Open Forum: What’s On Your Mind? Talking About Self-Control and Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. May our troops, veterans and allies stay safe.

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Time Travel(s)

I’m in the middle of a long, lovely, idyllic and idle weekend. Rather cold, but I like it like that. I remember a couple of summers a few years back that were rather chilly. Time is going by much too quickly, as usual. When we work, the week drags. When we have days off, they simply fly by. And I cannot believe it is half-way, mid-way through the year.

So, I’ve been asking myself lately:

  • What have I been doing?
  • Is it moving me forward?
  • Have I advanced in any way?
  • Have I (re)moved any major milestones?

I verbally spank myself a great deal. I try not to be annoyed with myself so much. To me, the perfect state of being is literally a blank mind. I wont be able to sleep if I cannot do that. I wont be able to drive. I wont be able to function. I often dwell and think too much about really really unimportant things I have absolutely no control over, because I do not want to focus on the big things that I must do.

Getting It Done

My approach for dealing with life is usually two track: 1) Little bites, 2) Big major moves.

It’s surprising to me, although it shouldn’t, how often I stay on the same track. It’s good when it is applied to stubbornly working to accomplish a difficult long term task, yet deadly when it’s used for avoidance and getting stuck in a rut.

Does that make sense? I know I’m beating dead horses in my life. I recognize it. Yet, I wont stop it. I discover notes, diaries and checklists from years ago. Same stuff, different day. Nothing seems to be changing.

Do you know how aggravating that is?

One of the things I’m always looking at is, How do I move forward? My personality, which I’ve been trying to change, or adjust for these situations, and for such a long time, I consider to be one of my greatest impediments. It is great for somethings. I am a Pitt Bull where it counts.

And I don’t ask for much. My list is quite short. However, it requires multiple steps to get there.

Lost in Lack of Self-Control

On some level, I think I can understand why people get up and run away, take too many prescription drugs, drink, get high all the time, work excessively long hours, push themselves too hard, are addicted to pain, pleasure and dangerous (sometimes criminal) activities. It’s about the distraction. It’s about getting the mind off that groove.

Unfortunately, it’s replacing one deep ditch for another. And one could get lost in the self for many years, forgetting what one wanted in the first place.

There’s this perfect limbo between absolute killing boredom and excitement so keen you could die of bliss. One cannot always chase the bliss … it can be destructive. But when you have to keep a certain state of equanimity day after day, month after month, because that is life… Oh goodness, life is extremely tedious.

I think it is a fine recipe for going bonkers.

So, what to do?

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Everyone can talk about what’s on their minds. I’m just doing a little mental purging. 😀

 

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Good News Travel Comrades: We’re (Almost) Free to Fly Unmolested

My first post of 2013, and it is on the perfect subject.

As Nysee mentioned a few posts back: this is the time to get back on track, or continue with our goals. Travel is a big part of that! I feel deprived not being able to leave for domestic and international destinations because of all the idiocy at the airports.

Although I still want the TSA a.k.a. “Those Stupid A$$h@!#s” and HS a.k.a. “Homeland (In)security” to be disbanded and eliminated sometime in the immediate future, this bit of *Rape-i-scan news will have to do. For now. The fight to bring society back to an unbowed and non-sheep-like existence, along with the eradication of this police state atmosphere, or totalitarian regime, is a lifetime affair.

And, no, I don’t believe I’m exaggerating. There’s a real limit as to how many stupefying hassles, inconveniences and degradations I’m required to endure just to get on a damn airplane. None of that security theater nonsense ever had, or ever will, make me feel “safe” and “secure”. We got the message years ago: if someone acts up on a plane, everybody will beat him into submission and duct tape his ass to a seat.

Finally, The Good News

According to the BBC:

“The US aviation security agency will stop screening travellers with scanners that show travellers’ naked images, amid widespread privacy complaints.”

“Separately to the privacy concerns, some health officials feared the *Rape-i-scan 1000SP scanner, which uses low-level X-rays to generate the image viewed by screeners, might expose passengers to unsafe levels of radiation.”

