Yes White Women, We’re Still Friends

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Photo courtesy of Dr. Jill Biden’s Twitter

We’re still friends. I still like many of them. I still love the ones that I’ve always loved. I still smile, answer my phone, reply to the text, show up to lunch, dinner, or coffee. Their birthdays are still on my phone, along with their kids. I haven’t erased any of our pictures together on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’m headed to lunch with one next week, just got in from dinner with another, and currently strategizing how to visit a few of them in the early spring when I g out west to visit my family. I may however just be a little miffed by them. Not all of them. Just the ones who have spent the past few days after the US elected it’s newest president in shock, anger, and deep grief. I’ve read the texts, answered the calls, exchanged the emails, seen the post on social media, sat next to them, yet, many of the White Women in my life have left me choosing confusion, sadness, and pity, over perhaps the well deserving anger and doubt about the authenticity of our friendship so easily deserved after recent political events.

One said “It’s so personal. This election of someone who has been so openly hateful about so many people with those identities I care for.” “I’m worried for my daughter,” another said. “I think we may need to wait on having kids, “said another. “We’ve got work to do. I am determined to do something.”  I nodded, knowing it was the shock. I also pondered if every time I told them about my experiences of discrimination that I knew had its roots in racism, sexism, and ageism they thought I was joking, exaggerating, using my way with words to create fanciful stories gingerly constructed by a vivid imagination. Did they think my melanin was a perfected version of Trump’s tan? Did they, like the White woman president at my former institution, think that when I said  half of the Black administrators left the small college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it was “a coincidence”, because we had nothing better to do after we all relocated, some as far as the west coast, only the year prior?  Did they imagine me to be a master manipulator or a pathological liar who’d charmed every counselor I had over the past 10 years into believing I just had situational depression and the occasional bout of anxiety that could be managed with the right support network and increased knowledge of coping skills?

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Photo courtesy of LA Snoot Tumbler.com

Maybe they thought my expectations too lofty, like one of my White Women friends out west. I told her that I didn’t think I could take a job that would move me closer to the west coast, because I just didn’t see enough people who looked like me in the area and some of the questions asked during my interview made me question their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She responded with what seemed more like thinly veiled disappointment and exasperation than understanding or empathy .“Well I think if that’s what you want then you’re going to need to move to the south or work at an HBCU.”  I’ve resisted calling her and telling her that if she wants a better circumstance for her children given our President elect that she may need to move to another country. 

My narrative, as to what it has meant and continues to mean for me to identify as a woman of color with a disability in the United States of America has not changed just because you started reading it and decided it was a work non fiction instead of fiction. My experiences are not new, more acute, or more, because you suddenly woke from the comfort of your White Woman in the United States of America coma and feel the sharp impact of what it means to live in a country you call home that is considering whether or not it will tolerate you or your children (especially your daughters), and what acts of violence it will inflict on you (systemically and institutionally) or rights it will strip or ignore should it find you intolerable. 

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Photo courtesy of Moi Sab.Tumblr.com 

But yes, we’re still friends. Despite our recent collision early Wednesday morning, that’s knocked us to the ground of our current political climate, we are still friends. I think your wounds may be deeper. With all of my brown-ness, woman-ness, and differently able bodied-ness, I saw the collision coming and began to slow down. But you, you did not see the political upset that has us sprawled on the mosaic tiles of our country’s floor of grief, anxiety, anger, and fear. As I tend to my wounds, many just old scars re opened, I will wait for you to fully regain consciousness, to fully awaken to the same United Sates of America I and many of those who share in my identities or other identities that have been under a delicately stitched tulle blanket of tolerance in this country, will wait for you to awaken. I will extend my hand to you and help you off the cold floor, and will walk the miles with you on your new journey,  in your new narrative, that are appropriate, until our paths diverge again. That, White Women, is what friends do. We see the hurt, we believe the hurt, we join in the hurt, we actively support the recovery as best we are able, and we journey on and let you do likewise, never to far to journey with, just acutely aware that our journeys are not the same. 

