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  • Dear Love - I Deserve to Be a Wife

    “I deserve to be a wife.” It rang in my ears for some reason. In a conversation with a friend on marriage, this was a vulnerable moment. “I don’t get it,” she went on to explain how so many other women that seemingly aren’t as “qualified” have gotten married. She cooks, cleans, supports, and more and somehow it hasn’t quite happened for her yet. This set off a multitude of thoughts in my head of course!

    I guess the first being, “how has being a wife become such a highly coveted position?” I mean here we are the working 21st Century women, with careers, cars, our own money, etc., yet we still hold being a wife as a source of validation. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about marriage and I believe in the sanctity of it, but sometimes I hate how much it’s sought after. It often confuses me about my own motives to get married. Is it because that’s exactly what I want or because of the outside pressures of society telling me that at 28 I am somehow behind in this area?

    My second thought was “what does make a man finally decide that it’s time?” I mean in today’s society, we give so much before getting married. Most often we live together, share finances, have sex before marriage and more, so there seems to be less motivation to actually do it. There is something to be said about the olden days where a little more mystery was there. Often you got married because there was so much you couldn’t really experience before you did. But in today’s world, what is really the motivator? Why would there be much urgency to make it all official?

    Then there’s the third complexity in the statement. Well even with all the challenges of dating in 2014, some women still are getting married. What have they done differently than my friend? Have they set an expectation in the beginning of “Hey, I am only going to stick around but so long as a girlfriend?” Do they have tricks in the bedroom? (That’s a joke). But really, by no means is this friend perfect, but she does seemingly have a lot of qualities that at least the magazines tell you men are looking for in a wife. Is it possibly not being with the right one? Is she just impatient, even though she’s been in a serious relationship for quite some time?

    I hope that you can see that I have more questions here than answers. It’s honestly something that boggles my mind. And these conversations come up way more often than I’d like to admit in your late 20s. Yes every time you sign on to Facebook a new friend is posting a picture of their shiny engagement ring or that they’re pregnant with their second baby. Meanwhile you’re sitting on the other side of the computer with your degree, career, affinity for good meals and long term boyfriend wondering where exactly you went wrong.

    So what conclusions if any do I have about the whole thing?

    • Sometimes it can seem like the “hoes” for lack of a better term are winning. Way too much reality TV and housewives shows making it seem as if women with no morals or self-control are getting husbands by the second.  
    • There does seem to be a disconnect with this generation based on couples moving like we’re married before actually making it legit.
    • I don’t think that certain things can be forced. As much as I am looking forward to marriage, I constantly remind myself that God’s timing is perfect. I want a marriage, not just a wedding to show off pictures and look up 5 years later and think, “What have I done?”
    • Yes being a wife is an amazing role that I look forward to but I will continue to try not to let it validate me or my relationship.
    • Lastly, I think my friend will make an amazing wife and if the current bf is not wise enough to get it, I know that she will be blessed with a man that will. Patience is something I’ve learned most of us don’t have. But ultimately, it’s best to wait, to be sure and to be led by God when it comes to marriage. He knows our desires, we should make them known to Him and listen for what else to do.

    Have you felt pressure to be married? How do you handle it? Have you ever had to give an ultimatum? What do you think about the whole thing? Lol. I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS!

  • WRITE - I Am Not My Mother

    I am not my mother. A phrase that I have heard so many women say in my lifetime. How is it that we proclaim this about the women who have made us into the very women we stand to be? What is the push and pull between mothers and daughters that helps us to value and respect their contributions to our lives but distance ourselves enough to create our own personas riddled with some of the traits and characteristics of these matriarchs?

    I thought about this while watching the new Gina Prince-Bythewood film, Beyond the Lights. The controlling Momager played by Minnie Driver, seemingly wanted the best for her daughter. She wanted to create a way out for them, but in the process crushed the spirit of who her daughter really was. That was on one hand while on the other we see how her work ethic made “Noni’s” character into a star. That seems to be a delicate balance as a mother. I have only seen it from the daughter perspective at this point in my life but I can see how wanting the best for your daughter can sometimes cloud your ability to let her live for herself.

