Then, Now and Later

Generational curses aren’t always what you think… sometimes they don’t look like curses, they look like choices, decisions, preferences, but really those choices, decisions, and preferences are steeped in toxicity, and it takes a long time and purposeful healing to break free of that shit. But it’s real and it’s heavy, and it’s necessary to pull those out at the roots and start all over again with seeds of awareness and positivity.

This is my story… but I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit so read this with that level of understanding. Sensitive = savage.

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If you have read anything I write, you kinda know my background, but in case you don’t here is a summary. I’m Black and educated and dope, and my family is a daugeurrotype (read: one of a kind, fragile, phenomenal in many respects) picture of Black American historical excellence. They are a mix of everything Black culture offers, but also carry remnants of the very real difficulty Black people have faced emotionally and relationally being steeped in all that is america. We have been trapped in familial and communal belief that we aren’t good enough or deserve less than abundance.

My name isn’t Nova Bordelon so I’m not about to tell my family secrets, but like every family, some sections of my family quilt are too bound together with threads of love, pain, deceit, lies, and truths, told and untold. But here is the crux of the generational curse I see most prevalently reflected in my own life …

My mother and father divorced when I was young, and I didn’t have a relationship with him. She often said he was a great guy but not a good husband or father. Trust that he didn’t have the best example… but that’s another curse for another time. However from all the stories I heard, they clearly married out of love, there was just a general lack of responsibility on his part. All spices and sugar. And in complete juxtaposition to the marriage of my grandparents, both sets, that appeared to me more for stability than love. I knew more of my mother’s parents, but the narrative seemed to be the same. One party was literally THE PARTY🎉 , the other the calm. All spice and salt, low on the sugar.

Yet I’m like berere, the Ethiopian spice.

I’m heavy on the spice, yet sweet and salty enough, for someone with the proper palate to need nothing else to flavor the dish. A salted candle apple of sorts. I need a similar mixture, less spicy though, to balance me out.

I have struggled with the love v. stability dynamic and how much of each I need. Most of the men I have found myself most attracted to, were not the most stable… they had more creative and artistic minds that were always moving but rarely stopping to put pen to paper, but they adored me. Who doesn’t want to be adored?!? The men that were stable that I dated, in retrospect, were settlements. Nothing against them, but I’ve got a three finger ring next to my pearls. I’m more Now and Later than chocolate truffle arm candy. These guys seemed to want someone more June Cleaver than Lucy Ricardo… and you know I’m all Lucy. Yet, the older I got, the more it seemed that stable men…well, stay…and love, real love, with it’s dips and waves, hills and valleys is unpredictable and inconsistent.

I can recall bringing my younger boyfriends around my family, and the more judgmental and righteous relatives would question them… What do your parents do? What are your plans? How do you plan to take care of her while she goes to school? Don’t you think she’ll outgrow you? Those guys would not hesitate to answer… and my mother, would curse my family to hell and back cuz she didn’t play that holier than thou high brow shit. But for me, I had every plan to be able to take care of myself, and saw myself as a rib and not them as a backbone. Yet somehow, when it came time to chose when it mattered, those questions popped back into my head. How does he plan to take care of you? What is his plan?

You see, the generational curse I was fighting was a lack of emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness and as a result, empathy.

The five characteristics of emotional intelligence are self-regulation, motivation, social skills, and self-awareness and empathy. Self-awareness is simply the ability to identify and monitor one’s emotions, needs, and wants and perceive how they affect others. Empathy is the ability to understand, be interested in, and anticipate how others feel. They go hand in hand, you can’t have empathy without self-awareness. In my family dynamic, I saw women who knowingly settled for mistreatment in exchange for stability because they were completely unaware of their own needs or women who knowingly settled for stability and then mistreated the men that took care of them, in an act void of empathy. I never was aware of how those scenes and that history played out in my head… until recently.

I married for stability. Bad idea. He wasn’t stable in the ways I needed and we simply weren’t very compatible. I thought more stable would provide me with the consistency I desired, so post marriage that was the formula. I have a successful career, and I’m financially stable on my own, and I’d witnessed the dynamic of the woman making more money and how that affected the relationship. But that didn’t work either. I found myself in relationships where I was being asked or expected to be less of myself to accommodate some man’s inability to lead. That’s not the formula AT ALL.

Then, I recall seeing this image that I saved…

It was a moment in which that last missing piece of self-awareness was placed in the puzzle. When you love yourself, you create the spaces for yourself to be fully who you are, and to realize your ultimate purpose. Similarly, when you love someone, I learned, you create the consistency and stability needed to sustain that relationship if it’s genuine and if you know how. Love is not fleeting, it’s forever changing. It bends instead of dips and has curves instead of valleys. Love is an action and an emotion, it is incapable of consistency or inconsistency. It was the men who were inconsistent, not their love or lack thereof. Perhaps they didn’t care to, I’d like to believe they didn’t know how to… but now I knew! And being self-aware made me much better able to consider how my uncertainty about what I wanted and needed caused some of the inconsistent actions on their parts. Key word: some.

So when I found myself falling for a man who had the dookie chain to my three finger ring and was the Mystery Mix to my Now and Later… I asked myself : How does he plan to take care of you? What is his plan? Now knowing what I needed to hear in return. (I’ll tell you what he said later.) It’s not financial or material, as long as he has the means to take care of himself and any responsibilities he has created or taken on. That’s simply not my personal need. I need the provision of space, time, freedom, and support for my creative mind to flourish and protection of my heart from deceit and irresponsibility. Period. Once I knew what I wanted, it made me equally prepared to consider someone else. It made me prepared to accept someone who wasn’t perhaps who other people thought I should consider, but who I knew would be best for me.

So when I inquired about Mystery Mix’s plans, he smiled and said to me…

“To help make your dreams reality.”

Now that’s the gotcha gotcha! Speak yo speech. Real words spoken by a real man. Words he saw posted on my Instagram about a year prior, but that actually made it more impressive. Way to shoot your shot! 🎯 Be prepared and purpose driven about your shit!

