Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Piece of A Man

She’s rushing to and fro. She’s searching high and low. She’s looking here and there. No, it’s not for that favorite pair of shoes. Or that purse she hardly used. Sistah girl is trying to piece together half of a man cause waiting on a whole one is like watching paint dry. On one of them tall buildings in Dubai. During humid season. 

She creeps out back windows. She pretends ignorance of his presence in public places. She scrolls through Facebooks posts. Patching up flash in the pan experiences to make something, anything of low key time spent with him. Piece of a man. 

She accepts the randomized efforts at affection. Random pecks on the cheek, even when they’re alone. He’d rather kiss the other creases on her body to even care to stare into her eyes. He’d rather pierce her body and ignore her soul. Piece of a man. 

Meals shared on a couch. Of a two star hotel. In silence. Gifts come in umarked boxes with no lyrical cards to tickle her fancy. The UPS man’s earnest smile is really the only reward that awaits at the door. As he passes along yet another gift she can’t brag on. Piece of a man. 

Her friends say “Girl, keep that man! At least you got half a man!” Yet they snicker behind  chat room texts on the foolery that had become her existence. Texting shade at her pitiful circumstances. Piece of a man. 

Her life a reality show without the check. A Shakespeare comedy without the laughter. Of one human being resigned to being resigned. Of a soul whose heart is spent piecing together a piece of a man. 

Like sitting at a table with a 5000 jig saw puzzle set. With one piece missing. Be it 500 pieces missing or just that damn-ed one. He’s still just that. A PIECE of a man. 

Life Coach

2016: New Year Musings 

I quit my job on 12/31/15 and I’ve been on a journey of learning and experiencing ever since. I’m not making the same type of “change” (but I have never gone without for either my needs or wants). I don’t get to dress up in skirts and heels all the time and I don’t work alongside a whole heap of people. Wait. This is sounding more appealing as I write it. Lol! But if quitting a job yields the year I had, I kinda wish I had done this sooner rather than later. My year in review reads like a cross between a travel/self-help/spiritual/relationships book. I had fun. I really did. 
I traveled. To Martha’s Vineyard, The Poconos, NYC, Hawaii, mountains, beaches and all the other places in between. I ate garlic shrimp from the side of the road. I had pasta in a cozy New York restaurant. I stayed in a cabin one week and a multimillion dollar golf property the next. I enjoyed mountain living sitting on a porch in a rocking chair. Walking alongside a lake enjoying the late summer breezes. I enjoyed it all. 
I stretched myself professionally. Working in spaces with people I would not have otherwise been exposed to. Learning new systems, processes, approaches to the body of work in mental health. My brain appreciates the growth. My mind is excited to know learning is still my first love. 
I made new connections. Joined a mentorship fellowship and a leadership fellowship AT THE SAME TIME. While I wouldn’t recommend doing this simultaneously, I’m kinda glad I did. I experienced mentorship from different perspectives in leadership and personal growth. I’m blessed to have been mentored by women who look like me and by others who didn’t, but were willing to extend themselves all for the greater good. 
Tons of other things happened along the way in 2016. Some stupendous and some just downright stupid. I learned that when you exit certain circles, there will be those who write you off and out. There others who reel you in and make the experience so much more bearable. I started the year feel irrelevant and realized my relevance was based on the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Lesson learned. 
I was Indiana Jones looking at the chasm between where I was and where I needed to go. I took that first step and threw the dirt. I then saw the invisible path really wasn’t invisible. Many along the way served as the visibility I needed to keep walking one step at a time. The referrals. The calls. The references. The heads up. The emails. The opportunities. And when their voices dimmed, there stood God reminding He had never left me and never would. Even in the silent times. 
You may not have plans to quit your job. But I’m sure you’ve got some deep seated dreams you need to step out on. Scared money don’t make money. Closed mouths don’t get fed. You get the point. I had to crucify my personality and my fears on the cross of change to BEGIN to change to SEE change coming. It won’t be easy. Trust when I say. I went from buying a pair of shoes every week to buying a pair of shoes on a quarterly basis! Joking. But you get my point. 
It’s okay be scared. Goodness knows I was. Let your fear be a driving force. Not a hindrance. Here’s to 2017 and all that it holds. 

