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Showing up and being seen

9 Dec

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 3.51.40 PMI have been fascinated by the work of author and researcher Brene Brown. I discovered her on Oprah’s Life Class and have been intrigued every since. I recently bought her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” The timing seemed impeccable because I’ve been struggling with perfectionism, shame, and vulnerability for a long time and I’m ready to move past them.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been in a healthy, loving relationship with a great guy for a little over a year now. Given my past, vulnerability has been tough to overcome. Vulnerability, as Brown defines it, means to “show up and be seen. To ask for what you need.” Wow, if this wasn’t an a-ha moment. And with my boyfriend’s help, I’ve been able to see that I struggle with this even outside of romantic relationships.

Many people grew up to believe that to be vulnerable meant to be weak. I wasn’t raised this way but I have discovered that as a child I determined on my own that being totally open and emotionally naked could lead to disaster. As a defense mechanism, I have built up walls and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much this was hindering my life.

Brown doesn’t believe that we should be vulnerable with everyone. Not everyone has earned the right to “hear our story.” But everyone, in our most primitive state, craves for love and belonging. And without vulnerability, we’ll never quite experience the love we seek.

So how did I move past my fear of vulnerability? It’s something a fight with everyday but each day gets better. I keep telling myself that the only way to have a true, authentic relationship is to show up with my whole-hearted, imperfect self. I’m beginning to have more of the hard conversations and talk about how I really feel. And trust me, these new changes have not always been met with love and support. Some people resist. But I’m learning that it’s ok. It just lets me know that you’re not the person that’ll hear my story again. I move on.


What does your “brand” say about you to men?

6 May

So I recently came across a vlog by Dr. Alduan Tartt that really resonated with me. In his video “Relationship Advice for the Total Package Woman” (which I happen to be, lol), his third tip is “Know Your Brand.” I work in advertising so I immediately had an a-ha moment.

Sometimes when I present at workshops or advise clients, I get asked what “branding” really means. The first thing I say is that branding is more than just a logo! It’s what a company stands for, their image, their look and feel. Have you ever caught the middle or the tail end of a TV or radio commercial and subconsciously knew who the advertiser was? Or,  have you every picked up a catalog or sales paper without its cover and still knew who was selling what? That’s the result of branding.

So how, you may ask, does this relate to me, dating and relationships? Well, each of us has a “brand.” We have an image that we portray to the world, which is a reflection about how we really feel about ourselves internally. Our outward appearance and our actions say to someone, “I’m a high-quality product” or “I’m made of the cheap stuff.”  This image will attract a certain person or a certain customer, if you will.

In the video Dr. Tartt gives an example of BMW. He says the BMW brand is targeted to a certain type of audience or target market and they portray class, money, and the elite.  These two questions come to mind:

1) What does our personal brand say about us? We can’t expect to have a low self esteem and attract a successful, confident man. That man will want to align himself with a brand that reflects who he is. In turn, if we genuinely know our worth, we will attract those that have something wonderful to offer us in return.

2) What kind of customers are we attracting? If our branding is off, we are going to get the wrong clientele. For instance, if we say to men (whether verbally or non verbally) that we have little to offer, than we will attract and accept “less than” men.

Often companies re-brand or reposition themselves. Look at J.C. Penny, for example. (Ok, maybe not a good example, lol.) And we can, too! Let’s take an inventory of what we’re selling and how we are selling it to the world. I know I have. In just a short period of time, I’ve noticed that with a change in my attitude about myself and a change in my outward appearance, more men have approached me recently. Have all of them been on my level…no. But a few are who I would consider as dating material. Once I’ve met these guys, it’s up to me to remember what I stand for and to decide whether or not I want to co-brand with them.

You can thank me later for the marketing lesson! 😉 Please view Dr. Tartt’s video for more insight:

Finding the Spirit of Discernment

26 Jun

As you guys may know, I tend to talk about themes in my life. In other words, I write about lessons learned that inexplicably come from different places all at the same time. I don’t think these happenings are coincidences but God reaching out to me. Over the last few days, I’ve read something or people have said something about the spirit of discernment. I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing.

Trust begins and ends with God.

This statement was in an email my mom sent me a few years ago about trust. How true it is. But this is something I had to learn over time. I’ve seen myself and my friends struggle with the ability to trust men in relationships. And if you’ve been lied to, cheated on or deceived in some way, you know how hard it is to trust someone in relationships that follow. How many times have we thought “Where is he?”, “I wonder who he’s with?”, “Is he lying about xyz.” And this goes for guys AND girls.

