Friday, June 29, 2012

I'll Be Right Back!



I know that many of you have texted, emailed, Facebook message'd me and Tweeted me to demand an explanation for my lack of blogging lately. I miss you, too!! However, I am DEEPLY INSPIRED by the two stories I am currently writing. (That's right: TWO stories. It's the first time in my entire career that I've managed to pen two books at once.)

So, I must take a mini-vacation from blogging to bring you the stories you so anxiously wait for. Please be patient, and know that I will be back with my opinionated commentary VERY SOON.

Love you for reading!!!

Tracy Brown

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reversal of Fortune




Does it really take $20,000 a month to raise a preschool child? If so, I owe my children an apology, since I raised them on a very small portion of that. Seems everywhere I look these days - well... in every bit of celebrity news I read - there's some ex-wife/ex-husband (or baby mama/baby daddy) collecting these huge amounts of child support from their famous co-parents!

Diddy. Nas. Charlie Sheen. Russell Simmons. Britney Spears. They've all been leached off of by greedy men and women that they once loved enough to procreate with.

I'm not saying that having a child isn't costly. But just last week, Parenting Magazine released a figure that roughly estimates the cost of raising a child in America from infancy to adulthood at roughly $285,000. Many of the celebrities' co-parents are getting that full amount in just a matter of MONTHS!

Model Linda Evangelista asked a judge for $46,000 a month for her 5 year old. And now a judge has awarded male model Gabriel Aubry $20,000 a month to help support the daughter he had with Halle Berry.

This judge is a definite candidate for my Side-Eye of the Week distinction!

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that folks are using their dalliances with celebrities to earn themselves a "come up".

"Have a baby by me/Who the hell cares?/I'll write the check before the baby comes/Be a millionaire"

Rapper 50 Cent was only half-joking when he penned that line. After all, that's really all it takes anymore. If a man or woman wants to make a bunch of money in a little bit of time, they need only impregnate or get impregnated by the right celebrity and have their case heard before the right judge.

It makes me sad for the children. After all, how would you feel if you figured out that your parent who was an "unknown" suddenly became famous for being your parent AND got a huge windfall to go along with it. Something tells me that the side-eye baby Nahla is going to give her dad, is worse than any I could ever issue him! I'm certain that Kelis' son will raise an eyebrow when he looks at the fact that his mother hasn't bothered to make a song since receiving her windfall. I'll bet the farm that Kevin Federline's sons eventually figure out that the only way in which he has increased his net worth over the past five years has been in the role of their father.

Still, one has to wonder what in the world is on the minds of the judges who think this type of thing is okay. It's almost like they're playing Robin Hood in their quest to "rob" from the rich and give to the poor.

This reversal of fortune scares me. Thank GOD my "kids" are grown up now! Before I snag my movie deal, I intend to make certain that there is never an opportunity for anyone to try and make a come-up off of me!

*Ties tubes, clogs 'em, burns 'em, and tightens chastity belt*


 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Top of the World!!!

On Friday night, along with millions of other viewers, I tuned into watch a man by the name of Nik Wallenda walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls - from the USA to Canada - something that had never been done before. My initial reaction to hearing about his plan was typical - I rolled my eyes, sucked my teeth and thought, "Here goes another David-Blaine-style attention seeking lunatic, trying to get famous off of something dumb." I spent the day in Manhattan, capping it off with a quick bite to eat (and a couple of martinis) at a sidewalk cafe in Chelsea. I did a little shopping and then headed home to relax on what was a beautiful Friday evening. I turned on the TV, which was still tuned to ABC because I'd watched my girl Robin Roberts on Good Morning America before leaving my house that morning. And there it was! This man was being interviewed about why he thought he could successfully cross the huge span of rushing water on a tightrope.

"I have the skill to do it," he explained. I rolled my eyes again and thought this cocky guy is gonna kill himself trying to get into the record books. But then he said something that made me pause.

"I put my faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I've worked hard to get ready for this day. So with the skills I have, and my savior Jesus Christ, I have faith that I can do it."

That literally froze me where I stood. Could this man have faith so strong - faith in his gift and faith in the Lord - that he could walk a tightrope that was merely inches wide across Niagara Falls??? I grabbed a snack, got cozy in my sons' room, and was riveted as he took his place on that tightrope.



