Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman

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

Tag: relationships

For My Love …

Bryan-

For days now I’ve looked for the perfect Valentine’s card to tell you how I feel. After all of these years, it seems that every card “just works” because we’re still in love and we’re happy. But … “just works” has never been our style. Our love is extravagant. Our love defies the odds. Our love is what storybooks are made of. Our love is main stage, principle actor love. It’s the 80’s freeze frame shot at the end of the movie. It’s that intangible thing that people search for their whole lives. And, I’m so incredibly grateful for it.

I’m reminded of your final words and promise to me at the airport when you were moving away to California in 2004 and were unsure of what a long distance relationship would bring, you said, “I won’t let anything happen to us. I love you more than anything in this world.”  And you’ve done just that. Being loved by you is … a miracle. I know there are days I take it for granted and for that I’m so sorry. Life becomes a sea of moments to “get everything done” and there are times that I forget that you’re my priority. You’re my person. Everything that I do in this life is for you. Every step, every decision, every goal, every hope, dream and prayer is fortified by your love. You have given me life, Bryan. I don’t know what this life would have been without you, but I DO know that with you it is full of color. Brilliant, bright color. I’m so blessed. Together we have created something beautiful.

I want to make you happy. I want to make you feel the way you make me feel every day. I feel vibrant, vivacious, fearless and indestructible because of your love. I pray that by some measure, you feel the same. I pray that the love I reciprocate makes you feel every bit of the incredible, loving, powerful, sexy, wise, generous, patient, loyal and kind man that you are. I pray that every morning you are still happy to wake up with me. I pray that every night you look forward to doing the same. I pray that God grants me supernatural wisdom and knowledge to be a blessing to you … just as you’ve been to me.

We don’t really make a spectacle of Valentine’s Day because our love is 365. We don’t need a day to celebrate what we spend every breath honoring. BUT, since it IS Feb 14th and the world is focused on love, I wanted to take a moment to remind you just how much you mean me. How much you move me. How deeply I feel you. How I still want you and need you. And that there’s not a moment that goes by that I don’t thank God in heaven that Keesha looked at me 16 years ago and said, “He’s cute, huh? And SO nice!” Right there. That was all I needed. I took one look at you and I knew. I was young and wild and couldn’t quite diagnosis it, but I knew that you were different. And my God was I right. You are the dream. And you’re mine.

If ever there was a doubt as to how much God loves me, how highly He considers me, how deep His promise is to me, I need only look at you. You are a beautiful, tangible example of His love. Thank you for being an incredible Husband and Father. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for making this one shot at life the most incredible experience.

I love you … past my behind, beyond my heart.

Always,
D

P.S. Thanks for the gifts given via the kids this morning. You still know how to surprise me 😉

#MeToo??

*image not owned by AskThePRGirl; sourced via metoomvmt.org

Examining the Swinging Pendulum from Consent to Sexual Assault through the Lens of “Being Leaned On”

Over the last few weeks, my girlfriends and I have engaged in DEEP conversation about the #MeToo movement and it’s juxtaposition to sexual assault in dating. It has beautifully evolved into a self-examining discovery about the swinging pendulum of extremes between consent and sexual assault. We, of course, used our own personal experiences to define what merits the label of assault, but more importantly, gain understanding around that tricky, muddy area in between the extremes. Interesting, albeit unsurprising, fact: we’ve ALL experienced a date that led to the proposition of sex and felt pressure to acquiesce to the unspoken, pressure-filled invitation. Even more interesting: if we ALL recognize the subtle, nonverbal pressure to have sex, why is it seemingly so hard for men to equally pick up on the subtle, nonverbal cues women give when not interested in “going all the way”? We realized that much of the confusion can be cleared if we could first get to the bottom of how we feel about “being leaned on” (shout out to my big sis T and big bro C for coining that phrase). It’s the only way we could begin to cut through our own confusion in defining sexual assault versus a bad date. And, let’s be honest: we live in the 21st century. The age of information. A time when men and women are more empowered and informed than ever before. The fact that we are still confounded about how to have healthy, casual sexual experiences with each other is just f*cking ridiculous. Perhaps this is why God meant for sex to be reserved only for husband and wife … but, that’s another conversation for another day, Chile.

So, what IS “being leaned on”? We’ve all been there. You go out with a guy and have a great date. You decide to take things back to his or your place to hang out in private. He proceeds to non-verbally petition for “the cookie” by taking each allowance of touch one step further than the last and placing assumed, non-threatening pressure on you to have sex. If you really like him, you like the lean. You appreciate the pursuit because what woman doesn’t want to feel like she’s being chased? Even if you tell him “No” and he leaves in defeat to rise and try another day, you both know that the ultimate act is a foregone conclusion as long as he doesn’t do anything in the meantime in between time to f*ck it up. The lean is a real part of the dance. Its intent is not to remove your choice, but it sends a clear message that if you give even an inch, he’s going to ride you for a mile. It’s that exciting cat and mouse game that’s played in the pursuit of sex.

But what happens when you’re not THAT into the guy? I mean, you like him. He’s nice. Cute even (like the last puppy at the pound). He’s educated and got a little money (yep, it matters #sorrynotsorry). He showed you a good time. Conversation was good. You don’t mind a kiss or nonsexual touch here and there. You even feel comfortable enough to take the date back to his or your place because you DID have fun. The attraction is there albeit not intensely physical. When THAT guy starts to lean on you and you respond with subtle, nonverbal cues of discomfort, and the night ends in sex or any type of sexual act, were you assaulted? I mean, you made it clear (in your mind) that you didn’t really want to go “all the way”, but you never said “No”. You only vaguely and imperceptibly demonstrated your discomfort and you did not make it crystal clear that you didn’t want sex. And, to complicate matters even further, you did acquiesce to participate in some overtly sexual acts along the way. You leave not feeling the best about him, yourself or how things went down. But, the question remains: were you assaulted?

