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  • WRITE - The Infamous 20 Cent Tip

    Last week a story was all abuzz about LeSean McCoy who plays for the Eagles leaving a server a 20 Cent tip at a Northern Liberties restaurant. I am not here to necessarily discuss what millionaire football players do for thrills or kicks as much as I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about how serving for years really helped me lose some faith in humanity.

    Now I cannot speak on who was right or wrong in that situation because I wasn’t there. I mean people always want to weigh in with opinions with little to zero facts about things and that’s not quite my style. But let me tell you that I am convinced that working as a server throughout college and two years after has probably scarred me for life.

    I didn’t have a cushy college experience where all I had to focus on was school. I had to work. Lol. So what’s one of the fastest ways to make money in a small amount of hours without being naked and swinging around a pole? Serving. No disrespect to strippers by the way. But yes, I figured it would be an awesome way to only have to work about 4 or 5 days a week and get paid in cash every night without losing my dignity or so I thought!

    What comes first the bad tip or the bad service? Well let’s just talk about a few different things here. The fact of the matter is that no matter what may be wrong with your food or your dining experience there is always a kind way to go about things and a rude way to go about the things. The easiest way for me to get these ideas out about my restaurant experience is probably a list. Here are a few things that I would consider, ponder, and/or debate, that may just make you think a little differently at a restaurant.

    -I guarantee, that you will get a lot more accomplished in a restaurant by being kind. I would literally disappear from tables and not come back for a while when people were rude to me. You are the master of the fate in that area, don’t screw it up.

    -Servers contrary to popular belief do not also cook the food. If you are not enjoying your food, it is not something that the server particularly did to you. You may either want to reconsider your favorite place to dine, or understand that there is a cook in the kitchen trying to get a job done and unfortunately there are casualties in every war.

    -Consider where you are eating. I am sorry but you cannot come into IHOP expecting Chart House service. Like really? Your $7.99 pancakes? That server’s check average is like $25. They don’t care that much about how you feel about your quality of scrambled eggs that were poured out of a carton. Not saying that you shouldn’t expect kind service but COME ON SON!

    -Servers are people. Where does that get lost? I am not now, nor have I even been, any type of tough girl. But I have honestly been disrespected in situations where I have wondered, what makes this person think that I won’t hop over this table and punch them? (Not saying I would, but I have gotten really angry at work before.) Bottom line, a $2.83 per hour job, is in no way something that will stop you from getting cussed out or harmed if you haul off and act completely disrespectful. Stop it. If you wouldn’t want someone talking to your hard working family member or loved one that way, DON’T DO IT. That’s across the board, but really people get so disrespectful in restaurants it’s ridiculous.

    -Your tip can change a server’s whole night. You are in no way, shape or form responsible for the life of your server and the bills and home life they have to manage. But if you got service you appreciated, go ahead and leave a little extra. A couple extra bucks can mean everything sometimes. I’ve been there, believe me. No you shouldn’t have to suffer through bad service, but you know what, tipping is done on a scale. Impeccable=20% or more. (Yes inflation is everywhere people.) Great=18% OK = 15% or less. I had the absolute WORST service at a Waffle House just the other day, but what would it grant me to completely snub our horrible waitress? NOTHING really. I’m going to go on about my life, but that’s going to stick to her, badly and chip away at the little bit of faith in humanity we talked about earlier.

    It’s your money, do what you want with it. But if you are dissatisfied, let someone know. Talk to a manager, don’t completely discredit the work that someone tried to do for you even if they didn’t do a great job. Again, there is a scale. Use it. But tipping is a part of the dining experience, if you don’t want to do it, say your miserable booty at home.

    Clearly I am sensitive about the subject and I will never be able to dine the same after working in a restaurant, but at the END of the day, don’t be a jack butt. It won’t look good on you.

    Have you ever served? Have you ever had an awful dining experience? Tell me about it. How did you handle it?

     

  • Laugh - Weird Things All Couples Fight About

    My good friend shared this with me this morning and it had me cracking up. Happy Friday! Is this you in your relationship? I definitely saw a few things that reminded me of mine. 