I updated my Facebook status:

Ok. This man says that he is holding on to his faith in God, and his skill as an experienced tightrope walker and that he is going to make history. I'm watching. Are you?

The responses were varied. One "friend" replied "I'm watching." Another said, "Heck no! Hours of TV wasted on that mess!"

I watched as he slowly moved along that rope. I listened as the newscasters explained that the rope was 20 stories above the Falls, that the man's great grandfather had died attempting a similar feat. They explained that at the center of the mist-filled deluge of water visibility was low, the winds were high and the water would splash in his face like a fire hose at a distance; that he would have to keep his balance despite these obstacles; that for the first leg of his journey, he'd be walking in essence 'downhill', and that this was the most difficult part, according to Nik.


But then the newscasters cut to audio of Nik's own voice as he moved expertly across the rope and directly over the open mouth of the treacherous Falls.

"Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord. Praise You, Jesus."

I turned the volume up and listened as he acknowledged the mercy and protection of God every step of the way. In a world where praying in schools is prohibited, praying at work is frowned upon, and praying PERIOD draws stares and looks of disapproval, here this man was doing it for all the world to see at a sensational moment in history!

"Oh my gosh, it's an unbelievable view," he gushed. "This is truly breathtaking."

The man was literally on top of the world! I held my own breath as I watched him, now in the center of the rope. The crowd cheered him on. His father spoke words of encouragement to him via the earpiece he was wearing. Nik kept right on praising God.

"Praise You, Father God. Praise You, Jesus.

I found myself praising God right along with him! My sons gave me the side-eye.

"Ma...you alright?" my 16-year-old asked.
I nodded. "Yes! I explained. He is doing this with God's help! Jesus is walking alongside him."

My oldest son ignored me and kept watching the developments.

"What do you mean?" my 16-year-old pressed.

That was my chance!

"The devil is MAD right now!" I proclaimed. "This man is exercising his faith on live television. The Bible says "Pray without ceasing". He is boldly asking God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to walk with him, and help him succeed and he is DOING IT!" I could barely contain my enthusiasm. "The Bible says that we can have anything we ask for in faith and in Christ's name. He is glorifying God with his gift to walk the tightrope. He is pissing the devil off by showing how powerful God is, how we can do anything when we exercise our faith."


I checked Facebook again. A friend wrote:

"[[ THANK YOU JESUS ]] I'm cracking up listening to my Brother walk across Niagara Falls. I'm sure the television networks had no idea he would be praising God all the way across!!!"

[In fact, I noticed in the news coverage after the broadcast, Nik's prayers were censored out. No mention of the praying was reported at all on most news websites, blogs and newspapers. *side-eye at the media*]

But it didn't matter what the media's reaction was. The live broadcast of this man exercising his faith reached millions of viewers! For once, Live TV worked against satan and not in his favor. Nik reached the center of the rope, and the wind and misty conditions, the darkness - it was all visible even on TV. You could literally see that he was walking through the 'storm', still praying with every step he took.

As Nik Wallenda neared the end of his rough journey, he took a knee, pumped his fist at the crowd and I cheered from my home in Staten Island, NY, as if he could hear me, too, encouraging him to keep going.

Finally, after what felt like forever, Nik scurried the rest of the way across the wire, into the record books and into the hearts of many (myself included). I wasn't mostly impressed by his tightrope skill, but by his faith, his fearless determination to give honor to God for what many would have selfishly taken credit for.

It made me reflect on my own life - on the "balancing acts" we all must embark on; the storms we all must weather in life; the goals we set for ourselves and fear that we won't be successful.


“I think that’s what life is about.  We all go through challenges. But once we get through them, we look back and say look how much our lives have changed by going through that challenge,” Wallenda said.  “If you can focus on the other side, when you look back it makes it that much easier.”


Food for thought, right?


"I hope what I do and what I just did inspires people around the world to reach for the skies," he said.

He told reporters that he wanted people to chase their dreams, even when people tell you that you can't do it, even when the odds were stacked against you. He spoke of the newscasters, and weathermen who had lamented that the winds were heavier than usual, that the mist was blinding. He had pressed on anyway. He had placed his fate in God's hands and trusted Him. And Nik emerged triumphant!

