Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bravo to BBBB Reader, LaQT! Bravo!

My blog doesn't fit any of the blog rules. They are super long. I post one time a month. I have no advertisements on my site. I barely put in pictures and a whole host of other things.

I write these blog posts because I want to be the voice that REMINDS YOU, how fabulous you are. Too many of us are constantly bombarded with negativity.

Do I have it all together? Hah! Absolutely, NOT!

Just as much if not more than encouraging you to be beautiful, I try to encourage you that you have all that you need right now, to do what you need and want to do - successfully. Perfection is NOT a requirement.

On those few days when I think I am a 'sucker' for writing this blog, outside of the rules and think that I am merely just taking up space in the blogsphere, wasting your time and my time, one of you fabulous ladies steps out and reminds ME why I write these blog posts.

LaQT wrote in the comments section on a post of mine, on October 6th, that she was in the health care field but has always dreamed of being a doctor. Her concern was that pursuing her dream would be a burden on and to her family. On the other side of the coin, she wrote that in her heart she knew that she encouraged her little ones to be who they wanted to be. In the end, she wants to remain authentic and not be hypocritical or to not have regrets in her future for not pursuing her own dreams.

Then on November 21st, 2009, LaQT wrote another comment. She let us know that she is currently taking her prerequisites in preparation for: Entering a Medical Program!

Our girl LaQT is stamping down her fears and doubts, stepping out on faith, and pursuing her life long dream.

LaQT, I know that you will attain your dream and you will reach your goal. Bravo, LaQT!
Bravo, to you!

You should see how my little chest is puffed out, all proud. LaQT, YOU are the reason I write this blog. Not to define you, or tell you what to do. I write this blog to constantly remind you and everyone who reads this blog that within you, there is Inner Greatness! All you have to do is believe it, act upon it and watch your dreams come true.

When LaQT reaches the end of this leg of the journey, and attains her medical program credential, you or I may be in a situation where because of her, our life, or the life of someone we love, is saved.

Pursue your dream LaQT. I believe that dreams are divinely placed within us. Pursuing that dream and bringing it to fruition may literally help to save the life of someone else.

LaQT, thank you for the honor and privilege of being allowed to see you off, as you begin your wonderful journey.

Look back only for the briefest of moments. I'm the little one. I'm kind of in the back. The one with the tear glistening in my eye, in danger of having it drop fat and full and heavy down my cheek.

I got the proud smile, stretched from ear to ear, waving at you as you walk up the gangplank to board that ship that will carry you to places of which you have never seen and only dreamed.

And ya'll, you know she is going to look beautiful doing it, too! Beautify Bit by Bit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Relinquishing and Silencing Your Voice or Your Choice

Despite what the movies and popular culture depict, silencing your voice and letting someone else make decisions for you, are not necessarily the characteristics of what makes a woman pretty or feminine or inherently a woman. Conversely, nor are the lack of these characteristics a condemnation that a woman is unpretty or unfeminine.

Before you naysayers stand up and say, "Hold up Chicoro, tell me something I didn't know, because you're preaching to the choir. These are BLACK women to whom you are speaking, and YOU know our issues are that we are often considered too strong, too vocal and too independent."

Firstly, I would respond with the rhetorical question,"You think so?" not to elicit a reply, but to make an assertion. That assertion or positive declaration, without support or reason is, you too do it: You relinquish and silence your voice and your choice.

We do it when we accept inappropriate or unkind treatment from a partner because we want to hold on to that partner. We do it at our jobs when we even just question whether or not we should go out with our natural hair. We do it when tone down the way we would normally say something on the job because of fear we might be perceieved as too aggressive. We do it, because so many of us are in jail because we let that person doing something wrong, lay up under us, and turned our heads from their wrong doing, because we 'loved' that person. We do it, ladies, we do it.

Secondly, I would say, "Be careful." Because although what you say or think you are, which may be uncharecteristically different than what and who society deems you to be as a woman-- voiceless and choiceless -- understand one other inference of this popular cultural argument. Because you are vocal and make your own choices, society may declare that you indeed are unattractive, not pretty and unfeminine. After all, if you subscribe to and perpetuate what you say you are, strong, vocal, autonomous, aren't you by logic, saying the same thing as society? That you agree with its definition of who you are by default of silent acceptance, a decision that you have unconsciously but willingly have made? I'm just asking.

To this I say, "Be cognizant and aware of societal perceptions of who you are supposed to be, voiceless and choiceless. Be cognizant and aware of inner cultural perceptions of who you are supposed to be - vocal, autonomous and strong." Why?

Although it is my hope that you will delve deep within yourself to discover and know who you truly are and who you wish to be, it is important to know how others think and feel about you. That is because to get from point A to point B, in fulfillment of your purpose, as you walk through this journey called life, you will encounter many obstacles.

In order to circumvent those obstacles and successfully navigate your journey toward your goals, you have got to know what may lie ahead. If there is a hole in the road, you want to know about it and be aware of it. Can you personally close that hole? Probably not, but if you are aware of it, you have some forewarning or knowledge to go around it. Will it guarantee your safe passage? No, by no means. But it certainly will raise the odds in your favor.

Don't ever let somebody else define who you are, whether it be the external society at large or your own tight knit family members. Don't get caught up in who you are supposed to be and what that makes you - pretty, or what it doesn't make you- not pretty.

Just be you. Sometimes, having no voice is a choice. Sometimes being choiceless is a way of exerting and empowering your voice.

Create and live your OWN definition of what it means to be beautiful and feminine. You do that by knowing yourself and being true to yourself, not just in the area of beauty and femininity, but also let this manifest as it pertains to your integrity and your Soul.

Beautify yourselves bit by bit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Just Never Know...What Can Happen

Procrastination is not just lying on the couch, watching television all day. Procrastination can also be about focusing all your energy, time and effort on a goal that you really don't want. That goal could even be worthy, difficult to achieve and valuable for someone else, but not for you. Huh?

Ever wanted to be something, or do something or have something so badly, that whenever you thought of it or saw it, your little heart ached, or your stomache quivered? How many times have you given something half the effort, or none at all, because you thought you couldn't really reach the goal you set or have what you wanted? So not wanting to set yourself up for disappointment- AGAIN - to have to feel that ache in your heart or have to hear THAT voice remind you of the reasons why you should have known you'd fail, you just put it out of your mind, and try to act like it's not important to you. What if what you wanted seemed to require that you be well connected, lucky, born with 'it', or just plain ol' not likely to happen - to you?

Well ladies, I am here to tell you, "You just never know WHAT can happen!"Want that job but you know there is just no way you can compete with the other candidates? You don't know. You just never know WHAT can happen!

Want to live in another country but have a situation that is impossible to overcome to even begin to think about moving? You don't know. You just NEVER know what can happen!

Want to have long, healthy, natural hair, but know that what you got has been broken off, over relaxed hair that has never grown past your neck and thus never will? You don't know that. You just never know what CAN happen!

Years ago I wanted to move from an analyst position to a management position. There were several 'impossibilities' at the time. First, the person who was in charge of the management group was HORRIBLE. She would actually tell people that they were stupid, in meetings in front of entire groups of people. She was extremely FAKE and the queen of backstabbing and viciousness. I had just left a company where I had worked for another terrible boss and did not want to put myself under another one, knowingly, any time soon.

Second, I worked in a group of analyst. Of the seven to ten analyst, I was the most junior and had the least amount of time at the company. So, although there were courses and classes offered to help one move from an analyst to a manager, I was tenth in line to receive one course! In addition to that, one was required to take about seven courses in order to get the credential to be deemed a manager. Coupled with all this, was the fact that all those analyst in front of me, were allowed to take no more than two courses each - per year!

I knew that I would never become a manager in this organization. But the fact of the matter was that I DIDN'T know! Because you know why, ladies? YOU never know what can happen!

I resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen for me. Soon after a management course become available at the local city college. It offered ALL the courses from beginning to end, required to become a manager. The price for the entire four (4) month course was 1/2 the price for just one of the ten courses offered through my company. So, I approached my boss, who was over the analysts and me and asked him. I asked him would he reimburse me for the four month course if I paid for it and got a passing grade. He said yes and I completed the course successfully soon after.

One day I heard through the grapevine my company wanted to enter into the Japanese market. I figured that there were probably no opportunities for me, but I could share what I knew from my time living in Japan. So, I wrote a white paper or document about what to look for culturally when trying to enter the market and passed it to a mentor of mine.

A few weeks later, I got a call from the Senior Vice President of International Marketing. He said he had been told that I was, "sharp" by another Senior executive and wanted to talk to me. That 'other' executive had read my paper on entering the Japanese market. At the time, I neither knew or had even heard of either of these executives.

The marketing executive flew me to his office for an interview and asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted to be a manager at one of the international offices. He gave it to me. You know why? Because you never know what can happen.

He paid for me to take those credentialed classes at the same time and way ahead of the other analysts. He helped double my salary and placed me in my dream position. It was a dream job. I was not well connected, was not stunningly beautiful, or had wealth. I did not engage in any immoral or inappropriate behavior. I did not mistreat others or step over and on people. Throughout, I remained myself. I never compromised my personal integrity.