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Photo courtesy of Sandra Semburg

Decent Exposure

 

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NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 20: Beyonce and Jay-Z attend the New Jersey Nets vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

“How’s the love life,” she asked? Ordinarily I’d laugh, sneak in a witty retort, and laugh some more. Instead my response was “It’s not too bad actually. Not that I’m seeing anyone, ”  I shared. “OKay,” she responded, with slight confusion in her voice.

I went on to share with her that I’ve enjoyed getting to know a couple that models a healthy love for one another. I’ve spent time with them enough to learn about their stories as individuals, journey together before marriage,  and life post the I do’s at the altar. She moved to Seattle a few years ago for his schooling and they were now in Buffalo for hers. I’ve been there when there was a sudden  leak in the ceiling in the apartment the night before a camping vacation and they worked together to move things, put stuff in the wash, call maintenance, and just do what needed to be done to address the issue and still pack for their trip. No blaming, sighing, throwing things, just working together to figure it out.  I listened as she talked about how her spending used to impact their relationship and she knew she needed to change. Or how she was aware her desire turn struggle to perfect at work, school, and a spouse was resulting in not being the best in all of those areas- knowing she needed to prioritize her marriage.  I listened to him talk about rethinking his career and watched her listen openly and willingly and reaffirming his strengths.  I listen to him talk about his feelings using feeling words. Whether it was frustration, confusion, sadness, surprise, or joy. Her response wasn’t one that shut down the communication of feelings or shoved him into the corner of  just sharing thoughts or doing. There was no wrapping crime scene caution tape around feelings.

When you are privy to more bitter, resentful, “I tolerate you” marriages than not, this, witnessing this, regularly being around this couple, was working wonders on my love life. It was working wonders on my believing that despite the majority of unhealthy unions I’ve witnessed, there are some healthy ones out there. Emphasis on healthy. Not perfect, just healthy. Just real people, living with, learning from, loving one another. Just real people committed to being real with one another, being gracious and authentic.

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Photo courtesy of Elle Magazine.com

If we think that what we have been exposed to has no impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we fool only ourselves and sabotage our goals and dreams. It took years, but I’d finally gotten to a point where I wasn’t terrified that if I were to marry it would inevitably be a replica of the unions I’ve seen up close and very personal. I knew I didn’t want what those folks had.  I thought knowing what I didn’t want was enough. I realize it was only start. There also had to be knowing what I did want and exposure to non Hollywood versions of healthy. Some of what I wanted I knew I wanted regardless of exposure. I’d seen enough selfishness to want generosity. I’d sat in enough awkward silence and heard enough sarcasm to know I wanted laughter. But then there have been things that I was exposed to that I then wanted, like authenticity, compassion, and the power of self awareness.

So when I told her that my most recent move was good for me, and really good for my love life, I meant it. It’s been good seeing this couple modeling what I believe lays the groundwork for a healthy marriage. It’s also been helpful to hear their reminders of the choice it is to commit to the health of who they are individually and their union. It’s been helpful to know despite my intake, and if I change my intake, my exposure, I can have a different outcome. I can have a different outcome because what I am exposed to impacts my belief of a different outcome. It disrupts prior thought patterns and influences knew ones. As we think, as we believe, we act (or we don’t act).

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Photo courtesy of US Weekly.com

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, or read the about page, you know I’m a firm believer in choice as choices hold so much power, more power than I think we often realize. Just the act of choosing to challenge our thoughts and beliefs, how they’ve been influenced, and how we can make new choices for new thought patterns/beliefs, and what we need to influence and sustain that makes a huge difference.

“I’m happy for you. I’m happy that you are getting to be around some healthy people and healthy relationships. You deserve that,” she said.

You too deserve that. You deserve people who say and consistently demonstrate respect, love, honesty, integrity, and compassion. You deserve people who have boundaries and respect yours.  Just so you know, you deserve to be healthy and deserve healthy people in your life. Not perfect, just healthy.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

Light Bulb Moment No.3- All We Need Is Love

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Photo courtesy of Flckr.com

I guess it was my DIY version of the opening scene of the film Love Actually. Instead of an airport I was at Penn Station in New York waiting for my train to the city of brotherly love. Bag in the seat next to me and falafel and fork from the little market opposite the station in hand, I  watched folks ascend and descend the escalators, hugging and kissing people I assumed they loved or at least liked, goodbye or hello. They were smiling, waving, embracing, hand holding, slightly off ground lifting.  I found myself smiling and I sent up a prayer that everyone in the station, amid the hustle and bustle, descending and ascending, was leaving from  or going to places where they knew they were loved.