Whether this guy fades into the background or becomes a "celebrity" as a result of his walk last Friday, his journey has inspired me. When we use our God-given gifts coupled with our unshakable faith, God will make all of our wildest dreams come true. If we ask for His help while we're weathering our storms and trying to stay on track, He will answer our prayers and walk with us as we go through darkness, troubles and treacherous conditions. He is literally our bridge over troubled waters.

Some may not have seen the situation as 'that deep'. But for me, it was a moment of confirmation that if we walk by faith and not by sight, anything is possible!

Friday, June 15, 2012

*Side-Eye* of the Week



1. Side-Eye

A facial expression expressing one's criticism, disapproval, animosity, or scorn of varying levels of intensity towards another person. Defined by one person looking at the other out of the corner of their eye(s) with a scowl, as their head is turned in a different direction. Synonymous expression: "cuttin' your eyes" (at someone).
Now that you know the meaning of the "side-eye" (which First Lady Michelle Obama is demonstrating EXPERTLY, I might add), get ready for my weekly blog-post "Side-eye of the week". Each Friday I will highlight a person or situation that takes the crown for the most side-eye-worthy foolishness of the week.

This week, there was a lot of competition. From Oprah's decision to interview the wretched fame-obsessed Kardashian clan, to the Basketball Wives Reunion (did they really try to make us believe that there was any kind of reconciliation between those women??). It seemed everywhere I looked this week, I was issuing side-eyes! But then the week ended with one incident that I found worthy of a distinguished honor:
So, let me give you the short version. Chris Brown and Drake were in the same NYC nightclub the other night. Both stars have (AHEM) "dated" the singer Rihanna.


So, Chris Brown and his entourage held court on one side of the club, while Drake and his boys were on the opposite side. In an act of goodwill - or perhaps antagonism - Chris sent a bottle of liquor over to Drake's table. Drake, perhaps realizing that this was a passive-aggressive gesture - decided to respond by sending a bottle to Chris's table in return, along with a note that read, "I'm still f*cking the love of your life. Deal with it."

What happened next can only be described as utter melee!!


                          

Chris's bodyguard suffered a terrible gash to the head. Chris, himself, was injured with a cut to the chin. An innocent clubgoer (who will no doubt sue the pants off of both stars and the club as well) received stitches. The venue was completely trashed.


Chris Brown, already on probation for infamously beating his ex-girlfriend Rihanna (yes, the SAME Rihanna over whom this fight took place), is once again in the crosshairs of law enforcement. Drake, who has - until now - managed to distinguish himself as a kinder, gentler rap star, is now among the ranks of the stereotypical HipHop celebrities who are constantly arrested, sought for questioning or, worse, actually serving jail time.

Meanwhile, Rihanna has solidified her reputation as the baddest chick in the game. After all, Beyonce is hot, but no one ever got scalped during a fight over her. Twitter and Facebook lit up with status updates musing, "Rihanna's p*$$y must be SUNSHINE!"  and "That chick must got a pu$$y made of pure gold!!!!"

Side-Eye, INDEED!


Maybe it's the "mom" in me that sees this as a terrible PR situation for all involved. Chris is already considered the angriest black man alive! He beat Rihanna, then trashed the Good Morning America studios and now this! Drake was HipHop's Golden Boy - proof that not every rapper was a thug or a gangsta. True, he's still not a thug or a gangsta. But try telling that to those who view the art form as a breeding ground for the future felons of America.

But worst of all, in my opinion, is the effect that this has on 1) Rihanna's already sullied reputation and 2) the young girls who look up to her.

Bad enough that the singer's nude photos were 'leaked', that she has had a revolving door of A-listers (from the two fools involved in this altercation to Matt Kemp and even Ashton Kutcher), and that she makes no apologies for her, at times, extreme sexuality. Bad enough that she seems intent on reconciling (as friends at the very least) with Chris Brown who beat her so brutally that she had him arrested and he is still on probation for the next five years.



But WORSE is the fact that the young ladies who view her as a role model have surely been taking notes. And what have they learned?