“The *Rape-i-scan machines will be replaced by scanners that use radio waves to detect suspicious objects hidden underneath clothes. Those display warnings on an avatar rather than show a naked image of the passenger.”

Our Congress made them stop.

Let us not forget that those people in government, every single one of them, work for us: we are not their subjects, servants, slaves or sheep.

And they could give two s#!&s about health risks. These people were worried about liability: the increasing possibility of someone, or a group of people in a class action, winning a massively huge! huge! lawsuit. Regardless of the BS you hear when you buy an airline ticket, that does not entitle this government to try and (slowly) kill you in order to get from point A to point B in the name of “We No Longer Call It The War on Terror”.

You get enough exposure to radiation from flying alone.

On the other hand, this might lead to an increase in the number of TSA stealing from, fondling and sexually abusing vulnerable passengers, since so many criminal-minded authoritarian control freaks and sexual perverts are attracted to the job (especially those at the top of these agencies).

Money always talks.

While I believe complaints from consumers reached the ears of our dimwitted representatives, and lent some weight to the removal of the *Rape-i-scan, I don’t think that’s the whole story. We need to remember that some of the most powerful lobbyists down in Washington, D.C. belong to the airlines.

So, I bet they ran the numbers and realized that a lot of people, like myself, were not FLYING because of those machines and government employee nut jobs. If you multiply that by a few hundred thousand Americans, especially business people who usually pay the full “weight” or fare, and other international flyers, the TSA was – and is – strangling the travel industry.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if they are also single-handedly responsible for the sluggish condition of the global economy. It’s a domino affect. If we aren’t travelling domestically or overseas spending our money – that’s a big loss. That well oiled machine is seizing up.

The government would like to think that the removal of the *Rape-i-scan is a lasting sole solution, or a sufficient move to appease folks, but to me – it’s just the beginning….

Note: *Yes, I deliberately misspelled the name of that despicable product. I apologize for the profanity, but this topic leaves me heated.

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Update: This may be the only recourse. Everyday a passenger should sue the TSA.

Wired.com: Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

 

 

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Lately, people have been calling me skinny

It’s a weird comment to hear, especially coming from one of the office whales. You know, like if you think I am skinny, what does that make you?

And she sounded exasperated, like how dare I appear so small – at least in her eyes, because I don’t see it. I was told by someone else – who I really regard as “in shape” that my waist appears “tiny”. While I admire the bodies of Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield or Jane Russell, I don’t imagine I look anywhere near those figures.

Somehow this was the year I got my eating under control, but I walk no more than 25 to 50 minutes daily. If time and the weather allows. I really miss weight lifting.

And by the way, my waist is 28 inches, I have to measure my top and bottom again. I haven’t done that in a while. I am aiming for 36 – 26 – 36, if that’s possible. Back in the good ol’ says, those were my measurements.

I eat apples for breakfast, apparently they are natural appetite suppressors. I also eat very few sugary foods, bread, rice and I stick to meat, veggies and fruit that don’t give me gas (LOL) or make me hungry. I confess I like salty and spicy foods. I drink a couple glasses of water when I think I’ve overdone it.

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See? No big deal. And I love big belts.

What’s on your mind?

Update: another belt I love.
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For Black Women: Don’t Ever Ask For Permission To Live

Spring is coming. Well, up here in the Northeast it’s coming. I’m sure for those of you around the country (or world) the weather is different. Could be blazing hot right now, eh?

I haven’t been pro-active enough lately, or the last couple of months. I think I’ve spent more of it catching up, because I’ve let so many personal things go by the wayside. I’m a procrastinator. It’s true. 🙂

I want to encourage those of you who are feeling a bit blue to look forward to the next few months, or years, of your life. I think the last two or three years have been a wake up call. We’re seeing relatively “young” celebrities, rich folk, public intellectuals and entertainers die way way way before their time. And here we are simple, regular folk, slogging through each day wondering how people with “everything” could pass so easily.

There you have it: even the wealthy, famous and “perfect” can suddenly die.

