Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman

Welcome to the random (and sometimes ratchet) ramblings in my head about life, love and pop culture.

Category: Uncategorized

Whore

scandal

Let me start by saying I struggled with this entry for a few reasons.  For one, I didn’t know what to call it.  I juggled with “The Gray Area” and “Glass Houses”.  I even thought I might simply call it “Scandal” since that was my inspiration, but I settled on what inflamed me and pushed me to write.  I also struggled because I don’t want to come off too … too … “preachy”.  One of the reasons I blog is because I want YOU, my beloved readers, to take a look at the other side of the line.  We often draw them in our lives most times without even knowing it.  But our ability to stretch ourselves to see the other side, to try to understand the common denominator in this human experience is really what helps us to grow.  I never want to push my own agenda down your throat.  I simply want you to take a moment and consider things differently.  And so I struggled.  Because I do feel preachy and vehemently on one side of this issue, but my hope is that you hear my point and simply consider it.  That’s all.

Over the past two years, much like the rest of the world, I have become obsessed with Shonda Rhimes’ new hit television series, Scandal.  Thursdays literally can’t come around fast enough in my home.  We count down the days until it arrives with day-after-day commentary on what Shonda’s gonna do next!  Not to mention the social media conversations we’re involved in. When I say “obsessed” I mean this show has completely eclipsed all other television experiences in my world.  It’s beautifully scripted and has such a smart cast that weekly turn in amazeball performances.  I’m coo coo for cocoa puffs over Scandal!

Every day I participate in email banter with a few friends from college.  It’s our way of getting through the workday, catching up on each other’s lives and discussing entertainment hot topics.  Recently, Scandal was the topic of conversation and I was shocked to silence by the commentary.  My email buddies (both male and female) were joking around about the salacious relationship between Olivia Pope (the series main character) and her love interest Fitz (the very married President of the United States).  They traded comments back and forth about Olivia and discussed her behavior.  They made fun of the fact that she was sleeping with another woman’s husband. They casually called her “H-Olivia”.  Fitz was championed as some kind of eighth wonder of the world. A stud. A pimp.  A man whose actions commissioned virtual hi-fives and “you da man” kudos.  Olivia was simply a whore.

I read it and was still.  I hate that word (and I don’t use the word hate lightly).  I detest the ease in which the label is used to too easily summarize a woman’s sexual choices when they conflict with some abstract, antiquated view that you learned during a f*cking after school special in 1982.  I hate the way a woman’s sexual choices are scrutinized to the point that if she isn’t living the life of a nun, she’s automatically the antithesis. No ifs, ands or buts.  No gray area.  Just an automatic assessment that if a woman sleeps with the wrong person, she’s a whore.  A freaking whore, people?!

I abhor it. I can’t stand it.  It. Makes. Me. MAD. Can you tell?

I’m not sure most people even know the actual definition of the word.  I believe we have replaced it’s original meaning with our own colorful, societally enhanced, MTV infused version.  So, let’s define it.  How does good old Merriam-Webster define the term “whore”?

Definition of WHORE

1: a woman who engages in sexual acts for money: prostitute; also : a promiscuous (composed of all sorts of persons or things; not restricted to one class, sort, or person; not restricted to one sexual partner) or immoral woman

2: a male who engages in sexual acts for money

3: a venal (capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration): purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery) or unscrupulous person

So … considering her actions, and even more important, the context in the situation, does Olivia truly fit this label?

Listen, I’m no feminist.  This isn’t my virtual method of holding color posters and chanting on the corner of my state capitol building to bring awareness for this particular women’s right issue; however, the quickest way to cook my grits is to haphazardly label a woman a whore because you don’t agree with her life choices.  We live in a highly sexualized, reality-television driven, morally void, buffoonery-rampant world where people clap and laugh about things that should drive us to shock and awe every day.  How is it that in all of the crazy that has clearly desensitized our value system we are still able to look at a clearly complicated relationship situation and simply deduce that the woman, NOT THE PAIR ONLY THE WOMAN, involved is a whore?!

Here’s the thing.  I don’t agree with Olivia’s choice to sleep with Fitz.  Let me repeat for those of you loosely holding the Bible you defy daily, “I DO NOT AGREE WITH OLIVIA’S CHOICE TO CARRY ON AN AFFAIR WITH A CLEARLY MARRIED MAN.” Did you hear me? Okay … moving on.  I also do not believe her choice to sleep with him makes her a whore.  In my opinion, her choice says more about her self worth than her morals.  She doesn’t see that she deserves to be someone’s one and only.  She doesn’t see that there should never be a choice between her and someone else.  She doesn’t see that she is worth more than a brief moment by the window, a quiet moment in the hallway, a glance when no one’s looking and heavy breathing over the phone at night.  She doesn’t see it. She just doesn’t.

And can you blame her?

How many of you have listened EVERY time a man lied to you and slept with him anyway? How many of you allowed him to pick that fight with you knowing good and damn well he was going to carry his ass to the next woman’s house THAT NIGHT? How many times have you told yourself that the relationship would get better? How many times have you allowed yourself to be disappointed even though everything in your being is telling you to walk away? How many lies have you told yourself to keep believing? What did he tell you to get you to come back? What did he say to make you think things would be different?  How did you square it with your soul knowing NOTHING would change?  What did you tell yourself so that you could sleep at night?  Remember when you pulled out that sad ass R&B album and put Tamia’s “Officially Missing You” on repeat feeling like the ONLY thing that could right the wrong of his absence is his voice … his touch … his presence?  How many tears have your cried? How many times have YOU spread eagle hoping your “sweet stuff” would be the cherry on your “I’m about to land this man” sundae?  How many people have you slept with? How many secret conversations or flirtations have you participated in because someone at the office or in the Starbucks line is giving attention that your husband or significant other has long stopped giving?  How many times have you batted your eyelashes to get out of a ticket, get an extra dollop of whip cream on your iced mocha or conjure a free cocktail while out at the club?  How many times have you laid down and given your body to someone you KNOW is not your forever?

Someone unworthy of you …

Someone who knew just the right thing to say …

Someone who somehow speaks to that place deep inside that no one else can reach …

Someone that makes you forget …

Someone that makes you forgive …

Someone who silences your subconscious …

Someone whose force is bigger than anything and everything your soul has ever connected with  …

Even. Though. It’s. Wrong.

He or she among you without sin, please step forward and throw the first stone.

I’m not going to lie to you.  If I were Olivia and was in love with Fitz and he’s saying all of the right things and I’m feeling this incredible, soul stirring level of emotion that no other person has been able to commission in my being, I can’t lie and say that my choice would be different from hers.  I’d be wrong.  Completely morally wrong.  But I can’t say that I’d be strong enough to walk away and seek my worth given the circumstances.

Years ago I was in a relationship that was much like Olivia’s relationship with Fitz if you take away his devastatingly good looks, his position of power, his swag and … his wife.  I loved this man.  I would do anything for him.  For me, matters were complicated even further because he was my first … everything.  The first man I gave my heart, soul and body to.  What I received in return was lies and complications.  Things between us would be SO good until they were almost unbearably bad.  And they were bad ALL the time.  But, I loved him.  He could have told me the sky was purple and I would’ve fought anybody who told me he was crazy.  I knew he was no good for me.  He cheated on me repeatedly and would create fights to make his indiscretions my fault.  Somewhere in my mind, I knew he was no good for me, but I couldn’t find the strength to leave him.  I was worried that he’d “straighten up and fly right” (as my Grandma would say) with the next woman.  I was afraid that he was all I deserved.

One night I literally sank to my knees in the shower and prayed while sobbing.  I told God that if He didn’t show me the path to leave, that I would never go.  I wasn’t capable of choosing what was right.  I prayed that He would give me the wisdom to see (and seek) my true worth.  I prayed that He would send me the “forever guy” and give me the wisdom to identify him.  Two weeks later, I met my husband … and thankfully, I was strong enough to let go of my reckless past.

I bare that part of my soul because it’s important to understand that the “gray” area in life is real and common.  I know we like to believe the covenant of marriage makes it very black and white, but sadly it doesn’t.  And it’s presence (i.e. marriage) certainly doesn’t make “the other woman” involved a whore. Adulterous. Yes.  Immoral. Yes.  Absent of self worth? Definitely. A whore?! GTFOH.

Again, my goal is to simply share that it’s never THAT simple. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t clear lines of right and wrong, but the circumstances should move you to compassion not a hollow and cruel dismissal.

Seriously … considering the points I’ve made … and your own experiences … are you a whore?  Hmm … it’s probably not that simple, is it?

All the best, AskThePRGirl

Real Women Stand Up!

