Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman

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

Tag: working mom

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

just a kid

I’ve worked really hard in my career to reach a certain title. I’ve literally been blinded by nothing but TITLE for the last three to four years. And now that I have it, I have no idea what to do next. I’m not even sure I’m happy or fulfilled with it. Standing in these shoes […]

What Do I Do?

me

Hey Loves!!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything for a few reasons:

  • I only want to blog when I have something to say and for a while there … nothing relevant / thought-provoking came to mind. I mean … there’s only so many times a girl can talk about the “ratchetness” of reality television
  • Career + Mommyhood + Being the perfect Wife (#shedidthat) + Pregnancy = all-consuming. There’s almost not enough time in the day to bathe let alone come up with something pithy to say to you guys
  • I’ve been working on self which requires silence.  You can’t hear God if you’re constantly talking.

So, while I probably lost some faithful readers, I needed this time to adjust.  And you should always know that I’ll only speak when I truly have a topic that will benefit you, or at the very least, make you laugh. And moving forward, the posts may not be very long.  Just enough to get you thinking.

Here lately I find myself back in the midst of a relationship issue that’s giving me … pause.

Ever felt like something wasn’t quite right in your relationship (friendship, marriage, GF / BF, brother / sister, etc.), but you can’t quite put your finger on it?  Actually you can put your finger on it, but the “issues” are small and appear unworthy of attention … until you add up the issues and the time you’ve been dealing with them up and you realize … “SHIT! We’ve been dealing with this for a while!”

Yeah … welcome to my world. My favorite thing to say to people right now is that I’m “dealing with real world sh*t” in my life (like raising kids, juggling my career) and thus I’m a bit slower to catch on to things. *Ye shrug*

How do you address an issue with a loved one that you know is there, but have no idea whether your loved one is feeling the disconnect?  How do you even broach the subject? To have a formal sit down is too formal. To bring it up randomly during a get together is too … random.  When a relationship means the world to you, how do you address an issue that could potentially cause irrevocable harm if not addressed?  Especially when you’re dealing with someone who would rather chew off their own left arm rather than confront it? (I mean hypothetically … which must be said after that last Scandal episode with Olivia’s Mom. Good Lawd!)

That’s it. I don’t have the answer.  If I did, I’d tell you. I want you to tell me.  Hit me back in comments or tweet me (@AskThePRGirl).  This is important to me.  This time … I need your perspective. I mean, this is no one-sided relationship. You’ve got to pull your weight! 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you. And once I’ve sifted through all of the comments, I’ll be sure to come back to you all with the solution I chose and it’s outcome.

All the best, AskThePRGirl

P.S. I’ve missed you.  We should chat more 🙂

P.P.S. Don’t I look cute pregnant?? #SHEDIDTHAT (photo courtesy of @JennBinsPR)

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