Are you ready to be happy?

Bitch, moan, whine, wail. Work, work some more, fight allergies, take a nap, check DVR, tweet a little, write some more, eat, check the blog, argue with family, write some more, sleep. Yes indeed, for a while there my life took on an alarming pattern. And it was all a blur to me, it was all I could do to remember my name let alone figure out how I felt about the fact that my life had become a cycle of word counts, editing, creating character depth and typing until I was bleary-eyed.

So there was this weird moment Thursday evening. I had just woken up from a nap, I had a turkey BLT with a large glass of South Australian Shiraz, then I settled down in my office to just chill. I knew I had nothing urgent on my plate for Friday, my hair looked good (these things are important) and for the moment in time, I was drama free. And all of a sudden, there was this feeling that came over me. I could not identify the feeling for a moment or two and then it came to me. Clued in by the stupid smile spreading across my face, I realized that what I was feeling… was happiness.

I sat and embraced the feeling wondering if was fleeting or sticking around for a second. It seemed like just yesterday that I was shuffling around resenting my lot in life, positive nothing good was coming my way any time soon and my best days were behind me. (Wait, that might have actually been yesterday). Moving on… the point is, that happy 'the world is mine and no one can steal my joy feeling" was back.

In typical Michele fashion, I had to try and analyze where the happiness came from. There was no man, no music, no chocolate, no new shoes or big check and only a very little bit of wine involved. Those are generally the things that I can count on for some happy. This one just appeared out of nowhere and hung around.

Driving by the need not to waste time, within 30 minutes I began making lists of things I needed to do and setting deadlines. I reviewed my financial plan for the next 90 days, I reviewed my outlines for Book 3 and a short story due in June, I contemplated an article I was working on for a California-based webzine.

Shortly thereafter, I felt the happy fading. I set the to-do lists aside for a moment and decided to just write whatever I felt like writing. I caught myself smiling at the monitor while I typed up a scene that had been rattling around in my head for a while. Not sure what story it fits into but it was full of snappy dialogue and interesting subtext. I was happy again. One sure sign that I'm feeling good, I closed the office door and danced around blasting Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That:

[Here's hoping no one EVER catches my grooving to this on film, it's not pretty. More of a heartfelt expressive jam where I channel my inner rocker chick.] Anyway, I spend a lot of time on social media sites, there are a LOT of unhappy people out there. Snark is all well and good but it seems someone always wants to ratchet up their snark to the swordplay level and then things get nasty. There's a pervasive negativism that becomes infectious. I unfollowed about 30 unhappy people this week. I changed my Facebook settings so the unhappiness doesn't land in my inbox. I spent long moments on the Sprint website figuring out how to block certain text messages from ever reaching my phone. Long story short – I built electronic fences to keep the unhappy out and the happy in.

My Ah-ha moment: Could it be that when I got out of my own way and stopped overthinking every blessed thing that I was a generally happy person? Yes! Is it really as easy as just deciding to own your happiness in the moment? Yes! Clearly I won't be hopping and skipping around giddy all day everyday but I can decide to create my own happy place and live in it even for just a moment.

So I ask you BougieLand, what takes you to your happy place (keep it NC-17 please)? Are you ready for some happy? Happy Friday… emphasis on Happy! J

Are you ready to get real? (An Open Letter to an Idiot a Friend)

I had to take a pause for the cause (sort of). Today was going to be Are you Ready to Stand and Deliver? It was going to be a scathing commentary on Mike Steele, Tea Party Shenanigans and ReThugs. I was going to exhort you all to get involved on a local level to beat back propaganda, ignorance and hate. I was going to bitch at length about Confederate History Month in Virginia and whip you all up into an indignant fury over the latest trend of flaunting racism and camouflaging it as "conservative policies." It was going to be epic. But I got derailed by a series of phone calls.

Do we recall the story of my friend Sam? Long-time friend who invited me to a concert but had a whole sexpectation agenda going on? Yeah, him. Today he sent a text to say he had tickets to the Maxwell/Jill Scott concert on June 8th and would I be interested in going. Hmm. First of all, the concert is three months away… why ask so far in advance? Secondly, did he think I FORGOT what he really wanted the last time he asked me to a concert? No matter how much I covet the tickets (and I really do) what am I, stupid? I replied back that I'm going with somebody else (I'll work on it).