Bravo

Truth moment …

I’m no saint. I have an extremely saucy personality and can be a bit … mouthy when I want to be. At times I could use a better filter.  My shade game is razor sharp and scarily precise (even when I don’t mean to be). When threatened (or shall I say when there is an attempt to threaten), I assess the “target”, figure out your weakness and I begin the very deliberate, quiet and confident pursuit of disassembling you. They don’t call it the “Art of War” for nothing, right?

That said, I am also a consummate professional and I’m hyper aware of my personal and professional reputation. You will never see me do ANYTHING to bring shame to my good name, my family or any company, client or service I represent. It’s too important to me that my name and reputation is synonymous with integrity, maturity, respect and accountability.

I share this about myself because I want you to know I, too, have had moments during conflict with others that I’m not especially proud of; however, there is a line.  I believe it’s self-control, fear of embarrassment, respect for other humans and just a good village that keeps me from ever crossing that line.

Conflict is inevitable between people and certainly women.  We are beautiful, brilliant beams of light.  We are life. We have incredible power.  We can be such beautiful examples of this human experience.  We are responsible for so much during this walk of life so it’s only human that we lash out when offended.  We literally carry the weight of the world EVERY day and when someone disrupts, threatens or brings negativity into our world we retaliate like a lioness. I also believe that when that disrespect or disruption comes from another woman, the offense is even more painful because there is an unspoken code that SHE knows better than anyone the road traveled and the weight carried.  So it is my belief that we tend to be especially vicious with each other.

Last week I watched Married to Medicine, yet ANOTHER Atlanta based reality television show, for the very first time. What I witnessed was two “prominent” black women completely and utterly destroy their reputations with zero remorse for their actions.  I was MORTIFIED as I watched these two women physically fight each other at a black tie birthday party.  I literally couldn’t believe what I was watching.  I was shocked to silence.  Even more than the feeling of shock was that of embarrassment.  I was so completely embarrassed for them that I found myself wincing in discomfort and writhing in pain.

I took to Twitter and read comments ranging from who was right, which side America should take, whether the homeowner should have called the police to break up the fight and much more.  What’s sad is that I didn’t read many comments at all about the tragedy of two beautiful women tearing each other to shreds over something that could have easily been discussed another time.

What’s happening to us, people? When did this behavior become exciting?  Funny?  Entertaining?  Acceptable?  When did it stop being a tragedy to see two people have very little respect for themselves and others?

Hear me and hear me good. If you are publicly mirroring any behavior from reality TV whatsoever, please do everyone in your life a favor, find the tallest landing building you have access to and … jump. Ok, ok … not literally, but that’s how vehemently opposed you should be to this type of behavior, ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman.  The fight I saw last week on Married To Medicine disgusted me. And what’s even more tragic – instead of rebuking their own behavior, they have the audacity be self-righteous. I swear on everything that I love, if anyone and I do mean ANYBODY from my camp EVER models this behavior it will be a cold day in hell before you have access to my life again.

The desire closest to my heart is that women learn how to truly empower and support each other even when that means applying a deep level of humility.  Contrary to popular belief humility is NOT synonymous with humiliation.  It takes such strength of character to embrace humility and reap its benefits.  I believe that when we do, we will find a power that could truly change this world.

Think about it this way.  God has given women the gift of being the giver of life.  That’s extremely deep.  Shouldn’t we be focused on how to honor that gift and draw from it to be powerful agents of change in this world instead of looking for the next opportunity to destroy it??

I’ve decided to no longer watch Married to Medicine and I’m slowly but surely eliminating all television that mischaracterizes the woman I am. I don’t want that spirit in my home and certainly not in my life.  I refuse to accept that the behavior portrayed is okay.  I refuse to accept that all women model this behavior.  I refuse to make it easy for Bravo, WE TV and any other network to keep telling ME that this … this backbiting, vicious, undisciplined, unrefined, unloving, ridiculous, shameless being is the true representation of women today.

I am a woman.  I am NONE of those things and I will no longer delight in the tragedy of that depiction.

I challenge you to do the same.

All the best,
AskThePRGirl

Introducing “AskThePRGirl”

dear-abby-sample

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t left you …

Soooooooo … it’s been a few weeks!  Life got really busy for me.  Work has been so busy I’ve barely had time to breathe!  Trying to manage my personal and professional life has been a seriously difficult task.  Thank the good Lord for my husband who has stepped in to be Mr. Mom.  He’s been taking the baby to school and picking him up.  He’s been “cooking” :-).  He’s been my right hand.  My  rock.  I couldn’t do this … be this brilliant … shine this bright without his support.  I love you, Bryan … more than anything in this world.

When I was a little girl, I used to LOVE the “Dear Abby” column in the newspaper.  I would wonder, “Who is this woman who knows everything from the best cleaning tips to etiquette to relationship and family advice?! She’s amazing!”  She was my idea of the “perfect” woman.  Well … my Mom, Claire Huxtable and Abby.  They were my top three.  Abby was sensible and never chastised too harshly.  She seemed loving, and from what I remember, showed an endearing level of honesty that I truly respected.  I always dreamed that one day I would be her.  I just knew that I would be able to eventually provide my own quirky, tell-it-like-it-is advice to all people.  So today feels pretty cool to realize that dream in my own little way.

Allow me to introduce “AskThePRGirl”, a place where you can talk to me about anything.  I’m a wife, mother, sister, friend, executive and woman of God (when I’m not being incredibly ratchet).  I have experienced SO many things in my life and one of my “gifts” (and we all have many) is prescribing a good dose of loving and common sense advice for just about anything.  I’m not always right, but that’s not my goal.  My goal is to listen, or rather, let you know there’s someone here to listen.

This is a judgment free zone so feel free to ask me anything.  Your identity will be protected so never worry about that. If I know, I’ll share. If I don’t, I’ll tell you, and even better, I’ll pray with you.  I’m not here to solve your problems.  I’m here to be an objective, loving sounding board or simply provide best practices that I’ve learned through ALL of the roles I carry.  Once a month (or as my schedule allows), I’ll answer a few of the questions submitted through DM on Twitter (follow me @AskThePRGirl) or email (dhaley@haleygroupllc.com). And don’t fret! This is in addition to my other schedule weekly posts :-).

Let’s get started!  Below are a few questions that I received the past few weeks:

Dear AskThePRGirl – My man and I have been together for many years.  It seems that since the birth of our children, we don’t talk or hang out as much as we used to.  And our love life has slowed as well. I really miss that.  I miss him and us. What should I do to turn things around before too much time goes by and we just don’t know each other anymore?

Thanks, WorriedAboutUs*

Dear WorriedAboutUs – First, you should know that you’re experiencing something that every relationship encounters, especially once you introduce children: a lack of intimacy.  I would first caution against a few things that women tend to do when our men ain’t (yes I said “ain’t”) acting right or when the relationship is not giving us what we need.

  1. Don’t nag him. Much like you, he’s tired and doing his best to take care of the family and make it to the weekend. Nagging him makes him likely to avoid communication with you at ALL costs which defeats the point. By nagging, I mean complaining about the state of the relationship at really inappropriate times. For example, when he FIRST steps in the door after work.  He doesn’t want to hear your mouth as soon as he gets home any more than you want him climbing on top of you after a day of house cleaning, wrangling the children and the 365 million other things you take care of in a day. #RealTalk
  2. Don’t communicate the issue using EVERY OTHER communication tool BUT communication.  What do I mean? He asks you to pass the salt at the dinner table and you angrily slide it down the table.  You snap at him for the smallest things.  You start fights about things you wouldn’t normally fight about. Don’t cower to your feelings and insert randomness and chaos into your relationship by refusing to clearly communicate your concerns.
  3. Don’t withhold sex as punishment. Sex is where you two can commune, look into each other’s eyes and speak without speaking.  It’s such a critical part of your relationship and certainly the part that speaks the loudest to your man.  Please believe … what I can’t audibly tell my husband is communicated when we are intimate. I make sure he “feels” me. Understand? 😉

My quick and dirty advice: be the example and tell him how you feel. Don’t start the conversation when he’s tired and he’s had a LONG day.  Schedule a date night.  Get someone to watch the kids and make reservations at a nice restaurant.  Use that time to talk about things.  Not just about what’s “wrong” with the relationship, but about everything!  Ask him how he’s been.  Ask about how work is going and if he’s still happy at work.  Plug into him and show him (rather than tell him) the type of communication and intimacy you’re seeking.  Do for him exactly what you’d like done for you.  And do it often!  The best way to teach behavior is to demonstrate it again and again.

Know that it will take time and it will not happen overnight, but the more you invest the effort, the more it will become clear that you need this shift in your relationship.  And while men are simple and sometimes must be hit by a rock to get things, I’m sure your man will eventually tune back in to the need to restore intimacy in your relationship.

dividerDear AskThePRGirl,

I feel an insane amount of guilt every time I stop at a drive-thru window on the way home from work to feed my family.  There is simply not enough time in the day to do everything and I find myself having to cut corners on the things I deem important like cooking for my kids and taking care of my home.  My house has been a mess for weeks now. I clean as much as I can, but my focus tends to be on what’s necessary to make it through the week.  You’re a Mom. Do you feel guilty when you can’t be the “perfect” Mom?