Oh, I meant to cheer you up. Sorry. 🙂

I want to encourage you. Push you. Gently. To refocus.

Think about what you want. What you want! What you NEED. What you DESIRE. What you feel you DESERVE.

You ain’t here to please nobody. So don’t let any naysayers, toxic people, or the crabs in your life know about your wishes. Only share it with those who really do love you.

And that’s another thing. Please run away, right now, from anybody who makes you feel less than. Who leaves a bad taste in your mouth after every discussion. A “frank” conversation shouldn’t leave you feeling sad, sorrowful, down-in-the-dumps or DISCOURAGED!

I meant this to be short, but I’m asking all of you to think of yourselves. Treat yourself better. Love yourself. Find people who adore you to surround you. And tell the vampires in your life to hit the road. There are people out there who are NOT entitled to invade your personal space or life.

Okay?

Make that list. Follow through. Do what pleases you. Do the impossible. And remember: Don’t ever ask for permission to live.

Take good care of yourself.

Cheers. 😀

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Continuing The Nice Good … Love Is a Numbers Game, Play It Serious

How to Play It Serious

The best information always comes from the comments section. I’d like to highlight these tips from Lisa:

I started reading BWE blogs when I was 27 and now I’m married at 32. I might still be thinking about all the time I have and feeling that there’s “no rush” if not for reading the blogs.

While there’s never a “rush” for love, there’s also no reason to be waiting around for some man to come along (or some man to shape up and marry you after umpteen years), when you can find someone right now who is ready for something real and serious — and he might just be white!

Wow, it’s been that long? 🙂

Lisa offers what changed in her approach to the dating game:

I guess I’d say that the other change I made was taking the process of meeting men a lot more seriously. I used to act in the “if it happens, it happens” mode, so I might have a dating profile up, but if I didn’t receive any responses in six months (for example), I didn’t care. I just figured it wasn’t my time and nothing more.

I later stepped up my efforts (and was successful, yay) and also made it a point to go to more social events. I didn’t have time to hope I met Mr. Right at the supermarket one day, although if it happened that way, it would be nice. I just started making more time to go out (and that does not mean to the club) instead of staying home all the time.

Last night, my husband and I went to a goodbye party for a co-worker who’s moving. While I’m no longer on the market, there were a bunch of single guys there that I would have been checking out… not saying any of them were available, but at least my odds improved by going to the dinner and meeting six unmarried men versus staying at home because I was too tired or something.

Plus, just being in the company of men can help you be a better dater, so that when you do get asked out, you’ll be so fabulous on the first date that he’ll want to ask you out again!

Wonderful testimonial. Each journey begins with the first step. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be hypercritical of yourself. You don’t have to look like [insert name of the latest superskinny supermodel or beweaved singer] to make things happen. Embrace who you are. Start looking. Get social. Make more friends.

Don’t linger on any man who will waste your time. Don’t ever let him get you on the phone talking for hours or more than 10 minutes at a time. Don’t let him text you (heaven forbid now, eh?) a million times a day. He’s wasting your time. This is part of vetting.

Listen to what he says, he’ll tell you what he’s looking for when you ask. And you must ask. Make it clear what YOU WANT. Don’t ever waver. You deserve better.

A Nice Black Man Offers His Perspective on Dating

I appreciate feedback from guys, and so we have the following comment from Bubby.

Well, speaking as a nice black guy, I always tell guys who’re nice who say that they are having problems meeting or finding the right woman, to look harder and to keep at it. Dating is a numbers game and you have to face your fears, face rejection and keep plugging away. If you approach twenty women, four may find you attractive. So sixteen women will tell you, no thanks. Now, are you gonna focus on the negative sixteen or on the positive four?

I chuckle when some of these cats say that women only want “bad boys” or “players”. Women are free to like whatever turns them on in a man and if you’re not what she’s looking for or attracted to, why get angry at her? We all know that men don’t want people telling them what to find attractive in a woman. Move on. There are plenty of women out there who will love and appreciate you but you’ll never find them if you’re too busy throwing yourself a pity party.

