Protecting My Assets

“Divorce is the one human tragedy that reduces everything to cash.”- Rita Mae Brown

To prenup or not prenup. That is the question I am pondering today. I’ve always said that I wanted a prenup. Before getting married I asked “Hey, what do you think about a prenup?” He laughed at me and said, “Why? It’s not like you’re sitting on a pile of wealth that I’m after.” I dropped the issue. He was right. I wasn’t. However, my concern was about my future wealth and earnings.

But, many people still have issues with prenups. Especially women. Sorry ladies, but it’s true. People feel that you’re looking at things negatively and that you don’t believe that your marriage will work. Nope. Not true at all. You’re protecting yourself and your earnings. If you had one million in the bank before we get married and I had $1,000 why should I be entitled to half of that? Because I married you? I didn’t earn it.

I started thinking about this because more women are demanding prenups than ever. I read how Gabrielle Union demanded one from her very rich husband, Dwayne Wade. She wanted to protect her brand and assets. I actually liked that idea. What’s wrong with protecting your identity and the money you’ve made prior to securing your life partner?

Prenups don’t decrease the value of love you have for one another. It actually helps you discuss finances as part of your marriage planning. You’re entering into a territory of “we” but neither of you wants to get screwed should one person decide it isn’t working out for them. Now, no one enters into a marriage thinking that it may never work out, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes it just doesn’t.

Protecting your assets or future assets is not a bad idea. As women seem to be earning more and marrying men who may not be as financially wealthy as they are there is a shift to protect what was earned prior to marriage. Think, Real Housewives of Atlanta when Kandi Burruss married Todd Tucker. They were literally holding up the wedding until the prenup was signed. It was signed prior to their nuptials though.

Let’s not forget Kim Kardashian when she married her second husband, basketball player, Kris Humphries. It was Kim’s sister who went to her mother to confirm that the prenup was signed before her sister walked down the aisle. Khloe didn’t want to trust the fact that their joint family ventures were at risk because her sister was in love. The prenup was to protect their assets.

But, even though you may not have the millions like the women I discussed, think about if you are a business owner, a homeowner or you have a trust fund or inheritance. Would you want to take the chance that love conquerors all and roll the dice that a prenup would “destroy” the love? Not me. Just think about protecting yourselves and there is no time like the present to bring up the idea of a prenup.

The best quote I read was from a woman who fell in love with a man who lived in Paris. Her story “Why I’m Getting a Prenup—and You Should Too” was posted on the Huffington Post and she said, “I may be in love, but I’m not ignorant about the fact that “things” can happen. I understand that infidelity is always a possibility, that sometimes love just dies, or even that there may be a situation where I’m stuck in France, unable to leave the country with my daughter because of laws I can’t change.”

Just think about the quote above that says “Divorce is the only human tragedy that reduces everything to cash” and hopefully you will make the right decision. Because it is true. There are no guarantees, but you don’t want your brand, assets or investments to suffer because there wasn’t sound financial planning involved.

Brown Girl Blues

The best way to protect young black, brown, men of color, women of color, is to actually stop profiling, stop the prejudice, and stop the judgment first. – Hill Harper

 

Sigh.

There are too many battles with my beautiful brown babies going on. As a brown girl with a brown boy, it affects me. Personally. The latest issue outside of the “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” movement is the piece I read about how black girls are disciplined harsher than white girls who commit the same crime. Worse than that…darker skinned black girls face harsher or more severe punishment than lighter skinned blacks. WTH?

Yep, that was my reaction. WTH is happening to our brown babies in this country. Really? Are we doing the brown paper bag test on our children? I thought that kind of slave mentality had ended. Apparently not. I am too naive for this country. For those of you unfamiliar with the brown paper bag test it was a test that some blacks used to determine whether admission would be granted in certain circles such as sororities or admission into colleges. If you were as light or lighter than a brown paper bag, you were admitted in. We (blacks) actually used this as a way to determine whether we were beautiful. Based on our complexion. Now others are using it. Today.