  1. If a man beats the $#!& out of you, press charges, stay mad for a little while, but then it's okay to be cool with him again.
  2. Sleeping around without discretion is not only okay, it's downright SEXY!
  3. If you execute #s 1&2 properly, soon you'll have men literally fighting over you and then you'll REALLY be a hot commodity!
So, on behalf of impressionable young girls and boys around the world, the Side-Eye of the Week goes to Chris Brown, Drake and Rihanna for their continued fuckery. Three megawatt superstars who have the world at their feet have opted to use their fame and fortune to act like complete savages for all the world to see. They are proof that success and money aren't enough for some people. They are in positions that many aspiring artists would kill to be in, and they're using that platform for foolishness. As Lorenzo from "A Bronx Tale" said in one of my favorite quotes, "The saddest thing in the world is wasted talent!"

SMH


Photos courtesy of Bossip and TMZ

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hi, Haters!



We all know them. They're often referred to as "haters", "naysayers", "the Peanut Gallery", or "crabs in a barrel". They''re the ones who are stuck at the bottom of life's totem pole, and because they have remained stagnant, they want you to do the same. Anytime you try to elevate yourself or move forward they are the ones saying,

"Who does (s)he think (s)he is?!?"

or

"That ain't gonna work."

They sit around and shake their heads as you make moves. They suck their teeth at the very mention of your forward progression. They laugh at your dreams and your plans for the future. If you stumble along the way, it makes them joyous. They gather in groups and talk about you. They pray for your downfall. When you do achieve success, they watch from the sidelines with their fingers crossed that you'll fall flat on your face. And they love to accuse you of "forgetting where you came from". They feel it's their job to remind you of who and what you once were, and they do so every chance they get.

It used to bother me that these people existed. I thought they were a waste of oxygen and a detriment to society. A few of these types came to me for "help" when what they really wanted was for me to do all the work to place them in the coveted position that they saw me in. They wanted all the things I had earned. The only difference is that they weren't willing to put in the work to get there. They wanted me to do it for them. When I refused, they turned on me and used all the energy they should have used for their upward mobility to tear me down instead.

"I opened the door for them/What else can I do?/These #!&&%$ want me to WALK for them..." ~ Jay Z "Already Home"

It's not enough to offer them a helping hand so that they can take the spot right beside you. What they really want is YOUR spot. They don't want to be LIKE you. They want to BE you. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then haters must be the equivalent of crazed stalker fans like the chick in "Single White Female"!

Recently, I've stopped seeing these people as enemies. Instead, I view them as proof of my progress. Someone once told me that when you have no "haters", you're not doing anything worthwhile. Anyone who is making moves will attract jealousy from those who haven't had the courage to make any moves of their own. Thinking of it that way has allowed me to see the "haters" as victims. They are plagued by a disease that won't allow them to applaud someone else's progress because they lack the conviction to do anything of substance themselves.



I've come to realize that your success can make other people feel badly about their own station in life. Seeing you soar to such glorious heights makes them feel inferior. It's not you they're mad at. They're really angry with themselves. And if you set a goal and achieve it, it only hightlights their own lack of effort. It's easier for them to sit around and talk about you and how you "think you're all of that" than it is for them to be brave and try something new for themselves.

You buy a new car, and they get mad at themselves for not having the money to do the same. You buy a new house and they get angry that their credit score isn't high enough to get one of their own. You get married and they are reminded that they can't find a good spouse. You get a good job, and they wish they had the motivation to get up, get out and get something. You go on vacation and they get pissed that they haven't saved enough money to travel, too. They dislike you because you represent all of the things that they wish they could be. But instead of doing something about it, instead of changing their behavior for the better, they spend their time and energy wishing you ill will. In truth, they do not dislike you at all. In fact, they wish they could be more like you. Their negativity towards you is misplaced bitterness about their own lack of progression.


I've learned to make my "haters" my motivators. I doubt that I'll ever truly understand the logic behind the "hater mentality". But, at least I've found a way to coexist with them. I see them on the sidelines scowling and rolling their eyes and I wave to 'em, flash them my winning smile, and continue my race to the finish line. 



After all, we're not the ones they're really mad at.


Wave "Hi" to your haters today. Who knows? You could inspire them to get off the sidelines and join the race!




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BELIEVE!!

Have you ever heard a song and found yourself INSTANTLY transported back in time? That's exactly what happened to me today when I heard an "oldie but goodie". I was doing some work while listening to some old music that I love and "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly came on. From the very first chords of the song, I was sucked into a time machine and found myself back in 1996...

