In your efforts to prepare the future, remember to care for yourself in the present

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This week has been some kind of week. 45 is out here doing the most to say the least. Klan members are butt hurt and not accepting they lost. Then there’s the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I wasn’t ready, but I will not spoil it for you. Lastly, school is in session, and all the videos and memes about parents expressing their excitement to drop their kids off for 8 hrs a day, to preserve the contents of their refrigerator has begun. I’m not going to front. I am excited about this new year, but there are some things I need to do differently than I did last year. For my students, their families, and my sanity. Let me explain.

This week, while preparing for work, my TV screen was this story of a Georgia teacher walking into school and killing himself after 18 years in the profession. My heart dropped. The students were on their way to school when they learned their teacher tried to kill himself. While there has not been news as to why he did it, there are so many speculations.

Another young teacher, from a Facebook teacher group, quit teaching in the inner city after 8 years. Between daily excessive misbehavior, large classroom sizes, harassment and low expectations from parents, lack of pay, panic and anxiety attacks, standardized tests, students performing below grade level, and feeling overwhelmingly under appreciated, she decided to walk away from the entire profession days before her birthday.

There are several stories like these floating around about the struggles teachers have been facing, especially with the increase of focusing on testing. Yet, through it all, we get up each morning, hoping we can have a brighter future with the students we teach.

In our efforts to making the world a better place, I hope that we remember the words of my awesome coworker, “You are only one.” We have to remember that we are human. We bend. We break. We tire. We become ill. We cry. We struggle. We fall. We get frustrated, but we are still only one, and it is important that we practice self care.

Self care can be anything you need it to be in order to find a way to bring peace to yourself. Over the past year, I have been trying to find out what that looks like for me. Some days it was crying in the counselor’s office, praying while purifying my classroom, blogging, or calling my former teachers to vent and seek guidance. Other days it was getting a massage.

This school year it is vital for me to be intentional about my self care. The last thing I would want to do is sit across from the doctor in excruciating pain, holding my husband’s hand, as she delivers the most heartbreaking news I had ever heard again.

Your mental health is important. You cannot successfully give to everyone else without giving to yourself. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to say you did your best even if the results weren’t what you expected. It’s ok to admit when it is too much and you need help. You are not weak. You are human.

So to my fellow educators, preserve yourself. Remember your health. Remember your sanity. Remember to be to you and your family as much, if not more, as you are to your students and their families. You are valuable too. Treat yourself to self care every chance you get. In your efforts to provide an environment of safety for your students, do not forget to put your breathing mask on first in order to save yourself too.

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How Many Slices of Cheesecake Are Your Dreams Worth?

Now for some, this may make absolutely no sense, but for quite a few of us we remember the infamous cakewalk. It was funny, but mind boggling to think somebody was going to walk in the cold, 12 miles for some cheesecake for their boss, for a record deal. I know, crazy right! Not really. What you thought was the career of your dreams was on the line and the person who held the keys wanted that cheesecake. So what did you do? You put on your Timbs, your fitted, your coat, and got to trucking. 

Looking back at that moment, it reminds me of the drive and determination that’s needed today. Try telling someone today they had to work an unpaid internship, yet their experience they would receive is invaluable. They would probably look at you sideways. If you told them they had to sweep floors and empty trash cans in addition to doing their daily job, they would probably tell you to call a janitor. 

So many are missing the chance to learn how to build and grow from nothing into something greater. Today, we have a plethora of things that allow us to skip vital steps that teach us how to hustle and grind for our dreams. Some have microwaved their way to the top and fizzled out as quickly as they came in. Tools that help us sustain longevity, build character, or appreciate the hard work we put in were somewhere in those steps. 
Maybe we could use a walk across the Manhattan Bridge for some Cheesecake every now and then to remind us that true success does not come easy. Along the way it will get hard, you may look foolish, you may fail, but it will all be worth it. 

