The Uncouth Among Us

My fifty cents on the recent nail salon brawl that has gotten a community in an uproar and everyone taking sides. If you aren’t familiar what I am referring to, you can Google “Brooklyn nail salon brawl.” In doing so you will get a sorry full glimpse of an issue that has been brewing since the beginning of time. Cultural conditioning and sincere ignorance, or perhaps willful stupidity about other cultures sums up what happened here. 

For a service provider to effectively assist me, it is best that there is two-way communication and RESPECT. As the customer and by a reasonable person standard, I should be able to ask for what I want and be willing to pay for said service. Thereafter, I should receive that service. Period. If there is an issue, a sincere effort should be made to rectify the situation promptly.  Having worked in plenty customer contact positions, there will always be folks you cannot please. You just won’t. It’s the 80/20 rule essentially; 20 percent will never be satisfied with anything. They will behave like beasts; become belligerent, combative-just off-the-meat-rack crazy.  As a business, who gets the majority of your attention? The 20 percent you’ll never please, or the 80 percent ready and willing to be WOW’d by an amazing experience? 

We tend to make assumptions and treat people based on these assumptions. If you are predisposed to thinking that all customers who like me are a problem, then there will be a problem. Why? Because the likelihood of you being able to expertly disguise how you really feel is minimal. And as we’re all energy, I will feel the vibe that you’re not receptive or want to work with me.  What should I do in that instance? I would leave because my money and I are a package deal. Likewise, if I make an assumption about someone providing me with a service, based only on prior experiences with individuals who look like him or her, I’m wrong as two left shoes too. 

Customer facing employees must be able to communicate with customers. It is frustrating trying to ask for specific services and the provider does not fully understand. Or worst is obstinate to my needs. A lack of solid communication is a frustrating experience for both parties. And it’s unnecessary. All people deserve to earn a respectable living. However, you have to be able to perform the basic skills of said job, which usually involves two-way communication. If that is not possible, there should be a supervisor or someone on site to interpret the needs of the customer to the employee and vice versa. 

I am very specific when I’m getting personal services done. I like my hair done a specific way and my nails; I like a specific type of red lip stick. I will work with anyone but there are limits to how hard I will work when the other person can’t or won’t work with me. I am responsible for knowing what I want and asking for it. Unless otherwise notified, I am not expecting to train someone else’s employee on how to do a job that they are being paid (or are in business) to perform.  If I am aware that the person is new, I am empathetic to him or her. We’ve all been new at something or on a job. Again, it’s about being able to talk civilly about expectations and deliverables. 

Next point, as a business, you have the right to refuse service. You can ask the customer to leave or call the police to intervene in situations where the attempt to diffuse the situation is unsuccessful. What you don’t do is act like you’re in an uncivilized, lawless environment, even if you genuinely believe your clientele is just that…uncivilized. Note to file: as “uncivilized” as they may be, you chose to serve them by opening up an establishment on their turf. Thereby giving me reason to wonder what your level of consciousness is. If you would prefer a “better” clientele, i.e.,monied or not of the Global Majority clientele; or the presumptively better educated, employed, and culturally sophisticated…no problem.  You are entitled to your preferences. I just have two words for you: 

Pull. Up. 

Take down the handwritten signs and invest your coins in professional signage. Clean and sanitize your equipment after every customer. If you must wear a mask while performing my service, offer me one too (after all I’m inhaling the same fumes as you are.) Reinvest your profits in your establishment so that it looks like a reputable business that is clean, safe, and qualified to perform professional, personal services on human beings. Acknowledge me in some form or fashion when I enter and exit. Say “Please” and “Thank You”, as applicable. 

When your workplace quickly becomes a scene from “Westside Story”, or appears to be live footage of a war zone; when your employees are comfortable throwing toxic chemicals at disobedient customers, Sweet Peaches…you are not ready for Madison, Fifth, Park, Nostrand, or even Flatbush Avenue. You are the uncouth among us. You don’t need to work in any public setting so long as you and your mentality are a threat to public safety; you are a disgrace to humanity…and you should be treated as such. 


