I Am My Sister’s Keeper

Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood. ~Louisa May Alcott

I am my sister’s keeper. Not just my actual sisters (I have two), but my girlfriend’s too. I care about women and love my girlfriends immensely. They are the most powerful, inspiring, straightforward and loving women I have ever known. They listen, support, encourage and push me to keep my head up in spite of adversities. They are my support network. Better yet, they are my sistergirls!

My sistergirls have picked up my son from daycare or school when I was stuck in traffic and his dad was stuck in a meeting. They have kept my son overnight when I’ve been too tired to play mommy. They have kept my son when I have traveled out of town to their city for a date night. They have kept my son when I was an emotional wreck and had no family in sight. They have drank with me, shopped with me and gave me some of the funniest and best advice ever.

The bond between two women can be an incredible experience. You love the person and they become a beat in your heart. They don’t change your relationship with your significant other, they encourage it and remind you that no matter what…nothing will ever come between you two. They understand that you’re too busy to get together because you’re playing wifey or supermom. They cook meals when you’re sick so you can focus on getting better. They are just awesome!

Sistergirls are a requirement for any woman. You need that support. God has provided me an awesome network of women that do that for me and more. When I go to them with my “issues” they just listen and give me a non-judgmental and practical approach on how to handle things. “Whatever you want to do girl, you know I got your back” is what they say.

How encouraging is that?

Recently, I had a man tell me that he worries about me being everything to everyone. He said, “If you give of yourself tirelessly who will take care of you? What will you have left in the end?” I smiled and said, “Enough”. He looked at me puzzled. I said, “God gives me enough. Enough heart to love and strength to be the support that my sistergirls are too me. Yes it may seem like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but the load I carry is not heavy. It is enough. I am enough and I can handle it.”

I need my sistergirls more than they need me. I’m always the one calling them with the latest and greatest thought, idea or piece that I wrote and I want their advice. They give it to me. Without hesitation. When I have a break-down and cry about a situation, they love me and support me and remind me that “God never gives you more than you can bear.” They are the ones that have encouraged my writing and they are the wind beneath my wings.

But lately, my sistergirls have been going through things that I can’t fix. Do you know how that annoys me? They make things better for me and I want to do the same for them. I know I can’t carry their burdens, but I share in their heartbreaks, disappointments and pain. I willingly love and try to inspire them with subliminal tweets, posts, texts and Instagram love. I want to be their rock because they are that to me. So, you know what? I will.

I don’t want a man telling me to not concern myself with their problems because that is not what sisterhood is about. We live, we love, we laugh and we cry. Shared joys and disappointments. If you are my man and you’re going through something, don’t you want my support? Yep! Absolutely! So, understand this…there is no greater love than sisterhood. I am my sister’s keepers.

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A Song for Brennan

Because I am a mother. Because I am black. Because I feel pain. I wrote this piece.

 

“A Song for Brennan”

Almost seven years ago, I birthed a king

Difficult conception, difficult delivery, but I had faith

You see I knew death from diseases that you weren’t supposed to get

I knew what it was like to see someone you love lying in a casket as people wept

Silently

 

But I prayed

I prayed for peace

I prayed for my seed growing in my womb

I prayed for you my son

 

I imagined your face being a combination of me and your daddy’s

I imagined singing you to sleep every night with songs I created in my mind

Why?

Because Rock-a-Bye-Baby scared the hell out of me

No way were you going to be up in a tree in a cradle

With the dang wind blowing?

What kind of foolishness was that?

Mess I said

Besides I knew I would never let you fall

 

My job was to protect you

Like wings of an eagle, I would always be there

You were the angel in my womb

God’s favor over my life defined

My chance at redemption

 

I changed

I became a fanatic

Reading everything I could get my hands on

I wanted to nurture you physically, mentally and spiritually

I vowed to protect you

Always

No greater love

 

It’s been an incredible journey my sweet boy

You’ve taught me how to love beyond measure

You challenge me

You inspire me

You love me

You question me

 

But I’ve lied dear sweet boy

Not because I wanted too, but because I had too

I couldn’t tell you the truth when you asked me about the police

I smiled away my tears as allergies when you caught me crying

I laughed and kissed you and said “Mommy loves you so much”

When you questioned the sadness in my eyes the next morning

 

“Is it me Mommy?” You asked

“Are you mad at me?” You questioned

“No baby” I responded

 

Truth is love

That I’m crying for all those mothers that lose

Lose their sons

For walking home from the store

For playing in the park

For walking to school

For

For

 

Being black

Because being black in this damn world

Is killing me

It angers me

That our children are dying

That you will never know

That in the midst of my tears for injustice

That I scream the names

For Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner

Michael Brown, John Crawford,

Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice and the countless others

Who have lost their life

Because my dear sweet baby boy

I want you to know that

Black lives matter

You matter

More: My Latest Poem

Recently, I’ve been accepting the fact that I want more and that it is okay to want it. Because realistically, I tend to accept the BS that I’m given and try to justify the BS as legitimate because I am thinking about the other person and not trying to appear selfish. But is it really selfish?

