It’s no secret that my life did a total 180 degree turn when I was laid off from a company that I had been employed with for 7 years. When I first got laid off, I was full of “this is God’s will” or “the plans that God has for me are great” and “God has something better”…. well these words began to drift slowly away from my vocabulary as I continued to be laid off. It became increasingly difficult to chant them with confidence, especially when the one year mark came up and I still have not found a job in my field. I can remember the confidence I had in my education, work experience and well written resume, but these things have not been instrumental in helping me to become employed in my desired field with a salary that is more than just minimum wage.
So, today is the final day of #bloglikecrazy and of course, I’m going off course, and not blogging about what I said I would blog about. But I am blogging and that’s quite a feat for me over the last 30 days. Yay!
Today I’m not feeling by best as I battle a pesky little respiratory something that’s been hanging on too long. Poof. Be gone. Please. Nonetheless, I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the thought of “fake it until you feel it”. My first thought was, “why in the world am I up and why is that what came to mind?” Anywho, almost instantly I became aware of why that thought was so pressing it had to interrupt my post-Soul Train Awards slumber.
There are matters in life sometimes which require us to have gratitude and act like we’re content while simultaneously and gingerly getting ready to make a run for the door at the first sign of a green light. That’s the great balance of life. That’s where I find myself regarding a couple of things, but one thing in particular. I’m smack dab in the middle of grateful and get the heck out of dodge. I’ll be honest. I’m not feeling that feeling. There’s a change I desire and feel I deserve which has been weighing heavily (not in a bad way, but in a “I know this is not my final stopping place” kind of way.) You know the feeling you have when you know time is expiring or it’s time for something new and you’re just waiting on the opportunity to politely serve whatever it is the “thank you for your services” papers so it and/or you can move on to something so much greater? Again, not that it and/or you are bad, but sometimes you just know it’s time to go, but you can’t act like it because you don’t want to put a rush on anything God is doing, especially at the urging of a bad attitude and being ungrateful.
So what do you do? And by you, I mean me. We fake it until we feel it. Whether we understand the timing of God, like it, or agree with it is not the challenge. His ways and works are not for us to always understand. The challenge is being able to get on board, mustering up enough “uumph” to act like we do until we actually do so we can really be ready to move. It’s about being grateful while waiting on the green light. So, if you see me acting “extra” about any one or a few areas of my life just know it’s for a reason. I’m trying to learn some final lessons, exhaust all of my purposes in those areas, maximize whatever opportunities left, and get some things once and for all settled deep down within me so I can be trusted to move on to bigger, better, newer, and next.
Recently I had an opportunity to spend an afternoon talking to some high school students from around Birmingham, Alabama on dining etiquette. The informal chat was in preparation for an upcoming visit to a fancy-smancy restaurant with fru fru food they would soon enjoy. I had a blast talking to them, sharing the bit of wisdom I know about etiquette and hearing their collective, adolescent gasps and “whaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttt?” when I said things like no asking for hot sauce when at an upscale establishment.
I love food, and I love the opportunity for a woman from Birmingham’s #35211 West End (Google it) to be able to experience and explore different cultures and cuisines from all around the world right here at home…until I make it around the world. Part of that, I am well aware, is being adaptable in all kinds of environments, especially those which are known for prices and presentations representing the finer things in life. What I wanted the students to know after talking with them is that they, regardless from where they’ve come, deserve to be in those kinds of atmospheres. They belong at the table. There’s no table too important for them not to be at. There are no people too influential for them not to be with. Heck, I believe they don’t just belong at the table. I see the head as their final destination. The same is so with us all. So many times gatherings are not about food. It’s about decisions, power moves, money transfers, career advancement, fund raising, connections and purpose being fulfilled right over an appetizer of escargot, a beautiful bowl of summer vegetable gazpacho, a perfectly prepared medium rare Cowboy steak, flanked with crab oscar asparagus or nestled atop sautéed swiss chard, truffle smashed potatoes, and a molten chocolate cake with your sip of choice.
Practicing proper etiquette is not being fake or being a sell out. It’s not conforming or complying. It’s just taking small steps to enhance who we are to be prepared for where we’re going. We can’t complain about not being invited to the party if we don’t care to know what to do when we get there. So how do you do it?