It was not a fluke or never to happen again event. So I say to you, release the expectation of disappointment. Identify what you want to do, be or have. No matter how impossible something may seem, you just never know what can happen. Yes, you will have doubts, make mistakes and even risk looking the fool. But so what! Don't be that person languishing in regret for the rest of your days. I shot for the moon and hit a star. Were things perfect? Of course not! But they were worth it for me.

Be open to opportunities and events and life in general. There is so much that science cannot explain. Mountains can move. Don't YOU stop yourself before you start. Don't waste your precious focus and energy on something that you know you can achieve but don't REALLY want.
So the next time you find yourself in what appears to be an ugly duckling-situation, remember that it is possible to turn it into a swan of an opportunity. Why? Because you never know what can happen. Beautify bit by bit, one ugly duckling situation at a time. Beautiful is as beautiful does. Step on out there, you pretty beautiful things you!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Your Biggest Obstacle Is Your Greatest Gift

Are you struggling with overcoming something in your life? Something that you seem to just can't get in front of? Hold up a minute. I want to come back to this later.

When I was in Japan, I dated this young man. He was into sword making. We hopped onto his motorcycle and headed out to a rural part of Kumamoto, Japan, to the sword maker's home, his master teacher.

This young man was a sullen, troubled person and was somewhat of a social outcast. But when he got to the home of his master teacher, he just lit up. At one point, he took over the process from his teacher, who had been forging a sword, when we came in. I watched the young man become engrossed in what he was doing. He forgot that both I and the master teacher were even there.

The metal was pounded, over and over. Gray wisps of material and ash floated in the air and escaped every time the metal sword received a blow. The metal being forged glowed orange in the hot center, yellow around the outline of the orange and gray and blue around the edges. He literally pounded that sword "to be" for an hour. That thing still looked like it did when we first came into the workshop.

That's why I liken obstacles in our lives to the forging of a sword or a knife. Just like that sword is strengthened by being placed in fire and being pounded upon blow after blow, so are we. Beyond that, once you actually overcome an obstacle, you become an expert on it. You create a tool from this experience as well.

You are an expert on YOUR experience. Contrary to what a lot of credentialed people may try to tell you, your personal experience has value and a use, for other people.

Many times, it is not theoretical information or direction, the general stuff that we are told about, that makes a difference. It is someone's tangible, very personal, firsthand, esoteric and distinct experience that captures, motivates and fascinates us. It is that person's story that inspires us to catapult ourselves toward our accomplisments. It is these experiences and information that we seek.

I am struggling through some very difficult challenges today. More importantly, I have overcome some incredible challenges as well. It is the history and the fact that I have overcome those challenges that I use as leverage to help me know that I can get through the obstacles of today.

But the most incredible thing that I have seen is this. Very often, the thing that is your greatest challenge that you persist to do and overcome, is your greatest gift. It is your greatest gift to yourself because you have triumphed over it. That process that you went through to come out to the light and be successful is priceless in itself. You can now transfer that same process over to the NEXT challenging area of your life. That is called experience. Unlike yesterday's challenges, you have a history and some precedence on how to address today's and tomorrow's challenges.

That's a roadmap, a guide, a gift to yourself. Through life experience, and if you live it consciously, you have created an internal compass for yourself to help you get where you need to go - even faster the next time around.

That same roadmap that came to be, came to fruition because you have coalesced your experiences into crystal clear vision, can now be gifted to someone else in need.

So the next time you start to lament about that challenge that you feel you just can't overcome, before you spiral downward into something ugly and nonproductive, such as self loathing or even depression, bless your situation.

Know that when, not if, but when you overcome this great challenge or obstacle that you face, that you will leave with some very tangible treasures: A map of how of to overcome future challenges, the gift of this map to yourself, and this gift of knowledge that you can teach and pass on to someone else.

To strengthen and forge a sword literally requires fire, an arising from the ashes, and the pressing and compression and the shaping of pounding pressure. From all of that comes a gorgeous, magnificent knife or sword - a great tool that you can always use, in your daily lives. The same process is applicable to you.

Be the gift that keeps on giving. Persist and overcome what challenges you today. Create a roadmap for those who are lost and the discouraged of tomorrow. Let your obstacle that you have overcome, be the oasis in the desert for someone. We all know that an oasis is a life giving find for anyone lost and thirsty in the desert.

By the way, that young man gave me that knife he worked on that day. It was a gift. What beautiful gift will you be creating and giving? Thank your challenges, and get ready to wrap them up in some pretty paper and a gigantic bow. Somebody's out there with outstretched arms waiting to receive your gift in the making. Get to it! Be a beautiful gift giver. Beautify bit by bit, one gift at a time, literally and figuratively.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pursue Your Passion: It Really Is in You to Do It!

A few years ago I was watching a documentary. The woman on the show had received an organ transplant. Shortly after, two things started to happen. The first was that she developed a craving and taste for green bell peppers. She started adding entire, whole green peppers to her meals. Prior to her transplant, not only did she not eat green bell peppers that often, she didn't really like them. Secondly, she began having dreams about being in an open field and she would be running toward a young man who would also be running toward her, both of them with arms outstretched toward one another. Once the young man would reach her, she would literally inhale him into her mouth and he would disappear.

She was not only given the gift of an organ, she was eventually gifted with the knowledge of her donor. It turns out the young man in her dream, whom she had never met or seen, was the spitting image of the man who had been her organ donor, whom she had never met or seen, either. His family told her that he loved, loved green bell peppers and ate them in absolutely everything!

Last Friday I attended an event for my company. The event was for African American women. The gentleman next to me was a friend of my co-worker with whom I was sharing the table. She told me that he had received a kidney transplant just two years ago. So of course, I recounted the above story about the woman and the green bell peppers. Then mostly joking, I asked him if he had a similar experience.

He said, "Yes".

I bugged him until he told me the details. He told me that his son asked for a motorcycle. He said that he himself hated them and told his son that he could get one - once he was on his own and moved out of the house. He said that he had no interest in them.

Therefore, his children were surprised to see him enjoying a chopper show where they were rebuilding motor cycle engines. He became conscious of what he was doing only when his kids asked him why he was watching such a show. He said he continues to seek out and watch motorcycle shows on television. He then said that although he had always been a heavy man, that his appetite was now different. He said he went to a buffet and got there at 11:00 am and didn't leave until 4:00 pm. Then, two hours later he went home and ate dinner.

It turns out that his donor was killed on a motorcylce. His donor loved and adored and lived for motorcycles and they were a big part of his life. It also turned out that his donor was a gigantic sized man and he loved to eat. He could eat anybody under the table!

So what's this got to do with pursuing your passions? Well, I have always heard that our cells, the cells of our body which make up our organs have 'memory'. That is from a metaphysical perspective. But from a medical perspective the same thing has been proven. Our DNA is what holds our genes. It is our genes that determine how we look, our physical attributes.

Why would they not, our genes, hold our talents and abilities as well? And if that is the case, why could we not say that our dreams, our hopes, our passions are really a part of us- as in they are a part of the very make-up of our basic physical unit, our cells, our DNA?

I have often heard people say, "If you have a dream in your heart, then it is meant for you to pursue it." When you think about this in terms of the two organ recipients and their experiences, this doesn't seem so nebulous, lofty or far-fetched. It sounds downright...sensible.

The next time something comes up and you find yourself excited by it, wanting to do it or experience or that you are gravitating toward it, don't question it and analyze it.

Trust. Just do it.

Try to make it happen, try to experience it. Pursue that passion. It really is in you to do it. It may be in your cells. Your cells don't forget, because the DNA inside of your cells won't let them forget. Talk about figuratively and literally being true to yourself! Perhaps what we deem as intuition, or a gut feeling, is really our physical cells trying to give us a hint about what we need to do. Perhaps our inner knowing is really 'inner cellular' (not a real phrase....I made it up) knowledge! Doesn't it make sense to 'listen' to it?

As I always say, being beautiful is about being who you are. Embrace those passions, as they may stem from your being who already knows not only what you like, but what you are capable of doing. If it's in you, and based on the aforementinoed stories, it probably is- then it IS meant for you to do it. Pursue it! The only person who may be surprised is you! The rest of you, already knows.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Funeral is an Invitation to Death, Celebrate Life Instead

I received an invitation. It was not a funeral announcement. Those are invitations as well. I refuse those kinds of invites in certain circumstances.

Next week, I am headed out to the 80th birthday celebration of someone in my family. I will take a day off from work to attend. Not only that, I will have to fly to one city and then rent a car and drive an hour to get to the event in another city and state. I can't wait to celebrate the life of this individual! I am so excited to be able to celebrate with her and her immediate famly. I believe in celebrating people in life.

In contrast, growing up, my family around me, immediate and extended, always made it a point to attend someone's funeral. Often times, I was required to go with them to see someone in death whom I had no knowledge of in life.

When someone died, people in my family would take time off from work, buy an airplane ticket and make sure they attended that funeral. What I didn't understand was why these same people claimed that they didn't have time to go see these people before and didn't have the money to go see these people - when they were alive.

When someone died, the cash and the time were found. As an adult, I shifted my priorities and changed my way of doing things, especially as it relates to funerals.

