The ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

At the invite of a colleague recently I had an opportunity to talk about Hygiene and Professional Attire to a group of aspiring, young students in a work development program from the Birmingham, Alabama area. My purpose was to directly speak to the women, while another expert was sent to speak to the young men. As teens would have it, both our conversations became all-inclusive, and boy-oh-boy did we learn as much from them as they did from us.

That morning session with those 80 students prompted this post on the ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

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A-Attitude adjustments work well in the workplace.

B-Bathe daily (or twice daily if needed).

C-Comb and Care for hair daily (or more often if needed). Our hair (whether grown or purchased) is our crowning glory. Take care of your hair through regular shampooing, conditioning, trimming, through styles fitted for your face, colors fitting your professional positions or aspirations and styles fitting your budget. Don’t buy a $200 bundle of 14 inch Bobbi Boss Remi weave if you can only afford a $29.99 Hair Gallery special.

D-Deodorant is a must to prevent one from being musty. Be sure to choose a brand that is right for your body, and one which doesn’t cake up or show through sleeveless clothing.

E-Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast like a queen, a light and filling lunch like a princess and a reasonable dinner like a diva who wants the best for her body now and in years to come.

F-Find a good support team. We all need someone to tell us when our slip is showing (Google slip if you need to), when our attitude needs adjusting, when we need to improve or when there’s broccoli in our teeth.

G-Give back to those who are where you once were. No sense in a sophisticated lady keeping all of her goodness to herself.

H-Hang with the right crowd, especially around the water cooler.

I-Invest in a few professional, statement pieces. A blouse, some nice slacks, a standard suit and a comfy pair of pumps should always be available.

J-Join groups to help you develop spiritually, professionally, socially and academically.

K-Keep spare clothing, flat shoes, hygiene products, lip gloss, a nice snack and mints in case needed at work.

L-Lotion on feet, arms, legs, elbows and other places saves the day. (Enough said…and if lotion isn’t sufficient petroleum jelly works just as well as it did in the 70s.)

M-Manage your workload so that you are able to balance your professional and personal life.

N-Never underestimate the power of a consignment shop, thrift store, or fine garment from Wal-mart or Ross Dress for Less.

O-Own up to your flaws, but don’t hesitate to work to get rid of them.

P-Poise in the midst of chaos or confusion always comes in handy.

Q-Quit procrastinating. There’s nothing glamorous about being slothful.

R-Remember to rest.

S-Sit pretty so that the world won’t be able to see what lies beneath.

T-Teeth should be daily brushed, flossed, freshened with mouth-wash and refreshed with mints when needed (as often as needed).

U-Undergarments serve a purpose. (Don’t forget the benefit of Spanx, girdles, slips, stockings and a bunch of other support garments.)

V-Very little perfume, jewelry and other accessories go a long way.

W-Work out for now and for later (Trust me, this one caught be by an unfortunate surprise around age 33L)

X-eXude eXcellence. Yes, I cheated with this letter, but I’m sure you can see why. As women we have to carry ourselves in such a way that greatness, elegance, leadership, humility, kindness, joy, peace, and success are what others see…even when we don’t feel like it, and especially in the workplace.

Y-Yield to wisdom from those who know what you don’t yet know.

Z-Zip your lips to workplace gossip, complaining, undermining and murmuring. 


Birds of a Feather Either Fly Together or Fry Together

Life Gets Better

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Birds of a feather fly together.” Well, I’d like to propose that, Birds of a feather can also “fry” together.

Growing up, my parents would always remind me of the importance of making sure I was selective of my crowd. Not to be snobby or snooty, but to be certain that those in which I affiliated had my, and their own best interest at heart. Did I always listen? No. Do I wish I would have always listened? Yes. Thankfully, I was spared a lot of the trials of others who also didn’t make sure their “birds” were the best.


The older I grew in age and understanding the more I found that the wisdom my parents shared didn’t only apply as a youth, but even more so as an adult. As adults, we’re even closer to our destinies, and have fewer chances to get it right. Connections matter…

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What Did You Just Say????

Have you ever had someone tell you something after the fact that you wish you’d known during the fact but likely couldn’t have faced that fact? Yeah, I have too. It often amazes me as to how God so strategically allows us to know things later because he knows we wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle it now. It’s not that the “who, what, where, when, and whys” of life don’t matter. They do and they serve a purpose, even purposes we don’t expect. Often, however, what matters most is us healing and moving forward without the sting of another blow, regardless of how badly we want answers.


