Same As it Ever Was

Please stop interrupting my grind!

I didn’t plan on posting about the woman who attempted to weaponize 9-1-1, when she called to report a black man for harassing her (read: who asked her to place her dog on a leash in Central Park, as per the posted municipal signage.) In the Central Park, where five young black men lost their freedom for a brutal and horrific crime that they did not commit.

I didn’t plan on writing about the Minneapolis black man whose body, namely his head, was intentionally affixed to asphalt by an individual who literally detained the defenseless man with his knee. The man later died after being publicly asphyxiated by an officer who took an oath to protect and serve him. I cannot imagine a scenario that justly warrants a law enforcement agent in an effort to fight crime, commit another one in order to do so.

Same as it ever was…

I wanted to celebrate other things. Like how M.A.C. Cosmetics ProLongwear concealer is a treasure with its flawless coverage and stellar performance underneath my face mask (with proper application and setting techniques followed!) Or, about how much I love attending Zoom birthday parties and events.

Unfortunately, these happier, more pleasant experiences must take a back seat to what seems to have become a dangerous penchant, or fixation on a time in our country’s history when my ancestors were considered property. Non-human. A blemish on our nation’s history that neither deserves to be accentuated or celebrated. This pronounced mindset, when you think on it, seems rather peculiar given that many longing for such an environment, never actually experienced this despicable crime against humanity first-hand. So please help me to understand how some people yearn for the days of old, when they weren’t even born to experience, let alone relish in it.

It’s essentially the equivalent of me yearning for the days when I danced in Paris alongside a young Josephine Baker in her hey-day, or sang “Careless Love Blues”, for W.C. Handy, and before Bessie Smith made the song an American standard.

On the contrary, the effects of my families’ enslavement are very present in my experience today.

Some may question, “why is everything about race?” Or the moment that a PoC (Person of Color) references race, it is often presumed that they (we) are seeking to invoke guilt, shame; are engaging in reverse racism, or maybe even seeking to garner the upper-hand during the discussion. Not at all. I would rather people see me for me. I would like to believe that my race is among the last characteristics people notice when I walk into a room.

I would rather you notice how my red lipstick is poppin. That I’m wearing carefully selected accessories, and did you peep these Circus by Sam Edelman graffiti pumps and matching bag that I’m rocking?

Yet some people won’t allow me or others to be great. Literally. And that makes me very sad. Especially when someone believes that they could know anything substantive about me or my experiences, and even potentially judge whether I’m permitted to walk away from an exchange on my own free will…or live, solely based on the color of my skin.

Or yours.

More Peace, Please

The proverbial “cat” has gotten my tongue this week, dear Readers. I have been in full relaxation mode and you know what? I needed it.

I have been going non-stop these past several months. Actually for more like a year. I’ve been bravely resilient. I have held my tongue when necessary, and spoken my truth to advocate for myself when situations demanded it. I have mourned; I’m still in one of the multilayered stages of mourning. I have been working, adulting, and living my best life and in the midst everything…

COVID-19 happened to the world.

The timing couldn’t have been worst and yet it couldn’t have been better. I think we all needed a temporary reset and reprieve from the ordinary. What none of us needed was the uncertainty, frightening headlines and real life stories detailing the lethal impact of this virus. We didn’t need to lose, friends, loved ones, or strangers to this pandemic. And for the fortunate ones, the COVID-recovery was a gift after an unimaginable, nerve-racking experience for all concerned.

I am blessed that I have remained healthy physically and mentally throughout all of these experiences. Stress, worrying, and sadness can compromise your immunity and overall well-being in untold ways. I don’t have time for that. I would venture to say that you don’t either.

So, I’m in reset mode. I’ve been putting my online and cable subscriptions to good use, among others. I will get around to finishing some of the actual books that I’ve previously started and stopped. I am always writing. I’ve also managed to enjoy the outdoors sans any food/grocery shopping excursions, or running errands. I’m doing me…

(And food shopping, running errands, and household chores.) Yup, still also me.

This must be what peace feels like. I love it! As I raise my hands up to the Universe, “more peace please!”

Thanks for stopping by today. Trust me, I have plenty of good content left to share.

Maybe nothing to blow your hair back on today though.

Until next time, stay safe and be careful out there.

The Proper Care and Treatment of Others

As businesses continue to reopen, I hope a climate of mutual patience, gratitude, and respect returns. Especially as we attempt to coexist in public spaces.

As colorful “Thank You”, or “Heroes Work Here” banners are prominently displayed everywhere, (pseudo love letters to essential workers), these colorful “PDAs” will have zero meaning if customers return to stores and businesses ready to mistreat these very same people. We customers need to be prepared to manage our expectations and check our self-entitlements at the door. Expect that everything has changed, and the customer-facing person is often not, and has no direct access to the decision-makers, or owners of the entity with whom we are doing business.

If there is constructive feedback for the employee, remain calm, let’s adult and find our words. And, if the opportunity avails itself, intelligently communicate this information to the individual. Which is often far more effective than firing off an email to “corporate.” Why? Because you want a resolution; you believe the employee could (or should) have handled the situation better. Some of the best coaching I have received when I worked in customer service positions, actually came from my customers. Please also recognize that working with the public is extremely stressful and can be difficult. Read: You/I can be difficult sometimes. It’s also worth remembering that some individuals take service-oriented jobs because they are arguably easier to secure. And let’s be honest with ourselves by not pretending that this is the first person we’ve ever met who has taken a job that is incompatible with their personality, or career interests.