I decided that I didn't want my first and last and only memory of someone to be after they died, lying in a coffin, having to rely upon second hand and third hand stories to learn about the recently deceased family member. It always made me feel cheated and that I had missed out. The truth of the matter was, I had missed out. I had missed out on the opportunity of getting to know another, beautiful, powerful human being who happened to be a family member.

Long ago, I vowed that I would create my OWN memories of people. If I didn't know you in life, I certainly didn't want to meet you in death. I stopped attending funerals of family that I did not know or had not had the opportunity to get to know.

At first, I got in trouble. People in my family were angered and offended by my actions. People thought me selfish, inconsiderate and immature and thoughtless.

What I do in my life, is celebrate people in their lives. When ever I can, I take a trip to a town and see who I can. I sit down, have a meal or just talk for a few minutes. I use my money to buy airplane tickets to birthday celebrations, for attending weddings, to meet new additions of the family, to comfort those who are ill or to renew a relationship with someone that I haven't seen in awhile.

I 'find' the time and the money because I make it a priority.

When I go on trips, unless it is to a foreign local, I don't get any rest. I spend my entire time going to see people and visiting homes and houses.

But this is my choice. I am not lamenting my situation. I relish in it. I don't want to know you after you are dead and gone. It leaves me feeling empty. Perhaps I am selfish.

I want to know and love people when they are alive and breathing. I save time and money in my life for the purpose of being able to use it to celebrate someone else's life. I can't go see everyone, and folks need to make the time and effort to come and see me if I can't get to them - but I don't control that. I only control me!

Do what you can to celebrate someone in life, while they are still here to embrace your beautiful face with their loving eyes. Pick up the phone and give them a call, who ever the person may be.

I still attend funerals, but I do it on my own terms, not because of some external obligation or because I should or have to do it. I attend a funeral when I believe that it is meaningful to me and for me.

Light is in the living man, or woman. I try to spend as much time as possible in the light. One way to be sure to do that is in the presence of the living. The light of the living is only magnified when it is part of a celebratory event. That's where I want to be.

Celebrate those you love in life. Don't wait to make it a priority to see someone only after their last breath has passed from their mouths, over their lips, to be gone forever and for always. It may be a hardship and take some effort, but you can do it if you really want to do it.

Cyndi Lauper says, "I want to be the one to walk in the Sun." There is no greater light and warmth than that of someone you love and care about who is alive and breathing. Go see that person and walk in the sun, literally and figuratively, while you still can.

Life is beautiful, celebrate it. When you do, you celebrate yourself and that just adds to you own personal beauty.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being Childlike, A Necessary Key for Success

When I was a little girl, I remember this assignment our second grade teacher gave us. She told us to write a story about losing a pet. She asked us to tell how we felt and what we would do. I remember that we did not work in groups and we all wrote our own little essays. Invariably, the majority of us stated that we would get another dog.

I will never forget what she said. "Most of you just said you would get another dog. None of you talked about how sad you were about losing the first dog that you had. You all just said you would get another dog." I remember feeling like she disapproved.

I remember feeling disappointed, guilty or that I had somehow disappointed the teacher by not feeling sad or holding onto the sadness of the loss of the pet. I felt bad because I too had said that I would get another pet. In retrospect, it was the teacher whose action was disappointing.

Instead of realizing and being awed by the children's resiliency, their ability to bounce back and to move on and to continue to enjoy life, she was bothered by our inability to hold on, to continue to grieve, to not be able to let go or move on. She had the problem, not us.
She had lost her ability to be childlike.

This segues into, or transitions perfectly into following and pursuing our dreams. I never understood the exercise, "If you knew you only had a limited time to live, what would you do? Whatever you would chose to do, is what you should be doing with your life right now."

What? I used to get so angry and exasperated by what I thought to be a stupid, stupid, frustrating exercise. I would always say that I'd quit my job and go to the beach and die. How in the heck does that help me pursue my dreams?

Then I had an epiphany, an aha! moment. My reaction to this question and exercise was no different than the reaction the teacher had to her class when she was disappointed with us when we said we would move on and just get another pet.

I too had lost my ability to be childlike.

Huh? What do I mean? How does losing a pet and moving on relate to my inability to see the value of this exercise? Well, because the whole point of the dying exercise is to tell you and to show you that you should be trying to create your dream life right now, today, at this moment. It should not be something that you aspire to do someday. Your dream or ideal life is something that you should be working toward, conciously on a daily basis.

In order to do this, you need to know the destination, what that life looks and feels like, as well as have the faith to work on something that is heretofore unseen, and only imagined or envisaged in your HEAD. In order to put time, energy and effort into something that has not yet manifested and is unseen, you must have faith and belief in that what you are working toward WILL SOMEDAY come to fruition and manifest and be touchable, see-able and live-able in the real world, your world.

In order to do that, you must be childlike in your outlook and in your belief and in your faith. So, that exercise is not lacking, I was lacking in my perception. I couldn't or didn't "get" the exercise because I had somehow become like that teacher that had lost her way, as well. Everyday, I work on my dream. I have written down what I want to do: my destination. I will confess that living on the beach has not changed. The only part that has changed is, the "go to die", part.

I have written out my plan. I have given it great thought and effort. Some days, I feel like I am NO WHERE near where I want to be. I will say that if I were struck dead at this moment, that I would be struck down with my dreams in progress. I will say to you ladies, that being struck down with a dream in progress is a far greater achievement than being struck down with a dream that has been deferred, put off, let go, forgotten or given up upon. Don't do it. Don't defer those dreams.

Remember, "A dream deferred is like a raisin in the sun."

Reach down and pull out that childlike, wide eyed innoncence that you used to have. Dust off that dream has been buried so long. No, I am not where I want to be. But there are so many frequent moments and days when I relish in and experience unadulterated, pure authentic JOY!

Can I go and SHOW somebody my dream in tangible terms? Some of it, but not all of it.
I am genuinely happy. I am pursuing the path that I have always wished to pursue. The end result of that leg of the journey will put me on a beach somewhere, to live, but that won't be the end of my entire journey.

When things don't go the way I want, or when I have setbacks, I don't stay mired in self pity or recrimination or regret. I get up, dust myself off and get back on my path. I deem people naysayers and ignore their comments if I determine that their feedback is nothing but 'crabs in the barrel mentality'.

I don't deem them naysayers upon examination of their criticism if I see that what they say has value, whether or not I am comfortable or like what or how they said it.In order to move from where you are today, to who you wish to be and where you wish to be in your life tomorrow, requires that you know where you are and were you wish to go. More importantly, it requires a plan to get there.

Most importantly, to get there requires that you become childlike in your belief and guard and culitivate that way of seeing and perceiving the world, including your dreams. A child is not naive and ignorant. A child possesses a way of seeing that is a gift that we give up and give away to become what we believe is "to be an adult". A childlike vision remains untainted by the heartache, misery and disappointment of those around us. Childlike vision does not allow for misery for company. Now, I believe that I truly understand the purpose and the benefit for that exercise I used to to be so frustrated by.

"If you only had six months to live, what would you do?"

I wouldn't change a thing. I would do exactly what I am doing today. Enjoying my life, moving toward my dream life, by doing an action to get there on a daily basis, no matter how small that action. That's what I am doing! I finally got it! I got it!
Start today to build that dream life that you have always wanted for yourselves. In time, your inner world will manifest and become your outer world, that you can see and touch. In the meantime, you will be enjoying the journey and your daily life.

A happy woman is a beauful woman. One with a childlike view of the world, where one forgives, forgets, gets up and moves on and has the faith to pursue and believe in her dreams no matter what is unseen and unheard, is a gloriously beautiful woman. A childlike perception or view is a necessary key to accomplishment and success. To your success and to your beauty!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Brother in First Class and the Vietnamese Man on the Bike

I had to fly to Europe for a week for my job. On international flights, the company sends you business class, which is also first class, for commercial flying. There were about sixteen seats in all, out of 200 on the plan, that were in first class. I was in one of the seats and a brother was in another.

I tried to catch his eye, not because I was checking him or wanted to get with him. His response was not unusual. I get it from both men and women of color when I travel. He looked away and around me, as if I were in the way. This seems to happen to me often. So much so, that most times, I don't even try to connect with strangers of color. Isn't that a funny sounding term, 'strangers of color'?

He was a large man, probably stood at about 6'5''. He looked like he could have been a professional athlete. I wouldn't know and couldn't tell you because I didn't talk with him. I was travelling with three other gentleman, so it wasn't like I was desperate for conversation. But I wondered about that young man. I wanted to know who he was, what he was doing and why was he going to Scotland?

Not just because I was nosy, but because I wanted to congratulate him on being successful. He could have been a computer programmer or an entrepreneur. I will never know.

I hate flying so I seem to be in the rest room more than I am in my seat. On one of my 48 trips back from my place of safe haven, the restroom, I looked up and he was looking in my face. I smiled and immediately looked away as I did not want to be disappointed by his not returning my smile or by a lack of acknowledgement from him.

It wasn't like the man was brooding and moody. I was blinded by his pearly whites and giant grin whenever the stewardess walked by. She was cute, ya'll so don't be hating on him.

