I will not be humble or sit down.

hum•ble

  1. having or showing a modest or low estimate of ones own importance.

No ma’am. I happen to think I am very important. I think very highly of myself and I think you should too. I’m not perfect or above reproach. I am flawed in many ways but I most certainly don’t have a low estimate of my own importance. I think we need to change the way we view being humble. I think you should feel yourself, big yourself up and not be afraid to let the world know that YOU know that you are the shit. We all have good days and bad days but to be aware of and remain in gratitude for your own light and divinity…..that goes a long way. I believe in being proud and celebrating yourself fully, even when/if nobody else does.

  • My life doesn’t have any more or less value than another human being
  • Be kind to all humans I come into contact with
  • Understand that there is always something I can learn from someone
  • Being good at something doesn’t make me the sole authority on it
  • Use my gifts, skills, talents for good not to deceive or get ahead at the expense of others

These are the values I hold tight to. As long as I never lose sight of them I am perfectly comfortable telling the world how highly I think of myself, and I think you should be too.

 

“You are always a valuable worthwhile human being not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason”- Wayne Dyer

Seasoned.

This past Sunday morning I woke up feeling all the familiar nervous energy of show day. In the past few years I’ve shifted my focus from performing to teaching. Honestly, I think I’m a much better instructor than I am a dancer but that’s here nor there. In any case, it’s been a very long time since I’ve taken the stage to perform choreography that wasn’t my own and I was excited. As I started to prepare and get ready to go to the venue I felt like I was 12 years old again. I was brought back to that same exact feeling of packing up my little caboodle, going over routines in my head, triple checking my dance bag and feeling full of joy, knowing that soon I would get to be on one of places most comfortable to me, the stage. This feeling has been a part of my life at so many junctures. As a little girl trying to win a trophy, as a high school student looking for respect and admiration from her peers, as a college student with a new understanding about dance composition and as a young woman in Vegas paying the bills with show gigs.

The feeling was comforting in a way that I didn’t expect and I couldn’t help but to stop and observe that despite me feeling 12 years old inside, how much my life had changed on the outside. As I prepped my face for makeup I chuckled to myself that my routine now included age renewal eye cream. Lack of flexibility has always been my weakness so I’d always give myself extra time to stretch, now I went to an actual stretch studio where trained massage therapists release my fascia and guide me through assisted stretches. Wow. I never had to go on stage carrying any real baggage. On this show day however, I discovered my 11 year old daughter had reactivated a social media account that I made her delete and I was furious. I had to set that aside for the time being.

Damn. I felt 12 inside but on the outside I was dealing with age creams, stretch studios and mommy problems. For a split second I was like damn girl you old but before that thought could even settle in I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude for my mom and dad who paid for all of these dance classes throughout the years. For shuffling me around to this practice and that rehearsal, this recital and that competition. For showing up in the audience and making sure I was supported. Gratitude that I’ve found a warm and welcoming dance community in Austin. Gratitude that 33 years after I put on my first little tutu at daycare I’m still here. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to find and hold on to the thing that keeps my spirit young and joyful. I ain’t stopping anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Earl McGehee

Dear Entrepreneur

Trust:

That when your body says rest, it’s time to rest.

That you will feel energized and spring into action when the time is right, no outside motivation needed.

That you do not need to be in constant motion to be productive.

That if you’ve been doing the work, the opportunities will present themselves.

That things are aligning in your favor that you don’t yet know about.

That authenticity will always be in demand and there is no need to alter who you are or pander to trendiness.

That your idea may not be unique but the way you execute it will be. Don’t be afraid to do what’s already being done YOUR way.

That you aren’t seeing even a sliver of your peers failures or disappointments .

That your worth is intrinsic and isn’t dependent on how many people purchase your goods, services or art.

That some seeds won’t bear fruit for quite some time.  They are still growing.

That it’s ok to redefine what success looks like to you as you grow.

That you don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Don’t cling to a mistake because you spent a long time making it. It’s never too late to change course.