I’ve read these so-called seduction sites and they all reccomend that a “nice guy” change or incorporate some gimmick or routine into his “game”. I say be yourself. I say get a hobby. Do things that you enjoy. Get out and explore the world. Take a cooking class. LIVE.

But keep your eyes open and be prepared and willing to approach a woman that you find attractive. Be polite and courteous and see if she’s willing to give you a shot. The rule is: Men approach and the woman chooses.

Truth be told, some of these guys want women to fall at their feet just because they’re nice cats. They don’t want to put any effort into having a love life at all. That kind of arrogance isn’t sexy at all and women will avoid you like the plague.

Hey, you sound like my older brother and his friends!

We all do need to remove anger, hostility, bitterness, and sense of entitlement from our interactions with one another. I think we all improve if we just keep it polite, cordial and cool.

Guys may not realize this, but the fastest way to win a woman over is to be helpful and useful. That’s the one thing that I’m surprised so many miss. I’m not talking about replacing the plumber and being on-call like a hot-line, but showing a woman handyman skills and being reliable, gets you through the right door faster than playing the fool.

And if she cannot appreciate good favors, then at some point the next woman will.

Thank you for your contributions, Lisa and Bubby. 🙂

Cheers everyone.

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Harvard Business Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson writes:

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

The details of each item can be found here: Harvard Business Review.  I didn’t exerpt the entire article, because I don’t copy and paste people’s work. The nine items listed are as follows:

1. Get specific

My response: I’ve assumed that goals I’ve accomplished didn’t require specificity. Yet, now that I think of it, when I was specific (even down to the date of achievement) I got what I wanted. So I will go back to my list(s) and include details.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals

My response: That is so correct. The years can fly by, especially in my case, when one doesn’t jump on the ball. Even acting on it a few minutes a day gets the goal(s) accomplished.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go

My response: This is a great project management point: Where am I in achieving this goal(s)?

4. Be a realistic optimistic

My response: So I cannot be a billionaire and master of all domains? Dang. I’ll take off a few zeroes, that should do the trick. 🙂

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good

My response: I don’t see myself as a perfectionist. Yet I do get into that mindset of “it has to be much much better than this” and as a result nothing will get started or finished.

6. Have grit

My response: I’m a wimp sometimes. Gotta work on that. 🙂

7. Build your willpower muscle

My response: Still wimpy.

8. Don’t tempt fate

My response: No! But I’m different! I’m not like everyone else. I’m special! The rules of reality don’t apply to me. 🙂

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do

My response: That is perfect. I think a lot of us spend too much time and mental energy on what (or who) we don’t like. I think the hardest thing to do is keep your mind engaged on the positive. Focusing too much on the negative drains your energy, drains your spirit, and then nothing gets done.

Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/nine_things_successful_people.html

Spring Cleaning

It’s coming! Time to clean out the cobwebs from our mental and emotional closets! 🙂

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Goals Reset: Where Has the Time Gone? It’s May Already!!!!

Oh my goodness! This is crazy. I mean we are almost at the half point of this year already!

Where did the time go? I’m scared I will look around and it’ll be Christmas again.

Time for me to start my New Year’s Resolutions all over again.

Gym Rat / Weight Loss

I’ve been at the gym 5 days out of 7. My body can’t handle the daily grind as I initially thought, but at least the aches and pains are gone. Boy, do I love weight lifting. I do that every time I go, and I alternate the treadmill and bike riding. Based on my body type, which is Mesomorphic / Mesomorph. I’ve lost 10 lbs since April 1, not bad. Usually, I can only drop 2 lbs a month, but I think my updated routine has made it easier to lose.

Why Me, Lord?

Why does everything necessitate talking to people who don’t like me,  and I don’t like them? Seriously, I’m not talking blog land. I mean out in the “real world.” No one ever leaves intermediate or high school. It’s the same people over and over again.

Nice People

It’s interesting to hear about people you’ve met only once or twice inquiring after you. I don’t know, I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling from it. Well, I’m always asking after them. Good vibrations go both ways.