Here are a few tips to help…
- No talking with food in mouth.
- Wait on host or head of table to start eating before you do.
- Use napkins appropriately and place them over the chair (and not on the table) if you have to exit the table for a moment.
- Use BMW when determining what’s what to eat regarding your place setting (Bread, Meal, Water).
- Use appropriate forks and knives.
- Slice, don’t bite. Then wipe.
- Don’t slurp or loudly stir.
- Put eating utensils down after enjoying each fork of food.
- Avoid asking for hot sauce, requesting too many condiments, making too many special requests, ordering ribs, big, hot fried chicken bone-in breasts, spaghetti hot wings and other messy foods.
- Repeatedly thank the chef, wait staff or hosts.
- Do not clean your plate. (Save that ritual for home.)
- No leftovers should be taken from upscale social functions.
- Avoid: religion, politics, sports team talk, inappropriate jokes or other hot button topics of conversation.
- Share the conversation (Don’t be a talking hog).
- Plan to talk. Know what the topic of the event is and have conversation ready to share.
- Know the organization or product you’re representing or supporting.
- Take a deep breath and breathe, especially if feeling out of your comfort zone.
- Don’t shy away for conversing.
- No recruiting for your next new job or personal business while on company business.
- No name dropping when you really don’t know the name of the person you’re dropping.
- Don’t forget to engage with the guests and attendees.
- Don’t get stuck in one spot if it’s a floating event where mingling is happening all around.
Want more etiquette tips or a full-on group presentation around the table? Just ask. I’ll be happy to oblige.
Have you ever wondered who you were before whatever happened happened that hurt you enough to change who you were? A recent conversation with a friend prompted that thought as I saw how this person clawed through the damages of the tragedies of past hurts to try to cling for dear life to the progress she’d made in an effort to hold on to that progress rather than revert back to her natural response from the past. We talked about her fears of facing the person responsible for that pain and how much that one single individual’s presence had alter her life in a way no man or woman deserved. We also talked about how we wondered what must have happened to the person who hurt her to allow that person to be so hurt that transferring hurt was the solution. We talked and talked and talked. I wondered aloud and internally. Who was my friend before this happened? How could she have been had this not happened? And more importantly we talked candidly about who she could STILL be in spite of what happened and because of what happened so she would be in a position to help others.
I don’t know what you’ve been through. I’ve been through a few things in my young age of 43. Just read a few of my blog posts to find out about my unwanted trysts with sickness, death of loved ones, divorce, loss of opportunity, betrayal and all that not-so-good stuff. Sharing that time of talk with my friend made me wonder how much of the sting of those things I’d carried, and for how long, and didn’t even know it was along for the ride of my life shaping me into some simulation of who I once was, but robbing me of the beauty of who I should have been had I not received the bad brunt of its unwelcomed delivery. I wondered if I am carrying any of it remotely still allowing it to alter things like my subtle response to situations, my trust of others, or my apprehension moving forward in circumstances similar to those which might have caught me off guard or got me caught up.
I pray I’ve been able to successfully heal from the pains of the past, not forgetting them, but certainly no longer feeling them or forcing them on others. My chat with my friend made me more reflective, doing a self-check, to see if my prayer had been answered. I even asked another friend to check me, boo. This person did. I’m glad. I’m no where near perfect but I’m bound to not be bound by my past. Regardless of where we are in life, and what has happened, we all have the God-given ability to be who we were meant to be. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pretty. It won’t be fast, but it will be worth it. So I ask. Who were you before hurt happened, and what are you willing to do to be that person and better? You owe it to yourself and the world awaiting your life as a beautiful testimony.
I’m a bit misty-eyed this morning after an exchange with a college friend who expressed regret for not appreciating an association in his life. After the brief conversation I was reminded, as I reminded him, that there should be no regret. All things happen for a reason, especially in our teens, 20s, 30s or whatever years come before our maturation does (let’s just be real.) I was able to share with him that God doesn’t waste His investment in us. He’s not going to allow any good seeds deposited into His good (flaws and all) children to go bad, even if it takes a while to see the fruit. His goal is life more abundantly and He never fails, even when we feel we have. His goal is to strategically use people, places and things to help get us what we need to get us to where we were meant to be, even if it seems like it’s taking us forever to get there, or even if we feel we’re okay where we are. Plain and simple, He knows what He’s doing especially when we don’t.