Motherhood

I was not one of those little girls who loved baby dolls. I didn’t have any younger siblings and my one attempt at “watching” my little cousin ended with him falling into the coin fountain at Marketplace Mall. I reluctantly became a Red Cross certified baby sitter at age 13 because my mom thought it made sense. I remember being worried because talking in that high pitched singsong voice people use with babies and kids didn’t come natural. When I decided to have a baby I wondered how a person like me who didn’t feel an urge to play peekaboo with infants in the grocery line and didn’t kneel down to get on eye level when speaking to toddlers would fare with motherhood. Fall in love, get married, have a baby, that’s what you’re supposed to do right? I was on the right track, or so I thought. My ego was lit up when my then husband told me he wanted a daughter who looked just like me. I now see that comment for what it really is but at the time it was fairy tale living.

We got married in June, I stopped taking birth control in December and got a positive pregnancy test in January. As I went through my pregnancy I became increasingly concerned that becoming a mother would mean saying goodbye to myself.  If I’m being honest I was having a baby because it was what I viewed as the next step in the trajectory of my life, not because I had an overwhelming urge to become a mother. I wondered if I could still be a good mother without motherhood taking over my whole being . My worst nightmare was becoming one of those mothers who couldn’t hold a conversation about anything not pertaining to kids and child rearing. I decided then that I would not become that mom.

Fast forward to present day and me chaperoning my 11 year old 6th grader on her field trip. I surprised her with the news that I was coming on the field trip and while I’ve been going on her field trips in 6th grade its different. It’s no longer cool. She protested and got all dramatic about me coming but once I was there I could tell she was happy her mama was there and I was glad to be present in that moment for her. As I look at her and realize that the days of chaperoning field trips are numbered and hoping that she looks back on this period of her life fondly, it hits me that maybe by loving and caring for her while continuing to make space and time for the things that make me feel like alive, she is learning what self care looks like. I hope she holds all the memories of birthday parties, summer camps, activities and trips but it’s more important to me that she recalls fondly the way we lived and interacted with each other on a day to day basis. I hope that the stability I strive so hard to create for her empowers her to be bold and take risks.

Motherhood is hard as shit and I haven’t even hit the teenage years yet. It can shine a light on your worst character flaws and force you to examine your behavior more closely. I was so worried about being a different version of myself when in reality I’m a better version. There is delicate balance of protecting her and at the same time allowing her the space to explore and make mistakes. Of passing on knowledge without projecting my perceptions of the world onto her. Of seeing her as my reflection and honoring the individual she is. I think it would be much harder to navigate all of this if I hadn’t made a commitment to continuing to work on myself in the midst of motherhood and it’s already quite hard as it is . I still feel like I’m failing a lot of the time and I still laugh to myself like damn you really don’t know WTF you’re doing do you? I still call my mom for parenting advice. Bottom line is the shit isn’t figured out. As a mother you really just are doing the best that you can every day.

 

 

Texturizer

This was one of those pivotal moments I thought only happened in books or movies. An exact moment in time where you can pinpoint when something changed, when you knew that you would never look at things the same way.  When I opened up that cabinet under the sink and saw boxes and boxes of S Curl texturizer my emotions went from my mouth hanging open in shock to hysterical laughter to tears . I knew then that I had been looking at things through the wrong lens and while it was initially jarring, this experience provided me with a teachable moment that has served me well as I moved forward through life. Let me walk it back…..

A few weeks earlier I had received a phone call from an unknown number that had called several times  in a row before I finally picked up. An unfamiliar voice informed me that my husband was having an affair with a woman at his job,taking trips with her and bringing our 3-year-old daughter to her house. Apparently the woman calling worked there too and knew of me and felt it was her moral obligation to call me and let me know. I still think it was the woman he was seeing using a fake accent or one of her friends but I’ll never know and it really doesn’t matter. I’m skipping over a ton here but the end result was me filing for divorce. He had gotten his own “bachelor pad” and I was cleaning out any remnants that he left behind. Lucky for me the texturizer discovery came before the worst of the discoveries and believe me it got worse than a fake ass s-curl. We had had conversations in the past in which he proudly proclaimed that he had a “good grain” of hair and chuckled about it. His hair didn’t matter to me at all or have any factor in me deciding to marry him but it was something he was very proud of.

