Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When 'Giving Up' Gets Good

"Keep the dream alive, don't let it die. If something deep inside, keeps inspiring you to try, don't stop." - Yolanda Adams, gospel singer and songwriter

About a month ago, during a three-hour marathon, catch up chat with my friend, we got on the topic of my most recent spiritual fast.  I'm not usually one for fasting but after making more than a few uninformed, premature life decisions that threw me off my personal course for a good stretch of time, I decided to truly seek direction from God before making a decision.  By day three, I had it and one of my plans was now off the table and another one was thrust into the spotlight.  Given the details of what I received, some of which included answers to lingering questions, I now knew without a doubt what I needed to pursue.  Yet, fast forward two months and I was still stagnant.  For the spiritually-speaking, I was literally trying to figure out a way to pour old wine into new wine skins.  I had a project that had been my only creative pursuit for several years.  It had seen its ups and downs.  I had experienced a great deal of satisfaction and achievement in pursuing this goal.  Yet, as of late (aka the past four years) I didn't have it in me to do more with my creativity, in that Hollywood success story kind of way...book deals, movies, media appearances, etc.  At one point, my desires included all of these quite possible pursuits. However, they later were not enough to keep me going and passionate about said project.

After listening to several minutes of what surely had become a rather familiar story line, my friend interrupted "Uh, why are you focusing on something that God has given you no vision for?"

I was silent. She continued "I mean, based on what you've said, you have received a vision for this new project, so why aren't you pursuing it?

Still quiet.

"Not being funny but has he even given you anything else for the old project?  You've been asking him for years now, right?"

I sat stunned yet managed to keep exploring the line of conversation.  I got off the phone knowing without a doubt that God had just dropped some knowledge that I needed to heed.  After several years, of ups and downs, great personal discoveries and triumphs, I now knew it was time to move on.  The "something deep inside" - quoted above from  Yolanda Adam's song "Don't Give Up" had long stopped inspiring me.  To me, that source of inspiration - our deepest passion within - is the voice of God and that same voice which once inspired me to start the first project seven years back was now encouraging me to get to the 2nd.  And, I'm moving on.  It had been years since I felt so on-track and divinely led.  So, while I'm technically giving up on something, I feel more poised for success than I've felt in years.

Before going to bed the other night, I told God that I believed my inspiration would shoot through the roof once I officially let go of project #1.  When I prematurely awoke a few hours later - stressed and anxious about life - one idea after the next flooded my mind concerning this endeavor.  Such creativity hadn't graced my presence in three years.  Confirmation is so dope:)

Now don't get me wrong: letting go of something that I once placed so much hope and work into saddens me.  Yet, I have to trust what I'm feeling from God and go with my passion.  I pray that if you need to do so that you can and will.

BTW, I wanted to share this with you: The Art of Giving Up . Great perspective on knowing when it's time to let go of a goal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Have I ever told you that I love you?  You're also beautiful and no matter your circumstances or limitations, you have much beauty to offer those around you.  Someone, somewhere is warmed by your smile and "hello" every day.  Think that doesn't count for much?  Contemplate people coming to a place of worship and telling the pastor that they teetered between committing suicide and trying church one last time....so they made it to church.

Now where the folks went means nothing.  I didn't share this snippet as a plug for my amazing, wonderful, loving church (lol).  However, I wanted to point out that what these struggling sisters and brothers encountered along their journey from home to pew was paramount.  Did they receive a smile from the guy at the coffee cart? A giggle from a baby in stroller?  Or simply a sincere "hello, how are you doing today?"...maybe this came from someone like you?

My point is this: from our small but loving gestures to Oprah's acts kindness, we all have a place in this world and power, every day and every moment.  Culture, well-meaning but misguided friends and media will lead us to think that we are failing if we aren't striving to become the next Barack and Michelle...or NeNe Leakes, or whomever and whatever is idolized at any given moment.  But it's simply not true and don't buy into the bull.  No matter your circumstances, your power, influence and place among mankind far exceeds any job title you'll hold or accolades you could ever collect.  