Are we still on that? 

I am tired of schooling people about race. Or what it means to be “Black” in America.  If I were visiting another country, it becomes incumbent upon me to familiarize myself with the dominant culture’s customs. If I am visiting a country that believes in modesty, i.e., that prefers women to be covered…I would respect their culture and cover up.  Black people or in the case of Black Americans, we have many of the same customs as non-Black Americans. We all eat ” American” food or are at least familiar with it. We listen to the same music or are familiar with it. So the only real difference is the color of our skin.  

In 2017, it should now be a moot point to have a discussion about the etymology of the “n” word. Anymore than any decent and respectable human being needs to be educated or put on notice that it isn’t nice to go around calling people “motherfuckers”, instead of by their given name. No more than anyone needs to be told that when you sit down at a restaurant, it is impolite and gross to eat with one’s mouth open, to pick one’s nose or teeth at the table, or to deliberately & audibly expel air from the stomach through the mouth; commonly referred to as belching.  You can’t go into a store and take things that were not paid for. It’s really all the same thing.  

The fact that some Americans are ignorant to each other’s experiences is unfortunate. Especially when we live in a world that grants anyone and everyone access to as much information or knowledge as he or she can consume. And, given that at some point in our lives we have encountered someone of a different race, cultural experience, sexual orientation, religion, or social class than what we may have been exposed to growing up. Whether it was in school, at work, at church; through a volunteer program, at the store, the doctor’s office…somewhere.  

It’s a conscious choice to not see people or attempt to understand what matters to them.  

How to effectively apologize from the hot seat 

I discussed the recent controversy over Bill Maher’s irresponsible use of the “n word”, or specifically-his declaration that he was a “house n$$$a”, with a friend. My friend brought up an interesting point of which I will paraphrase: Maher is widely renowned for his far left views and often criticizes others for what they say and do; now Maher has found himself in the infamous hot seat.

This conversation prompted me to share my opinion on the matter. I have previously written about my position on the use of the “n word” in this blog; please refer back to that post if you are so inclined to know where I stand.  And I recently posted on a subject that I refer to as “reverse hypocrisy.” This post is a little bit about both.

Instead of making a sanitized apology, which really accomplishes nothing and has no sentimental value whatsoever (or least to me), Maher should actually capitalize on this unique opportunity he has been given so to speak.  The opportunity is to bridge gaps between his supporters and those who oppose his viewpoints, with honest dialogue and sincere transparency.  Bill, stand up in front of your studio audience and millions of viewers and acknowledge that you made an error in judgement.  Keep it real and acknowledge that you callously used a word or term that you are well aware is historically vile and hurtful to many.  Own that you have had a field day in the past capitalizing on the transgressions of others. And now here you are similarly situated in many ways.  Acknowledge that you may have been wrong about some things (not everything or everyone), but you recognize that it’s not easy being a defendant in the court of public opinion.  Especially when you stand to lose millions if HBO decides to cave and cancels your show.

In “real time”, stand there proverbial hat in and hand and admit that you were doing late night cable TV; that you were appealing to “your people” (or those who you think are your people.) You can even add that you use the word freely around your friends who are PoC (People of Color) without incident or retribution, and therefore ignorantly thought it was okay to use it publicly.

I also need you to decide whether you are a journalist or stand-up comedian. If you decide that you are a journalist you are bound by a seemingly forgotten code of ethics and moral conduct; one in which you accept accountability for what you say and you say nothing unless it is credible or factual.  If you are comedian; carry on and be that. Feel free to continue making jokes about news headlines; politicians, celebrities, athletes, public figures, etc. We are living in perilous times that require a demarcation between so called “fake news”,  entertainment, gossip, OpEds (like this blog), and special interests groups. Remember Bill, a journalist reports the story; he or she never becomes a part of the story.  Please get the latter point if nothing else.  Please.