    My mom has never been the smothering type. She ruled with an iron fist when we were younger and as a result of that, allowed us to make our own decisions at a certain point, with trust that we would choose the right thing. There are a lot of other crazy habits of hers that have rubbed off on me though. Ha! So I too have proclaimed that “I’m not my mother.” But in so many ways I am. I have her fighting spirit, her determination, her stubbornness, outspoken and opinionated-ness. I also have her compassion and her ability to listen without judging, and her generosity. But if I am being honest, it’s a constant struggle to hone in on the positive attributes I’ve been given.

    She has even said herself that I am just “better” in certain areas. She knows she can be a handful. But I never want to mistake my exasperation for some of her bad qualities to reflect badly on all the amazing characteristics she has given me as well. I think that once you become an adult, everything just seems to get clearer. There were certain things that my mother did in relationship with my father that I definitely wanted to be different about. But she also taught me insurmountable forgiveness in relationships as well. The push and pull is endless.

    At the end of the day, I guess it just becomes figuring out who you want to be. Somehow you think that this happens a lot earlier on than it really does. You have to just learn to take what you want from your parents and work hard to break the bad habits that you’ve learned from them as well. At the end of it, most parents are doing the best that they can. It’s not until you become an adult that you begin to understand their humanity. They seem like superheroes until then.

    “I am not my mother” doesn’t have to be a negative term. Most parents are trying to put their children in a place where they are doing better than they did anyway. I guess from now on I can say “I am not my mother, but I am happy to be a product of her love.”

     

  • Dear Love - Don't You Ever Get Too Comfortable

    I mean Babyface and Lil Wayne kind of said it best. Basically, don’t get so comfortable you think your man or woman can’t find someone else. I can never stress enough how important it is for both people in a relationship to treat each other special and not to take one another for granted.

    Easier said than done right? Clearly. I have certainly been guilty of this. We sometimes get so caught up in life, in the things they do wrong, thinking that there is somehow some green grass growing somewhere else and don’t appreciate the person we fell in love with.

    So many of us complain about what our significant others no longer do, not thinking about the things that we have let fall by the wayside as well. He doesn’t take you out as much or doesn’t send you “Good Morning” texts. But you no longer make his favorite meal or keep your hair up like you used to. Or vice versa. Whatever it is, normally there is a lot of push and pull that gets you to the current state of complacency. But the good thing is you can always turn things around!

    Once you identify the problem, I always say that it’s up to you to change it. I hear people say all the time that you have to continue to date and you do! In my opinion, you still need to have movie night, dinner, bowling, game nights, whatever it is that will continue to help you see that person in a favorable light. Especially once you live together or get married. Quality time is not just existing with one another, it’s giving each other your full attention for a few hours out of the day.

    And in our generation, we have another vice, cell phones. Good Lord. Put the cell phones down. I repeat, put the cell phones down. At dinner there is no reason to have your cell phone out for more than 2-5 minutes to send a last minute email or text, whatever it is. No one wants to sit and stare at you scrolling through your timeline. That is such a dangerous assumption that when you look up from that screen that person is always going to be around.

    There are a lot of people in this world. There are a lot of people even just in your city. You are with your significant other because you chose to be and they chose to be with you. Neither one of you have to be there. Especially if you’re not married yet. Realize that. Appreciate that. And no you don’t have to walk on eggshells thinking they may up and leave, but know that you need to treat them special, make them feel wanted and block out the world sometimes to be with them whole heartedly.

    As much as you think you’re the only person who will put up with your GF or BF, believe me, you’re not. There is always someone in the wings waiting for a misstep. Be sure to tell them about the great things that they do. Limit your complaints, find the best times to tell them things that may not be so favorable. Don’t lose everything that ever meant something to you because you were too stubborn or too lazy to make them feel like the star they deserve to feel like in your life.

    Have you ever found yourself unappreciative in your relationship? What did you do to help rectify the situation? 

  • Journey of a NB - Words Do Hurt

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We hear that from the beginning when we’re young. It’s supposed to help us deal with the hard words thrown at us from peers, but in reality, words do and can hurt.

