Posted in Life

Sunday Soul: Staying in Your Lane

Summertime Chi, 2011

I can honestly say that I have always marched to the beat of my own drum.

I wore the shoes (Keds when everyone else was wearing the latest Jordans or Nike shoes) I wanted to wear. I listened to what I wanted to listen to. I dated how and who I wanted to date (even though I wasn’t technically allowed to). I was constantly trying what others never thought of. I was always doing what others never thought to do.

Because of how I was raised (daughter of a preacher with a ton of restrictions placed upon me), yes, I was ridiculed, but I avoided a lot of heartache, headache, and drama that others have gone through. It has also taught me to stay in my lane and not compare my life to others.

The urge to compare, the temptation, never fully goes away, at least, until you are able to accept your lot in life. Your peers, seem to be your greatest competition.

I would like to heavily disagree. Your peers, in fact, are not your greatest competition.

You are.

Comparing your life to that of your peers, will have you constantly feeling inadequate, like you will never measure up. I speak from experience. I’ve run in my lane, looking to the side, and almost crashing and burning  due to comparison.

Then I remember who I am.

The woman who has had rules rewritten, bended, or broken for her. The woman who has had positions created for her. The woman who has had her pick of positions in several organizations, and turned them down. The woman who has always done what made her happy.

I have had to remind myself my whole life that I’m not here to do what is already being done. I’m here to do what hasn’t. 

I occasionally look wistfully at pictures on social media, of other people’s houses, kids, careers/jobs, and want their life. But I really don’t want their life. I just want it because they have it and they make it look good. And that’s not a good enough reason to want it. In those very moments, I am reminded to stay in my lane. My time will come, if it’s meant to come. If not, something better [for me] will come. 

Know who you are. And whose you are. Know your lane, work it well, and own it, in a way that nobody else can. I can’t even begin to list the many opportunities that have come my way, tailor-made, just for me. And I know they are tailor-made, because not many can handle the pressure of being the first, of setting a precedent. Staying in my lane has brought me to places I never could have imagined, opportunities that were once in a lifetime. It has even enhanced my marriage beyond belief. I don’t say any of this to brag, I say this being aware of the awesome lane that I am in.

Be careful of what you covet, you don’t know the entire story and you never will. Run like a horse with blinders, completely oblivious to the progress being made by the other horses in the race. Have that tunnel vision that causes you to focus on your assignment and purpose  in life.

You have no idea how awesome life can be staying in your lane. Maybe it’s about time you find out.

Posted in Education, higher education, Life, Relationships

23/24 to Life

My husband was 24 when he met me. I was 24 when we got married.

You can’t tell me there’s not something special about 24. Something equally special about 23 as well.

Pay attention to life when you’re 23/24. If you’re older than that, think back to 23-24. What do you remember? Were you happy? If not, do you remember realizing what made you happy? Or were you at least on the way to realizing what made you happy?

23 was an amazing year for me.

At 23, I was definitely loving who I was, comfortable in my skin!

23 I was editor in chief of the school paper. I fell in love with New York on the morning after my 23rd birthday when I woke up in the room of an amazing hotel smack in the middle of Times Square. I fell in love deeper on a return trip that summer with my best friend.

Coney Island Summer 2009!

23 I did an amazing week of service in Terre Haute, IN with Alternative Spring Break as a Team Leader.

23 was funny, because I broke up with K. I later reunited with him and we moved closer to marriage.

23 was the year I took that life changing trip to Richmond, Va to visit a seminary (one I thought I would attend, but the timing wasn’t right). 23 was the year my views on religion and Christianity changed.

Plane ride from Virginia, after the seminary visit

23 was the year I bought my first car. 23 was also the year I realized communications was not for me, but I stuck with it anyways, since I was close to graduating.

23 was the year I realized that I loved helping people and wanted to make a career out of it. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d do it, but I knew I wanted to get paid to do what I loved.

24, however, was a different story.

23 was the year I was officially (OFFICIALLY) engaged. 24 was the year I would get married.

Me & K! Wedding day 7. 23. 2010

24 was the year of growing pains. They hurt like hell, but they were necessary.

24 made me.

25 did too, in many ways, but the decisions made in 24 have a big impact on what and who I am today.

24 was the year I officially left church, with no clear return date in mind.

24 was the year I realized I did what I had to do for income sake, and vowed to never do it again.

24 meant I would no longer make any apologies for who I was/am.