Please try to know the difference between a customer service (person) issue, versus your disagreement with rules and procedures that this same company is paying its employees to communicate and enforce. Think on it this way…if you have minimal autonomy to change meaningful rules and procedures in your own job, or organization, how much agency does the frontline person you’re prepared to berate have?

And last but not least, to my customer service/facing brethren: Do consider picking up a copy of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. Read it often and carry it with you. I highly recommend working with the Agreement, “Don’t take anything personally” first. This is the best advice that I can offer you, if you intend on successfully working with the public, in the workplace, or in business in general.

People are capable of being cruel and some will be straight-up disrespectful. You will likely witness tantrums and meltdowns that a room full of sleepy and hungry two-year-olds would never exact on anyone. Ever. There will be people who are tired, lonely, hungry, miserable, jealous, and just plain rude, who will find their way into your store, your line, your route, and into your work life. It’s an unavoidable fact that we can chalk up to human frailty.

On a professional or personal level, you cannot afford to take someone else’s bad behavior personally. And you definitely should not let anyone impact you financially. You are being paid to act as an agent of the business in your assigned role. That said, the corporate position is to “love” the customer (read: their money.) What this means is you must at the very least “like” them. Think on it this way: the company is “renting” your professionalism, service, and behavior while you’re being paid to interact with/support their customers. It’s not about what you would do, or how you would handle the situation had you not been at work. Though it’s easier said than done sometimes, try to keep your goals, plans, and dreams at the forefront of your mind, especially when Mr. or Ms. Rude shows up.

Resist letting your ego get the better of you. By all means reject the temptation to do battle with an individual who clearly has nothing to lose, and clearly has nothing better to do than provoke and insult strangers. Alternatively, there are ground rules and exceptions to customer care. When a customer/team member exchange becomes unproductive, abusive, threatening, or otherwise unsafe for the customer or team member, the next level of management must intervene immediately. Full stop.

COVID has literally changed everyone’s way of life. All of us are going through a period of adjustment that is going to require significant patience and understanding. None of us will have emerged from this crisis the same. We are literally returning to a world that is dramatically different and unrecognizable to some extent. Some people have been physically isolated from loved ones, involuntarily unemployed for months and thus struggling financially, some are recovering from COVID; have been caretaking, and others have lost loved ones and friends to this horrible virus.

These are the issues that people are bringing with them as things reopen. This is what people are bringing with them as they return to work. Ever present are the burdens of sadness and devastation that lie beneath the facial masks that we all now wear to simply live today.

Reciprocal compassionate treatment of humanity is the new essential as we return to an existence in a post-COVID world.

You Already Have the Answers

Growing up, I’d often ask my mom for advice on various topics such as friendships, or how to handle certain dilemmas I encountered. Depending on the situation, she would share her sage motherly wisdom. And other times she would listen carefully and respond, “You already have the answer.”

Huh?

To my dismay, this would be her advice…despite the fact that I poured my heart out to her. A little dramatic, I know, but I digress. Yes, she heard me and I am confident that she felt my pain every time. In some instances, I’m certain that she would have gladly transferred my pain onto herself. However, I didn’t understand why she wasn’t helping me, which was frustrating. I remember wanting to say to my mom, “If I had the answers, I wouldn’t need advice!” Sounds pretty logical, right?

What I know now that I didn’t know then is that my mom was preparing me for life.

Recently, I have spoken to two separate “experts” about a current situation that I’m managing. As I spoke to each of them, I quickly realized that I was the expert because the matter at hand concerns me. Not to discredit them, but I am most familiar with the so-called issue. I have all of the facts preceding this moment; I know what I have tried, and am willing to try to resolve the matter. At the end of the day, it will be my action(s) or inaction that will ultimately move the ball down the field.

Often times when we’re seeking advice, we really want to be affirmed. Sometimes we just want to vent and rant. We want to feel righteous and justified in the presence of another. We want someone to witness our pain or suffering and agree with us. Or console us. In reality, we know that the other person is powerless.

Besides offering a few well-meaning platitudes, there is nothing that the other person can “do.” Rather, another person can “be” a sounding board, a resource, or a confidant. But what more can another person literally do to affect meaningful change in another persons life?

Sadly, very little.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t seek advice from family and friends. Or, seek the assistance from qualified experts as needed. I think it’s healthy to gain a different perspective. However, new ideas, or outlooks are only as effective as the other persons willingness or ability to implement them. Sometimes we have to be willing to change, versus expecting other people, or circumstances to change because we think that they should.

Which brings me back to my mom’s life lesson of “you already have the answers.” My mom was empowering me to be an independent thinker. To know that she is there for me, but not to rely on her, (or anyone else), to tell me what to do-when I already know or have an idea about what needs to be done. To learn how to become still and become clear about the entire issue. And most of all, my mom taught me how to trust myself. Many times we reach out to experts because we are second guessing ourselves. Sometimes a secondary, or tertiary view point is necessary, and sometimes it isn’t.

There will be times that you need to know that while you may not be an expert on some things, you are the expert as it relates to you and what you need. No one has this thing called life fully figured out. Everyone has an area of their life that needs work. So know that you’re in good company.

Learn to trust yourself as much as you are inclined to trust the opinions, perspectives, and even qualifications of others.

Thanks Mom.