A New York Times article entitled “Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differ by Race and Hue” earlier this month just added another piece in a puzzle of growing social issues in which I’m monitoring. In short, the article stated that researchers found that black girls were punished harsher than white girls accused of the same crime and that throughout darker skinned girls were three times more likely to be suspended than light skinned black girls. Excuse me? Yep. You read that right.

To deny that there is such a thing as white privilege is to ignore that racism doesn’t exist. I’m not saying that you are a racist, but let’s be real, you can’t say that you don’t see color and that all these injustices to people of color are a figment of a nation’s imagination. They are not. We need to address the issues of disparity and then try to formulate ways to prevent these kinds of injustices. What about our children? What about our girls?

The fact that the school system is systematically treating girls of different races and then hues differently is a sign that there needs to be change. We can’t continue to hide the fact that racial injustices are occurring all over this country. Even in our schools.

As a black woman, I was fortunate to not have to experience racism in school. I went to a predominately white school at the time (60% white) and my favorite teachers were white. They were the ones who never gave up on me and encouraged me to do better. They inspired and nurtured my love for reading and writing. They helped me pass Chemistry and Physics (by blatantly giving me the answer) because they cared about me. They believed in me. Even when I doubted myself.

There was no color. Just love. Yes, I knew they were white and they knew I was black, but their genuine belief and support in me mattered more than anything. For that, I am thankful.

No, my situation wasn’t the same as these young girls, but that’s because I attended a great school with great teachers and even a great principal. They took the time to learn their students and they treated us equally. Fairly. I couldn’t talk about experiencing racism at school because I didn’t know what that looked like. I never experienced it. I thought everyone had the same experiences as I did. It wasn’t until college that I realized that the world was bigger than my town in Maryland. It was a lot bigger.

College and life shaped my views about the injustices outside of my circle. I grew more aware and socially conscious. I became someone who wanted to seek solutions to the problems that plagued our community. An activist. An intellect. A feminist. A mother. Many titles, but deep down inside…I’m still a little brown girl who hurts for everyone.

One of the best comments I read was by a reader named Kinsey Clark in Athens, Georgia who said the following:

I am a white female, and I was in Georgia’s public school system my entire life. Anyone who argues with these studies is simply wrong to do so. I know I got away with things that my black classmates did not, or I was at least punished to a lesser extent. I hate my white privilege, but I have learned that the best hopes for eradicating it are to accept it for what it is. By denying it, by pretending that I am not lucky to be white in this country, I would be ignoring the problem. I feel too many people don’t speak up against these types of inequalities. I wish I had when I was in school. Racism is still rampant in this country, in ever nook and cranny. It’s simply become so institutionalized in the most subtle of ways, that many of us privileged white folks don’t even notice it. I won’t try to pretend to understand what it feels like to be one who is forced to suffer through it. Yet I will always do my best to put myself in another person’s shoes. I thank the NYT for publishing this article. While protests are roaring nationwide against racist practices by the police, we must continue to shed light on ALL forms of discrimination. The first step to fixing any problem is to let people know the problem exists. I hope school systems will listen and take action.

Insightful huh? Let’s hope that the school systems will listen and take action. For everyone’s sake.

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From the Mouths of Babes

My son is a good child.

Simple in his wishes.

He is six.

He can’t figure out when is Christmas.

We tell him.

He forgets.

He asks daily.

He sings Christmas carols.

He doesn’t get the lyrics quite right.

We laugh.

He told me that all he wants for Christmas is a stuffed bunny rabbit, a fire truck and a gold fish.

We are lucky.

No, we are blessed that God chose us.

In Search of More

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa

Okay so I’m working on my first book which will be fiction (very loosely) based off my life and experiences. It’s weird because I’ve never intended to write fiction, just tell my story. My truth. My way. With no filter. The response to my two short stories have created a surge to write the story of a woman named Faith and her experiences with a man named Teddy.

I’m so excited because the respect and appreciation for my short stories have increased my Twitter followers, Facebook friends and followers to this blog. This means that people get me. You don’t know how wonderful that makes me feel. It is an amazing feeling and I thank you for your continued support.

