Lessons learned

Happy 2015! I resolve... not to make any resolutions

I cannot, in good conscience, kick off one more January with a peppy New Year, New You! post. I cannot. Let's face facts. We did not magically become new people between midnight December 31st to 12:01 am January 1st. All the faults and foibles we possess are still there. We are who we are for the most part.

What a new year DOES do (just like a new day only with a bigger sketchpad) is give you an opportunity to draw a different road map. You don't get to hit a reset button really but you can say, "I'd like to do x and y and z this year" and people nod and encourage you to do so. However, if it's the exact same x and y and z you've resolved to do in multiple years' past, allow for the fact that folks are going to side-eye the hell out of you. 

But that's okay too. I, for one, have decided against the annual making (and breaking) of resolutions. I'm just going to continue to be a better me, whatever that turns out to look and sound like. 2014 was more win than lose for me so instead of picking it apart, I'll just take the W.

However, I will take a moment to talk about broad lessons learned in 2014. And yes, some of them sound familiar because apparently, I'm the sort of gal who has to learn things the hard way and more than once...
  1. Rarely do the best things happen overnight or without a bit of sweat equity. This counts in relationships and work.
  2. Be careful what you wish for cuz you just might get it. Can I get a witness?
  3. Not everything you want is what you need. C'mon somebody.

What about you? Did you keep to your 2014 resolutions? Trying again this year? Do share...

Lessons from #Scandal: Ladies, before you start declaring #EarnMe...

Sorry all - Spoiler Alert. If you haven't watched May 2, 2013 episode of Scandal this post spills all the tea...

Last night on the "A Woman Scorned" episode of Scandal, Olivia issued a challenge heard round the world to Pres Fitz: "I am not a toy you can play with when you’re bored or lonely or horny. I am not the girl the guy gets at the end of the movie. I am not a fantasy. If you want me, Earn me!" Cannot deny - it was epic. Immediately, 80% of the bruhs sent up collective groans while 100% of the women-folk screamed out, "YES! You betta earn me up in here!"

#EarnMe became a thing. Instantly. I'm waiting for someone to hook up the purple "Earn. Me. Dammit." tank top so I can purchase and rock with much attitude.

But hold up ladies, please press the brakes for a minute. The same way I begged of you not to put your hand in your man's face whilst screaming, "If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it." I also implore you not to  get to issuing "Earn. Me!" ultimatums to your boo. Unless you're worth it and you're absolutely sure he thinks you're worth it too.

I'm just saying.  A week or so ago I asked the fellas to check their dateability stock on the open market. I'm going to ask the ladies to make sure you are not in the bargain bin expecting some Neiman-Marcus type return on investment. Look, I love ya'll. I think each (okay most) of you are worth your weight in gold. Just make sure your boo feels the same before you talk that talk.

You don't break "Earn Me" out of your book of tricks for dinner on a Wendesday night. There's proper place and time to bring out that kind of heavy artillery. I mean, you can just be all willy-nilly with the "Earn Me" of it all. Also (as well) make sure you want to be earned before you toss it out there. Maybe you are worth it and dude is not. Poor Edison put his time in and tried to earn him some Olivia only be sent packing with an old ring and high-heeled pump in his hind parts. Jake didn't even get a goodbye (not that he deserved one). Hear me ladies, words have power. Use them correctly or not at all.

First Lady Mellie thought she was worth it too. Ivy League grad, old money, good to luck at, stands by her man, brings him scotch in the shower and still tries to swirls the cocoa. Mellie is the wife and sat over in lonely stale-ass Blair House expecting her man to show up and earn back her love. He was too busy saying, "Hi," in the shower with Olivia. Yeah he was. 

Um. Hmm... We see ya'll.

The next and last lesson we need to learn from last night's Scandal? After the man makes the grand gesture and the girl takes him back? Someone should think about what happens next, shouldn't they?

No one ever thinks about how that "happily ever after" is actually going to work. Fitz blew up his marriage, Liv blew off a guy we all think is suspect and a lot of moving pieces are still on the loose and up to no good. So now what? In real life? I think we all know this scenario ends poorly. But this is ShondaLand. Lawd knows what she's got in store for us.