    Our words have the ability to shape our reality. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21. The things that we say will surely manifest. So if we are constantly speaking negativity into our lives, that’s the fruit that we will reap. We don’t even take thought of the things that we say. We say “This will never happen,” or “I won’t ever get this right” and the reality is, as long as you say things like that, you won’t. Period.

    What would change if you decided to counteract those negative thoughts with positive ones? Imagine how much things could possibly turn around for you? “I am” are two of the most powerful words in language, because what you put after them, shape who you become.

    The things that people have told you, the things you always heard growing up, have affected your life. Whether you were constantly encouraged or berated that experience shapes how you see yourself, the things you think you are capable of, your confidence and much more. From the time we understand words to now, everything that is said affects the human beings we become. But the great part about being an adult is the control you have over the words you constantly hear or say. So we have the ability now to control the things we say and to control the type of people we let speak in our space.

    Be very careful of people who are constantly complaining, gossiping, putting other people down or in a nutshell just carrying an automatic weapon when it comes to their mouth. That energy is something that you simply don’t need. Meditate on the things that God says about us. That we are righteous, that we are his sons and daughters, and that we will have the things we desire according to His will.  Get those things into your mind and heart, eventually they will become your habits, character and words.

    Whatever is in you will come out in your words, so what are you saying and how is it negatively or positively affecting your life? And is that working for you? I too have been guilty of not only complaints, but casting doubt into situations, speaking negatively unknowingly and much more. But I have LEARNED, the importance of the dire need to be more intentional with my words. I want the best that God has to offer for me, so in that I have to be conscious of what I am saying. Angels are waiting to harken at our words, what will you have them do?

    It’s not being naïve, it’s not being too optimistic, it’s realizing that in a world full of negativity, that speaking life has the ability to manifest and overcome any darkness. We must stop giving darkness any room to diminish our light. Words hurt, they change the course of our lives, and have the ability to differentiate between our success and failure. Realize their power and do not downplay it for one moment, we simply can’t afford to. 

  • DREAM - Queen Bees at Work

    Melissa Alam/Founder of The Hive Philly 

    Friday, Nov. 7th marked the opening of a brand new co-working space for women, The HIve Philly. Really the first space of its kind in Philadelphia, the space is open to women entrpreneurs for subscriptions to utilize the space to grow their businesses. 

    As Philadelphia quickly becomes an incubator for millennial entrepreneurs, a space that helps women in this male dominated arena is not only needed, but appreciated. For the ambitious woman, The Hive looks to inspire collaboration, encourage mentorship and professional development. 

    Women will be able to sign up for some crafty titled monthly subscriptions including the Side Hustle, Goal Digger, and The Boss Lady. Alongside offering work space, The Hive will host monthly events and workshops from their subcribers as well as local talent. 

    Founder Melissa Alam is a strategic brand developer and photographer. She is the creator of Femme & Fortune which recently honored the top 30 women under 30 in the Philadelphia arena. The initiative was the launching pad for The Hive serving as a community and resource for women.  

    As a newly budding entrepreneur, I am really excited about this space. I also work remotely so, it's definitely something to consider. A space that is looking to create community and aid business women in their endeavors is all types of my thing. LOL

    So be sure to check it out and help support an entity that looks to support us! 

    Cutting the ribbon with the big scissors. 

    I just loved this corner in the conference room. 

    Central working space at The Hive Philly 

  • WRITE - Holding Your Breath

    I went to the doctor to find out about a lingering cough. She put the stethoscope to my back and said take deep breaths. I started breathing, or so I thought I did as she asked “Are you breathing?” In that moment I said yes, but in a moment of prayer I realized for the last few months I’ve probably definitely been holding my breath.

    Well, you know figuratively. Lately I just feel like I’ve been holding my breath waiting for something to happen. Something drastic to change in my career, my personal life or anything really. Not that things haven’t changed or progressed, which I’m extremely grateful for. But we continually progress and make steps in all areas of our lives, but it’s hard to see the change from such a close view. I’m in it, living it every day so I can’t always see it like my loved ones or colleagues.

    In my head it feels like I have been in a similar space for the last 10 years of my life. I’m not saying it’s a rational feeling, clearly so much has changed, but I guess I can’t help but feel like I’ve been waiting for the life I dream about to actually happen.