What is most important is that I can now teach and show those that come after me that we don’t have to pick between two incomplete emotional realities. We can have it all!

Curse broken. Blessing bestowed.

“I got that ‘Now’ and that ‘Later’
He gone eat through the paper” -Megan Thee Stallion

To all the boys I loved before…

“Ronnie, Bobby, Rickie, and Mike…”

Okay, so not them, but you surely didn’t think I was gonna give you real names right? Besides #NE4Life… all six or no mas, none of that RBRM foolishness.

Sorry, I got carried away… but back to the lecture at hand…

Nobody told us that little rock head boy we thought we were gonna one day make little rockhead kids with was not the one. Our Mother tolerated our “little friend” knowing full well he was likely the first or third in a long line of little, medium, and eventually big friends that would attempt to woo us into relationships that would end. Relationships that were supposed to end, for most of us who didn’t end up marrying our prom date. The end of those relationships, though devastating at the time, were actually the experiences that would one day lead us to the one. A series of dating couplets that would both get harder and easier, as we matured and hopefully gained needed wisdom. A journey, if you are anything like me, you could have done without were it not necessary to arrive at the grand finalé. In the words of the modern day I Dream of Jeannie, Ariana Grande, “Thank you, Next…”

I’m not talking about the love or lust or intense care for another person; the emotion of a relationship. We talk about that enough. Instead, I wanna talk just a bit about the experience of loving and losing… and still being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are beyond the age by which you THOUGHT you’d be happily forever betrothed.

Ronnie was your high school/college sweetheart. He was family, but he couldn’t handle your growth. You married Bobby. You divorced Bobby. Rickie was wonderful… at first. He treated you like a Queen…but he already had a Queen. Epic fail. Mike was familiar and comfortable, fun and spontaneous. But Mike was noncommittal. Those are not the kind of relationships God would prepare for us, no matter how deeply we feel for an individual. God commands the man who findeth a good thing to love her as God loves him… and that’s with unconditional, continuous, and dedicated commitment. You didn’t love to lose. You lost, to be loved. I’ll repeat it…You didn’t love to lose. You lost, to be loved.

All this time you thought you liked the members of the boy bands and really you needed a solo act. But you see, all of that was the set up YOU needed to get to your come up. That’s the thing with love & relationships at this age in this age, everyone is on social media with rings, white dresses, newborns, honeymoons, and #baegoals. So we tend to compare ourselves with those images… but that is their path, not yours. You couldn’t walk their path and get to your perfect destination. Instead, tis the season for realizing how much better you will be for the man God made for you now that the boys are…

So how do we really move past those encounters and see them as the very important opportunities to learn how to love and be loved, to communicate and comprehend, to partner with another to do life together? What you feel is a result of your experience. As relationships perish, remind yourself of the actual experience -the actions, promises, broken promises truths, untruths, consistency, and growth, or lack thereof. We can’t continue to sit only in the stew of our emotions and not be honest about what was really going on. I mean no matter how great Rickie seemed to treat you, he dishonored you, disrespected you, and lied to you… he had a whole wife for the love of all that is holy. He was an ass. Mourn him if you must, but mourn him in the way you would any donkey. Briefly.

After all, it is your reaction to those experiences that are the true hallmark of your readiness for the mate of your dreams. When we profess after a heart pause, that we don’t need a man… well, chances are you will be single until you reverse that mantra. Be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with being single. However, for humans, life is a series of relationships with other people, and most of us, if we are honest, want to spend part, if not all, of our adult lives living in tandem with another. We want the continuous support, companionship, and peace that having someone you care for deeply, and whose face you want to see, by our sides. So professing that we hate men… that’s not the jump off.

Being fearful or hesitant to open up to others is not the way to the light either. Instead, after we have given ourselves time and space to heal… from both our actions and theirs… we must open ourselves up and be receptive. We have to be available and show up in our availability. As much as we might like this scenario, Mr. Right is probably not going to ring your doorbell while you are binge watching Fuller House. OutKast put it best… you need to get up, get out, and get something. In this case, something might just be that human jungle gym of a chocolate drop you have been waiting for, that God planted in that space, place, and time… just for you boo.

Phone a friend. Eat some Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch. Have a good cry or two. Get a new hairstyle, exercise the pain away, and get extra fine… because God is trying to tell you something. He is the cutter of zeroes, and the force behind the hero that will come along, let you take your cape off, and get this excited when your fine ass walks into a room …

How does that feel?!???

Heal Thy Self

I posted that this morning on Facebook.

I am pretty cryptic on Facebook, because I’m very private and I might have something to say or have learned a lesson I believe is worth sharing, but that’s all I’m willing to share. But this time, I was asked to expound, by people who support and show love to me consistently. What an honor. So you stand tf up in your greatness and do what you do best. So just call me She Will Heal aka Poe-Etta the Human Go-Getta aka Sage StCroix. I’m on my Erykah Badu today. Headwrap and all. (Ok I washed my hair, it’s a towel…whatever).

….

On Sunday, I was faced with the realization that some people, no matter how hard they try, just don’t know how to love back. At least not in a consistent and dedicated manner, which is the only kind of love I am interested in. They may try, may think they are loving you, but really they are unhealed and projecting their scars onto you.

When you were young and free from the very real responsibilities of parenthood and adulthood, it was easier. Love just flowed from your heart like water. Fairly unscathed by and maybe just unaware of how our experiences would come to shape us. It isn’t until you can process those experiences that you fully understand their impact. Experiencing trauma in any form, especially as a child, is just your experience at the time. It’s not until the real damage the experiences have done hit you as you grow and mature, that the true trauma starts. When you haven’t gotten there yet, you are very free to live and love openly and freely and without fear. But when the trauma hits the fan… Fear!

They say life’s a bitch, well fear must be it’s pimp, because it is stifling, predatory, a mental and physical prison without chains, and controls every move you make and every step you take. It is the bastard of trauma. It robs you of your security, confidence, assurance, and awareness. It’s the little girl from the Bad Seed pushing you into the deep end when you can’t swim and into the fire to burn. And when you aren’t raised in love… it’s you. Slave to your fears and illegitimate child of your trauma.