Oh, one other thing - fellas please - we know this is fiction. You don't have to worry about an entire nation of side chicks rising up talmbout "Earn me." 
Rarely happens in real life, we know this.
Also, Fitz is a fictional President, he can do the ratchet stuff he does because he's cute and he's a fictional President... you all may not. Calm down. (The innanets were alive with the haterade from some of the fellas last night, calm down ☺)  

BnB - ready to tell the one you love to "earn you" yet? How do you think that would go over in real life? Inquiring minds want to know.

Lessons Learned from #Scandal - The Truth Will Out

As many of you know, Scandal is a Shonda Rhimes-penned TV obsession of mine. Though she has a tendency to deliberately dance up and down on her audience's emotions and nerves, I find her writing style to be brilliant and she always peppers her episode with one or two "morals to the story" if one only cares to look beyond the dramatical to see them.

Watching last Thursday's Scandal "Top of the Hour" episode was one such show. In addition to the over the top drama (wait - girlie had an affair with her professor that went on for years and whose child is that?!), underneath the spectacularism was a prevailing truth.

My Aunt Violet used to say in her whispery, West Indian voice: "Gurl, the truth will always out. You can't run from the truth or death, they always catch up to you." The truth will out? Yes, the adults would nod sagely and one would always tack on, "Things done in the dark always come to light."

The thing of it is, everyone has a skeleton (or ten) in their closet. Whether one of those bones will come flying out today, tomorrow or after you're gone is the question. With few exceptions (Jimmy Hoffa not withstanding), the little things we don't want found out invariably do come out and always (ALWAYS) at the wrong darn time. 

The question is, what to tell and what to take to the grave? In this case, when the wife and mother became CEO of a publicly-traded company and her former lover was nominated for a Supreme Court position - it might've served her well to pull husband to the side and do some preventative damage control. Instead, her secrets eeked out one at a time so that each blow cut deeper than the last. No bueno, chica. No bueno.

In Olivia's case, she kept secret from Fitz that she agreed to rig the election to win him the presidency. When was a good time to share that dirty little secret? I have to say, the 33rd of Neveruary would have been a fine time. Verna's deathbed confession scotched that all up. But once Olivia found out that he knew, she should have done immediate damage control. Now he's double-fisting scotch at midday and she's swigging $300 wine straight from the bottle. No bueno, chica. No bueno.

Lessons learned in this episode? The easy one is simply not to sleep with people you ain't supposed to be sleeping with but let's keep it real, shall we? Other lessons: There's always a paper (digital) trail. If you're doing dirty, don't do it digital. A phone call log can be explained. A skanky email? Not so much. There are cameras everywhere. Even when you think they're aren't? There probably are. If one other person knows your secret - it's not a secret. Point blank. Folks crack for all sorts of reasons. And last but not least - it's always a better idea to out yourself than to be outed. Please stop and read that again. If you've got skeletons, it's ALWAYS better to drag them out and display them in your own way than to have someone do it for you. You can dress them up, add musical accompaniment and make the skeleton seem not to darned scary. Everyone else is going to Stephen King/Tim Burton your ish.

What do you think, BougieLand? In the cases where you can't take it to the grave, better to self-snitch or no? Thoughts, comments, insights on the Scandal of it all?

Lessons Learned from #Scandal - Love hurts but...

I've already admitted my obsession with the TV show, Scandal. So why not turn that into something useful? Like a new BnB series - Lessons Learned from Scandal. Today, let's talk about that quote Olivia dropped on Edison last week (seen above). The beauty of this is that even if you don't watch the show, you can read that quote and cringe right along with the rest of us.

The quote sent me into a momentary tailspin of self-reflection - was this my problem? Do I only love love if it's dramatical, mystical and magical and fraught with tension? For a moment, I thought yes and then slowly I swung back the other way... no. In fact, hell no. (remember Dude formerly Known as New and how he was ousted from the island due to what? DRAMA!)

The truth of the matter is - yes, love does hurt. It can grab you in the gut and twist you into pretzel shapes, chew you up and spit you out. This is true. But it should not torture you to death's door, have you peering over the edge into Lucifer's living room before snatching you back with a maniacal giggle. That's doing too much.

For a love to be extraordinary, it doesn't have to be a roller coaster ride, or at least not a death-defying one for criminy's sake. Olivia can have that constant love struggle. I do not want. My lesson learned from that quote - love means different things to different people. For Olivia, she appears to like her relationships on raging inferno status with no extinguisher in sight.