Admittedly, my girlfriends and I have all solicited and positioned sex as an option during a date with a guy that we didn’t know that well via flirting, nonverbal cues of implied intimacy (e.g. being alone in his car, his home, etc.) and willingly participating in that heavy “lean on” session that invites the unasked question, “So … we gonna?” In each of our experiences, there were times when we felt quite comfortable saying “nah”; but, there were others when we felt that based on the intimacy of the moment, how far things had progressed, the lack of established relationship trust with our partner, our own guilt about letting things slide too far, the fear of being labeled a tease, the fear of in-the-moment retaliation, and all of the other fifty-leven things that goes through a woman’s head when she’s deciding to share the cookie, that it was best to acquiesce to minimize unforeseen aggression or avoid the potential undesired act of having the cookie taken after having served it up in the first place.

If a woman makes the choice to acquiesce because she was being leaned on, but the experience is absent of any tangible threat to her person (though perceived threats from nonverbal cues are something to consider), absent of feeling unsafe and absent of verbalizing discomfort or refusal to participate, has she been sexually assaulted? Is the man singularly wrong for failing to sense and/or respect her discomfort? Even if the cues are all over the place? Do men carry greater responsibility and culpability because they are the physically stronger thereby automatically perceived as a threat? Is the implicit pressure of “being leaned on” inherently assault, but ONLY when you’re not into each other? Or, is it always assault? Can a woman “lean on” a man? Has HE been assaulted if he acquiesces for fear of having his manhood questioned? What is the process for facilitating a healthy, non-threatening, consensual sexual experience? Add in the thousands of other situational nuances and you can begin to see why we are all so confused.

Let’s think about it this way: “being leaned on” IS in fact pressure and the term “pressure” doesn’t have positive association. From peer pressure to blood pressure, I think it’s fair to say that “pressure” doesn’t get good PR. It conjures feelings of tension, burden and stress. Can you identify any healthy, consensual sexual experience that’s initiated with pressure? Yeaaaaaah … see what I mean? This sh*t is layered. But I digress …

I have thoughts about each of the questions posed above based on my own experiences, but I’m more interested in what you think. I also want to be sensitive to the women and men who have experienced the “lean gone wrong”. Here are a few thought/conversation starters that I believe that could begin to clear the way to personal resolve:

  • USE YOUR WORDS, PEOPLE. We say it to toddlers all the time. A child could be standing in front of you completely wildling out and pointing directly at the toy they so desperately want, and still we make them verbalize the request. If you don’t want to have sex, nonverbal cues aren’t enough. Conversely, why not ask for the cookie versus leaning on a chick to get it? Wouldn’t you rather be clear that the act is consensual? Besides, if preferences and/or decisions to STOP are verbalized and it’s refused, you’ve just answered your sexual assault question. One of my old tricks: when going over to his place and only wanting to fool around a little with NO sex, I confirmed if he would respect that. Ten times out of 10, his answer told me ALL I needed to know about whether I’d be safe with him because there is absolutely no ambiguity to that question. AND, if he lies about being cool to fool around a little just to get you over there, and refuses to respect your boundaries after things get going, you’ve again just passed “GO” and went straight to sexual assault.
  • BEWARE OF PASSIVE NONVERBAL CUES. If you go on a date with a guy and you let him pick you up, drive you to the location of your date and bring you home, you’ve just sent a LOT of nonverbal messages of trust to this person. He now knows where you live. You trusted your body / being to be safe in his care as he drives. You allowed him to return you home with “the lean” likely starting on the drive back. If there’s making out, under clothes touching and kissing, etc., those are also pretty clear nonverbal cues that you’re into the scene. Seems like it’s no big deal, but it’s a message nonetheless. It certainly shouldn’t imply to either person that sex is a foregone conclusion, but if we’re honest, those cues can confuse. Just a realization from my own personal experience. I was taught to never be alone with a man, enter into his personal space (his car, his home) or allow him into mine unless I was certain about the passive agreement those subtle, but real cues solicit. Safety first. Always. Earning and discerning trust starts from date one.
  • MEN MUST BE PRESENT IN THE ROOM. As I analyzed my dating experiences and shared them with my husband, he shared wisdom that hit me as brilliance. He told me that a man’s ultimate responsibility when initiating, pursuing and/or participating in sex is to create an environment of safety for his partner. Be present in the room. That means, at all times she should know that she absolutely has a choice to leave or stop at any moment. She should feel and sense that her pleasure and her comfort are paramount to an equally enjoyable experience. She should know that he isn’t just chasing ejaculation, but rather experiencing something incredible WITH her. Sex isn’t something you do TO someone. It’s an act you experience WITH someone. No matter how casual, respect your partner. He shared that too many guys are chasing the end result which removes the heightened sense of awareness they should activate in order to ensure their partner is comfortable. As the physically stronger sex, setting that tone is critical if a man’s intention is that you both share the desire to engage in the experience. Cause “ain’t no real man tryna have sex with a woman who don’t want it!” He even shared that frequent, soft-spoken check-ins are the responsible thing to do ESPECIALLY when the experience is casual and your relationship isn’t deep enough to make any assumptions. Strategically placed “feel good, you cool and keep going?” were some of my faves from him in the early days ;-).

In the end, my hope as this #MeToo moment of accountability takes shape and births a new era of sexual responsibility, is that we, women, don’t use this as an opportunity to unnecessarily victimize ourselves, vilify our men or appropriate the issue thereby maligning the bravery of real victims. That we don’t use this conversation to move farther apart. My hope is that this moment opens the door to conversation and revelation by taking a long, hard look at the personal and cultural nuances that exist in defining the extremes and bringing clarity to all that lies between. The clear cut assaults are open and shut cases that are easy to identify and morally convict. It’s those experiences smack dab in the middle that are harder to figure out (#IMHO). I think we owe it to each other to talk it about. Let’s figure it out. I have a daughter and son who will sooner than I care to admit venture into this arena. I need to be prepared in order to prepare them and I can’t get to a level of understanding, awareness and resolve alone.

So, can we talk about it? Can we talk about the ambiguity of “being leaned on” and where it skews in the swinging pendulum of defining consent? No shaming. No blaming. No accusations. No anger. No guilt. Let’s leverage our personal experiences and core beliefs to draw us closer to understanding. Hell, we’re already in bed. We might as well talk about it.

Love you. Mean it.