A few months ago, in casual conversation, with no tea and no shade (Google it), a friend mentioned something to me that was shared by a mutual acquaintance regarding some matters affecting me. This friend said what was said very casually and matter-of-factly, as if it was assumed that I had already been privy. I wasn’t. I was as clueless as Alicia Silverstone in one of my favorite 90s movies. This was a question that had crossed my mind too many times as the situation unfolded years ago. I wanted answers right then and there. I demanded answers right then and there to no avail and finally tossed in the towel and kept it moving. I must admit, hearing it from a trusted source helped me digest the less than palatable revelation that had previously escaped me. I’ll also admit that I am a seasoned “why” seeker. Blame it on my degree in journalism or my time as an investigative reporter, but I needed answers when I needed answers. And so I’ve not been one to shy away from asking questions (a lot of them) to whomever about whatever in order to find out what I thought I needed or deserved to know. Sometimes that worked well for me. Other times it didn’t work so well or didn’t work at all.


As I sat there hearing my friend share this nugget of information my first response to this dropped bomb was, “What did you just say????” The friend repeated the statement, elaborated and shared more in detail. My final response after catching my breath from having the proverbial wind knocked out of me was to think, “Whew, I’m so glad I heard that years later because who knows how the old me would have reacted.” (Actually I do know exactly how I would have reacted which is probably why that little bit of important information had been placed on a delayed lay-away.)


That’s the beauty of life, and a true testament to how much of a real Father God is to us. He knows what we can handle and when. He knows what we can’t handle and why. He knows who He should use as the postal worker to drop off the package and be there if needed for whatever may come. He also knows how He’s working in us, and His amazing plans for us so He is not surprised, taken aback or even shocked when those things that He’s withheld from us for our sake, which would have knocked us to our knees in defeat now drop us to our knees in praise for the journey that we’ve overcome in spite of the known…and unknown who, what, where, when and whys.


Hail to the No!

Hail to the No! You read correctly. Again I say in my best Whitney Houston voice (God rest her sweet, sweet soul), “Hail to the No!” After you get over your gasps, let that saturate within you like a bottle of Kraft’s Zesty Italian Salad Dressing and Marinade over some soon-to-be tender 12oz T-bone steaks.


“No” has been a fixture in my life for a while, but especially of late. It seems like they have been coming fast and furiously. During the month of June 2015 alone I’ve received what feels like a barrage of them in areas like stalled personal advancement, unfilled obligations by others, delayed life changes and more. Not to spill my own tea just yet, but let’s just say I’ve heard, said or seen “no” a few times too many, or so I originally thought.


My mind quickly changed about “no” one night/morning at 1:44am when I was summoned to the kitchen by the call of cold water. You know the kind of cold water that causes you to hold it in your mouth for just a moment so every last drop of its refreshing deliciousness can work its way through every nook, cranny and taste bud in sight? Yea, that kind of water. As I was walking back to bed, obviously not as sleepy as I thought, I started to think of the hidden beauty of the word “no”.

I started thinking of times in my life when God turned what seemed to be the most devastating kind of “no” into a celebration worthy “yes”. I thought of the friends and associates who, just this month or in recent months had seen a “no” or two or ten morph into a “400+ likes on social media” status kind of “yes”. I thought of my former colleague W.C. (Hey, if you’re reading this) who, after an extended work “vacation” (in other words was without a job) received a “yes”, which turned out to be another “no” which lead to a beautiful new “yes” in a dream occupation. I think of my dear friend K.W. (Hey, girl!) who also had an unexpected, extended work “vacation” of eight months and lots of letters from employers starting with “no” swiftly come to an end for a bold, new adventurous “yes”. I think of friends who have heard “no” from the fertility specialists before they later heard the “yes” of late-night cries and early morning cooing. I think of others who know the “no” of an “I do” turning into an “I don’t… and I don’t want you”, only to hear the “yes” of “will you marry me”, or the all important “yes, you will be alright”. I even think of the times when I’ve had to very reluctantly say “no” to some things which seemed to be a resounding “yes” only to see the real-deal “yes” show up shortly thereafter. I’ve even reflected on times when I said “no” when others thought I should have said “yes” only to find out that my personal “no” was the biggest “yes” I could have ever granted myself. I think about so much of how “no” really is the predecessor to “yes”, which means “no” is serving it’s purpose, and with each one received it’s stepping up its game on our behalf.