So remember to smile this morning and say hello.  Sure, you may be jobless, underpaid, feeling stuck in a crappy situation, or on the way to a job that you hate (or love?).  Yet, remember: your charm and "power" playing may have its greatest effect before you ever punch somebody's clock.  

Stay beautiful and loving...oh, and this is for you....

"I Smile" by K. Franklin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Denial: A Pump in Christian Louboutin.

Nothing major...just $795 *cough*
Apparently, for this unemployed NYC fashionista, denial is most certainly not a river in Egypt. It’s a pump in Christian Louboutin!

Every once and a while, I like to entertain myself with  delusions of grandeur fit for a psycho. And, oddly enough, they usually come by way of a certain gf.

Unbeknownst to she, our Gchats and texts not only feature delightfully deep conversation, but they sometimes also remind me to cozy up with that comfortably-shallow, materialistic, narcissistic girl inside my head who (once upon a time?) would have drank spicy lemonade for a week in order to snag a new bag.

Today's diversion came compliments of a Gchat surrounding a certain shoe.  Enter Exhibit A: The Rolando…

Me: did you get your Bianca's yet?
Fanciful Friend: girl.... i want the Rolandos now, and they’re sold out EVERYWHERE
i had no idea how intense it is
so I’m putting my name on the waiting list.
Me, judgment-free: (takes a look). they're more of a classic
very nice.
those dark red ones are amazing!
Fanciful Friend: girl. i see how people get caught up and end up on welfare.
Won’t be me…
but i understand. lol!
Me: lolol
i want a pair
i may have to try ‘em on, says the unemployed chick. good gosh!
the gray suede is nice too.
Fanciful Friend: girl... don’t even do it! they almost had to drag me out the store.
security has to buzz you into the one on the upper east side.
how crazy is that?

Um, not that crazy, says the, ahem, unemployed chick, quickly remembering that a) I'm underemployed and b) taking something valued over $500 is a felony.  *sigh*

Friday, March 18, 2011

Beautiful, blogging and, uh, black?

Idk.  Sorry, readers...I digress.

I haven't been on this scene for a min, this I know.  Been searching for a jobby-job and trying to figure out how to remain creative when undertaking such a blah endeavor.

Yet, I will be back...in full effect.  Until, stay beautiful, black and loving this life.

AS my friend said, it's not that LIFE sucks (a direct quotable from yours truly), it's just the circumstances (which are only temporary) that do.

Love ya!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Hustler's Humpday .. :-/

Every day I'm hustling...
Understand: hustling outside of a normal job ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Goal setting? Making plans? Researching and contacting and networking?  I find myself longing for the days of yesteryear when Monday through Friday entailed s-i-m-p-l-y clocking a 9a to 5:30p.  I woke.  Went to work.  Worked.  Left work.  And went to Happy Hour....only to do it again the next day.

There's definitely a certain simplicity and peace of mind that comes with having your day job, aka the Big Pill Payer, and your passions be one in the same.  Yet, when said ain't you...you must work...and you must hustle.  Hence today's *sigh*.

I'm not much of a hustler, which is interesting because I'm hella entrepreneurial.  I can give anyone an idea on how to enhance, maximize or monetize ANY thing they are doing.  Yet, when it comes to me, blah and gah.  I'd rather do what I love for free or kinda of not at all.  OR, have someone else manage my money(-itizing), honey.

Yet, what's the alternative?  Going back to a desk?  To a cubicle?  To punching a clock? To a crazy, schizo manager who wants to clock - and dock - my every breath?  Naw, sir.  Give me one hustle on the rocks, please.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Signs You May Be a Digital Douchebag

Let's not have a toast...

PDAs more visible at the dinner date than actual 'PDA'; iPods loud enough to serenade one half of a subway car, or the self-abs Blackberry attached to the high-powered business executive that won't be powered down until the flight attendant snatches and does it her damn self?

Introducing...the Digital Douchebag or, as grandma and MadTV's Bonquiqui would plainly state: rude. There used to be a time when double d''s (a la 20-inch rims and Dolly Parton) elicited a positive response. Now, fast forward to the 21st Century where reality TV rules, the linguistically-retarded dominate, and social media owns our free time like Master Moore, and it is easy to see: Verizon, we have a problem.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, iPhones, Blackberry, Storms, 4G, videochats, Google, TV and Facebook, and all in one? Technological advances intended to enhance our ability to communicate have instead birthed a new generation of depersonalized, decreasingly authentic, false or shallow connectors. Unfortunately, for all their benefits and hype, it appears Smartphones are actually making us kind of, um, dumb(er?), at least socially speaking.