So many of us try to love people who are still caught in the web of their painful experiences, struggling to get out, but without the proper tools or guidance to navigate that trauma. So we become, naturally, involved in it. Sometimes just as a supporter in their healing but other times as a self-sacrifice. It is the latter that robs us of our needs and wants and puts us center stage in full Joan of Arc character, ready to be burned at the stake. Instead we have to demand the other party rise up in their shit and walk in it… until they reach dry land. They must do their own work. And no you can’t walk behind with a pooper scooper, it’s their shit…. Do the work.

So I’m always ready to do the work. Whatever it entails. Do I need to do more of this and less of that to get the desired result for the team? Sure, no problem, gimme an hour. Do we need the best shovel money can by to dig up these experiences and face them head on? Where is the closest Home Depot? No Home Depot, get me a paperclip, the blade of a metal fan, a brick, two screws and bolts, and a broom handle. Call me MacGalver.

Likewise, any partner, friend, family member, must be ready as well. We each need to get a part time job in solving our collective problems. I’m willing to support in any way. But a person still stuck in trauma can’t give anything their all, and the only out from that is them deciding they are ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Acknowledging, processing, talking through, and ultimately healing from the very real things that they experienced. Shit, we all have something. We aren’t to blame for it happening but we are certainly responsible to heal it.

When you have unhealed trauma, you become that traumatic experience for others and self-sabotage in every realm of your life…

So your parent leaving you and not being present; being physically present but not emotionally available; their deception; drug use; ignoring how their new girlfriend or boyfriend looked at you with desire; or simply their failure to properly parent… is abandonment, and until you get to the bottom of that, you will fail to be present for others and will likewise abandon them. You will fail to finish the things you start. You will take on too much that you know you can’t complete, in fear of failure. Your inability to commit to everything will leave you alone, lonely, and unaccomplished.

Your chaotic home; lack of discipline; the failure of those around you to address and maintain boundaries; toxic behaviors; and any lack of organization, order, respect, and peace that you experienced growing up… is turmoil, and it manifests itself in your own chaos and toxicity. So you rob people of their peace. And you have no peace. You bring dysfunction with you into every space, and it lingers around you like smoke, debilitating anyone who comes into contact with you.

If you had to fend for yourself; every step you took was in the face of violence and unsafety; cuz mama had to have a life too you were changing diapers, making syrup sandwiches, and had a switchblade ready in case someone strange knocked at the door; or you just simply had to take care of yourself in hopes that you made it to the next morning…. that’s survival, and when it’s all you’ve known you only know how to hustle and protect yourself at all costs. Loving isn’t your game, and you likely play Russian Roulette with other people’s hearts to protect your own. You project your fears onto everything. You make other people nervous because you are overly aggressive, and yet you are timid in trying anything new.

Yet, when you grow up in love, a nurturing environment that teaches you your value and the value of the other people living in the world with you, that supports you, that protects you, and that imparts confidence and assurance that you can be anything you set your mind to… that’s love, and in turn you know how to support, respect, and honor others. To show love you have to have seen it. That love emanates from you like a light. Everyone sees it and they navigate towards you. Opportunity is at your every corner. Success is yours for the taking.

So again, the experience was out of your control… but the responsibility to heal from any hurt or pain you were left with is yours. Get your shovel, your tissues, unpack that baggage, get a therapist, open your mouth and your heart, and do your work. And vow that until you are healed properly, you will take extra care of those around you by acknowledging that you have limitations and giving them the option of rocking with you or not. Everybody isn’t equipped to deal with the vestiges of your trauma.

As for me, I’m navigating the situation. I am not a sacrificial lamb, but I will happily support someone I care about through their healing. But if you knocked on my door with your briefcase in hand, ready for the first day on the job I expect you to be ready to do what you say you are prepared to do. Because when I answered, I was suited up with my pearl studs on and my blouse perfectly starched. My lowest offer was at the top of the scale, and I promised you an office with a spectacular view. I am worth you doing your work, because I’m already ready to move us both to the next level. Get like me. I’m a healer. Now where is my sage…

First Corinthians & Thirteen Flavors

I don’t know much, but I am 100% sure that most of my romantic partnerships have been the stuff of movies or Marsha Ambrosius song lyrics. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

I have moved across the country. Wayyyy across the country.

I have been married. That’s it, just married.

I have had love professed to me in the streets, over speakers. “You make me wanna…”

Had men drive in winter ice storms across states to see me.

I even had a man give me his social security card with his phone number on it… I can’t call this one.

And every man I’ve dated says… you are the one who got away. Naw bruh I didn’t get away, I probably just left, but whatever makes you sleep better at night.

Ladies, you too can have a yard full of boys…

Okay, that is clearly not the point here. And I’m currently looking out the window… there is just one boy out there tending to the yard. But he too deserves that same energy that made those other guys want to order from the menu.

Patience

Now anyone that knows me WELL is side eyeing at this point. I’m not generally known for my patient disposition. Most of us consider patience this ability to wait on, deal with, or tolerate something we don’t want or didn’t expect without becoming upset, complaining, or reacting with haste. That isn’t who I am. When we accept behavior disrespectful to our time, mental health, emotions, or body, that isn’t patience, that is sacrifice. If it results in you being tired, feeling used, losing yourself, being unsure… it’s not patience, it’s a burden.

I was very disappointed, but remained patient while Michael put our relationship on hold.

But patience that seeks to better the overall relationship or the people in it and that has an end goal, is a compromise.

My son doesn’t like math, so I remained patient as I helped him work through fractions.

“Love is patient.” -1 Corinthians 13:4

It is unselfish, and doesn’t just seek what is self-serving but what is good for everyone. It isn’t self-sacrifice, or putting up with things you detest or don’t deserve for the happiness of another. It isn’t indifference to the offenses of another, because ignoring someone’s misdeeds doesn’t help them grow or become better. Instead, it is the love of God, “slow to anger” and “faithful”. When you truly love someone, the things that could frustrate, disappoint, or injure you must be met with a loving response, every time. In turn, that loving response will be met with a compromise from your partner to change as well. Otherwise, that partner is simply not worthy of your partnership.