@AskthePRGirl

Shout out to T, N and E for being incredible midwives as this topic was birth from my spirit. Thank you for encouraging me as I struggled to articulate my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your truth and helping me to see beyond myself. I love you.

And to my Husband – Thank you for being you, for listening to experiences with “other dudes” and providing level-headed, unbiased wisdom from a man’s POV.

And to my Mama – Thank you for the rules. They weren’t given to you when you were coming of age, but somehow you were able to give them to me. That guidance led me to smarter choices.

What I Know For Sure

Birthday Reflections & Ish Like That …

So … #ThisIs38

A few years ago I was included in the “What I Know For Sure” section of O Magazine and I shared perspective on not being defined by the roles we lead (i.e. mother, sister, daughter, etc.), but prioritizing and nourishing your individual spirit and soul in order to be the best you can for everyone else (and I’m paraphrasing in case some of yall are still holding on to your copies). As I learned recently at #Blogalicious9, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Hallelujah and moment of silence for that little piece of wisdom …

Today is my born day (one time for #ScorpioSeason) and I can’t help but consider what I know for sure at this point in life. Seems that I’ve recently been involved in lots of deep conversation with girlfriends, my Hubby Honey, my Mama, my Boss and others about the lessons I’ve learned and the level of “sureness” I feel cloaked in these days. More important, it wasn’t a magical occurrence that just happened to me. My “sureness” is the result of intent. I’m living my life like its golden and operating within a level of freedom that I don’t think I’d ever experienced before now. I made the choice to be happy, to believe in myself and to throw a (metaphorical, and at times, tangible) middle finger to distractions. I’m living a life that I’m proud of and truth defined by me and only me. I. Am. So. Free.

As I celebrate this 38th *ahem* year of my life, here’s what I know for sure:

  • I no longer require any form of external validation to inspire or empower my internal thoughts, beliefs or ideas. For years, naturally, I sought approval from my friends, needed my lover(s) to assure me that I’m pretty, needed my managers to validate my smart thinking and my family to champion my tireless role as protector and provider. The expectation and necessity of the validation was so subtle that it took me a long time to pinpoint it was there. It drove me to seemingly inconsequential insecurity that metastasized into anger and resentment when I didn’t receive it. I finally decided I don’t need it. It was a cross too heavy to bear. Removing the focus from receiving my validation externally and empowering that positive energy inside has been likely one of my greatest rites of passage as a woman. Doing so has created this powerful level of self-awareness, self-love and self-confidence. It’s been one of my wisest intentional moves.

  • I’ve created healthy boundaries (for the most part) in my personal and professional relationships. For example, my loved ones (which include my Hubby Honey, Parents, Siblings, Girlfriends and extended family) are my lifeblood. In this life, it has been a privilege, and at times, a burden to serve them. It’s cost me peace of mind more often than I can reasonably quantify and I realized that it is 100 percent MY FAULT. We show people how to treat us, and too often, we operate within our familiar roles at unsustainable levels. Your loved ones don’t intend to overstep or abuse your over-commitment, but it happens. And it was happening to me. A LOT. So, I took a step back about three years ago and began to redefine my role, my expectations, my preferred level of commitment and the healthy level of reciprocity I needed within my familiar relationships. Doing so has freed me to support my loved ones absent of guilt, resentment, fear or worry. And, if someone doesn’t agree with my level of interaction or commitment, I leave that as a cross for them to bear. Cause as my Nik Nak taught me long ago – “What you eat don’t make me sh*t”. Word.

  • My heart is big. My tongue is sharp. My patience is thin. I’m extremely passionate (a true Scorpio). And, I’m funny as hell. I used to be reticent to say that about myself because it felt obnoxious to speak it, but no more. *picks up megaphone* I’M FUNNY AS HELL! Maybe not stand-up comedian funny, but I’ve been known to draw a crowd and bring down the house. #realtalk … my inner spirit is doing THIS most of the time …

Moving on …

  • I have a new found spiritual connection to my sexuality and pride in my body image that has skyrocketed my confidence. It’s not JUST about my looks (though your girl is killing it these days with this snatched waistline and size back to what I was in high school *hair flip*), but rather my internal confidence, keen self-awareness, my energy and this connection to a sense of … “knowing” about myself. My Grandma Mable used to say to me, “One day you just gone know what you know.” I never really understood that until now. Today, I own my confidence without shame, fear, ego or vanity. It’s my truth. It’s just as real as breathing.

  • I love being a woman, and more specifically, a black woman. There’s the fun stuff about being a girl like dressing up, makeup, all things shiny and sparkly, etc. But being a black woman comes with this Herculean strength, unicorn-level magic, enviable sense of wit, epic ability to clap back and shade and multidimensional talent. I am every woman and I BAWSE up in every gawt damn aspect of my life. Boardroom, bedroom, kitchen. I cooks, Baby. While my awareness to this perspective has been slow, my pride and ownership of it is SO here and SO real for me right now. I believe its actual tangible energy that even others feel when they are with me. I’m beaming in the skin I’m in. And loving every minute.

  • My relationship with God is real and tangible. It used to feel mythical. Perhaps because it was the product of the articulation of other people’s experience with Him. Today, we have our own vibe. My Jesus is trill! He MUST be because He created me and I stay on level trill at ALL times. I can feel Him … tangibly feel Him, hear Him and sense Him in all that I do. It’s pretty incredible. There’s not a moment I’m not mindful of Him, chatting in my mind with Him and hearing His response. I’ve tapped in and He’s reciprocated in the most beautiful fashion. It’s provided a much-needed compass as I carry two of my most important roles: Wife and Mom. And it’s endeared me to Him in such a personal way. #IluhGod #youdontluhGod #whatswrongwithyou

So … here I am! Big, bad and bold AF (said in my Ike Turner “What’s Love Got to do With It” voice – LOL). Loving myself and every aspect of my journey. I regret nothing. I’m present in every moment because I don’t want to miss a thing. And with that comes a continual birth of my being … which I am SO here for.

#ThisIs38

And many mooooooooooooooooooooooooore 🙂

Love You. Mean It.