As I sat there in shock, surrounded by empty boxes of Duke and Lusters, in disbelief that this man had been lying about something so inconsequential as his hair texture it hit me that none of this was about me. Before the texturizer discovery I had been looking at this the whole situation through the lens of my ego. ” How could he do this to me? , How could this happen to me?, What did I do to deserve this?, How could not have seen this coming, Why didn’t I ever check under his side of the sink before?” In that moment, I realized just how many prior red flags I had ignored and realized that this was who he’d always been. It was never about me. This whole thing really had nothing to do with me.  That’s when the uncontrollable laughter began. I was struck by the hilarity of it all…. there was no way I was gonna let a dude who was secretly chemically altering his hair make me question myself anymore. Then the tears began because it wasn’t just about me. We had a daughter together and although things had come into focus for me, she was a little girl who loved her daddy and I was sad about the fact that everything was changing for her in ways she was too young to fully understand.

I threw out the empty boxes and got on with the planning of this new altered vision for my life with a new understanding. When subsequent discoveries came, much more troubling than texturizer, I was able to navigate with a clearer head. In no way am I saying that I never again felt pain, anger , sadness or even disbelief but I had stopped relating everything back to me. Honestly, I had little time to consider the why’s or how’s, and even less time to attend the pity party. I had a mortgage that was going unpaid, a daughter in private school, a divorce attorney charging billable hours and one income. The texturizer moment allowed me to separate myself from what was happening to me. I stopped taking things so personally and was able to move forward in a matter of fact way. I’d be lying if I said I never again took anything personally from that point forward but there was a major change in perspective from the time I sat surrounded by empty boxes of texturizer laughing and crying like a crazy person.

Holla at ya girl

I’m fully in favor of letting your girlfriend know that you have reservations about her relationship. I’m aware this may be an “unpopular opinion” so let me break it down. I have a few friends going through breakups and rough patches right now and another friend who is totally and completely in love and invested in a relationship that I have serious reservations about, which yes I have expressed to her. Thinking about these situations and reflecting on my own past relationships, particularly my marriage , which ended up causing me the most trauma led me to conclude that it shouldn’t be taboo to holla at ya girl if you feel a way, intuitively about her relationship. It’s a very slippery slope but I feel like it can be handled the right way. Now just to be clear I’m not advocating coming to your girl with information about her man. Nope, coming to her about what you “heard” is gossipy and sure to cause problems. I’m talking to her about how you feel.

Now you may be asking yourself “Why should I care about how my friend “feels” about my relationship?”  She’s not in it, it doesn’t concern her etc. But here’s the thing, You concern her. Now I don’t feel that you need to be weighing in on people’s stuff all willy nilly. There are some rules of engagement.