Career, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: How To Avoid Career Suicide 

I’ve been on somebody’s job since I was a senior in high school. I never knew what it was to ever be without one. It would literally be me resigning from one, using up some left over vacation time and being on the next job a week later. No intermissions. No breaks. No hiatus. No explanations to hem and haw about during a future interview. 

The talking heads now say millennials will find themselves in and out of jobs more than they are in and out of underwear. It’s the natural trend now to avoid putting down too strong of roots. They say your stakes should be loosely drilled into the ground. One day you will need to snatch them up and leave in the dead of the night. I guess it’s true. And I guess this trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Yet I’d like to believe whether we remain on a job for one day or ten years there are some valuable lessons to be learned about ensuring one’s career doesn’t suffer great losses. 
Keep Your Nose Clean

I can’t fathom life in my younger years with social media as part of my everyday living. That everything I ever wanted to think, do, say or feel could be shared with the world in one fell swoop. Drunken rages, profanity laced rants, racial slurs said in the heat of the moment, compromising photos–all laid bare for the world to see. All have caused irreparable damage. One day you’re rubbing elbows with your colleagues. Next day you’re on snap chat and the rest is history. There will also be circumstances we face that will never make Facebook live but will certainly make the rumor mill, which my dear is still wildfire fast and merciless in its recounting. 

People have long memories. People have even longer reasons why they wouldn’t attach their names to anyone else’s for fear of being guilty by association. Who wants to ever get a call that starts with “Girl, that girl you sent me…child…a mess!” No one. Who wants to have to spend an iota of their breathing time explaining away some random decision made by someone they vetted or vouched for? No one. It makes for awkward conversations nobody wants to have. Whatever it is. Cut it. Whoever it is. Cut it. Stay on the front page for all things positive. Don’t be about that “hindsight is 20/20” life. Don’t live on the island of regrets.   Don’t be the one whose reference letters dry up like Death Valley. 

Remain Relevant
There is some Gen-Exer in a fetal position somewhere regretting she didn’t follow through with taking those Quickbook courses when she had the chance. The tears soaking her pillow speaks of many other missed opportunities. Don’t be like her. I was a payroll clerk, at the bottom of the office totem pole taking all the Microsoft training classes I could take. I was in undergrad, clocking in 16 hour days of work, internship and class. I missed a whole heap of random stuff. Or at least at the time I thought I did. I doubly paid my dues and expect you, my dear, to pay yours. 

When your boss sends out that upcoming workshops memo, you better be the first to sign up. Don’t spend your time deliberating with your colleagues on the merits of taking a refresher course or joining a mentirship peofram. Sometimes we lose out when we try and hash out with others our intentions. One glib comment can deflate you and cause you to miss out on your next win. If “Susie D. Hater” has no aspirations to move up and move out, that’s her business. You on the other hand came to survey the land and to conquer it. Keep learning, keep improving, keep being your personal best. 

I plan to build on this post in future blogs. Stay tuned. In the mean time, stay out of trouble and stay being your better self. 

Faith, Grief And Loss, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Waiting Season 

I got caged in to teach at a local church last evening. I mean what else do you call preparing to speak about a subject that you’re still yourself wading deep in the water about? That God would deign the stars and moon to align in this season of my life to speak about grief and loss is beyond my peanut brain’s capacity to understand. But He’s that Father. You know the one who allows you to flay your arm in the water while he’s under you. And then out of no where goes missing just to see if you can float by yourself. He’s that Father who wakes up one day and says “training wheels off!” 