That being said, I have no plans to quit my job and write full-time (primarily because I love and need my health benefits) but I just want to share this woman’s story. What makes it interesting is that I can see parts of me, my friends, family and women I’ve met on this journey into everything I write now. We all want more. Whether it be a poem or short story I feel like I’m weaving a tapestry that tells one story for everyone…the search for more. More. We don’t want to settle. We know we deserve it but oftentimes we find ourselves trapped in situations where we accept what we can get instead of pulling ourselves away from things that don’t give us more.

My search for more has opened my eyes to things that I never thought I would experience and anthems about taking back your power that I am in awe of how I’m subconsciously moving and gravitating towards my destiny without even knowing it. In other words, I’m not settling. I’m asking, no rather DEMANDING more. More for me.

I hope you do the same love.

Your Word is Your Bond

“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”

— Maria Razumich-Zec

 

Simply put…If you don’t have your word, then what the heck do you have? That’s what I told a friend of mine the other day. I am a woman of my word. My word defines who I am and my character. If there is anything you would ever want to know, just ask. I’m honest. I’m grown and I’m authentic. I would rather be known for my  ability to tell the truth than to be a known liar.

In navigating my friendships and relationships with people, I realized that the only thing that I can do is be honorable. Keep my word because it matters. Not one of my friends can ever say that I’m not reliable, disingenuous or flaky. If I don’t want to do something…I just won’t do it. I don’t let people bully me into doing something I don’t want to do and I don’t feel guilty if I can’t make everything. No matter how hard I try, I learned that I will miss some things and that’s okay.

So, what does it look like to me when you keep your word? That you’re a person that I can trust. That you care about me and my feelings. That you are special enough where I can let this guard down around my heart and try to get to know you. Why? Because you can keep your word. Your word is your bond. The bond that strengthens our friendship.

It’s not hard. There’s no magical formula to keeping your word. There will always be situations where that can’t be possible. It’s okay. Let the other person know what’s going on as soon as you can. Many communication problems can be resolved when people actually take the time and communicate with one another. Honoring your word will always get you the two most important things from me: trust and respect.

Trust

I don’t trust people easily. Never have. Probably never will. But, I can learn to trust people. God has blessed me with so many phenomenal men and women in my life that I can’t imagine how I ever survived not knowing them. We take time out to call, text, eat, visit and catch up with each other. I value that quality time and I trust them to always be there for me should I ever need them and I promise to do the same. We trust each other and that trust is solidified each time we act upon something that we said that we would do. Whether it be call back, get together or write a letter of recommendation for graduate school, we trust that what we say we are going to do will be done.

Respect

I respect people who keep their word and vice versa. My friends respect that I will do everything that I said I will do. So does my family. That respect is an integral part of my character and integrity. I don’t tell you that I’m going to do something and then not do it. I will follow through. Things that irk me and help me lose respect for people: people that say that they are going to call and don’t; people that say that they are going to do something and don’t and people who say that they will be there and don’t. You see how a little “slip of your mind” can cause me to lose respect for you? Just be about your word. Technological advances allow for people to send a text and say “Got busy, can’t make it. Call you later okay?” See, now how hard is that? Remember to be respectful to people and their time. Time is something that we can’t get back if it is wasted.

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Remember, to keep your word once it is given. Honor your friendships and relationships with people. Be authentic. If you can’t do something, it’s okay to send a text or call to say that you can’t make it. If you get distracted or busy, call the person immediately and explain your oversight. If you forget and need to cancel on someone, be honest and let them know. It takes a minute to gain someone’s trust, but an eternity to earn it back after you lose it.

Trust me on this one.

 

Screaming…I’m Beautiful

I read this incredible post that talked about definitions of beauty. The article entitled “50 Reasons You Are Beautiful” was just what I needed because I was having one of those days were I felt I wasn’t beautiful. You know those days where your hair sucks, you have a breakout and you just can’t seem to get your make-up right? Well, it was driving me nuts!

I hated going to work not feeling or seeming “put together”. So, I sat there fuming and really just getting down on myself. I was having a serious problem with my own self and started feeling ugly. In my meditation moment I reflected on how wonderfully made I am and started to feel a little better, but dang, this fly away piece of hair was annoying the heck out of me.