Thanks, Imperfect Mom*

Dear Imperfect Mom,

Join the club, lady! I hear you and I feel you.  My house looks like a modern day war zone on most days. My kid has eaten more fast food than ANY parent should deem safe.  My family used to get home cooked meals at least 4 – 5 days a week. These days, we eat out WAY too often.  I can’t seem to get the laundry done before it piles up and needs to be done ALL over again. My friends tease that I need a nanny and a housekeeper, but I’m not comfortable having another woman in my house doing the work that I’m supposed to handle.  I know it’s crazy, but as I discussed in my past blog entry “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, I wanted to be just like my Mom. She worked, raised us and took care of everything in the home.  And she was a single parent! I have help and I’m still beyond exhausted most days. But, my desire is to be my family’s hero. I want my husband to beam with pride that I bring home a little bacon and I STILL cook in the bedroom. I want my son to think Mom can leap tall buildings and still make his lunch every day.  The reality is that life just doesn’t work that way.  The good thing is that my husband sees my flaws daily and he still thinks I’m perfect.  And, my son still hangs the moon on all of my words whether he eats McDonald’s or Mama’s meatballs.  I’m learning (and I’m still a work in progress) to let myself off the hook.  As long as there is love in my home, it doesn’t have to look perfect.  As long as my family is healthy and smiling, then my most important job has been done.

So … damn the laundry.  When I can’t get to it, I buy my son new stuff. Is it smart? No. Does it make my life easier? Yes!  Research healthier fast food options or on-the-go meals like they those at Trader Joes and Whole Foods so that you don’t feel so bad that you didn’t hand make the meatballs.  Hire a housekeeper. Even if she only comes once a month, that’s better than nothing at all and certainly, if you’re anything like me, more times than you’ve actually cleaned that month.

Let yourself off the hook.  You don’t have to be THE perfect Mom to be a perfect Mom. Cross my heart. 🙂

dividerHey AskThePRGirl! What are you reading these days? Thanks, NeedAGoodBook*

Dear NeedAGoodBook,

When I have a moment to read, I am ALL ABOUT author Beth Kery’s new series When I’m With You. It’s an eight part romance series and it is hot as all hell. I like my romance and I like it dirty … and NO ONE is more deliciously dirty that my girl @BethKery.  If you like a little kink with your love story, I definitely suggest you try her work.  She is absolutely brilliant and will keep the sizzle in any relationship. I think my husband would kiss her if he could just to say THANKS! 🙂

If you’re looking for something a bit more self-help-ish / “I am woman hear me roar”, I would suggest Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. My friend @MsRobertsIsThe1 suggested it to me and I can’t wait to dig in.  It’s next up on my Kindle. I have heard of Sandberg’s infamous TEDTalk and I look forward to learning how this “Wonder Woman” addresses women in business and our potential to be true leaders. I’ll be sure to review it on my blog real soon.

That’s all for now folks!  Be sure to submit your questions through DM to @AskThePRGirl or email them to dhaley@haleygroupllc.com.

Love you. Mean it.

P.S. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this moment is. I just got a chance to be “Dear Abby”. I hope I made her proud 🙂

*Names created by AskThePRGirl to protect the identity of submission

What Will They Say About You?

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Yesterday, on behalf of a professional colleague, I attended the funeral (or home going) of his beautiful daughter who finally ended a lengthy battle with cancer.  She was a prolific writer for the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal.  She’d met the president and at a very young age had earned the respect of journalists with twice her experience.  She was a loving wife and an awesome mother.  There were many testimonials about how loving, sweet, kind and beloved she was.  They couldn’t share enough stories of how she lovingly challenged those around her to do better and be better.  Most importantly, she was a woman of God.  She loved the Lord and was a living testimony to His goodness.  Even in her darkest and sickest days, she still professed that she was here for a purpose and so thankful for the many good days of health she was given.  She took her last breath in her husband’s arms a few days ago.  She was 33-years-old.  Born exactly two months before me.

I left the service feeling a mixed cocktail of emotion.  I felt so hurt on behalf of her family to lose someone so clearly dear to them at such a young age.   I hurt for her five-year-old son.   Though I was eight, I too, lost a parent at an early age.  I understand the journey he’s about to take and the pieces that will always be missing because this critical person is gone.  Almost as equal as the hurt was an overwhelming sense of reflection on my own life.  I began to wonder: if I were to die at this very moment, what would people say about me?  Have I accomplished anything worth eulogizing?

Will they say I’m loving? Will they speak of my relationship with God?  Have I shown myself to be a good mom?  Have I been a good wife?  Daughter?  Sister?  Friend?   Will my colleagues say it was a joy to work with me?  Will they witness to my strides as a game changer and influential contributor?  Have I left my mark at all??  Or have I wasted time chasing things, people and accomplishments that don’t really amount to anything worthy of attention?

I realized very quickly that if I had to ask these questions that perhaps I’m not quite happy with the path I’m taking to earn them or an admirable response.  That’s not to say that I’m making horrible choices, but there’s something to be said for valuing what’s truly valuable in this life and not being easily distracted by what’s worthless and “shiny”.  By that I mean, leave work at a decent time at least a few times a week to make sure you’re making a comparable investment in your own life as you do to the job. You’re at work chasing this phantom “job well done” from a system that will and could easily replace you once you’re gone.  You’re killing yourself for that “good boy” or “good girl” from the boss all because he’s dangling a promise (something shiny) as the prize for your labor.  Meanwhile you’re MISSING YOUR LIFE.  Let me say that again … ready … YOU’RE MISSING YOUR LIFE.

If you die tomorrow, are you going to wish you’d spent 60 hours at the office this week?  Will your family wish you’d spent that time with them instead? Perhaps you’d even still be alive if you’d just made that healthy investment in yourself.  I know the grind is tough and the corporate climb is rugged.  I know what it feels like to get so close to that next title that you can taste it so you virtually kill yourself to earn it.  Meanwhile, the guy next to you got it because he’s tickling the boss’s balls and gets the promotion years ahead of you.  You’re killing yourself trying to reach that “shiny” place and for what?  More money?  More power?  What are you seeking that holds any real value?

Listen, I’m not saying let’s all go be hippies and flee reality like Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust.  I’m not advising for you to live outside of the bounds of reality and expect the ecosystem you’re trying to succeed within to make a 180-degree culture shift because you woke up and saw the light.  I am saying that you have the life you demand.  And when it’s all said and done, what will this system say about you?? If they speak heavily about your professional accomplishments and very little about your personal relationships, do you consider that a life well lived?

I don’t.  I can’t.  If God gave me the privilege to see my own funeral, it would tear me apart to know that my greatest accomplishments had very little to do with how I poured my heart and soul into edifying my family.  How I loved.  How I lived with passion.  How I followed my dreams.  How I was unafraid to seek exactly what I want out of this life.  And how I spent every single moment of every single day living an authentic life.

What will they say about you when you’re gone?  Know that each day that you’re blessed to live your actions cement your legacy.  Your choices script your eulogy.  Are you happy with the story?  If not, I suggest a quick shift.  I say it often because I cannot say it enough: this life is NOT a dress rehearsal.  This is it, people.  Live with purpose.  Live like you may not get another moment to get it right because the fact is … you may not.

Though I never met the young woman whose funeral I attended, my life has been instantaneously transformed by the choices she made.  The testimonies and eulogy given on her behalf provided an overwhelming and intimate view of her life.  I was so proud of her and I didn’t even know her.  More importantly, I felt challenged by her to make sure to cherish every day I’m blessed with by making choices that honor this gift of life.

What will they say about you?

Love you. Mean it.  ~AskThePRGirl

P.S. I chose this week’s picture because I remember my thoughts the exact moment it was taken. I was on my honeymoon and at that very moment I was thinking, “If I never take another breath, I couldn’t be any happier than I am right at this moment.” I thought it was fitting to share 🙂

Potty Hell

PottyTraining

Parenthood is teaching me a LOT about myself.  I didn’t know that I would have to juggle so many things at once and yet still feel like nothing has been done.  I didn’t know that I could operate on such a small amount of sleep.  Seriously! Lawmakers rightfully place a lot of focus on drunk drivers.  They should add sleep-deprived parents to the list.  I’ve literally woken up, bathed, bathed the baby, dressed us both, fed us both and arrived at work with no memory of doing ANY of these tasks.  One time I actually sat at my desk to send an email and jolted to reality as I realized I was at work.  I didn’t remember anything about my morning including the commute or dropping the baby at daycare.  I literally called the school in a panic asking if my son was there and then spent the next 10 minutes crying in the bathroom feeling utterly hopeless.  Yeah … parenthood is a beast!  I often tell new Moms that motherhood is like jumping into a cold pool on a summer day.  When you first hit the water, the temperature shocks your system; but, before you know it, you’re splashing around having the time of your life not feeling the cold at all.