Now, had she said that she didn't want an easy-like-Sunday-Morning, dull-as-a-dishwater, comfortable-as-an-old shoe kind of love - that I understand. And no, fellas - please don't make this another argument for the "women only want thugs" or "nice guys finish last" memes. Women want chemistry. Whether it's wearing a leather jacket or a sweater vest. <~~ don't come at me for sweater vest bias. 

Not saying I don't want the relationship to be easy, but I prefer the take-my-breath-away, sparks-fly-when-our-eyes-meet, you-are-totally-feeling-me kind of love... that eventually feels like Sunday morning. I like my coffee strong, my food spicy and a little extra je-ne-sais-quoi in my love life. Not that steal-a-country, snuff-out-a-Supreme-Court-justice level of drama... I'm not here for that. Just want my breath to quicken and my eyes to light up when That Guy enters the room. If I'm rolling my eyes thinking, "Here he come again." It's not going to work out. 

So I wonder BougieLand - Are we drama/adrenaline junkies in our love lives? Do we only feel like it's love if it's some all-consuming orchestra music swelling to a crescendo maelstrom of emotion? Does love have to be extraordinary for us to accept it? Can you have "true" love without the chemistry? Can a love that's just easy work just as well? Do discuss...

Change: You can't force it, fight it, or fervently wish it into existence

My final thoughts on Lessons Learned from Iyanla's Fix My Life (whew!) - change doesn't happen in a vacuum. It takes a commitment to action and follow-up on that action. Again, not to judge Evelyn but I couldn't help but wonder how ready for change she really is and whether or not she'll take the lessons that Iyanla was giving her and use them for transformative living down the road. I hope she does.  hope this wasn't all for the publicity and I hope we've all managed to get something thought-provoking out of what was some hot mess.

Here's what I know to be true:
1) You can't make somebody change. I don't care how fine, smart, manipulative, cocoa-stirring-wondrous, nightly-praying, beseechifying (yes, I'm making words up) you are. If a person (including yourself) is not willing to change, it's not going to happen. Note: A ring nor a baby nor a wedding will magically transform someone who dos not want transformation. If you are meeting people that you think you want to change, just walk away. 

2) Even if people want to change, they may not be ready. There really is a season for everything and it just may not be that's person season to be who you need or want them to be. Sometimes people just aren't ready to make a change or are too entrenched in the known to embrace the unknown. Some folks will eat the exact same thing every Thursday night for 20 years. I know I spent a good five years lamenting the fact that I wasn't a writer but hadn't sent a word to anyone for them to read. I was comfortable as a well-paid HR consultant and writing was just a dream. It wasn't until I took a chance and embraced the change that it started happening for me. Also, you can't expect people to change on your schedule. They're ready when they are ready and not a minute before. Drop a hint and nudge all you want. When it happens (if it happens), it happen.

3) Even if someone is ready and willing to change? They may not be able to. Let's break it on down - some simply cannot change. They don't really want to or they won't try to or they just don't know how. All of the cuddling, counseling or cajoling in the world can't get this person over the hump. This is where the saying about old dogs and new tricks comes from. The one about horses, water and drinking? All of that. 

So what does it all mean? It means all you can really do is change yourself if you so desire. Everything else is out of your hands. Quit stressing about it.

BougieLand, ever met someone who is just set in their ways? Ever tried to changed an s/o? How'd that work out for you? What, if anything, new did you take a moment to think about this week? Do share...

Girls who Let Go of the Fairy Tale when Prince Charming is not Enuf...

Cinderella, Love Jones and other perfectionist portrayals of "happily ever after" have us twisted up the game, yo. I mean, I write relationship fiction, I know how powerful that vision of two people walking off into the sunset vowing to stay by each other's side through thick and thin can be. They made it through the struggle and now everything is going to be alright... forever!

As we continue with the lessons from Iyanla's Fix My Life, it was fairly evident that one huge problem was that Evelyn wanted the fairy tale no matter the cost. She wanted the blingy husband, the dream wedding, the lush honeymoon, the happily ever after and the prestige of being able to say "this is mine, don't you wish you could get like me." Having to walk away from that had to smart more than a little bit.