Sam decided to respond with a phone call. After a little internal debate, I let it go to voicemail. He called back… seven (7!) times… AND left messages each time. For my male readers out there – please cosign with me that one call and one voicemail is sufficient, two is overkill and seven indicates a bigger problem, does it not? ANY way, everyone who knows me well knows that if I talk to you, you're okay. But if I feel like I have to WRITE YOU A LETTER… it's so not good. Here's my letter to Sam…

Dear Sam,

I listened to the first four of your seven messages, I assumed that was enough to grasp the main idea. You implied that I've perpetrated some colossal fraud on you over the course of the past few years. Somehow toyed with your emotions and what was your phrase? "Dangled" myself in front of you. Like wow. I'm pretty sure I can honestly say I've never dangled myself in front of anybody. I'm not sure I'd know how. This also tells me you've paid NO attention to who I am and how I act. If I was dangle-inclined, I would have just said so. Life is too short for the game playing. But I suspect you don't know nothin' 'bout that. You also implied that I'm just mean. Well, I can be but I haven't been mean to you. Here's hoping you never see the mean side of Michele.

I've decided the best way to respond is to include you in my Are You Ready week on BnB. So let me ask you… are you ready to get real? I mean really real? You ready? Okay good…

What's real is that I've known you for close to four years and you have been unable to maintain a meaningful relationship with any woman for more than a two week time period. I gave keeping up with the names of the "ladies" you have been embroiled with. But have you ever wondered why you can't find someone to put up with you for more than two dates? I really haven't wanted to speculate but now I'm beginning to wonder.

What's real is that you don't seem to understand nuances. Sex vs. Love, Smile vs. Come On, Friend vs. Flirt, No thank you vs. I hate you. I turned down your invitation to this concert because your last invitation led to an uncomfortable situation. I was preserving what was left of our casual friendship. Read those last two words again: casual friendship.

What's real is that I never indicated that I wanted to be any more than friends after our initial "date" which was a disaster of epic proportions. So bad in fact that we had to laugh and decide to be friends just so that something positive could come out of that horrid an experience. But now I'm wondering if you are a different person when you date someone than when you are "just friends" because we have hung out and laughed and talked like human beings until you decided to turn it into something else altogether.

What's really real is that I did miss every clue you swear you gave about wanting to be more than friends. Which makes me wonder what the hell kind of clues you threw my way? This may be part of the problem. You don't know when to come direct and correct and when not to. For the record, a "Michele, I want out of the friend zone" would have been a great start. No it would not have netted the result you wanted but I would have known what you were thinking or feeling.

What's real is that I was insulted by your "sexpectations" and no, it's not because I'm a prude. It's because you came at me all sideways. Even if you "didn't realize" that I wouldn't appreciate your tactics, do you really not know women well enough to know better?

What's real is that I suspect something else is going on that I know nothing about because all of that seven-call drama seems over the top. Even for you.

What's real is that I'm going to give you all the space and time in the world to work it out. And I wish you luck with that.

Also what's real is that I hope you're not insulted that I sent you the link to this post instead of calling you back. It's not passive-aggressive, it's drama avoidance. Plus you make great blog fodder. Apologies but you do.

As long as you're reading, please jump back to the rest of this week's posts on being relationship ready and ready to grow up. Okay, that statement might have been a little passive-aggressive. My bad. You can feel free to leave your comment here (thought I suspect you won't) because I won't be answering that call or text any time soon. Hope this answers your questions.

Keeping it Real,


BougieLand – did you ever have someone that you had to get really real with? Does it really seem possible that a man would be interested in a woman for years and not make some sort of move? I mean, we're grown, this isn't high school. Le Sigh. Comments, thoughts and opinions always welcome. The floor is yours…

Are you ready to grow up? 10 ways to tell...

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

I have witnessed so many displays of utter childishness from supposedly grown folks lately that I knew I had to fit this post into BnB Are You Ready? week.