    And yeah you hear people say, well it’s up to you to just start living the life you want. But how does that even make sense? Practically? I want to be able to take trips to St. Tropez but no one is foregoing paying rent to make that happen. But I’ve had great vacations in the meantime. I mean I had never even been on a vacation until 2012.

    Yes I am focusing on trying develop a career outside of my job. I am in a loving relationship with the man that I think will be my husband. But literally getting over the hump of the “next stages” of my life seem to be taking longer than I probably imagined in the grand scheme of how my life would go.

    But each day I work on accepting that it really is about the journey, no matter how many times you hear it or how cliché it is. I’m always looking for the next level, the next thing, the next step. But I realize in doing so, I’ve been depriving myself, literally not being able to breathe waiting on the next part.

    Why is it so hard to see your progress from within? Or maybe it’s not that hard. You just have to make a conscious decision to focus on it. Life is happening, things take time and focus, and each phase of your life is only as robust as you make it. It sounds good, but in practice, I have to be honest I’ve often failed at keeping things in perspective. But it’s not impossible, so I’ll keep working on it. Working on being my own validation and taking deep breaths in the process.

    What do you think? Are you constantly looking for the next thing, not appreciating how far you’ve come? 

  • Dear Love Brunch!

    First and foremost, love the staff of Mixto Restaurant. They're so accomodating for this here meet up that went so well! I am thankful to my friend Natalie Imani for reaching out to me and saying, "hey you should do that again." 

    I read in a book this week that deciding to read it was by devine appointment and that's exactly how I felt about each of these women attending. I really hope that each person got something out of it and that something may have resonated with them. 

    Our topic was forgiveness. If you couldn't make it. Here's a few of the questions that we discussed. 

    • Are you strong enough to forgive?
    • Your ability to forgive reveals a lot about who you are. Who are you? 
    • Who do you need to forgive? Who are you looking for forgiveness from?
    • Do you believe there is a such thing as unconditional love? 

    It's funny how just as much as women tell me they are inspired by my story, I am just as inspired by them. This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for the next Dear Love Brunch announcement in 2015! They sell out fast. lol. 

  • Dear Love - Vulnerability

    Being vulnerable takes trust. In my estimation trust is the foundation of relationships in more ways than one. Most often when we think about trusting someone, we think about trusting them not to cheat on us right? But that’s shallow. That trust only scratches the surface. Have you ever thought about the trust it takes to honestly be vulnerable with someone?

    Well I have and it’s not necessarily something that comes easy to me. I ‘m one of those weirdly sensitive people that tries my best to have a tough exterior, knowing I’m really mush on the inside. But in that, I often don’t want to be seen irrational, too much like a “girl” whatever that means, or as if I am reliant on anyone but myself. It’s all a façade, trying desperately to be okay all on my own. But when you’re in a relationship, aren’t you saying to your partner “life is better with you.”

    To be able to say, “That hurt me,” or “When you do this it makes me feel” is letting someone else know that what they do affects your emotional well-being. The lack of trust is the feeling of not wanting another person to have that type of power over you.

    We’re so used to being all “I don’t need you for anything” that it’s hard to make that switch in your mind. Well at least some of us. Your problem may not be vulnerability but I have seen so many people, men and women, create walls while in relationships, never fully letting the other person in. In my humble opinion, it will never really work. And if it does for some time, eventually it won’t. True intimacy is a lot more than bumping bodies, it the ability to be vulnerable. 

    We have to trust our instincts. Trust that we made the decision to be with a person whose intent is never to hurt us, even though we’re human and the fact is, we’re going to hurt each other sometimes. This to me personifies “Love believes the best.” (2 Corr. 13). When you are just dating, sure guard your heart. You can’t let any Joe Smoe or Sally into your heart space in that way. But I am talking about once you are walking in relationship with another person.

    Love, is full of gambling. You have to be able to give a lot and hopefully see a great return. It’s all in the picking. So many times we ignore important signs when just dating and having fun and months go past and we’re in a relationship with someone we don’t trust at all with our hearts. Make smarter decisions. And when you do, try not to be afraid. If that person is valuable, caring, loving, don’t lock them out. Give them the opportunity to see a side of you that no one else is privy to.