Despite the amazing Prada shoes that paraded by, the super cute leather Michael Kors handbag, the great highlights and lowlights, beautiful dewy faces, glowing hues of melanin, well trimmed beards, tailor made denim, Cole Haan boat shoes, we need  the smiles, hugs, kisses, gentle back rubs, and hand holding- reminders that we are loved.  The things are nice. The experiences amazing. The accomplishments noted by the scanning e ticket of Dr. So and so and the birthday pin of the proud probably just turned 7 girl in the multi colored tulle skirt are not much without love. Love for others, love with others, love for self, love with self. As cheesy as it sounds…all we need is to know we are loved.

Knowing we are loved is what allows us to go the distance. It is what allows us to get up after a fall, try again after a failure, forgive when we have been wronged and seek forgiveness when we have wronged. It allows us explore, strive, begin, and even begin again. It i the launch pad from which we rise to our greatness. And less you read this and think that knowing you are loved must be external…it doesn’t. Believing in the love you have or yourself, that you will forgive yourself, be compassionate towards yourself, believe in yourself, strive to be the best version of yourself is what allows us to believe we are loved by others.

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Photo courtesy of The Sweetest Occasion.com

Being in love is pretty fantastic. Loving is mostly fantastic (sometimes it’s hard and frustrating). Knowing we are loved, knowing that in all of our us-ness, our rock star days and our crawl under a rock days, that we are loved is by far amazing.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Pick Me

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

“Can you hear me?” she asked.
“Yes girl,” I said and poked my head out of the bathroom so she could see that despite my putting on my makeup, I was listening.
“I just think if she lied on him, and he said they weren’t friends, then she doesn’t get invited to a party at their house.”
“Mhmm”, I responded.
“I don’t care if his roommate invited her, he could have said no.”
She was worked up.
“Were you invited to the party?, ” I asked.
“Yes.”
She chose not to go. I wasn’t sure why although my gut says she didn’t go because “she” was invited and would attend.
She continued about how annoyed she was with him, him being a guy she’d gone on a couple dates with, and his female friend whose lie about him had actually interfered with their relationship and his job.
“This is really bothering you and you could have been there too. He invited you. I’m wondering if you’re upset because despite what she did, He still chose to invite her. He still chose her.”
“Maybe” she responded and grew quiet. I turned off the bathroom light, grabbed my handbag, and headed out the door.

As I sat in my hard plastic orange seat on the subway I thought about my words to her “He still chose her.” They were hard words to say, mostly because I know how it feels to be chosen, how it feels not to be chosen, and how it feels when you are reminded that you’ve been chosen but circumstances would suggest otherwise which is probably why you forgot you were chosen to begin with.

Being chosen validates us in a way that reminds us that all of who we are, not just what we do, but as seen, as valued, and desired. Whether it’s being chosen for the job, the project, the contract, the lead, the keynote, the girlfriend, the wife- it confirms what we know about ourselves. It confirms just how brilliant, funny, nerdy, quirky, stylish, ambitious, gloriously gorgeous, and capable we know ourselves to be. It reminds us of our strength, or vivaciousness, our ability to hope and even to be vulnerable. If you’re like me, it you really really love the whole being seen, that someone sees you and so they chose you.