I was back in the living room of my old apartment in Park Hill. I was in my twenties, had a newborn, a five year old and a seven year old, and I was unemployed. My marriage had ended and NOTHING about my life had gone as planned. You know how in our early childhood and our teens we sit down and map out what life will be like for us - where we'll live, what we'll drive, our careers and all those things? Well, NOTHING had gone as I had envisioned it. I had become a teen mother, which meant that my dreams of being the female Johnny Cochran were dashed. I had married my high school sweetheart and thought that I had found my Mr. Right, but he turned out to be my Mr. Wrong. I had never imagined myself as a single parent to three children, and yet there I was - living in a bad neighborhood, struggling to make ends meet, holding down a job that was beneath me, just trying to keep food on my table and our heads above water. I felt abandoned, frustrated, and I thought I was doomed to be a failure. I knew that I was smart, that I had a great personality, a vivid imagination and a way with words. But it seemed that none of those attributes would be put to any good use since I was stuck living a life that had no light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like giving up.

"...See, I was on the verge of breaking down. Sometimes silence can seem so loud."

Although I had friends, family, and even a church family, it seemed that folks were more content to talk about me than to actually offer me a shoulder to lean on. My relationship had not ended quietly, and there was a lot of fodder for the gossipers. Even at church, my daughter's Sunday school teacher had pulled her to the side and interrogated her about the state of my marriage! It seemed that everywhere I turned, I was either hearing muted whispers, the dreaded "I told you so"s or worse - the pity parties and sympathetic "I feel so sorry for you"s.  (I really HATE having anyone feel sorry for me. It's one of those things that sincerely disturbs me!) I was broke, single, bitter, weary, worn and SAD.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that this was not the life I was supposed to be living. I knew that I had untapped potential just beneath the surface and yet it seemed like my life was destined to go in a terribly different direction. Still, there was a persistent voice in my head telling me to be patient, reminding me that it wasn't over yet, that there was more to come, that I must not quit.

"...There are miracles in life I must achieve. But first I know it starts inside of me."

The timing of that song's release seemed divinely inspired. This was exactly what I needed to pull me out of the funk I was in, to give me hope that things would get better. (As the years wore on, there would be other songs that seemed to be heaven-sent-special-delivery-just-for-me. "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige is another example that comes to mind). It was as if God sent me a "message in a bottle" disguised as a song that would lift my spirits, give me courage, and push me toward my destiny. Indeed, the words to R. Kelly's song became my mantra and I began to sincerely believe that I could "fly" - that there was no obstacle I couldn't overcome; that indeed there was a light at the end of my tunnel and that my future might be brighter than I could even imagine!

"...If I just BELIEVE IT, there's nothing to it."

That was the first major step in my metamorphosis. I began to BELIEVE in myself. I began to BELIEVE that I was not alone, that God had my life in the palm of His hands and would not let me fall. I began to BELIEVE that the gifts I had, my talents and abilities would not be wasted. And I began to BELIEVE that everything was going to be all right.

I'm not sure why I decided to blog about this today. Maybe somebody reading this needs to hear this message. Maybe someone is at a point in their life when they feel unfulfilled, or beaten down. I'm offering my own experience as proof that if you believe in yourself and trust that God will see you through, anything is possible.

I smiled as the song came to an end with the choir singing the hook. In my mind, I was smiling at my 20-something self, knowing that I surpassed all of my wildest expectations. Hearing that song today it felt as if God was nudging me and smiling and saying, "See? Didn't I tell you?" I look back now and I see how far I've come:
  1. My children have grown into wonderful young adults. They look back on their childhood fondly, and that is all that any parent can truly ask for.
  2. Not only did I manage to move out of my old neighborhood, but I've been blessed to travel to places I never thought I'd go. My passport stamps are proof of my adventures, and my friends around the country are evidence of the journeys I've embarked on over the years.
  3. Being single gave me the chance to get to know myself, to enjoy spending time by myself, to learn all sorts of things about myself that I may have never gotten to know had I remained in a relationship that was never destined for me.
  4. I've managed to not only find a job that pays the bills, but to embark on a career that allows me to get paid for doing the thing I love the most - writing! I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be an author with fans around the globe.
  5. Every experience in my life - whether negative or positive - has given me a profound lesson, and has ensured that I will never run out of stories to tell. :)

Sometimes when we're in the midst of our "shit", we don't know why it's happening to US. We can't comprehend why the Universe has allowed such setbacks to occur in our lives. I certainly had no idea why I was faced with one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another in my youth. But my journey is proof that someday it'll all make sense.

