the obvious reason like rooftop parties and things of the such. I’m looking forward to the sun giving me a nice deep tan because after living in New York for over a year my once “dark” complexion has started to become brown.

Growing up people have always considered me a dark skin girl to my pleasure. Recently, I’ve had one too many people tell me my skin is brown though. I remember being on a date a couple months ago and the guy telling me about his friend trying to get at a dark complexion woman as if I were not dark. As I proceeded to reply back “as a dark girl” he replied that I was actually brown.

I’ll admit I was taken aback by his comment. This was a first for me to hear and hard to accept because I consider myself dark. As I began to hear it a little more from other people I had a good look in the mirror, then photos and had to question this new perception of me. Here it is my friends and I call ourselves #teamchocolate and I might be milk chocolate now or german chocolate (which I’m craving). *gasp*

I mean it does make sense how this could be happening to me. I’m from Los Angeles, where its sunny and hot all the time, perfect for my deep dark complexion to stay baked in, but on the east coast where the temperature can get as low as 20 degrees for months at a time depriving me from my vitamin D how I like it, sunny side up, I guess I was bound to start getting lighter. This doesn’t mean I like it!

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Me in high school

I’ve always enjoyed my dark hue regardless of how others felt about it even as a child the few times when my peers would spew tar baby jokes at me I would just reply “the darker the berry the sweeter the juice” ever so proudly. I remember my dad- who is 10x darker than me- say it when I was very young only for me to hear 2Pac so eloquently say it at the beginning of his verse on “Keep Ya Head Up” (you know LA people loves us some 2Pac and Snoop Dogg lol).

The other day I was out reporting on a street naming event and I was standing in the sun on purpose. I think it did give me a slight tan or I hope it did lol.

I have no problem with other people’s skin complexion, none is better than the other, I’ve just always loved my own complexion and want it to come back and maybe even get darker. Looking at some of my pictures now I’m like “whoa” because I’m starting to see the difference. With all that being said I can’t wait for the sun to kiss my skin all spring and summer leaving me with a beautiful dark tan and maybe I might have to look into getting spray tans during the fall and winter (I kidd, I kidd).

Has your complexion changed since you’ve moved from another state where you’re originally from? Let me know in the comments.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

A Love Like This: Me Time

Last summer, after taking a few blows in life- lost my job, finally let go of the thought of being with a particular fellow, and being financially broke- I chose to try something new. I figured I’m in the city of my dreams, a place with limitless possibilities, and coins or no coins there was something available for me. I actually tried a few things at first.

I did breathework meditation, took an acting class (I really wanted to do improv), and Toastemasters.

I have a gift for speaking, but honestly I get really shy so improv and Toastemasters seemed like a good idea to break free from my shy persona. Although the initial classes were free I would eventually have to pay for them and it just wasn’t that serious so after the first time I never went back.

Trying to do something new that propels my self- development is important to me, especially as a woman and a Virgo because I have identity issues. I need a space that I am identified as ME not me and my boyfriend/husband or me and my best friend, Just Me. So often people try to attach themselves to other people or things as a comfort or safety net and give their power to those things outside of themselves. Having a healthy relationship is my number one goal and has really helped me to be a better person to others.

So, after kicking acting classes and Toastmasters to the curb I found meditation to be fulfilling and something I did just for me. Plus it didn’t hurt that it was located in Harlem my favorite place in New York. The first three months I didn’t even tell anyone that I was taking the class. It was my little secret, rightfully so. After a couple of years of trying to learn to meditate on my own this class has been a huge help.

In the beginning, I was struggling to do it right looking back I realize that was retarded you can’t breathe perfect or imperfectly. I kept going even in my feelings of being inadequate to breath and get out of my brain, but after six months of continuing to go again and again every week I’ve been able to go to another level in myself and spirituality.

I’ll admit I still can’t really sit down at home and meditate because just like with a personal trainer I need that push to keep going when I want to quit or fall asleep. Falling asleep is so easy to do in the class because your breathing relaxes you after a while.

I find myself breathing through emotional situations now and even great moments in my life when I just need to breathe in and out the joys of life. Breathing is natural and a cycle of life going in and out.

Now that its been almost a year I’m ready to tackle a new hobby (while continuing this one of course). I want to continue to evolve. Breathing has been great for my spirit, and I think now I want to focus on my feminine energy. I already feel myself growing into my womanhood in a unique way over the past couple of years. Connecting my feminine energy, spirituality, and body in a new way to feel more empowered and challenge myself at another level are now my intentions.

I believe self-love is the best love because no one can take it away, but like any other relationship it has to be maintained and continue to grow to prevent stagnation or even worse death.

So, as I slowly (yeah right) approach my birthday and continue to create a life I love and enjoy this new hobby that I’m still debating on what it should be will add to my life’s journey, along with the many other things I already enjoy.

Any suggestions for my new hobby? Do you have something that you do for yourself by yourself? Leave a comment.

-TheJournalist25