Photo courtesy of Elle France Magazine

Photo courtesy of Elle France Magazine

Not being chosen is a strange way reminds us of our amazingness too. It just does this weird thing immediately afterwards, questioning if it’s enough? Questioning whether or not we are confident or egotistical, vivacious or ratchet, vulnerable or foolish and weak, beautiful or beautiful for a __________ woman, funny or if they were actually just humoring you. We wonder if we are less than and what to do to be considered more than so that next time we’re chosen. We interrogate who we know ourselves to be to find the culprit that left us looked over, declined, rejected. We wonder if we haven’t stayed at the office long enough so know promotion to leading our own department. We amp up time at the gym and reduce our caloric intake by something our doctors would never approve of because we are convinced we need to lose a few or fifty more pounds. We go for another Master’s degree and consider the Ph.D. because maybe if there were a few more letters behind our name maybe then we would have been selected to keynote or extended the contract and considered tenure worthy. Healthy reflection and seeking feedback is wise and can help us the next time we are in a position to be chosen. Emphasis on healthy😉

Then there’s forgetting we were chosen. You see, as I put on my mascara and Iistened to her talk about how frustrated she was with him, it wasn’t lost on me that she was chosen. She was invited to the party and for her own reasons chose not to go. She was also chosen as who he desired to date, not just as a friend, but someone with whom he had a friendship with and desired to explore more with.
When we forget we were chosen we forfeit reveling in who we know ourselves to be and what we know ourselves to be worthy of. We forget that we have been seen, that we have been acknowledged, and that who we are not only is attractive but someone or someones have been attracted to us, to who we are.
At the heart of the Simply LIVEd Life is the reminder that we have the power to choose. I know this post has focused on being chosen and it really is great to be chosen, I just don’t want you to forget that you too can always choose you. You can choose to affirm what people saw in you and why they chose you to begin with. Choosing you can remind you when you weren’t chosen that you still are choice worthy even if not in a particular moment. Choosing you, especially if you make a habit of it, helps mitigate forgetting you were chosen, especially when life unleashes a world of hectic or hurt on you.
My hope for you this week is that of all the choices you make this week that you will choose you, that you will experience being chosen because you will have selected you. You will have chosen you to love, celebrate, compliment, partner with to pursue a goal, treat to a movie, or enjoy your own presence. Choose wisely, be chosen wholly.

Photo courtesy of Style Stacker

Photo courtesy of Style Stacker

Going All In Marriage

kico2We’ve been talking about what going all in looks like this month, from the decision to go all in, the scariness of it and the courage to push past the fear, and of course the processes of it. Today we’re going to talk about what it looks like through the context of relationships, specifically marriage. I’m sharing what Kimberly (Kim) and Maurice (Rico) Demosthene, of Philadelphia, PA have found it takes to go all in in their marriage. I’ve had the joy of knowing Kim, a nurse, and Rico, a private realtor, for about 10 years now. I got to coordinate their wedding almost six years ago and think they are amazing individuals, a great couple that has really had one of the healthiest and most admirable relationships I’ve witnessed, and they are pretty sweet, loving, funny and creative parents to Mathieu (3yrs) and Roman (5 mos.).

TSLL: How long have you two known each other?

Kim & Rico: We’ve known each other four 14 years and in July we will have been married for six years.

TSLL: When you think of when you dated compared to being married what has changed?

Kim & Rico: When dating, there’s less responsibility and at the same time more freedom to spend time with one another as you would like. You’re trying to figure out if this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. But also, you have a one dimensional view of the person- mostly the good.  In marriage there’s a lot of responsibility and most moments you share together you have to work for. You know without a doubt that this is the person you want to spend your life with. However, the challenge comes with actually putting in the work to build that life together. You come to see and  understand this person’s flaws but you realize the “good & bad” makes them who they are and you love them more for it.

TSLL: What does commitment to your marriage look like for you as a wife? As a husband?

Kim: For me, commitment to my marriage means never considering any other options and recognizing that I don’t need to because I made the best choice. It also means trying to give my husband the best version of me everyday instead of tired me, frustrated me, the me that’s left over when life has beat up on me all day. That’s not very fair to him and doesn’t show that I’m committed.

Rico: Commitment means appreciating what and who I have, not taking them for granted, and not making her feel less than. It’s showing her that I’m not interested in anything else because I’m truthfully not. She’s the one I chose to be with- she’s “it”. It’s also wanting to provide the best for her

TSLL: Have there been times in your relationship (while married or before) where you knew you weren’t giving it your all? How did you know and how did that change?