I also need you to be a part of the solution versus stirring a pot already boiling over with problems.  You can’t make jokes and chastise the president, if you are engaging in similar conduct (as an example.) And yes, I am well aware that there is a fundamental difference between the POTUS and a late night stand-up comedian.  I also know many of our societal rules are evolving…but when do two wrongs make anyone right?

So back to you Bill-you take these 15 minutes in the hot seat and acknowledge all of the others who have been in the hot seat before you. Sometimes words are taken out of context. Right? Not always but maybe sometimes? And sometimes otherwise good people make legitimate mistakes. Like you may want us to believe about your faux pas.

It would behoove us all to be mindful that we live in an era where being politically & socially “correct” or “responsible” has become the new golden standard. I presume as a society we must feel that we have historically gotten so many things wrong that we need to be universally “right.”  With so many among us having the sincerely held belief that they have been wronged, we all have taken the mantra of “we’re not going to take it anymore!” Thus, in an effort to do everything “right” or “responsibly”, this has created a new subculture that feels comfortable publicly admonishing anyone who thinks or lives differently.

This perception which also happens to be the only reality any individual can speak to credibly, seems to have given birth to a new wave of silos versus community or inclusion.  On certain social issues there is a prevalence of an intrusive expectation to accept all individual choices, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. There is a fundamental difference and protected right to choose whether or not to accept another’s viewpoint or values. As a responsible adult, I should however-at least attempt to respect the individual rights of others so long as those rights do not infringe upon me and my right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Getting back to the original topic that is the backlash that Bill Maher is contending with.  Is he a racist? I don’t know; I don’t know him personally or anyone who does.  I watched the majority of the episode in question and did not notice any racial or derogatory undertones during the remainder of the show.   Which begs the question why did he use the term in the first place…nonetheless, he did.

My final point is this…by diluting what racism and bigotry really means causes us as a society to become immuned to real human suffering.  I would prefer a serious term such as racism-not be thrown around irresponsibly, given the magnitude and gravity of this belief system.  In addition to our country’s history around race. An off color remark may be a simple proclamation of either ignorance, stupidity, or indifference on behalf of the so-called “bad actor.”  It is not illegal to be poorly educated, misguided, or even prejudice. I am not suggesting that Maher falls into any of the referenced categories.

It is reprehensible to feel superior over another and take actionable steps to disenfranchise, oppress or marginalize a group of people based on race or other discriminatory factors. In doing so, the matter quickly shifts from personal preferences or so called “free speech”, to possible malicious intent if one intentionally promotes a climate of divisiveness, fear, and hate that could be used as an accelerant for more egregious behavior.   Or, if in the name of racism, one takes active measures to impede the upward mobility or access to the laws protected by the United States Constitution. Such examples of oppression or racism, warrant a prompt civil and legal response, particularly when someone is harmed solely on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, color, national origin,  social/economic status, or sexual orientation.

It is imperative that we all do our part and understand the difference between perceived and real threats against humanity and overall democracy.  We must also be willing to be the difference in our own life, world, and affairs while considering the same as it relates to the rights and feelings of others.


Reverse Hypocrisy 

Though I never affixed the badge to my lapel, I used to be a “feminist”. Well, sort of. I believe in “girl power”.  I subscribe to the proven fact that women can and do offer a professional quality of work and skill equivalent to our male counterparts.  In some instances our knowledge and deliverables are unmatched to our male colleagues.  Yes, we women can give birth, care for our babies, our man, our homes, ourselves and everything else without skipping a beat in the workplace.  

The reason that prompted this post was a story on the Internet about an “all woman” screening of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.  Normally, a story or event (innocent enough), would never give me reason to pause. Yet this one did.  