All of us are over the age of 21 (as least 19, if not please take your young behinds to the next blog. Kthxbi!), but not all of us are grown-ups. In case you haven't figured it out yet, being grown up has its plusses and perks… but it also kind of sucks. So much so that folks tend not to want to embrace their grown-folk-ness. In case you're wondering just how grown you are… here's some of my criteria:

Being a grown-up means…

  1. Learning how to do things for your darn self: Alas, I know how to install a ceiling fan, kill spiders, take out the trash, stop the toilet from running and pay my own bills. These are things I have had to learn to do. Sure, it would be great to have someone to do things for me. But sometimes you have to learn to stand on your own two feet. As a grown-up you should be able to cook at least one meal, clean your own house/clothes and balance a checkbook. No it's not sexy but it's grown. Also, stop looking to everyone for validation and affirmation before you make a move. You're a grown up now, decide on a course of action… and take it.

  2. Learning that you cannot always have your way: Sorry, this is true. Things don't always go your way and pouting is only cute on 4-year olds. And by go your way I also mean you won't always get the last word, have the final say or put your foot down and have it stick. You are only King/Queen of yourself, no one else is subject to your whims and wishes. I know this is harsh but wouldn't you rather hear it from me? [P.S. Tantrums as SO not sexy. Learn to lose with grace.]

  3. Even more real – learning that good things don't always come your way: Some folks are fortunate to lead charmed lives but it's quite the comeuppance when they realize the entire world isn't made of fairy dust and rainbows. Similarly, we all have to learn that not everybody has your best interests at heart. They really don't. There are some people in this world, some closer than you think, that have very bad intentions. Bad things happen, roll with it. No you are not entitled to have all the world has to offer placed at your feet, you generally have to work for that.

  4. Your actions have repercussions (sometimes you have to pay the piper): There comes a point in time when there is no one there to bail you out. Chickens do come home to roost. And you always reap what you sow. Karma is a grown folks' kick in the ass. The sooner you come to grips with it the better. This means you have to take responsibility for the crap you do. You break a heart/window/promise – you apologize/pay for it/make amends. Don't expect other people to swoop in and clean up your messes.

  5. At some point, it's really just you: You are gonna have to stop blaming everyone else for your trials and dilemmas. Eventually, if your world keeps going to hell in a hand basket… you had something to do with sending it there. If you keep losing friends due to trifling blow-ups and beefs, guess what boo-boo… that's on you. You're always______ <- - fill in the blank (alone, unhappy, having drama, getting into trouble, getting fired)? First time's a coincidence, second time's a pattern, everything else is a trend that you set in motion. Oh also, if you are over 25… it's time to stop blaming Mom and Dad for your jacked up life. Sorry your childhood wasn't perfection... time to get over it. You're still here, make peace with the past and get on with living the rest of your life.

  6. Learning that you're not always right: Dear Lord, if I had a dollar for every time grown folk won't just agree to disagree and retreat to their separate corners… I'd be blogging from my private villa in Barbados right about now. There are some people that are determined to argue their point (even if they are wrong) to the death. Growing means learning that everyone is entitled to their opinion (right or wrong) and moving it along. I say the sky is blue, do you need to argue about the shade? Azure vs. cerulean? Sometimes being a grown up means knowing when to STFU… I say this with the love. L-O-V-E.

  7. Learning to treat people with respect and dignity: Do I really have to explain this one? Apparently so. Having witnessed the buffoonery going on in Washington, apparently people need a refresher on stepping up Golden Rule game. Do onto others and all that… Respect of elders, common courtesy… any of that ringing a bell? Le Sigh.

  8. Learning to keep your word: I was tempted to type that one in a flaming font but I thought that would be overkill. And this one is self-explanatory and in need of no embellishment. Speak true, people. Back up your words with corresponding action.

  9. Learning to accept yourself: Sure, you're an ever evolving being but in a lot of ways, you is how you gonna be. Yeah, I said it. Embrace it. Own it. Love it. Live it. Make it work!

  10. If you can't learn to accept others: Keep it to yourself.

I could go on… and on… and on. (I may have gotten a little rant on) But I shan't. Instead, I'll ask you BougieLand – what do you have to add to the list? Thoughts, comments on my list? The floor is yours…

Are you relationship ready?