Purpose: Running Away from the Inevitable

I was trying to find a photo of a woman running in a beautifully​ dramatic way, but in reality, if I could find a photo of me running away from what I was called to do, this would be more accurate.
It never really​ is that pretty. Walking in my purpose this past year has been filled with really high highs and unfortunately, some tragic lows. I’ve been taking it one step at a time, because I have a tendency to go into overdrive, forgetting​ to stop and smell the roses, aka not take a vacation in 7 years. 

This past year, I decided to walk in my purpose, or so I thought. I’ve spoken with several different people, some who I have never shared my dreams with, and they have all spoken my dream into existence. I have never been in a situation where I have heard the same thing over and over about me. I’ve never seen so many people speak something into my life that only me and Jesus know about. 

I wonder if Jesus is out here telling folks my business. If so, it could be because he and I aren’t on the same page. 

Jesus: This is what I have been preparing you for.

Me: See Jesus, what had happened was…

Jesus: No, we’ve done this already.

Me: But what if I’m not qualified?

Jesus: Name everybody in scripture I’ve called that was qualified… Don’t worry I’ll wait.

Me: Bruh

Jesus: Didn’t I tell you, that if you believe that you would see my glory?

Me: Why are you like this?

This is literally how me and Jesus get down. Every single time! I get stubborn, Jesus tries to warn/encourage me, I still don’t listen, because I’m hardheaded, and then he shakes up my world forcing me to do what I should’ve done the first time. Every single time! You’d think I’d listen by now. We’ve been at this almost 30 years. I bet Jesus looks at me like he’s Iyanla about to say, “I’m still gonna win.”


And he does.

I guess I get so afraid of the possibility that I am good enough to take such a major step. I am qualified to do something bigger than me. But really, I am afraid of getting to this place in my purpose and blowing it.

Reflecting on the Kinks

  1. Im continuing to work on accepting that I can really do this. I’m still not ready to fully accept that this could be for me.
  2. Overcoming the fear of failure is still a struggle for me. With each trial, I manage to overcome it once I’m in it. It’s taking the first step that makes it harder than it really is.
  3. Listen to Jesus. He be knowin.

The Sands of Time Through MawMaw’s Eyes

 

I witnessed my brother get engaged to his awesome fiancee at their baby shower. Our family was there being undignified as we are (we does this with no shame in our game) and her family was there also to support their union. With all the laughs and tears, it was truly a great day. It was about them, but I thought about MawMaw. MawMaw was about to witness her 6th grandbaby get married and see her 6th great grandchild. For most people that may not seem like much, but I thought about our family lineage. I thought about the stories MawMaw has told me of how far our family has come, to have lived through sharcropping, Jim Crow south, a black president and now a Cheeto president. From radio, to talking black and white TV, to color TV’s, to computers, to cellphones, to flat screens, to going live on social media she’s seen so much.

Knowing my MawMaw has seen a lot in her lifetime, I can only imagine her thoughts. Looking at her, I don’t know if they mirrored mine. I descend from this one woman. She gave life to me through her daughter. She gave life to my son through me. Looking around the room I saw MawMaw in each of us. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her prayers. She prayed for us to be here. We are her answered prayers. 

I come from a praying grandma that has survived the worst and had hope for the best. I come from a grandma who held onto Jesus in times when Jesus was all she had to cling to. I come from a grandma who can throw more shade than Yellowstone Park and quote scripture in the same sentence. I come from a grandma who loves hard, even when I don’t understand why. 

I hope to one day live to see the years she’s lived, to see my family grow in undignified love, and to walk with Jesus despite my circumstances. I hope to have lived the years she’s lived to see the future generations of her prayers. I hope to one day be the matriarch of our family that holds us all together the way she does.