@AskThePRGirl

Dear Stacey …

A #Blogalicious9-Inspired Note From My Heart to Yours 

I’ve had the privilege to share space and time with many exceptional women. From corporate execs to dignitaries and celebs, I’ve encountered them all. And as such, I’ve quite possibly seen the best and worst of personalities and character. You don’t know “diva” until you’ve really and truly encountered a diva. It’s a cute term to toss around until you’ve actually got to deal with one. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced the powerful energy and earth movement when women come together around a shared cause, and conversely, the devastation from the effects of women who live to tear each other down. Unfortunately, the latter has been more prevalent so when the former occurs, it’s noticed. It leaves an indelible mark. It awakens you from slumber. It’s a fresh breeze to the spirit and a balm to the soul.

You, Stacey … are the fruition of every girl power dream. I watched you while at #Blogalicious9 this year. Didn’t know you. Didn’t know what I’d encounter. Didn’t know your true intent in hosting this conference. So … I watched. Really and truly watched you. I saw you work the room, meet new people, hug attendees, thank sponsors, encourage speakers and lead business like an incredible BAWSE. I saw you give. I saw you invest. I saw you encourage. I saw you laugh. I saw you cry. I saw you love. I saw you vulnerable. I saw … your heart.

We only connected twice briefly for a matter of seconds at the conference. Once when you approached with exuberance to thank me for coming, sing my praises and encourage me to have a great time. The second was when I hugged you goodbye as I rushed to catch my flight on Sunday. Alhough it was in the middle of Danica Kombol’s EPIC closing keynote, and I caught you at an awkward hug angle from behind, you grabbed on tight and hugged me with your whole heart. You whispered your appreciation that I attended and well wishes for safe travel.

Be Blogalicious brings together a diverse fraternity of women who are shaping our world’s conversation about a diverse array of topics. From fashion and lifestyle to politics and social good to business BAWSE moves, each woman who attended is living a life of leaving a mark to change the world. Each woman a beautiful representation of living life out loud and by their own rules. Each woman a wonder. Each woman an enviable, pride-filled being of love, light and hope. And equally important, each woman encouraged, carried, loved, believed-in and championed by YOU.

I didn’t know you before the conference and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with you. But your presence … your love and light filled every square inch of that hotel. You gathered close to 300 women and men, filled them with as much good stuff as you could and returned them to their space in the world to do the same in their own way. You (and your incredible team) empowered an army of game-changing, hair-flipping, BAWSE-ass women. In four days, you did nothing short of changing the world (if you really think about it). I mean, really! Think about it! And this is the NINTH year!

I believe that a ministry can take shape in many different forms as long as the result is nurturing and growth of the soul. I’m honored to have experienced you and the power of your ministry. You are some kind of wonderful, my friend. And I thank you. Thank you for being … you. And I’ll say it again, I’m here if you call. Consider me a member of your tribe if only to pray your continued strength and growth.

BTW – I didn’t get a chance to share it, but the devil TRIED IT with your health this summer because he wanted to STOP God’s flow from you into the lives you touched at the conference. He knew the exponential goodness you’d generate and wanted to dead it before it even had chance to see the light of day. His plan didn’t work. God said not so. You were meant to touch and encourage our lives and you did. I praise God that He carried you through and saw fit for you to push almost 300 points of light into the world. I pray for continued health and wealth for you, your covenant and your children. #Selah

Love you. Mean it.

#TribeUp #WOCaffirmation

@AskThePRGirl

#WeareTEN

In the Bible, the number 10 signifies completeness and wholeness depending on the source you reference. The perfection of divine order. Today, my beloved and I are ten.  Ten years of marriage. #weDIDthat

It’s funny. I’ve never doubted that Bryan and I would be together for the long haul. From the moment he looked at me in that way that he does, the way that only he can, I knew that I knew that I’d found my home. In the past ten years we’ve weathered a long distance relationship (for a combined two years) and two cross country moves that taught us lessons in trust and leaning into each other. We’ve weathered job loss and restoration, home sale and purchase, two children, a partridge and a pear tree. We’ve learned the difference between disagreements and deal breakers. We’ve learned each other’s love language. We’ve learned how to transition from roommates to soul mates. We’ve learned to fight fair which undoubtedly means listening more than you speak (real talk – something I’m still working on). We’ve learned to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” And my goodness has God blessed us.

In Bryan, I’ve found a man who treats me as if I’m his purpose in life. In every ordered step he takes, I’m assured that the driving force, the means to it all, is me. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he cherishes me. He respects me. He challenges me to be better, to never settle for less than I’m worth and to dream fearlessly. AND, to pursue those dreams with reckless abandon because he’ll always be here to catch me should I fall. He always says, “What’s the worst that could happen? No matter what it is, we’ll still have each other. So really … how bad could it be?”

In these 10 years, I’ve tried to be a good wife. I pay attention to him to communicate that there’s not one thing that interests him that’s not important to me. I encourage him daily, consistently affirm our love, champion his decisions and respect the path he’s leading. I like to think that I’m “21st century submissive” (I made that up). I follow his lead and believe his counsel to be wise, but I’m a partner with opinions that I voice respectfully with understanding that they’ll always be heard and weighed before he makes the final decision. It’s because of that reciprocity and open heart from my husband that I feel safe on our journey. It’s not easy being the head of household, thus I try hard to never do things that make it harder for him.

I began our journey in traditional role play (i.e. woman cook clean, man make money take out trash *said in caveman voice*). After a few years, I was exhausted. I couldn’t be all that I saw my Mom and my Grandmothers be AND be this dynamic communications executive at the same time. I remember one night that I sobbed to Bryan confessing that I couldn’t be the perfect wife. I was trying to do it all and I was killing myself. I was overweight, stressed to the max and supremely unhappy. I had it in my head that in order to be the “perfect wife” I had to subscribe to certain rules and duties.  Bryan looked at me and said, “So let’s change the rules. What do you need? Tell me and I’ll do it. I can help out around here. I can’t cook like you, but we’ll eat. Just tell me what you need, Baby. I’ll always do it. I love you more than anything in this world.” I give this man my life because he’s given nothing less than that to me.

I don’t think Bryan and I would say that our marriage is perfect, but who are we to argue with the Word of God? 😉 What I can say is that we are perfectly paired. Equally yoked. And, this journey has been the sweetest ride of our lives.