    Have you found yourself struggling at times with being vulnerable in your relationship?

  • WRITE - When You Think Way Too Much

    The fact that I think too much feels like a doubled edged sword. On one hand it’s a win for this blog. I mean I am constantly writing about my thoughts on whatever topic so I hope that waterfall keeps coming. As a writer you have to just strike while it’s coming. But there is also a big issue with thinking too much and that means that I analyze and often critique any and everything including myself.

    The older I get, the more I feel I am in desperate need to let it go, like everything go. I am constantly in thought. Did I say the right thing? Why did I feel this way? How is this person going to take this? What time will I able to do this? Which is all fine to be thoughtful, but I think that I care way too much. It literally impedes my ability to just live in the moment, take my time, and just be unapologetically myself.

    I’m thankful that I can at least quiet my brain most nights to sleep. But there are some times that my thoughts wake me up in the morning. It’s been said that I wake up on 100. Lol. And it’s partly because once that light sleep hits my mind gets to rolling.

    There is a certain peace that I feel like I’m missing and I am constantly reminded of Philippians 4:6 which reminds us to be anxious about nothing, but give thanks, pray and let your requests be known to God. My thoughts often insight an anxious heart. The plans that I have for my life, my brand, my general future can all sometimes be invasive to my present.

    So lately I’ve been wondering how the heck you turn it off. Your mind can truly become your worst enemy at times. I want to be easy. Not in the floozy since. Lol. But I just don’t want to always be thinking 20 steps ahead. It really is one of those things that is seemingly a gift and a curse.

    What I have learned in my life though, is that there isn’t much I can do in my own strength. It’s only with God’s help that I will be able to quiet this busy mind of mine. In the meantime, what are some of the things you do to rest your thoughts?  

  • Dear Love - Even When it All Falls Down

    I know that at times, it can easily sound like one plus one equals two when it comes to talking about relationships. But things happen every day that sometimes try to shake your whole world and everything that you believed love to be. I never want you to think that loving someone, especially when we talk about being in it for the long haul will ever be as simple as a blog post or the four letter word.

    I had a conversation with a friend the other day and we laughed about how relationships are WORK! End of story. I will always side eye a person that says they aren’t. At the end of the day, putting two different people together to work on one accord is a tough thing to do. There is so much push and pull, compromise, and all out warfare that sometimes takes place. Throw in marriage, kids, school plays, careers, mortgages, and well … see where I’m going there? And I am not even NEAR that part, but I can foresee how you have to navigate a lot to maintain a solid foundation.

    The sad part about it is, sometimes relationships don’t work. Period. I talk a lot about being in an actual relationship because that is my current experience. But I have ALSO had relationships that didn’t work. So may be reading and thinking “This is great perspective and optimistic, but meanwhile my relationship is falling apart.” Well at the end of it all, when we have tried everything that we can, it still takes two people to maintain a healthy relationship. If you are doing all the work, trying to grow, trying to become a better mate and your partner could care less, I hate to break it to you, but it probably won’t last.

    I am speaking in regard to long term committed relationships. I am not yet married so I can’t speak on that. When marriages don’t work it’s a lot more complicated. But sometimes we act like it’s the end of our life when a relationship (not marriage) doesn’t work. Yes we have invested time, feelings, money, and more but once the tears have dried up you have to just use it as a learning experience. I’ve had relationships fall apart that I was completely invested in. But the reality is, it didn’t work for more reasons than one and I survived.

    So often we harden our hearts, lose faith, lose trust and bring all that baggage into a new relationship expecting it to work, myself included. My biggest issue has been TRULY forgiving myself for the mistakes that I made in the past or things that I could have done better. I thought I had forgiven myself, but it has come up even years later, that clearly I am still working on it. But I have decided that I am ready to let it all GO! You have to. You have to be able to renew your mind, make better decisions and seek guidance on creating and maintaining a healthy connection with your partner. Love, my friends is not for the faint at heart. It’s not for those that are looking for someone else to do the work for them. It’s not for the person who will continually blame others without ever looking inward.

    Real love is for adults only.