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Every Day Livin’: Only In America

Uber Opportunities

Only in America would both my Uber drivers today be non-English speaking immigrants.  The second one only eight months in from Cuba.  He’s learned “left, right, stop, yes and no” and was thankful that I knew some Spanish to get us there.  When he dropped me off to collect my car at the mechanic,  he even waited around long enough to make sure that I was talking to a mechanic and not just standing there alone.  He gets five stars for that.

International Women’s Day

Today I celebrate every real life XX Chromosome carrying chick.  It has been one of those unifying posts across my Instagram feed.  Men honoring their mothers, sisters, nieces, grandmothers.  Women honoring each other and enjoying the brilliance and beauty that is our true essence.  I remember my mom and her bestie (Madame Babier), both of whom now serve among the cloud of witnesses in heaven.  They had a great work and home life together.  We lived with Mme. Babier and her family for the first two years when we moved to Miami.  I never got the sense that there was ever any competition between them.  My mom was quiet.  She was outspoken.  They made sense together.  They worked together for years in a sweat box factory, always complaining about the management but never giving in.  I miss them both on this day.

My Kinda Funny

I’ve been on this Golden Girls series binge for the past few weeks.  I watch it when I get ready to leave for my day and at least one episode before I fall asleep.  I know why I’m watching it.  It reminds me of my mom.  It reminds me of afternoons spent hanging out with her in her room when my dad wasn’t around.  The wisecracks and sarcasm are epic funny.  “I haven’t been a virgin since The Louisiana Purchase was in escrow!” barks Estelle Getty’s character.  I died a thousand death on that one.  My husband doesn’t understand the binge but whenever he’s around long enough to pay attention, I hear him laughing at some odd situational comedic scene and I know he gets it.  He even humors me and sits through an episode-or two.  Not sure if it’s because he knows why I’m watching it or cause he finds it funny too.  Just glad that he gets it.

Social Worker Month

I never need an excuse or reason to celebrate my profession.  I figure if I don’t do it, who else will?  I’ve been working on some projects to exponentially move forward the field of mental health personally and professionally.  What I’ve discovered is that unlike five years ago when people would bow their head and pass the collection plate in pity when they heard what I did for a living, folks are now paying more attention-really pay attention.  In this climate where people are looking for answers, looking for direction, looking for anything; I’m humbled to be a part of what it is going to take to bring about hope and perspective to those who are searching.  I never take it lightly when a total stranger decides to entrust him or herself into the hands of another total stranger with their story.  There is no definitive role that a social worker plays.  He or she can be a political figure one day of the week, a play therapist another day, life coach, therapist, case manager, consultant–you name it.  The sky is the limit.  So pardonnez-moi as I scream from the rooftops that “I LOVE MY PROFESSION!” It’s more than a job, it’s a calling.

Un-Fastening My Potential

I’m two days into my 40 Day Fast.  I get the sense that people are becoming less traditional in their walk with Christ and more “progressive”.  Christ was the most progressive human being who ever walked this earth, so I know he’s provided me with enough tools to maintain a level of constant renewal in my spiritual life.  No need to reinvent the wheel in that department.  Some days it’s like automatic.  I can read my Bible, pray and remain centered.  Other days it’s like searching for a light switch in a pitch-black room.  Both types of days require my trusting in God for the answers regardless of whether they come easy or hard.  

Abstaining from certain foods and activities is part of that.  I have never been disappointed.  Tested, yes.  Annoyed, yes.  Bothered, yes.  Disappointed, no.  It doesn’t mean that I become some hermit and go in a cave until the day before Easter.  The Bible actually warns against those who would have themselves look like they’re in misery during a fast.  Nothing changed but my choices.  Limiting my social media and news intake to Pulse and Instagram.  I figure I still gotta consume news to remain updated and I still want to learn from others who I don’t even know in areas that matter to me.  Those two outlets meet those needs.  I’ve always grown personally during these fasting periods.  It’s not something I can place my fingers on during some years.  In some years, I can see the hand of God just moving in ways only He could take credit for.  In other years, it’s been quiet shifts in my paradigm.  Just one degree of change still means change.
I’m having major caffeine withdrawals and it’s not pretty.  Just thought I’d throw that out there.  Prayers needed.
Solo Field Trip

This weekend I get to go to the much talked about Game of Thrones Concert Experience.  The nerd girl in me is super psyched to be in this space.  The introvert in me is extra psyched that I don’t have to share this experience with anyone else.  Going it alone. Solo dinner and solo concert experience. Can’t wait to tell ya all about it.