Thinking back to how or why the Feminist Movement began, wasn’t breaking up the “old boys club”, chief among the mission critical objectives of there brave group of women? If this is true, then why the need for a female-only screening of a movie? Now, let me clarify, I am not saying or even suggesting that the female-only screening was organized by feminists. In fact, the screening could have very well been organized by or with the key contributions of men.   I have no idea, honestly.  Again, this post is not an endorsement or indictment about feminism or feminists.  The story was a springboard for a larger conversation that I wanted to have about examples that  I perceive as reverse hypocrisy.   So with that, let’s move away from the topic of feminism, shall we? 🙂 

The blurb also had me thinking about another personal observation around women supporting other women.  Namely in the workplace as well as in other professional settings. We women have worked hard to break the proverbial glass ceilings that were and still are very real for many of us.  Again, we have proven that we excel in support roles as well as in leadership positions.  However, in my opinion, once some of us arrive in these key positions, how many of us forget where we came from?

How many us actively seek out another woman or women to mentor? How many of us were promoted by another woman and how often? Which yields a much broader and perhaps confrontational question: What is the point of being a successful woman who has worked her way to the top, only to remain the “only female (fill in the position title)” in the department or organization at the top? Moreover, if you are a woman with decision making authority or influence; you interview qualified males and females, do you seemingly find that more often than not, the male candidate was more qualified than his female peers? Are we more critical of another woman’s qualifications or experience and assess them against our own? Why do some of us feel that we “broke the mold” and therefore find it difficult to identify other female talent because no one adequately measures up? 

These are difficult questions which will likely yield responses that are often labor intensive to authenticate and discern. I also believe that there are no absolutes.  

And for the record, it is not my personal experience that women managers or decision makers are any less objective, or are significantly harsher critics than her male peers.   Most women bring a natural level of empathy, individual consideration, and compassion to interviews and overall candidate assessments.  Furthermore, the majority of women do not forget or have not forgotten where we have come from in our respective career paths.  We have maintained high personal and corporate standards that through experience, we have become experts on what works and what doesn’t.  And the last thing that any legitimate, qualified individual contributor or business person wants it to have his or her hard work diminished or marginalized by anyone.  Male or female.  Personally, I don’t want to be “given” any position or promotion that I did not legitimately earn through my experience and ability to perform the job well. The women in my professional and personal circle share these sentiments.  

Thus, this post is not intended to make an argument to hire more women versus men on the sole premise of gender entitlement. Or reverse hypocrisy.  My point is to collectively strive for a level playing field where all qualified candidates (regardless of gender) have an equal opportunity to excel.  

As a professional woman, I concede that I must do more. I should be mentoring more women.  I should be providing more resources and coaching to support women who want to advance in life and in business.  I do not profess to be omniscient however, I can and should do more to help more women succeed. The latter point is not intended to exclude men; or by my definition qualify as reverse hypocrisy.   It is a statement founded in my own observation that has observed a legitimate opportunity to empower more women to reach her intended career goals. 

At the end of the day it’s about who is best qualified and which applicants experience and skill sets most closely match the key responsibilities of a position. My goal is to provide constructive insight and feedback to any candidate (regardless of gender), who solicits such information post interview.   

As a society we should not become what we hate.  If you despise discrimination or racism, do not perpetuate a mindset of divisiveness and actively engage in actions that directly oppress and marginalize another ethnic group (or gender) in favor of your own.   It is possible to maintain a healthy sense of pride in one’s heritage, culture, gender, religion, values and personal choices without infringing on another’s inalienable rights or freedom of expression. 

Labor pains-giving birth to my dreams 

Though I’ve never been pregnant, I’ve gone through several periods of gestation followed by intense labor pains.  Like most women who have given birth unanimously comment afterward, I quickly forget about the strenuous pushing; intense discomfort and stress once I have given birth. In my case, once I have given birth to a Dream. 

I have given birth to many dreams in my life.  However each time I’ve been pregnant with those dreams, I forget about the process of giving life to those dreams.  As a result, every dream is akin to a first-time pregnancy in which I forget about everything I learned from each previous experience. Thus, I get caught up in the process or the journey of bringing a dream into fruition.  I lament that it takes too long. Why aren’t things going my way? Why am I in so much pain? Why do I feel so alone? This is too hard! Am I really ready for my life to change once this dream is realized? What if I am not good enough to support this dream? What if I fail? Do I really want this dream or am I just infatuated with the idea of it? I panic and start convincing myself that I am not ready. 