Kim: There have been times while married I knew I wasn’t giving it my all because everything that I would complain about him not doing (whether to him directly or inwardly) I recognized I wasn’t doing it neither. Sometimes I realized I was even worse. It changed by me learning that oh yeah…sometimes you have to give what you want to a relationship to get it out of a relationship.

Rico: Before marriage, yes there were times I wasn’t giving it my all.  I knew I wasn’t because it’s while you’re still trying to figure out if the relationship is something you want. Once I realized that she was who I wanted to be with, I had to give it 100% and I haven’t stopped since.

TSLL: What three things do you think are absolutely necessary if a woman is going to go all in and be a wife? A guy going all in to be a wife?

Kim: For a wife to go all in she absolutely needs to be fully invested in her husband, to open her heart to him fully,  and to be an encourager/supporter of him.

Rico: For a husband to go all in he absolutely needs an undeniable love for his wife, a selfless mentality (putting his wife’s needs first), and a vision for the relationship so he has a point of reference to constantly work towards.

TSLL: When you are running low on what you feel you have to offer your partner, what do you do?

Kim & Rico: When running low, honesty is the best policy. Just be upfront with your partner to let them know how you feel.  Take a moment to yourself to identify what’s going on.

TSLL: How does your partner help you recharge?

Kim & Rico: While marriage is definitely a partnership sometimes one partner is running low for whatever reason. When that happens, the other partner taking the lead in our relationship when really helps.

TSLL: How has your spouse helped you go all in in some other aspect of your life?

Kim & Rico: Providing encouragement, listening, and reminding each other of our strengths.

TSLL: Can marriage be fulfilling or healthy if one partner is all in and the other is not? Why or why not?

Kim & Rico: No.  Marriage is work requiring both partners to show up and participate. There will definitely be moments when one person has to help carry the other’s load, but that should alternate. If only one person is all in, they will get burned out. Both people are equally responsible for the outcome of the union.

TSLL: What words of wisdom would you offer to couples who feel like they have gone all in, things aren’t working, and they are thinking about getting all out?

Kim & Rico: Seek counsel. And remember the big picture- This is someone you love  and there’s a reason why you married them.

 

 

 

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A Word on Intimacy

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There were a little over twenty of us around the long white table, various hues of beautiful browns waiting for our facilitator to start the conversation we were all eager to partake- intimacy. She started the conversation by sharing that we have for better or for worse been drawn into a transactional culture,  our relationships have not been spared, and true intimacy has been left under a sheet of dust in the back of a closet of what real relationships used to be like. On the surface the transactional model  seems to make sense. It seems to have a republican fairness about it.  You give me A, I give you B.  You take me to dinner I give me sex. Okay maybe that wasn’t a good example. Yet I am willing to bet that if many of us think about our past romantic relationships, maybe our current one(s) there were a series of transactions. He approached you so you gave him your number. He didn’t seem like a creep so you went to dinner. He paid for dinner so you kissed him or perhaps more. He pissed you off so he gets nothing,no dinner, no “GM” text, definitely no sex, and not even an air hug. This constant negation that we have accepted as relational normalcy that inadvertently and often leaves us emotionally disconnected with intimacy bankruptcy impacting our romantic relationship credit score.

Just to be clear, there is a difference between the presence of reciprocity in relationships and transactions. Transactions negate humanity. It refuses to see interactions as impacting the whole person-mind, body, spirit. It comes from a very selfish place.  Healthy relationships, romantic or otherwise don’t thrive on a steady diet of selfishness. Relationships built on foundations where considering, supporting, and meeting emotional needs is optional at best or made to seem frivolous and overlooked at worse simply do not thrive. Nor should they. And sex, regardless of how mind blowing multiple orgasm producing it is, does not equate to intimacy. Having sex can be a part of intimacy, but the act itself i not the same as intimacy. 

Photo courtesy of Obliterated Heart Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Obliterated Heart Tumblr.com

Furthermore, if you can’t show up and be present for yourself, assess and seek to meet your needs, be in tune with and manage your emotions, sit with bouts of disappointment or loneliness, celebrate your own successes or what I would like to suggest as being intimate with yourself, how can you expect or have that in the context of a relationship? 