Bryan, my beloved, my friend, my lover, my Priest, Prophet and King

You have made my life so beautiful. Even my hopes, wishes and dreams of what marriage would be didn’t hold a candle to the fruition of you. Your love has been reverential and restorative. In it, I have been born. In it, I’ve found safety to stumble without regret and blossom without worry. In you, I’ve found my true North. Thank you for every laugh, every wiped tear, every night of pillow talk, every small and large decision suffered with little acknowledgement and every beautiful moment together. Being one with you is the sweetest gift God has ever given me. A reflection of His love for me. I am forever changed. I am forever yours.

Ten years … time really does fly.

#WeAreTEN #HangingwiththeHaleys

Love you, Baby. Mean It.

@AskThePRGirl

The Warning Shot Heard ‘Round the World & Other Insecure Ish

I’m not a traditional recapper of episodes giving a play-by-play of what happened so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d check for another blog. I DO appreciate a good post episode query to ensure I’m not in these skreets thinking these thoughts by myself. Mmmkay?  So umm … er … let’s dive on into my top five gut check moments in episode 14 of HBO series #Insecure: Hella Blows:

  1. #Hoetation – Issa ain’t about this life she’s tryna live. I mean, she really sucks at it. We all see it. It takes finesse to truly have a hoetation without your name and deeds being in the skreets. You gotta be on some “eff yo feelings, I’m gettin mine” WITHOUT alarming your “prey”. And you CAN’T be thirsty!!! She’s TOO up in her feelings, painfully uncoordinated, odd and slick destructive in her approach. Who shows up to a dude’s house that you’ve only banged once and gets mad when someone else is there? Better yet, who bangs the guy who lives in the same building?! I was taught to never sh*t where you sleep. Clearly, I’m a dying breed. Raise your hand if this is normal behavior? IF you DID raise your hand, I’m gonna need you to collect your belongings and skedaddle right the hell up off my page. We’ve talked once before about your questionable life decisions and I won’t suffer you in life or blog. I just … can’t.
  2. #BlackatWork – Lawrence encountered that good ole tokenism at work. Nothing like working with folks who absolve themselves of the privilege and supremacy collar simply because they hired a black person, but knowingly treat you with condescension-laced tolerance. Me thinks it’s learn your effing lesson day for Lawrence this season. Everywhere he turns he’s getting a nice little sermon (chapter and verse). And looks like old girl at work is here for his awakening. We shall see where they go with that.
  3. #Shade – For forever and a day, “Girl, shut yo light-skinned ass up” will remain the ultimate no clap back shade. And it’s shade that only WE can say and ONLY to a good friend who know she saying some tom f***ery to begin with. When Molly said it to Tiffany, my heart warmed. It’s one of those unspoken black girl rules that you take advantage of when you with your real girls. Yet another reason why I love this show. They always tap into the real and deliver it effortlessly.
  4. #ThatDROstroke – I hate this path Molly is traveling down. I hate the license she’s given herself to sleep with this married man simply because she woke up to real life about her parent’s very adult relationship. I hate that she’s sacrificing her relationship with a lifetime friend. I hate that she represents a woman having it all, but nothing at all. I hate that when she gets what she’s been looking for, she ignores it for the thrill of complication (I mean … nothing’s more exciting than sleeping with the guy you KNOW you ain’t supposed to be touching). I hate that she’s taking the LOOOOOOOOOONG road to happiness and threatening her ability to get there because she backtracks 10 steps for every one taken in the right direction. BUT (and I say this hating myself as I prepare to type these next lines) Dro’s stroke is nectar of the gods. My man ain’t puttin in light work, he’s literally throwing his back into it and coming with that mythical light-skinned love! You KNOW what I’m talking about! Sistas get with chocolate brothas like Daniel, Lawrence, etc., because we know that stroke is coming from deep in the hills of the motherland. Light-skinned dudes (aka pretty ninjas) don’t be in there right because they’ve been with too many girls who are happy to be with the pretty ninja and didn’t tell his a** that his stroke is terrible. Thus, he goes through life thinking he’s THE MAN and he sucks. Somehow, Dro got that “spirit of Jidenna” stroke (i.e. you start hearing “Bambi” as soon as that ninja drop his draws and your soul cries a native African scream). That be late for work stroke. That call your girls and tell ‘em you ain’t gone make it stroke. Lawd ta mercy … #IJS. She ain’t right, but the b*tch is only human.
  5. #TheShot – Now … maybe I’m wrong, but we DID hear Daniel say, “Oh sh*t! You ‘bout to make me come.” In my experience, that’s when you pull back and use your hand if you don’t want to be shot in the face or swallow. If you gone be down there working it out and puttin him on notice that you came to win, you must engage all your chakras, be listening with your ears and looking with your third eye. THAT WAY, you don’t end up … like Issa. Listen, we’re adults, right?? It’s not the most pleasant sitch. We’ve ALL been there. I’m not tryna judge Issa that it happened, but I’m slightly confused at her reaction. What did she think was gonna happen? And can somebody hip me to WHEN we start givin head to ninjas that ain’t your man or regular d***?? I missed that memo about the same way Issa missed Daniel’s warning, child. I aneono. Yet another reason why Issa need to get out these streets.

So basically, everybody is a mess and resisting any and all common sense. Right?? Mmmkay.

Well, next week looks to be a doozie with everyone meeting up and having their mess on Front Street. Jesus be a ram in the bush. These people got my pressure up in ALL the right ways and for all the wrong reasons. #issamess

Until next week …

Love you. Mean it.

@AskthePRGirl

 

*All gifs courtesy of Giphy.com and HBO

No Cape for Lawrence and Other Unsolicited Thoughts

Who isn’t a fan of HBO’s HIT series Insecure created by the uber funny, hella magical black girl Issa Rae?? If you haven’t watched it or know not of what I speak, a couple things:

  1. STOP reading and/or unsubscribe from my blog. Your life and the choices that lie therein are highly, highly questionable. I rebuke you in the mighty name of Jesus.
  2. That’s it. So let it be written. So let it be done.