     

  • Dear Love - Relationships in Black and White

    Anytime there seems to be something highly publicized in regard to relationships, social media is ablaze with folks on the opposite ends of the spectrum. But in reality, everything seems black and white until you’re in it.

    Face it, most of us have done things in relationships or otherwise that if broadcast for the world to see we would be embarrassed or ashamed. Doesn’t change that what we may have done was wrong, but just think about how much that magnifies a personal issue.

    What have you done in a relationship that you never thought you would? Or that on paper didn’t make sense at all but you were “caught up?” Did you take back a cheater? Deal with abuse emotionally or physically? How is it that we forget so soon or that things make so much sense when it comes to other people’s relationships but took us so much time to figure out?

    Just like children, unfortunately it sometimes takes experience and not just someone telling you what you should have done. Relationships are a part of life and as we continually learn in life, we do the same or should be doing the same in our relationships. Never at the cost of our well-being, but in reality, aren’t we all scarred and/or victorious in all the situations we’ve been through in life?

    Just like we don’t have to become our parents, or we overcame losing a job, or the loss of a loved one, we can survive relationships. Please realize this isn’t about a particular case or highly physically abusive relationships. Yes those have the capability to physically kill you. But so does lovelessness, complacency, and being completely unfulfilled yet staying because it’s the right thing to do, it’s just a slower death.

    What am I trying to say? I’m not all the way sure as much as I find it hard to stand around at a public hanging no matter the crime. I guess I’m saying that we all have messed it up. Whether you think someone else’s mess up is bigger than yours or not, I have yet to meet the perfect person. We have hurt, we have lied, and we have allowed ourselves to stay in less than healthy environments. On more than one occasion I can say that I have failed myself and others.

    For me there will always be gray. And yes we get to choose our absolutes, but I have seen my flaws in a way that will beg for second chances even when I’m dead wrong. That longs for vindication even if I have been highly developed in a certain behavior. Yes our wrong doings will see consequences and they should, but I have also learned about grace. Which is not receiving what we do deserve and that is enough to cause a shout break.

    The important thing for me here is that we are able to define those absolutes for ourselves and not because of what our Twitter followers, friends or families thought about a situation. It is so sad, so inexcusable to be hurt by someone you love. But it is also a sad place to me that a person would be capable of hurting someone they claim to love.

    I believe that as we live, we will find ourselves forgiving for things that we may have thought were unforgivable, with friends, colleagues, our significant others and more. We may find ourselves forgiving for the black and whites we had originally established. The gray, allows me to know that I too will be forgiven for my wrong doings and that I am being held accountable to be upright, not by people but in the sight of God. 

  • Dear Love - The Five Love Languages

    Though I’ve heard about the “love languages” for years, it wasn’t until it came up in my church’s life group recently that I felt compelled to revisit. We somehow got on the topic of our love languages and I never took the time to analyze what mine might be. So we took an online quiz and it wasn’t really shocking what I came up with.

    First, let me give you the five love languages. They are physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts according to Gary Chapman the author of “The Five Love Languages.” The online test definitely confirmed that my primary love language is physical touch. (There is also a test for singles.) Not surprising to me because even when I was a kid, I always wanted to squeeze up next to my family members or snuggle with them. My secondary language was a tie between quality time and acts of service, which also made a lot of sense to me.

    Basically, Chapman who has counseled countless couples in marriage believes that we all have at least one of the five languages that is the primary way that we understand love. Most often our own love language is the way that we try to love our significant others, but the trouble with that is that just as often our significant others have a different way they like to receive love.

     “We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” Just like I talk about in Dear Love, it seems that so many of us have been taught that love is about us! But I love this quote from Dr. Chapman. I still have so much growing to do in this area, but I am definitely realizing this about love. And the great thing is, most often as you pour into your partner, they will eventually begin to pour into you, but it’s all about speaking the right language.

    What I enjoyed most about the book was that Dr. Chapman shed light on marriages that were seemingly at their end that were able to be turned all the way around. I remember my mother telling me that couples that break up and couples that stay together often go through the same issues, it’s all about how you handle it. I know that there are some circumstances where divorce or break ups may not be able to be avoided, but I also think that many of us are so used to just giving up when things get a little hard.