It’s Too Warm To Hide

It’s like when the personal trainer and I were talking and he asked, “So why now?” Dude! Because by June, you will have nowhere to hide. The clothes wont cover the butt or hips. Part of what makes me look really big is my chest. Some women don’t like losing weight there: I look forward to it! I’ve got enough bosom to spare. I can barely run because of it. Ugh.

I Love the Summer, I Hate the Summer

I actually find it more boring than the winter. I like mild weather, like how it is now in the Northeast. But when it gets hotter. I dunno. I don’t like festivals, street parties or outdoor events. I loved them as a child. Man, those were the greatest years of my life. Today, the only thing I truly find interesting is traveling to different countries. That takes time and money. My goals is to get going by September. Again.

Money

I love what it can do for you. I don’t have this mindset that it is the “root of all evil.” Its purpose is to be used like the TOOL (in a positive meaning) that it is. I think people get confused with what money does. If you don’t have money, remember that BARTERING is what existed before coinage came about. Always remember that favors / good advice are basically priceless, in essence, especially coming from the right people.

I Gotta Hurry Up

The only thing that irritates me about myself is the inability to rush things. I’m not an efficient multitasking type of person. I’m an old fashioned needle-style record player: one track at a time. I need things to be just right. Although I am aware that a perfectionist streak is a good mask for hiding fear of failure. I take too long. My goal is get it done. I will fix is as I go along, but things must get done. Otherwise, we stagnate, right?

Breaking the Introvert Habits

I remember being more outgoing as a kid. I took a class that said Introverts become more “closed” as they get older. Hey, for people like me, the daily exercise is to talk to someone (in the real world) everyday. Even if it is to ask the time. Co-workers don’t count. People I already know don’t count.

That’s the one constant I have to maintain: talking to people!

Feedback

As always is welcome, if you have any goals, spell ’em out. I like cheering people on. Have a good one.

Cheers everybody.

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Black Women: Starting Over, Moving On and Out

When is the best time to move? NOW.

When is the best time to start over? NOW.

Spring is a marvelous time of year to run from wherever we are to someplace better. Right now.

The following quote comes from Monae:

It’s not that easy to meet white guys where I live. It’s not like they’re around, except delivery men. I don’t date at all now because the choices are bad. Plus, I am educated but only by going to the library, being on the internet and watching movies. I didn’t learn anything in school but it didn’t matter because I was beat down at school for trying to act white. Even though I know a lot I know I still sound like I’m from the hood, so I don’t know how many white men would want to talk to me just hearing the way I talk. What white guy is going to want to date a little black girl that sounds getto and still works at Long John Silvers when she is 24? How can I get away to somplace else. Thought about joining the army but I don’t think the army is for me.

GoldenAh

You have a lot of time to begin crafting the new you. You can start by not regarding yourself as ghetto. It doesn’t help to put yourself down. You want more out of life, and that’s the best thing in the world.

Before you think of men, ask yourself what do you want out of life? To go back to school, and pursue a degree (2 year / 4 year?)? Learn a specific trade? Maybe take a couple of courses for a certificate degree? Nothing is out of reach, and you don’t have to go into crazy debt to do it.

I recommend you move. You sound wise enough to want to cut and run, so Don’t Tell Anyone. Especially any negaholics who enjoy putting you down. Just run. First, research where you want to live (low crime rate, maybe a Community College nearby) and see about moving there. The new job hunt can start later, maybe even find a part time to help bridge the expense gap and save money. Real estate web sites give plenty of crime and school info. Or you can hunt for work in a new neighborhood, and once you have that new position, move somewhere nearby.

It’s not going to be easy making these moves, but stick with a plan: 1) move, then new job, or 2) new job, then move, THEN 3) more schooling in new area, or 4) 2nd job to save for new area… AND 5) widen your social circle by finding new interests.

The Ladies Respond

Here are the responses from many fabulous and helpful sisters. There can never be too much information in helping someone save their own life by changing it.

NijaG

As for your speech, that could be changed. You can buy a cheap tape recorder and practice your pronunciations and speech patterns by reading out loud. There are many books/tapes on grammar, enunciation, etc. I’m sure you can even find them online. Material geared towards people where English is a second language could be helpful.