24, I abandoned me for we, not fully realizing that meant more sacrifice than I initially thought.

24, I saw a glimpse into my future. And I was okay with it.

24 I became a first generation college graduate. The misery that followed almost made me forget that.

24 I really learned who my real friends were, and who wasn’t.

 

23/24 is more life changing than you think.

If you’re paying attention to your intuition through it all, you end up on your path towards your calling. Something life changing may happen at 23/24. Keep your eyes open.

Don’t worry if 23/24 doesn’t bring you the stability/dream job/dream relationship that you thought it would. 23/24 is younger than you think. You have your entire life ahead of you.

The choices you make at those ages, have the potential to propel you towards a life you couldn’t have even imagined for yourself.

At 26, I can say that all that has happened to me in those two years, has set the stage for everything that is happening now, good and bad.

Take the time to study yourself. Discover what you like/don’t like. If you don’t know at those ages, those are good years to find out. If you’re past those ages, you most likely know what you like, and most likely, 23-24 either reminded you of that, or you may have been introduced to it by then.

Posted in Life

Signs of Blackness-

I was appalled to see one of my followers on twitter saying that someone challenged her blackness because of her music choices.

Seriously?

Seriously?

I wish that in 2012, we weren’t still discussing how ‘black’ someone is or isn’t, based on the music they listen to. The movies they have (or haven’t seen). How light or dark their skin is. How they wear their hair. And the list goes on.

I remember in college, at my PWI alma mater, I thought I had to join the Black Student Union on campus, to meet other blacks, because I was black.

Until I realized that I really had no interest in being apart of BSU. And that there was no shame in not being apart of it. So I quit. And felt immediately better afterwards.

I realized that, yes, I am a black woman, but I’m Deidre first and foremost. I like what I like. I do what I do. Don’t ever owe anyone an explanation or apology for that.

I like hip hop and r & b. I also like country, rock, pop, folk, jazz music too. Yes I love Anita Baker. But I also love John Mayer. (The music, not so much the man behind it).

I’ve seen Friday. And Next Friday. And Friday After Next. But I’ve never seen The Color Purple. Nor have I seen Roots (too long). Now what?

I’ve never had chitlins. Never wanted em either. I don’t like watermelon.

These experiences or lack thereof, don’t make me black. The color of my skin, however, does.

I’m quite aware of my skin color, especially when I’m out and about. When I’m at work. I’m aware that I’m a black woman, a double minority. I’m aware of how I must work harder, than my counterparts who aren’t black and/or a woman. I’m aware of my blackness when I am followed in a retail store after telling the associate that I don’t need any assistance. I’m certainly aware of my blackness when someone looks at me, expecting me to fly off the handle and catch an attitude when something goes wrong. You know, because we’re all angry black women waiting to go off on anybody at any given moment when something goes wrong.

I don’t really understand why, as black people, we place each other in boxes. Especially considering, when those outside of our race, do the very same things to us that we hate.

Truth be told, I don’t like anyone placing me in a box. I am young, gifted and black. I am black and I am awesome. I am me.

I like what I like. I talk how I talk (and don’t ever tell me I talk ‘white’…you can’t talk a color). I do what I do. I wear my hair natural because that’s what I prefer.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the color of my skin.

Posted in Faith, Life, Religion

Hymns & finding my way back ‘home’

A hymn is the driving force behind me wanting to go back ‘home’. Home being, church. The black church. The BAPTIST church at that.

I listen to Candice Benbow’s Divine Dialogue radio show that airs every Thursday on blogtalk radio. Her show is an awesome dialogue of faith, politics and other issues in the black community. Anyways, she has ended each and every episode with a hymn. The most recent episode featured this song, Near The Cross by Mississippi Mass Choir.

All the memories came rushing back. I was just in a euphoric moment of humility and nostalgia. Reminding me of trips down south, my daddy driving late at night while my sisters and I slept in the backseat of the car. I’d often wake up to find my daddy listening to his Mississippi Mass Choir cassette tapes.

My father, a non denominational pastor, grew up in a black baptist church in Mississippi. To this day, the majority of his family still attends baptist churches.
Anyways, he was still particularly fond of Mississippi Mass Choir, while my mother preferred more modern/contemporary gospel music. As a result, we heard a lot of the older gospel music frequently riding in the car with my dad. I loved Goin up Yonder (Walter Hawkins) but beyond that? I preferred the 90s gospel.