Fast forward. I buy a lot of my food from an Asian food grocery store in town. There was a gentleman in there buying food. He may have been in his 70's. The first thing that struck me was that the clerk was saying,"You have eleven (11) dollars left. Find something else for eleven (11) dollars." The 70 year old gentleman could barely form a word, let alone a complete sentence in English. His mental faculties were fine. He just didn't speak the English language.

I asked the clerk why did the man need to know he had eleven more dollars and the clerk said that was his [welfare] check from the government and that the gentleman wanted to spend all of the check in its entirety. I asked from where the older gentleman came and was told he was from Vietnam. In the midst of all this, he had lost his walking cane. I tried to catch his eyes to see if I could help, but he just looked past me and around me. I was disappointed because I wanted to help. I wanted to know his story, as well. But of course it didn't happen. He grinned brightly at the store clerk/owner, though. I thought that he had to be pretty courageous to come to this country at his age, without family, without knowing the language. On my way home in my car, I passed the gentleman on his way home, on his bike.

I encountered both gentlemen during a journey, one was long and far, the other short and close. I was unable to communicate with one person due to a social barrier and the other due to a language barrier. These experiences for me are the exception, as opposed to the rule.

Most times, I am able to find or have some kind of active connection or interaction with people. In both of these instances, I was unable to do so. Our connectivity was that I was on the same path, in the same place, at the same time as they, during my respective encounters with them.

I felt just as far apart, just as distant from the gentleman on the plane as I did from the gentleman in the store, for different reasons, but with the same result: no connectivity.

As these two experiences converged, or met, or came together in my mind, I realized that it is a privilege and an honor to connect with another person. More importantly, what may be required to connect with one person may be totally differently than what is required to connect with another person.

So ladies, don't assume and presume like I did, that because someone has some similarities to you- looks like you, eats like you- that the connection should require less effort or no effort or the same effort as it did for the person before.

Instead of being critical or labeling that person in your office, or at your place of business or in your neigborhood as 'typical', ignorant, or strange, try to do something else - first.

Be conscious of the fact that perhaps what it may take to connect or understand from where this person is coming, is something that you may have never called forth from yourself before. Be concious of the fact that you may not possess what it takes to connect with that other person.

Although you are not going to want to connect with every stranger in the street and in the world, I think it is important to keep this at the forefront of our minds. It is quite easy to dismiss or ignore someone. It is a lot harder to pull back, step back and let someone just be - who they are.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you hear yourself thinking, "Look at that fool". Or think in an exasperated tone, "What is her problem!?" Be open to the fact that perhaps there truly is no problem, perhaps he is not a fool. Perhaps there is some kind of barrier, be it language, social, cultural or some other kind of barrier, that you can't even put your finger on.

Instead of judging, or labeling, just simply let it be. You see, sometimes in order for water to do its powerful and greatest work, it doesn't need to be dammed up, redirected or harnessed. Water can be at its most powerful for you, when you just stand back and look at it and let it be.

It simply needs to just swirl around your feet and envelope you in its essence. It needs to simply just be left to be. What takes your breath away: harnessed water going over a dam or a glimpse of an open, turquoise sea where the beads of light glisten and gleam upon its waves underneath the shining sun?

The next time you encounter someone who is different or difficult, it just may mean what is required [of you] is to just let him or her be. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you were given that gift in all the interactions that YOU have?

Give to others what you wish to receive. Not because it's tit for tat: I gave you this, so you give me that. But because you can. When you are conscious and cognizant about what you do and who you are, the need to control, harness, redirect, judge or criticize, diminishes.

It may not be meant for you to connect. When one 'connects' with another, it infers that the interaction is pleasant and/or effortless. When one does not connect, the connotation is negative.

Letting something, someone or even a situation 'be', is much harder and requires more of us. That in itself is a skill we all may need to hone.

Start with yourself and, "Just let yourself be."

When you do, that difficult person at work, that weird person in your neighborhood or that fool by the trashcan may cease to be, and transform into something more beautiful than you have ever known, right before your very eyes. That difficult situation my resolve itself. That pain and sadness may just ease and subside.

It's easy to jump quick to judgement. It's so much harder and far more rewarding to let something be, especially when that something is another person, situation or experience different from you or differnt from anything you have ever encountered before. Just stand there and be awed. Sometimes that is far more appropriate than to try to harness and control it. It just may turn out to be the most beautiful thing, person or situation that you have ever experienced.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Never Lend Broke Family, Friends or Folks Money...

Always give it to them with no strings attached. If someone asks you for money you need to ask yourself, "If I give away this money, is this going to adversely impact me? Will I not be able to pay a bill or meet my own financial obligations?"

If the answer is, "Yes, by letting go of this money, I am going to place myself in dire straits, or trouble," then you CAN'T AFFORD to release the money. But if by releasing the money, there is no impact on your financial obligations, ie. you still will be able to feed yourself and pay your bills, then you CAN AFFORD to release the money.

If you can afford to release the money, release it all the way, don't attach any strings. Strings are, "I am giving you this money on a conditional basis, I want it back at a later date. Or, do this for me if I give you this money." Release the money all the way or don't release it at all.

If somebody says they want to pay you back, let them say it. But don't you say, "Okay, give it back to me when you can." You just let it go - FOREVER.

If someone insists that they are going to pay it back, or that they want to pay it back, I let them say it. The need for them to say that is just that, their need, not mine.

It has nothing to do with me. I always add, "I don't want it back. If I have released this to you, I don't want or need it back. It is my gift to you. If I couldn't afford to give it to you, I wouldn't give it to you. Period."

But there is a deeper and more important implication for you here. That is, in order to be able to give money to someone you choose, who is in need, YOU need to be in a stable enough, financial position to do so. It is not about giving away thousands or even hundreds of dollars. It could be a few bucks, a twenty dollar bill or something in between.

Am I rich? Heck no! But I try to live within my means so that if someone I know needs some financial help, I can provide it if that is what I want to do. To put myself in this kind of position, places the onus or accountability/obligation on me to try to have my financial house in order.

When you are always trying to make ends meet, struggling from paycheck to paycheck, that is not a position of power. Although we are all beholding to someone, at some level, be it our boss, our company, our spouse or whatever, it is possible to have some financial autonomy and independence.

It is very important to get yourself in a position so that in the least, YOU won't have to ask someone for a financial helping hand. It is simple, but not easy to do.

To release money to someone who needs it and to be able to do it with no adverse financial impacts to your wallet, is a gift that you create for yourself.

You honor yourself by not having to be indebted to others for stuff that has long lost it its value. More importantly, you give yourself the gift of freedom which in turn enables you to provide financial support for others, in the form of releasing money to them. Money that you have said, "Goodbye to", always and forever.

You see, we are all connected. And you never know whose life you touch or who you help. Contrary to the actions of so many people, when you help someone else, you truly benefit - you do not lose in the long run. That same person you helped may not come back around and do the same for you, but that is not the point, now is it.

Do the world a favor. Get yourself in a position so that you can release money. I have heard and seen it written that if you love something and let it go, if it is meant to be, it will come back to you. I say the same thing about support. When you release and give support to others freely, in the form of money, with no strings attached, I believe that it always comes back to you.

Beauty is as beauty does. Do it, you beautiful creatures, you!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

L and F Insurance Used to be Life and Fire Insurance...Not Anymore!

Life and Fire insurance were the two things I immediately thought of when I would see L & F insurance. Forget Life and Fire insurance - I mean keep it for your home and for your everyday part of life and expand it.

L and F is now for location and financial, insurance has been changed to, "Independence!"

That's right, I am talking about Location and Financial Independence. The world is changing. We all know that if the world starts to blow, and the shuttle takes off for new places, the only one of us likely to have a seat is the one hanging onto the turbo boosters and that will be because you jumped and grabbed on when it took off - and the fire was too hot for somebody official to risk it and stop you!

"The world is changing!" I say. It has long gone past get a degree, get a job and live happily ever after. That guarantee disappeared with the 20 year career at one company.

Location Independence is about setting up the way you earn money so that you can be independent of a building, a city, a country or even a region. It's about leveraging the technology that is here today and coming tomorrow, to create a business model to use the skills you have have honed on the job, to create a life independent of a job, a company or a place.

Financial independence is about setting up the way you earn money so that you can be independent of a corporation or a job that dictates what you have to do and how you have to do it.

Do I advocate that we all just get up and quit our jobs and go home to figure out how to have the new L & F insurance of today? No way! It is first a shiftng of your thinking, a gradual movement that changes your way of looking at the world.

Okay, so what does that have to do with you all?

"The world is changing," I say!

I sound sort of like Paul Revere when he was riding across town saying, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"

Start looking at your skills. What is it about what you do at your job that you can leverage and make your own, for your own business, for your own financial independence?

Start looking at your skills. What is it about what you do at your job that you can leverage and make your own, for your own business, for your location independence?

It is no longer about staying at a brick and mortar facility, going in day in and day out at a place that you might not want to be.

It's about creating systems, processes and leveraging technology so that you can earn while you sleep, or can be in one place enjoying a tropical sunset or maybe the snow on the slopes or maybe just enjoying unhindered and uninterrupted time with your family.