Even still, my son has been my greatest accomplishment.  He’s so bright.  It amazes me how much he consumes in a day and literally spits it all back to show how much he’s learned.  He’s a little “me” walking around.  Amazing!  I wish he were a bit more like my husband.  My Hubby Honey is calm, quiet and reserved, while I’m loud, full of life and care-free.  That’s my son all day long.  He is a ball of energy and not simply because he’s three.  The way he talks to people.  The way he regards you if he doesn’t know you.  The way he corrects you when he feels you’re speaking complete nonsense.  The way he gravitates towards music.  His soul.  His … everything.  He’s me.  Through and through.  And while he amazes me, I’m also stumped by him. He has to be the most willful, stubborn little thing I’ve EVER encountered.

Before having our son, I was really only nervous about one thing: potty training.  I’d heard the stories.  I heard how boys are harder and that it’s a test of patience. I’d heard all of the different techniques including reward them with a song or reward them with a small piece of candy.  I’d also been told to put colorful cereal in the toilet and make a game of him hitting it with his urine.  Let him walk around naked because he’ll likely stop before going potty on your floor (TOTALLY not true for our son). I read all of the books and did tons of chatting on parenting sites. I became the most prepared unprepared parent in the history of parenthood.

I delayed it as long as possible because I didn’t want to deal.  I transitioned my son from diapers to pull-ups all the while telling myself that pull-ups were underwear.  Yeah.  They’re not.  They are diapers for kids who are not potty trained and money suckers for parents who refuse to face potty training.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a genius invention.  Whoever thought of it deserves some sort of Nobel Peace Prize or something.  We weren’t ready to face the responsibility and pull-ups gave us time to get brave.  Everything was “good in the hood” until Noah experienced an extreme growth spurt.  He went from looking like a 2-year-old to looking like a 4-year-old in the matter of weeks.  And it aint cute when your 2-year-old who looks like a 4-year-old squats in middle of a store to take a crap.  Good grief …

So, we broke down and finally began the process of trying to train our son.  We set a timer and would take him every hour on the hour and at least 20 minutes after he would eat or drink.  We literally kept up this process for MONTHS with zero progress.  He would go pee pee if we took him, but refused to indicate that he had to go.  So if I didn’t keep a timer and control of his liquids, he would just pee on himself.  I should note that he was also still wearing pull-ups while we were potty training which I now know vastly slowed the process because he was basically still wearing a diaper.  It was a disaster.

It was such a stressful time in our household.  My Hubby and I don’t fight.  Ever.  But potty training this kid was pushing us to the breaking point.  We were snapping at each other for no good reason.  We weren’t having sex as often and weren’t in agreement about the path to take to get the kid trained.  Every time he peed on himself it was like a slap in the face reminder that we were failing our kid and failing as parents.  It was an emotional drain.  Every parent we encountered would say, “He’s gonna get it eventually.  Hang in there.  It’s a long road, but there is an end.  Don’t give up.  We feel you!”  I wanted to punch them all in the face.  I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE F*** UP!!!  HOW COULD YOU SMILE AT THIS SITUATION WHEN WE ARE LITERALLY FALLING APART??!?”  We were living in hell alone.  It felt like no one understood our pain and frustration.

What hurt the most was the judgment we experienced.  We got it from parents who didn’t have potty training issues, my mother (albeit unintentional, but I still felt it), friends, family and our church!  For example, we drop our son at the nursery at church so that we can actually enjoy the service.  In order for our son to attend the older classroom, he must be potty trained, but since he isn’t he’s still in the nursery. However, he’s really tall and looks like he should be in the older classroom, so EVERY week we’d have to explain the situation.  The worse was when one of the teachers said, “He really should be potty trained by now?! What’s the problem?!”  I wanted to tackle her right there in the vestibule and bash her head against the concrete.  I wanted to scream, “B*tch! Don’t you think I know that?! Don’t you think I want that?! Stay out of my f****** business!”  Instead, I swallowed my shame and hurt and decided not to return until he was potty trained.  Yeah, we haven’t been to church in months.  How sad is that? I’m watching my church service online because I’m sick of being judged about this shameful parenting moment.

I finally got sick of torturing myself and was tired of seeing my husband’s defeated face.  I decided to release it thanks to the loving advice from two people: my cousin Tyrone and my pediatrician Dr. Hassel.  At our son’s 3rd birthday party a few weeks ago, my cousin Tyrone said, “I don’t know any adults that pee and poo on themselves. Take it easy. He’ll get it when he gets it.”  Our pediatrician said, “Your son is excelling in EVERY other developmental area. He spells his name, he’s beginning to read, he speaks clearer than most five-year-olds and he’s incredibly perceptive.  Refusing to potty is the one area where he’s showing he’s still just a baby … and that’s okay.”  Hearing those words finally allowed me to let go of the frustration.  I realized that my son would get it eventually and I didn’t have to feel that his inability to get it TODAY didn’t mean I was failing him as a parent.  It just meant that he needed more practice.  He needed patience.  He needed me not to pressure him like the world was pressuring me.  He needed me to chill the f*** out.  And so I did.

No sooner than I decided to chill out did my baby boy came to me and said, “Mommy, I need to go pee pee … and maybe boo boo.”  He runs upstairs, lifts the seat, goes pee pee, sets the seat down and climbs up to go boo boo.  It was like a miracle.  I think Christ the Mighty King came in the room and said, “It is time, my son. Go. Go potty.”  And he hasn’t looked back.  He tells us every time and he hasn’t had any accidents!  Now, I do bribe him a bit.  If he goes #1, he gets one M&M.  If he goes #2, he gets three M&Ms. If he does both unprompted, he gets three M&Ms and 20 minutes of iPad time.  And it’s working like a charm.  This week I stopped giving him any prize for bathroom time with exception to the potty song we made up and he hasn’t noticed.  He still goes like a champ.  It’s really incredible!

Now, I know pottying (if that’s even a word) is not an extremely interesting or sexy topic, especially for those of you who don’t have children; but, I share it because there are so many things in this world that push us to feel as though we’re failing because we don’t measure up to some invisible standard we are placing upon ourselves.  We forget that this life we are living is a universal human experience and there’s nothing new under the sun.  If you’re experiencing it, it’s a safe bet that so is someone else.  You’re not failing just because you don’t accomplish something at the same rate as other people.  Your will to continue pushing forward is evidence of your success.  You only fail when you quit trying.

Parenthood really is teaching me a lot about myself.  I’m learning that I’m extremely resilient and that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff … even when the small stuff involves poo.

Love you. Mean It.  ~AskThePRGirl

The Purpose Driven Life

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I, like millions, watched Beyonce’ as she completely shut down Super Bowl XLVII this year.  I was utterly amazed by her performance.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching.  It was so clear this beautiful, talented, strong, provocative woman is living within her purpose.  She is at that kismet point when your passion, purpose and opportunity all intersect to create something otherworldly.  While watching her strut all over the Super Dome stage, I said to myself, “Hmpf, so this is what it looks like when you are operating within your purpose.”  It was really cool to see someone doing exactly what she was born to do.  She is perfection not because she’s perfect, but because she is authentic.

Last night on her HBO documentary Life Is But A Dream, Beyonce’ shared her heart.  She showed the world that she’s just like the rest of us.  She experiences fear, anxiety, emptiness, exhaustion, frustration, anger and sorrow.  She feels unsure at times.  How crazy is that?! Beyonce’ feels unsure?!  I think most of us believe that if we had her body, talent and weave there’d be no room for fear.  But she’s human.  And even though she is living what we view as the perfect life complete with money, a superstar husband with swag for days and people at her beck and call, she still experiences deeply vulnerable moments.   It’s a lesson to us all to remember that public figures are people who are living within their dreams.  They are no different than we are.  That’s hard to imagine when you’re living Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston’s level of fame, but … look how those stories ended.  It was their human moments that revealed the most about them.  I’m honored by Beyonce’s decision to share her inner thoughts with everyone, particularly women.