At any rate, I’ve been on ‘hiatus’ from church since I’ve been married. Marriage actually had very little to do with my dissatisfaction with church in general, I just needed a break. Needed to discover and find God for myself. And no, I couldn’t do it in church not when they were too busy trying to box God in.

So I left. Decided I’d be back eventually. I took a hiatus from gospel music but hymns and older gospel music always seem to be the exception.

The older I get, the more I prefer my original baptist roots and its’ traditions. All I knew growing up was my small, non-denominational church. Not knocking it, but it seems that so much of our heritage, our tradition was lost when we left our former denomination. Not that I longed for that particular denomination, but I wanted something solid to pass down to my future kids. Theologically? I’m at odds with the baptist church in general, but the hymns of the black church as a whole? Those are what I want to pass down.

Hymns, no matter what I’m doing, make me stop in my tracks, and appreciate the moment. Make me solemnly bow my head to a God much greater than anything I’m in. Hymns, in their most traditional form, come from a honest, genuine place of my ancestors, and remind me that I’m forever connected and indebted to them, even as I move forward.

In looking back and appreciating the hymns, they are continually helping me to find my way back home. I may even find myself sitting in someone’s sanctuary relatively soon, who knows.

I just know that hymns, remind me that every sinner with a past, has a future. That we’re never too new fangled, fancy, and too good for an old fashioned good foot stomping, hand clapping beat. These hymns are part of our heritage, our roots, reminding us to never forget how far God has brought us.

These hymns, are making me long for ‘home’.

Posted in Uncategorized

True Life: I have PCOS

God must have known, that I would need to write about this season in my life, and reawakened the love for writing just in time to get the news I got today.

“So have I ever talked to you about your PCOS?” My doctor said as she came in the room. She closed the door behind her and sat down in the chair next to me.

My suspicions had been confirmed. And it was a huge relief. Like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I listened as she explained (in plain english, I might add!) where my PCOS came from (diabetic history in my dad’s family), how we can treat it (depending on whether or not K & I want to conceive or wait), what I need to do in the meantime (exercise, lose weight).

PCOS is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Some women have little tiny ‘cysts’ (which are really immature follicles on their ovaries), some don’t. Most have insulin resistance (which I think I have), which means our body has a hard time processing sugar correctly and we tend to gain weight quicker, especially in our torso. It involves a hormonal imbalance, that messes with your menstrual cycle, which usually results in either lengthy periods, no period, or irregular periods.

There’s no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed through a healthy diet, exercise. Some doctors prescribe medication to regulate ovulation and correct a hormonal imbalance. Depends on if you want to conceive or not.

After a year of dealing with all my health issues, I’m just glad to finally have some answers. I walked out of the doctor’s office feeling like a weight had been lifted. A phone conversation with my husband had me feeling like I married the best man ever (then again, I did!). I wasn’t feeling sad or defeated or frustrated.

PCOS means I don’t always ovulate which means the chances of me conceiving drop a little. But I know that my dreams of being a mother being deferred don’t mean it’s denied. When it’s time to have kids, I’ll need to make sure that I’m healthy, that my PCOS symptoms are under control, and I’ll have to watch my health even more closely.

I wanted to share this news, in hopes of continuing to share my journey with having PCOS. Since the diabetes in my family comes from my father’s family, my mother doesn’t know what it’s like to deal with this. Until I came out and told people today, I had no clue that other women I know were dealing with this too.

I hope that I can share my journey, of managing PCOS and getting to a healthier me. It will be a challenge. I have to reduce my sugar intake drastically. I also have to watch my carbs and eat more foods with protein and fiber. But I know that it can be done. I hope that writing can be therapeutic, and also help other young women with PCOS know that they’re not alone and that it can be managed.

I’m ready to tackle this challenge and learn to live with PCOS. No panic over here. I can do this. And when I have my kids, I will look at them, healthy and happy, knowing that everything I do from here on out/everything I did, is not only for them, but myself too.

Posted in Faith, Life, Relationships

What is YOUR Calling/Purpose?

You have a call on your life“, they told me growing up.

Noooooooooo, I thought in my head, and often said it. I wanted no parts of ministry.

As the daughter of a pastor, I cringed whenever I heard those words. Because I thought that ‘having a call on your life’ meant stepping in a traditional church pulpit.