I am not ready! WAIT!!! Please wait. Que consecutive contractions that intensify by the second. 

It doesn’t matter now Stephanie whether you are ready. It is time.  

Here I am in labor again. The stakes are even higher than the last time.  I am acutely aware of the other dreams that have been granted. Their continued survival is dependent upon me making smart choices today and moving forward.  I must resist the impulse of emotional decisions.  I have to make moves in a mature way. Which often reads as safe.  To do nothing.  To stop conceiving big dreams. To opt for the safer ones. The smaller dreams.   The ones where people are more likely to accept those dreams versus the so-called grandiose dream or dreams that God has given me. 

It’s like when you already have multiple children and you share that you’re thinking of having more.  The look of disdain or shock is enough to make the most confident woman second guess herself.  The same is often true when you already appear abundantly blessed to friends, family, and other onlookers, when you boldly share that you dare to desire “more”. MORE?! 

Since when is greed on par with healthy ambition or divine Purpose? And who gets to decide between the two for you or for me? 

What I am learning is everyone cannot comprehend your life’s manifest destiny.   You also have to remember to keep your eyes on your own paper.  Just because the people around you are content with what they have, doesn’t mean that you are compelled to adopt this mindset for yourself.  Just because someone whom you love, admire, or respect is satisfied being the CEO of a company, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to be the president or the chairperson of the company-if this is what you really want.  

On the highway of life, sometimes you have to stop following the car ahead of you.  Sometimes the car ahead is going too slow or too fast. It has guided you to the point or destination that it was supposed to. The time has now come for you to change lanes; sometimes you must safely pass and continue your own way.  The people who genuinely have your best interest at heart will understand the vital necessity of when paths must splinter off towards individual expression.  Others may not be able to completely support you with their presence; they may have to love you from a distance. Or you must learn to love them from a distance and move forward.  

I’m in labor.  I will give birth to this unique dream or dreams conceived by my desire.  I will practice my breathing techniques. I will give my voice and sound to frustration when necessary.  I will grab hold of anything in sight to support me as the occasional discomfort sets into my body.  I will accept that I don’t know how everything will work out; I just know that it will.  It always has.  I accept that I’m not in control of every detail of the process.  I will respect the process. I will acknowledge doubt and despair however I will not yield to anything but the inalienable truth about me and my life.   I am never alone.  I am success.  I am prosperity, health and happiness.  Everything will be just fine.  

I will give birth to as many dreams as possible without guilt and without asking for anyone’s permission.  

Getting what you want…and no more trees

I woke up a little after 7:00AM to meet a landscaper who was scheduled to visit my home for an estimate.  I woke up at 7:00AM on my day off people! The day before I have to get up even earlier to attend a work function. The contractor called me about 7 minutes to 8:00AM (not sure if he left a message); when I saw the missed call, I called him back.  He let me know that he was outside.  Though I got out of bed early to prepare for his visit (most contractors love arriving ahead of schedule), I still had to make sure that I was presentable to conduct business. Business. 

I walked out of my door about a minute before 8 and saw that he’d already surveyed my property.  I am a stickler for first impressions; as a customer experience trained professional, businesswoman and homeowner, my initial assessment of someone I intend to hire is crucial.  I walked over to him and extended my right hand and introduced myself (using my first and last name) upon doing so.  He replied with pleasantries but was likely taken aback with the formalities.  Again, this is a real business transaction. He’s not driving a soft serve ice cream truck through my neighborhood and I flagged him down to buy a cone. This deal, if successful will have ME coming out of pocket for THOUSANDS of dollars to get what I want.  What I want. 