In a personal essay featured in the December issue of for Harper's Bazaar, Ashton Kutcher, one of Generation Social Media's most-famous poster-children, questioned if the DD phenomenon called texting has effectively killed romance.

"Maybe we are hiding behind the cloak of digital text and spell-check to present superior versions of ourselves," he said.

Whatever the reason, I say, it doesn't always work all the time, in every situation, my dear.  Firsthand, this I know.

Two years ago, while visiting a particularly pregnant (read hormone-y) friend below the Mason Dixon, I pulled quintessentially Yankee move: Digitally douching at every waking moment. BBMing at the house. Checking email in the car. Eight-balling on a concoction of all three at the so-not-my-steez restaurant. Problem was, what was fair game on Planet NYC enraged my friend's placenta-filled, Floridian mind. For me, this was the way of life. To her, I was an arse who had committed the worst crimes against her, her husband, and their unborn baby girl.

A valuable lesson for those of us with a fancy for double D's: such may float your boat, but another person may find it utterly offensive...like someone from another generation - boss, grandma, anyone? - a different culture, or another planet, like Florida.

Could this post be about you? Read on to spot the early warning signs before you loose a job opportunity, friend or both...

Top Signs that You May Be a Digital Douchebag

1. You never respond to personal invites, including baby showers, birthdays, going away parties, weddings, christenings, funerals, etc.
Your rational? To you, the other person just doesn't care if you respond, when, in actuality, you just don't care to respond.

2. You don't expect others to respond to your invites.
"How does this make me bad," you say? Glad you asked. On the surface, this gesture appears laid back and thoughtful. Yet, it' really nothing more than a thinly-veiled ploy to rack up "when I do the same to you someday, as I inevitably will, don't get mad at me" points.

3. You now Tweet what was once upon a time (e.g. 2009) thought to be 'personal' information.
e.g. familial kidnappings, murders, or job losses. I mean, maybe that friend of a friend's friend Jackie didn't care to know...#justsayin

4. You hashtag even when not on Twitter.

5. You have 5 times as many "Friends" as you do "Followers."

5. You intentionally don't pick up the phone when someone calls, but text them right back.

6. You accept Facebook friend requests but instantly limit the access said "friend" has to about 95 percent of your user profile.
Uh, why did you accept the request at all? More than likely, because you're a hoarder.

7. You amass Facebook friends just for high numbers to impress others.

8. You rack up loads of friends on Facebook...to impress yourself.

9. u respond 2 evry msg jus lik dis...evn 1s 2 clientz, mgrs an gr8t d8ts who u wan 2 c agin.

10. You try to build, maintain and grow a relationship with great dates who you want to see again via text message.

11. At 29 years old, you spend 25 non-renewable minutes romanti-mining 140-160 characters sent by the opposite sex for deeper meaning.

12. You rap along to Dip Set, on the subway, at 8:30am, sans headphones.

13. Reading is not your commuting cup of chai. Instead you watch straight to DVD flicks on your commute home.

14.You still own (and readily whip out among breathing-kind) a flip phone, and said ownership isn't sudden life-event induced.

15. You actually think ninjas should give a damn that you think their phone choice is socially suicidal.

16. You dine out with your Bluetooth attached to your ear, blinking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Dating...Great(er) Expectations

Should we take cues from prior generations?
Back in the day before automatic door locks and widespread car ownership, my BFF’s dad used what I will refer to as proper vehicular etiquette to teach his children (of both genders) how to pass one of the oldest ‘relationship material – yes or no?’ tests in the book.

An attorney by trade and by DNA, his plan was simple yet cunning. Sons, when picking up and escorting your date to the car, walk around to the passenger side and always unlock her door first. Daughters, when a man does this for you, once inside, reach across the seat to unlock his door for him – immediately. Children, if your date doesn’t do any of this for you, run. He or she is either selfish, has zero home training, or both, and is not fit to be a mate.