Now that I’m older, I know that everyone has a calling on their lives. Everyone has a purpose. And it doesn’t mean that you will ever step foot in a church pulpit.

If I had a dollar for every time someone pointed out that me and K had callings on our lives, we’d have a nice lil rainy day fund! ha!

Seriously though. I recognized from our first date that our ‘callings’ worked well together.

Many say that K is a ‘preacher’. Up until recently? I wanted no parts of that. Just like people say that I ‘preach’. It’s all about knowing your platform and who you’re called to reach.

Me and K are able to reach people who may never step foot in a church, or find themselves ‘on hiatus’ like we are. Social media is our platform, definitely. But also, we know that people cross our paths for a reason. We’re aware. And we don’t take it lightly.

I write. I write from the depths of my soul. I speak on twitter. I speak on Facebook. I speak through my blog. I pray that whatever words I speak/type/write, will reach who they’re supposed to reach.

I know that my calling, my purpose, is to encourage, empower, inspire, and inform. I don’t need a church pulpit to do that.

The world is my pulpit.

What is your calling? What is your purpose? What is it that you do that nobody else can do?

What is your platform that you’ve been given? Are you even aware of that platform? And if so, do you use it wisely?

I leave you with one of my favorite poems that really put things in perspective for me, this is what I seek to do with my words

So I guess I’m one of a kind in a full house
Cuz whenever I open my heart, my soul, or my mouth
A touch of God reigns out:

 

Posted in Life, Married Life, Relationships

A Place to Call Home

While folks my age are romping around the world, traveling to foreign countries, moving around to different cities, I’m longing for a place to call home.

Maybe it’s because I’m married, ready to start a family, switch careers, and open a new chapter in my life, feel a bit more settled.

I’ve felt antsy the last year in particular. Some of it could be attributed to my desire to find a career I like, if not love. Some of it could be attributed to wanting a family and not being willing to raise a family in my hometown. Either way? I’m not really trying to move around a lot, trying out new places, to see which one ‘fits.’ I’m ready to have a ‘home’ to come to every day after work. I’m ready to live in a city I’ll eagerly show off to my family. I’m ready for something long-lasting.

Marriage and a college degree were the first phase of my plan to settle down.

Now comes switching/finally launching a career, K finishing school, launching his career, and starting a family somewhere in there.

I’m spoiled and fortunate, I realize that. I lived in the same house from age 1 until 24, when I married my husband. Only attended three schools growing up, finished out all three. I attended college here in Cleveland as well, and K & I, we’ve lived in our current apartment for about 21 months of those 24 months we’ve been married thus far.

All I know is stability. And as an adult, having to work towards finding a place to call home isn’t easy, but I know we will find it!

I’m a planner, I can’t help but set goals and work towards reaching them. I think it’s the first-born/type A in me. I admit to staying up night after night, pouring over relocation data. I’ve fallen in love with two cities in particularly, throw a third in the mix and you’d be telling me to go to bed, not to fret over it, because we end up exactly where we’re meant to be. 

In the meantime? I’ll continue to excitedly stay up til 2am, researching the prospective cities on my list, planning visits, seeing if they’re a good fit for K & I.

 I long for a house, where we can put our own finishing touches on it. I am eager to bring kids into this happy family unit K & I have.

I’m realizing that in time, it’s something we will have. I’m trying to remind myself that anything worth having is worth fighting for. There’s no perfect city, but there will be a perfect place for us to call home, and I can’t wait to finally get there.

We’re almost there, we’re almost home. And I can’t wait.

Posted in Life

Woman, Black, and AWESOME-Celebrating Who We Are

Proud Awesome Black Woman in Harlem, Spring 2012

Every day it’s something new about the demise of black women and all the challenges we face.

They want to write about how much money black women make or don’t make. How we aren’t married. How we have kids out of wedlock. How educated we are and still can’t find a man. Our experiences in the workplace. And the list goes on.

But I didn’t wanna write about ANY of that. I’m black and proud. I’m a woman and awesome!

Let’s talk about how awesome being a black woman is. How beautiful we are. How intelligent we are. How strong and motivated we are.

We’re independent and resourceful. We know how to get things done. Just like the women of previous generations, we know how to stretch a dollar, recycle an outfit without anybody knowing, change a tire (or get in contact with someone who knows how to, haha). We know how to hustle and we hustle hard.