But the thing that’s helped me the most, is my ability to trust in God to show me the things I need to see. Some people call it intuition, I call it the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing, if we just let it guide us and allow it to open our eyes, what we will see. Like Jill Scott says, “…everything comes to the light.” Many times the answers are right in front of us. I’m a living witness to this! God equips us but it’s up to us to use it. Many times we don’t want to accept what we see and we go on worrying, suspecting and accusing.

Here’s an exerpt from that email.

Trust grows over time. People are complex, broken beings therefore, previous hurts, fears or losses can impede their determination to trust and/or be truthful in a relationship. But, people have the capacity to grow in trust and truthfulness.

You and God can help build trust into your relationships.

Faith comes from God. Our faith is in God. God is the only One who is truly faithful. He is the giver of faith and the object of faith. Because of those facts, we need a new understanding of what it means to trust people.

Just thought I’d share…

Release and wait

8 Mar

Someone sent this to me over the weekend. It couldn’t have been more timely. You see, I have a BAD habit of doing the things that she speaks of: trying to establish a healthy relationship with someone who is clearly not right for me instead of waiting patiently for what God has for me. Yep, I do it and have done it often. But a recent experience with someone I’ve dated on- and off-again for 9 years has led me to say “ENOUGH!”

I think it’s hard for us to walk away from relationships or friendships even though we know they are detrimental because it makes us feel like failures. We feel like we aren’t good enough or competent. Sometimes we just have to throw our hands up and say “There’s nothing more I can do to make this work. It’s time to give up.” Man, that’s a hard thing to say, especially if you still love someone. But love shouldn’t hurt.

I can’t blame everyone else for my failed relationships. I am owning up to the ways in which I’ve sabotaged my own life. I haven’t made the best choices when it comes to relationships. It’s a hard thing to admit.

Iyanla Vanzant says this in her book Acts of Faith:

You can do the same old things in just so many ways until you lose track of what you are doing. How many ways can you cry? How many ways can you hurt? How many ways can you convince yourself that you can make this work? When a relationship is over, you must learn to let go.

It’s time I let go….

Three Books Every Single Gal Should Read

8 Mar

I used to be a self-help junkie. I’m not so much anymore. But there are a few books that I continually go back to when I need relationship advice. In fact, some of these books I’ve lost and purchased again because they were so valuable to me. I’ve read some of them 2 and 3 times.

He’s Just Not that Into You:The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

My take: You’ve seen the movie. But have you read the book? It really opened my eyes. Although a guy might say one thing, it doesn’t always mean that he’s sincere about it. If a guy truly wants you, he’ll make the effort to show you. You don’t have to convince him you’re the best thing since sliced bread. If he interested, he’ll call. And that’s it. Period.

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:
It’s a classic single-woman scenario: you really like this guy, but he’s giving mixed messages. You make excuses, decide he’s confused, afraid of commitment. Behrendt, a former executive story editor for Sex and the City—and a formerly single (now happily married) guy who knows all the excuses—provides a simple answer: he’s just not that into you. Stop kidding yourself, let go and look for someone else who will be. After all, as Behrendt sensibly puts it, “if a (sane) guy really likes you, there ain’t nothing that’s going to get in his way.” If you’re not convinced yet, by all means read this smart, funny and surprisingly upbeat little book, full of q’s and a’s covering every excuse woman has ever made to avoid admitting to herself that a man just wasn’t that smitten with her.

Quotable: Assume you are the rule, not the exception.

Why Men Love Bitches
by Sherry Argov

My take: My aunt kept telling me about this book and I was put off by the title like so many other women probably are. The last thing I want to do is come off like a bitch. When she saw that I wasn’t making a bee line to the bookstore for it and I was still having man problems, she sent it to me in the mail. Boy, was I grateful. I think this book should be taught in school to every teenage girl! Once you get past the title and read its’ contents, you’ll soon discover that this book is really about self respect and establishing boundaries. While I don’t agree with everything the author suggests, I think the principles outlined in the book are great.