All up and through the internets and mainstream media, in your family, your school, your church and your friends are encouraging you to get out there and find love. Just get on out there and get you some love. But wait... are you even ready for a relationship?

Stop. Before you give me the resounding yes, just stop for one minute and think about what I'm asking. I'm not asking if you're ready to flirt, date, have sex, or mingle. I'm asking if you're really truly ready for a relationship. Grown Folk Style. Okay, let's see, let me just tackle five categories:

  1. Do you even know what you want? I recently asked a few of my single blogosphere friends what they were looking for in a mate. Some gave me laundry lists so implausible there was no way they could find all of that in one person unless they were building them from scratch. Some gave me the most high level vague descriptions ever ("just someone nice", "a good woman/man"). This is something to really think about. What attracts you? What keeps you interested and entertained? What personality traits mesh and blend with yours? What kind of value system? How much does religion fall into play? Hobbies? Looks? Education? Finances? Think on all of that and then…

  2. Figure out what you actually need. Do you really need a 5-star chick, fellas? Ladies, do you really need a 6'4" chocolate god bringing in baller dollars? I'm just asking. What is going to fulfill you? Is it catching the best looking thing you can get on your arm or the best person who looks good to you? Again, not throwing shade… just asking. Brothers, if you feel you must have model quality ladies on your arm to be happy… so be it. But let me tell you that maintaining that model quality means a lot of maintenance and upkeep. So if you must have the model, you must not want the cooking cleaning type, huh? Not that lovely ladies don't cook and clean, we do… but if you want that perfection, something has to fall back. Ladies, before you get all joyful… so you HAVE to have a brother who can provide you with Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci without wincing? That takes work. So you must not need a man who is around a lot, huh? Cause brothers pulling bank like that are on the grind.

    Are you emotionally needy? Then why are you hooking up with emotionally distant mates? Are you naturally giving? You might want to look for someone who will appreciate that instead of taking advantage. If you are a living paycheck to paycheck person, you need a saver or both ya'll bout to be in the street. You get my trend here? You may want filet mignon and lobster with drawn butter for dinner. But do you need it? Nor do you need to settle for hamburger helper… I know you feel me on this one.

  3. Who wants you? Do you have a realistic view of your own attractiveness? Not just physically, do you have the type of personality to attract the person that interests you? Personally, I tend to be quiet when I first meet people and over time I dial up the sparkle. Men who have been around me for a while say, "You're different than I thought you were when we first met." Yes, I know. Not everybody gets to see the sparkle. This means that if I want a sparkle guy in return, he has to see me more than once or around other people that I unleash the sparkle for. So I don't always attract what I'm attracted to in the beginning… but perseverance wins in the end. Also, for some reason lately I am attracting men that are 10 years younger or 15 years older... not sure why. But that's my story - what's yours?

  4. What are you willing to give? You've gotta give to get, my friends. Are you at a point where you are willing to give of yourself? In a perfect world, the love you give is the love you get. But really, all you can do is give the best you've got and pray it's returned in kind. Money, time, talent, kindness, companionship, warmth, an ear, a shoulder, naked aerobics… what are you willing to give? And along those same lines: What are you bringing to the table? What's in the bank of YOU? Are you a helpmate, a freak, a financial wizard, a warrior, a protector, a homebody? Do you make people laugh? Are you good in a crisis? Do you have patience, tolerance, faith, strength, wisdom? Do you know what the top five things you bring to the relationship table are?

  5. How much baggage are you bringing with you? True fact: You carry your experiences from the past into your future. Period. But are you looking backwards constantly? Are things (people) from your past reaching out and pullin' you back? If your last relationship fell apart, did you take the time to figure out why before moving onto the next? Now I'm not saying you should be 100% over the previous person with your closure all wrapped up in a bow. I'm saying it should manageable enough that you aren't accidently calling Tina by Tracy's name (or Tom by Tony's) at the wrong damn time. Ya feel me. And maybe it's not your last S.O. – have your faced/acknowledged any mommy or daddy issues you might be dragging into relationships? Not trying to get all up in your business, I'm just saying… think about it.