My Grandparents were married over 60 years. My Grandfather lived in a house full of real talkative and real opinionated Black women, my Grandmother especially. She could be verbally harsh and critical. She wanted to be the center of attention, and would steal it if necessary. She wore a sequined beret and a mink like it was a uniform. Yet he was fairly quiet. He observed. He kept things running smooth in the house, changed light bulbs, built stuff, drove when we went out as a family, and when too many lips were moving, he retreated to his jazz room and listed to Charlie Parker, real loud. I think he went deaf trying to drown out the voices. She could be difficult to get along with, but for all of her unnecessary ranting, she cooked him great meals and generally left him alone to his hobbies. He wasn’t quite a social butterfly, but he was a provider, and he defended her when the rest of us were ready to explode. To outsiders it could have seemed an odd arrangement, but they compromised in their own way for the sake of the union.

I followed the lead of my female relatives, and spoke my mind, often. In doing so, I learned to make sure I verbalized my needs over my wants and ensured my partners needs were simultaneously heard. I sincerely wanted what was best for the partnership. I allowed them time and the space, once I figured out that space was necessary to correct and get better, realizing I too needed time and space at times. Having seen it, I knew what it looked like. Again, in my house the generous allotment of space and time to replenish oneself was practiced not only in partnerships but along all family relationships.

Few men receive such patience in most areas of their lives after their teen years. Suddenly, they are expected to work, long and hard, and take care of, provide for, protect, commit to you, make room and space for family and friends, keep the screws tight, the lawn mowed, the snow blowed, and you smiling, and then use whatever is left to do all the growing and maturing, demanded and necessary to navigate the world. They are often fed incomplete notions of what being a MAN is, and then enter relationships with those unrealistic expectations on top of our expectations. We expect for them to be emotionally open, communicative, and tender… the antithesis of what many of them are told and definitely what they see growing up. Most men need the peace to be able to process needed changes, without words of frustration and disappointment being thrown at them. That’s not conducive to growth or change.

Love begets patient, and patience begets peace!

Not to be mistaken with “be his peace”… what I’m talking about is other level peace, not just some hashtag shit on Twitter. Peace is quiet and nurturing. In the midst of peace you grow off the charts, you mature into wisdom, and you learn truly how to bestow love unto others. So if you demand something of him, give him time to self correct and bring you what you need. If you want more time with him, let him know, and allow him to figure that out… it might get worse as he figures it out, before it gets better. If he has wronged you, stand up for yourself for the better of the union while acknowledging your personal feelings. If he is pushing you away, let him know your boundaries, and if he respects them, stand by his side so he feels your presence… if it’s meant to be he won’t ever go far.

You don’t have to wait, tolerate, or deal with. If he is as interested as you are in the health and success of the relationship, he will meet your growth and change while actively participating. All you have to do is relax and reap the benefits of his compromise… or use that time to do work on yourself as well. That level of patience demonstrates faithful trust in someone. A man knowing he is trusted by you brings a sense of peace. A man having to deal with your distrust is the stuff of chaos.

So, call him on his bullshit in a loving way and give him time to self correct… and be open to the same. Apologize when you are wrong, self correct, and demand the same. Then get to loving. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” and brings all the boys to the yard! Be careful though, they always come back to the yard too. Milkshakes are addictive.

This was free, next time “I’ll have to charge!”

Down for You Always

Y’all have all heard it before, the “marriage is just a piece of paper” argument. Recently some friends of mine engaged in a FB debate about the value of marriage and its standing… is it “just a piece of paper” or not!?

Well clearly it is not… but like usual that discussion led me down a slightly different path! The idea that marriage is the ultimate relationship status disturbs me a bit. Marriage can be great, but it can also be a cave of contempt, a cautionary tale in making choices because they are socially acceptable and not personally fulfilling. Marriage is not the only valid relationship status, just as “husband” or “wife” are not the only valid relationship titles. In fact, I think titles are dumb…

Whether a marriage or a lifelong partnership… both people entering with intention and purpose is what gives either entity it’s strength. If you desire a God centric union, of course marriage is your desired mechanism. But if we remove spirituality simply for the sake of understanding both parties commitment alone, we see that intentionally putting our relationship first, learning how to build a better and more successful relationship over time, and being purposeful in our conscious plan for our relationship is necessary regardless of the status you desire.

In the words of Tupac…”are you still down?”

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Roughly 50% of all marriages end in divorce. There ultimate reason for that unfortunate data, in my mind, is because people have this false notion that marriage solves relationship issues and it is going to somehow super glue you and your mate at the hip.

All wrong!

Marriage is a legal and emotional partnership between two people to act and be treated as a unit under the law. That legal and emotional commitment are the two things that make ending a marital partnership more difficult. Some people enter into pre-nuptial agreements to remove the legal bind, leaving just the emotional connection to contend with. However, someone not very emotionally connected to you in the first place, or a relationship built upon lies, deceit, infidelity, etc will easily break. Furthermore, emotions are fleeting, they come and go, dip and bob… and they are not a wholly reliable source of commitment. So marriage is not some magic fix or super cement to fix whatever ails your pre-marital relationship.

People often argue that the legal confines of marriage make it a more desirable status than a partnership. However the same legal mechanisms available in marriage are available to any two people who want to form a unit. Where marriage makes some legal designations automatically, none of them can’t be done through other legal means. Two people who seek to partner with intent, will ensure the strength of that partnership both personally and publicly.

I have been married before, and despite what you have read, I want and plan to be married again. Most people assume I’m anti-marriage. I’m not. I’m anti-bullshit.

I desire a spiritual union that is supported by the love of God. I also plan to build a life with my mate that is abundantly fiscally successful and a union where the legal mechanisms are already in place just makes sense for us. But I don’t see our growing partnership as somehow lessened or missing something because we aren’t yet married. We are committed to ensuring that each of us reaches the realization of self-completion. We intentionally plan and set goals to move us towards that purpose. Our unit is doomed if we cannot first self-commit enough to assist the other party in their individual growth before we take that next step. Your wedding day is just the day you profess your love publicly, the days before that determine how well you have prepared to support that unit and the days after determine how strong that unit will continue to be.