Enter God. God talks to me in a KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) manner and I love it. He allowed me to read this posting and realize that I am beautiful. Just the way I am. Not based on my looks, but because he created me. I am screaming…I’m Beautiful and let me tell you why.

I Have an Attitude of Gratitude

I am thankful for all the blessings and disappointments that I suffer. I believe in taking the good and bad of life and knowing that I am blessed regardless. No one thing is because I am super smart, super beautiful or super successful. It’s because I have a super attitude of gratitude about who I serve. Gratitude is beautiful.

I Am a Boring Nerd

Yep, I said it. I am a boring nerd. I’ve always tried to shy away from this because I didn’t want folks to know so I would jump up at any chance to go out to a party or to the club instead of just being me. I love to sit at home reading a good book. There are many days that I don’t even turn on my television. I just appreciate the silence and focus on growing and expanding my mind. I love politics and any and all legislation that affects my job, life, or people. But guess what? Being a boring nerd is beautiful.

I Can’t Dance

Nope. I can’t. I can move with a beat, but I’m not as smooth and sophisticated as some other women you may know. I’m not that gracious on a dance floor, but that’s okay. I like to be held. I dance to my own beat and you know what? Not knowing how to dance is beautiful.

My Nose is Weird

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my nose. More hate than love, but you get the picture right? It’s a nose that doesn’t fit in anywhere in my family. It’s awkward and long and kinda round, but it doesn’t seem to go with my face. It just is there. I’m always nosing around trying to find glasses that fit my face or better yet, my nose. But you know what? Weird noses are beautiful.

I Can’t Walk in Heels

I never truly learned to walk and balance in heels so anything beyond 3 inches is asking for trouble. Unless the shoes have thick heels, are platforms, wedges or anything that stabilizes my clumsiness, I can’t do it. I’ve had to make due with cute flats that allow me to maneuver through the day, but I always hated the fact that I wasn’t coordinated enough to master walking in heels. But, you know what? Walking in flats is beautiful.

My Waist Size is in Double Digits

I posted before about how I’m learning to embrace my femininity and accept my double digit figure each day. It’s been a growing experience and I realized that no matter how much I work out, how healthy I eat and how much I want to be small (without surgery of course), I may never get there. Instead of punishing myself for my flabby tummy or the rolls on my side I just smile and blow kisses. I may never get to be a perfect size 8 and you know what? That’s okay. Why? Because the round me is just as beautiful.

There are many more things that make up the whole of me that point to my beauty both inside and out. I’m thankful for all the things I’ve experienced and I love me.  I’m going to print out this list and tape it to my mirror to remind myself of these things every day and know that I’m beautiful, simply because I’m me. And you know what? So are you.

Sometimes I Hate Technology

As I was returning from a restful vacation with my girlfriend, I looked into my bank account to discover that I had been a victim. A victim of folks scamming my bank card and making fraudulent charges. Shopping and making purchases to stores that I don’t shop at and taking my money. Money that I worked hard to earn to be able to buy school supplies/clothes for my munch. They took it. So, yep…sometimes I hate technology.

I had dinner with my cousin, Friday night while in Tampa and his card got declined as he paid for our dinner. I offered to pay and he said, “No.” His wife covered the bill and then he discovered that someone had made a clone of his card and was making fraudulent charges in California. He posted this on Facebook the next day:

“To whoever stole my identity…I hope those couple of transactions were worth it!!! I don’t wish bad on anyone but I hope and pray that you receive the same profiling, racism and horrible customer service that comes with being a black man!!! Middle finger to all those who would rather steal than to work hard and make money!!!”

As I arrived home Monday night and was perusing Facebook, another one of my Facebook friends reported that they had been a victim too. It was this post that had me wondering what happened:

“Today I wish that the person who keeps hacking my online bank account will see his entire family die in a fiery ball of twisted metal and glass leading him to a failed suicide attempt that will leave him suffering miserably alone and in pain for the rest of his useless life.”