  1. The person must be a tier one friend. Your GIRL. Not a work buddy, not a chick you’ve went out with for drinks a few times, not an acquaintance but your tier one friend. You have history. See, I know that my tier one friends are always looking out for my best interest. The casual friend could be accused of hating or trying to stir up drama or discontent but I know that’s not even an option with my tier ones. I know that if they are sharing something with me it’s out of true concern for my well-being. Their methods aren’t always perfect but their intentions are not doubted.
  2. Delivery is important. Some of us are capable of being more delicate and diplomatic than others but if you want your concerns heard then deliver it in a compassionate way. This is about your friend, not about her man. The more you bring him up the more defensiveness is likely.  Keep the conversation centered around your friend.
  3. Say your piece and let it go. 9 times out of 10 no direct action will come out of your conversation. That doesn’t mean you get to keep having it. At the end of the day it’s not your life or your choice. By let it go I don’t just mean don’t bring it up again, I mean release whatever misgivings you had and work towards acceptance of the choice that your dear friend has made. After all you could be wrong and you have to be prepared to accept that down the line. Time will reveal and we have to let it run it’s course.                                                                                                                                     It was my own life lessons that led me to form this opinion. I was in a long-term relationship all 4 years of college and one of my tier one friends let me know how disappointed she was that I was planning to move to Las Vegas and questioned what that meant for my relationship. She was a supporter of the relationship and thought I was being selfish and throwing away an opportunity to build with a good man. She thought that moving out to Vegas and leaving this man behind was a big mistake and told me about it. At the time I was upset because it seemed as if she was more concerned with him than me. It was my life and I knew that if I stayed in Rochester I wouldn’t have the life that I envisioned for myself, and although they had developed a friendship she was my friend not his so why was she trippin? It created a tension for a spell but that was 15 years ago. This woman was a bridesmaid in my wedding to someone else 8 years after the fact and we communicate almost daily today.                                                                                                Ah, my wedding……. another instance in which a tier one friend , actually my best friend, made her voice heard. While we were engaged my then fiancée cheated on me. After convincing myself that this wasn’t his m.o and he had just made a mistake (spoiler alert: I was wrong) and going to a little counseling I decided to move forward with the wedding on the scheduled date. I told everyone that I had made a choice and I was moving forward. Everyone let me know I had their support. She was the only one that questioned me , that asked if I really wanted to do this and urged me to at least push the wedding back so I could really evaluate the situation thoroughly. I didn’t. We ended up divorcing after 5 years because he was having an affair.  Shocker.

In both cases my friends sharing their concerns didn’t result in me changing my mind. I moved forward with my own decided upon course of action because as a Taurus woman I’m about as headstrong and stubborn as they come . But I appreciate them for looking out for me. I’m grateful that I’m not surrounded by a bunch of yes people and that I have friends who have enough courage to share their feelings with me even when they know it’s not what I want to hear. The point isn’t really about whether your friend stays or leaves the relationship you may feel isn’t best for her it’s about feeling that you have the type of sista friends who can be transparent and not just laugh and joke and share in the good times but also have the harder conversations with you even if they aren’t sure how they’ll be received.

Err on the side of NO

Ahhh, November. Cooler temperatures, shorter days, foliage if you’re lucky and an increase in obligations. The end of the year is approaching and many of us feel the pull to reach goals, complete tasks and accomplish things we had on our to do list for 2018. We need to figure out travel plans for the holidays and start making arrangements. What’s on the menu? Who’s making the mac n cheese? Are we doing Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday? Speaking of Christmas, we need decorations, a tree, an outfit to wear to the holiday party, teacher gifts and we probably should meal prep because we know how fast these holiday pounds can creep up! It’s the season for giving so yes we’ll go to that charity function and sure we probably should get the kids together before folks leave for Thanksgiving and yes we’ll come out and support your art, music, market, class, event etc…..The list goes on and on if we let it.

My plan for this November is to err on the side of NO. NO-vember, cute right?!

Last month I found myself over booked, over scheduled and committed to projects that if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t that enthused about. As women we are natural care givers and it is entrenched in our socialization that we need to make life easier for other people so we err on the side of yes. It’s not that we don’t ever say no but if we can squeeze it in, if we know it would help someone else out, if we have nothing else planned at that very moment then by golly we’ll do it. I’m done with that shit. I read something in The book of SHE: Your heroines journey into the Heart of Feminine Power that really resonated with me.

“If it’s not a full body hell yes! Then its a no.”

When you establish a mind-body connection you can detect reactions in your body easily before your mind goes to work. Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, changes in breathing, clenching of the jaw, an inadvertent smile, a furrowed brow, feeling like a weight has been lifted off your chest. All of these are your body’s gut reactions. Derived from instinct and experience and made without thought. For me, this November, that’s how I’m going to make my choices. I’m going to err on the side of no unless my full body gives me a hell yes. I will master the art of the graceful decline. I will not agree to things based on what I feel I “should” do. I will not be afraid to disappoint. I will prioritize having space and time to just be and remind myself that allowing for that time enables me to be a better, more relaxed partner, mother, daughter, sister and friend. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy NO-vember!