I am not interested in being married for image or because someone else, anyone else, has deemed it the proper way to be in relationship with another person.

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Historically, women have been brainwashed to believe we should aspire to be wives over everything else, and some of us who are married place ourselves in higher regard or esteem than those people who choose a different relationship platform. “Being a wife” is your own choice. Someone else’s status, whether by choice or by circumstance, it is still ultimately up to that woman. But whatever the case, she isn’t somehow in a lesser position than you.

Just this morning I saw a post about KeKe Wyatt, the singer who has like 10 kids and was recently left by her husband while she was pregnant, stabbed her mate prior, and is now married again. One women on the post commented, “what am I doing wrong” in response to her seemingly quick remarriage.

NOTHING… at least not in this context!!!!

Now KeKe can sing… but she is surely not an example of a woman one should aspire to be like simply because she is married. In fact, your husband left you while you were pregnant… I’m gonna take a wild guess and say therapy and not marriage might have been a better option. But the notion that married women are somehow doing things “right” simply by virtue of being married… that’s that bull!

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Before I go any further, I want to just share my ultimate disgust with the title “shacking up”.

We should be:

Exercising

Binge Watching Wentworth

Exfoliating

Moisturizing

Drinking Water

Taking Naps

And MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS

In whatever order you desire, but worrying about what other adults do, that is between the two of them… and includes no violence, harm to children, or odd shit with pets … behind the locked doors where they pay the mortgage… should never be on that list.

We don’t care when folks get a roommate to go half on the rent, but for some reason we take offense when two folks go half on a bed and decide to share their space in a love partnership. My take: it’s to somehow give credence to the decision you made to marry … or your ultimate decision to marry. And if you are choosing to use the Bible as your source,

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4. 

unless you were pure before you got married… FULL STOP!

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Marriage is more than a piece of paper… the paper is just the document that solidifies the legal bond between the two people who choose to become a unit. However, unless you are living as a bible purist… and I don’t personally know any… then someone else’s decision to make a different relationship decision doesn’t give you some advantage in the relationship hierarchy. We shouldn’t have to shit on someone else’s choices to validate our own. Your husband to his hubby, your wife to her partner… are all just the same side of a different coin. The choice to love someone and be committed to loving them and supporting them in becoming their best possible self… is a selfless choice, a choice that mimics God’s love. Who are any of us to negate the value of that commitment…

If everyday you are making the choice to be loving, committed, intentional, and purposeful in your marriage or your partnership… you are saying to you mate and the world…

I WANNA BE DOWN!

Beware of … Heartbreak while Mothering

“No need to run from heartache….”

If you are over 18, you have had your heart broken. By the time you get to 40, it’s not even heart break in it’s same form. Things will break your heart that aren’t just about unrequited love… your capability being questioned, your worth being doubted, your intellect being taken advantage of… based on the many characters you play in your life. I had been thinking about my last real heartbreak, and how I got past it. And one thing was for sure, that having to sit in the middle of that while still being needed was hard as hell.

There is a real need to give your all to your own healing. Yet the reality of being unable because someone else you have committed yourself to, your child, never stops needing you! And while both parents can surely understand, the nurturing that mother’s do, that we are often struggling to give ourselves, especially in a moment of heartbreak… becomes like pulling a knife out of a wound. You risk bleeding out or internal damage that can’t be reversed.

Relationships

There is NOTHING harder than coming together in partnership with another human… fulfilling and worth it perhaps, but difficult! So when we find time to make ourselves available to a man, it is with intention and purpose… that most of us make clear from jump! Whether long term commitment to marriage, no ones mother is trying to date any man’s ass forever and a day. So they put in work, to woo us, but eventually their representative goes back into hiding and their true self emerges. Undependable, unavailable (emotionally or otherwise), untrustworthy, and just plain ole unnecessary! True to form it’s only once we have expended hours worth of time and invested a heart full of emotion… and we find our hearts being chipped away at like delicate fine china.

“Spreading fast and there’s no cure.”

Professionally

Being black, female and intelligent is to be constantly questioned by idiots afraid you might outshine them. Your valedictorian and honor cords, plaques on the wall, the As and Bs in classes that they could only hope to pass, and your brain full of knowledge of everything from Socrates and the Pythagorean theory, to the Bantu expansion and the effect in colonialism on African kingdoms… minimized in the presence of privilege. Having to fight for opportunity, promotion, equal pay, diversity, and inclusion. Being accused, ignored, spoken down to, and talked over. Even being mistreated by your own… crabs in a bucket. Having your intellectual success sabotaged and your mental acuity demeaned is the ultimate sign of disrespect, but when paired with systematic racism and sexism, it’s a knife to the temple.

“It’s gonna get ya…”

Socially

Who you calling a bitch…

I tried to dance it away…

I need freedom too…

Why am I alive anyway?

I am not your expectations…

I just want a chance to fly…

We gave you birth…

U-N-I-T-Y …

The plight of a sista in today’s world is to be both celebrated and denigrated. We see ourselves at the top, yet know the very real pain that being at the top reveals. This country still harbors hate towards us, because we are both female and Black. We want to celebrate ourselves but not so loudly that we’ll have to hear that hate. What a troubled spot to be placed in… yet, we continue to be dope as absolute fuck! It’s amazing actually… to be this fine, this smart, this amazing, this successful… in this body. Once, and still by many, only considered a portion of the privileged. Yet we rise from the ashes, but not without burns and scars. Both upon our flesh and upon our hearts. It’s both heartbreaking and fantastic to be a Black woman in the United States in 2018.

“Gonna get ya for sure!”