Life Coach

What’s Your Therapy?

I spent four hours the other evening revamping my church’s bulletin board. It was on the shabby side and my discerning eye was truly aggravated by it each time I saw it. Just the thought of redesigning it got me excited. I would get to do something I love and make me feel good in the bargain. 

The casual observer would have gone nuts with the number of times I had to get on a chair, get off a chair, walk away and return only to move something on the board for the hundredth time. “You look happy doing that,” someone said. Mind you I wasn’t humming or grinning from ear to ear but the person realized I was in my personal zen just cutting away and stapling away on this board. “It’s my therapy,” I responded. 

Baking is my therapy. Reading is my therapy. Turning chaos into order is my therapy. What’s yours?

There’s something in us that finds peace when we do it. Something that others find perplexing and frustrating to do, but you find it as your outlet and it brings a sense of calm to your soul. 

Some people run. Frankly pounding my knees on the pavement one in front of the other is more of an obligation, but I know folks who lace up and run to escape. 

Some people bake and have a kitchen dusted over with flour. They find the measuring and watching this mélange of ingredients turn into something others drool over is rewarding. 

Some people enjoy a good swim or anything dealing with the water. For them, subconscious reminders of their first nine months in the womb brings a sense of escape. 

Some people clean their house from top to bottom and erase the old and bring in the new. Their idea of peace is trashing huge bags of stuff they no longer need, decluttering their lives one piece of junk at a time. 

Some people enjoy all things music. Some play around with makeup. Some love quiet moments in reading. Some journal. Some blog. Some climb mountains in search of new adventures. Some like long rides. Some binge watch old episodes. Some do triathalons. Some travel. Whatever brings you a sense of relaxation or reward should be considered your therapy. 

March is social workers month and half of my work in therapy is guiding others in the discovery of their inner peace. We go stretches and stretches in our lifetime running towards illusions without settling down and finding contentment. We go miles and miles being unhappy in our skin without finding that “thing” that makes us smile on the inside and look forward to doing it. 

On this night, working on a bulletin board is what I needed. I also needed an Ibuprofen when I was done! Getting on and off a chair, stapling, unstapling, moving, removing. When it was all done, my sense of accomplishment of this task eased the long day I had endured. 

Find your therapy. Commit to taking care of yourself. 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Traveling While Noire

I’ve been traveling since I was in my mamman’s belly. Once she found out she was preggers with me, she made sure to hop from St. Maarten back to Haiti to be with her mom and aunts as they fawned over her and prepared her for mommyhood. We then went to Haiti as children and spent beautiful weeks near the capital on Rue Delma with the Palace looming over us as a huge white edifice. 

My first memory of being on a plane was as a young child vomitting and my parents having to pull down the suitcase to clean me up. Motion sickness remains the bane of my existence ever since. We traveled to Miami for what I thought was a two week vacation in 1984 and never returned. There were the silent years of traveling. After all, hard working parents could scarcely pay the mortgage and finance a vacation now could they? Thankfully school trips kept me on a bus to some school competition or other and Disney World didn’t have to worry about not getting my money. 

Thankfully, I married a wanderlusting husband who trekked the world as a missionary as his gap years experience. Our modest honeymoon spent in Bahamas was just a foretaste of things to come. His being in Romania right after the hanging  of a communist dictator (Nicolae Ceaușescu) faced a firing squad had to be interesting. Being one of two blacks on the team was too. During our second year, we traveled as missionaries (again just us two melanin popping souls) to Zacatecas, Mexico. Dead center in the country’s landscape, it was rich in culture and rich in poverty. We ate good. While our white peers searched high and low for KFC and Burger King, we ate whatever they placed in front of us. There was this green spicy pepper with cheese in the core that they grilled. Good home cooked meals. My AUTHENTIC Mexican food palate has never been the same. Nothing compares stateside. Nothing. 

