Friday, November 8, 2013

All the Right Reasons

Dear Bloggers,

During this week we've discussed about embracing the true you, no matter what anyone says.  But, I would be remiss to not address changing.

It's very easy to be comfortable in a rut; to wake up every day and have the same routine over and over.  Though for some people it feels like it's slowly draining them, like a sleepwalker, the anticipation of change is enough to keep people in an uncomfortable, harmful situation.

Now, I'm not going to lie, changing sucks.  It requires a lot of introspection, a lot reexamining your past and the things that have hurt you.  In our own views, it's very easy to place ourselves as the hero in our own movies.  But by deciding to change, that's when you have to face the realization that maybe you weren't as innocent as you thought you were.  Not only that, but maybe you were actually the villain.  It hurts to have to see and acknowledge your own faults.

But pain comes with growth, and the only way that you can fully develop is to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to change.

It's not that you're bad, but that you can be better.

But with that will come the opinions of others.  Some will want you to change to be greater, and others will criticize you for trying to be better.  Most of the time, people who are trying to discourage you from changing is speaking from their own limitations and their own fears of not wanting to take their own steps forward.  However, it's your life and you're the one who is either empowered or limited by your actions.  So if you decide to change, make sure you do it for all the right reasons.

Stay Encouraged!
Have a great weekend!      

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Don't Believe the Hype

Dear Bloggers,

If there's one thing that stuck with  me when I worked in publicity, it's that every opportunity is a new one to repackage yourself.  When a new product is released, it's released as a clean slate, and it's up to the publicists and marketing people to create the view of how you see this product.  We create the words that stick with you, the momentum that it travels and the hype to get you excited.  The words that are used in advertising will precede the actual product, so before it even comes out, it could be a hit with audiences and they don't even know why.

That's how people are.  It's very clinical to see yourself as a brand, or a product, but you are.  As with any product, the propaganda that precedes you is what creates your hype.  The difference between you and an inanimate product, like a soda, is that you can speak up for yourself.  However, too many times it seems as though not only do we fall victim to the hype, we believe it and then begin to spread it around as truth.  Now, this could be a good thing if people were spreading the positive, but it seems like a lot of times people like to spread the good news of how they are no-good.

I have to be honest, growing up I would find myself doing the same.  If someone asked me about myself, I would launch into he general list about of what I liked to read, watch, and eat.  But after all that was done I would begin to address how I would be when I was angry.

Doing so became habit, but it took me until I reached college to really sit there and see how dysfunctional of a practice it is.  Why would anyone allow their first interactions with someone be something negative?  The worse thing about it, it wouldn't be true.  But I preached this gospel of foolishness about myself, and then attempted to behave in the same manner for years.

WEB DuBois described this as double consciousness.  Somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy to internalize the viewpoints of others and use it to create how we behave, regardless of whether it's true about us or not.

One day, in mid-sentence, I stopped.  I felt like I sounded so foolish.  These behaviors that I'm saying about myself weren't even me.  Deep down, it wasn't natural for me to behave in the way that I was told that I do.  So why was I acting this way?  To placate the person who first made me the poster child of this behavior?

A lot of times, people are fed things about themselves ("You ain't nothing!  You're never going to be nothing!  You're just like your no good mama/daddy.") and people absorb these poisons and then begin to behave in that manner.

These are times that you have to step outside of that and really try to determine if you're going to continue to spread the propaganda, or let people know who you truly are.  Anyone can create a hype about a product, but in the end, it's the product itself that determines if it's going to be a true success.

It's up to you.

Stay Encouraged!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Helping Hands

Dear Bloggers,

I think that there's a time in every friendship that makes you question the other person or their motives.  Sometimes those feelings are rooted in nothing but pure paranoia.  You have a great friend, but you feel as though you can't be as lucky in life to have someone(s) so amazing, loyal, and encouraging.  So, you begin to read too much into everything that they do and say, looking to syntax, subtext, and any other s-word that you could fit.  Until you come up with the uncomfortable realization that yes, you were that lucky, and maybe you might need to seek help for your overwhelming neurosis.

Other times, you begin to question your friends' motives because they do, indeed, do shady things.  Either a secret was exposed, a lie started, or a rumor carried on, and you're trying to figure out just how culpable this person in your life is, and should they stay on the pedestal that you placed them on before.
I appreciate friends that try to help me and push me to be a better person.  But what I don't appreciate is someone pushing me into a dangerous situation.  Let me explain:

My mother enrolled me into swimming classes, but my fear of drowning was too strong.  For years I continually failed and almost drowned in class multiple times.  But everyone has their strengths, and I knew that swimming wasn't mine.  But, I still loved pools, so I would join in the pool fun at friends' houses... just in the shallow end.