    Most things in our life we are taught how to do and that’s how we become professionals or masters at them. But often we aren’t taught about how to love well, other than seeing an example from our parents or lack thereof. How can we be successful at love and never learn anything about how to properly do so? I am always continuing to better myself in love, so I enjoy books like this. I think you take what is relevant and apply it to your relationships and see how things turn out. It’s always worth a shot to create an even better atmosphere of love in your relationships. Don’t be afraid to seek out more knowledge in loving your partner. For me the first and foremost source is the Bible and books like The Five Love Languages just add to it for me!

    Be sure to check it out and if you have read it already, let me know what you thought in the comments below. 

  • WRITE - The Travels of a Little Black Girl From Logan

    Ok so I haven’t posted in a while because I was on vacation! I meant to tell you guys, but you know there is always a ton of running around to do before you leave town. In any case, I decided to keep journal entries to share with you guys when I got back!

    One of the most important things I have learned in my life is how important a vacation is. It doesn’t always have to be an exotic place, but having a few days to think about nothing but what you want to do is absolutely necessary to our sanity. I can’t believe that I went so many years without a vacation! About two years ago was my first to Puerto Rico! Which was amazing and since then my BF helps to make getaways happen as often as we can. 

    If you know anything about Philadelphia, there are a lot of people that have never seen the whole city let alone, leave it and see other cities, countries, etc. So it means a lot to me that even though I had a great upbringing, this little girl from the hood is actually seeing and experiencing new things. It expands your mind in a way that I know most others that may have grown up in my same neighborhood may never experience. 

    This year, my fabulous BF put together a cruise trip with his family on Royal Caribbean which was scheduled to go to Port Canaveral, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and CoCo Cay.  This was my first cruise and I had a great time. But most importantly, I enjoyed the lack of cell phone service! That’s right no Facebook or Instagram or anything for a week. And I enjoyed having uninterrupted quality time with my man. We talked, we laughed and connected in a way that can sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of life.

    In any case, enjoy the journal entries and photos!

    8/23/14

    Every time I travel, I get giddy about experiencing things I never have before. This time around, cruising. I was slightly apprehensive about it, worried I might get sea sick.  But there is actually something pretty calming about the gentle rocking of a giant boat. Now a speed or sail boat may have been extremely different, but this my friend was a floating shopping mall. My next misconception was that I was going to have a stateroom that you could only spin around in. Not the case! I was pleasantly surprised by the ample amount of space in our room. I was most pleased by the ocean view window above our bed. As I write this I am sitting in the window cubby watching the sunrise over the ocean. That is really something to see. There is organized fun all over this boat so I’m off to take some Zumba. But I am reveling in the new inspiration travel always brings.

    8/25/14

    Well my intention was to journal each day for you all, but apparently cruising life is so busy. From trying to catch the good breakfast and Zumba to on shore excursions there just isn’t much time. But either way I’m back. Today we reached Bahamas. Just beautiful and interesting to see countries with mostly Black people. It kind of changes perspective. We stood on two beaches here and watched the waves. Blue water. I remember there was a time when I had never experienced seeing blue water. I’m grateful every time. We took a tour of the city. Great sights to see. The Queen’s Staircase and all the coming attractions that loom. Tourism is the majority of the economy there, our gentle giant driver, Big D explained to us. Here are people that make their living off a bunch of folks that want their hair braided and to buy straw products. It’s somewhat bothersome to me thinking about the gap in income there must be between the people who provide an experience for tourists and the actual tourists. Yes new hotels bring jobs, but they also bring public struggle to keep enough of the beachfront open to the natives and not privatizing them all. Places like Atlantis create such a giant, larger than life experience that a guest there can never intertwine with any of the real culture of the Bahamas. It’s like that in many places though, not just to pick on Atlantis. The air is different in new places which I love.  I always try to breathe in as much as possible so I can stockpile that air before heading back to the smog of Philadelphia. (I promise I love my city though.) Here, life seems simple but still complex just like everyone else. You see the homes of the rich and the weary smiles at the straw market. But at the end of it, we’re just heading back to the boat. Full of people who make their living off serving others. I can never quite enjoy that as much as I might want to. May have something to do with the fact that I worked as a waitress way too many years of my life. Either way, I’m enjoying being away, seeing new things and most importantly not having any cell phone service. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the world and be alone with my thoughts and enjoy the companionship of my man. I pray you all get time like that. It’s so precious and comes few and far between so I am soaking up every moment, every lesson.