Today, I can truly say that I understood their pain. Looking at my empty bank account and wondering what did I do to deserve this? I had to pay bills, buy school supplies, pay before and after care tuition and buy food. I wanted to cry. You know that deep down earth shattering wounded animal type cry? The cry that wracks my body as I try to pick up the pieces of my life after being violated. But, I didn’t. I let the tears slide gently down my face and do what I do best. Research and write.

In February, Fox Business reported that every two seconds someone becomes a victim of identity theft in the U.S. That is ridiculous! I guess it’s no wonder why I was chosen. Every two seconds? That’s 30 people a minute. Unbelievable! What is going on people? I’m sure the money you spend to scam hardworking individuals can be better used to enroll in college and get a job than shopping at Lord and Taylor and Victoria’s Secret.

So, I’m calming down and I am thankful that it wasn’t a credit card too. I monitor those just as closely. Minor inconvenience aside, I’m fortunate that it wasn’t worse. But, here’s what the Department of Justice is recommending should you become a victim of identity theft.

To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. For starters, just remember the word “SCAM”:

S Be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are:

At Home:

1. Start by adopting a “need to know” approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when you call to inquire about your account. A person who calls you and says he’s from your bank, however, doesn’t need to know that information if it’s already on file with your bank; the only purpose of such a call is to acquire that information for that person’s personal benefit. Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks — such as your Social Security number or home telephone number — the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who may not need that information.

2.If someone you don’t know calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a “major” credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data — such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother’s maiden name — ask them to send you a written application form.

3.If they won’t do it, tell them you’re not interested and hang up.

4.If they will, review the application carefully when you receive it and make sure it’s going to a company or financial institution that’s well-known and reputable. The Better Business Bureau can give you information about businesses that have been the subject of complaints.

On Travel:

1.If you’re traveling, have your mail held at your local post office, or ask someone you know well and trust ­another family member, a friend, or a neighbor ­ to collect and hold your mail while you’re away.

2.If you have to telephone someone while you’re traveling, and need to pass on personal financial information to the person you’re calling, don’t do it at an open telephone booth where passersby can listen in on what you’re saying; use a telephone booth where you can close the door, or wait until you’re at a less public location to call.

C Check your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t:

What Should Be There:

1.If you have bank or credit card accounts, you should be receiving monthly statements that list transactions for the most recent month or reporting period.

2.If you’re not receiving monthly statements for the accounts you know you have, call the financial institution or credit card company immediately and ask about it.

3.If you’re told that your statements are being mailed to another address that you haven’t authorized, tell the financial institution or credit card representative immediately that you did not authorize the change of address and that someone may be improperly using your accounts. In that situation, you should also ask for copies of all statements and debit or charge transactions that have occurred since the last statement you received. Obtaining those copies will help you to work with the financial institution or credit card company in determining whether some or all of those debit or charge transactions were fraudulent.

What Shouldn’t Be There:

1.If someone has gotten your financial data and made unauthorized debits or charges against your financial accounts, checking your monthly statements carefully may be the quickest way for you to find out. Too many of us give those statements, or the enclosed checks or credit transactions, only a quick glance, and don’t review them closely to make sure there are no unauthorized withdrawals or charges.

2.If someone has managed to get access to your mail or other personal data, and opened any credit cards in your name or taken any funds from your bank account, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately to report those transactions and to request further action.

A Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.

Your credit report should list all bank and financial accounts under your name, and will provide other indications of whether someone has wrongfully opened or used any accounts in your name.

M Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.

Even though financial institutions are required to maintain copies of your checks, debit transactions, and similar transactions for five years, you should retain your monthly statements and checks for at least one year, if not more. If you need to dispute a particular check or transaction especially if they purport to bear your signatures ­ your original records will be more immediately accessible and useful to the institutions that you have contacted.

Even if you take all of these steps, however, it’s still possible that you can become a victim of identity theft. Records containing your personal data — credit-card receipts or car-rental agreements, for example — may be found by or shared with someone who decides to use your data for fraudulent purposes.

Now that we all know what to do and I have calmed down, I realized this fundamental truth:

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I choose to become a VICTOR. How about you?