I know this feeling all too well, I know how hard it is to let go of the fairy tale. *pulls out pop-up pulpit*

So much of what goes on in a relationship is in our heads. The line between thought, word and deed gets a little blurry from time to time. One of the things that is very hard to do is to keep your mind and heart from running away with you when you first meet somebody that's attractive to you on multiple levels. Lord knows, if I allowed myself to do so, I could visualize the next twenty five years with a dude I've only had two coffees with.

Imagination, pre-programming and wishful thinking are a bitch to overcome when you want some piece of the fairy tale. And by the fairy tale, I'm referring to the promise of a glittering future where every day is better because you've got the right person by your side.

How often have I sat beside a dude knowing on one hand that it wasn't working out, we were not going to make it but on the other hand saying well what's the harm in waiting a little while longer, let's just see how this plays out. Seriously, I've had a tougher time figuring out how to tell other people we've broken up than actually breaking up with the person. This is now known as Resistance to Letting Go of The Fairy Tale syndrome. RLGFT. I need to start a support group, you don't hear me though...

Most of the time, if the relationship is going well for a month or two? In my mind, I've already exchanged vows at noon on the beach in Maui, I've already bought the house, opened up all the purple crystal and combined the 401(k)s. I have to literally re-train my brain to slow it down, pump the breaks. Sad to say the hardest part of the majority of my break-ups has been getting past the "so dammit, I guess this really isn't going to happen" hurdle in my mind.

We were talking about it the other night on Twitter. It's not just admitting failure because failure happens, it's having to press pause, rewind and start over on the dream you thought you were close to achieving that wears you out. This is what's hard about getting back out there. Ugh. The thought of going through all the initial yada-yada and building another castle in your head with a new prince... exhausting.

How does it happen, Chele? How do otherwise brilliant women get caught up the fairy-tale-itis of it all? Hmm, well in the words of the prophets Boyz II Men from the Book of Uh-Ahh "Infatuation, Lust and a Lot of Love" to start with. Throw in Disney influence, gender programming, societal influence and some intangibles and there you go. It happens. Someone pass me the pixie dust to fix it all.

Not too many questions today except... can I get a witness? If any out there knows what I'm talking about raise your hand? Oh and fellas - do you do the fairy tale thing too or is that a "girl thing"? Please discuss...

Ignoring the Caution Sign, the Red Flag AND the Burning Bush

Bless our human hearts, when we want something - I mean really, really want something? We go for it. Full steam ahead and damn what anybody has to say about it. 

Continuing to pull lessons From Iyanla's Fix My Life season opener, one of the points she consistently hammered home is the destruction you bring into your life when you willfully ignore warning signs. In this particular example it was a fiance who told his intended that he didn't know how to be faithful, he wasn't sure he was good at being married and basically never grew up. When a person hears that and moves forward anyway? It's like sending a big F.U. to the universe. And then to act surprised when it backfires? No judging, just saying: Ooo. Wee.

This is an issue I've seen time and time again. Women (and Men) who see red flag after red flag but keep it pushing anyway. There's a reason for intuition and gut reaction. There's a reason you sometimes get that feeling that "something ain't right" and find yourself backing up. People have to learn to trust that. 

What must be done is a constant evaluation and re-evaluation of your relationship status. A few things - rarely are you going to overhaul someone from the inside out in a relationship. If you don't like what you see from jump, not so often does that turn around. This I say for the Give-A-Brother-A-Break sistas and the Captain-Save-A-Ho bruhs. Not to be harsh but your job in a relationship is not necessarily to save the other person and bring them out of whatever dire circumstances they are in. In those scenarios, the relationship starts out imbalanced with one person clearly in the other's debt. No bueno.

Another thing - if EV-ER-Y body you love and trust tells you something is wrong with old boy/old girl - something is wrong. That Us Against The World mentality is great for fiction, songs and movies - not so much for real life. Now if the haters hate your s/o - who cares. But Grandma, Cousin Ray, your mentor, two best friends from high school and your line brother are all saying run? Run.

And the last thing I want to share - our ever important quote from Maya Angelou: When people tell you who they are, believe them!! I would also add that if people CAN'T tell you who they are after a certain age? That's a problem as well.