Before even concentrating on men, think about the person you want to be and the life you want to have. I would say start with a short general life plan. Example, where you see yourself at age 30 and then break those down into yearly goals.

There are many books you could probably find on life/vision goals and planning. I would look maybe at Amazon.com for reviews and suggestions and then borrow from the library. There are also many career/job centers that offer counseling and advice for free. See if you can find out. The library may even have some info on this.

Formal education is key. The whole world is getting very competitive nowadays. There are many career fields that don’t require a traditional 4-year college. You can finish in 2-3 years depending. Whatever you choose make sure the schools are accredited and recognized.

While some people consider student loans to be a bad thing, they can actually be very helpful. Student loans are not only given to pay for education, put to sometimes help students live. If you start off at a community college or in-state school, the tuition rate are usually cheaper than private. Most times there is money left over. If you use the money wisely, this could actually help in getting you out your neighborhood.

I went to an in-state school, and with the money left over each semester, I was able to buy my books, and have money for at least 3-4 months rent. This definitely helped reduce some stress.

Goldenah has given some very good suggestions. Moving out from your environment and into a better one is so important. Roommate situations are very good place to start in order to cut down expenses. With the current economy you’ll be surprised some of the deals you can find in very nice neighborhood with homeowners looking to make some extra money by renting out extra rooms, garages, or basements.

Tracy

By being a self starter and studying on your own, you have shown that you are curious about the world and are ready for something more and better. Don’t knock the Internet – that is how I learned – in my thirties up to now at forty four – FOUR different languages! Speaking, comprehending and writing – so you keep looking stuff up and broadening your mind.

The only thing that I can add to the already great advice is this: BW are the best actresses in the world, so while you are bettering yourself, fake it till you make it!

That white girl accent you got in trouble for in high school – rock it girl! Surround yourself with greatness, visit a consignment shop and get some nice designer duds, treat yourself and act as the wonderful being you are! You will be surprised at how fast you get used to it!

Another thing – expounding on the Dont Tell Anyone – when you move, consider a studio apartment. DONT GET A HOUSE!! Some folks are nosy – cant find a job or a life but they can find you. So if that happens, don’t give them a reason to think that you are their ” home away from home”. This happened to a single girlfriend of mine – got a house with way too much space and soon she became a flop house for whoever wasn’t getting along with “mama” or “random trifling negro”. Don’t let that happen to you – minimalize while you maximize your life!

You can do it!! Good luck to you!

Oshun/Aphrodite

The cool thing is that there are tons of non traditional students (over the age of 21 who attend college full time)

AND college is the best place to meet WM.

AND men do marry down…I am not saying you are down or don’t strive, but most functional men aren’t looking for women to be breadwinners.

You are at an age where you can easily position yourself to marry UP…

Diction, the way you dress, and carry yourself can all be polished simultaneously- the key is getting into the environments where it will pay off so to speak.

Ruth

Monae –

I almost started crying when I read your comment, I wish I could just hug you and squeeze you and and tell you everything is going to be all right, and take you out of there tomorrow. But I can’t, all I can do is offer you some counsel.

Listen to these older sisters on here; they’re speaking the truth. You’re still very young, and the good thing is you have already figured out that you want to be better than you are now, and, that no one around that you know at this time is likely to help you towards that goal. There are a lot of black women who come to that epiphany very slowly. They don’t get there until they’re 30, or 40, or even 50 years old. So, you are way ahead of the game in that regard.

I’m not going to re-hash what the others said, it’s all good advice that I agree with. I’ll try to add some things here and there, based on my own struggles and successes. I’m sure some of it may possibly seem like overkill or “over the top” to you or others, but you just don’t know how tough some parts of leaving your current situation are going to be until the time comes.