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:
Contending that some women are “too nice,” comedian and radio show host Sherry Argov has written Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship. “I’m not recommending that a woman have an abrasive disposition,” Argov writes, “The woman I’m describing is kind yet strong. She doesn’t give up her life, and she won’t chase a man.” Her sassy book is filled with scenarios and advice aimed at making women subtly stronger and self-empowered. Argov’s principles, which range from the farfetched to the downright absurd, include “If you give him a feeling of power, he’ll want to protect you and he’ll want to give you the world” and “A little distance combined with the appearance of self-control makes him nervous that he may be losing you.” The book, which has already been featured on The View and The O’Reilly Factor, should make waves with its controversial view of relationships.

Quotable: It is the attitude about yourself that a man will adopt.

Boundaries in Dating: Making Dating Work
by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

My take: This book was recommended to me by a minister. So, of course, it hinges on Christian principles and that’s part of the reason I like it. The book takes a look at how relationships should be approached as someone who is trying to please God, a position that’s not often taken in the mainstream. I’ve read this book several times. As a matter of fact, I lost the book and went out and bought a new copy. Like Why Men Love Bitches, the book talks about maintaining proper boundaries with your date or potential life-long partner. This is something I struggle with so it’s been very helpful. The book covers everything from honesty and the “blame game” to establishing and maintaining what you will and won’t accept in a relationship.

Review from an customer: “Boundaries in dating is about becoming a truthful, caring, responsible, and free person who also encourages growth in those she is in contact with,” the authors write. “Your dating life should be a powerful change agent for you.” Countering the common assumption that dating is limited to “finding the right one,” Cloud and Townsend take the spiritual approach that dating and relating is just as much about “learning about your own issues, how they affect others, and what to do about them.” That dating should bring us closer to God seems to be the authors’ ultimate goal in writing this book.

Quotable: God uses relationships to heal us and to change us. Although we are not suggesting that dating be the primary place that someone seeks healing (this is a horrible idea), it is a place where good things happen in people’s souls. People benefit from good relationships.

What are some books that you’ve found very helpful? Please comment and share.

Three’s (not) a crowd?

25 Feb

Hi, folks. Real quick blog. I’m really sleepy so I hope this comes out ok.

Anyway, some of the most uncanny things have happened to me lately.  To make a long story short, I recently met a guy who was recently in a relationship with his (ex) wife (yes, ex) and another female. No, he wasn’t cheating, they were all in relationship together. He had a wife (sort of) and a “wifey”. Oh lord, yes it blew my mind, too.

Now I know this is probably more common than I’d like to believe. This is the stuff you see on Maury but never have I been so up close and personal with someone who actually lived this lifestyle. But what kills me is that this guy talked about it so matter of factly, like this was normal.

And I told another guy that I recently met about this gentlemen and he didn’t seem appalled either. Basically, he told me in so many words that in order to keep a man nowadays, you’re going to have to be “open”.

OMG! Do people revere marriage anymore??? I’m spent. Nite y’all…

Let it Go

6 Dec

An oldie but goodie….

Let It Go – by T. D. Jakes

There are people who can walk away from you.

And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone.

When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.

The bible said that, they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us. [1 John 2:19]

People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay.

Let them go.

And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over so that you don’t keep trying to raise the dead.. You’ve got to know when it’s dead.

You’ve got to know when it’s over. Let me tell you something.. I’ve got the gift of good-bye. It’s the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-bye.. It’s not that I’m hateful, it’s that I’m faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He’ll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don’t need it. Stop begging people to stay.

Let them go!!

If you are holding on to something that doesn’t belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to past hurts and pains LET IT GO!!!

If someone can’t treat you right, love you back, and see your worth LET IT GO!!!

If someone has angered you LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge LET IT GO!!!

If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents LET IT GO!!!

If you have a bad attitude LET IT GO!!!

If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better LET IT GO!!!

If you’re stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level in Him LET IT GO!!!

If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship LET IT GO!!!

If you keep trying to help someone who won’t even try to help themselves LET IT GO!!!

If you’re feeling depressed and stressed LET IT GO!!!

If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying ‘take your hands off of it,’ then you need to LET IT GO!!!

‘The Battle is the Lord’s!’

Being single…is it by choice or circumstance?

9 Nov

(Note about this video: I found it after I wrote the blog. It’s amazing how these women echoed what I’m saying in this blog.)

So I was having a conversation with a guy friend of mine and we were talking about relationships and the fact that I’m still single, how hard the dating game is…yada yada. He said something that really made a light bulb go off. I had one of Oprah’s a-ha moments. He said, “You are single by choice.” And him knowing me and us having dated before, I thought it was an interesting observation. Plus, I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic with all the talk surrounding the state of black relationships. I’ve been wanting to blog about this for awhile.