Not only did Mr. M’s children pass this part of the date (at least) with flying colors, but they walked away with a very important lesson, even if they weren’t interested in a second date: how to properly vet your love interest (early on) to see if they will be a caring partner.

Ask the ‘rents to define a “caring” partner and they’ll probably say he or she is someone who is attentive, kind, patient and willing to weather the storms of life with you, small and big. Yet, for those of us trying to make it in this dating game circa 2011, have we given up on seeking (demanding?) such qualities, which happen to be essential to building the kind of foundations that lifelong partnerships are built on? And, if yes, how have our lowered expectations affected our generation’s dating culture and demands?

My questions were spawned by a morning conversation with my 20-something gf, Gym Buddy. Following this morning’s workout, we chatted about dating and men, when a few minutes into our banter, she said something that caused my several-years-older self to pause: “I’m not cool just being with a man; I need to feel as though I am in his care." Without prompting, she went on to explain what this meant to her, the resident Daddy’s Girl: a man who is not just there, as a presence or title, but one who cares for, provides financially (to an extent; we’re not talking Prada) and who provides protection.  Pretty much the same explanation Mr. M. would provide if asked to describe a caring partner.

Daddy’s girl or not, GB had a point and her well-thought out needs made me think of my good gf’s – girl and guy friends – who always end up in relationships void of such caring and protective treatment. e.g. the girlfriend who will pick up your dry cleaning when you’re working late and can’t make it by closing, or the BF who offers to change the light bulb above the bed once he sees it has blown out, sans a four-month dialogue (true story). While one wants to feel some level of sympathy for our peers, I had to ask myself, why do they keep participating in these shallow-Hal relationships that more than likely could not endure past the sight of the first storm cloud, let alone a strong wind? Some of my answers include maybe – just maybe – many of us have never been privy to this level of care and treatment, so it's not even on our radar to seek out. Or, perhaps, some of us do want it (ideally) but are willing to trade it off for superficial beauty, a fierce resume, undeniable swagger or an “In a Relationship” status change on Facebook.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

How to Answer the Question, "What do you do?"


Today's featured article is brought to us by way of Penelope Trunk's The Brazen Careerist.

No lie.  I, live in Manhattan/Buppieville Harlem while gigging to get published-I, used to struggle with answering this question for some time. Before I left my first career to write full time, there was always so much comfort and ease in just answering those four little words with "Well, I'm an account executive in consumer marketing PR." Before I hopped the front-office track to work as an admin, from 9 to 5, while writing post-work hours, those four little buggers didn't bother me at all.  Yet, after taking a step back to take a huge leap forward, I found it difficult to fess up to what the world (and obviously I) viewed as my lowered career status.

If you know the struggle and discomfort that comes with answering the seemingly innocuous "what do you do?," this article has your name written all over it. Be sure to check the helpful list at the bottom.

* * *
How to Answer "What do you do?" 
by Penelope Trunk

Right after college, I was playing a bazillion hours a week of volleyball to get on the pro tour, and reading a book a night to make up for the fact that I was tortured for eighteen years by having to read what other people told me to read. But when people asked, “What do you do?” I said, “I work at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in arbitrage.”

It’s a good answer, right? I had choices: I could admit to reading like a crazy person. I could admit to trying to be in professional sports but not quite there, or I could give an answer that impressed everyone: I work in currency arbitrage. In reality, I was so incompetent at this job that when currencies went wild after the Berlin Wall fell, I lost a few million dollars for a few violent traders. The only possible reason to keep a dyslexic, literary, arbitrage clerk around was because she was good looking. But I wasn’t good looking enough. I got fired.

Immediately I focused on getting on the pro volleyball tour. At that point, “What do you do?” questions did not get “I’m getting a job in a children’s book store because I worked in the family book store for ten years and I can tell you the publisher of any author–quiz me.” Instead, I said, “I’m moving to Los Angeles to play professional beach volleyball.” To me, the book store was a step back to support volleyball, which was a step forward.