So BELIEVE that you can fly. And I promise you, you WILL.

*Presses 'Rewind' to play the song again*


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dream BIG!

As I prepare to celebrate my birthday tomorrow, I find myself reflecting on the past year to see how far I've come. One of the things I often say is that we should all be trying to outdo ourselves and not trying to outdo other people. Instead of trying to get a car that's better than our neighbor's, a job that's better than our siblings' jobs, a man that's better than our girlfriend's man, we should be competing against our own track record. Rather than trying to compete with our peers, the real competition should be within.

"Looking in the mirror, I can see the real contender." ~ Rick Ross

Each year, I try to bypass my position from the prior year. I look back at where I was financially, spiritually, mentally, even physically and try to do better than that. I am my own fiercest competitor. It's not about rising to meet the bar that someone else has set in their life. It's about me rising to my own highest level, beating my own records, surpassing my own milestones. The word "settle" is not in my vocabulary. I refuse to live a mediocre life. We only get one shot at it. I intend to make mine tremendously significant.

As I prepare to spend tomorrow in gratitude for another year of this wonderful thing called life, I am excited about what lies ahead. I think I've done pretty well in my life so far. There are things I've achieved that my younger self never thought possible. There are accomplishments I've made which, in turn, have served as inspiration for my children and their friends and even for my own peers and elders. I am living proof that anything is possible with God on your side. And I am a living, breathing example of my favorite mantra - DREAM BIG! I have seen some dreams come true, and seen others deferred. But I am not done dreaming yet. There is still so much more ahead, bigger and better things to achieve, places to go, and heights to reach. I am just getting started.



Happy birthday to me! :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Class is in Session!

One of my favorite quotes is "Actions speak louder than words." Don't get me wrong... I'm a writer, so I recognize the power in the spoken and written word. But, so many people 'talk a good one', that I find myself looking past what people say and, instead, watching what they do.

I also pride myself on learning something new each day. It could be something as simple as a new word or as complex as a new spreadsheet trick in Microsoft Excel. But each day I try to open myself up to a new lesson. After all, isn't that what life is all about - growing, learning, evolving?

These two principles came colliding full force in my life recently.

While dealing with one negative situation after another with one person after another, I found myself feeling very weary, incredibly disappointed and supremely frustrated. I was beginning to feel like "running away" from it all, ostracizing myself in a cocoon of seclusion to shield myself from all the unnecessary melodrama and nonsense. This happens to me over and over and over again. I isolate myself from people and situations that drain my energy. I withdraw until it seems that the coast is clear. Then I reemerge, and at first it seems cool. But soon I'm faced with the same crap that I ran from in the first place.

This weekend, while complaining to a wise friend about recent developments with people who were close to me, I had an "AHA!" moment that would make Oprah proud! Her advice was very simple, very straightforward. But it was the best advice I've gotten in a very long time. She told me two things that struck a chord with me:

  1. "You are treating people like true friends when they are true acquaintances."
  2. "You have got to TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU."
Priceless! I felt like a huge light bulb lit up over my head when she said these things to me. It sounded so basic, so obvious, and yet it was the most profound sentiment that I've heard in ages! And it brought the two principles I spoke of earlier into clear focus for me.

Since I pride myself on learning something new every day, this situation most definitely qualified as a life lesson. Let me be clear, I "knew" that not every one is worthy of being called a "FRIEND". I "knew" that in the back of my mind. And yet, there I was carrying on with folks who had yet to prove themselves worthy. I had let my hair down, so-to-speak, with people who were not prepared to go the distance with me as a true friend. I had allowed my space, my thoughts, my energy to be cluttered with those who had no business having a front seat in my life. I "knew" that some folks are there for a reason, some for a season, some for a lifetime. But although I claimed to "know" these things, the lesson had clearly not taken root in my mind. For there I was, complaining about "friends" who were really never my friends in the first place. *MESSAGE!*