I’m sure you’ve heard this numerous times: “There aren’t any available, single black men. They are either in jail, gay, or married.” Is there validity to this statement? Are black men really that few and far between?

I won’t bore you with the stats like the incarceration rate of black males, their lack of education, etc. We all know what the numbers say. But here are some startling statistics I would like to share:

42 percent of black women have never been married, compared to 21 percent of white woman, according to national statistics.

Within the last two generations, marriage rates for African-Americans have dropped significantly. Between 1970 and 2001, the black marriage rate dropped by 34 percent, compared to 17 percent in the general population.

African-American women are also the least likely group to get married in the United States.

While I can’t confirm these statistics, they sound pretty darn accurate to me and they are in line with the trends I’ve been seeing personally and among my black female friends.

So, you may wonder what I think. Do I think that I am single because of a shortage of good, available men (circumstance) or is it because I choose to be?

After the guy made that statement, I thought “hmm, you are right, I do choose to be single.” And I say that because I could be in a relationship if I wanted to. In fact, I think I could even be married. But the question should be: “Would I be happy?” I’m not sure about that.

While, I am aware of the social implications concerning black relationships and I agree that they are valid, I don’t believe that it’s impossible to find a healthy, loving relationship. But let’s be honest, the stats are real and it is hard for black women to date. I’m not saying that all black men are dogs and I’m not saying there aren’t any good ones left. But where are these good, upstanding men? Are they at church? At the club? I meet very few of what I would consider eligible men and I think I’m a pretty social person.

But that’s another point I’d like to make. Ladies, what do we consider “eligible”? A lot of black men say that our expectations of them are unrealistic and unattainable. They say we want someone that looks like Denzel, has Jay-Z’s money, gives good thug loving but is someone they can bring home to mom. I can assure those are NOT my expectations. Are my expectations high? Yes. Are they unrealistic? No. And I believe that the majority of women don’t want all that. They just want a good man. Period.

To sum it up, I think that singledom for a black woman is a combination of choice and circumstance. There are quite a few odds against us but we won’t settle for whatever we can get. Luckily I have faith in God and that he’ll send me someone regardless of the odds. I just have to open enough to receive that blessing and recognize it as such.

Much better

24 Aug

Hey y’all. I guess you were wondering what the heck was going on when I wrote my last post. Well, I was just frustrated yet again with the dating game. But I’m good now. No, I’m not dating anyone else but I’m content with it for now. Here’s what was going on:

I just had to let go of an unhealthy situation. This guy and I weren’t officially dating but we behaved as if we were. We would talk on the phone and text all the time, he’d come into town on most weekends in the beginning, you know bf/gf type stuff. When we first met, we both agreed that we weren’t looking for anything serious. But things quickly changed…somewhat. I was starting to develop deeper feelings and I am sure he was, too, but he would never admit to it. He admitted that he was guarded. That should have been the red flag right there.

It didn’t make sense that he would be devoting so much time and affection to someone he didn’t want to get serious with. I confronted him on several occasions and it was clear we weren’t headed in the same direction. There were times I cut it off but he would call or text me and it would start up again. I tried to downplay my feelings by saying in my mind that we were just friends and but truthfully I liked him and I wanted him to like me to. But he clearly explained that he didn’t want to get serious or that we were just friends even though his actions said otherwise. Even though he called all the time, he could never say he missed me. He would always have some dumb rationalization but he expected me to tell him that I missed him. Stupid, I know.

Anyway, there was more but I’ll spare you the details. I had just grown pretty tired of the mixed signals. It wasn’t a relationship that was going anywhere and to be honest, he wasn’t right for me. But somewhere in my dysfunction, I needed him to want me and to acknowledge me.

I wish that we could have remained friends. But lines were crossed and things got complicated. Part of it was my fault. Oh well, I guess life is messy like that sometimes.

I’m tired…

16 Aug

…of the dating game. I’m tired of meeting jerk after jerk, after jerk. I know that I’m not perfect but I try my best to be an upstanding young woman. I try to do what’s right in the sight of God and my fellow man. I’m exhausted y’all. I’m tired of meeting men who can’t see past themselves or on the other hand refuse to look at themselves with honesty.

No more spending major time with minor people. I would rather be by myself and the rate that I’m going, I may be by myself for awhile because I REFUSE to settle. That is all.