When the documentary ended, I found myself extremely emotional.  I ended up in a deep, five-hour, all night heart to heart with my husband about my own fear, anxiety, emptiness, exhaustion, frustration, anger and sorrow.  Mostly we talked about my dreams and my fear that they’ll never come to fruition.  Here’s a little insight into my … brain: I have a tendency not to speak out loud those things that I really want in this life.  Let me explain what I mean by that.  I know that words have power (the Good Book tells us that).  When I speak my dreams aloud, several things happen that render me paralyzed:

  • The responsibility to take steps to make the dream happen (i.e. doing the work necessary to help it all come to pass)
  • The fear that I’ll be shamed if/when people are aware of my dreams and judge my ability to make them happen
  •  The fear that my dreams will come true … and what that will mean for my life and my relationships

I’ll give you a small example.  I left a powerhouse public relations agency in 2010 after a very contemptuous relationship.  I didn’t feel supported. I was a new mother and I needed the freedom and autonomy to be available to my family while still working within the field that I love.  Not 30 days after leaving my job, I started Haley Communications Group.  Now, most people would have shouted that from the rooftops.  The more people who know, the greater opportunity to sign new clients and create new business opportunities, right?  Not me.  I hid it.  I didn’t even create a Facebook page to announce until I had already been operating for over a year.  Why? What if I failed?  What if this was a big fluke and I made no money?  What would people say about me if it turned out that I considered myself smart enough to run my own business, but in actuality my business was a big freaking flop?  A pipe dream.  That judgment and possibility of ridicule kept me silent.  I can’t fail in front of people.  I can’t bare that side of myself to people!  I don’t want people to look at me and think, “Hmpf. I knew she was all talk. I figured it was all smoke and mirrors.  She’s a pretty face.  Nothing more. Moving on.”  That fear of judgment keeps me up at night.  It is the crossroad at which I constantly stand.  Do I shout my dreams to the world and take the leap no matter what the result?  No matter what people say?  Or do I keep my dreams inside and keep pacing along in life at what I’m good at, but have absolutely no passion for?

One of my mentors once told me that I would be a force to be reckoned with when my purpose and passion align with the right opportunity.  I couldn’t even receive his words because I’d already convinced myself that it’s not in the cards for me.  I hadn’t even tried and had already counted myself out!  How incredibly insecure!?!  But that’s my truth. I count myself out without even trying.  Judgment from others paralyzes me.  Feeling ridicule or shame paralyzes me.  I have all of these BIG dreams and goals of empowering women and using my voice to change the way we think about self and the way we love each other.  But I have done nothing, and I do mean nothing, to operate within that purpose other than run my mouth to my friends.  It makes me sad sometimes.  I even get angry with myself sometimes.  But fear is … seductive and comfortable.  It speaks so much louder than my purpose most days.  But recently, I’ve been feeling a little brave.  I feel like it’s time to breakup with fear.  We’ve been in a relationship for far too long.  I’ve given fear my all and she’s given nothing in return.  That ends now.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been different.  I’ve always felt different from other people.  I think differently.  I consume information differently.  I analyze information differently.  I love differently.  There’s been this … this … “thing” there that made me aware that I’m not quite like other women.  I don’t say this to sound arrogant or “I’m better that you”.  I say it to reveal that this “thing” has been percolating in my spirit since my very first memory in life.  As the years have gone by, and my relationship with God has become more and more intimate, I now know that the feeling that I’ve been experiencing is the birth and development of my purpose.  I was blessed to be awakened to it at an early age and I’ve spent years introspectively learning what marrying myself to my purpose would mean for my life.  I’ve always been the type to apply for the “impossible” job and align myself with the “impossible” opportunities. Ironically, I’m fearless on paper.  I applied for a job at Tyler Perry Studios every day for a year in hopes that I’d get a call back.  I never did and ever so often, I still send in my info because like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.  I’m able to be fearless in many areas of my life, but not with my dreams.  Crazy, right?!

Oprah often speaks about having the courage to dream.  My husband says, “Shoot for the stars because even if you miss, you’ll land on the clouds … and that aint bad.”  How many of you are allowing fear to cripple you?  How many of you haven’t even taken the first step to your dreams because you’ve already counted yourself out?  *raises hand*  Well, no more.

Let today be the day you shout to the heavens ALL of those things that you want from this life.  This life isn’t a dress rehearsal.  If you leave tomorrow, will they play Beyonce’s “I Was Here” at your home going?  What will people say about you?  I’m afraid that my loved ones and colleagues will say, “She could’ve been something amazing.  Wonder why she wasn’t?”  Don’t give anyone the opportunity to say that about you.  More importantly, don’t accept that for yourself.  If Beyonce’ has insecurities even with her infinite, amazing stardom surely it’s okay that you do.  The difference between us and her, is that fear doesn’t have the last word in her conversation.

Let’s start living this life with no regrets.  Let’s kick fear in the balls and send it back to the pits of hell.  Let’s go for it.  ALL of it.  Whatever it is, no matter how crazy it sounds, I’m with you.  Tell me your dream and I’ll pray with you that God imparts the exact path to making it happen.  What do you want from this life?  I challenge you to stop telling yourself that you’re too old, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough, not unique enough.  I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE ENOUGH.  Write down your dreams and speak them aloud to yourself EVERY day.  Words have power.  The more you speak them, the more you tilt the universe towards you.  The more you speak them, the more you believe them.  The more you speak them, the more God reveals the path.

Fear no more.  Go do the impossible.  And if there is not one soul around to tell you that they believe in you, allow me the honor to be the first.  Hear / feel me when I say:

I. Believe. In. You.

Love you. Mean it.  ~AskThePRGirl

P.S. Life IS but a dream … but ONLY when you’re living in your purpose.  🙂

Unconditional Love

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One of the longest, most intimate, time-consuming, ridiculous, heart-wrenching and powerful relationships in my life is with a woman … and I’m not talking about my Mother.  Actually two women.  For nearly 20 years, I have been in love with two women.  They have been my road dogs, my confidents, my diary, my sounding board, my fashion advisors, my edifiers, my good times, my shoulder to cry on and my “do you remember that time when …” partners.  We have experienced just about everything you can possibly imagine and we’ve done it all together.  Men have come and go.  Jobs have come and go.  Other chicks that thought they understood friendship have come and go.  Through it all, we have been hopelessly committed to each other.  We made a pact years ago that no matter what comes and no matter how much it hurts, we will love each other and ALWAYS be honest with each other until the last of us takes her last breath.  We’re a tripod.  Together we’re powerful and can do anything.

No sooner than you make that level of commitment to another person, you will be tested.  It’s as if the universe, Murphy’s Law and the devil all sit down for drinks and say, “Okay. These bitches think they want to be friends for LIFE. *insert doubled over, finger pointing laughter* Well, let’s see just how bad they want it and what they’re willing to endure to have it.  Five bucks say they’ll have destroyed each other by the time we’re done with ‘em.”

In the beginning, things were good.  We argued sometimes, but we always got over it.  Hell, two of us even got into a physical fight over a broken VCR.  Chile … THAT was a day.  But, we moved on.  We always did.  We stuck together and got through the tough times as one.  Then, one day, things changed.

I fell in love.  Hard.  And my love was moving to Los Angeles for a new job.  Not only did he decide to move, but he declared and decreed that he wanted me with him.  Steve Harvey says a man shows his love by “professing, protecting and providing.”  He did ALL of that and then some.  So, I moved to California to begin my new life.  I don’t know that I fully assessed how it would affect my tripod.  I thought they’d be happy for me, and though we wouldn’t see each other as often, things wouldn’t change.  There’d be more phone calls and budgeting to fly to see each other, but we’d be fine.  Boy was I wrong.

In every relationship, there is a “star”.  The person that everything revolves around.  The person that brings the fun.  The person whose participation is necessary in order for the group to have a great time.  The person whose opinion weighs the most.  The person everyone comes to for advice and leans on for stability.  In our tripod, that person is me and I had NO idea. Well … maybe a small idea, but I don’t think I realized the responsibility that role carries.  I was off living a “fabulous” life in Los Angeles.  The other two were home missing me and feeling shredded by my decision to leave.  While they were happy for me and in awe of my bravery to follow my heart, they were also a bit disgruntled that I not only contemplated leaving, but I actually did it.  Little did they know I was completely miserable.  I missed them so much that I cried every night the first six months I was gone.  I wanted so desperately to have my love, my career, my family and my girls.  I wanted it all, but life wasn’t working out that way.  I felt like I had to be happy with only two thirds of the life I wanted.  I finally brushed away the tears and decided to move forward.  I loved my girls.  I knew that would never change.  I no longer wanted to miss present blessings wishing for something different.  I had to grow up, put my “big girl panties on” and live.

When I moved, the distance created the opportunity for negativity, judgment and resentment to creep in.  If felt like every five seconds we were in a silent fight about something stupid.  You know what a silent fight is, right?  It’s the fight you have without actually fighting.  No one actually verbalizes a hurt or disappointment.  Instead you are “chilly” with each other over the phone and smoothly throw “shade” with a chuckle and a “Girl, you know I’m just playing with you!”  Meanwhile, you’re talking to the other friend about “this bitch this” and “this bitch that”.  Yeah … there was a LOT of that happening.  And it was beginning to take it’s toll.  You could feel the shift happening though none of us wanted to consider that we were … growing apart?  Nah!  That’s not possible!  We vowed unconditional love for life, right?