I could go on: Once you've found that person are you willing to do what it takes to keep them? Do you know how to communicate to find out what that is? Can you handle conflict? Are you a good enough judge of yourself and of another's character to know if you should plan a future with them? Do you recognize quality when you see it? Are you in a space where you can put in the time? Do you even feel like being bothered right now? (I can unequivocally answer no to those last two)

I don't believe you have to have 100% of these questions answered in your mind. But you need to have thought about it. So have you… thought about it? And are you… relationship ready?

Guest Post - Dear Future Spouse: Where Are You?! By Chanelle Schneider

Happy Monday, BougieLand! Please join me in welcoming the smart and talented @WriterChanelle of the From There to Here blog. There was a trending topic that caught our eyes a few weeks ago. Chanelle had some thoughts to share. I thought they would fit right in with our look at relationship readiness. Enjoy and show some comment love:

The single men and women of the world seem to be looking for one thing when it comes to marriage: Love. The difference between the genders? Men are scared of it; and, women think it comes wrapped up in a box labeled Trojans. If Twitter is any indication, the majority of men seem to know what they want, while the women are trying too hard to live up to standards created for women by men.

Twitter is a social network populated by users of varying ages, cultures and races. Twitter has enabled its users to meet new people to follow via hashtags. Some people use these tags to host chats where people come together to discuss ideas around one topic at a specific, scheduled time. Some popular chats include:

  • #journchat
  • #blogchat
  • #custserv
  • #BlackEd
  • #scriptchat

A description and more detailed listing of these chats can be found here. Twitterers can also participate via the Trending Topics list on their home page. Not too long ago the topic #dearfuturewife was trending across the United States; and, I captured this tweet

#dearfuturewife i do love you...I'm just scared for u to love me!

I took his name out, but I'm sure savvy people could look up the quote if they really want to know who he is. I love you, but I'm scared for you to love me??!

Come on, men; is this how you really feel? What are you scared of? If a woman is already with you, she is probably giving you a good indication of whether or not she loves you as you are right now. Let her in and allow the two of you to grow together. I asked a male friend of mine for his opinion on this topic. He felt men need time to complete themselves and remove perceived weaknesses. Once they do, anything that results in the relationship ending cannot be their fault. To be fair, he said that both men and women think this way. So, we're all just holding up the process by trying to perfect for one another? Great. He further stated that each individual man is waiting for a sign to let him know when he is ready.

Unfortunately, some women think that having sex speeds up the process of falling in love. Men know the difference between the women who are going to be there for a minute and the woman who will be there for a lifetime. In general, they want the lifetime love as much as women do, but men know it's something for which they have to be ready. Love, to a man, cannot be pressured or manipulated; it comes in its own time.

Now, I need the real women to stand up because there are a large number of fakers out there; and, they're trying to speak for us. They're saying things like the following:

I'm tht Grl tht rocs the largst spirals, v-necs, dstryd jeans, n 5in stiletto's! Always got my BB n hand I considr myslf a BIG DEAL

Really, girlfriend? Really? This is how you're going to portray yourself to the world? Unfortunately, this is just one example of many accounts held by women on Twitter who are doing a major disservice to our gender. When the #dearfuturehusband tag became a trending topic, all I saw were tweets saying what they weren't going to do (cook, clean, etc…) and what a man better do/have (money, job, etc…) Let me assure you that these ladies do not speak for me; and, I know that they don't speak for the quality women. When it comes to a future husband, we want to give as much as we get. We want a balanced love that emphasizes trust, commitment and growth. We want to be protected occasionally, taken care of every once in a while, and provided for daily. Just kidding…

When it comes down to it, men and women want the same thing when it comes to a life-long commitment, we just don't know where to find each other and keep running into the wrong men and women. We settle because we don't know if the right person will ever come along. So, men, stop trying to be what you deem deserving of the right woman if you're already with one; and, women, look inside yourself for the woman you truly are, and let her shine. Stop trying to be someone you're not just because video girl of the week got a man by doing it.

Alright BougieLand, for those of you not in the currently married ranks, what would you tell your future spouse? Those that are married, what would (should) you have said to your future spouse prior to taking those vows? (AUTHOR'S WARNING: Don't jack up your good relationships going in on this one, please and thank you)

The floor is yours…