I have met my fair share of people, especially women who have no clue of who they really are. Sure they can tell you their weight, height, favorite food, why they prefer to wear their hair a certain way, where they went to school, and what they love about being a mother or godmother or auntie. But ask them about what they do that brings them joy. Ask them about the last time they were disappointed and how they worked through that disappointment. Ask them the last time they wept because their hearts were full beyond what words could describe. Ask them the last time they said no and didn’t feel guilty. Ask them the last time they knew they were doing what they were born to do. Ask them what makes their soul shine and heart smile. Ask them their dreams.

When I ask, they usually aren’t sure. Some used to know because they used to know themselves. Yet somehow they stopped choosing to know themselves, to know the ebb and flow of their needs and desires.  They didn’t keep up with the person they were becoming and gave up on dictating who they desired to become. They’d become empty- bankrupt. Many looked exasperated at the idea of figuring themselves out. Their account was empty with the exasperation that often comes from knowing everyone else and meeting everyone else’s needs. The fatigue was the consequence. Like overdraft fees when we have no idea what’s in our account and keeping making withdraws; withdraws from empty places,lonely places, forgotten, unknown, strange places. 

Photo courtesy of Vintage Black Glamour Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Vintage Black Glamour Tumblr.com

If you want intimacy in your relationships be intimate with yourself first. To thine own self be true, true to what is true of who know yourself to be. The better you know yourself the better you are able to be in relationships with reciprocity and not transactions. Where there is mutual respect, trust, vulnerability, and love. You are better aware of knowing what you need and what you can offer. You don’t need to self preserve and protect, get yours first, or feel obligated to give out of fear of rejection or abandonment. You have reasonable expectations of yourself and others, and you are clear on the power you have and responsibility you have to yourself to meet your needs. Now hear me clearly. I do not believe as imperfect fallible human beings we can meet all of our own needs. We are relational beings. However no one person is going to meet every need we have and they should not be expected to meet needs that we need to meet for ourselves.

The conversation we had was rich. As I listened to the women in the room speak it was apparent to me that some had foregone themselves to go after someone else. They’d come up short. They got their emotional bank statement and it was full of overdraft fees.  My hope  for you this week is that you will take a moment and look at you emotional and relationship accounts. Where have you overdrawn? Where are you incurring hurt and disappointment because you’ve negated being intimate with you?

Falling In Love…Again

Photo courtesy of  Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

There I was on my olive green sofa, under the mustard yellow and white chevron velour throw, with my stove top popcorn and glass of pinot grigio watching season five of Sex and the City. Charlotte, the hopeless romantic was sharing that she amended her “one great love in a lifetime” rule to include two great loves. Charlotte’s marriage had ended and she refused to believe that she was destined to never fall in love and marry again. She was willing to fall in love again.

Falling in love again isn’t just for Hollywood. Everyday people find the courage to fall in love again too. One such woman is Akirah Robinson, LSW, and author of Respected, a book written to help women bolster their sense of self-worth and as a result, become better prepared to participate in healthy romantic relationships. Akirah speaks from her own experience of a very unhealthy relationship that she didn’t let stop her  from ending, loving and healing herself, and then meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her now husband Dan. I got to chat with Akirah recently about falling in love again and this is what she had to say-

TSLL: When you think about when you fell in love with Dan versus the young man you were in an abusive relationship, what do you feel was different?

AR: A big thing for me with Dan was he had himself together the way my ex never really seemed to. When I met Dan, he had a career that he was passionate about, a car,  and a group of friends. He had a life that he could share with me. My ex and a few other guys I dated were finding someone, me, because they didn’t have much going on for themselves. Dan was looking for someone to complement the full wonderful life he had. Dan wanted me. He didn’t need me.  There’s a difference.

TSLL: What else about Dan made you feel like you could open yourself up to dating and falling in love again?

AR: This may sound strange, but Dan shared with me that he was friends with all of his exes. I know to some that would seem like a red flag. But for him to be on good terms with women he has dated in the past communicated maturity to me. He has never bad mouthed an ex and that was big for me. My ex would refer to his exes as bitches.