We need space and room to heal, to talk, to scream, to cry, to celebrate, to rejoice… to be open and to feel … but when LJ has a fever, Megan cannot get her Barbie’s head back on, Travis just got suspended, and Kennedy needs a new dress for homecoming… or someone just needs your time… mothers often don’t get that space and time. All mothers. I only speak from my experience as a Black woman, but I’m well aware that any woman living in this day and this political age is living in a scary time warp. Many of us are fighting Patriarchal Satan in the flesh, and when you add the other roles we play, including mother as the star of the show, self-care can be a daunting task. A broken heart doesn’t heal with crazy glue… only time heals that type of wound. When a broken hearted mother falls… all the Kings horses and all the King’s men can’t put her back together. Only Time and Forgiveness…

And that often feels like you are neglecting the very people who need you most… taking the time you need to heal your pain and closing off just enough to do the introspection you need to forgive yourself for allowing the pain and to forgive the source of your pain for the disappointment. But rest assured, no one can drink from an empty cup, and if you don’t first fill your cup, with self-love, forgiveness, space, time, solitude, and patience… there is nothing left to give! Be gentle with yourself, and soon you’ll start to see yourself as the Wonder(ful) Woman your children know you to be.

“She got it goin on!”

Lyrics by New Edition, N.E. Heartbreak

Soul to Soul

So I know some amazing people who have their finger on the pulse of healing, wellness, and enlightenment! I saw this quote above on a healer friend’s Facebook post that spoke to me… and y’all know how I get when something gets my spirit stirring… I write. And immediately I had something to share upon reading it.

Let me break this down for you!

Know the difference between a SOULMATE and a SOUL LESSON… be clear this is not just about romantic partnerships, but relationships period. Some people are kindred spirits, you all just fit, like puzzle pieces. Others are spiritual guides placed into your path to get you back on the right journey, for a reason or maybe even a season, but purposeful nonetheless. So let’s explore this a bit.

I have a few soulmates, these are men and women who feed me morsels of love when I most need them. They connect with me beyond one note, they are friends, family, counselors, confidantes, and lifetime fixtures. I have a set of sistafriends who have been around since I was a young girl and others more recently acquired by my heartstrings, who support me, seem to know just when I need a boost, and are always on point and game tight when it comes to being available to me. I have the best boonapolis (yep, that’s a word… go best fran, that’s my best fran) in the modern world! I have male friends who are always around to protect, big up, and love me no matter what! We don’t always agree, but we agree on the one thing that matters most… we get by with a little help from our friends!

Soulmates are special. We’ve got acquaintances, friends, day ones, BFFs, and soulmates. The latter are like the unicorns of relationships, the virgins on a room of high school seniors, the girl with her real hair at a Bronner Brother’s Hair Show. You may have known them forever or just met them yesterday, but they kinda feel like your earthly twins.

Y’all finish each other’s sentences.

Say stuff like…get outta my head!

Can sense when the other is down or out, and needs your shoulder! Miles apart even.

They just get you!

You are their person!

And although they are a compliment to your existence, these are the folks that God created for you, and you for them… so you kinda do need them in a way that is unlike the rest of your friendships. It’s just different.

But just as soulmates are sent to soothe your soul, others are meant to help you get to the point where you are taking better care of your soul. So that you learn how to heal and nurture yourself so you heed the lessons that the universe has for you.

I had a soul lesson recently…

Without telling you too much of my business, (cuz I don’t know all of y’all like that), I reconnected with a soul I thought was good for mine. Turns out, he liked the idea of me better than the reality of me. He was envious of the successes, friends, networks, and connections I had made in life and couldn’t see over my big King King sized dreams… so he semi-ghosted me. Yep, #nathansnavy was lost at sea and my mirror bitch was like… squo?!?! He wanted to appear and disappear at his whim. Nawwww…. I’m not gon be able to do that, so I walked away. In the past, I would have stayed around much longer than I should have in the name of loyalty and commitment to someone who wasn’t loyal or committed to me. That was a soul lesson, and I got it, I passed. From now on I will take heed to those signs far before a year later…

Just like in school, the teacher keeps giving you tests to determine if you know the material. Only once you have mastered it, you move on to the next lesson. God is the teacher for your soul: injecting folks and situations into your life that you need to ensure you are being good to yourself, your mind, body, heart, and spirit, which resides in your soul.

Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee calls the soul, the “part of us that is one with God”, and since God is love, the soul must be the place in us where love resides. Most say it’s the heart, but the heart beats and gives us life, it is the conduit to living soulfully. And a life of soul is a life of love.

-First Corinthians by Karyn Lynn DeShields

So learning to love yourself and feed your soul are the soul lessons that we all need! However, we have to identify our lessons and our mates accordingly. A lesson we matriculate into our lives as a mate is a lesson not learned, a bad fit, and will eventually lead to a void of light in our soul. Don’t be afraid to cast out the darkness, learn the lesson, and seek love! Remember love is patient, kind, and food for the soul!

Chrishara Seyanna Dudley-Wilkes is a Life Teacher at Chris and Chrys Spiritual Concierge, connect with her on Facebook here.

#gangganggang

“But the dictionary doesn’t know the meaning of friends…”

Listen, if you don’t have one, you need to get one… #gang. It’s a distinct thing, it’s both homogenous and heterogeneous. Yin and yang. Alike and different. But every member, in their own unique way, is dope as ABSOLUTE FUCK! And y’all just accept each other the way you come.

The one who leaves early, really ain’t tryna talk shit and take shots all night, but they come to support each and every time. They have a good word and a better hug for you, and just their presence makes you smile. That’s gang!

The one who watches their liquor intake, gets up to walk it off, maintains at least five swizzles in the sobriety scale at all times, cuz if they stray too far off path, all hell breaks loose and bad decisions are abound. That’s gang.

The nurturer, making sure everyone is okay. Checks on you like you are the only one there, but has a pulse on everyone. That’s gang.

The turn up tester, checking pulses, but for all signs of life. This one is gonna check in by yelling at you to get your ass in gear and take the party up several notches, cus they said so. That’s gang.

The fun time. This one comes in laughing and hugging and leaves out laughing and grabbing booty. The life of the party for sure. “A party ain’t a party til its ran all through”… that’s gang!