For the rest of us who have been biting our nails in anticipation of Season Two after Issa cheated, Lawrence left (and bagged the bank teller), and Molly exemplified the REALEST actualization in girlfriendship drama (i.e. I’m not happy with myself, but I’m gone project my bullsh*t onto you so that you get mad at me, thus giving license for me to get mad at you so that I get the balls to tell you how I REALLY been feeling about you and/or your life choices and I don’t care if you mad but … wait … something happened?! Girl, I’ll be right there!), last night was a welcomed family reunion to see what we’ll learn next about our fave people.

While watching the episode, my Hubby Honey made it VERY clear that he is #TeamLawrence out in these skreets and has decided to join the brotherhood of support around this sad, sad character. And while I understand and appreciate how men are rallying to ideally support “caping” for Lawrence, there a few simple insights into why it doesn’t make sense to women (namely me and my girls) AND how it makes you look slick undesirable. But before I start, let me say:

*picks up megaphone* Issa was wrong to cheat on Lawrence! I REPEAT FOR THE CHEAP SEATS – ISSA. WAS. WRONG. When they discussed their relationship and agreed to be “all in”, it was her responsibility to honor that mutual, consensual decision and be honest about how she was feeling about the relationship. I’m saying that now before I end up having to respond to a whole bunch of foolishness. Please understand that my subsequent opinions are rooted in the fact that I believe her to be wrong. Okay??

 

HOWEVER …

  1. Lawrence left that relationship LONG before she was distracted by the unrealities of cheating. He checked out. You’re living on the couch, sulking and treating her like your maid and your Mama instead of remembering that she’s your WOMAN – a being perfectly capable of wearing those hats as needed, but irresponsible to require her to prioritize them long term. He changed the pace and vibe of the relationship and opened the door to her “distraction”. #issavibe #issayofault
  2. Good sex (aka blowing a woman’s back OUT) will make her forgive, forget and sit blindly within the most epic of tomfoolery f*ckery in a relationship. I’ve known women *ahem* to keep running behind a jobless, inconsistent, penny-less, etc., etc., man because he was literally, tangibly introducing her to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Meshach and Abednego between them sheets at night. Why is this relevant? Because if Lawrence had been stroking and proving in the bedroom with Issa the way he did with the bank teller, PUH-LEASE believe Issa wouldn’t have cheated. Who tryna give up some good D for stability in your 20s (or early 30s)?? I don’t know that chick. The convo would go something like this:
    • Molly: Why you still fooling with Lawrence’s “can’t get off the couch”, “I need my mama” lookin ass?! Girl, if you don’t get your life and do better!
    • Issa: *stands bow-legged and wobbles* GIRL, BYE! My man is a dreamer with a LOT of untapped potential. In fact, let me go home and encourage him!
    • The. End.
  3. Lawrence didn’t fight for Issa. At all. And, he didn’t prove himself to be the type of man that can lead when the going gets tough. He’s fighting like hell right now to restore his shattered sense of manhood and make Issa hurt the way she hurt him, but he didn’t fight for himself, her, or their relationship when it mattered. I remember once that I asked my friend why she was distancing herself from a guy. She said (and I remember this like it was yesterday), “He’s all over the place. At the end of the day, I can’t trust him to lead me. I can’t trust that our future would be safe in his hands.” Women expect a man to fight for them and lead when the going gets tough. You’re human, Fellas. We get that you’re going to have down moments filled with doubt, worry, fear, disappointment, etc., and that’s okay, BUT equally important is your ability to dust off, fight and lead. When you show inability to do that, we quietly take our chips off the table. And, since you’re already running the whole “wounded bird routine”, we wouldn’t want to risk you actually slitting your wrists over a failed relationship too! So, we stay longer than we should and we lie. Why? To protect the possibility of our rebound (yes! things could get better though they rarely do once a woman has gathered her chips) and to protect what’s left of your manhood. It’s not right, but it’s real.

SO … for all of you out there SO ready to toss a cape on Lawrence and parade his ass through the city streets on your shoulders like the second coming of male pride, please take a look at the level of mediocrity you’re championing and how doing so says a LOT about the fragility of manhood.

Lawrence gets no cape. I REPEAT – Lawrence gets NO CAPE. If anything, take his ass out for a drink and talk some sense into him. Let him know that he woke up to a relationship already on life support and the demise was by his own hand. #issatruth

Love you, mean it.

(and don’t you LOVE Insecure?!?! *squeal*)

@AskthePRGirl

*all photos/gif from HBO and Giphy

And the Award Goes to …

Tales in being #WifeoftheYear and the day I made my Husband squeal (for a reason other than the one that just popped in your head)

Hands down, my husband is the greatest man walking the earth (to me). He’s wise, just and fair. He’s level-headed and calm (which is great because I’m generally a nut case 80 percent of the time). He’s a great father and an excellent example of just about everything for the children (which is great because Lillian started cursing at two because of me). He’s funny, sensitive to our needs, a hard worker and a great provider. I know, right?! We hit the jackpot, people!! You know this by my social media posts. Those posts aren’t to brag, that’s our real life! Honest!

My Hubby-Honey deserves all of the good stuff we can find to give him, but life gets in the way at times. Between buying a new house last fall, my brother and sissy-in-loves wedding, keeping up with the children and work schedules that continue to intensify, finding time to “check-in” with each other becomes harder and harder. Even more so, finding time to celebrate / appreciate each other is even harder. BUT, we’ve made the commitment to keep each other first so it’s an imperative that we refuse to let slip.

For Mother’s Day, my husband bought me a new MacBook and accessories.

What the hell am I supposed to do to top that??? It’s not a competition, but IT IS AN EFFING COMPETITION, you know what I mean?! He got the children looking at me like, “Whatcha gonna do for Daddy??” Son of a b*tch! I thought we weren’t spending money like that this year. I was unprepared! I was planning a nice dinner and some kid-free time. You can’t do that after someone surprises you with a new freaking MacBook! And so, I re-calibrated. Time to figure out how I can top his ridiculously awesome gift. This. Is. War!!!!!

I remembered that Dave Chappelle was coming to Atlanta for a week. BINGO! Dave Chappelle is on Hub’s top five list of comedians to see live. YES!