That being said, I started to write a poem and ended up realizing that what I wanted to say was that I want and deserve more and that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m selfish or self-centered. It means I’m human and I love me more. More is real and more says you’re worth it.

Pen to paper and my feelings became a poem that I entitled “More”.

 

More

Many months of dating and sexing and no commitment came

I wanted more

You cringed at the thought that you would have to share your heart

I walked away

Knowing and believing that I deserved more than a fleeting kiss

With an occasional promise of something more

“Stay with me” you asked

“Let me please you baby” you begged

“Let’s not define the undefinable and exist where we are” you said

“Don’t worry about the others” you whispered

“Just focus on us” you urged

 

I did

I tried

I focused on trying to change you

To make you into the man that would love only me

To show and prove that I was a down ass chick

Who would be your ride or die and

Never leave your side girl

Your homey/lover and your friend

I succumbed to the passion

And pushed more to the back of my mind

 

Why?

Because more didn’t matter

I was going to live in the present

Smile

Enjoy it

Booty calls, occasional dates and pillow talk

That was something right?

It was better than more

 

But more kept pushing and fighting for freedom

More didn’t like the space it was being confined too

More wanted to run wild and yell

More wanted to hold hands in public

More wanted to go to your house of worship and praise

More wanted to meet your family and friends

More wanted to define the terms of our relationship

More wanted to update its Facebook status

More wanted to be unleashed

 

More broke out

I ran crying because I couldn’t put more back

I stood there shaking because more demanded

We have a talk

 

More told me that

I deserve more

I have to choose me

More said I have to leave

More said you can’t stay being the supporting actress

When I was born to play the lead

 

So I listened to more

I left you

I am alone

But you know what?

More was right

I’m happy

In this place of peace

No ambiguity

No confusion

No heartbreak

No tears

No yelling

No screaming

No demanding

No convincing required

Nothing to prove

Because in this space where you don’t exist

I found more

Fat Jokes

So, last week I had the pleasure of going to drink at an establishment where my girlfriend was the bartender for the night. The bar was small, but nice. They had a comedy show whereby local comedians were featured. As I settled onto my bar stool with my drink I was immediately captivated by the talent of a black woman about my age and rocking a beautiful African head-wrap. Sister was funny. She was bringing the jokes and I was feeling the pain from laughing so hard.

But, she lost me. Why? She started to talk about how she’s 40 and never been married and doesn’t have kids. She remarked about how she is attractive and that she seems to be entering the dating field at the wrong time. For example, when skinny is in she’s considered too fat or when fat girls are in she’s considered too skinny. Apparently she had it rough (insert snarky smile). As she progressed through her routine she said that she was watching Discovery Health one day and it depressed the heck out of her. Why? Because she saw two women who were both married to attractive men with children.

The first woman had no legs and was pregnant. She mused, “I mean, why can’t I find an attractive husband and get pregnant. I have legs. What’s the problem?” She inquired. She said that a friend had told her that the legless woman can outperform her in the bedroom (too much for this post). Everyone laughed. Now disabled people are humorous? She then said there was a show about a 692 fat woman who was married to an attractive man and she couldn’t understand how she could get a husband and she can’t. What was up with that? Everyone laughed imagining this situation because the comedian couldn’t have weighed more than 160 pounds herself and was attractive.

She told a few more jokes and got off the stage. A few more comedians came up to do their act and I realized a theme forming in my brain…Fat jokes. Men and women both think that joking about fat women is funny (not even fat men). They all wondered how fat women can find attractive husbands, boyfriends or even date because we’re so busy being fat and eating.

Now, check it! I get that they were just jokes but as the only curvy sister in the establishment they were all looking at me and saying, “Not you sister” as I was giving them the side-eye that their jokes weren’t funny. I am a plus size princess, a curvy cutie and a full-figured feminist so how do the fat jokes don’t apply to me? Because I’m not big enough like the women you are referring too?

