Update: Brand NEW Posts Coming Soon!!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Self Care for the Brokenhearted

I can't mend this torn state I'm in. Getting nothing in return. What did I do to deserve the pain of this slow burn--Christina Aguilera 

I wish that he had hit me. I wish that he had physically beaten me with his fist. I wish he had grabbed me by the back of my neck and slammed my head into a wall. I wish he had pulled my hair and screamed in my face I DON'T LOVE YOU! No, I am not a masochist, I simply believe that physical injuries do not hurt as much as the emotional scars caused by a disloyal partner. The broken promises, the disloyal actions, the refusal of your partner to protect the person he called his one and only, hurt worse than broken ribs, concussions, and pulled hair.

Broken ribs repair, scars fade over time, but unrepented emotional damage lingers on relentlessly. If you are a survivor of childhood trauma like me, than disloyalty in any form only serves to re-traumatize. It slices open old scars, it turns the volume up on the record that plays ad nauseam in your head, "no one will ever love me." After all, it took Navy Seal bravery for you to allow yourself to love, to let yourself be vulnerable, to give selflessly of yourself so that the relationship could succeed, to trust...again. Now this person has chosen someone or something else over your. He has demonstrated a lack of compassion and empathy, he has reneged on his promises, he has been unkind. You are facing a break up or you have already broken up. What do you do?

There are no quick fixes to this. But here are some strategies I have personally used to help me move forward. 

1) Weep and cry. You have a right to be in pain. No matter what he said to try to trivialize your pain. No matter if he implied you were crazy, irrational etc. you have the right to hurt. You are not crazy! You were ill-treated in some way and the real apology  you needed was never offered. Only more blame and character attacks. YOU are not crazy! No one has a right to tell you how to feel. Feel however you want.

2) Yes, there are still things that need to be done, even though you are facing this emotionally difficult time. You need to go to work. The kids need to go to school. Bills need to get paid. You feel shattered, but understand that many women have been in your shoes.If you can take the time from work than do so, without guilt. If you can send your kids to their grandparents/sitter, do that. Do what you need to do to get through. The other day I had to wash my face, put on my make up and business clothes and go to work. You can do it!

3) Keep a safe distance between you and the person who hurt you. Ignore or delete him on social media. Do not call, text, or email him. Do not imagine all the fun things he is doing without you. As much as you love him and long to reach out to him, he has violated you and now you must protect yourself from him. 

4) Eat. If you are the type of person who is an emotional eater. Feel free to indulge and don't let anyone criticize you. This a short-term feel good strategy. When your emotions even out (and they will) your diet will get better. In the meantime, bon apetite! If you are an emotional non-eater like me, you still need to eat. Sometimes it's easier to drink than eat. Drink smoothies, milkshakes, and juices, so that your body is getting it's caloric needs met. Drink water and try to swallow a multi-vitamin. The longer you go without food, the worse you will feel. You have already been harmed by the one you love, you don't need to punish yourself for his cruelty. 

5) Sleep. Sleep as long as you like. Take an over the counter sleep aid if it helps, but you must rest. You must allow your mind and body to recuperate from the damage they have undergone. Don't abuse sleep aids, but it's ok to take them in the short-term while you recover.

6) Breath. Go outside. Inhale fresh air. You might feel dead inside, but the fresh air reminds you and your body that you are still alive. As long as you are alive there is hope. There is hope of reconciliation or there is hope that you will get stronger and move on to someone who truly values you. 

Image result for brokenhearted7) After you have lived like a hermit, start gradually reaching out to friends and family. Yes it can be cathartic to post on social media and tell everyone who will listen how you have been treated, but that only makes you the victim. You may well be the victim now, but eventually you will be the survivor. Reach out to only those close friends and loved ones. Speak freely and honestly and with each sentence you speak imagine you are releasing bits of your pain. Don't reach back out for them. Just release. 

8) Confront the offender. If the time and opportunity present itself, and if it is safe to do so tell the offender how you felt, why you felt what you felt and why it hurts so bad. You don't have to get closure. You don't have to get a sincere apology. You don't have to talk of reconciliation at this time. This is an information session and you are dispensing the information. Tell him that the only thing you want from him is that he listen respectfully to you. Then respectfully tell him how you feel. You're not accusing. You're not blaming. You are owning your feelings. You are restating what has happened to you. An example might be, "I feel hurt and betrayed by you. I really trusted myself to you and that is why the cheating (insert hurt here) hurts so bad." Have this conversation face to face, not over the phone or on social media.