So again I proclaim, Hail to the No! And to the illustrious “no” I say, welcome, what’s up homie, where’ve you been, holla at me, thanks for stopping by, glad you’re here, what took you so long, send for backup, bring it, kudos, hats off, ‘ppreciate ya, salute, you’re the bomb (do people still say that?), mad respect, greetings, thanks “dude”, salutations, bienvenida and all that good stuff.

I’ve decided that every, single “no”, no matter the sting they might bring, moves us more forward to our “yes”. So much so, I’ll be so bold as to say “Hail to the MF No”! Close your mouth. You read it right. Hail to the MOVING FORWARD No!!! (Ha! Tricked you! I’m no curser so you’re in safe hands.) “Hail to the MF No”! Now let us simmer on that like a pot of collard greens and turkey wings from our Grandmama’s stove…then get ready for our “yes”. Why? Because the “no” told me so.


I Call You Daddy

Father’s Day is here again, and again my thoughts wonder to the amazement that is my daddy. As I frantically went from store-to-store trying to find something with monetary worth to present to him on his special day it dawned on me, as it often does, especially this time of the year, that no shirt, PJs, gift cards, tool set or colognes can ever convey the true depth of the value of a real, good father. A true father is priceless.


I wrote of my daddy, Sylvester Scott in a blog post a couple of years ago titled “I Salute You Daddy”. (Take a peek so you too can see how special he is.) I know he’s not unique in his love for his children and family. There are many men who exemplify the designed definition of father, despite what society might hope to show otherwise. Often I feel that fathers are our best versions of unsung heroes. That’s not fair and it’s not right. I’ve been blessed to know and see so many men of varying ages and stages of life make the ultimate sacrifice of being called Daddy.


I’ve seen the fathers go without simple things like food or new, and much needed clothing, to make sure their children have. I’ve known the fathers who work extremely long days, drive across town to pick up children, coach organized sports, make time for impactful conversation and turn around again and do it the next day…with a rarely fading smile. I know the fathers who have taken on the role of teacher to transfer to their children the lessons learned (both good and bad) to make sure they enter the world with feet firmly planted and ready to move forward. I’ve seen the “weekend warriors” (the fathers with shared custody) not just settle for 1st and 3rd week visitations, but strategically rearrange work schedules to have a desired presence in their children’s life every, single week. I’ve seen the father with growing children of his own take time to mentor, love, guide and nurture other children in need never letting his own family lack because of his calling to help others. I’ve seen the widowed father press through tears and grief to rear strong, loving children. I’ve seen the father who’s made mistakes use those very mistakes to become better and provide better for his family. I’ve seen the man, with no children of his own, take on the role of permanent, legal father to the child without parents, then smoothly transition his family forward when his wife and he were blessed with two more sons of their own. I know the father who got up in the middle of the night for months after his wife gave birth so that she could rest and he could bond with his baby girl. I know the father who proudly sat his 6’3 frame in a school-size chair with the Girl Scouts and their mothers to be the only male present at the annual Easter Basket making session. I’ve seen the grandfather who stepped back in to don the title of daddy for children without present father. I’ve seen the father who works one full-time job and two part-times at one time to keep the lights on. I’ve seen the father completely comfortable out of his comfort zone to give his children the life he never had. I’ve seen the weary eyes, the gritty, legal hustle and grind, the depleted bank statements, the spiritual fortitude, the silently loud tears and the late-night “I’ve got to figure this out for the sake of my family” internal sessions that make my father and all of the wonderful fathers of the world be worthy of being called Daddy.



The Unwanted Vacation by Kushuna Exford Williams

Today, I have the delight of sharing a blog post by guest media maven Kushuna Exford Williams about her journey from gratitude to even more gratitude all courtesy of an unwanted vacation. I hope her story blesses you as much as it did me. I can’t wait to see the amazing adventure awaiting her!



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I have always had this desire to be stable and established, I went to school (at the best HBCU in the land, Talladega College) for Business and Marketing and got a job working in my field after graduation. I had the opportunity to work for an organization that I loved doing what I went to school for. Life was good!