    8/27/14

    Let me just say – I give props to the women and men that don’t give a darn about how many lumps and bumps they have in a bathing suit, they just do it. There is a freedom there I just don’t have. I’ve been stressed about how I would look in my bathing suit, but NO MORE! The things that I have seen on this boat made me realize I was tripping. Haha. But on a better note we sailed to CoCo Cay yesterday, but unfortunately the water was too rough for us to get off the boat. I died a little about it, but what are you going to do? Basically, there is no dock, so you have to get into a smaller boat to get to the island. Our cruise ship has been rocking since we left, so imagine being in a little tug boat with a bunch of people. No thanks! Now inside I feel like we need a voucher, a couple dollars back in cash or something, but I realize that ain’t happening. We will however be refunded for our on-shore excursions we booked. Oh well, I rather not be underneath a tender in the Atlantic Ocean trying desperately not to become shark food. Back to Baltimore we go!

    8/28/14

    Last night on the boat. What have I learned? One, white people are mostly pretty horrible dancing. Clearly black folk are born with some type of rhythm gene they just don’t get. Two, sunsets and sunrises on a boat are the most beautiful I have ever seen. And three, people who work on cruise ships have to be crazy. But outside of that what an experience! I had such a great time. As much as I love sharing and indulging in social media it was a welcomed change to be fully focused on relaxing. The quality time you get to experience with loved ones without being buried in emails or selfies is priceless. Cruising is definitely a different experience than just a normal vacation. I thought about the fact that watching the sun set means it’s rising on the other side of the world. It kind of made me think about life in that way. We experience our own sunrises and sunsets throughout life but just because it’s dark for a time doesn’t mean the sunshine won’t return. That’s just the way it is. I’m sure hoping that this 7 days has geared me up for a busy fall. But one thing is for certain, vacations never seem quite long enough. 

    What's been one of your best vacations? 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: GoGo Morrow, Replay

    The fashion-forward, sultry vocalist GoGo Morrow is back with a new banger off her forthcoming project, entitled “Replay." And this week, the high-energy track has bounced its way right onto the Philly 360° Playlist. 

    Produced by R.A.P. 1220 for SOUNDBOMB, Replay's beat and catchy lyrics pull you right in from the start. Morrow sings about “getting it" one last time even though the relationship seems to be heading south. Easily a club anthem, the hook will stick with you after one listen.

    It’s not hard to visualize Morrow and her background dancers — The Gogettes — putting together a captivating dance number to complement a live performance of the new record. 

    A dancer, singer, and songwriter, it seems like there is not much GoGo Morrow can’t do. The pop/R&B vocalist has been making waves over the last year with her solo music. She has landed opening spots for Brandy, Lauryn Hill, Common — and even for the short lived Danity Kane reunion that we were all swooning over. GoGo was also one of the first acts added on to Marsha Ambrosius' national Friends & Lovers music tour

    Read the full feature via @Philly360

  • Dear Love - Forgive Everybody, For Everything

    Iyanla Vanzant in her acceptance speech at the McDonald’s 365Black Awards said something so poignant that really stuck with me. “Forgive everybody, for everything.”

    Vanzant stated that this is one of the three principles that she lives by in life. Well it made me think about forgiveness in relationships. So many of us have a hard time with forgiveness not only in our romantic relationships but platonic, professional and the like. But I have learned that forgiveness is surely one of the keys to survival.

    The first and most important thing when it comes to forgives is the realization that we are not perfect. Once you accept in humility that you have the ability to hurt someone, disappoint someone, or let a person down, I think it makes it a lot easier to forgive others. Most often in relationships we hear about someone cheating. It’s like somehow when this happens all the other person’s indiscretions and mishaps are out the window. Have you been the perfect mate? Everyone has certain things that they can’t take, I certainly understand that and I am not urging anyone to stay with someone who has wronged them. However, I will always urge folks to look at the whole picture in their relationships and not just one action.