BUT, tickets have been sold out FOR-EVER. DAMMIT!

OH! STUBHUB!!! (note: NOT an endorsement or promotion. A b*tch just remembering her options.)

I race to the site and begin looking at ticket options. HOLY HELL! WHY are people trying to petition a lower left section of my lung and a ventricle for these tickets?! I’m not paying you $700 per seat!! Have you lost your …

WAIT! LOOK! Seats in the third row for less than $300!!

COME THROUGH JESUS! Grabbed the seats and began my plan to make my very reserved, humble, salt of the earth Husband, squeal like a girl.

On Father’s Day, he woke to a full-cooked breakfast and gifts of love from the children. After we ate, he plops onto the couch prepared for his “Daddy Do Nothing Day” (an unspoken rule on celebratory days in the Haley household). Just as he pulled up the blanket, got cozy on the couch and grabbed the remote, I hit him with the old Kansas City shuffle (note: I have no freakin idea if that’s what I did because I’m not actually familiar with what the eff a Kansas City Shuffle is, but it sounds good so let’s just go with it, kay?).

Me: Babe. I need you to go upstairs and pack an overnight bag.

Hubs: Overnight bag? For what?? What’s happening? What’d you do?? *insert excitement*

Me:

Me: Just do it! And pack something for going out tonight. Need you to look nice. We’re leaving in one hour.

Mom comes over as planned and we say goodbye to the children. We head out to the mall to take him shopping, check-in our hotel and grab lunch.

Side note: If you EVER visit Atlanta or need a staycation locally, I highly recommend the Intercontinental Hotel! Service is always great and they have a ham bar. Yes! A. Ham. Bar. Thinly sliced, cured ham served with house-made crackers, whole grain mustard and this dreamy apricot and peach jam. Lawd ta mercy!!! It’s heaven!!!

Back to my story … sorry about that intermission from my inner fat girl.

Hubs: Soooooo … what’s up for tonight?

Me: Welllllllll ….. I wanted to surprise you with a romantic ride on the Atlanta Skyview!!!!!

Now … my Husband does NOT do heights at. all. And the Skyview is a GIGANTIC Ferris Wheel. If a black man could turn white, this would have been the moment when it happened. But, true to form, my Husband would NEVER poo poo something that I’m excited to give him. He loves me too much to make me feel like a gift from my heart isn’t everything to him.

Hubs: OH! *looks nervous* That … sounds great, Babe! I’m sure it’ll be … *gulp* GREAT!

Me: JUST KIDDING!!! YOU HAVE THIRD ROW SEATS TO SEE DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE CHAPPELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!!!!!!!! TONIGHT!!!!!

Hubs:

We head to the show and have a wonderful time. The opening act was a girl who could only be described as a dirtier, darker Amy Schumer. I loved her. The second act was a guy named Mo Amer who has appeared on the Late Night with Colbert. He KILLED it. We laughed SO hard. My face was hurting when he left the stage.

And then it happened.

DJ Trauma (Chappelle’s tour DJ) said something about “From Broad City” and I felt my Husband’s body tense. All of a sudden, Hannibal Buress walks out and my dear, sweet husband let out an audible man squeal.

BEST. MOMENT. OF. MY. LIFE.

And then … there was Chappelle.

He was incredible!! He’s clearly having a glorious moment in his career. He tackled issues of relationships, politics and more. It was such a great thing to experience together. And like a kid enjoying his favorite activity in the world, my Honey soaked in every minute. My shy, introverted, reserved Husband gabbed ALL THE WAY BACK to the hotel about how much he enjoyed it. His exuberance was infectious. And cute.

We ended the night with a ridiculous room service spread that should have fed five people, but we were high off laughter and didn’t want the fun to end. We talked and talked, laughed about nothing and then … he made me squeal … (and yes, I mean THAT … this time … *side eye glance and wink at your dirty mind*). #marriedandunashamed

While I thought it would certainly merit a fair share of “thanks Babes” for a night with Chappelle, I didn’t realize how much it would mean to him. This night was more than a cool experience. It told my Husband that I’ve paid attention to what delights him and THAT was what made the gesture, the element of surprise and the actuality of the experience so much more special. I paid attention during a time in our lives when doing so has become harder and harder as we get busier and busier. I paid attention.

And so, I humbly accept the award for #WIFEoftheYear. I’d like to thank my Mama for always rolling through in a clutch to keep these kids. I’d like to thank my covenant partners and friends who have been in marriage MUCH longer than me because they constantly remind me not to sleepwalk through my relationship, and never take it for granted. I’d like to thank my children for being well behaved enough that people will still babysit them. Shout out to Dave Chappelle and Hannibal Buress for sealing the deal on this much deserved honor. And, I’d like to thank my Husband, for making it so damn easy to want to  lean into him. To pay attention to him. He’s worth every moment of effort.

Love you. Mean it.

@AskthePRGirl

All gifs sourced from Giphy

 

Aints and Saints

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Photo Credit: Alana Dae Photography

I’m going to say something that will be wildly unpopular with “Aints” (otherwise known as Saints that are Christian in title only) and likely give pause to Saints (or true Christians). It’s my opinion. Like it or not, it’s how I feel.

It bothers me when “Christians” use biblical principle to depress and condemn. It further bothers me when The Word of God is used as a weapon. Unfortunately, this behavior runs rampant in the black church (although clearly present across the board). It’s crazy that Black people are so critical and harsh given the freedoms and respect we continue to lobby for. Not too long ago, it was unlawful to marry us if you were of a different race and it was also considered vile to use the same water fountain or eat from the same table. Yet after all of these years, we’ll use God to hurl the nastiest condemnation and draw the harshest lines between “us” (saints) and “them” (sinners). That, my friends, is irony.

The God I know and serve is love. His guiding principles are love, grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and redemption. You can live a life of reckless abandon and debauchery. If with your last breath you repent and invite Him into your heart, He will take you in and wash it clean. No questions asked. Just like that. It’s all He requires. Just one moment, of all the moments, He gives you in a lifetime. That’s how much He loves us. That’s how much He’s rooting for us to win.