9) If the person is not available for you to talk to then have the conversation in your head. Imagine the two of you are sitting across from each other. What would you say. What would you want him to know. Say it out loud if you have to. Yes it sounds crazy having a one sided conversation, but in this forum you don't have to care what he thinks. You can get angry. You can call him names. Just remember that you need to tell him what he did, and how that affected you.  You can also write him a letter. You don't have to send it. If you do want to send a letter, send it a week or two later after you written it so that you have time to re-read it and make sure it's a true reflection of the situation and how you actually feel. 

10) Pray. Lift you and the person up in prayer. Ask God for the power to help you get through, reconcile, or recover. You should do this step everyday, multiple times a day. Instead of seeking revenge, ask God to deal with the person. 

11) You have to live again. Take care of yourself. Use these baby steps to get through when you are in crisis mode, but as time moves forward don't rely on these as a crutch. Move forward in dignity and determination to live happier and better than ever!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Not to Marry a Black Man

Image result for no good black men

Money taking, heart breaking and you wonder why women hate men!--Lauryn Hill 

I have often said that one of the most difficult things about being a black woman is having to date black men. I have talked a little about about how to date black men  in a tongue in cheek sort of way, but I would like to offer you some insight into why it's not a good idea to marry them.
So here are reasons you may NOT want to consider dating/marrying a black man.

1) You want a spiritual head of your house. Black men and Christianity go together like hot dogs and oatmeal. Even the kindest and most well-meaning of black men I have met is terribly estranged from faith. The most you can hope for is his company at church and maybe a rushed grace over dinner. Don't expect him to make sound spiritual decisions. Don't expect him to lead you in family worship or to be able to lean on him if you need some spiritual encouragement. 

2) Lack of sexual integrity. The black community is bereft of black fathers. As a result there are few role models to teach men how to treat and value women and how to best manage and appreciate their sexuality. Consequently, you see more cheating among black men than any other race. Now before I get hate mail, let me explain that there are three ways black men choose to cheat: Emotionally, Mentally, and Physically. If you are lucky he will choose to cheat on you emotionally and mentally. It's really not a matter of if he will cheat, simply when he will cheat. PS. Mentally cheating is porn, strip clubs, sex saturated TV, and intentionally fantasizing about any person other than you. Usually mentally cheating is the precursor to emotionally and physically cheating.  

3) Poor finances. Let's face it, black men have horrible finances! Even the 2 or 3 who manage to make a good living often manage their money poorly. The rest are drowning in debt, unemployed (or refusing to find gainful employment), or live so far above their means that their financial status hangs on a tenuous thread. 

4) Irrevocable sexism. As discussed on previous posts, black men benefit sexually from sexism. Much the same as white supremacy works to keep blacks and other minorities in positions of subjugation and white people in positions of power, black male sexism bolters the black male status and ego and does so on the backs of women. Don't believe me? Ask your man how comfortable he is with women being referred to a b's and whores. Consider the type of music he listens to (Hint: It's usually hip hop which has a history of disgracing black women with brutally misogynistic lyrics). Now before you give me the side eye, understand that there are degrees of sexism just as there are degrees of racism. Just like all racists don't wear sheets and burn crosses, all sexists aren't raping and killing women. Some are simply disparaging women when with their male friends, judging women solely on their anatomy, abusing women through dishonesty and infidelity, or remaining silent in the company of male friends when women are being abused or referred to in pejorative terms. 

5) Body counts. Now not all women have a problem with, uh, experienced men so this may not be a negative for you. While the average man has had sex with 7 partners. with black man that average doubles or even triples. Google it! Black men run through women like Usain Bolt does finish lines. If promiscuity is your thing, you'll find no shortage of it in black men. 

6) Bonus: Baby Daddy! Let's be real. How many black men of marrying age don't have children (usually multiple children) from various partnerships and hook ups. That means that not only do you get to play mommy, but you get the unfortunate circumstance of dealing with 'da baby mama'. Not fun. Not fair. 

I am sure I could keep going, but I'll stop there. Let me know if you have any you want to add by writing in the comment section. BTW before I hear it, yes there are a few black men who don't fall into any of those categories, but those brothers are so rare that they are practically on the brink of extinction. 