Happy Mother’s Day MawMaw

All F-Ups Aren’t Created Equal

I got off from work, came home, and started to get ready to meet with my trainer today. I had all this energy that came out of nowhere, so I was pumped for this workout. Right before I got ready to leave, my friend sent me this article about SheaMoisture taking a huge L. I didn’t get a glance, nor did I want to read it because no SheaMoisture slander will be tolerated. I decided to do my research a bit further and check good old Twitter only to find my partner of 8 years had violated our marriage in a major way. 

Let me explain.

For those of us who became apart of the Natural Hair Movement in 2009, we knew the struggle of trying to find the right products that would take care of our newly discovered kinks and curls. In the dark ages, there were only 1 or 2 shelves for black hair care in your local drugstore. When I started, SheaMoisture only had four products in its line in our neighborhood, but I stuck it out. I dedicated my twist out to the struggle, especially since the Curl Enhancing Smoothie, the Holy Grail of moisturizers, was moisturizing my situation and preserving my edges. 

Years later we have #AMillionWaysToShea and we #BreakTheWalls of beauty isles (personally I appreciate the ethnic section, I like knowing where I need to go for what I need). You can definitely say I am committed. So today after seeing this ad about Hair Hate I was confused, dare I say it, hurt! The Hair Hate for Becky, Rose, and Tomi definitely did not resonate with me and the Hair Hate I had because of forced assimilation, job discrimination, and internal self hatred brought on by societal standards that basically said black is wack. I felt betrayed because I knew what SheaMoisture and I had for almost a decade was real. It is real. 

I also felt betrayed because the commercial left out one of SheaMoisture’s major contributors:

BLACK WOMEN!

We have shown up, showed out, done tutorials, reviewed products, and most importantly used our trillion dollar buying power to help fund this black owned business. This is why I believe all F-Ups aren’t created equal. 

I can’t believe I am about to say this, but Tariq Nasheed has a point (pass me the moonshine). This one time dear God I somewhat, kinda sorta, possibly, might agree with him (barf).

When the young lady was abused in that beauty store, did we pull out in droves to boycott every Asian beauty supply store? We have experienced being followed around, over charged, and insulted in these stores, yet we still go back. We are still funding these businesses.

We’re also still using Uber, drinking Pepsi, and wearing extremely expensive name brand clothing lines that do absolutely nothing for our community, even after some of them have made outright racist statements, yet, they are given the benefit of the doubt.

However, we are not as forgiving when it comes to black owned businesses. We expect perfection when we don’t expect the same from non-BOBs. We will quickly say “This is why I don’t support black businesses now” after getting the same experience at a major chain. We will complain about customer service at BOBs while we run back to some of the same businesses we say suck i.e. McDonald’s and Walmart. We tend to be so unforgiving when it comes to our own people and sometimes, I feel like we perpetuate the same old rhetoric of black anything isn’t good enough. So when SheaMoisture released their official apology, they were damned if they did or didn’t. They’ve been trending for God knows how long because of today’s F-Up and of course, we weren’t as forgiving.

I really hope SheaMoisture can get God or Olivia Pope on the phone. I hope the brand will be able to recover and remember its core supporters who have the ability to make things popular before majority culture hops on the bandwagon. David Banner made a point in his Breakfast Club interview by saying we don’t have to go searching to be accepted when we drive culture. We don’t have to sacrifice our Blackness to be accepted by someone else’s beauty standards when we are the standard. It’s time we act like it.

Update: 

The CEO of SheaMoisture has released an apology as well. I’m fine with his apology knowing nothing the company releases will be good enough for the masses. They will definitely take a hit financially, but I also want to point out that on April 5th, SheaMoisture released an ad showing different black women of different shades and hair textures. I wonder why this went overlooked. Does this change your opinion?