I was recently ordained as a minister for the sole purpose of presiding over the wedding ceremony of my best friend. As I researched scripture in preparation for the ceremony, the Holy Spirit lead me to search how many times the word “love” appears in His Word. It is actually one of the most cited words in the Bible appearing on average 478 times (depending on the version). The only words that appear more are His name (God, The Father, Jesus) and “heart”. Why is this important? What does that tell me? That even though He gives the responsibility of following and adhering to the rule of his Word, He moves, decides, responds and even rebukes in … love. Our greatest responsibility is to exalt / honor Him and to LOVE.

Now, why has all of this bubbled up for me? Where am I going with all of this? Recently I watched the words shared by Kim Burrell condemning homosexuality and I have witnessed some of the fall out. And while I believe her to be an extremely gifted musical artist, and no doubt a woman of God and believer, she was dead wrong to go “there”. Why hypocritically condemn behavior or a lifestyle that you clearly turn a blind eye to when it plays a “mean keyboard” or directs your choir or stands proudly in your pulpit setting the tone for worship? Why judge behavior rooted in a struggle that you will NEVER understand? Why be so incredibly insensitive and disrespectful? I’m disappointed in her … as a fan and Christian woman. In fact, I’d be happy if the church took it’s hands off homosexuality altogether. I can’t imagine the shame a gay person must feel when they come to church looking to receive God’s peace and be embraced by His love and saving grace, only to be greeted by harsh conviction, biased condemnation and hate. That’s not God. That’s man’s interpretation of God. And it’s wrong.

Let me be clear: Hate speech is still hate speech even when it’s masked by biblical principle. Just because you use the Word to justify your hatred doesn’t mean you aren’t perpetuating a very real, disgusting and dangerous bias. And furthermore, you should check the spirit that’s guiding you to do so. I can assure you it’s not of God.

Rule of thumb: If an action is challenging to perform consistently (i.e. unconditional love, inclusion, acceptance), and you feel resistant to it, there’s a pretty good chance God is in there somewhere. Imagine all of the things He witnesses in every moment of every day and He still choses to love us. Can you imagine? Every rape, every murder, every lie and every heartbreak. He sees it all. And still, He only requires one moment to acknowledge Him … just … one. And in that split second He’ll scoop you up and never look back at one foul thing you’ve ever done. No greater love …

Are you capable of doing the same? Are you capable of loving like that? Well, I’d like to challenge you. Start there. Use your energy to love with wild abandon and do so unconditionally. You’ll win more hearts for Christ that way and you’ll certainly have a much healthier spirit and soul.

Love you. Mean it. No matter who you are and how you chose to live your life. When I make it to the gates and He audits my choices, I’ll stand proud that I practiced love above all.

@AskThePRGirl

Relationship Russian Roulette: An NYE Reflection

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I had a funny conversation with my girl the other day in which she shared that she recently came up disappointed playing the holiday version of Relationship Russian Roulette with her husband. What is that, you ask? Don’t mind if I do! It’s that conversation you have with your significant other where you both agree not to exchange gifts during a particular holiday or special occasion (e.g. Valentine’s, Anniversary, Christmas). As the holiday approaches, us females (and lets be clear, its always the female) begin to secretly hope that you got us something. Why? It’s romantic to be surprised and feel that awareness that you want to go over and above to please us. It’s Russian Roulette because if you get us something, we are on cloud 9 and you get sex. No harm done. If you don’t, we are utterly disappointed and slightly irritated, you’re confused because “isn’t this what we agreed”, and a fight ensues thereby killing the vibe, and likely, a bit of your relationship. It’s a horrible set up. I don’t know why we do it. I’ve learned not to do it over the years. My Hubby Honey knows I want a gift on every special occasion. Every special occasion?? Yes. E-V-E-R-Y special occasion. I’ve pushed out two of your big head kids and managed to preserve my sexy. Yes. I want a gift on every special occasion and every third Tuesday if you can manage it. #realtalk

But, I digress.

Her story tickled me because she’s newly married and it’s really sweet to see them find their way together. It also occurred to me how easily it is to unknowingly set your relationship up for failure based on unfair expectations and failure to communicate. I can think of many occasions where I’ve expected Hubs to just KNOW something that I never shared. And then I get mad because I expect him to react or behave in a way that I’ve created in my mind. It’s lunacy at best, and for some reason, I continued to do it. How much easier would it be if I just told him how I felt? If I told him what I wanted? What is this incessant need to keep our men living in an unending Hunger Games-style emotional guessing game??

Am I afraid he’ll think I’m too demanding? Am I afraid he’ll judge my desires as petty or petulant? Do I just not care to do the work? Maybe … a little of all the above? You wanna know the biggest piece of irony? My profession is communications. It’s what I do All. Day. Long. So, why not with him? Why must he guess?

If I’m honest, part of me wants to feel the imagined intimacy and excitement. I want to feel what it feels like to know that he knows me so well that I don’t have to communicate what I consider base-level, rudimentary things. Another part of me wants the thrill and romance of having that storybook guy who planned the romantic weekend or surprise party or got the gift anyway. Part of me wants to test if he’s paying attention. And another part wants to annoy him as retaliation for some random thing he’s done to annoy me. I know, I know. It’s petty, but it’s real! Stop judging! I’m sharing here.

In the end, I realize that more important than feeling the romance, excitement and exhilaration from Russian Roulette is my desire to protect the integrity of my relationship. I love and respect my husband. And, rather than find ways to weaken that integrity, I’d much prefer to find ways to honor our love. Because it’s good love. Really, really good love. It matters to me that we’ve still got “that loving feeling” after all these years. I don’t want to sabotage that because I randomly felt the need to be surprised with a gift.

I share that because while women are on point 98.7 percent of the time :-), we need a gut check every now and again. If you’re playing Russian Roulette with your relationship, even one that has stood the test of time, eventually that bullet will hit the chamber. And you’ve got to ask yourself, “Is that shot worth it.”

Probably not.

Just food for thought. I figured #NYE is as good a time as any for a little self reflection.

Love you. Mean it. And Happy New Year! May your greatest joy in 2016 be the least of your joys in 2017. 

@AskThePRGirl