Man, kick rocks with that kind of backwards thinking. I asked my boy who was with me why did they do that? He said, “They’re just jokes. All fat women want to be skinny. Look at Monique.” Really? WTH! I was outraged at his insensitivity to the issues that big women face and I said, “Not all women want to be skinny and Monique didn’t. She wanted to be healthy and she’s not skinny.”

I guess I’m disappointed that we still can’t find humor about real-life things instead of picking on me and my plus sized sisters. I just wish that a true comedian would develop their craft by finding other topics. I mean fat girls like me like comedy shows and you just might have to spend your routine looking away when I give you the side eye when you make fat girl jokes. I’m not ashamed of my size and not everyone wants to be skinny. Just healthy.

My two cents…find other things to make us laugh such as politics, sex and religion. You would offend a lot more people instead of one group. I’m just saying.

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The Economics of Dating

Dating now is a lot like going shopping when you don’t have any money. Even if you find the right thing, you can’t do anything about it. –Joshua Harris

Recently, I’ve been listening to the frustrations of dating and in particular…Who should pay? Should women ever offer to pay? Should men accept the offer? How long should a man and woman date before a woman ever offers to pay? So, I headed to cyberspace to do my research and came across this article on the Huffington Post, written by Catherine Pearson, “Men Still Paying for Dates…And Women are Partly Responsible”. Interesting title right? In short, a study was done and found the following information helpful:

  • 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women say men pay for most entertainment expenses — even after they have been dating for some time
  • 57 percent of women say they offer to help pay
  • 39 percent admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers to pay
  • 44 percent were bothered when men expected them to chip in
  • Nearly two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses

The author didn’t offer an opinion on whether or not she thought this was an accurate statement as to how dating should be done. She just interpreted data. That being said, I wanted to know if anyone offered an opinion on this data and found an article for Women’s Health written by Clint Carter “Should Men Still Pay for Dates” and he offered an opinion. Now, before we start to believe that it will be bad, I will say that I agreed with some of his thoughts, but not all of the article. Why? Because of this statement:

“What these women are saying is that, despite egalitarianism, feminism, and all the high-minded isms we now stand for, there’s still something sacred about courtship. And although it’s true that you’re perfectly entitled to ask for equality in the workplace without practicing equality in your dating life, it does create some tension.”

Now, you see why I was like “Woosah”. I was sitting there thinking how odd that you think a man shouldn’t pay for dinner because I want equality in the workplace? Wow! I guess I should stay barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen or be a part of the secretary pool because that will allow men to pay for me right? I had to breathe and realize this is in part the fundamental argument that feminists face…you want equality in the workforce, but not in the courtship.

Sidebar:  Let’s try to breakdown some realities. I am a feminist. Feminism is defined as “the doctrine advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men”. That’s it folks! Plain and simple. I don’t want to be told that I can’t work somewhere because I’m a woman. I don’t want to be told that if all things are equal and I do the same job as a man that I will be paid less. I don’t want to be told that if I have a baby that I can’t take leave to care for my own self and newborn.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate men. I love men. I have a son who I adore and motherhood is the singular most important thing I’ve ever done. I just want him to understand that although you may fight for racial equality remember that gender equality is also something you should advocate for because women deserve it. Simple. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the economics of dating.

BUT, when I re-read Mr. Carter’s statement (truthfully like 6 times) what he’s really saying is that you deserve equality but understand that it is going to create tension in your dating relationships. Ain’t that the truth? You don’t believe it? Get up and ask three women between the ages of 28-48 how they feel about dating and whether or not they’ve paid for a date or been asked too? Ask them how it made them feel.

I realized that he’s actually right on point with this. In talking to a number of friends, associates and women and men in general they actually feel that women should be chipping in or paying for some dates. But, what if a woman doesn’t want too? Is it her prerogative? Yes, absolutely. Will she find a lot of men willing to commit for her “to figure out” whether or not they are compatible? Probably not. In reality, dating should be a slow process whereby two people get to know each other and determine whether there are sparks. How much should this cost?  How long can two people who are getting to know each other decide if they like each other enough to be exclusive? Why do women include their costs of make-up, getting an outfit, nails and hair done equate into what “we’re paying” for the date? Is that fair?

Since, I’m slow and tend to think of things in terms of economics, let’s break down some numbers so that we can see how much dating can in fact cost a potential suitor. Here goes:

Now, let’s say he’s a 40 year old male (divorced) with a 6 year old child who is in school full-time.