So I begin by telling him what I want in terms of curb appeal aesthetics; I tell him I want flowers planted and a neater presentation overall.  My word choice of flowers is admittedly a misnomer.  I am a lover of flowers; I love receiving them, but I have no interest in gardening so, beyond roses, gardenias, tulips, lillies and a few others, I do not know all of the proper terms. And I have no interest in learning them at this time. Which is why I’m outsourcing my gardening and major landscaping needs to a professional. I pick and pay and you plant and prune.  That’s the deal.  

The guy starts talking about adding more trees to my property which I already told him, I feel my property already has far too many of.  Actually, I could sell him some of my trees instead of paying him to add more.  Then he asked me what my budget was.  Not so fast buddy. I’m a pro at spending money.  I have bought four brand new cars in my lifetime thus far; I got so good at buying cars I later felt sorry (only a little bit), for the dealer after the last two car purchases.  Experience has taught me to be relentless about getting what I want. Exactly what I want. I had to learn the hard way when the initial two car dealer/sales people had the upperhand which cost me dearly. Never again, I vowed.  And I meant it. 

The first rule of negotiations is not to show your hand initially.  As I previously mentioned, the landscaper had already checked out my property. We’ve already discussed what I want.  We’ve reached the point of the consultation where you provide me with an estimate based upon what I’m looking for. Let me handle and assess my budget.  

To wrap this tale up which I shared to illustrate the message of this post; I’m not sure that I will hire him. Our meeting closed when I asked for something that was seemingly contrary to his vision or plans.  He told me that he’d have “think about it” and get back to me.  He also had forgotten my name and had to ask me again, which is off putting to me.  

Very good; you do that. Good day and Happy Palm Sunday, sir.  

Here is my point. This experience reminded me to remain focused on my intentions and goals, when it comes to interacting with other people.  Yes, I was flexible in terms of him offering suggestions about what he recommended for my property.  I vetted him before I invited him to meet me at my home; he has credibility and experience to offer a professional opinion.  Where the rubber meets the road is when it seems to me that you’re not fully listening and incorporating what I want and asked for in your recommendations.   If I tell you that I’m not looking to add more trees to my existing “forest”, stop talking about adding trees and start asking me what kind of flowers I’m looking for. What kind of annuals do you think will work for my home?

Second point. Always listen for what people do not say.  Non verbal communication speaks volumes to me.  When I bought my current vehicle, they rolled out the red carpet for me.  They schmoozed, they complimented, joked and did everything short of kiss the ring to get the sale.  Yes, I know it’s a dog and pony show. They were putting on the same performance for each potential buyer with a credit score that would enable him or her to get financed drive out with an overpriced vehicle.  I’m a pro at buying and selling; game recognizes game.  Treating potential and existing customers well is an operational necessity for any successful business. It’s not optional.  No matter how big or small the company is.  Never underestimate the power of your voice as a consumer and never give anyone your business who hasn’t earned it first. 

I work hard for my money and so do you. Someone who wants to do business with you will work hard to earn your confidence and the privilege of calling you their customer.   Trust me.  

Until Success…

So this post is about success or how to achieve it. As I type (literally) I do not yet know what I’m going to call this post. I also do not know what I’m going to say because I’m literally going to “speak” or write from my heart. Here we go…

Often times we feel stuck. Stuck in a dead end job or a relationship; in a loving or living situation. Stuck in debt or feeling indebted to someone or something.  There are plenty of books and so-called gurus who profess to help you and I become unstuck.  Some of the content and advice is helpful; spot on at times. For me, there is always something missing. It’s kind of like sitting down eating a meal that though tasty, was not well-seasoned or cooked thoroughly.  

I think that missing something is when does the clock start on success? When does one become officially successful? I know for me, I have felt that I’m in a holding pattern of “until.” It goes like this…I’m not prosperous or financially successful until I’ve paid off ALL of my debt; until I’ve paid off my student loans. These are all of good plans but perhaps those are goals in progress instead. 

Maybe you’re already successful when you can pay your bills every month on time? Maybe you finally moved into your own place that has YOUR name on the lease.  Or maybe you bought your first house or second; maybe you were able to buy rental property? Maybe you learned how to drive.  