    The second thing I think is extremely important when it comes to forgiveness in a relationship is learning how to forgive quickly. Constantly there will be spats, miscommunications, and disagreements but I have found that the quicker you get over them, the better off you’ll be. I personally can hold on to things. Sometimes I think that we are just “highly developed” as Pastor Rochelle Brown would say in being angry. But newsflash! No one wants to be with a person who always has an attitude and can’t get over the small stuff. I often find myself asking “Is this something that I want to ruin my whole day?” And if not, it’s water under the bridge.

    Lastly, I think that often we think forgiving someone, means keeping them in our lives. That is certainly not the case. Sometimes we have friends, relationships, etc. for seasons and it can just be time to MOVE on. But forgiveness is a heart thing. Sometimes we say we forgive someone but we still have feelings of unrest when that person comes around. We are sucking our teeth, rolling our eyes, but “acting” like everything is all good. Well you are fooling no one! And harboring those feelings just eat away at your joy, not the person that you are mad with. Let it go. Life is really too short, no matter how many times people tell us that, we don’t believe it. We cannot continue to sweat the small stuff and give OTHER people power over our lives in that way.

    Forgive someone today. It may not be right away but start working on it. Forgive the cashier with an attitude, forgive your mom for meddling, forgive your spouse or significant other for their carelessness but express what’s important to you so they can get it right the next time. By forgiving others you are opening your life up to so much grace and mercy from God. Do not be bound in unforgiveness, in my humble opinion, it’s a silent killer.  

  • WRITE - Throwback Thursday

    Lately … looking back has meant a lot more than posting old photos on Instagram. Listening to a podcast the other day, the pastor talked about looking at where God has brought you from. You will often hear me talk about the struggle of balancing striving hard for your dreams and being thankful for what you have. There seems to always be a fine line. But what I realized is that it’s again, a heart check when you really look back at where you’ve come from.

    I can’t speak to anyone else’s journey but mine, but even looking at this blog is a testament to where I started from. This blog began as Music’s Chess: A Pawn’s Story. Lol. That was the title. It was all about chronicling my experiences as an upcoming songwriter in the music business. Quite frankly, I felt like you couldn’t even make some of the stuff up that happened in the industry. But I was never consistent with it. It was something kind of just on the side that I never thought would see much traction. I kick myself now, because that was before everyone and their mom was a blogger, so I definitely could have made some headway.

    Nonetheless, fast-forward and a name change and here we are at Writelaughdream. I have always been a writer. As a kid I wrote short stories, kept a journal, and wrote poetry. I started as a journalism major at Drexel University but later studied and received my degree in Comm and Mass Media at Temple. So when I think back to the time before I even accepted that writing would be my fate, I am amazed at how far I’ve come.

    I have contributed to awesome sites like GRAMMY.com, Philly360, and For Harriet. I have written stories for JUMP Magazine based in Philadelphia. I released my very first book, Dear Love: A Love Letter to You and I am working a second. I have even gotten slightly more consistent with blog posts though I can always use work in that area. Is there ever enough time?

    I’m big on writing down goals and I found one recently that mentioned getting 100 followers of my blog and writing a book. Well check and check. The fact of the matter is, that there isn’t much that I have set my mind to that I haven’t had the opportunity to accomplish. Not on my own but with the grace of God. Saying all that, not to brag but to say, I’ve made it this far!

    I tend to get 100 yard vision without first looking at the step in front of me. I can honestly say that I never thought I would be this far, so I can trust that God will take me farther. It’s easy to get caught in the delusion of the grind. But in any moment, when you lose sight and feel like you’re not moving forward, just take a moment to think of where you were 2 years ago, 3 years ago 4. I bet you’ll see something that makes you stop in your tracks and simply say, Thank you!

    I mean I used to work at an Italian restaurant people! Lol. As a waitress. God bless em’. LOL. But I now have a great job that allows me to work from home and work around music. I’ve grown in my relationship, I’ve grown as a believer in Christ. I have a lot to look back on and say, if God brought me this far, I know there is more for me.