Well that’s what happened the other night and I suspect that’s going to happen more and more in this coming season of my life. I’ve been meditating on the Holy Spirit’s nudging of being in what I call the “waiting season.” For me it’s the season where I’m literally in a spiritual room where the doors are shut and I’m waiting to hear the prognosis from the doctor at any moment. I’m waiting to hear some news, any news about next steps, next goals, next dreams, next directions. I’ve ticked off some things off my list but I suspect God has some other things in store that had nothing to do with my five year plans.

 As I wait, God reminds me to remain faithful in my actions. That waiting isn’t an immobile activity. Rather it’s an activity where preparation is taking place for when those doors do open and the results are in. 

I once took my laptop to the ER with me. I had an ankle sprain that had been bothering me. I saw people just sitting there bored out of their minds, counting cracks in the wall. Me? Well I was pecking away at my laptop, trying to meet some deadline or other. Before I knew it I was in my flow; didn’t even realize time had passed and even got annoyed the few times they kept calling me up to verify information. You see in my waiting I found something to do. Something to keep me occupied. Something to keep my mind and body going. Something to keep me on top of my game for such a time as when that door of opportunity opened and voila! I would be ready. 

Last night was that kind of night. I didn’t get invited to speak because my mother had died and that by some random designation I had become some expert at grief. I don’t do random and I don’t do happenstance. That’s for people who just “let” life happen to them

 God’s people don’t let life happen. They make life happen. There was more to it than losing my mother to cancer. Words would only simplify the journey that led to that one hour of speaking to one of the toughest audience groups I know. Haitian adults. In a church. Both men and women. Most whom have me by at least 15-20 years of age. Most who have had some inexplicable losses that my mind can’t even fathom. Words would only serve to minimize how at peace I felt in that moment. In that space in time speaking to those I have prayed to God that I could share my heart with. There are no words for that. 

Your waiting season may be here now. It may be laden with impatience and frustration. Remain faithful in your doing. Those doors will fling wide open. Just you wait and see. 

Your waiting season may be just around the corner. Don’t get blindsided by it. Own it. Accept it. Prepare for it. 

Your waiting season may be a thing of yesterday and you are right now hollering your praise to the Most High. Just don’t forget there are others who were exactly where you were. They can benefit from your wise counsel. 

Off will come those training wheels. Off will come those flotation devices. And off you will go forward once your waiting season is done. 

Current Events

Christmas Got Cancelled 

I cancelled yet another Christmas this year. Yes my tree is up and my holiday tablescapes will be laid out. My lit mini trees are right on my porch twinkling through the night. My Pandora station stays on all things holiday and I’m a corny mess with the holiday movies. Yes I will have the holiday towels up in my bathroom and my kitchen with the peppermint soap to boot. Don’t come for me! *insert dare face and laughter*. But yeah…Christmas got cancelled. 

I turned my love of shopping for family members into shopping for children of incarcerated family members. I am making my famous banana pudding and randomly calling people up for a taste. I gifted a pregnant mom with some books I realized I will never use. Yeah, yeah I know Sarah had a baby when she was dirt old but I won’t be able to see to read them anyway. Smirk. 

I road tripped with some of my squad members to create more memories to belly laugh about. I joined the choir so I can hang with people I hardly know and mesh some beautiful voices while we sing our lungs out for Jesus and the church. I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” because somewhere, somehow I think I lost my way to Christmas. 

Cancelling Christmas is really more about figuring out what should be important for you and less about what QVC says it should be. I swear that station can convince me to buy three crockpots if I let it! Who says that you need a tree? Who says you have to bake cookies? Who says you have to watch Charlie Brown Christmas while listening to Nat King Cole? Who says you have to learn karate to run these streets and jockey through the malls? All traditions rightly so, but they don’t have to be your traditions. 

If your anxiety level skyrockets while your finances plummet that my dear is a sign that you need to cancel Christmas. If your time and patience is stretched thinner than Stevie Wonder’s hairline, that’s your cue to fall back. You are doing THE UNNECESSARY most. You’re doing it for the wrong reasons and chances are you will resent your loved ones and yourself come December 26th. By the time the new year comes around you will be making resolutions not to kill anyone. 