Til next time! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why You Should Never Save Yourself for Marriage

There is a myth in Christianity that if you live a sexually pure life God will bless you with a phenomenal spouse, a lasting, happy marriage, the worlds most incredible sex life, and a smiley face sticker. Yes, you can all have this, not based on all the good you do, but on what you do not do!!!!! So kill every sexual thought, feel guilty about having basic human drives and passions, veil your eyes to the opposite sex, and eventually the hottest Christian person on earth will fall in love with you and offer you their untainted virginity on your sacred wedding night. And just before your first time, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and three golden unicorns will come to you to award you a badge of honor. And let's not forget your wedding night will be the best sexual experience of your entire life ever, even though you are ridiculously inexperienced! 


Perhaps it's because I'm and old person. Perhaps cynicism has choked out all of my idealism and what remains is a jaded realist whose perspectives collide, not with the Bible, but unbiblical Christian ideas that sound holy at first until they are unpacked. I grew up on this garbage. I heard countless testimonies of people who said they were tainted because they had sex. I heard tear-filled stories of men and women who were overwhelmed with guilt, bemoaning the fact that they weren't entirely pure on their blessed wedding night. They were washed up. Used. Worth less. If you are fed a steady diet of this how do you function as a complex human being with a healthy sexual libido? What's worse, how can you ever feel comfortable and secure having sex at all, even within the confines of holy matrimony? 

To quote a  previous blog,

"let me state vehemently that I am NOT “saving myself for marriage.” I have always thought that was, Um, stupid. It implies that if one does have sex that they are somehow tarnished and unworthy. There's a tacit snobbery in that arrogant line of thinking that, quite frankly, pisses me off. You're not holier or superior because you "saved yourself." In fact, the experienced person has more to offer in the way of, let's see, EXPERIENCE when it comes to sexually satisfying their spouse. Let's just keep it real people! Nor do I care at all what my (nonexistent) future husband thinks about my sexual choices. I’m not na├»ve enough to think that, should he exist, he is saving himself for me. I made my choice because I believe the Bible. Shoot me. I believe that God invented sex (not Trey Songz) and so He should know a thing or two about how it should be had. The context that He gave for sex, and the safest most emotionally intimate context, is marriage. And so my decision is to please God, and I could care less about my future husband, my church, my clergyman blah blah blah."

Well my thoughts and opinions have not changed. First "saving yourself for marriage" implies that the best you have to offer a future spouse is in between your legs. If you take time to really think about that it sounds absurd. Being a worthwhile partner involves having a huge capacity to love, an ability to manage conflict in an emotionally mature way, loyalty, honesty, and a healthy attitude towards sex that is based on satisfying another person. If you are emotionally immature, self centered, mean, vindictive etc. than having an unused vagina (penis) is meaningless. 

Secondly, let's disabuse ourselves of the idea that someone out their is saving themselves just for us. This person is wearing a purity ring, attending abstinence class, and whispering prayers for their future spouse. The real of it is that no one in today's world cares! Sorry to burst your bubble, but this a very sexual world, and people are hardwired to have sex and never stop! I'm not giving this oversexed culture a free pass, I'm just stating the facts upfront. If you are over the age of 17, everyone really is doing it so suck it up. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't justify sin, but that's just the way it is. And the older you get the less chance there is that you will meet someone who even knows what sexual purity is, no less than believe in it! And if you are my age, jettison any ideas that you are ever going to meet anyone who values sex the same way you do or who shares your sexual ethic. What you will end up with is someone who has over a decade of sexual experience and you'll have to 'splain to him/her why you have no idea what they heck you are doing in the bedroom. Good luck with that!  So if saving yourself for your future spouse is your motivation prepare to feel inadequate, compared, insecure, and exposed. And please know that your first time, however memorable it is to you, won't be that impressive to someone with years of sexual experience under their belt. 

As Christians we have to stop romanticizing virginity. Virginity = inexperience. Can you name one situation on earth where inexperience is a good thing? 

Which leads me to my conclusion. There are two reasons a person should wait to have sex. 1) Because God said so! To unpack that a little more, God invented sex and he understands that the most beneficial setting for sex is between two mature, loving people in the context of a healthy marriage. Because there is nothing casual about sex. Because people are not car parts, toys, or playthings, but souls created in the image of God and using people as objects to fulfill your own sexual desires is abominably wrong.  Because almost everyone you see is someone else's future spouse and you DO NOT have the right to have sex with some else's husband or wife. In English we have a word for sleeping with other people's spouses: ADULTERY. 

 2) Secondly we are the direct result of every choice that we make. Everything we do has an effect on our minds, bodies, and souls. Contrary to popular culture, sex is spiritual and has a profound spiritual impact on the human psyche. This impact is permanent and irrevocable because God intended sex to PERMANENTLY bond men and women together.  