I was asked in an interview recently what my biggest regret was. Without hesitation I blurted out “not making the most of my relationships”. For a good little while I lived with the “I wish I would have” notion. I’ve learned to be grateful for who I am and where I am, but my mind would flirt with thoughts like “I wish I would have kept in touch with that person”, “I wish I would have joined that group”, “I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time with those individuals”, “I wish I would have taken that job, or never left this job”, “I wish I would have listened to my daddy’s advice about spare tires and football players in college”, “I wish I would have gotten to know him/her”, “I wish I would have followed up on that offer”, “I wish I would have been more sociable” and so on. My I wish list was as long as a premium bundle of Indi Remi found in your finest neighborhood hair shop. But why? What present or future purpose was wishing from the past producing for me? None.
Life is like a pack of candy, Now and Laters to be exact. I remember growing up enjoying those bite-sized pieces of “tear the silver filling out of your teeth” taffy goodness, and treasuring how long they lasted in chew and in leftover flavor. I guess that’s where the whole notion of eat some now, save some for later derived. Such is so with people. Some people are sent to impart and impact during the here and NOW. Their purpose for our lives is urgent and immediate and felt instantly like that first burst of sweet, fruity flavor once we broke through that thin paper wrapper which often sticks to portions of the taffy treat. Other people, by God’s great design, have an impact so lasting that their goodness is meant to be savored and seen LATER like that wee bit of sticky leftover candy often found stuck to said fillings later on in the day after ones Mama has yelled from the front porch to come home because the street lights are coming on. Both, as in all things in our lives, serve a purpose when needed. It doesn’t matter when, whether now or later. What matters most is that we become who we were created to be all along thanks to the help of the rich and colorful array of sweet people placed in our lives.
Don’t ask me for money. That’s a hard statement to make, but a necessary one indeed. At this juncture in life, an abundance of money is something that is slowly (but surely) making its way to me. It’s coming. I believe. But it appears to be on lay-away. As my moola takes the scenic route to reach me, the ability to give to others financially above the above and beyond I’m already doing for those things important to me, required of me or related to me (not in terms of family) simply doesn’t often exist.
I’m a single woman, who works for a small non-profit, who is divorced, who had to spend her savings and a settlement during and after that divorce, who still has major financial battles related to the remaining and ongoing parts of that divorce, who is in the midst of a life/financial/stewardship make-over (Go, Jesus!), who loves to give. However in terms of coins, cash, dinero, nickels, cabbage, C-notes, cheese, guap, juice, banknotes, dough, duckies, dead pres’, paper, long greens, stacks, racks, cheddar, loot, ends and Benjamins, I simply don’t have it like I want it right now. I know the Ross Dress for Less jumpsuits, the dresses from My Sister’s Closet at the YWCA Central Alabama and my real sister’s closet in Maylene, Alabama may fool you, but that’s not through big funds. That’s favor, and often FREE. I know the presentation, posts and pictures of the fabulous life I recognize I’m blessed to live might paint a pretty picture, and believe me it is (beauty for ashes, baby, beauty for ashes), but again, my checkbook register can tell the tale of how a little looks like a whole, heckofa lot! (Go, Jesus! Go Jesus! GO!)
No to bemoan the point of the temporary place I’m in, while I realize the reality of my skrilla right now, (Did I just say skrilla? I’m so #35211), I also realize the reality of my seed. No, I don’t have as much money as I want to have and give right now, but I do have valuable things with which I have been blessed that I am obligated to give until and after I get what I really want to give. We all have something to give no matter where life has taken us and how long we’ve been there.