First of all, get out of there first (start planning to do this tomorrow), and then after the first move, pick a place where you’re going to live for at least a few years while you go to school. Since you’ll be working jobs that don’t pay very much, just like we all had to, and those jobs exist everywhere, then it’s really just a matter of where you want to live. Most Western states and some Southern states have junior colleges and community colleges that are quite inexpensive in terms of credit hours. It sounds like you don’t have a car, so a city would be best. If it were me, I think I’d try a place like Seattle or Portland, Oregon. And maybe you could stay there for your four-year degree, too. But, that’s what the internet is for, check out lots of places. There are also two European countries (Sweden and Norway, I think?) that offer free tuition to any student that is accepted, if you think that might interest you later, as you get some credit hours under your belt. And European men love American BW.

Which brings me to my next point: Don’t get pregnant. Your dreams will be completely derailed by an unexpected pregnancy, so when you have sex, use birth control! I cannot stress this strongly enough. And use protection against STDs, too.

Buy everything you can used. Except a computer, definitely buy a NEW laptop, don’t buy a used computer. But almost everything else can be bought in good or great condition for a reasonable percentage of what it cost new, and the only one that will ever know you bought it used is you. And I mean everything – clothing, furniture, cars, dishes, stereos, etc. Craigslist, baby! You can buy quality brands if you buy used, and you buy quality, it will last a long time. Just don’t buy cheap stuff used. This habit persists with me today – when I finally got enough money from years of working, I bought a used ladies Rolex for $1800 (the exact same model is $11,600 new), which looks great and runs great, and my new husband just (laughingly) told me a couple of months ago that when he first met me and saw I had an old Rolex on, he just assumed that I was “from a family that had money” and had received the watch from a relative when she passed. Yes, that’s how a lot of white people think. He said he knew it wasn’t fake, because no one wears an old fake Rolex, and so he saw that I like quality, and, that I was frugal. That little stupid thing made me even more desireable to him; the fact that I didn’t need a new Rolex, that I was happy with an older one. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Not really. I was ecstatic when he pulled up in a perfect-condition 20 year-old Mercedes – that was much better than a shiny new luxury car to me. I still buy used things whenever I can.

Change the name you use. If you have a middle name that is what most people consider a typical name, than use that name. If people see “Monae” on a resume, you may as well put “I was born poor and black” at the top of the resume as well. I’m sorry, but this is the way people think. BTW, it’s the same thing when you see a resume from “Krystal” with a “K” – you know she’s white and was born in the South in a trailer park. I’m just sayin’. I speak from experience as my original birth certificate said Latisha on it. My middle name was Ruth (my grandmother’s name), which I hated when I was younger because it was so plain and boring, but which I started using when I was in my early twenties. Just like magic, I started getting a lot more interviews from my resume. When I got in front of them, I was still a black woman, but at least I was now in front of them with a real chance to impress them with what I knew. At least I got my shot at the job. And I got those jobs. Latisha is now no more. I legally changed my first name to Ruth years ago, and picked a new middle name to go with it. I know it seems like a huge, radical step, but if you don’t have a good middle name, think about legally changing your first name now, before you go to school, so it’s the same name as your school records later. My husband knows me as Ruth, which he loves, and thinks the Latisha thing is pretty hilarious. Uh-huh. I asked him if he would have gone out with a Latisha, and he said, “Hmmm, that’s a good question”.

Last item. When you do the things you need to do to improve yourself, your family and current friends will undoubtedly accuse you of not “keepin it real”. My sister still does, she still pulls that on me.

She has three children from three different fathers, none of whom have ever paid any child support, and she works as a shampoo girl at a beauty shop. She lives paycheck to paycheck, has bad credit, a broken-down car, is in very poor health due to smoking and her weight, and bounces from one bad man to another (but every one of these black kings is “the one” while he’s around).

So she’s definitely “keepin it real”. You know, I love her because she’s my sister, but sometimes I don’t like her very much. She’s made a lot of bad choices, and still has the nerve to tell me that I have turned my back on my race and my neighborhood.