Maybe you have been doing a better job of taking care of your health. Maybe you haven’t joined a gym but you are making better food choices.  Maybe you’re taking vitamins; maybe you’ve become more cognizant of your daily sugar and caloric intake. Or, you’re eating more balanced meals that are appropriately portioned. Maybe you’ve made your first dental appointment or scheduled your first physical in years.  Maybe you are also taking inventory of your spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing.  

Have you begun treating yourself better? Do you say No and mean it, where applicable? You catch yourself and refrain from deliberate negative thinking and self-talk? You now take yourself out on a date.  Yes, you can do your own nails and hair but why not help someone else eat by getting a mani or pedi? Let someone else do your hair sometimes.  Consider having your laundry done by the local laundromat every now and then, because (and only because) it’s convenient and often times comparable in price as doing it yourself. Okay…you can start off slow and not include your intimate apparel the first time, if you’re uncomfortable with someone handling your undergarments.  

Did you go back to school or finished whatever course study that you may have started? Did you book your first cruise? Have you bought an expensive pair of shoes or jewelry? Not because you need them but because you work hard and deserve quality things?

Maybe you volunteered for the first time in your life in the spirit of giving back.  Maybe you know what it’s like to feel hungry and need the help from social services to get through the month.  Or, you’ve either sat in a hospital bed and had no visitors, so you know what it feels like when no one shows up for you.  Maybe you show up and sit with someone in a similar situation so they don’t go through what you had to. 

The point is success can be measured in enumerate ways. There is no need to defer the consciousness of doing and living well. Celebrate doing more today than you ever would have imagined doing a year ago or 5 years ago. Give yourself appropriate credit for maintaining your sobriety, or your celibacy if this is important to you. Maybe you mustered up an epic level of courage to make a difficult decision or phone call.  These are the cornerstones of success too.  

Everyone will not achieve celebrity-esque success.  There is only one Einstein.  There is also only one of you and one of me. We are already unique by our very existence.  Be that. Walk in any room and be the embodiment of your own brand.  

P.S.  I came up with a title…

All is well

When we make others the source of our problems we wash our hands of responsibility and accountability.  There will be times in life when people do undesirable things to us, or there is an adverse “cause and effect” result of another’s actions.  In the case of the latter we have the opportunity to respond with victory or as a victim.  

I have had to overcome my share of setbacks and disappointments.  Life has not always been fair in certain situations that I have been involved in. I never deliberately miss the lesson accompanying such circumstances.  I may not have always gotten what I wanted, yet I have always gotten what I needed.  My needs will always be met.  Every need has always been supplied before I was even aware of it.  Nothing has changed.  

All is well.  

A Muted Existence…Never

Maybe I am an empath and never realized or understood it until now.  I will not live a muted life. I feel saddened by those who walk around numb; immune, unphased and unbothered by the suffering of others. Just because an issue doesn’t affect or impact you personally doesn’t green light your silence. Or worst ambivalence. 

I celebrate the millions of women marching today in protest of an administration that dishonors and disavows who we are collectively. The fact  that there are “females” around this President does not conceal or correct the misogynistic mindset that now occupies the White House. The People’s House.  I will not live my life muted.  

It is a mistake to misinterpret the civil disobedience and discontent expressed today as “hurt feelings” over a lossed election. This here is bigger than Hillary Clinton. This is bigger than politics. What we are challenging and fighting against are the early stages of the attempted reversal of civil and equal rights.  This is why other free nations are standing in solidarity with us because like us, they know our history…as well as their own.  Others bare witness to racial and social injustice that has stained the very fabric of this great democracy.  And they think it is as egregious as we do.  This is not a protest against Republicans and so called conservatives; this is a confrontation with regard to the ideals, fear-based, biased agendas and misguided beliefs of some identifying with the Republican Party.