Expense Monthly Cost                      Notes
Rent  $      1,200.00 Two bedroom apartment in a not so good area in the Washington, DC Area
Car Note  $         300.00
Car Insurance  $         120.00
After Care  $         300.00
Food  $         250.00
Utilities  $         300.00 Includes Gas, Electric, Cable and Cell Phone
Gas for the Car  $         300.00
Credit Card Bills  $         400.00 Expenses with car maintenance and dating
Student Loan Payments  $         200.00
Child Support  $         600.00
FSA  $         100.00 Required as part of his divorce decree to assist in the payment of his child’s medical expenses
Health Insurance  $         220.00 Based it off a monthly two person rate of $1100 with him paying 20%
Total a Month  $      4,290.00
70,000/12 (months)  $      5,833.33 Monthly (Gross)
5833.33*25% (taxes)  $      4,375.00 Net
4375 (Take Home Pay) – 4290 (Monthly Expenses)  $           85.00

Sobering reality huh?  Looking at the chart above, this man is already broke before taking you out to dinner. I’m not judging, just acknowledging that his financial picture is a little sketch. Living off credit cards and a monthly take home of $85 after expenses. How can he afford to court and woo you on this amount? Is it fair for him to take you out weekly at an average spend of $80.00? Does his financial status make him ineligible to be considered a life partner? Truth: It costs to be the boss. Many men and women want to be the boss and have a fairy tale dating life when the economics of dating don’t support it. Life happens and some (not all) men can’t afford to take care of their responsibilities and wine and dine you without some reciprocation. The man above by all accounts seems like a decent man, but let’s face it…some women won’t even give him the time of day if they knew his monthly financial situation.

Finally, I know many people (women) will find fault in my argument, but I want to go back and say that I guess I did agree with Mr. Carter’s response to the data and I want to implore more women to be open about the economics of dating. Realize that sometimes, you have to pay if you want to get past the initial stages of dating. Be open to picking up the tab for breakfast, lunch or quick dinner at a diner. How can a man know you’re a contender if you spend your money getting ready for the date and deduct it as dating expenses? How can you show a man that you genuinely care about him if you find it deplorable to reach into your purse and at least offer to leave a tip? It doesn’t set the gender back. It doesn’t mean that he won’t court you or invest in you. It means that you understand simply…the economics of dating.

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Mondays are for Mary

A couple of weeks I gave you insight into how Beyonce’s songs helped me through a particular rough period, but now I want to give you a list of songs by Mary J Blige that will help you through your blue period where you’re hurting because a man or woman has hurt you. This is for my ladies…Mary’s Monday Music List is all about getting you to a place where you can reflect, respond and resolve to be in a better mood than yesterday and get past the hurt. Not for them, but for you. Trust, you will love this.

Let’s go…

My Life

Mary sings about letting go and letting God. You are not alone in your struggle. If you don’t believe in her, that’s cool, believe in HIM. Love it.

“Take your time
Baby don’t you rush a thing
Don’t you know, I know
We all are struggling
I know it is hard
But we will get by
And if you don’t believe in me
Just believe in “He”

 

I Can Love You

Haven’t we all been there and thought…I can love you better than she/he can? I know I have. But, sometimes we just need to understand it’s not about us but the person we’re trying to convince. If it’s meant to be…trust, you won’t need to convince someone.

 

Not Gon’ Cry 

But after you get to the point of realizing that the person is not going to love you the way you love them, you have to tell yourself that I’m not gon’ cry. Because that person is not worth the tears.

 

No More Drama

Okay, who hasn’t had drama in their lives? Whether you invite it in personally or it slipped in with someone you know. You have to get to the point of saying No More Drama. Drama doesn’t allow you to find and seek the good things in your life because you’re dealing with hurt. Hurt emotions. Hurt people. Breathe and release yourself. Mary sings…

Uh, it feel so good
When you let go
Of all the drama in your life
Now you’re free from all the pain
Free from all the game
Free from all the stress
So find your happiness

 

Just Move

Now, that you’re at the end girlfriend…Work it! No time for moping around. Get your happy back and keep it moving because you deserve it. Get it together and just love you.

 

So, if you’re going through a particularly rough time or break up know that it does get easier. Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is walk away and say no to foolishness. Surround yourself with friends who will love and listen and you can get through this. Trust.

I Get it Okay

I’m anemic. I’ve been dealing with anemia most of my life, but never to the point that it has gotten as bad as it has now. I’m exhausted (severely fatigued) and barely able to perform my day-to-day tasks. So on Monday, I called my doctor and left a voice mail about the new medication he’s put me on and how it’s affecting my anemia (which has been mild up until this point). The nurse called me back and said the side effects of the medication are normal, but that I need to get on Iron supplements immediately. She said that she would leave a note for the doctor who was making rounds that day and would call me tomorrow. No problem.