So you got the decorating itch but your loved ones could care less. Go decorate a daycare or nursing home in your community. Have you ever seen a child walk into a daycare lobby and see the tree lit up for the first time? Kleenex please! You want to bake but those ungrateful family members just want to eat and run. Bake up a storm and take it to the neighborhood business you frequent throughout the year. My UPS guys think they love me now! Drop a gift card in your garbage man’s hand. He will be dragging your trash out on the days you were late in coming out. Speaking from experience, that’s a gift that keeps on giving! Call up some random people and use up those gazillion Olivia Pope wine glasses you got tucked everywhere and the tiny dishes you been dying to bring out. POTUS isn’t coming for dinner and you won’t be sending out another invite for the next four years anyway! *side eye*

Cancel the Christmas that Target wants you to have. You know the one where the jingle bell sounds are enticing and the loud red color is baiting you to do what you really shouldn’t be doing. 

Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. 


Sistah Take A Seat: All About Priorities

I spent way too many hours in this finite life stressing over what others thought of me, why they thought what they thought, or why did they even think at all! Only to find out that I really didn’t have the answers. Nor was it my right to even care.  You find yourself passionate about something and realize that some will nod their heads, give the thumps up and the high fives. And those smiles. You know the ones that never quite reach their eyes. Between the clapping and the 🙌🏾emojis you would swear you had their full support. Then reality hits. It was all just words. 
I would boil faster than my mama’s pressure cooker boiling beans on a Saturday afternoon. Why weren’t they sensing the urgency like I did? What about this issue that didn’t get them moving? Why wasn’t it important to them as it was to me? Then one day the Holy Spirit whispered that if they could celebrate a lone rider on a donkey one day and drive nails in his hand the next, who was I to expect any different? But it really doesn’t stop there. 

Human beings are fickle creatures by nature. Bell bottoms one day. Boot legs the next. Straight legs the day after next. And skinny jeans two days hence. Our likes and dislikes change with the rising and the setting of the sun. Why would we not expect this to be the same with things that matter to us? Facebook’s greatest invention is the “On This Day” feature. It’s been the perfect reminder that who I was in 2008 and who I am now is inherently the same. But something is very different. My priorities. 
I have grieved the loss of birthing children. I have lost my mother to breast cancer. I turned and walked away from a stable, well paying job. Those three major life events alone (not to mention the others that litter my life’s trail) set me back and propelled me forward simultaneously. All in all, my patience, my tenacity, and ultimately my faith took on a new meaning. My priorities–well they just changed. So I imagine it is the same for others. 

We can never understand what journey our neighbor is taking even when they share it with us. For the couple who prefer to make their children their priority during the formative years. For the single woman who is saving for her first home. Man or no man, she’s getting that house. For the friends who have made a pact to see the many wonders of the world. For that college student whose trying to get that degree and make it happen. These are all PRIORITIES.  

These priorities will mean that attention is being diverted. Energy is being spent elsewhere. Motivation is being shared in other areas. Just not in you. Just not with you. And that’s okay. It is going to have to be okay. It is not everyone that is out to hurt you. It is not everyone with a voodoo doll made in your image sticking it every week after Sunday service. Yes, those people exist. They are real and they are out for your blood. But truly, it’s not and should never be that serious. Greater is He who is in you… Remember that. So the next time you feel down in the dumps about the “lack of support” from friends or become frustrated with lack of response or some perceived apathy, just remember. It’s all about priorities. Keep that perspective and it will earn you more years and less stress. 