To recap, this isn't virgin shaming. I'm writing this post for two reasons. 1) To make abstinence only people really examine their attitudes towards sex and step down from their high horses 2) To show that we don't get stickers for doing what is right! We do what is right simply because it is right. We church-folk need to acknowedge that doing the right thing comes with a cost. I'm 31 and I've never had intercourse. The costs are sexual frustration. insecurity, the chilling realization that I will never find a person who shares my sexual values or who has a similar sexual experience level, lost relationships, and feeling like an alien. The advantages are I can sleep at night knowing that I'm not violating God's moral code or my own personal ethics. The security of knowing that I don't have any STDs and that I never have to worry about a missed period. The freedom of not being forever spiritual linked to some cad who could never love me. 

My choices are NOT about my future spouse. They are not about me saving myself, frankly I have more to offer than just sex. They are about doing the right thing even when it comes at a high cost. 

So commit to a sexually pure life because it is the spiritually, physically, and emotionally healthiest decision, and because it's God's plan for all of us and He only wants the best for us. But please stop saving yourself for marriage--you're future  (perhaps nonexistent) spouse doesn't care.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Two Very Bad Extremes

Dr. Sues tells the story of two make-believe creatures called Zax. One is a north-going Zax whose job is to continue to move north. The other is a south-going Zax whose purpose is, you guessed it, to travel south. Eventually these two extremists bump into each other and they refuse to budge. Neither will move an inch in any other direction sticking resolutely to rigid, nonsensical principles. They both reach an impasse and time quickly goes by. The world carries on all around them, while they stand in an eternal staring contest. We can use this simple story about the futility of being uncompromising to explain what the political system in the United States has devolved to. Except instead of traveling toward one another, each of our two political parties is deliberately trying to walk as far away from the other, and ultimately as far away from any middle ground, as possible. Radical ideas like forcing Mexicans to build border walls to keep Mexicans out of the United States and legalizing weed on the federal level are put on the table. Extreme stances on women's rights collide, with one side declaring that women should have no control over their bodies, while the other insists that there is no difference between the genders at all. And the list goes on and on and on. Like the Zax when one party does something the other party does not like, that party shuts down the government, literally creating a situation where neither side can move. 

The extremism in BOTH political parties is a direct result of their refusal to cooperate with each other.
They actually kinda look like Zax
No one is willing to take the middle-road. Neither side wishes to capitulate even on the simplest of issues. Now each party is competing to prove how extreme it can be. Consider the present front runners of the 2016 Presidential race, Trump and Sanders.

Contrary to what Republicans delude themselves into thinking, Trump is not someone who represents a minority of the conservative vote: he--a loud-mouth reactionary with no plan and no platform except hatred, racism and insults--is the very personification of the Republican party. Sanders is on the other end of the extreme. A complete personification of everything that is wrong with the Democratic party. He is a loud mouth intellectual who's too smart to believe in God. A secular Jew, shouting platitudes, promising hand outs through socialism, pandering to potheads and atheists and pitting social classes against one another the results of which pushes liberalism to an extreme it will never recover from. Secularism, amorality, and an anything-goes mentality characterize the liberal party, while bigotry, corporate greed, sexism, and a Christ-less Christianity erode the conservative party. Both Sanders and Trump represent everything that is wrong with our political system. Look what we have become!

The worse part is that unlike Dr. Sues's fictional Zax, who ultimately only end up hurting themselves, our political parties have the ability to demolish America's standing in the world, destroy the principles we claim to believe in, and bring ruin to each and every one of our citizens. The costs are tectonic! 

God Bless America. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


At least once a week someone posts something on my newsfeed about "haters". These people passive aggressively refereed to as haters (I say passive aggressively because haters are often invisible entities never called by their real names and identified exclusively by their alleged behavior) are often plotting against others, putting up road blocks to deter a person's success, being harsh and critical, acting jealous or envious of another person, or simply disagreeing with someone's positions or opinions. Committing any of these transgressions could have a person labeled a hater--and in many instances rightfully so.

But it is the last descriptions of a hater that I want to zoom in on: disagreeing with a
I think it's psychotic to think that people are siting
around  waiting for you to fail.
person's opinions. I once had a disagreement with someone who I used to be friends with. She had made a benign comment about something as silly as a hairstyle and I commented that I disagreed with her. Immediately she posted that I was a hater, that she has grown and evolved since the last time we communicated and that my positions were irrelevant. When I commented that I thought she was a wonderful and creative person, but that I disagreed with her present opinion--not her as a person, she wrote a nasty post in response indicating that if anyone dared to contradict her he/she would be deleted. The situation escalated fast and I soon realized that I wasn't going to gain any ground with her. The point my old friend missed and that so many other do as well is that it is wholly possible to not like something someone is doing, to not like a view point or ideology they hold to, and still genuinely love the person.