We have elected Republican Presidents since we became a free nation.  People aren’t wasting their time, risking jail, their own comfort and safety merely over a Republican president.  I know many of the women personally who are walking today and let me clear up any misconceptions…all of them have jobs; have college degrees (some have Master’s Degrees); they own their own businesses and despite what you may have heard, they voted in November.  These are not women fighting selfishly for “poor folks welfare” (because they wouldn’t qualify even if they were.)  They are fighting for the elders who can no longer walk but walked for them in the 50s and the 60s; they are walking for the mothers who would’ve joined them but have no childcare; they are walking for the women who don’t have a 9-5, Monday through Friday job. They are walking for women and men, who have worked all of their lives but are struggling financially in their retirement. They are walking for the sick and shut in. They are walking for our Veterans. They are walking for our daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters, Mothers, friends, loved ones, partners, coworkers,  and neighbors.  They are walking for you and for me whether you asked them to or appreciate their efforts. 

I will not live a muted, emotionally and spiritually vacant existence.  This is about our futures and the health of our great nation. We are all affected by the decisions made on our behalf on Capitol Hill. We all have to live with the decisions of an individual who is still only addressing his “supporters”, invariably giving the executive order to go “fuck yourself” to all others.  

I will not stand idly by while there is suffering anywhere. My people have come too far and I will not disrespect the legacy on which I proudly stand. Someone walked for me and died so that I may live to see this day. So that I could learn to read and write.  It’s disrespectful to forget that from which you came. I will never forget. I will not live a muted life…ever.  

What I really think 

I recently thought about asking one of my trusted confidants “what do people really think about me. I mean really think?” And then I got my act together; remembered how old I am and better yet, who I am and what I believe to be true about me. I am a grown woman in said word and deed. 

Depending upon who you ask, I could be the most awesome person on this side of the Jordan. I can be kind, sweet, giving, loving, funny, interesting, inspiring, smart, beautiful and the praises could continue until infinity. And then there is the other side. From the perspective of the naysayers or detractors. 

To them or maybe even some of you reading this, I have an inflated ego; I’m not a very nice person. I’m too outspoken, vindictive, spunky, confident, moody, flaky, temperamental, judgmental, harsh, critical, or whatever…you name it. I’m sure I can and have been that to some in my lifetime.  

And you know what? “They” or you’re right. About all of it. About both sides of my personality. I’m not a mannequin or an actress. What I am not is a one dimensional character. I am a grown (ass) woman who sometimes has a bad day, a bad week, a bad headache; hit a dry spell, caught up in my feelings or just hungry. Maybe I’m hungry. Or sad. Could it be that I was just feeling sad?

I’m a human being with feelings with a plethora of life experiences that vary in degree just like everyone else. Depending upon where you find me at that stage or moment in my life will likely dictate how you experience me.

And the same thing goes for you. Shocking.  

I think my strength is knowing that everything thought or felt doesn’t always need to be said.  Your opinion is just that. You see, I have lots of opinions also. I’m quite opinionated actually. Rarely, however do I try to force my unsolicited values and ideology on you. My mantra is: If it blows your hair back, it certainly keeps mine straight. And as Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?”

I also live by another song by another epic songstress & artist, Miss Bonnie Raitt, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”

And there it is Guys & Dolls, I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Neither will you. And neither will everyone depending on how another experiences the other person. My goal is to be a good person who only has the best intentions for everyone. I want you to win because I’m definitely winning.  I gain nothing sitting at the helm of another’s defeat. 

So, here I am back to the Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. I am not taking anything personally. Even if you don’t like me and even if you do. Because as Mr. Ruiz teaches us, none of how you feel about me or anyone else is really about me or the other person.  Not authentically. It’s about you. And it’s about me and the lense from which we view our world.  

Yes, I will continue to ask for advice when I feel that I need it from people whose wisdom I trust. And who trust me and treat me like a confidant as well. Everyone else with an opinion formed on erroneous or dare I say unfounded perceptions should continue to do what they do best. And be that. 

The best sideline commentator that ever lived.