On Tuesday, I went to the local CVS to get some supplements ASAP like the nurse said to try to get this constant fatigue under control. I am so tired that it feels like there is not enough hours in the day and I can barely drive the 14 miles to work. I took two pills yesterday and then received an email from my doctor recommending that I get a biopsy and that he’s contacted the scheduling coordinators in the office so that I can get on the schedule. Hold up! What? For real? Why?

No reason mentioned as to why I should go for this invasive procedure when I was told by the nurse that my side effects that are worsening my anemic self are normal. Whose running whom? I was hot. I decided to not respond to his email at this point because I needed to craft a perfect snarky response to send to him.

Here were some of my response choices:

Response #1

Dr. *Blank*:

Have you lost your dang mind? Why in the heck would you send me an email and mention the word biopsy and me getting one? Do you think that is appropriate? Were you sniffing the gas when you did your rounds today? I think you need to call me ASAP because I’m ready to drive over to your office now with my anemic self and demand a face-to-face consultation.

Call me now!

Response #2

Dr. *Blank*:

Umm, I’m gonna take negative on the biopsy for $200. Why? Because you didn’t explain why I would need a biopsy, the risk of said biopsy or even talk to me like I’m an actual breathing patient. I’m getting weak writing this because if you haven’t heard, my anemia is making me pass out.

Call me now man!

Response #3

Dr. *Blank*:

Wow! You were so thoughtful when I was breeding and carrying and actual human being in my womb, but now since I’m not you’re acting like I’m a menopausal “Stepford Wife” with no real opinion. Why would you suggest a biopsy in email and think that I would agree to such an invasive procedure without a phone call or a face-to-face consultation? Don’t you understand that I’m a feminist and even though you were there when I gave birth to my king, women run this world! You would know that if you were paying attention. I can’t talk to you anymore and I would like one of the other women doctors in the practice to call me ASAP because they apparently have graduated medical school and understand my rights as a woman and a human being. I bid you farewell and would like the higher species in the practice to contact me from now on.

 

As you can see, I was going through it right? But, the gist of the matter was that I was not going to get a biopsy or any other invasive procedure without talking to the person who wants to do it. I went home that night and in my severely anemic and weakened state began to research my condition and learned that according to The Mayo Clinic (a really important clinic) that I have 7 out of the 10 symptoms. Here is the list of symptoms:

Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache

Yep, I was depressed. I swore I started seeing stars at that moment. I just
climbed my frail and anemic body under the covers and started to try to motivate myself to keep up the good fight. I searched the internet to try and find songs to encourage and inspire me because hey I’m dramatic. I found this list of 31 inspiring songs and realized one of my favorite artists was among them…Kelly Clarkson. I decided “Ode to my Anemia” and chose to listen to this song on repeat:

Yep, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger! No Anemia, I will not die. I will fight! I will get healthy and I will survive. (I was going through it the other night).

The next morning, I called a good friend of mine to update him on my condition. He is in the ministry and he listened to my dramatic monologue on how the anemia was trying to take me out, but I wasn’t letting it. He never interrupted. That’s what friends do right? Listen. Well, when I finished he said, “I’m really sorry you’re going through this and you’ve consulted the internet, but have you gone to God with this?” I was hot.

Why was I hot? Because here he was trying to tell me what I should do about my medical condition and he doesn’t have a medical degree. Men, I tell you! I went off. I said, “Look, God is too busy to worry about me and my anemic self. He’s focused on bigger issues and bigger prayers. Like my prayer for Ebola, but thank you for your concern.” He was offended. He said, “Wow! It amazes me how people who are faithful to God don’t realize that God wants you to come to him in all things.” He said, “I never expected to hear that from you.”

Well, I was fit to be tied. Much arguing, overtalking and I gotta get ready for work statements and we ended the call. I went about my day talking with the office nurse who was making notes to send back to the doctor (still no call from the man himself) and then I said I need to write about this. I looked up what my friend said about God wanting me to come to him for everything and realized…he was right. I was wrong. It says so in Luke 16:10 (KJV) “ He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

I felt horrible. I was not going to God with my severe anemia because I wanted him to focus on Ebola and I thought this was too small for him. But, I should have known better. All things should be brought to him and he will decide what he’s too busy for. I owe my friend an apology, which I probably won’t give him due to my anemia being so severe that I am entitled a pass (hey cognitive problems okay). More important than my not giving an apology is the fact that I learned that I must go to God with everything.