Don’t let people drag you down, girl. Because they definitely will if you give them even half a chance to do so. Unfortunately, I came from a very toxic environment, the whole “crabs in a barrel” thing. I was bullied mercilessly at school for “acting white”. My own mother said I was a sell-out and a whore to the white man when I started dating my husband. This from a woman whose husband left when I was a baby, and never came back. I never even knew my father. And she said that about my future husband? That really, really hurt my feelings at the time.

Now, this same man makes sure that she has everything she needs now, she lacks for nothing. It’s his paycheck that’s providing it, and he’s never complained about doing it, he’s never hesitated to take that on. I have an MBA and I had a very good job (6 months pregnant now, so no job now because I resigned recently), and still, I married up! He’s a good man.

Keep moving forward, make something of yourself. Lots of successful people in America started out with nothing and they came from dirt-poor families. Lots of successful people have completely re-invented themselves in this country. You don’t have to be like you’re always been.

{{Virtual hugs.}}

I recommend you move. You sound wise enough to want to cut and run, so Don’t Tell Anyone. Especially any negaholics who enjoy putting you down. Just run. First, research where you want to live (low crime rate, maybe a Community College nearby) and see about moving there. The new job hunt can start later, maybe even find a part time to help bridge the expense gap and save money. Real estate web sites give plenty of crime and school info. Or you can hunt for work in a new neighborhood, and once you have that new position, move somewhere nearby.

It’s not going to be easy making these moves, but stick with a plan: 1) move, then new job, or 2) new job, then move, THEN 3) more schooling in new area, or 4) 2nd job to save for new area… AND 5) widen your social circle by finding new interests.

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Praying versus Purposeful Living: The Tigress Has Stripes

I had taken this vow, or made it my goal, to be nicer to people this year. I don’t mean mindlessly self-effacing, humble, or accommodating. I am polite, that’s a given. My intention is to shutdown the harsh critic that resides in my brain. I decided that if I keep the internal-thought-troll quiet, it wouldn’t appear on my face.

I know that a placid, or blank mind, would help me keep a calm and “open” disposition. Less agitation equals less stress and distraction.

So, this past weekend some strange(r) guy was trying to get a rise out of me. His tomfoolery did not work. It was rather amusing watching this individual loudly utter his non sequiturs, interrupt everyone, and attempt to goad me by intimating some rather silly topics while beaming in my direction.

Sorry, not biting! In the old days, I would have been irritated. Yet this time, I felt like I was watching it all from a distance.

It was a good feeling, having self-control and emotional mastery such as that.

Praying and Meditating

I am contemplating on learning to meditate, since I’ve decided that praying doesn’t suit me. I want to meditate to improve my focus and concentrate. I’m a bit too scatterbrained these days.

I shared this philosophy with my Mother a number of months ago – that I don’t actually pray – and I thought she was ready to say that I was going to hell. (LOL)

I explained myself in more detail, so she would understand.

I think today’s version of “I’ll pray for you,” or “I’ll pray on that,” comes across as 1-800-God-is-listening, or 1-800-God-does-what-I-want. Call that number, and the big Jesus will do as you request. I know people fervently believe that.

I do not. I also do not live in fear of this eternal being, this divine diety(ies) most folks on this planet claim, or swear, to believe in.

Honestly, I think a large number of people are atheistic, or malignant non-believers, based on how they conduct their lives, although they may spend a lot of time talking as if they believe in a higher being. I’m not convinced, based on human behavior, or actions, that they have any faith.

I believe we have absolute control over ourselves, yet the rest lies with fate (randomness, chaos, or maybe the butterfly effect).

We can only do just so much to steer our own destinies.

I find that living purposefully, and saying to myself, “That is what I’m going to do. This is what I want,” works best.

Purposeful Living

I’ve compared praying versus purposeful living, and to me, there is no contest. What I’ve always said I’m going to get, and want – I get. However, I do not ask for much. I know the limits of how much I can handle. I am endlessly surprised by how much I’ve already received.

My Mom calls it being, “lucky.” Nope, I don’t like that word.

I just truly believe in being careful of what I ask for. The devil really is in the details. I keep it all very, very simple.

And after each desire, want and need has been delivered, received or accomplished, I do thank that heavenly divine infinite being(s).

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