So no, please don’t ask me for money because the answer can likely be “I wish I had it to give.” But I can offer my unconventional wisdom, my physical presence and support, my joy in connecting people who need to know each other, my wealth of community resources (some of them are indeed wealthy), my insight on finding and keeping a job, my expertise in events, communications, professional development, conflict resolution and getting and keeping media attention. Until my bread is ready I’ll freely share my testimony of healing, my unapologetic perspective from the Bible, my prayers, my home for football and festivities, my social calendar, my written and spoken word for motivation, my compliments, my genuine love of mankind, my family with those who are without, my hidden nuggets of found or forgotten clothing, never used wedding presents, extra furniture and fixtures, and the likes with those in want and in need. And as I wait for my wads I will cheerfully give my ever-evolving view of life with the fact that through the grace of God life gets better.
It took a while for me to come to the view of focusing more on what I do have while longing for what I wanted, and seeing the value of giving what was in my hand until I had what’s in my heart. I now know my benevolence is not dictated by my bucks. Have you reached that point? It’s such a refreshing point of arrival, and I’m just willing to believe that it’s more valuable than a bunch of dubs, big bucks, lettuce or ducats. (I just adore the urban vernacular. I truly do.)
I had a great night’s sleep after Charter decided to go out leaving me TV-less and wireless. That means I rose this morning earlier than normal with a thought on my mind for divorced women. Let me interrupt that thought by adding another thought. I hate the devil, and I’m pretty sure I’m not on his “favorite girl” list. I peeped his game in my own life a few years ago, and would like to call him out today.
Back to the message at hand.
Dear, sweet, beautiful, valuable, worthy, trusted, overcoming divorced woman...Being a wife didn’t ruin your life and the divorce didn’t either. In my Master P voice, ‘ya heard’? That’s right. Being a wife didn’t ruin your life. Don’t buy into the BS (Backwards System) of thinking that your life has been ruined because you honored the holy matrimony of marriage, trusted your spouse, stayed when you could have (Biblically) left him before he left you, believed God, honored God’s words and way (even, and especially when you didn’t want to) or did anything pleasing in the sight of God regarding your now concluded union. Okay? Okay. (And let me say, this absolutely goes for husbands too, who might have had their worlds turned upside down by unforeseen and/or unwanted divorce. Wife and life just rhyme.)
The enemy wants you to believe one thing, versus that which is certified TRUE. So I’m about to spoil his tricks…
- You didn’t get stuck with the kids. You are simply the one primarily trusted to rear them at this time. What an honor!
- You are not trapped where you are. You are just under reconstruction with plans for an epic come up and come back.
- You didn’t leave and lose your career to help your ex-husband. You were professionally, temporarily rerouted to ingnite gifts and passions you didn’t know you had for where you are going. And you’re going somewhere big!
- You didn’t get the short end of the stick. What you will get is the ability to use that “short” for something so much greater in the long run.
- Your finances and credit aren’t ruined because of the actions of others. You are simply perfectly poised for a post worthy miracle.
- Your love life isn’t over. You are merely under repair for the perfect spouse for you in God’s time and through the beauty of the amazing story he is unfolding.
- Your children don’t have to suffer. Yes, their lives will be filled with lessons possibly learned earlier than desired, but the ability to love, be loved, have a healthy relationship with both parents, heal (spirit, soul and body), enjoy life and not follow in the footsteps of divorce is theirs.
- You are not alone. Your marriage might have ended, but there is a God-ordained village around you waiting to support, love, encourage and care for you when you need it most and from some of the most unexpected faces/places. Look for them and let them in.
- You will not always hurt. You can and will heal if you allow healing to do what healing does…and that’s heal you.
There you have it. Again I say, being a wife didn’t ruin your life and the divorce didn’t either. They just added an extra layer of purpose and power. So if you’ve ever thought that divorce did you in, thinking yourself “dumb, stupid, stuck, trapped, forgotten, or naïve” for believing, trusting, loving and trying your very last best for what you promised God you would try your best for, tell the devil where he can go. Oh wait. he’s already there. No need. Just carry on living and trusting God for greater.
A friend and I were sharing our concern about another friend who was visibly affected by the actions she deemed unfair from others. It was taking our friend away from her normal way of being, thinking, and even looking. Whether credence was given or not toward the unfairness, what was showing more was her attitude taking a painful turn for the worse in a place and position she could not afford it to. At this point, regardless of whether her concerns were true, her attitude was what was speaking most loudly and clearly. Sadly, she’s not alone.