Actions speak louder than words. I had been talking, talking, talking. I talked about how fed up I was with the nonsense. I talked about what I would do differently going forward. I talked about and complained about the way that people were acting towards me. But my friend said to me, "Too bad, so sad! If you want to change the way things are, then you have to teach people how to treat you." She was absolutely right. I know that at my core I am a good person with good intentions. I like the person that I am. In fact, if I was somebody else I would want me for a friend! I'm the type to examine my actions in a situation to see if I could have done anything differently. And when I examined myself in the course of recent developments with acquaintances, I could see where I had gone wrong. When I found an error in my judgment, I apologized and resolved to do better. When I found that I had been inconsiderate, I acknowledged that. But these same people weren't apologizing to me when I felt slighted. These same people weren't examining themselves objectively the way that I was. I felt fed up, angry, and most of all hurt by the bull$#!& being tossed my way by people I cared about. So my dear friend's words echoed in my head long after she and I parted ways.



I was talking a good one. But I wasn't acting on it. I was verbalizing what was bothering me, but I wasn't doing anything about it. How many women complain about the man in their life, but they never take any steps to leave him? How many men complain about being taken for granted on their jobs, but they never make any demands for better treatment? I was guilty of the same thing. It was time to show and tell, time to teach people what is acceptable and what is not.

The lesson hit me so hard that I began acting immediately! I determined who were my actual friends and which ones are really just close acquaintances. I was actually surprised by how many folks I had absentmindedly dropped into my "friends bucket" when they hadn't even met the qualifications yet! I was confusing familiarity with friendship. Trust is earned, not given away for free. And it was time for me to reclassify some of the people who I had allowed into the VIP section of my life. Once I was done recategorizing, I found my "friends bucket" nearly empty and my "acquaintances bucket" overflowing. That was more like it! I began to establish what my boundaries would be with regard to these acquaintances, and I felt my power coming back, my shoulders squaring, my spine straightening. I was NOT going to be broken by a few misplaced folks. I simply had to reorganize, refocus and begin to teach folks how I expect to be treated.

An "AHA" moment for sure! Since actions speak louder than words, I would have to show them better than I could ever tell them. I turned my frown upside down, put on my big girl drawers and wiped the slate clean. Time to start anew, with friends and acquaintances properly categorized, my VIP section a lot less crowded, and my boundaries clearly set. And now I am ready to take on the world again.

Bring it on!  :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Sixth Sense

Earlier today, I spoke with a close friend on the telephone. The topic was a project that the two of us are working on together, and we were discussing the fact that certain aspects of the project are changing. My friend informed me that she "knew" that the new developments would occur. She had sensed it, and trusted her instincts. I marveled at how my friend always "knows" what's looming on the horizon. She always trusts her instincts and in my experience she has been right each time.

My friend chuckled when I asked her how she always senses things long before the $#it hits the fan, so to speak. She explained that she just has a gift for ascertaining people's true intentions, their hidden agendas, and their unspoken communication. After hanging up with her, I gave it some thought. If we all tuned in to our "sixth sense", trusted it, and acted accordingly, how much headache and heartache would we save ourselves.

I think back on the relationships I've been involved in - romantic relationships and friendships alike - and I see that most of the times, when a person shows me their true colors, I can point to some situation that foreshadowed it. There is always some red flag that let me know that there was danger ahead, warning me to proceed with caution. And yet, each time I dismissed that voice in my head telling me to "BEWARE"! I chalked it up to paranoia, or an overactive imagination. But, it was my gut instinct telling me that there was more to the story, more to the person, more to the situation, than what meets the eye.

The reason so many of us ignore our intuition is because we want to believe the best of other people. We don't want to think that someone or something we have given an audience to is unworthy of our time and energy. We don't want to believe that some folks are wolves in sheep's clothes or that the words some utter are insincere. But, the truth is not everyone is genuine, forthcoming or truthful. And everyone's intentions aren't pure. So The Creator has built within us a fool-proof system to weed out the snakes in the grass.

I resolve that from this day forth, I will trust my sixth sense. I will believe in my own powers of discernment, just as my good friend continuously does. She has inspired me to acknowledge, trust, and believe that voice in my head (well...at least one of the voices in my head)! LOL