The one always in the know. Knows you, and you, and you and your personal story, because the rest of us just don’t remember you. But this one does, and went to summer camp with your sister and made out with your brother on a choir trip. Yep, they keep us informed. That’s gang.

The chill artsy one. Has a good conversation on hand at all times, and might just throw in something real random … “The Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar” … but cuz the whole gang got great SAT scores and took some college level history, you got a little something to add to the convo even after 4 shots. That’s gang!

The observer. Always watching, taking it all in. Throw on the right song and this one gotta bop to it, but with eyes closed, cuz they need a little personal meditation even during gang time. That’s gang.

The shot caller. Shots, shots, shots, shots…. don’t play, cuz this one will call you out on your inability to follow the rules, and you will never live it down. Take a shot of something… water, wheatgrass, or Patron, your pick, but a shot you must take. That’s gang.

Ready to mingle… single, well perhaps… but this one is trying get on, you or somebody else. That’s gang.

Single… well just single. That’s gang too. Gangs are philanthropic on occasion, open membership drives and such!

Whatever their flavor, they are real friends to savor! Get you some sistafriends and menfriends who hold you down, keep you safe, open their hearts and homes to you, who couldn’t be any more family unless you shared DNA, and who call you on your shit with love and support! No code-switching necessary, cuz we set the code! That’s gang … “ones you can depend on!”

First Corinthians

I did a short series on Love Is… the series and the topic. Go back and read it #shamelessplug. But recently, I have been reminded more of what love is not, than what it is.  And like the modern day griot that I am , I thought I would share my lessons with ya’ll.  You ready to learn?  Grab a seat…

At the age of nine, I went to catechism, an intense Bible study before Catholic baptism, for those who don’t know, and it solidified I am a heathen. I always ended up doodling or designing dresses or something other than listening to that woman with post nasal drip and dirty spectacles. But anyway… we read the Bible, Exodus to The Book of Revelation, and out of all of those, the lesson I recall most, and probably the only bible verse I can quote like rap lyrics, is this golden nugget from First Corinthians…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a

First Corinthians was written by Paul to his struggling church. At the time, Christians were struggling with how to exist together, resolve conflict, live in goodness, and bestow mercy upon one another. This letter speaks to the soul of these men and women, and gives them a blueprint of how to love one another and ultimately live in harmony and righteousness.  Basically it is Take 6… “More love is what we need” in thou shalt nots! It is not just about love of thy neighbor, but it encapsulates all forms of love and the process of being in relationship with another human being.

Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee calls the soul, the “part of us that is one with God”, and since God is love, the soul must be the place in us where love resides. Most say it’s the heart, but the heart beats and gives us life, it is the conduit to living soulfully. And a life of soul is a life of love. Think of every soul song you’ve heard… from Muddy Waters “She’s my life I need her so” to John Legend’s “Love your curves and all you edges, all your perfect imperfections” and the Queen of Soul, Aretha’s “How can I give you all I can if you’re tying both my hands!” … what is that if not love. You knew it really did when Rose Royce claimed love “don’t live here anymore.”

“I think I love her…”

The soul is the place that interprets the real meaning of art, music, and color. It gives our dreams wings and puts our voices in front of the choir. It is the place where love is cultivated, planted, grown, nurtured, harvested. The soil where the vision for our life is grown.  So what it is and why it is, are essential to properly gifting and receiving its ultimate gift…

When two people who care for one another seek to unify, in whatever way they define that unity, both people usually enter the ring with protective gear on, and slowly remove that protection to show their true selves. Over time, they trust in their partner to become a tag team. However, where there is impatience, envy, pride, anger, tit for tat behavior, and distrust… people tend to get thicker gloves, knee pads, elbow pads, and get ready to rumble.  But eventually the fight isn’t worth the reward, so people part.  Souls part.  Two people who once shared life and experience, but have not quite learned the power of love, cannot properly give or receive it.  Broken souls cannot be anything other than what Paul teaches us love is not.

“Gucci you don’t love me…”

I recently had a situation where the man I was dating with intention, started to show signs of insecurity.  About everything.  His finances, my finances… sir my finances, other than my basic  stability, are none of your concern… my dreams, my desire to remove myself from stressful situations, my dealings with my child and his father… like I said, everything.  He found a way to take issue with everything I said or did suddenly, and time has taught me that usually only gets worse.  Plus, I don’t have an MD in insecurity, I could not cure it.  So, after a bit of trying to coax him back to reality, as all of his insecurities were rooted in fantasy, I decided to move on.  His insecurities had nothing to do with me, they were remnants of his broken soul… and his broken soul could not possibly love me properly.  Hell, I’m a handful to my damn self.  More than one person outside of our relationship said he was envious.  Envious that I wasn’t struggling, of my dreams, of my ability to dream, of my NERVE to dream big King Kong sized dreams, and of my ability to see myself beyond the moment.  Love… does not envy.

Similarly, my girlfriends and I have had relationships with men who we were some sort of conquest to, and our decisions to partner with them, nothing more in their minds than a conquest won.  What we did, how we looked, what we wore, the degrees on our wall, awards on our desk, and titles behind our names were all moments they could use to show how accomplished they were in the relationship department.  Which in turn they credited to themselves, us having them in our lives… albeit a short time, cuz… They were only serving self and being arrogant. My accomplishments are not tools for the braggadocio and his hubris.  Loving others is not about you -🎉SURPRISE! 🎊! -it is about others. Love is… showing others the love that God gives us. Love does not boast and it is not self-seeking.

Anyone that will only do for you when you have equally done for them, regardless of your ability or need. Love is not self-seeking.

Anyone that rushes or forces you into a situation or is unwilling to allow you to move at the pace best needed for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Love is not impatient.

Anyone that cannot keep their hands from touching and tongue from lashing out in anger, ridicule, disrespect, and hurt towards you. Love is not easily angered.

Anyone who holds your faults and flaws against you to attack you with later, or is simply unkind in word or in deed. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love is kind.