People have been doing this for years. Technology is making it easier for more of us to be able to join the location and financial independent. Don't get me wrong, it is not about get rich type deals or network marketing or selling from door to door. Indeed, you can get your L & F in place with by pursuing these paths --- but there are so many others. It is limitless.

Too often I see people put up with the maltreatment from a lousy boss, because they have bills to pay and they think they just have to take it. If you are financially independent, you are still going to have problems, but you don't have to put up with a boss who demeans you. That's how so many people go on a shooting rampage at their jobs. They feel so helpless and beat down, that 'taking somebody off the set' seems to be their only way out. Note: I know none of you would do this!

Too often I see people waiting until they are dry, crusty, sick or almost dead before they see another place, before they pursue their dreams, before they do what makes them happy. In the meantime, because they might be miserable, they make others around them miserable as well....Wait a minute - this may be the source of the lousy boss - perhaps he or she is unfulfilled and unhappy as well. Maybe you could talk to that lousy boss about getting some L & F 'insurance' in place.

The world is changing.

Although you can't anticipate how, why, when or where the world will change, you know that tomorrow will not look like today. Control as much as you can- that which is in YOUR sphere of control. Be accountable and responsible for YOU. That means, take some of the control out of the environment. Start creating processes and procedures and businesses that put some earnings in your pocket while you sleep or are away from the office, that are independent of your


If you are worried about money, worse, if you don't have any money, that can be a real downer on your looks and on your beauty. You may be down, but not necessarily out! As long as you have breath in your body, you are never out for the count.
Start thinking about it today.
NOT when you are
Laid off
Overlooked or
Asked to leave.

Automate your processes, don't make it so that you have to be "on" 24/7 to earn your living. If you sit down and think about it, study about it, something will come up. It may be a trickle today. But hey, the mighty rock carvings impacted by water, happened a drop at a time, right!

Think about L & F insurance. That's what insurance is for, right? To cover you in time of need? And don't we say, "It is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it?"

Get yourselves in a position of having it and not needing it. Because we all know that when that rocket ship takes off for new worlds, that it is very unlikely somebody is going to give US a ticket for free. Too often, not only is that ticket not freely given, the price is often too steep for many of us to pay. So I say, start building your vessel today.

Worry and lack are two big stressors. You know that financial stress or any kind of stress is like a drug, it eats into your beauty and ravages it until you are just a spector of what you once were.

Keep that traditional L & F Insurance and add some modern insurance to it. Start building your location and financially independent lifestyle. That's good beauty insurance. It allows you to sleep at night. We all know that there isn't anything better for beauty than some quality rest and sleep. Ensure and insure your beauty for tomorrow!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Inoculation by Validation: Be Your Own Biggest Fan

Who doesn't feel great when you receive a compliment that seems genuine? It is only human to want to be celebrated and wanted and welcomed. This is what I define as validation. We want others to put that stamp upon us and say, "You're __________"! You fill in the blank. When it comes to beauty, words and phrases that might fill this in are ones like,"You are so beautiful! Your are gorgeous! What beautiful hair you have! Fabulous physique"!

Every one has their achilles heel, that missing scale where the skin is soft under the great, fierce dragon's belly. We all have a weakness. With us, that vulnerable entry point is our beauty. As large and as vast as America is, it is quite insulated. That is an important point that you must understand. For all its diversity, there is still a tremendous amount of homogenization that occurs within its boundaries.

During the early 1900's the school system was the medium used to indoctrinate and Americanize the influx of immigrants whose parents were of different nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and spoke different languages. The grade schools were designated as the iron cooking kettle pot authorized to melt down and homogenize the many into a soup of homogenized peoples. There are many gains and there are many loses as well.

When a mainstream is created, there will always be people and things that rest close to that mainstream ideal and those that are far from it. The closer you are to that mainstream ideal, the more likely you are to be celebrated, embraced by it and accepted by it and into it.

Be cautious, and know that a mainstram ideal is not necessarily haphazardly or accidentally created. It is often orchestrated and has a congnizant, conscientious genesis. A different way to say this is that an ideal is created on purpose, by someone or some group with a purpose. Yeah, so what? What's that got to do with you? Everything and nothing.

Everything in that you may not see what you got as being positively reflected in the mainstream. Nothing in that, it has really nothing to do with you and should have no bearing upon the validation of who you are. What do I mean?

It's not about comparing your physical beauty to someone else's beauty, to see who is the best. It's about celebrating and embracing what you have been given. It's about taking the beauty that you have been gifted with and elevating THAT beauty, your own personal beauty, to the highest echelons, or levels, that there are. You do that by loving who you are. When you do this, you will radiate a beauty that is incomparable to YOUR old self, not someone else. Pick out a woman who you think is absolutely gorgeous. You'll be able to find someone that genuinely and authentically thinks she is barely attractive. What's my point?

Not just that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Make sure that when you put your eye upon YOURSELF that the beauty you are beholding is your own beauty that you acknowledge, accept and embrace. Make sure that in the least, that the beauty you see always includes your own. When you learn how to validate your own self, your own beauty, it serves like protection.

Self validation, is the 'stamp of approval' that you provide to yourself. It is what will keep you afloat when you may feel excluded, not included and/or not celebrated. Inoculate yourself so that during those times you will be protected.

Start building your immunity today. Use self validation as your form of inoculation. When the day comes and you feel like the world, or even just that one person you so badly want to embrace and accept you doesn't embrace you, because of your inoculation- it will be just another day. It won't knock you off your feet, or take you for a loop or even put you out of circulation for a moment or a day.

An inoculated person or body, is somewhat insulated from rampant disease, no matter what form that dis-ease may take. And when you are insulated, you can extend a helping hand to fortify those around you who may have not had the opportunity or the time to build or get their 'stamp of approval' forged and made.

Be your biggest fan.
There will be many days when you will be your only fan. Don't be fooled by the seemingly harmlessness of beauty. It is not an innocuous or harmless concept. It can very easily be used as a weapon against you.
Hone your beauty and shield it with a mighty sword. Protect it at all costs. Don't let it be the entry point that someone can use against you to stop YOU in your tracks. Understand what's going on around you and use that understanding like a pole vault to get to where you got to go. Make your understanding an ally, not a hindrance or a point of weakness.

You are beautiful. When you don't know this, you are vulnerable, beatable and maleable. Self validate to inoculate.
Keep marching onward. Perhaps, when you turn to steal a glimpse into the crowd, those standing and cheering you on, you will see and recognize yourself, standing and cheering you on the loudest. Because you see, self validation creates inoculation, and in this case takes the form of YOU seeing and being- your biggest fan.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"They Hang People Like You High Where I Grew Up"

Is what he said, then he chuckled to himself. This was his response to me. I had asked him which city in Georgia he came from. That's when he smiled and said,"They hang people like you high where I grew up." I kid you not. I don't make this stuff up.

Of course I failed to see the humor in his remark. I looked at him sideways and gave him the evil eye, and dismissed him off as an ignorant fool. "He" was my neighbor in the downstairs apartment, in my building in a suburb outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He had a wife and child that he adored.I liked his wife.

Since he didn't say much to me after that comment, and she did, I sort of lumped him together with her and thought of them as nice people. They had problems with DUIs. I know because she would stop me on my way up the stairs some days and share bits of her life.

One morning I got up and had cramping in my stomach. I took some pain medicine but it didn't seem to go away. I decided to stay home from work. It got worse. I was so incapacitated that I could barely walk. I knew I couldn't drive myself to the emergency room. I really didn't want to call an ambulance.

I called the front office. She called a taxi for me. I got dressed as best as I could and descended the stairs, one painful step at a time. I sat huddled on the last step gasping in between the shots of pain, waiting on the hard concrete steps for the taxi to arrive. I felt embarassed, afraid and alone.

Not in the least bit comforting, but who did I see walking up? My neighbor. It was him. I lowered my head and hoped he pass without a word. He did not.

"What's wrong with you?" peering down at me with a lit cigarette dangling from his lips. I may have been bent over with pain, but if just one piece of burning ash were to get on me, we would both be needing some care. By this time the lady in the front office had walked down to where I was waiting for the taxi. She was going to stay with me until the taxi came.

"I tell you what", he offered, "I'll give you a ride to the hospital".

"But we have already called the taxi," I responded with relief as I saw the taxi approach.

"Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it," he said.

I looked up at him, curiously. I nodded and let him do his thing. He opened the passenger side of the taxi and explained the situation. Then he pulled a couple of dollars out of his pocket and handed them to the taxi driver for his trouble.

There was no smell of liquor on his person, so I just acquiesced and went with him. He took me to my doctor's office. It turns out, she had two offices. So we left there and drove to the second one. I had to wait for an hour or so before she would see me. I laid on the floor, curled at his feet in a ball to try to stave off the pain. Every now and then he would peer at me, over the magazine page he was reading, from his chair and see how I was doing. He didn't say much.

When I finally got in to see the doctor, she told me to go to the emergency room. My neighbor helped me to his car and drove me to the emergency room. He made sure I got to where I needed to go for admission. He left because he needed to pick up his child from school.