It’s often hard to take the high road with a happy face when one feels they’ve been treated unfairly, especially when they’re called to carry on “business as usual” in the midst of internal or external madness. I’ve been there, done that, had to smile in front of hundreds while hurting, work through tears which would have flooded a small village (or at least it seemed) and will one day write a book about it. However, all the adversary (the devil) or your adversities would like is for you to get huffed up, fired up, hot as fish grease, defeated, isolated, or disengaged and let that be your lasting impression, especially if your time and presence had truly made an impact. You see, it doesn’t matter if what they did is/was wrong if what you do or don’t do supersedes all of that. Keeping calm in the midst of chaos is a craft which can take you far and keep you sane.
There was a nifty little song by one of the greatest duos ever known to man (or at least this woman). The song was “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B and Rakim. Over a catchy and infections 80’s hook they rapped lyrics that brought out the best “ohhhh, snap” or “ohhhhhhhhwwwweeeeee” a vinyl record or cassette tape could buy. While their lyrics didn’t exactly sum up the sum total of this post the title surely was inspiration. I’d like to take a cue from this dynamic duo and encourage you by saying “don’t sweat their technique”, meaning don’t let them catch you slipping or off your game having you appear to be the unstable, cra-cra, overly-sensitive or unprofessional one. You better shake it off. Put your best foot and face forward. Deal with them the right way and maintain your character. Regardless of what others do or don’t do, how they act, the energy they carry and the attitude that joins it, don’t let it internally or externally affect you to the point of robbing you of being who you are, how you are and who you were meant to be. There’s a blessing, even in your troubles, which can come more quickly as you gracefully endure whomever or whatever you’re facing and get to wherever it was sent to take you, and do it sweatless. Don’t sweat their technique!
Hold up. Wait a minute. Before you read more into this blog post title allow me to clarify myself. I said “hustler”, not “hustla”. Despite how “interesting” times might have become since “I do” turned into “I don’t” or since career adjustments, unmet financial obligations from others, life’s surprises and the likes have come I’m still a lady so “hustler” it is. Even as I type, however, a popular rap song of some years ago comes to mind that definitely doesn’t apply to what I intend to express. (I can hear that flirty little melody in my mind…Get outta my head why don’t ya!) When I say “hustler” I mean one who is an enterprising or aggressive person determined to succeed. Yup, that’s me!
Now, with that cleared up I shall proceed…
Within the last five or more years I’ve discovered strengths, skills, techniques, creativity, chutzpah and gumption within me that I didn’t even know I had. Let’s be honest. I didn’t even want to have them! I guess I never knew I had it because at the time I didn’t need it. The Lord had my hustle on hold. He’s so sweet! Sure, I’ve been somewhat frugal some of my life. Certainly, I could find, fix or remix that which was old and make you believe it was new. Yes, I’ve been awakened too many nights to recall just to hear God tell me ideas and thoughts which were beneficial to whatever person, cause or job I was working on behalf of at the time. True, I’ve always been a very hard worker and organized trying to stay on top of my business and often helping others do the same. Yep, I’m a believer in the “early bird catches the blessings” so I rise at “o-dark thirty” and stay or stay up as late as I need to get things done. But of late, I’ve had a super-natural, God-given ability to pull some rabbits out of some proverbial hats I didn’t even know I had. And to top it off, God has gifted me with the most amazing support system of friends of old who are now new, friends who are new and are needed now, and family and loved ones who have been there for this adventure. And while many of them are too faced with what some might consider impossible obstacles, they bring with them a hustle that would make Memphis’ own Djay smile. My squad (I feel so urban saying that) can grind with the best of them in the best possible way!
So here I am embracing the newness of me and my hustle. The knock downs, nos and blows have turned out to be like a thirst-quenching fuel to my inner fire. In as much as I could do without them they light me up! And let me tell you, with the ferociousness in which those knock downs, nos and blows are coming just consider me lit! The most amazing part in all of that is that, while it appears that my strengths, skills, techniques, creativity, chutzpah and gumption are in vain, this newly revealed, daily remembered and nightly revved up hustler in me gets back up, buffs off her high heels, freshens her face, swoops her hair, lifts up her posse’, shouts out her Daddy (God) and gets back at it, again, and again, and again.