There are small warning indicators, there are waving-assed red flags, there are blinking caution signs and then there's a burning bush outside your front door about to catch the house on fire. Don't act (when it all comes down) like you didn't see any/all of those. Either self-correct along the way or admit after the fact that you wanted to do your ostrich-head-the-sand impersonation for a minute. It's one thing to say the signs were subtle, it's another thing to say you didn't put two and two together and come up with four and it's a whole other thing to just turn a blind eye and wish those pesky flags would quit waving in the breeze.

Now in my case, I see red flags everywhere. Probably in some places where there are none. I'm uber gunshy that way. At the very first hint of some shiggity, I'm usually out the door. Let me be honest, I usually walk in the door with one good side-eye on the entire situ to begin with. But that's my issue.

Red flags are not hints or suggestions, they are indicators that something is wrong and must be fixed/adjusted/removed before proceeding. That's all I'm trying to say.

Let's get into it, BnB - why do people ignore the red flags? What's the best way to be supportive when we see friends barreling down the wrong relationship path? Can we resist the temptation to tell them "I TOLD you so" when the mess comes to fruition? Have you ignored warning indicators in your relationships? How'd that work out for you? Do share...

Are super-relationships the new bling? Lesson Two

It's funny how I thought there was nothing I could learn from Iyanla's Fix My Life. I'm not a fan of reality TV, I don't give two shakes of a damn about Evelyn or Chad, never paid a ton of attention to Iyanla and my overall thinking was "ratchet is as ratchet does." And then I actually watched the show. Thankfully, I was able to look beyond the National Inquirer aspects and get to the life lessons.

Lesson Number Two was also spurred on by a minor rant @PlyrPerspective had on Twitter. She was talking about this era of Power Couples. The competition to make sure your relationship is shiny and glossy is real out there.

Light bulb moment - have I been too centered on what my relationships looked like from the outside looking in as opposed to their wellness from the inside out? In other words, how much is having that "good on paper" person on your arm more of a trophy and less of a relationship?

Sure, we all want to date people we think are attractive. We want to date people that our friends and families will like. We want others to be impressed with our choices. We also want people that are going to be assets and not liabilities. My gut check comes into play when it's a toss-up whether I'm attracted to the person from the inside out or from the outside in. Is it more about the checklist? And is it more important even to just to be in a relationship with a decent person just to validate your own fabulosity?

And then I think about it. Naw, I'm good. I'd rather take a less glossy person with a heart of gold. (Not tore up, let's not get carried away) And Lord knows if I just wanted to stay in a relationship for relationships' sake... well, that's another post. But does everyone feel the same? Are there too many folks trying to get their Bey-Jay, Michelle-Barack, or dear heaven Ye-Kim on? For the wrong reasons? Is it really about achieving super coupledom or holding on to a lifemate?

Let's discuss. Have relationships become too much about the shell and less about the yolk? Are "photo-op matching resumes" relationships what's hot in the streetz? Are the relationships the new bling? Do share...

Lesson One learned from #IyanlaFixMyLife- Daddy Issues

Contrary to some (many) folks' beliefs/tweets/moanings, Iyanla Vanzant's Fix My Life was not really about reality star Evelyn and her soon to be ex-husband Chad. Seriously, it wasn't about them. It was about relationships and how unresolved issues from previous relationships (including childhood) set patterns and pathology into adulthood.

I had a pretty good childhood by most people's standards. Sure there was some drama, we weren't the Cosbys (though damn close). But if you asked me before watching Iyanla's show if I'd dragged anything from my childhood into my adult relationships with men, I would have vehemently denied it.

However, as she went on and on about repeating patterns to chase the fairy tale? She struck a direct hit with that one. After careful reflection, with the exception of maybe one - I've been dating variations of the exact same guy for twenty years. What guy? My Dad. May he rest in peace.

Talk about being a Daddy's girl - this is taking it too far. Every guy I've been remotely serious about has had major traits in common with dear old Dad. Top five things - ambition, success, sense of humor, confidence, family. (Not to mention height, hair and general style of dress) What can I say? I love a tall buppie who can rock a suit and jeans with equal panache. 

Now granted these are fairly common characteristics for men to have in common. But they all had the same kind of swag, the same sense of humor, the same career ambitions (though not the same career), have reached a certain level of success and have that dedication to family. It's kind of spooky when you think about it. Additional things include traditional values and gender roles, appreciation for women of all ages, shapes and types, and a bit of old school old-fashionedness.