In the meantime, he called my parents and gave them the name of the hospital and the directions. By this time, he had been with me for about five (5) hours. Everything turned out all right and I was discharged the next day. I never went back to that doctor again but that's another story.

I will never forget that man and what he did for me that day. He gave me comfort when I was afraid and alone. He helped me when I could not help myself. He stayed by my side until I got to where I needed to be. He made sure he found my parents and apprised them of what had happened and where to find me.

Nothing is ever black or white. People and things are not always what they seem. Never in a million years would I have suspected that this man would do what he did for me. He did, without question, without expectation of repayment.

Life is complex. People are complex. People and things are not always as they seem. I will never be able to repay him for what he did for me that day. But what I did do was further resign myself to be conscious of helping whomever I could in their time of need.

Perhaps he helped me because he had resigned to help people like me that they hung high where he grew up. After that day, he and I never had a conversation again.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to Keep Your Man, Ladies!

Ugh! I absolutely hate any discussion or topic that even infers the above erroneous assumption. Erroneous means incorrect or wrong. It is a wrong assumption because ladies, not only can you NOT keep a man who doesn't want to be with you, but this statement infers and assumes that
YOU alone are accountable and responsible for the success of the relationship.

Slim down so your man can find you sumptuous.
Learn the signs that he may not be into you.
How to cook a meal to make him fall in love with you and stay home.
Learn the tricks in bed that will keep him satisfied and out the streets.
Get the eight secrets that will keep him glued to your lips.
Discover what to say to keep him interested and committed.
Develop these communication traits to keep him faithful.

The answer to all the tricks, secrets and tips and discoveries is that there are no such answers. It is a myth.

The most nefarious or wicked thing that women have been conditioned to believe is that YOU, we women, are solely accountable and responsible for the success of the relationship with our significant other.

I'm here to tell you, it just is not true.

If you hug a hobbit daily , ride a unicorn to get from home to work or even just for leisure, and borrow a few coins everyy now and then from your neighbor the leprechaun at 2020 End of the Rainbow Way, then excuse me, 'cause I'm not talking to you.

Are you accountable and responsible for yourself in a relationship? Of course, absolutely!
So many of us take this myth, that it is our duty as women, to hold on to our man, lock stock and barrel. So when he leaves, or cheats or loses interests in you, we blame ourselves and say, "What did I do wrong? What didn't I do right?"

I'm saying, don't you believe it. People fall in and out of love all the time. When the love is gone, then it makes sense to part ways.

What I am talking about is the belief that a relationship failed because you were not enough, because it was your fault. If you have been authentically yourself, respected your partner and supported that person, been faithful and done all that you would want someone to have done and be for you, and things don't work out...Chalk it up as a part of life. It is NOT because YOU have failed. It is not because YOU are a failure.

Never forget that when two people get together, both are taking a risk. Both persons are accountable. Every body has problems, weaknesses, past hurts and unresolved issues and feelings in their lives.

If a person leaves you or disprespects you, remember, it has NOTHING to do with you. I am by no means saying that you are perfect and that you don't make mistakes. What I am saying is don't assume a relationship failed because of your lack of cooking, lovemaking, dieting or whatever skills. Never let someone tell you that either.

People come to relationships with their issues intact. Just because you say, "I do or I commit" doesn't mean those issues, and personl problems fall away magically because of love. They do not.

So, does this mean you can act a fool because whomever you are with needs to take some of your crap for a change? Absolutely not!

All I am trying to say is that in every aspect of this life you are living, you are accountable and responsible for YOURSELF - no one else. Have no expectations of your mate or any person for that matter. Choose your mate as wisely as you can, and give that person the benefit of the doubt. You can not dictate or control what someone does or what someone says. You can only control yourself.

Understand that when someone acts a fool, that it is soley their choice. It has nothing to do with you.

Improve your cooking because YOU want to learn to be a better cook. Learn to be a better listener so that YOU can be supportive, because YOU want to improve that aspect of yourself. Care for your body and your health because YOU want to look and feel good for YOU - not because you want to keep your man.

If you learn and do things only to keep your man, you are neither being real and authentic, nor are you being honest. In fact, you are operating under an ulterior motive. You are saying, "If I do this, then he SHOULD or will do this." Basically, you are doing something ONLY because you want something back. Hmm....
The word 'should' is just another word for expectation - that you have set- or have for someone else. Your expectations apply to you and you alone. That's the only person you control.

Improve yourself for you, so that you can be a better person. Become the person and the woman that you wish to be. Will you attract the mate that you dream about? I don't know and that misses the whole point entirely.

Stop worrying about how to keep your man and focus on how to keep yourself, figuratively and literally.

You are accountable and responsible for bringing a whole, healthy person to a relationship. You are accountable for being yourself and your best self. As long as you accept the mythical 'fact' that you are responsible for the success of your relationship with your significant other, you will ALWAYS be disappointed.

Life is to be enjoyed. It is not to be experienced as one disappointment after another. Exercise your control over what you can- YOURSELF! Dream of the beautiful woman you wish to become. If you stick to it, one day you are going to look up and realize that you are that woman you set out to be. So the next time you worry about how to keep your man, don't forget to throw in worrying about how to trap Big Foot and/or snap a picture of the Lochness Monster. Because worrying about any or all of it yields the same result, nothing. Focus on yourself and become all that you can: a beautiful, fabulous woman from the inside out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How Come Ya'll Still Got Jet Magazine and All Black Colleges?

This man asked me the above aforementioned question. I don't get offended by these kinds of questions because to me they are dialogues that need to happen. He continued.

"I want my child to be able to have real competition. If you are attending an all black college, isn't that limiting? And why do you have to have an all black magazine, like Jet? It should be about everybody, not just one race of people."

I thanked him for his frankness. Then I cussed him out.

Naw, ya'll...I'm just playing! I didn't cuss him out. I started with the easier of the two. I asked him,"Have you ever heard of Bono from U2?"

He replied that he had. Then I asked him, "Have you ever heard of Chris Tucker?"

A smile played across his lips and his face lit up with the memory of something pleasant. "Yes, I have. He played in those movies with Jackie Chan, Rush Hour, I think it's called, " he added.

I continued. "Did you hear about Bono being considered for a Nobel Peace prize because of his work in Africa?"

He nodded affirmatively and added,"Yes, that sounds familiar".

Then I said, "Did you know that Chris Tucker was present at the same points and places as Bono and he nary received a mention? And do you know the only place I saw that was in Jet Magazine? My point is, that the accomplishments of African-Americans are often times overlooked or ignored by the mainstream media. You didn't know about Chris Tucker, but I did. As long as there is racism in this world, there will always be a need and a place for a magazine like Jet. That's one reason we still have Jet, or at least the reason why I embrace it."

I told him, "You and I both know that racism is very prevelant in America. It is present during hiring, during dating and is pervasive in every aspect of our lives, especially for people of color. If a man wins an award at an 'exclusive' law firm, that consistently screens out and blocks people because of their color or their sex, is HIS award based upon REAL competition? I would say, 'NO!' The possible competition may have been screened out 'before the games even began.' "

I don't think he ever asked or questioned, "How come all the management of most companies is all white males?"

But you, know, I didn't get angry with this gentleman. You see, he is the one who is limited. He is caged in by the perceptions that he has, conditioned over time. When you are forced to walk on the outside, the peripheral, you develop a vision and sharpness that those who rest comfy on the inside never will.

Open up your mind, your heart, and your arms to all kinds of people and all kinds of questions. You will see that the creature that was once trapped in the gilded cage, may not be totally free, but he may find respite or rest, or obtain temporary crystal clear vision just for a moment, but long enough to flap and expand his unused wings.

And when we allow someone to soar, or even just aid them on that journey a little bit, we plant a little seed of hope and understanding. Perhaps that seed will grow into a tree that will someday eradicate the need for an all black magazine. Especially if the purpose for the creation of that magazine is to celebrate the accomplishments of a race of people because nowhere else is it being done or to present a realistic and fair depiction of them that can't be found anywhere else.

Don't let that stop you ladies! No matter what, let those love lights shine. Take the high road as often as you can. Your patience and understanding may open the door for dialogue that is healing and enlightening for someone else. Patience and understanding pay dividends. What could be more beautiful than that?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bottom Billion, Blessings and Beyonce

Do you know that there are 1 billion people in this world who occupy the lowest rung of the economic ladder? Do you know that statistically, these 1 billion people will never, ever escape this socio-economic status? They will remain in this abject poverty from their birth to their death, from cradle to grave. Do you know that these people are the bottom billion, beyond the global poverty line? That means there are billions and billions of people who exist below the poverty line, but the bottom billion of which I am referencing is the bottom of the bottom.

If you have the luxury of reading this, in English, then you are obviously not in this group. The 'random roll' of the dice has enabled you to be born in a time, place, family and country, where you are not statistically doomed to be or remain in abject poverty.

If you can read this, you are truly blessed. The next time you covet that gorgeous bag Beyonce has or her shoes or her life, remember this. The chances of you having a life like Beyonce, are less than 1 in a billion. The chance that you could have been born in the bottom billion, is a billion times more likely.