Years later we (Hubby and I) finally moved back to the South.  We were all so happy because we just KNEW things were going to be just as they were before I left.  We were closer so we could see each other anytime we wanted.  We could just pick up where we left off.  Yeah … that didn’t happen.  I had a career and they had new lives.  They had introduced new friends (something I was NOT at ALL happy about).  I was married and soon to have a baby.  We weren’t in college anymore.  We were adults.  If we were going to have that close bond we once shared, it was going to take a lot of effort … effort that neither of us was willing to give.

Then, it happened.  The fight.  You knew it was coming, right?  🙂

One day (and I remember this day so clearly) I was called by one member of the tripod and told that she didn’t like my attitude.  She said I was acting “high and mighty” all the time.  She said that I was judging her and “feeling some kind of way” about her life choices.  She was tired of the shade I was throwing and wanted to put the sh*t out there.  Now, you should know that the day she decided to hit me with these headlines about her feelings, I was at the mall shopping for an evening gown because I was to be honored by an amazing organization at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  This was a HUGE moment in my life.  And she knew that.  In my mind, she ruined something very important to me to call me and tell me some sh*t that didn’t amount to much.  She wasn’t calling to tell me she was dying.  To me, and I am giving you my side at the moment, she wasn’t telling me what she was REALLY mad about.  Instead, she was creating a fight about some completely unsolvable sh*t in her head because she wasn’t brave enough to tell me what she was REALLY freaking mad about.  And. That. Pissed. Me. Off.  World War III was officially on and popping.  I was now mad at her.  She was mad at me.  Our other friend was stuck in the middle trying desperately (and failing) not to take sides.  The legs of our tripod had been kicked out and we didn’t give a damn.

We became frenemies.  We still spoke on the phone, but not as much.  We were there to support the BIG moments in each other’s lives like birthdays and child birth, but our hearts weren’t in it.  Truth be told, we only did it so that “that bitch can’t say I wasn’t there for her BIG moment”.  And what’s worse, we were tearing each other apart.  Things got bad.  Real bad.  We went from rarely speaking to total radio silence.  I was a new Mom and desperately wanted her to be a part of all of the special moments she was missing, but pride wouldn’t let me call.  Pride wouldn’t let me admit that I still needed her.  It was like one of those T.V. moments when Good and Evil pop up on your shoulder.  Good told me to call my friend because I missed her.  Apologize for hurting her and move forward.  Evil told me that this man-less, jealous bitch could kick rocks with open-toed shoes down a dirt road in KKK country.  I sided with Evil.  Ridiculous.

Though I moved on, I was in agony.  It was like someone had chopped off one of my limbs and I was feeling phantom pain from where it used to live.  Even my smile was hollow.  I was totally and completely miserable.  It was that moment I decided to let God in.  I finally got on my knees and prayed about it.  I decided to get past my sh*t, and again, grow up.  I told Him that I didn’t know how to get past my own hurt to love her unconditionally as I pledged years ago.  I didn’t know how to just let it all go and move on. So much had happened.  So many awful things had been said.  How could I possibly right the wrong?  Could we really move forward?  Unconditional love sounds good, but the work that’s required to provide it feels impossible sometimes.

After much prayer, God finally revealed to me ALL of the things I’d done to hurt my friend.  It was like a “Who’s Who” list of all my sh*t.  I was horrified.  He showed me how I’d taken her for granted.  How I’d thrown my life choices in her face and judged when she didn’t parallel her life to mine.  He showed me how I’d left her alone when I knew all she needed was a call, but I didn’t feel I had time or just didn’t feel like being bothered.  He told me (and this makes me cry even as I type this) that I’d literally broken her heart.  She needed me and I abandoned her.  I went off to my “fabulous” life in California, rubbed it in her face and never checked in on her.  When we did talk, I was passive aggressive (a skill I learned from my mother) and made things seem like she was causing our fight.   I changed and I didn’t take her along on the journey.  I “grew up” and I punished her for not being clairvoyant.  I wronged her.  I hurt her deeply and had the nerve to be angry about the way she tried to communicate it.  I valued my “moment in the sun” Beverly Hills awards ceremony over her needing me.  I turned my back, walked head high into my destiny and never looked to my side to make sure she was still with me.

When she called that day I should have dropped everything and ran to her.  Why?  Because I promised her I would.  The moment she tested that, I dropped the ball like Braylon Edwards.  I was ashamed.  So, so ashamed.  I’d charged her with the responsibility of being the friend I was unwilling to be.  I expected her to live a truth I was unwilling to accept.  I expected perfection from her, but accepted huge, gaping flaws in myself.  I’d even wrote her a letter (standing very tall on a soap box) and made the future of our friendship her decision by way of her immature, unloving choices.  Yeah, y’all.  I went there.  ALL the way there.

Long story short, I made it right.  After understanding my role in the breakdown of our relationship, I realized what was required to make it right.  It took maturity and most importantly it took humility.  I had to humble myself and be wrong.  No ifs, ands or buts.  I had to make up for all the ways I destroyed the most precious thing in my life.

I am proud to say we fixed things and we are stronger than ever.  I’ve learned how to really and truly love my friends.  I understand that loving them doesn’t mean shoving my opinions down their throat, only accepting them when they agree that I’m right or when they play into my ego of being our “star”.  Loving them is being willing to be Robin instead of Batman.  Hell, sometimes it’s being neither.  There are times when your role is to play background to the background.  Sometimes, you’re only the grip on the set of the movie and you definitely get no love during the Oscar speech: still important, but there’s no prize or acknowledgment for your contribution to the journey.  Loving them is lovingly sharing the truth they need in the moment when their spirit is open to receive it and not shoving it down their throats because “it’s the truth and she needs to hear it now!”  Even if that means not sharing the truth at all for a time and allowing them to reach it on their own.  My 20-year history with these women has taught me so much about my ability to love, but more importantly, it has been my greatest joy.  I am who I am because these women carried me to this place.  They’ve always been my safe place to land.  It’s tough to fail with that type of safety net in life.

Real, true unconditional love is the hardest love because is it a perfect love.  It’s a Godly love.  I challenge you to audit your life and find those places where you’re failing to provide it.  Once you reach an understanding of the responsibility to give it and receive it, you’ll reach … heaven.

All the best, AskThePRGirl

My Husband and The Twisty Tie

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I brag about my husband all the time.  I brag about him because he is so good to me.  I want him to know how much I love him, how much I’m still attracted to him and how much his strength, generous spirit and humility is such an amazing foundation for our family.  Prior to being found by him (because “he who finds a wife finds a good thing”), I was in an incredibly toxic relationship.  I’m talking the kind of toxic that it’s a marvel that I made it out AIDS-free and in my right mind.  I was with a man whom I constantly gave permission to rape me of my self-esteem and my ability to trust.  He lied.  All the time.  Just because.  The only thing real about that relationship was my presence.  Everything else was smoke and mirrors.  Folks tried to tell me, but I didn’t listen.  I was a fool in love and as my Sissy always says, “God saves fools and babies.”  Thank God for His saving grace.  When Hubby Honey found me, I was brave enough to let go of the past and embrace the beautiful possibility of a bright future.

I often brag on my husband and our marriage to my friends via social media because I hate how people disparage marriage.  It’s hard work and not everyday is pretty, but there’s so much joy.  I’ve discovered things about myself while in his care that I believe I would’ve never known.  Being his wife has given me a freedom to fearlessly express myself and become exactly who I’m meant to be in this life.  That’s a heavenly gift.  That’s how I know that I know that I know this man is meant for me.  I shout it to the world so that people aren’t afraid to give marriage a shot.  When you find a “good egg” like my Hubby Honey, it’s worth all of the effort.  And it is indeed a LOT of effort.

As much as I love this man, it absolutely unnerves me how someone who has roughly 5 items on his to-do list each week, can forget some of the things I ask him to do.  He goes to work, takes out the trash and handles any of the exterior housework (Note: We have landscapers because Hubby has allergies so in my mind, you’re not actually handling the yard work when you outsource).  That’s it.  So can someone please tell me how this man “forgets” to put the twisty tie back on the bread like I’ve asked time and again?!  How hard is it to make sure the freaking loaf of bread stays fresh?? I didn’t ask him to split the atom and bring me the solution! I asked him not to leave the damn bread bag open when he makes a sandwich.  His refusal to comply is almost enough to cause me to smack him upon sight and leave him asking, “What the hell?!?! What did I do???”