I could never understand, after I would tell friends about my lack of swimming skills, some of them would still insist that I come into the deep end.  Promises of "if you look like you're in danger, we'll save you," wasn't soothing to my soul.  After a while, these friends would pick me up and throw me into the deep end.  As I gasped for air, and panicked to keep my head afloat, all I would hear would be their laughter, until someone else would jump in and get me.

As I would dry off I would hear the same thing:  "If you looked like you were in danger, we would have saved you."  While I wondered:  At what point?  When I was floating upside down?  Right after you laughed at the fear on my face as I struggled to keep me head up?  Why are you even talking to me?!

I'm saying all of that to say this:  change is a choice that only you can make.  A decision that can only come from you, don't ever let anyone try to push you into a situation that you're uncomfortable in because they want to see "what happens."  Because sometimes, these same people who are quick to push you into deeper waters, are usually slow to save you from the overwhelming tide.

Not all hands are helping ones.

Stay Encouraged!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Moving Away from the Crowd

Dear Bloggers,

One of the unofficial rules that some parents learn is that when your toddler falls to curtail your reaction.  Now, it's hard.  You're child is so important to you and when you see them fall you're normal reaction is to rush over, hug them, kiss them, and tell them that everything is going to be okay.  

Now, I'm not saying that when your child harms him/herself that you should ignore them, and walk over their prostrate body.  But what I'm saying is that before you lie on the floor with them and share in a good emotional cry, you should wait to see how your child reacts to their own fall.

Perception is key here and what could convince a child to just get up and wipe themselves off, or cry about an injury that's not really that severe is the reaction of the parents.  A lot of times when children fall, they might not be completely hurt, and it's nothing for them to jump back up and get back to playing.  However, if a parent is quick to react before finding out the severity of the injury, it tends to make the situation worse.  

So, some parents are taught to wait to see how their children react to a fall or a small bruise before they do, because children tend to react off of their parents' reactions.

As we grow, there are certain traits that we pick up and discard, but one that seems prevalent is that our reactions to situations can be sometimes greatly influenced by the reactions of others.   Now, I'm not talking about those gut reactions of happiness, horror, or distress when we hear extreme news, but the times, like when we were children and we had a minor fall, and looked around dazed to see what everyone else's reactions were so we could know how to properly react.  

In moments of personal inflection, if we sit back and think about the times that we reacted to certain situations, how many times were our opinions influenced by the reactions of others?

A lot of times it's very easy to sit back and just go with popular opinion, because anything else makes you stand out.  It puts you in a vulnerable position of having to explain yourself, or makes you an easy target for criticism for not going with the flow.  

However, life is about experience, and if your experiences are based off of trying to adhere yourself to the perceptions of the masses, that's when you're cheating yourself.  You have a unique voice for a reason.  A different perspective, a view point that might not match what's popular.  But that's what makes life so beautiful. Being able to have one event influence different viewpoints.

So when something happens that doesn't cause you to immediately react.  Allow it to marinate in your mind, and create your own reaction, instead of looking around to figure out how you're supposed to react.  The same as when you're a child.  The moment you begin to step from your parents' shadows is when you're able to become the person that you're supposed to be.  Each day presents you with an opportunity of stepping away from the comforting hold that is popular opinion.  Yeah, it's scary to leave that safe haven, but once you step out on your own that's when you can start becoming the person that you want to be.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Be Who You Want to Be

Dear Bloggers,

Last week I discussed the side-eye inducing behavior that has seemingly become popular.  Last week's posts encompassed people following blindly behind others, people trying desperately hard to get attention in the worse ways, and people using offensive behavior become relevant.  Now there's a lot of things that you can point the finger at as the cause of these problems.  (For some reason, Homer Simpson's voice and his philosophy about alcohol just popped into my mind.  Kinda weird, but let's go with it.)

We can easily point out social media as a culprit.  In a world where most people are interacting with each other behind computer screens, they seem to be on the verge of losing their social decency.  Or maybe it's because in order to make yourself stand out from the millions of people who are commenting, or making videos, you need to do something to bring attention to you; and what's better than being offensive?  Negativity insights such a visceral reaction in others and can stick with a person for a while, ensuring your mark on the masses.

You could also make the association with the ever present reality show monster that attention-whoring can take you from a local legend in your own private circle to being on the tongues of people across viewing audiences (even people outside of it.  I've never watched an episode of Basketball Wives, but Lord help me, people talk about it so much that I now know who most of these people are).

But in this case, I'm gonna point the finger at myself.  Now, I'm not causing people to act out of sorts, or thrive to get attention anyway that they can.  However, I am at fault for being critical of others when they behave in a way that's opposite of how I would.

I'm a big advocate of people living their lives the way that they feel are best for them.  So, if you feel like you need to do the utmost, then do so.  I don't have to enjoy it, but that doesn't mean that I should condemn people for not being how I would like them to be.