Current Events

The Black Narrative

My teachers back in St Maarten got me started early with the tales of how the Caribbean islands “came to be.” Here is the short and long of it. The Arawaks were savages. Were it not for Senor Colombus coming through with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all would be lost in the Antilles. I swear we had to repeat those three ship names over and over and over. No mention of any slave ships. No mention of any slave uprisings. No mention of how all these colored folks came to land on these islands. No mention of a neighboring Pearl of the Caribbean’s influence on this part of the world. Just some tall tale about three raggedy ships and the man who “discovered” the islands. 

Fast forward to my American education. I pride myself on having a very good memory and impression. Nerd girls typically do. I read voraciously and school books didn’t stand a chance of catching dust in my book bag. Yet I’m rattling my brains more and more these days to think of anything that introduced me to the pivotal role my color, my culture played in human history. Yes there was the mandatory Black History month events. We even had a cultural day in middle school. And it was back to American education as usual. Science class with no mention of the sistahs from NASA. American History with its subtle warnings of what happened to black folks when they rebelled against this great nation and “our” forefathers. 

I’m sure my black teachers tried their best to infuse cultural pride. But standing on this side of education years later, I can see how their efforts may have been challenged at the risk of their livelihood. It took a Black Panther-esque black teacher, then later a hippie-esque Jewish teacher and even later a white woman to exert their respective privileges in the classroom and challenge me to go beyond Siddartha and Catcher in the Rye. Roots took  the scales off my lids. Malcolm X wiped some of the cold out my eyes. Kaffir Boy served like saline to my sight. Caged Bird freed my soul and made me soar. My sixth grade copy still holds a place on my shelf. I still weep for my lost autographed Ntosake Shange book. Colored Girls, suicide and rainbows was more than enuf for me. Beloved. The Bluest Eyes. Song of Solomon. These ladies kept pouring and pouring  and pouring a new story, a new narrative into me. 

Everyone knew that African American history class was for the kids that needed an “easy A.” My guidance counselor felt my time would be best spent taking the European AP class. Side bar: it was the only AP test of three that I ever failed. I had to beg my dad to take me to night school and wait the one hour in the parking lot. I wanted to learn about the Kings and Queens who ruled Mother Africa. You see, at one time in my life I could spit out stories of the Czars and Sun Kings and far eastern Dynasties but the African narrative… well… I was truly mute. 

I sense a hunger in the lives of a people to know who they are as a culture and as a people group. Anytime you have folks breaking down doors to watch a movie about a man whose blood long stained this earth, it is cause to pause and ponder. Our people shouldn’t have to wait for a movie to be inspired. They shouldn’t have to wait for 30 second blurbs on social media to get all amped up. If the Black narrative was the first one taught before all else, I’m willing to bet the trajectory of our lives and our children’s lives would have taken a different turn in human history. There won’t be too many people able to afford to tell the story about “us” on the big screen. The onus rests with us.  

It is the stories told while picking out barrettes from the cookie can, the political dinner table discourse every father and mother should engage their children in, the random moments spent with someone else’s child while babysitting/carpooling–those are the moments we should seize to help our future learn to be great. 

I stood in a circle with 15 other #BlackGirlMagics last evening imparting wisdom to a budding young woman. The moment wasn’t lost on me. Standing to my left and right were women who had to learn the Black narrative the hard way. We didn’t have the privilege of some rites of passage in our youth. It was by hook or crook to get into college. First generation immigrant children are the last on the “privilege” totem pole. The irony was not lost on us. Yet here we stood in unison praying down blessings upon blessings on this young soul. While those in the crowd were either too young to understand or too displaced to even care, we knew it was imperative she heard the words of our ancestors speaking through us just for her. 

I can’t peel off my skin, or cut off my Sisterlocks when I leave my house each day. It’s as much a part of who I am as my faith in Christ. I can’t pretend I’m not hurt when the woman at the theatre sees the “Birth of a Nation” poster and huffs “Oh, I don’t want to see that” and casually walks away. To believe for the betterment of my culture doesn’t mean I negate the value of others. It just means that mine needs some “tending to” right about now. I been looking after everyone else’s for much too long.