TSLL: We often hear people talk about red flags regarding dating. You even used the phrase a moment ago. What would you consider were greenlights that dating Dan was healthy?

AR: I met Dan online. We got to know each other at a pace that worked for me. Our first date happened after five lengthy phone conversations.  By the time I started dating Dan I also had a better idea of what I knew I needed and wanted. I knew I didn’t want someone who was going to put me on a pedestal. I was still leery of being someone’s everything. I also wanted to be with someone who was looking for a relationship- not someone who was dating for the sake of dating. It helped that Dan was clear in his communication about what he was looking for. He was clear in communicating his interest in me and direct in communicating wanting to get to know me more. Yet he did it in a very respectful slow paced way. He would ask if I wanted to see him and clearly shared that he wanted to see me. His clear consistent communication communicated respect and removed any doubt about how he felt about me.

TSLL: What would you encourage other brave hearts- those working on a comeback from an unhealthy or traumatic relationship experience to do to heal and maybe fall in love again?

AR: Give yourself time. You are going to feel bad for a bit and you really will be okay. I am also a huge advocate for therapy. Depending on how deep the pain goes it may be good to find a counselor or a support group- people who can either relate or model compassion. You have to be compassionate and loving towards yourself before you can do that for someone else. Also, identify what you need from a potential partner and don’t be afraid to need those things. Healthy relationships are ones in which two people can express what they need and work together to meet those needs from a place of respect and love.

Want to know more about healing, healthy relationship building, self love and respect? Visit Akirah’s blog at http://akirahrobinson.com/blog/or pick up a copy of her book, Respected.

Celebrating Your Significant Other

In the wake of last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina where 9 people were murdered I still want to talk about celebrating. At first I was hesitant, never mind that last Monday on the blog we talked about celebrating those who have passed away. I was hesitant because the undercurrent of celebration is joy and how does one insert joy in the wake of tragedy? Yet as I have read the snippets of who the victims were in the attack I am reminded they were humans, real live people who bought joy to the lives of those with whom they were in relationship. They were significant in the lives of the people who knew them and that is certainly worthy of celebration! So here are a few words from a few women as they talk about how they celebrate the significant others in their lives.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Vining Photo Blog.com

Photo courtesy of Kristin Vining Photo Blog.com

“My husband is such a blessing to me and our children . I celebrate him by taking time to recognize his gifts, encouraging his growth and supporting him in all ways to achieve his dreams. I show him how much he means by telling him and affirming it with planning special times for us to enjoy his favorite things. Planning things to take part in with the family is a big one for him as well.  We spend time with each other and our children as my husband counts that as one of his favorite things. Celebrating my husband means many things, but most importantly as long as it’s based on love and fun family times, that’s a winner for us all.”- Shakirrah R.

“Privately sitting down together and with eye to eye contact and listening and taking in the entire story of the accomplishment to celebrate. Then, the next time our family gets together, talking about it with them as we enjoy dinner together.”- Dale S.

“I celebrate my husband by cooking his favorite meal which is teriyaki salmon and surprising him with a gift.”- Kresence C.

So how do you celebrate your significant other?

LIVE-ing for the Weekend by Celebrating With Friends

I firmly believe friends are the family you get to handpick. They make life so sweet and are some of the best people to celebrate with. Here’s what a few friends and readers had to say about how they celebrate with friends. And…there’s no time like to weekend to get together and get to celebrating. Until Monday! xxoo

“I love to kickback, talk, and have food and drinks. Food and drinks are very much involved. If it’s an extra special celebration- we’re going dancing.” -Silvie

Photo courtesy of James White

Photo courtesy of James White

“I love everything from getting together over drinks and appetizers, having dinner in the city or hosting dinner in my home, or doing something together like bowling, skating, or movies. “- Stephanie

“I love to host a good party, especially a theme party. Some of my favorite themes are 80’s, Legoes, or a pink and gold themed brunch. I also love when celebrating includes something we can do together like make pizza for the pizza party, or paint, etc.”- Amy

How do you like to celebrate with your friends? #DaretoShare

Simply Celebrating Life

marleneWe’re continuing the conversation about celebrations today by talking about the ways in which we celebrate the life of those who have passed away. I count it a privilege to have been able to interview the eldest daughter of a woman who was nothing short of amazing. She truly was grace in the flesh and teaching those around her, aka me, how to be a person of grace, a person who seeks the best in others without blindly ignoring their faults but not being blinded by them. Here’s what Adjoa Idun, Founder of Tasty Buds Catering in Philadelphia, PA had to say about celebrating the life of her mom Marlene Kay Agustas Idun .