Before we got married, we lived together and I’m so thankful we did.  While it’s not traditionally an accepted course of action, it was exactly what I needed.  I would have killed my husband had I have married him and then learned of all of his … his … idiosyncrasies.  The fact that he would throw his dirty clothes beside, around and on top of the dirty clothes hamper instead of lifting the lid and putting them inside literally almost sent me to self committal into Promises.  It would’ve been my only choice outside of killing him.  It would make me so mad that I’d stare at him while he slept.  I think I even slapped him out of his sleep one night.  I was mad as hell and couldn’t believe he could sleep so well considering the hell I was living in.  I just thought he should join the party.

The twisty tie and the hamper only scratch the surface.  He cleans the kitchen because he can’t stand for dirty dishes to be left out over night, but he doesn’t wipe down the counters.  How the hell does washing the dishes ONLY count as cleaning the kitchen?!  How can you do the dishes and fail to wipe the food off the counter?!?!  Who does that??? My husband.  My sweet, loving, ridiculous husband.  He “helps” me out by doing the laundry, BUT he fails to wash 60 percent of my clothes because “they seem fancy” and he “doesn’t want to ruin them”, and the clothes he does wash either get left in hamper or “folded” and stacked on my side of the bed.  When I do laundry, everyone’s clothes are neatly folded and put away.  Hubby Honey doesn’t put my clothes away because he “doesn’t know where they go”.  We’ve lived together for almost 10 years.  What kind of sense does that make??

If I sat here and listed all of his infractions, I’m sure women all around the world would wonder how in the hell I’m able to provide such an accurate account of their man’s habits.  It’s crazy that men can’t do the simple household items, but never miss changing out their Fantasy Football players each week.  They never forget all of the codes and signals and stuff necessary to play football and combat captain (or whatever the hell it’s called) on XBox.  He never ever forgets to watch every freaking football game on Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  *sigh*

BUT, he also never forgets to tell me I’m pretty.  He never forgets to champion everything I do no matter how big or how small.  He never forgets to help me with our little one.  He never forgets to rub my feet when I’ve had a long day.  He never forgets to tell me he’s proud of me.  He never forgets to make me feel so sexy, no matter how unsexy I feel at the time.  He never ever forgets to tell me he loves me.  I not only hear it, but feel it too.  And he makes me laugh. I’m talking soul stirring, doubled over, center of my joy laughter.  The kind of laughter that washes away your fear, fills you with light and makes the tough days melt away.

Marriage is a roller coaster, but last I checked, people enjoy rollercoasters, right?  I don’t love everything about my husband and there are certainly moments when I “question his thought process” as my girlfriend says of her husband, but he is quite possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  With him I’m at peace.  I never worry about tomorrow when Hubby Honey is near.  I never worry period.  He’s my rock.  I can depend on him 24/7, 365.  I never have to doubt him.  Ever.  And that kind of solidarity is priceless to me.

Now if I could only get him to put the twisty tie back on the damn bread …

Until next time, AskThePRGirl

To Gym or Not to Gym …

Gym or Not Pic

I know it’s imperative to take care of self.  We should eat right, get a minimum level of exercise a few days a week and drink plenty of water.  Can’t argue with it.  Wouldn’t dream of trying to convince someone otherwise; however, I can’t stand working out.  Not because I’m lazy.  It just doesn’t fit into my routine.  You saw the list (see last week’s blog post I Don’t Know How She Does It).  Who has time to add an hour workout on top of the 157,000 things I’m responsible for every day?? A woman that’s fitting in gym time deserves to be nominated for “Woman of the Year” in my book.

I’ve been told it’s about prioritizing.  Ideally, if I make it a priority to work out a few times a week, then it will happen.  The reality is that in order to work out something has to be sacrificed and most often its time with my family.  I already feel like my son sees me walking out of the door more than I’m in the home these days.  I can’t take any more Mommy guilt.  Isn’t that funny?  When sacrifice is necessary, women tend to forego personal things.  Things that lift our spirit.  Things that keep us healthy.  Things that keep us sane.  Things that get us from Sunday to Sunday.  How many times have you thought:

 “I can’t go to dinner with the girls.  I should have movie night with Hubby and the kids instead.”

 “A massage would be so nice right now.  I’m going to buy X for the house instead.  No sense spending money on a one time thing.”

 “I’ve been dying to read that new book everyone is talking about.  I should read to the kids instead. Besides, I’m too tired to stay awake.”

Everyone who knows me knows that I prefer to get my cardio one way and one way only – underneath or on top of my husband.  If I’ve got to huff, puff and sweat, I might as well enjoy it.  All that effort deserves fireworks during and at the end.  I’ve never experienced fireworks at the gym.  A real orgasm burns anywhere from 150 – 300 calories depending on who you ask.  If I have sex with my husband at least two to three times a week, It counts as one gym day in my mind.  That’s logical, right?  I mean, my husband is magical in our bedroom and I’ve been known to draw a scream or two. In my mind, I’m burning more than the average woman.  #IJS #TMI

Either way, my girlfriend Jules called requesting that we take kickboxing cardio at our gym followed by a little light lunch.  Instead of fighting it, I said, “Why not?!”  I pulled out my cute gym outfit (the one that hasn’t been worn since I bought it a year ago on sale at Kohl’s), my cute gym headband, sneakers and set out for the gym.

Now, here’s the problem with going to the gym when I haven’t been there in a while:

  1. As cute as my gym outfit is, it’s still wrapped around all of my … er … girth.  So while other ladies, like my girl Jules, are walking around looking extra cute and tiny, I’m walking around looking like I actually need to be at the gym.
  2. The gym feels more like a nightclub than a workout facility.  The beautiful people walk around and pretend to workout rather than actually bursting a sweat on the machines.  I see more women in makeup than I see with crotch sweat (a telltale sign that you truly worked out).
  3. The men stare.  Now, I know I draw eyes wherever I go.  I’m sexy.  Yeah, I said it.  I’m thick, and even though I don’t have J. Lo booty, I ALWAYS draw male eyes and attention.  That’s not arrogance, that’s confidence. I might not be the best-looking girl in the place, but my confidence combined with my cuteness draws ‘em in every time.  While I’m generally okay with stares, at the gym I feel a little self-conscious.  My cute outfit hugs ALL of my … er … girth.  The only person that can stare at that without making me feel a little shy is my husband.
  4. Gym classes are designed to point out those of us who haven’t been there in while.  The class starts with everyone doing the same moves in unison.  Roughly 15 minutes into the class, you begin to see a few people modify steps, stop for water and bend over heaving for air.   Those are the folks that haven’t been in a while.  Approximately 15 minutes later, a few more folks tap out.  This process continues slowly, but surely, exposing the people who don’t workout.  That process of elimination and impending reveal stresses me out.

With all of this in mind, I still agreed to join my girl at the gym.  Unfortunately for me, she didn’t want to take a simple beginners step aerobics class or yoga or even a mild morning on the elliptical.  She wanted to take kick-box cardio.  In my mind I’m thinking, “My fat ass has NO BUSINESS in kick-box cardio.  None whatsoever.” I literally can’t think of a reason other than a fetish for public humiliation that would make me agree to kick-box cardio, but I went all the while thinking, “Jesus be fence ALL around my stupid behind.  Lord be a lasso around my life.”

Thankfully, I made it.  I made it through the class without passing gas (a workout hazard), throwing up or passing out.  I actually looked like I had taken the class before.  I only stopped for water once.  Color me surprised!! I guess there is something to that spin class I sporadically show up to!  I left feeling so good.  I felt so proud and sexy.  I actually felt more energy when the class was over than I felt walking in.  Who knew?!?

One phone call from my girl and a little bravery in my cute gym outfit helped me realize that I have to make more time to take care of myself.  In addition to letting myself off the hook for failing to get it all done around the house, I’ve got to stop feeling guilty about taking care of me.  Truth be told, I need that spark of energy I felt after yesterday’s class.  Maybe I could get more done on my list if I wasn’t always running on fumes.

What could you be doing to take better care of yourself?  Whether it’s going to the gym, treating yourself to a massage or making time for a little mani/pedi action, start telling yourself that it’s okay.  You’re just as important as every other thing you’ve prioritized in your life.  Besides, there’s no reward for running yourself into the ground.  There’s no blue ribbon for killing yourself and failing to take a moment to celebrate all of your hard work.  No one and nothing is going to validate your lack of commitment to self.  Whatever’s feeding this sadistic behavior must stop.

So, to gym or not to gym: that is the question.  Whatever the “gym” is in your life, say yes.  Whether your “gym” decision involves getting your hair done, date night with someone special or seeing a matinee movie, choose it.  Every time.  Choose you.  As I said in the November 2012 issue of O Magazine within “What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself” (shameless self plug, I know), I’ve learned:

“That I am not the titles I wear.  To outsiders I am a wife, mother, sister, best friend and business executive, but at one point, the responsibility that comes along with these roles took over my life.  I had no idea what I was really feeling besides overwhelmed.  I’ve now learned that I need to take care of myself in order to care for everyone else.”