Embrace who your are, develop what talents you have and hone them to a razor sharp edge. Do this so that you can contribute your talents where they are needed. Perhaps by six degrees of separation, someone you help helps someone, who helps someone else, who helps someone else, who helps someone else, who helps someone else, you indirectly touch and lift one person out of the bottom billion pit.

So the next time you whine about or lament the fact that you don't have what someone has, like a Beyonce, know that you probably have no idea about the pressures that she has to deal with on a daily basis. Nor do you have the support that she likely has or the coping skills that she has honed over the course of her career.

Most importantly, know that it is more likely that you could have been born in the bottom billion, or below the world poverty line, than it is for you to have been born a Beyonce or someone who had her opportunities.

Relish and bask in the knowledge that you are blessed to be who you are: a beautiful creature who walks in the sun who has the opportunity every day to lift someone up. The person that you help may not be mired in the bottom billion, but you never know.

Illuminate the pathway of your steps already taken, and those you have yet to take,
with the lamplight of your Soul
always reflects your inner light and beauty.

How? By being conscious of and counting your blessings.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Never Depend on the Kindness of Strangers

In the play and movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche Dubois utters the famous line, "I always depended on the kindness of strangers," as she is ushered out the door by men dressed in white, to the 'Crazy House'.

When I lived in Japan, a fellow co-worker lost her job. She was American and in her late forties or early fifties. She had left everything behind to live and work in Japan. In her mind she believed she had nothing outside of Japan. I called her early one morning and strangely got no answer. I found out from another co-worker that when she was unable to find another job, she checked into a hotel, wrote a note and then eased her life away with a bottle of pills.

Fast forward to Mexico City. I decided to step into a pretty little street side ice cream shop. There I was seriously contemplating the flavor and the size of the ice cream scoop. The palms of my hands laid against the ice cream display glass like little suction cups. My fingers were spread and splayed out in all directions as if I were trying to grasp my scoop through the glass.

The interesting thing is I can't remember whether or not I ever bought that ice cream cone. What I remember most about that day was the woman I bumped into outside of that ice cream shop.

She was in her eighties, living in a downtown apartment near the the very heart of the center of Mexico, near the zocalo. Stores were great, but apartments tended to be seedy there. What I found most incredulous or unbelievable was that she was living alone in Mexico and spoke no Spanish. Here is her story.

She said that her husband fell ill. All of their life savings were spent during his long illness. Her son had died in his forties. She had no one else. She moved to Mexico because it was the only place she believed that she could live on the small social security check she got from the US government. I'll never forget the moment I said good bye to her. I watched her back as she mounted the steeply inclined, narrow stairway, one step at a time. Her outstretched feeble arms shakily gripped the rails on either side. I stood and watched as she finally disappeared up the stairway and was absorbed by the darkness of the dimly lit passageway.

I never saw her again.

We never know how we will end up or end our days. What is important is to not wait until tomorrow, or someday, to plan. The saying goes, "People don't plan to fail, they fail to plan."
I can't even say that either woman failed to plan.

There are no guarantees in this life, except that we will all pass from it someday. Although we do not have control over our circumstances we can become aware. Part of being aware is doing the best we can to plan for our days when there may not be a steady paycheck because of illness, lack of a job, retirement or an accident.

If you do not plan, you may find yourself having to depend upon the kindness of strangers. If you do, you may not have the options that you would desire for yourself if you had other choices.

In addition, I would implore you to be that kind stranger that someone may have to depend upon. What that means is to have no expectations of others, prepare as best as you can for that rainy day, month, year or several years. Just as importantly, always treat people in need or not with reverence and kindness.

I hope that you never have to depend upon the kindness of strangers. I do hope that strangers can always depend upon you being kind.
Taking the high road is never easy. Have no expectations of others, only of yourself. Stay on that path to being and showing how truly beautiful you are and can be. Day by day, you will beautify all that you touch, bit by bit. The world needs a stranger upon which it can depend for kindness. Somewhere, somehow, someday, you may be called to fulfill that role. I know that you will perform beautifully!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Beggar In The Brand New Car

As I was leaving the highway to go home, movement near a shiny black car caught my attention. The gentleman exiting the Forerunner had a cardboard sign in his hand. I said to my husband, "He must be getting ready to put a for sale sign on his car."

My husband said, "Ah uh," shaking his head. Before he could explain, a voice from a car to my right exploded and shot through my windshield and out the other said, at the man with the sign. Then I realized what was happening.

The young woman to my right was very angry. I could not catch the exchange of words between this young African American woman and the "homeless" caucasian man with his need-money-for -food sign that was stepping away from his spit shined brand new black Toyota Forerunner.

We had to cross a small intersection and then we were stopped by another light. The African American woman pulled up next to us. She was on the telephone. I wasn't eaves dropping because she was talking so loudly, that she drowned out my radio and my conversation with my husband. So, we listened to her conversation.

"I am so tired of this sh#^", she shouted into her phone. Here it is I feel guilty because these people are asking for money, for a dollar, and he steps his a@@ out of a brand new car. Every Sunday I see this. It doesn't make any f-ing sense..." She continued. "It is Sunday and I am supposed to be going to church and here I am cussing folks out." By the way, at the first light at which were stopped, she held up traffic, stopped her car and did cuss that man out. I was witness to that so she wasn't lying to the unknown person on the other end of her cell phone connection.

Then she put her friend on hold, by pulling away from the speaker, and looked at my husband and I and said, "Can you believe he is out here begging and he's stepping out of a car that looks way better than mine? That doesn't make any sense."

My husband had said seconds before she spoke to us,"See that's why I don't give people money. I give my money to people directly, who I believe need it."

I looked at her and said, "It is not worth it to get your blood pressure up because of that man. Stop cussin' and go on to church like you said you were going to do." She just smiled and continued her tirade with the other person on the other side of the telephone conversation. The light turned green and we went our separate ways: the beggar, the young woman and my husband and I. The only thing that was stationary was the shiny black Forerunner that stood at attention, like a silent gleaming beacon that wanted to tell the world that it was forced to carry around a beggar in a brand new car.

I thought what that man was doing was foul. But I have no control over him or over any person. When we start saying what people should be doing, those are setting expectations. Having expectations of other people will disappoint you every time.

Sure, you want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, but when you start expecting them to say certain things and act a certain way, then you are projecting what you feel and what you believe onto someone else. In this lady's case, she was setting an expectation, and was angered that this stranger, a stranger, did not meet her expectations. He should have been honest and in real need as opposed to begging when he was driving around in a shiny new ride.

You have no control over other people or what they do. You do have control over yourself. It does no good to you to get angry when someone does not live up to what you expect. Recognize those are YOUR expectations, not theirs. Live your life. Don't waste your precious, priceless time being angered by what someone else is doing, especially if YOU cannot change it.

What you can change is yourself. Who you can set expectations for is YOU. When you know this, you know yourself. Knowing who you are is a wonderful beauty elixer. It stops wrinkles before they start, it stops ulcers before they bleed and it stops strokes before they can strike.

Of course, this is not for sure. The one thing that is for sure is that you and only you can set expectations for yourself, and meet those expectations. Focus on what you can change and what you can support. That would be yourself. When you focus on yourself, and provide the care and nurturing you need, you strengthen yourself to help carry the load of the community. Leverage your effort and your focus where it matters: on that which you can control. When you do, you will certainly see a shift in your world. Bit by bit you can make a difference, and do so beautifully.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do Not Touch Me: Unless Prior Permission Granted

I have read or maybe have seen written somewhere that Oprah Winfrey said that women are intimidated by two service providers in their lives: their hair stylists and their doctors.

I don't have issues with my hair stylist because I communicate my needs. I let the person know what I want or don't want. I watch the person like a hawk in the mirror and I stop her before it looks like she is about to "do me" permanent damage - like she has the scissors too high up on my hair - for a 'trim' or when she tries to leave a styling implement on my hair, until smoke is emitted from the iron teeth of that mechanical monster called the flat iron or marcel curler. Now doctors...well that's a different and sad story. Well, it used to be...

Have you ever seen a threatened or cornered a raccoon? It is frightening. Raccoons are dangerous when they are cornered. Prior to having an epiphany, I used to act just like one of those things at the doctor's office: vicious.

I couldn't figure out why every single doctor I encountered irked me. Then it hit me.

One day, I had symptoms that seemed to indicate that I had a very serious illness. My family doctor sent me to a specialist that he said, "Every body just loves her." My worst outbreak ever happened with her. I acted UP in there with the doctor that everyone just loved - except me of course!

First, I was scared. I was afraid of what the prognosis might be. She kept saying things like, "Hmmm..hmmm", without saying why she was making that hmm sound.

Then before I realized what was going on, she sprayed some numbing medicine in my nose and shoved a tube into my nostrils and down my throat.

Then she had the nerve to say,"Shh...shhhh...it's okay... I know..," as if she were soothing some naive little child who didn't know what was best for her. It was ON from there. Before she could pull that tube out all the way from my nose, the raccoon in me was UNLEASHED!

I slapped that tube and her hand away from me and swiped my nose with the back of my hand as if I had a furry paw and little claws to match. There was nothing lady like about it. It was a reflex. I later apologized to her. She acted like it wasn't a problem. Later I found out that she notated on my chart that I was aggressive. I found this out when I had her refer me to yet another doctor.