Most of our traveling then became heavy on the domestic side. With trips up and down the east coast, heading as far north as Canada one winter. Saw the Niagra Falls. Experienced the brutal upstate New York winter. We’ve driven up the Smokies, straddled North Carolina and Tennessee. To this day neither of us can’t listen to Norah Jones without thinking of the winding roads in Sevierville, TN. Hiking up random hills, passing by random head stones as the crunch of leaves beneath our feet echoed in the trees. 
I’ve driven to Oklahoma for a friend’s graduation and had the pleasure of of being stopped by one of their “finest.” Definitely not one of their finest moments. We’ve flown into Chicago, driven to Indiana to collect our first new car together.  Seen why The Jacksons got the heck up outta Gary and saddened by it all. Saw snow for the first time, ran out and twirled around in it and ran right back in. The introvert in me opted to watch the Shaka Zulu marathon instead of venturing too long outside. My older me kicks my younger self for not carpeing the darn diem on that one. Drove our Honda CRV from Indiana to Florida. That was fun. We’ve heeded the call of friends moving from Minnesota and helped them make the trek back down with their newborn baby. That’s what friends did for each other. Fly up to drive back down! Lol! I’ve honored my beautiful state of Florida with the trips to the Keys, Sanibel, St. Augustine. Saw Henry Flagler’s beautiful home and dreamt of the time when men bought grand homes for their new brides. The romantic in me stays on high volume. D.C., MD, NYC, NJ, NC, CA, NV, OK, GA . . . whether it was for work or pleasure I have made the best of my travels.  From riding the rails in San Fran to dashing in DC’s museums, I have no regrets. Nearly lost my life water rafting in TN! Still no regrets. 

Island hopping trying to recreate some of childhood memories has also been a thing for me. Mexico saw me for my 33rd year. The year that Jesus died. That’s what you do right?! Go to Cozumel! Lol! Oh the irony in that one will be left at just that. Smirk. 

You have never been to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands unless you have taken a walk on their very “un-beaten paths”. Ever had curry crab from a big pot on the side of the road?  You gotta do it once. Just once. I have yet to return to my homeland of St Maarten. My mother’s passing is creating some level of urgency behind going back, for I fear it’s going to be one huge experience in exposure therapy. My mental health folks can certainly sympathize. 

Remember my wanderlusting hubster? Well he’s definitely not the jealous type and has no problem dropping me off at the airport and wishing me well. He’s always encouraged my adventurous side and it helps that he is secure in himself as my life’s partner. Really. How many husbands would send their wives off to Vegas for her 40th and say “have fun, don’t spend all our money we got bills when you get back.” How many would have their wives experience Hawaii not once but twice in five months? And text you to remind you to celebrate hard. Even helped me countdown this last time. I simply love him. Hawaii saw me once for a family wedding and once for a girlfriend’s birthday which bookends as my birthday by the way. 

As I listen to the roaring waves outside my two story rented home, I’m amazed and humbled to experience life through these eyes of mine. Being one of six Sistahs on Hawaii Air was an eye ‘popping’ opener. I had gotten up to mention something to the stewardess and before I could mention my seat number she said “Oh, I can find you when I need to.” Me-puzzled. Oh yeah… that’s right.  It’s like SIX of us Blacks, all women on this flying coffin. She could point us out blindfolded in a line up if she had to. Yeah her with the waist length Sisterlocks that kept getting caught in her face under the sleep mask. Yeah that one. 

 I think of my mom, the traveling merchant who herself island hopped the Caribbean and Latin America searching for goods and wares to return and sell in St. Maarten. She saw a need and met it. Buying beautiful things that could only be bought if only you traveled the world to search. As I wrap up this recent trip, I question my hesitancy to share where I’m going in my travels with people. Particularly other black folks. It’s less about the “they just being nosy” but more about “oh gosh, what must they be thinking of me now.” And granted I could give ZERO cares (ya’ll know I don’t cuss–but you get the gist) I’ve been known to say “I’m going out of town” before I say I’m going to Hawaii and will be celebrating my birthday in all my cuteness in four time zones before making it back to South Florida. I hesitate to say I’ll be on a cruise celebrating another 40th in a couple of months. I’ve been mum about taking a quick jaunt to ATL not once but twice this Spring to celebrate some of my babies graduating. Or that Jamaica will see my husband and I again and this time I want to try something else that can possibly cause my death. Heck. My demise may as well be in Jamaica as anywhere else. 

My next blog is going to touch on being a black traveler in foreign places but through the lense of other black traveling friends. Stay tuned for the questionnaires and phone calls wanderlusters! The perceptions of black folks on black folks who travel will also be explored. We can be some of the most savage hating meanies when it comes to celebrating each other’s ability to collect passport stamps rather than things. White man travels to Dubai. No one blinks. But let Sistah girl snap photos of her trip to the Louvre and her posts gets screen shot and shared around the world in less than sixty seconds. With words like “doing the most” and “girl bye”‘laced in the convos. 

Haters. 

Stay tuned. 

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.