We’re adaptable. You can take us to the opera, to a barbecue, on a business trip, on a cruise. Some of us might not wanna get our hair wet, but that’s okay. We still know how to have fun!

We come from a long line of women who did what everyone else said and thought was impossible. From Harriet Tubman to Madame C. J. Walker. Shirley Chisolm, Ruby Dee, Hattie Daniels, Josephine Baker. Susan E. Taylor, Debbie Allen, Phyllis Wheatley. bell hooks. Alice Walker. Angela Davis. And the list goes on…

I don’t care how the media portrays us, I don’t care what new study or research they come out with, I love being a black woman, plain and simple. I love how fly I am, and how pop culture pays homage to us by mimicking our dances, admiring our natural hair. I love our beautiful, varying shades of brown skin and light/dark colored eyes. I love our diverse styles. I love our cooking. Nobody can throw down in the kitchen (especially when it comes to soul food) like a black woman can.

Ladies, we can no longer sit and complain about how the media is portraying us, how they’re fascinated with us, how they tend to highlight us more than any other race of our gender. Truth be told? We’re special. They’re curious about us.

Only WE can control the conversation, though. We have the power to uplift black women and I’m so happy we have magazines such as Essence and Upscale, who do so. We also have several black women who blog, write, are journalists, filmmakers, producers, music artists, rappers, and others who have platforms they use to speak on the black woman experience in a positive light.

Being a black woman is awesome, there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing else I’d rather be.

Posted in Faith, Life, Married Life, Relationships

Year two, looking back

At a relative’s wedding, Long Island, April 2012

As we gear up towards our second anniversary (TEN DAYS y’all, TEN!), I am in awe of the people that we’ve become, inside of marriage especially. We were practically kids when we began dating six years ago-I had just said goodbye to my teenage years, while K (dear husband) was entering his mid twenties. When we got married almost 2 years ago, I was just finishing college, entering my mid twenties, he was closing in on thirty.

We’ve been through SO much the last year especially. Losing his sister, and 3 other people who were near and dear to me, along with dealing with work-related stress (on my end) and health issues, wasn’t easy. We’ve definitely had our share of issues, together and separately, but we’ve made it through another year. Fortunately, we can say that the good has outweighed the bad.

I’ve learned SO much about my husband, and about myself as a wife too. As we continue on this marital journey, communication and honesty is everything for us. Even if it hurts, we’ve vowed to be honest with each other, for the sake of our marriage and individual health. It’s never good to hold onto anger, you’re better off releasing it. If you’re mad at your spouse? Tell them! Even if you think it’ll hurt, in the long run, it’s better for the marriage.

We’ve continued to remember what has gotten us through it all, God, and laughing together. Laughing together, is a great way to release stress. We’ve also branched out on our own a bit more in this second year-him playing flag football on Sundays (year round I might add lol) and me getting back to my love for writing and traveling. It feels great being able to remember what attracted us to each other-his ability to make me laugh, our shared love of sports, music and movies,  me supporting him in whatever he does. Our individual pursuits have brought us even closer together, and I’m thankful.

Marriage ISN’T rosy all the time, we’ve had our share of arguments, times we wondered if we were doing the right thing, times where we didn’t even wanna look or talk to each other. And then, we’d remember our vows, we’d remember the promises we made to each other, and to God. To love, cherish, for better and for worse, sickness and in health. Til death do us part.

Being married to him isn’t a cakewalk, but it’s easily the best thing I’ve ever done, no contest. Marriage, for us, means breakfast in bed, leaving love notes, playing hooky from work to sneak out-of-town for a day (shhhhh!), going to baseball games together. It means having a secret handshake that nobody else knows about but us, chasing each other down the apartment hallway like two little kids, trading music between our iPods. It means having someone to share life’s biggest moments with, good, bad, and in between.

Being married to my best friend, is EVERYTHING. And the things I learned in Year 2? I know I’ll apply them in year 3. I feel proud of the foundation we’re building in our marriage, and I can’t wait to bring kids into the picture. I’m proud of him, the man he’s becoming, the husband that he is to me, and the man he will be. He’s proud of me as a woman, as a wife, as his best friend. We’re proud of us, because we remember the tough times, when mistakes were made, where we said things that were hurtful, where we misunderstood each other, where we didn’t even know what we were doing. Tough times will continue to come, definitely, but we know that as long as we have each other, along with honesty, trust, communication, patience, and God? We can’t lose. We won’t lose.