But our society has dichoomized things that do not need to be mutually exclusive. Disagreeing with homosexual marriage automatically makes you a homophobe,  believing that black lives matter somehow means that police lives do not, suggesting that you do not agree with a certain war indicates that you are against our troops, conceding to a pro-choice argument means that you are pro-death/pro-abortion and on and on and on. But this madness is completely illogical and I think we all intuitively know it; yet it is easy to become overzealous when we want to prove our point. It is also easier to label someone a hater (or any other bad word) than to appreciate a difference of opinion.

Like for real, for real. 
Yes, there are really people out there whose goals are ultimately to derails us from living up to our full potential, and we should rightfully be wary of those individuals. BUT not everyone is out to get you. My way of love is to sometimes present hard truths to people who desperately need to hear them. But if you are my girl and I see you about to fall into a hole and I stand on the sidelines and do nothing, am I really your friend? If I see someone taking a road I once took that led to misery and emptiness and I relay my experience in the hope that he chooses another road that's NOT hate. The fact is that some people aren't haters at all, they simply hold a mirror up to allow you to see some mistakes you are making, a wrong path you are going down, etc. This isn't judgmental. In my eyes being judgmental is standing back idly and criticizing others without any real intention of helping them.That's not love. Suggesting that if a person makes choice A there are going to be consequences and not wanting the person to face those consequences changes the motivation. The intention--love or harm separates the "hater" from the friend. The willingness to stand by and pick up a person even if they reject your advice changes the nature of the disagreement to one based on love and not hate or judgment.

 I hurt for folk who don't appreciate wise counsel. I feel sorry for people who too quickly hurl out epithets like "hater" to dissuade anyone from disagreeing with them. And I pity people who cannot evaluate a hard truth--or consider an unflattering picture of themselves. These people let ego and pride trump truth and lose people who care about them in the process. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Number 1 Reason I Fear Marriage

I'm a single 30 year old female so it is expected that I be obsessed with all things marriage-related. I'm supposed to be planning my wedding even though there is not spouse in sight, choosing my wedding dress, and fantasizing about my groom, but, contrary to social norms, I don't do any of that. In fact, I have (sometimes) consciously and unconscionably spent my entire life trying NOT to think about marriage. The simple reason is that marriage scares the compete heck out of me!

Let me acknowledge that there are a thousand reasons I am single which fall into any of the following categories. 1) Relationships are a numbers game. Live in a space where the numbers are better for you and you win the game. Otherwise you lose. 2) The complete dearth of quality men. 3) I'm a commitment-phobe. Reason three is the one I choose to zoom in on in this post.

One of my optimistic friends called me right after I had attended my cousin's wedding. Naturally the topic of marriage came up. I expressed to him that I did not like marriage because it concentrated on two recurring themes: unconditional love and the concept of forever. I've been on roller coasters before. Everyone knows that the time to make a decision NOT to ride is before you even get on. Once the bars are locked and the train starts making its nerve-wrecking assent up its steep incline, any second thoughts are irrelevant. You have no choice now except to stay on for the rest of the ride. I often view marriage this way. Sure some aspects of it seem fun, but once you are strapped in, and the assent is steeper then it looked when you were merely peering at it from the safety of the ground, there's not a lot you can do but ride it out. You've reached the point of no return. 

And marriage is truly the point of no return. Unconditional love says that no matter what this person does, or who he becomes, or how he treats me I will remain by his side. This idea--as romantic as it might sound, promises that you will love this person not as he is now, but for who he may become in the future. That's scary stuff! So even if this sweet, mild-mannered man morphs into a drug obsessed, pornography addicted, unemployed loser you will still love him. Or more extreme if your tall dark and handsome man gains 300lbs and hoard cats like those people you see on reality shows, you will stay by his side. Or if he beats you and gamble away your savings, or uses your toothbrush, or suddenly refuses to practice basic hygiene, and farts the alphabet in public, you stay and endure. This thought disturbs me because we don't know what we will become. Our ability to predict the future is about as accurate as our ability to select a good mate. The man who shot up those marines a few months ago may have been a real swell guy at one point, we don't know, but one way or another things happened and he ended up a homicidal whack job. With all this uncertainty we stand before God and family and pledge unfailing love to a fallible human being. I can't seem to wrap my mind around that.