Describing my move to LA over and over again to prying relatives and concerned strangers actually made me believe it. How you answer the question “What do you do?” is important because it frames your story for you in a much more visceral way than it frames it for anyone else.

Recently, I had the problem again. I was sort of working at my startup, Brazen Careerist, but not really. The company got a new CEO and was moving to Washington, DC , and I was staying in Wisconsin and marrying the farmer.

“What do you do?” came up a lot because I was redecorating the farm house and traveling back and forth between DC and Madison and NY and Darlington. People in cities asked me what I was doing because clearly, I was not full-time at Brazen Careerist. And people in Darlington asked me because clearly I did not have a life in Darlington.

After trying out a lot of answers that came out poorly (like, I’m working at my company but not really) I came up with “I’m taking a few months off my job to decorate the house while I’m moving to the farm.”

It was a good answer. It was true, of course, but there are lots of true answers this type of question, and not all truthful answers are effective answers. It was a good answer because it reminded me that moving to the farm was a huge job. But also it made me realize that I had given myself an enormous education in interior design in a very short period of time.

I learned about Steampunk styling from hundreds of hours on the Internet. I absolutely fell in love with the idea of repurposing old things for new things, and seeing old in a new way.

I learned about color theory and practice from Maria Killam, who spent hours on the phone with me until I understood when orange on the fabric swatch will look red on a sofa (and why you should never do color on your wall without a consult from an expert).

I obsessively guarded against having anything in the house that did not have a use. All things had to be special and beautiful but nothing could be there only because it was special and beautiful.

When I told people I was decorating the house, they were happy for me. And worried for me. Because I am not going to make a living as a decorator. But the best answer to the question “What do you do?” is “Here’s what I’m passionately learning right now.”

If I had answered in a way that focused on my worries about not knowing where my career was going, then there would have been nothing to talk about. But when I answered in a way that revealed my excitement about the house and everything I was learning, then there was a lot to talk about.

I tell you this to show that everyone has trouble answering the question at some points in their life, but the more comfortable we are being lost, the faster we can get unlost, and this is a good example of why—you can tell yourself better stories about yourself.

So here are some steps to help you get better at the process of answering the question “What do you do?”

1. Understand the question.
Assume there is no hidden, evil agenda. Assume the person asking simply wants to know more about you. Of course, only people who have a good answer to the question themselves end up asking the question of others, but still, it’s a reasonable question.

2. Focus on a differentiator.
The problem with getting to know someone is that if you ask people, “What’s important to you?” you won’t learn anything. Because 90% of people will say things like family, friends, learning, being kind, or other routine things — the things, actually, that are on my refrigerator, in the first photo.

You get to know more about a person by asking how they spend their time. Because, while we all have similar goals (really, I bet the same few New Years Resolutions are made by 80% of all people) we all try to reach them in different ways.

This actually reminds me of the opening of Anna Karenina. “All happy families are the same, and each unhappy families is unhappy in different ways.” The modern version of that is “all goals for attaining a happy life are the same, but all the paths to not reaching those goals are misguided in different ways.”

So the question “What do you do?” is an attempt to find out what makes you different. Which means that everyone has an answer.

3. Don’t focus on your job.
This is not a job interview—it’s an attempt to get to know you so the person can connect with you. So you don’t need to go straight to your job for an answer. Some people have a job that does define them. Some people do not. Once you realize you can go either way on this, you can come up with the best answer for you.

4. Focus on where you spend your time and energy.
If you work at Starbuck’s to support your marathon training, you can say you’re training for a marathon. That is interesting and will immediately spark a fine conversation. Plus, you show that you are someone worth getting to know—you set challenging goals for yourself and you work hard to meet them.

5. Focus on what you are learning.
A career is not an earning path, it’s a learning path. So if you tell someone what you are learning about now, they will not actually care what your job is. What you choose to learn, and what interests you, actually says way more about you than the type of job you have. Some people learn a lot on their jobs, some people learn more away from their jobs. Where you learn is not as important as what you learn.

If you are not learning anything, and not doing anything special, ask yourself why. You can do anything in your free time. Make it matter.