Me: It’s been a little over a year since your mom passed away from respiratory failure. Tell me a little bit about her.

Adjoa: My mom was a gift to myself, three sisters, Abrina, Ewure-Aba and Nana-Mbra and our dad. She worked for Head Start Learning Tree here in Philadelphia as a mental health specialist, specifically supporting children under five years old. When I was just in preschool she and another parent created the preschool curriculum for our first church and ran the program until each one of her four children where no longer of preschool age. My mother was incredibly industrious. There was a time she made the decision to stay home with her children as a stay-at-home mother she also opened up a daycare called Marlene family day care for over seven years. When I was in my first year of high school she opened up her own African export business called Afias Afrocentric Market. She sold African art jewelry and clothing for four years.

Me: Wow. That is a lot and quite a legacy to leave. How do you still celebrate her life?

Adjoa: By actively being who she believed I was and could be. My mom was a huge supporter of my gifts and talents and I continue to use them the way she would expect and encourage me to.

Me: How does she live on in you?

Adjoa: To be very literal sometimes when I’m laughing or in a heated debate; I hear my mother’s voice, I mean I sound just like her and its oddly comforting to me.

Me: What is your favorite way to celebrate and what was hers?

Adjoa: As long as I can celebrate with family I’m cool. My mom was the same way. As long as there was family and lots of laughter, it was a celebration and just a really good time.

Me: What is your favorite memory of a celebration with your mom?

Adjoa: My favorite memory of a celebration with my mom was her 50th birthday bash. We put together a long weekend with all her sisters at a hotel where each day we had a different surprise for her, a pottery class with a catered lunch, mani pedis, jewelry making, movies and a huge sit down dinner. She was so happy the entire weekend.

Me: How did your mom celebrate you, you sisters, and your dad?

Adjoa: On our birthdays she would always make these gift bags of stuff she had been buying all year that were specific to the things you enjoyed or where your hobbies. It was her way of expressing she knew us as individuals and loved us.

Me:  Your mom was a woman of faith, how did she acknowledge or celebrate her faith and or the thing she saw/believed God was doing in her life or the lives of those around her?

Adjoa: She always acknowledged God as the basis of anything worth celebrating. She made sure we understood that all good and perfect gifts came from him and the love that we had as a family was the most priceless gift we had from God.

Me: What if anything makes celebrating or the idea of celebrating your mom challenging?

Adjoa: One of the biggest joys of celebrating is that everyone is there who you want to celebrate with. Celebrations now are bittersweet because her absence is always felt. We carry-on in the spirit of the love that she showed and the joy that she gave, but it’s still different you know.

Me: What if anything makes celebrating your mom or the idea of celebrating your mom exciting/hopeful?

Adjoa: To be honest nothing yet. I hope to be able to celebrate when I have children the way that she celebrated me and my birthdays and accomplishments.  I hope to live out that relationship of celebration with my own children.

Me: As you engage in future celebrations in your own life whether it’s marriage, birth of a child, buying your first home, your creative talents landing you on some great television show, how will you incorporate your mom into those moments?

Adjoa: I guess the reality is that she’ll always be a part of me. She’s in me and like I said sometimes I sound like her and I behave like her.  Wherever I go and whatever I do in the future celebrating my mom is naturally there.

Me: What words of encouragement would you give to others who want to celebrate someone they have lost but don’t know how?

Adjoa: I guess I would have to be honest and say I’m still figuring all that out.  I encourage people to remember, recall, and reminisce whenever you can because great times are memories that both celebrate and heal the heart.