I do not know why anyone gets married these days. The divorce rate should be evidence that at most marriage has failed as an institution or at least we have failed at it. Romantic feelings fade fast leaving you asking the question, "why did I get married?" Biologically programmed longings, neuro-chemical highs, and hormonal drives push us down the alter, but they are not strong enough to keep us married. The vast majority of marriages tend to end in divorce or exist on the ledge between misery and apathy. However, in a world where we jump right into things. Where we follow our hearts and hormones or busy ourselves so much that we don't make time for quiet introspection, we don't consider the harsh realities. Perhaps I'm crazy for gazing up at the intimidating roller coaster of marriage from the safety of the ground, considering its ups and downs, its safety, and its practicality, before making an all or nothing commitment to riding the unknown.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Fashion War

I approached the MAC counter with the same caution that one would approach a strange wild animal. I glanced back at the exit doors at the rear of the Macy's. While I have never had anything against makeup, as a minimalist and a highly conscientious person, I had concerns. I worried that by wearing and buying make up I would be selling out--that somehow I would not be being true to who I am. I had concerns about buying into the superficiality of an image-driven society.

Prior to turning 30 I can literally count the times I wore make up. A few poorly applied eye-shadows in high school. A light brow pencil and mascara for Junior Prom, and a full face of make up when I was in my early twenties in order to help my makeup artist friend with her portfolio. Otherwise the idea of spending several minutes in front of a mirror to paint myself did not appeal to me.

I think I have always had a war with fashion. On the one hand I like to look nice and polished just like any other person. I like shopping (though that interests wanes as I get older), wigs, hair extensions, and hair styles. I like changing up my look and my style. But I have also had periods in my life when fashion took me to dark places.When I was a child my mother spent buckets of money trying to help me achieve "good hair" which sent me the message that the way I looked not only mattered, but that it was paramount. After all, as a child I did not care what I looked like. I just wanted to play like the little Tomboy I was. This expectation to look pretty all the time caused me to focus entirely too much on my appearance and, worst of all, to compare myself to other people. When I didn't measure up to the real or imagined ideal of how I should look I became depressed. Fashion has also caused me to waste time. I recall a time being a poor overworked graduate student wasting my precious time making exfoliants and putting peroxide and baking soda on my teeth. I remember spending 3 hours washing, blow drying, and conditioning my hair. (One of the best decisions I made was chopping all my hair off in 2008 and then in 2009.)

Then there is the money I invested in hairstyles that would inevitably fall apart that next day because I was trying to force my hair to do something God never intended it to do. Oh who can forget the acne and the stream of elixirs and fixers that were supposed to cure it. If I could somehow get back the money I spent on products, hair, and nails I would have enough to retire and live sufficiently--and I'M a minimalist! Talk about poor stewardship of the resources God had blessed me with.

In addition to irresponsible spending and time wasting, beauty and fashion also clashed with my religious rearing. All my life I have been taught that I should care about my appearance, but not really! That everything was vanity. That beauty was fleeting. That Christians are called to be peculiar people and that we really should not be trying to draw attention to our appearance. That people should not see us, but Christ in us. And yet we see examples of a beauty pageant in the Bible (book of Esther) and of Solomon waxing eloquently about the beauty of his lover in the Song of Solomon. I sometimes wonder if we have missed the point. I wonder if there is a way to spend a few minutes to look beautiful and presentable to society--if there is a time and place for shopping and fashion without losing ourselves in excess and self-idolatry. Heaven knows I do not have any answers to the question how much it too much when it comes to beauty, but I think the answer lies in simplicity.

So then there is me now. I have accepted that acne and eye baggies happens, that curly hair tangles, that I do not and cannot look good everyday--I'm not even sure that it is a valid expectation and it certainly isn't a healthy one. In my race to be to work on time I do not have time to stand in front of the mirror and paint my face or style my hair elaborately. Nor do I literally want to lose sleep over it. I spend a few minutes shaving once a week or every other week--let the stubble come where it may. I get my hair "did" every three weeks or less, Eyebrows plucked once a month. The only products that I use regularly are those products necessary for personal hygiene (think toothpastes and soap). I wear make up only on weekends or days off and rarely a full face then. My wardrobe is nice enough to earn the occasional compliment, but simple enough for me to grab any shirt, any pair of jeans, and any pair of shoes and run out the door to live life, instead of fashion. And I certainly do not endorse or read any fashion magazines or give any particular thought to what's "in". If I like it, I wear it. End of story.   And you know what? I'm happy that way. I wouldn't change it if I could.