These people are incapable of loving you in the way that God loves you, and therefore incapable of sharing their soul with you as is.  You are Otis Redding and they are Ozzy Osbourne… two completely different individuals, neither better than the other, neither right nor wrong, both singing, just different.  But only one with real “from the diaphragm” soul! (No shade Ozzy…)

Love is also not unsure, inconsistent, doubtful, or painful.  It is unifying, connecting, where the two ends meet and everything comes together, full circle.

No one taught me that, but experience.

At nineteen, I read what would become my favorite book of all time, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison during one of my few months off from college. One of the characters is named First Corinthians.  Her character is the first born daughter of the family at the center of the novel, and she is born into wealth and education.  However, despite her own education, she ends up working as a maid and falls in love with a porter.  Corrie, as they called her, never found favor with the life of excess she was afforded, as it was broken and soulless.   She is a story in unity, a story in soul, a story in love.  When I first read this book, I was drawn to her character, but I really had no idea why. But over time I recognized she and I were a lot alike.

Like First Corinthians I want to be unified in my relationships, of every kind, and I would rather enjoy the what is than the what it can be, the soulful over the mindful. What is rational and logical is a mix of looking to the past for guidance and looking to the future to apply it. An application of issue, reasoning, analysis, and conclusion that does not fit the bill. While we have to be level-headed and smart… and I’m smart than a mug in these intellectual streets… real love cannot be explained by the Pythagorean theory and the soul is not a science project to dissect and diagram. Its the seventh sense. The ninth wonder of the world. The 13th member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

“ I’ve often said love, could open any door, but I wish we had much more…”

Love IS: Part II

What is modern day love?

Love is… dedicating space in your heart, time in your life, and an open invitation to your experiences to another person. It’s simple in word but yet so complicated an action. It’s everything, not just one thing… a feeling, an emotion, an act, an idea, an event. It’s the ultimate act of compassion, peace, trust, passion, and God… love is God. It’s being is easy to believe in, but having unconditional faith in love’s promise is hard. Easy, yet hard. Hard, yet soft. Soft, yet strong. Strong, yet fragile. Love is…

Gone are the days when most women focused on being a wife and didn’t have the professional and social sphere to contend with. When you add to that, machismo, patriarchy, misogyny, and ego, let alone the myriad of other issues that face men of color, it has become more difficult to have a successful partnership. Love is hard. Women have to balance their often delegator roles professionally to helper roles in the home, and men need a space to be vulnerable even where they provide and protect and learn to modify but not eradicate that provision and protection in a modern society.

For example:

Since high school… me and Eros go back like candy necklaces and Alexander the Grapes. A serial monogamist… that’s what they call it. Love relationships, one after another, going on for years at a time. Call me Aphrodite or Oshun, cuz I does this love thing. But what I needed as a broke college student or a fresh out of law school government worker, is not the same as what I need now as an educated, professional woman who CAN take care of an entire household and everyone in it… but surely doesn’t want that added responsibility, especially after dealing with MC Insecure and the Asshole Crew at work.

The relationship I desire is with an equally professional, Black (my romantic and social preference), man of God who is ready to take on a world that constantly rejects us. For us, I want to spin a cocoon where we are safe to be who we are, successes and struggles, that he fights for with his bare hands, and that we both choose to enter daily. Call me Aphrodite to his Adonis, Oshun to his Ogun, Ruth to his Boaz.

Let’s paint a modern day love story!

“…spread the corner of your garment over me” Ruth 3:9

The story of Ruth and Boaz is a love story, indeed, but it seems both a historical and modern tale. Ruth and Boaz or Yuri and Yasir or Bey and Jay or me and… well you get the point. Ruth was independent. She was left without a patriarchal family, to care for her mother-in-law, and took a job farming on the land of Boaz. Boaz protected and provided for her. She spun a cocoon for she and Boaz, and he fought for them with his bare hands.

Today, most women aren’t grabbing egg creams between shopping excursions for the new crock-pot with the timer and a dress for the annual cotillion ball at noon. She is scarfing down last nights leftovers in fifteen minutes before her third meeting this week in a room full of men, all White with one Black token, who talk over her and question her suggestions like she’s commenting on spring lip colors and not the budget for the project she manages that has already made the company $2 million. Her professional and social life 9-6pm is calmed mainly by her morning knock to Knuck if You Buck turned all the way up in the car ride in to work , to singing loudly to Love on Top on the way home in bumper to bumper traffic.

So when she walks into the cocoon, the space is hers, safe and warm and inviting and soft and easy. She can put on her lounge clothes, pop on some music, cook a meal or heat up last nights chili, and greet him when he enters. She makes the castle grand for him, and he gives her the tools and space and safe freedom to do so. He covers her in peace and safety and provision, so she can help him navigate the world outside the cocoon because she can shed hers. In the cocoon she becomes a butterfly.

Likewise, most men of color, aren’t manning the Boardrooms and if they are, it’s with the stereotypes you see constantly on television hanging like tree limbs bearing strange fruit over their heads. They are often forced into siding with the majority, but only a Black man with his own personal example of a Black woman’s character, intellect, competency, and strength can fully stand up for diversity and inclusion. They have to give up a little of who they are, to fit in, or so they are told. So we are all told. And coming home to be treated like a King is his only solace.

So when he enters the cocoon, he can be fragile and strong. Soft and hard. Hard and easy. He can be her love, the love of God. And he can strip away the vestiges of Jim Crow and Jamestown that he still wears on his lapel, and just be Shawn, leave Jay out in the car, in the space she has created and cultivated. Jay is a pawn, a tool. Shawn is a King, the leader. He too fully realizes who he is inside the cocoon, and emerges each day better then the last, nurtured back to full health, to tackle the frenzy of -isms thrown at him daily. Touchdown!

In a modern day love story, Boaz needs Ruth, her independence is sexy, her hustle is magnetic, her intelligence is fuel for his fire, but her softness and gentleness is where he lays his head. Similarly, Ruth needs Boaz, his peace is calming, his charm and wit are poetic, his resilience is like fresh air, but his strength and safety are wrapped around her like Aretha’s full length mink, protecting her from the elements.

Love is… “so simple, a feeling, it’s everything.” -Beyoncé