Life can become miserable if you're too busy trying to live up to the views of everyone else, so be you.  But I also know that I don't have to engage in the foolishness either.  Both of this signifies a type of freedom that's great for viewer and participant.  Not caring what other people do/think:  the cause and solution to all of life's problems.

This week, let's discuss!

Stay Encouraged!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Don't Feed the Trolls

Dear Bloggers,

One of my most favorite things to do when visiting my favorite online publications is to read the comment sections, because where else can you get such a wide perspective on one topic?  You're able to see others' reading comprehension skills (or lack thereof).  You can immediately point out the people who only read the title and then go completely nuts in the comment section, not realizing that the title is supposed to be what leads you to read the article, not necessarily what it's about (it's the whole not judging a book by its cover scenario).  Then, you have the insightful people who have something to add to the article, or comment chatter (love those people).  But then, there are the people who purposely write things with the intent of being hateful, hurtful, and provoking.  These people are known as "trolls," and whenever I see their horrendous comments, the quote:  "Don't feed the trolls" always pops into my mind.

I honestly agree with it.  These people who are sitting behind their computers or phones all day having full blown arguments and insulting an entire demographic of people are looking for attention.  Commenting back to them is just giving them what they want, and encourages them to continue.

However, I can't be the only person who sees the pathetic nature of this type of behavior.  It actually makes me a little sad that people are so willing to cause a stir to get attention.  It makes me wonder/worry about their lives.  Are they that so unattached to society that the only way that they can get recognition is by insulting others?

For some people, negative attention is better than no attention, and to me that's worrisome.  When you're a child that's the type of mindset that you have, but when you get older, you learn that recognition is something that should be earned by doing something good; or heck, just being yourself.

But I feel as though (if these trolls are correct) these are grown people behind these screen names, and that makes it even worse.  How can we expect for our next generation to be great, if the one that's raising it is subpar?  It creates such a dynamic of "it's okay to lash out at people for the simple fact that you don't like them."  Children are bullying other children because they're taking after the example of the adults in their lives that are doing the same.  In some cases, encouraging the children to act out of sorts.

The attention that they are seeking are (from me at least) beginning to turn into pity.  Because you essentially have grown children behind these juvenile acts.  They are the personification of a worn pathos that only seem to find their value and reason for being behind a computer screen.  These people feeds off the negative reaction that nourishes their reason for being, but not their souls.

Dear Trolls, I hope you realize one day that there's nourishment in other forms of life, and if you take the chance to venture away from the hate that you like to spew, then maybe you can enjoy it?

Until then, you're no longer getting anymore nourishment from me.  Good luck starving.

Stay Encouraged!!
See you on Monday!        

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Costume of Success

Dear Bloggers,

With age it is widely thought that the knowledge you gain would help you to make better decisions.  So, a lot of times, your most foolish and embarrassing stories happen when you were younger; and here's mine.

After moving from Mobile, Alabama I started going to an elementary school in East St. Louis, IL.  When living in Alabama my father would take us trick or treating, but when we moved to Illinois, my mother put a kibosh on it.  After seeing how the students would dress up for the class Halloween party, and missing out, my sister Kelli and I plotted on sneaking costumes to school.

But when your parents don't buy costumes, you have to use a little bit more ingenuity, especially when you're both around 2nd to 3rd graders.  I can't remember what Kelli's costume was, but I remember after what seemed like hours of brainstorming together (in all honesty, it was probably only five minutes, retrospectively) we decided that I was going to be an "Exotic Dancer."

     "Kelli, what's an exotic dancer?"

     "It's like a ballerina, but she also does jazz dancing, and that type of dancing from Coming to America."


So we snuck a leotard, tights, a sheer scarf and some of our mother's old makeup in our bookbags and had our unsuspecting mother drop up off at school.  When the time came to dress up I got the strangest looks.  As people tried to figure out what costume would have me dressing in such a risque manner, I proudly proclaimed:  "I'm an exotic dancer!"

That answer was immediately met with (by kids and teachers alike):  "A stripper?!"

But after I explained to them what an exotic dancer did, I still got a large amount of side-eye.  I just assumed that people where jealous that they weren't smart enough to have come up with my costume.

My pride encouraged me to wear my "costume" all throughout the day, and defiantly get into my mother's car to prove to her that costumes didn't have to be scary; they could be cute.  But once I got in the car and my mother's eyes enlarged in a way I rarely saw I knew something was wrong. She asked me what I was and I told her.  Her head dropped in motherly shame as she let me know that I wasn't a ballerina that I told the school I was.  An exotic dancer was, indeed, a stripper.  The way she said it, I could tell that she wasn't jealous of my costume, and finally it sunk in.