That woman enraged me. I believe that it was fueled by fear; my fear. I also felt humiliated and helpless. But so what, it was irrational and I had to get control. I was ashamed of my behavior. When I was calm, I sat down and meditated on it a bit and that's when I made my discovery.

It was my fault!

I had not asked for what I needed. I hadn't known what I needed. It was a situation not unlike one might experience with a stylist. I realized that I needed two things from my doctor.

  • First, it was imperative that the doctor explain to me what he or she was going to do BEFORE they did it.

  • Second, I wanted to be asked to be touched. Don't just reach out and put your hands on me. I wasn't a mute newborn or a pet at the vet. Ask to touch me.

I wondered if I was being unreasonable. But I learned long ago, it is important to acknowledge how you feel, no matter how illogical it may seem. So I tried it out...with the doctor to whom the "nose tube shover" had referred me.

The doctor looked at me and said, "It says here that you got aggressive with the last doctor." I was taken aback that it had been placed on my PERMANENT records. I explained to the doctor what happened.

Then, with my heart beating, risking that I would look and sound like A. Fool I said what I had to say.

"That woman disrespected me. She shoved something down my nose without telling me she was going to do it. Nor did she ask me if it were alright for her to do it. That is why I shoved her hands away. I just require two things from you. Please ask me for my permission before you touch me, and please explain to me what you are going to do before you do it."

He looked at me and began to explain what he was going to do and why, in great detail. Before he began his examination, he asked me, "Is it alright if I place my hands here and put this tube down your nose?"

What was I going to say, "Naw man, back up off me?!" Of course not. That would be silly for me to go to a doctor and not want them to touch me.

Do you know he did the EXACT same procedure as that woman doctor? I sat just as still as a mummy and did not swing out or get angry. Why? Because I felt that he treated me with dignity and respect. I realized what I needed and asked for what I needed. The visit was wonderful for me.

Know what is important for you. Ask for what you need. Never assume that people know what your boundaries are. Establish those personal boundaries for yourself. Know yourself.

A doctor is a person just like you. A credential does not give them the right to treat you however they want. Just like a stylist, they provide a service TO YOU. It is your responsibility to get what YOU need from that service. Do not be afraid. Speak up. If you value and honor yourself, you will speak up for you! When it comes to your physical body and your health, it is dangerous to rely upon expectations, those being that the doctor will do and say what he or she SHOULD do or say.

To serve you is an honor and privilege. It is not an entitlement or a right of theirs. It is you who are entitled to be treated in a way that you deem is with dignity and respect. Otherwise, like me, it will be your own fault. The raccoon has finally left the building, or the doctor's office, forever I hope.

A woman who knows herself is powerful. A powerful woman is a beautiful woman. Beautify yourselves bit by bit. Ask for what you need. You may not get it, but atleast you asked.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beautiful but Bitter... There is no such thing!

No matter how flawless your skin, or how perfect your features or how fabulous your body, if there is any trace of bitterness, there is no way that you can ever be truly beautiful. Beauty emanates from within to without. Bitterness is not a visage contorted and distorted by rage that everyone can see. That is so obvious, most of us could work with that. Bitterness is far more insidious, treacherous, deceitful.

Bitterness comes under the guise of many things.

It's the response we have to a loved one who was taken from us, ravaged mercilessly by disease that we could do nothing about but stand and watch.

It's the response we have when we have given our love, and entrusted it to a significant other, to only have that person cheat, or not appreciate us, disrespect us.

It's the response we have when we have worked so hard for that promotion only to be overlooked and have to watch the opportunity pass to someone that you could run circles around.

It's the response we have when we've extended ourselves to help someone, and inconvenienced ourselves, because we knew it was the right thing to do, to only have others not be available or just not care, in our time of need.

Being hurt and sad and having these kinds of feelings well up inside, initially, is natural. We are human, not perfect. But wait, wait, wait!

Yet and still, you are not excused. You are accountable and responsible for what you think and what you do and how you live. It is so hard to get past those hurts and pains sometimes, but you must.

At first, it is comforting to harbor them and hold onto them. We feel justified and safe, cushioned and enveloped by them. Don't stay there too long. What is comforting today, can easily entomb you and suffocate you, tomorrow.

Everyday, try to release those little hurts. The nasty tone or words of a stranger in the street. The tossing of your package by the disgruntled office worker. The seemingly insensitive remark of a loved one.

All of these things, have absolutely nothing to do with you. They really have no bearing upon who you are. You just happened to be that or whom upon which these people and things acted. No more, no less.

It is important to be vigilant and to guard the core of who you are. Never let another's action, or the events of plain ol' L-I-F-E, the real one, not the game, no matter how unjustified it may seem, change who you are on the inside.

"I'm going to get him back. I'm not going to waste my time on folks anymore. No one helped me when I needed it. I'm not giving up my space. I hope she fails, I had to learn the hard way. Nobody gave me anything..."
and on and on it goes - the chorus of Bitterness.

You have no control over the acts of others, but you definitely have control over what you do, what you think and how you feel and live. Don't pass on bitterness like the contagion that it is.

Just like we strengthen our immune systems, so must we strengthen ourselves. Learn to cope with the good and the bad. Better yet, learn to not deem or call something or idenitify it as being either good or bad.

It just is. Accept it as such.

Pull back, make an assessment of the situation, ensure that YOU have what you need and keep moving.You see, you can never be truly beautiful if you are bitter. Bitterness takes up space and vacuums out the glow of your Soul. It leeches away the heart of the very core of your being.

The next time you want to lift that finger and point and say, "It's because of him, or her or because of it," stop and pause and take a real deep breath. Know that it is because of you and what you have decided to do and how you have decided to REACT.

Shed the bitterness, daily, bit by bit. Before you know it or realize it, it has built up. Conceit is not beauty. Haughtiness is not beauty. Arrogance is not beauty. Insensitivity to others and their needs is not beauty. These are some of the many ways that we choose to protect our very tender, vulnerable Souls and selves. But be careful, it is a disguise. They are all components of bitterness, reactions to what has happened or been done to you.

You are bigger than that. Do some dumping every day. Sit down and breath and count your blessings. Instead of cataloguing all the hurts, catalogue all that for which you are grateful.

Never subject yourselves to having your beauty qualified, "She's beautiful, but..." Instead, take the high road whenever and as best as you can. It is never easy. Often, the reward for being who we are and doing so, may escape us at the time that we do it.

Never mind the not -so -nice- person who seems to be succeeding at the expense of others. You never know what goes on behind closed doors, in their home, in their hearts and in their heads. It's not for you to know or worry about anyway.

It is time to step into the full mantle of your glorious beauty. You can't do it with the tentacles of bitterness hanging, dangling onto your coattails, though.

Don't be fooled about what bitterness is or how it should look. Every day it swipes at you, hooking its vicious claws into your tender skin. It will burrow down, just like a tick, if you are not aware. It is easiest to remove when it is just a mere spot on the surface of who you are. But once it burrows, and digs deep and festers, it is so hard to address and completely remove.

I hope that you are over here because you have committed to being beautiful, bit by bit. Release any bitterness that you may be harboring. Start today. Bitterness not only leaves a nasty taste in your mouth, it marks your face far worse than any physical scar ever will. Leave it behind today, for a more beautiful you tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Science of Protein Treatments on Afro Textured Hair

I wanted to change it up a little and add a little something about afro textured hair care today.

The scalely thing to the left is not a reptile. That is a strand of hair. It is a strand of hair with the cuticles lifted. On healthy hair, this should be a TEMPORARY state. That means, that lifted cuticles on a hair strand, that has been washed and conditioned and styled usually indicates the hair is not healthy. Conditioned hair will have cuticles that lay flat and tight agains the hair strand.

So, what's going on here? This is a depiction of the protein treatment process. Protein treatments should be done on hair that is recently been washed. Hence, the lifted cuticles come about from the use of soap or some kind of alkaline/basic cleanser.

Once the cuticles are lifted, then a deep and heavy protein product can be applied. Protein molecules are the circle things with the plus sign in the middle. Those are positively charged molecules. The protein molecules tend to be larger molecules and they are attracted to the negatively (-) charged hair! It's always about attraction, heh heh!

The protein molecules are in solution, or in some kind of water product or resin. It is placed on the freshly washed hair, with the cuticles raised, and the molecules gravitate toward the hair.

The protein molecules fill in the gaps, cracks, tears and missing cuticles on the hair strand. This fortifies the hair strand. How?

By filling in the missing scales of the cuticle, on the hair strands, the protein mimicks the undamaged hair structure (cuticle, cortex, medulla). The protein fortifies the natural structure of the hair strand. It does not rebuild it - literally - it sort of coats and fills in. Once you damage a hair strand, it is not very likely you can fix it or heal it.

Thus, protein treatments done on schedule that fits your hair, can be beneficial for your hair. I prefer to use protein treatments that require heat. Why? Because they tend to be in a base that fuses the protein to the strand.

I use protein treatments on my natural hair. They fortify the hair strand and the natural structure of the hair. It is this structure that you must preserve if you want to retain healthy, longer, afro-textured hair.