Life was so good in fact, that I focused a lot on being grateful to God, because I knew that it could be different, but I believed that my “gratitude” would somehow shield me from life’s challenges. FALSE. On October 3, 2014 I was laid off from the organization that I loved so dearly, the place that I had devoted seven years of my career, the place where I spent 10 plus hours a day six days a week. I was called into the Executive Director’s office and given paperwork, there wasn’t any type of advance notice, and my last paycheck (which I earned) was considered my severance package.

I felt hurt, disrespected, disappointed, and confused. I was the Director that had the best staff morale team, the one that was never under budget, the one that usually picked up projects that my colleagues neglected, the one that never missed deadlines, and never late to meetings….yet I was laid off. Me, the top performer. This experience was such a blow to my confidence. I was also the one that thought my job title made the person I was. FALSE. Who I am has NOTHING to do with my job title.

Although, being laid off was very emotional for me, I still felt like everything would be okay. I had made up my mind to not be bitter or speak ill of the organization that I have worked for. This was hard, because the enemy wants us to rot in bitterness, but I believed that God would work this out. I had money in my savings account and after all, I was a previous top performer and I had two degrees…I should find a job in no time, right? WRONG. Somewhere between the 3rd and 5th month, I really began to get disappointed with God especially when my friends were giving me praise reports of their new jobs, promotions, etc. I was like, “God, I know you are able to help me find a job, but are you willing?” I sent out hundreds of resumes, applications, and emails only to get entry level responses, or no responses at all, and not to mention that I am running out of savings, quickly!  Then during months 6 and 7 I began to change my focus. I started volunteering and getting involved with causes that I believed in and I took my close friends advice and began to find a way to enjoy this “unwanted vacation.” God has a plan for me that is perfect and I need to just relax and wait for it to unfold.

I’m happy to announce that the 8th month of being laid off will actually end with a new job opportunity. It’s with a new company and I have NO IDEA what God is doing, but I’m very grateful. Although, I have learned that gratitude is a powerful tool that will keep you focused, but, it will not shield you from challenges. However, it is very necessary for when you face challenges….  in all things give thanks.

I Have Nobody

Sitting in the waiting room of an outpatient surgery center waiting on a loved on to come out of surgery and we happen upon a young man who looks to be in his mid-20s. He’s quietly sitting alone with his belongings in a plastic grocery bag, amongst the chatter and whispers of the others and me. I notice the band around his wrist noting that he must be there for surgery. 

As we continue our morning chit-chat we hear him exclaim out of nowhere, “I have nobody! I have nobody wiling to come sit with me for this knee surgery I’ve waited on for eight years!” We make eye contact. He screams, “I’ve never done anything to deserve this, having nobody to help me!!! I have nobody!!!!!! This is the worst day of my life!!!” His thumb is quickly scrolling, his eyes fluttering, while his index finger sends what looks to be text message after text message trying to find someone to come. He kerosene calling and texting.

In that moment a feeling in my stomach rises to my throat filled with sorrow for him, gratitude for the ever-present loved ones on my life and even more sorrow for him as we all pitch idea after idea to try to help, none of which has resulted on someone coming to simply show him that they care. I could cry. I will later.

As I type and peep out of my left eye at him I’m praying someone shows up. I’m also praying and thanking the Lord for people who care for me abd those who allow me to care for them. I’m also believing that in this moment, with a room filled with people from every walk of life trying to help him find an answer to his problem that this young man knows that Jesus cares when no one else cares. You are loved in case you didn’t know.

Forgive Me If I Fold My Arms

Nearly two years since this blog post first posted and today, with folded arms I realized I’m still learning this lesson.

Life Gets Better


 Quite a while back while pumping gas a service station worker walked up to me and said, “Ma’am, you’re folding your arms like you want to fight.” Fight? Who me?!?!? I’ve never been in a fight in my life, unless you consider a fight for my life. Honestly, at the time, I was thinking about whether it was more important to keep the raging wind from blowing up my at-the-knee skirt or blowing off my wig, mixed with thoughts about how gas went from $3.27 when I left home at 5:30am to $3.39 at 5:30pm. I was thinking of what I was going to cook for dinner, what a long day it had been,  if I was going to unpack my suitcase, what to do about an unexpected debt and how I wish I had someone to fold the clothes from my overflowing clothes basket.

At the time, completely unaware of having…

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