6. Don’t be defensive
Remember that people are asking to be kind. They are trying to create a connection so that you can talk to each other about things that matter to both of you. Surely that is appealing to you as well. So be helpful with your answer by being vulnerable and forthcoming instead of defensive.

7. Ask about the other person.
Sometimes we get so stressed answering the question that we forget to actually make conversation. Ask the other person what he or she does. Then find common ground. At work or at a cocktail party or talking to someone we wish we didn’t have to talk to—being interested in both ourselves and in someone else is one of the most important things we can do.

Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist: How to Answer the Question, "What do you do?"

Simply golden,

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Intentional Living

If S. Rao, author of one of my most-recent reads, Happiness at Work, is my new fantasy-bff, then Martha Beck, Oprah's most-featured life coach, is my faux white wife.  Why? An article of hers that I recently read "20 Questions That Could Change Your Life" contains an oh-so fabulous quotable that is a top contender for my life changing words list, right alongside Rao's "Invest in the process, not in the outcome."

If you follow or *cough* subscribe to Cocoa Girl, then you know that I love-ov-ove Rao's nugget; therefore, Beck's List Nomination ain't a small feat.  So, what was it about the live your best life-boo that made me decide that she and I needed to take our "thing" offline, off the page, and make it/us official?  A simple but profound declaration that stopped a high-thriver like me dead in my tracks:

"Live by design, not by accident."

A.K.A. Live intentionally, B.K.A. Don't Just Let Life Happen to You.

While just six-words-short, I find Beck's command to be magical.  For one, it sprinkles accountability dust on all who behold its glorious beauty.  IMO, you can let life happen to you or take it by the horns and decide that untamed, unpredictable, challenging or not, you're steering it to the best of your ability and judgment.  

The second reason this quotable upgraded Beck to 'boo' status is because it demystifies (rhymes with 'de-spiritualize') this journey.  Now, don't go losing your religion over my statement!  I do believe that God has a purpose for each of us to fulfill in/contribute to this life.  I also believe the only way to discover said purpose is to hunker down  and be still to ask for (and hear!) guidance.  However, being still for long enough to discern your contribution to this Life does not excuse anyone from moving  in due time.

Yes, God, the Universe, whatever you prefer, does have a path for us but we still have to walk that b-i..ryani!  We still have to make plans, choices and decisions, some of which will result in mistakes, failures, and set backs.  Yet, we still gotta do it. We still gotta move with and on purpose.

A gf recently posted "No New Year's resolutions.  Just let God handle it!" and I cringed a bit.  Scared, timid and insecure about my dreams, I used to rely too much on God to make my life what it should be for me.  That is, until one day I had an epiphany about the folks who buy the lottery tickets every drawing.  It went something like, people are waiting and hoping for some fortune to befall them, as if the only way they can ever see it is by winning the lotto...like, kinda by accident.

With that I received that I am able/equipped to achieve every purpose found in my heart.   am equipped and creative.  So, I (eventually) got to goal setting, writing down my dreams, missions and charting plans, aka designing.    And, while not perfect, so far the my blueprint called LIFE is shaping up!

Don't forget to check out the fab article/list mentioned that served as the source of my inspiration:

20 Questions That Could Change Your Life - Oprah.com

Monday, January 31, 2011

Something Positive: Working While Black & Young...

On my late-night blog stroll, I happened across a post on The New York Times blog, which highlights YEAR UP, a program that teaches disadvantaged (disenfranchised?) black and Latino youth the SOFTS SKILLS vital for succeeding at work. Perhaps some of the our HBCUs could follow lead, for real, for real...

YEAR UP's founder, Gerald Chertavian, had this to say about the importance of his program's curriculum:

"It’s how you make eye contact, it’s how you dress, it’s how you shake hands, it’s how you make small talk at a Christmas Party,” [the founder] says. “It’s when we speak, are you nodding your head? Are you leaning in and asking questions? It’s knowing how to introduce yourself. It’s knowing what’s appropriate for conversation. All of those things are learned. If you don’t have that context, boy, it feels real foreign to go through the security gate at Fidelity and exist in that environment."

Amen and I wish his program continued success. To read more about YEAR UP, visit the link:

Training Youth in the Ways of the Workplace