Simply me. No make up or hair extensions 
or fancy photography

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not My Kind of Empire

"We watch it and we call it entertainment and everything's ok, as long as somebody's gettin paid"--India Arie

On January 7, 2015 a hit new show blazed onto America's televisions screens capturing the attention of millions and becoming FOX's highest ranking debut in years. The show, about a drug-dealer turned music mogul, features an ensemble of highly talented African American actors and guest stars some of the hottest names in the entertainment business. I caught a glimpse of the show a few weeks ago, and while I certainly understand the show's almost hypnotic appeal, I had difficulty stomaching the drama's amoral worldview and excessive stereotypes.

As a person who does not regularly watch television, I often feel like an alien during those rare times I actually catch a peek at a popular show. I grapple with genuinely wanting a show to be moral, and clean, and fresh, as well as entertaining, only to be seriously disillusioned when it unloads a barrage of bad language, flaunts all kinds of sexual impropriety, and regurgitates the same lame stereotypes. This disillusionment is especially acute when it comes to media that showcase the talents of people who look like me. On the one hand, I am old enough to remember when it was pretty rare for a show starring an all black cast to gain the same attention and prominence as a comparable white show. There has never been a level playing field between black media and white media, but now entertainment starring and even produced by black people is on the rise; and it has major crossover appeal.

 Each week my Facebook news feed explodes with status updates about hit shows like Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Haves and the Have Nots, Being Mary Jane, and of course, Empire. All these shows prominently feature beautiful, talented, and alluring black characters, and yet not one has much to offer in the way of morality. What we are seeing is an empire of media about black people in powerful roles; media not just targeted to blacks, but to mainstream audiences. For the first time there are several televisions shows depicting black attorneys, black music tycoons, black millionaires, and other black professionals, and yet as seductive as it is for me to see these images on the screen, I remain conflicted. I cannot in good conscience consume media that contradicts everything I claim to stand for. In other words, this new empire of popular black shows is not my kind of empire.

Just to summarize my brief experience watching Empire, in only a few clips I witnessed a gorgeous black woman viciously attack another gorgeous black woman (the black women are aggressors stereotype), a gay man nearly toss another man off a high-rise building (because, of course, the only way to portray masculinity according to television is through violence (stereotype)), a black woman cursing out a black man (ghetto black woman stereotype), and worst of all, the star of the drama, Lucious Lyon, posing the question to his son, "lets see who's more powerful-- your God or your dad?" Did you catch that? A character whose name means light blaspheming against God--much too reminiscent of another character whose name means light and who is described as a lion (1 Peter 1:8) blaspheming against God (Isaish 14). To quote the author from Plugged In, a Christian webzine that publishes reviews on popular media, "Empire ...asks viewers to drink down a tall glass of sex, language and violence—practically must-have requisites for prestige dramas these days."

And as if Empire's language problem is not bad enough, star of the show, Terrance Howard would like to add more profanity to it in the form of a racial slur! According to Howard, the only way to challenge bigotry is to use the words derived from bigots themselves--thus mainstreaming racially charged words!

(If video won't play see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUTL9a_E3x8)

Ultimately, media makers would not produce this kind of content if folk, yes, even Christian folk, did not consume it by the millions. If we want to see better content on television, and more fair depictions of black people, we cannot continue to support the status quo. Yes, every time you turn on your TV you are essentially cosigning to the values and worldviews presented in that media. This blind assent to morally questionable content has psychological and spiritual ramifications. You are what you watch! The next time you pick up your remote control or log onto your computer remember the words of the psalmist who courageously declared, "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes" (Psalms 101:3)--not even a seductively packaged, but ultimately Godless Empire!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paint Night

 Last month I did something I've never done before: I went to a paint and sip event. Turns out these events are a big deal and several companies have launched all over the nation to meet the demand of folk like me who enjoy them. Paint and sip is exactly what it sounds like. You go to a venue--typically a restaurant or bar, where there is an art instructor, paint supplies, and of course a drink menu. (You can really order whatever you want because purchases from the restaurant are not usually included. I don't drink and I don't endorse drinking).

In in the DMV area there are two paint and sip companies that I know of: Paint Nite and Pub and Paint. I did Paint Nite for my girlfriend's birthday and it was a blast. Now let me tell you that I am the least artistic person God has ever made. I mean I can't even color! Of course I thought this was going to be a disaster, but to my surprise I found myself really getting into it. Just take your time and don't be afraid of making mistakes. No one expects you to be Picasso. It's all for fun. 