    What are some of the things you are happy you achieved this year? Tell me about it in the comments below! 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Jeremy Isaac, Clouds (So High)

    Just last week, the smooth and incredibly talented R&B crooner Jeremy Isaac released a new single “Clouds (So High)” from his forthcoming EP. And, this hot mid-tempo landed just in time to provide the Philly 360° Playlist with a little sizzle before summer comes to a close.  

    As usual, Isaac's vocals are on point for this track. The Philly native sings about a woman that might be impairing his vision and clarity — yet he just doesn’t want to come down from the feeling.

    The track, produced by E. Banga and Scott Stalloneis easy going and provides a great backdrop for Isaac to showcase his unstoppable vocals. Some of the track's most intricate and impressive parts lie in the song's vamp, where Isaac's adlib and vocal precision are unmatched.

    Like many Philly talents, past and present, Isaac began honing his talent as a singer in church. And, from the young age of seven he knew that he wanted to be an entertainer. Jeremy also studied musical theater at the historic Freedom Theater here in Philadelphia, which prepared him for his break-out role in the stageplay “Baby Mama Drama.”

    Read the full feature and check out the song via @Philly360

  • WRITE - Life on the Marina, Two Events Two Worlds Apart

    This weekend provided a very interesting juxtaposition of experiences in my life. While I was accompanying my bf at a gig at a high end marina in New Jersey, a community in Ferguson, Missouri was left stunned at yet another senseless death of a young black male at the hand of a police officer. But these two things aren’t necessarily related outside of my own observation of how many worlds away I felt on that day.

    I’ve never even seen the marina, as many times as I have been to this part of New Jersey. As we pulled into the area, the homes were decadent and like no other “shore homes” I had seen before. We arrived to a setting of friendly smiles, though we were the only two brown faces as far as we could see. Oh until we got some food and realized that one of the caterers was brown as well.

    Immediate discomfort set in. But I had to analyze exactly why. Clearly, this isn’t the first place that I’ve been with a lack of diversity. But it was unfamiliar territory. I mean we were hanging out with people with boats. I know people trying to buy their first cars, let alone buying boats. So it was exclusive, it was a place that you have to be in a certain league to even know about and this little brown girl from Logan in Philadelphia, felt a bit out.

    It was when I went to use the restroom that I really had a moment. I couldn’t help but think of a time, when black people who worked in the homes of white people, couldn’t even use the same bathroom. Where we have come so far in that arena, I thought about the harsh reality that we still have to teach our sons about the sensitive relationship between young black men and police.

    “Don’t ask them why they pulled you over,” “Reach for your license and registration as slow as possible,” and even still you may be killed. These are the very real conversations that are had with young black men across the country on the daily basis. But how do you explain being unarmed and nonthreatening and being killed by police? How do you explain that yes Civil Rights bills were passed 50 years ago, but at any time simply living while black can become a familiar threat?

    We were in the midst of a party, where we felt oddly out of place while a 17-year old black boy laid fighting futilely for his last breaths. I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of why I felt so uncomfortable at an all-white affair. What was it that in this day and age, growing up decades after so many fought for our freedom that made me want to high tail it out of there as soon as possible?

    My conclusion … that at any minute it is no longer safe to be black. At any minute those who are comfortable with you being around can become uncomfortable. That sometimes even being in the wrong place has cost black people their lives. I feared that at any point someone could say something less than flattering to myself or my significant other. The reality is that some black people like myself, whether in a particularly “white” setting or just breathing in America can often feel a sense of discomfort. We feel an uneasiness about whether we really belong here and an uneasiness about the folks that think we don’t.

    And at the point that we get too comfortable, we could find ourselves, staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun, or faced down on a hot, steaming sidewalk, or withstanding the force of being called the “n-word” and contemplating what exactly we should do next.

    Life on the marina doesn’t have to be concerned with a young black boy in Missouri. But every black person has to be. It’s not a “hood” thing, it’s not a “certain” black people thing. Whether you’re black at the marina or black in Missouri, their continues to be an underlying fear in black people across the country as we walk the fine line between being a citizen with rights and being a citizen of our dark and twisted past in this country.   

    And the question I don’t necessarily have the answer to is, what exactly do we do about it?