I challenge you to do the same.  Be good to yourself.  It’s okay.  Real talk – those who persecute you for it, don’t really love you.

All the best, AskThePRGirl

Semi sort of kind of random P.S.  Isn’t is uber cool that President Obama was sworn in for a second term today?!? Moments like this make me so proud to be an American.  And the FLOTUS’ new hair!! WOO! Loving everything about it! Happy MLK weekend, y’all.

I Don’t Know How She Does It

i dont know how she does it

Recently I was given an offer I couldn’t refuse: an executive position at an international public relations powerhouse with an impressive salary and a flexible work schedule.  I got the job on my terms, and in my field, that’s saying A LOT.  PR agencies are notorious for long hours, negative political cultures and conveniently void of minority senior talent.  Taking this job was a HUGE step for me.  I’ll explain why in a bit.

I started my own public relations business in 2010 after having my son so that I could make money and be available to my family.  Truth be told, my last agency job was an incredibly negative place that discriminated against mothers and black women.  So, as soon as I had a child, the heat was turned on.  It didn’t matter that I was out performing my peers and managing 4 different accounts with teams in 5 different states.  All that mattered was that I wasn’t blond, I wasn’t playing the game and I didn’t kiss ass.  I understand that corporate jobs require a bit of political finesse in order to make it.  You’ve got to “go along to get along”; but, I have a slight issue with that.  I’m a strong, smart, confident, articulate, assertive businesswoman.  If I were a white male, I’d be a young, hotshot CEO by now.  I’ve got bigger balls than most men and I ain’t afraid to whip ‘em out and smack you in the forehead with them if you get in my way.  I play nice, I play fair, but I play the effing game. Once you step into my court, even if I don’t win, you’re going to know you went to battle with me.  I leave scars.  A friend of mine said, “It’s like having PTSD.  I can still work, but I get the shakes and feel the need for anxiety medication if I think I’m in for another round with you.”  Yeah.  I’m a bad b*tch … but in a good way :-).

So, when my “style” and my dark skin and my kid and my “aggressive” behavior stopped working for my last agency, I struck out on my own.  I really wanted to dedicate myself to my son and I knew that I could pull in some good money by contracting my services.  Even if it wasn’t a lot of money, I’d still be able to contribute to the family.  I’m blessed because my husband’s job covers all of our expenses and our necessities.  My financial contribution to our family has always been our “extra” money like: the savings, vacations, extra curricular activities for Noah, etc.  You can imagine how those things dramatically shift when I don’t have money coming in.  Under Haley Communications, I worked like mad, was able to almost double my salary from my last agency and I did it all on my own.  There’s not a day that I don’t praise God for that blessing.

It’s been such a pride thing to start up my own shop and actually thrive, so when my business took a bit of a hit in 2012, I panicked.  Should I go back to work?  Should I give up the autonomy to do what I want to do with a project rather than trying to appease some idiot manager?  Should I put my son in school full-time rather than have him home with me two days a week?  Can I handle managing my household and working 50 – 60 hour weeks?  Can I?  Should I?

After much prayer, Hubby and I decided that the best thing for our family and me would be for me to return to work.  I still consult for clients with Haley Communications, but this job would give me the reach to whole new markets.  I was excited and scared all at the same time.  It’s not that I didn’t think I could do the job, but I’m responsible for more than just this one role.  I’m also a wife, mother, sister, daughter and best friend.  With those roles comes an awesome amount of responsibility and their own separate job description.  I wondered how I would serve each of those roles adequately without losing my freaking mind.  I literally began to doubt whether I could do it.  Hell, even my friends were giving me a doubtful side-eye glance.

According to the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It (and I imagine this must be true on some level) there’s a study which showed that 64% of women with small children don’t sleep through the night.  Why? Because at night, women all around the world do “the list”.  Here’s my list on any given night:

  • Plan this week’s dinner menu
  • Schedule a dentist appointment for me
  • Schedule a dentist appointment for Bryan
  • Schedule a doctor’s appointment for Noah
  • Finish Start the laundry
  • Fold the load in the dryer
  • Mop the kitchen floor
  • Clean out the cubby in the kitchen
  • Take down the Christmas decorations
  • Buy M&Ms for Noah’s art project
  • Buy pull-ups for Noah
  • Potty train Noah!!
  • Call my dermatologist
  • Order contacts
  • Clean the guest bedroom
  • Vacuum
  • Clean Noah’s toy corner
  • Take clothes to the drycleaner
  • Pick up clothes from the drycleaner
  • Clean the house (bathrooms, living room, kitchen and bedrooms)
  • Call Orkin
  • Get the estimate for the renovations
  • Call the contractor about upcoming projects
  • Schedule time with manager to discuss budget for client X, Y and Z
  • Delegate items A, B and C for client X’s project D
  • Schedule time with partner agencies to discuss ongoing initiatives in 2013
  • Learn client Y’s products
  • Draft content for client Z’s marketing magazine
  • Decide creation direction for client’s marketing materials
  • Draft two blog entries for Client X
  • Call husband and remind to … sigh … just do it yourself
  • Order Noah’s custom birthday party invitations
  • Retrieve kid’s names from school for invites
  • Address / Send birthday invites
  • Plan party menu
  • Research sitter / nanny services
  • Research housekeeping service
  • SEX! Jeez … have sex with husband
  • Wax … everything
  • Make hair appointment
  • Buy tampons
  • Get a manicure / pedicure
  • Schedule Noah’s birthday party and alert family
  • Buy suit for little brother in law school
  • Call BFF to get the download on her personal life/advise/love/release
  • Call to check on little brothers
  • Call mother
  • Call mother-in-law
  • Don’t smoke. Don’t buy cigarettes!!!
  • Go to the gym *inner laughter*
  • Tell Hubby to … ugh … who am I kidding?? Just do it yourself!
  • Noah’s crying … go check on the baby

Seriously.  This is the sh*t that goes through my head on any given night.  Not to mention that at some point in my crazy busy week it all has to get done.  Somehow I have to split myself into 5 or 6 different people to yield maximum results.  So … how does she do it, you ask?  She doesn’t.  Most weeks I achieve a small percentage of the things on my list.  And slowly, but surely, I’m learning not to beat myself up for it.

When I first had my son, it used to tear me apart that I couldn’t do it all.  In my mind, I saw my Mother do far more with far less and all on her own.  She never complained.  She never hinted that it couldn’t be done.  I saw her raise three kids alone with no money and we NEVER went without.  Somehow, she always came through.  With that example in mind, I set out to be the perfect wife and Mom.  I set out to be just like her.  I cleaned my own house, I cooked for my family every night, I served my husband on-demand *smile*, I worked 50 – 60 hour weeks, I nurtured my son and I was dying.  I was literally on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  The thought that I was failing at these tasks was tearing me apart.  I couldn’t fathom hiring someone to help because it felt like an admission that I can’t take care of my family.  I’m not woman enough to be all that I need to be to operate in this role.  The thought shattered me.

And then one day, God spoke through my friend, Julie Gaskin.  We were having one of our random weekly girlfriend lunches and I blurted it all out.  I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I buckled to the pressure.  I ranted about failing Bryan, my inability to be perfect, my lack of confidence and my fear that no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to please everyone or get everything done.  She touched my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “So what?”  I looked at her in amazement!  What the hell do you mean “so what!?!?”  She said with love, “You do an amazing job as wife and mother.  So what if you can’t clean the house and do all that other sh*t too?!  Hire a housekeeper.  Get a sitter.  Do whatever you need to do to reduce the stress in your life so that you can focus on the stuff that matters.”

I couldn’t take her words in at that moment, but today I totally get it.  Sometimes (like right now) the house is a mess and the Christmas decorations are still up and the baby is sick and the laundry is waiting. Sometimes you have to give your husband a quick noonday love session rather than an all night, Beyonce “Dance For You” fantasy fest.  Sometimes you need to sleep in rather than go to church (yeah … I said it).  Sometimes, you get to be imperfect.  And it’s okay.  You juggle, prioritize, and more importantly, you let yourself off the hook!  I realized that the only person putting pressure on me … was me!   I’m learning to give myself a break.  No more browbeating.  No more feelings of failure.  It’s time to celebrate the things I can accomplish in a week and praise God for the time given to complete the rest at another time.

As long as your family is feeling loved and your house hasn’t burned to the ground and the car is still running and the phone is still working and God blesses you with another day to check off a few things on that ridiculous list, count yourself lucky.  Life will be a crazy, unorganized mess, but it’s your mess.  And somehow, someway you’ll find a way through it.  Just like me.  Trust me. You’re not a failure simply because you’re not a magician.

God bless every working Mother out there.  And remember, while you’re busy wondering how to get it all done, everyone else is looking at you thinking, “I don’t know how she does it.”

All the best, AskThePRGirl