The venue is typically set up with individual work stations containing a canvass, a cup of water, paintbrushes, and plates for paint and mixing paint. 

My brother

 Me trying to look as artsy as possible

The artist will explain step by step what you need to do.

Paint plate 

My girlfriend and my brother 

I felt so proud of myself. I painted a moon!!!!!!

See how basic they make it. The picture evolves a little bit at a time. The artist tells you exactly what brush to use, how to hold your brush, how much paint to put on it. etc. 

My tree looks pregnant.  

I got compliments on my branches. I'm a branch-painting genius!

And then add the little blooms 

My brother was so anal about his tree. 

The artist's painting

Mine.   Not bad. Now I have this whole new interest in art I never had before. 

See how each picture is similar but unique. Each artists brings something special to his/her painting

My advice it so show up on time! The painting starts promptly as scheduled. If you miss the beginning you miss important instructions essential to your success. Also wear something you don't mind spilling paint on. And lastly don't drink the water--seriously at least one person usually ends up drinks from the paintbrush cleaning cup. Acrylic paint does not taste good. Oh and I forgot to mention, the event last about 2 hours.

Overall, I loved Paint Nite. I loved the atmosphere, the instructor was knowledgeable and funny, and the servers were on point. My only point of criticism would be the price. At just over $46, I recommend shopping Groupon for a discount--which is what we did. We ended up spending $25 a piece which is a lot more reasonable. Hey, you're not taking a college class, your just doing some recreational painting. I plan to do another Paint Nite later this month. Thanks to my girl Diamond for introducing me to this soon-to-be new hobby. 

A Beautiful Failure

I bet you thought I was gone! Nope, as I said before I don't plan on taking any more two year hiatuses. Unfortunately, my New Year was tough. I ended up sick a good portion of January and then I was busy with life and all its busy-ness. But it sure feels good to type a blog again.

Now without further ado...

On yesterday I made one of the most beautiful cakes I've baked in my life: a moist, rich, sweet, pineapple upside-down cake. All from scratch of course

See how pretty it looks

And here's a close up

Now do you see the problem?

When I went to flip the cake out of the pan and onto a platter, it slipped and landed on the island instead. I ended up with sticky glaze everywhere! Keep in mind that with a pineapple upside-down cake you have only a short window to flip it, otherwise the glaze hardens and you have a cake that is impossible to invert. Now I had a cake that was slowly welding itself to my island.

I tried to shimmy wax paper underneath of it. No good. I tried using my hands. Nope. Fell apart. Completely.  I had another baking failure on my hands.

So I should back up and explain my baking process so that you can better understand my devastation. With any new recipe I spend a lot of time planning. I scour youtube for the best videos and techniques, I read several recipes, I collect information from food blogs, and then I determine if the product is something I can reasonably make. Do I have the ingredients home? Do I need a specialty ingredient/pan/baking tray. This is time consuming, but I do not consider it laborious because I enjoy baking. Then I find a recipe I think I can work with and make it to exact specifications--I mean I'm anal about this sort of thing. After tasting the final product, I decide if I want to continue to use this recipe or add my own touches to it, or start from scratch. I went through my process with this cake. Researching, reading recipe reviews etc. I went to two groceries stores looking for canned pineapples  (first one was out) and two stores looking for maraschino cherries. Then I spent 2 hours prepping and baking a cake. All to have it slip from my grasp and land inches away from the platter and onto my counter top.  It was a very beautiful failure :-( I wanted to beat holes in the wall with my fists. Then I took a step back.

In the end, it really wasn't that important. So I screw up a cake. Not like I can't make it again--and next time I can make a better one because I know what I'm doing. I cleaned up my mess, did the best I could with the remaining cake, and went on to baking peanut butter cookies.

In life we have to prioritize. We have to decide which things are worth getting upset about and which things to shrug our shoulders and move on about. In a world filled with student loans, ever-present plumbing issues*, and demanding jobs, is it really worth crying over spilled cake?

 Peanut butter cookies.

The pineapple upside-down cake wasn't my first baking disaster and it will not be my last--especially because I am still learning to bake. Like my cake, we are all beautiful failures. Some of us are in the process of having our sticky mess removed, or having ourselves scraped back together. We sometimes end up in places we never wanted to be or in spaces we were never intended for.....

Recognize failure, Determine what you need to do to change. And then move on. The peanut butter cookies were delicious, by the way.

Happy 2015 Everybody!!!! See you next week.

*I should dedicate a blog to this topic as I always seem to have some kind of plumbing problem.