Problem with this combination of traits in this exact iteration is that it also comes with cockiness, some chauvinism, some entitlement and some marginalization of the woman as her own unique being... among other traits I find difficult to get down with.

None of these relationships worked out in the end. And instead of racking my brains to figure out why? I've got it. Much as I loved, loved, loved my dad? No desire to be married to him.

Now whether or not I break the cycle and try someone completely different the next time? That remains to be seen. Whether or not I need someone different or just needed to recognize what I was doing? That remains to be seen also. Stay tuned. Thanks, Iyanla!

Fellas, do you date women like your mother? Ladies, do you date men like your father? Is this a good or bad thing? No creepy answers please, Iyanla is not here to fix all of us. Do discuss...

Lessons Learned: Some people just like drama

Flashback: It's somewhere in the 1990s and I'm chilling at Lawrence's house. Lawrence, my shiny new ambitious boyfriend. He was a tech sales guy for Xerox. He was 5'10", caramelly, pretty eyes and charming. But he always had some sort of drama swirling. Money issues or drama at work, with his family, someone at church or from prior relationships - something was on simmer at all times.

We'd fight, he'd storm off and then show up later with a grand gesture. He either loved me or hated me, there was very little in-between with this guy. It was a perpetual motion see-saw of a relationship. Our chemistry was off the charts and that's my only excuse.

We also had a trust problem. Or rather at that time - I didn't trust men, he was a man so I didn't trust him. His behavior was a little sketchy. There were times when he was missing/unavailable/didn't answer his phone. He always had a good explanation but he was one of those guys who talked fast and overexplained. You know like someone whose alibi is just a little too perfect? "Twenty people saw me tap-dancing under a big clock with a Slurpee in one hand and a date-stamped receipt in the other... AND it's on YouTube!" Ooookay.

As I'm sitting on his sofa, he's folding clothes. As he's folding, I'm noticing women's clothes mixed in. 'What's that about?" I asked him. He said they were his sister's items. The only reason I halfway let it slide was because I'd met her earlier in the week and she'd mentioned something about borrowing Lawrence's appliances. Still my side-eye was engaged. 

Later the same night (or early the next morning) the doorbell rings. Two a.m. and the doorbell rings? He got up, went to the door, had heated words with a female voice, slammed the door and came back to bed. Before he could climb all the way back in, the doorbell rang again. Okay now, really? I made a move to get up this time and he said, "No, it's okay," and ran back towards the door. I got up and looked out the window. Some chick was in his front lawn with suitcases. Next thing I know, he has picked up the suitcase and is walking her towards the house. The hell you say?

By the time, they get in and are walking down the hallway - I already had clothes on and was looking for my purse and shoes. As I hotfoot towards the door, he's tugging on my arm with explanations. She was an old friend from back in the day. She was in town unexpectedly and in a jam. She just needed a place to stay for a few days. I'm looking at chick, she's looking at me - we both know what's up. Difference between the two of us? She was willing to roll up to a man's house at 2:00am to get what she wanted. I was ready to flee a man's house at 2:00am behind some shiggity. I bounced.

Two weeks later, he invited me out to dinner saying everything was cool. She moved in with her fiance, he wanted all of us to have dinner to clear the air. At this point, my mind has already turned the "this is some bullshiggity right here" corner but I agree to the dinner. Dinner went well up to dessert when this chick starts talking about her seven year old son. Lawrence looks shocked and asks who the father is. She calmly announces that the boy is his. Me, Lawrence and her fiance are all looking at her like, "What?!" WDDDA, ya'll. WDDDA?!

That was it for me. Not that the seven year old appearing from nowhere was his fault, but he was the kind of guy that attracted drama like All Star Weekend attracts clear heels. And he thrived on it. When things were calm, he was itchy as if he knew that drama was beckoning and he couldn't wait to embrace it with both arms open.

Lesson learned: I have enough drama of my own, I really don't need anyone with suitcases full and more on the way. I know life is treacherous terrain. There are valleys and mountaintops. I kinda like life on the plateaus.

What say you, BougieLand? Are there just people in the world who run to drama? Thrive on it? Don't know how to live without it and create some where there was none? What is to be done with those types of folks? Are you a drama magnet? Thoughts, comments, confessions?