5 Generations: Still Trying To Figure It All Out

Tonight I went out with my family for a few hours, just to get out of the house and embrace what is known as ADULTING. Sidebar: I’m definitely going to have to write about adulting as a millennial because whoo…Chile! It was interesting to just people watch while walking through the quarters. I hadn’t been in that part of town just to walk in a few years.
As we’re walking, I am paying attention to my surroundings because I like to people watch and let’s face it, this is New Orleans. Anybody can get it if you’re not careful. I notice everyone is on their phones, drinking, dancing and talking. Ironically, it’s a lot milder than it was during my college years. I started to wonder if it had anything to do with people being constantly watched. It was then I realized how grateful I was for social media not being that big of a deal just 6 to 10 years ago. It’s also amazing how drastically different our world has become in such a short time period. 

While I am glad it wasn’t around back then, I also see the hypocrisy we have towards millennials and generation z. It’s similar to baby-boomers telling us we’re entitled for wanting a job that pays well with upward mobility straight out of college. Previous generations, including some millennials, myself being guilty of it as well, judge the new generation for sharing so much online, especially their screw ups. We expect them to have it together and not do some of the very crazinesswe did in our youth. Children are literally growing up online and are not quite sure how to navigate through their mess ups. Sometimes it’s pretty ugly. Other times it’s just plain old being young and dumb. We’ve all been there.

Older and younger generations confuse a few snaps into someone’s life with a person’s reality, not taking into account that the person exists beyond the 10-60sec video they posted. We forget that our lives are complex, yet we only pay attention to the moments. In only knowing the moments, we lose sight of what’s really real. We expect perfection, and when mistakes happen, we write them off as end all be all’s and not as life learning lessons. 

Who has a guide to navigating through life perfectly? How has it worked? Why isn’t it a best seller next to the Bible? By the way, even scripture proves how God has called murderers, theives, prostitutes and adulterers to lead his people…so there’s that.

What would happen if instead of our best moments, we took our flaws, the most undesirable moments, and said, 

“This is me. I’m messed up too.”

These are the times I wonder if we contribute to cyber bullying and suicide by placing unrealistic expectations on people we ourselves are guilty of not meeting. As a millennial, I often have felt that we are not always ready to write people off so easily for making mistakes or choosing to not fit the status quo. The same way previous generations have been doing to us, eventhough we have managed to  a change the way our entire world operates with an app. We own our mistakes and keep moving.

Are we making sure the next generation behind us have an opportunity to do the same?

Are we allowing younger generations the opportunities to make youthful mistakes in order to learn from them?

As adults, are we allowing each other to make those same mistakes with room to grow?

Traditionalists, Baby-boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennials),and Gen Z (Post Millennials) are so different in their beliefs, yet all of us experience the process of learning through trial and error. If there were are road map based on perfection, we wouldn’t have needed failures to build character and become innovative. We can’t always expect from others what we barely can expect for ourselves.

Challenging, not judging, in love is necessary for growth. Sometimes, you’re just going to have to extend a little grace to see exactly what the seed could sprout into. 

You Snooze, You Lose

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On Friday, I held a conversation with an associate and she asked me a puzzling question, “Are you using the gift God has given you to your full potential?” Later that day, my aunt asked me, “Are you living out what you are called to do?” This morning I reflected on what it is that God wants me to do and in what capacity.

A year ago, I took a purpose class at my previous church. This class helped me recognize what I needed to do with my life more clearly. Since then, I have been on the path to purpose. To an extent, I believe I have been utilizing my spiritual gifts, yet I also believe that a lot of my talents are stuck at a stand still.

This brings me to The Parable of Talents. Matthew 25:14-30 tells the story of God giving us these gifts to utilize while we are here on Earth. We are shown in the passage that God blesses each of us with at least 1 talent. He expects us to not hold it and hide it, but to use that talent for His glory. God shows us how He can take our one talent and turn it into many; or if we don’t use the gifts we are given, He can give them to someone who knows what to do with them.

I do know that this year has been a roller coaster and I have many talents I have not been using. Talents that are definitely not worth losing.

Reflecting on the Kinks:

  • How am I using my gifts and talents daily?
  • Am I using my gifts for God’s greater glory?
  • In what capacity can I use the gifts I am not currently using to help others?