Since then, my costumes (if I did dress up) were very mild, and I chalk up the fact that I didn't know any better due to my age.

When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Happy Halloween!!    

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Downward Angle of Brain Cells

Dear Bloggers,

One thing that's very important to me is honesty.  I can truly appreciate a person who can be honest, not only about their actions but the intentions behind them.  These are the types of people that I surround myself with in my social life.  But, I know that not everyone is like this, and usually outside of a job, or casual encounters, it doesn't bother me as much.  But I do have to say that I get slightly annoyed when people have very clear intentions on their behaviors and pretend like the attention that they sought after was unintentional.

No, it wasn't.  It was exactly what you wanted, and you're insulting my intelligence when you pretend like it wasn't.  Like this example:

Like, really?  Really?  REALLY?!?!?!

For me, the asinine question and her moronic rationale wasn't what was bothering me.  For me it was the blatant attempt at attention.  Pure and simple.  She has her camera focused in a downward angle to expose her very present décolletage, and we're supposed to pretend that this video is about some sort of philosophical question?

But then again, I always wonder who's worse?  People like her or me?  Granted, she might have just really wanted to know (I like to think the best of people), but chances are that when put on her face full of makeup and her low cut tank top that she was hoping to get people's attention.  But at the end, I'm just as culpable of her foolishness because I gave into it.

No one should ever down someone from trying to get their own shine, but at the same time, it's us who determines how much of our attention we're willing to give these people who are craving the absolute-most through their behavior.

Maybe this girl isn't as dumb as she's trying to pretend.  She might actually have a great career in advertising, if she's so inclined.  Because she knows the key to getting people talking; I just think that it shouldn't be at the expense of exposing herself.  But, what do I know?

Stay Encouraged!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Fool in Time

Dear Bloggers,

They say that youth is wasted on the young, and at first I was offended.  In all honesty it was probably because when I first heard the quote I was pretty young myself and felt as though it was saying that I was wasting the gift of youth.  As much as I love life, I also love work too (if that makes any sense), so I knew that I didn't fall under that category of people who took their youth for granted.

Now that I'm a little older, and a single mother, I understand now.  Up until you reach your late twenties, you're still pretty much a toddler, mentally.  And let me explain before you completely dismiss me.

A toddler's life is fairly simple, and they are led by their feelings, desires, needs and urges.  They can't see when danger comes to them, like a parent or caregiver can.  They also have the tunnel vision of a periscope.  Instead of observing the whole scope of a situation it's like they focus on what they want, and are relentless to get it.  But if you try to give them a better version of it (or try to replace what they have because you know that it's not as good), that's when the tantrums come.

But still, how does this pertain to you, dear reader?  I feel as though young adults are the same way.  We're moved by doing what we feel is best for us.  We rely on our own limited knowledge to be the driving force of our lives instead of heeding the advice of others.  Instead of focusing on other options we can waste so much time just trying to find our success one way (when in actuality, the way to success is rarely a straight line).

It's not until your life goes into a direction that causes you to be more mature that you realize that, yeah, I did waste a lot of my time on non-consequential paths, decisions, and ideas.

This leads me to this:

If I didn't upload the video right, it is... to say this nicely... a sight of complete, utter ridiculousness.  A cause for a desire to have doctors perform psychological analysis on people when they reach the age of reproduction, to stop some people from breeding.  Because you know what?  Stupid people meet and date other stupid people, and then they release their offsprings into the world.  This is... our future, people!

College students, who are wasting their parents' money, professors' time, and putting themselves in all kinds of Sallie Mae debt to protest their school from stopping them from swinging on a pendulum (which is a landmark for their college, mind you) because they want to re-enact that "Wrecking Ball" video (?!).  The school is trying to stop them because it is a safety hazard, but once again, these grown toddlers are throwing a tantrum.

Yes, youth is wasted on the young, and yes, hindsight is 20/20.  But goodness, people, adding perspective to your situation is something that can expand what you see.  Being young is doing what you want to do, and getting older is doing what's best for you, and it's never too late to learn to incorporate both.

Stay Encouraged!  

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Blackface of Attention

Dear Bloggers,

Happy Monday!  I'm sorry for taking a small hiatus!  But, let's start right back with where I ended my last post, addressing desperate, attention seeking people.

I have to warn you that I might be in a more bitter mood discussing this today, due to the fact that Halloween is coming up and with people dressing up to go to Halloween parties (my daughter went as an elephant, and I, myself, went as a concerned parent who wanted candy).

Usually my eye rolls were reserved for the women in the overly sexual costumes.  But now, I feel like I really need to address why "effers" (sorry I try not to use profane language in my everyday life... even though it features prominently in my inner monologues) still feel the need to use blackface to make a costume.  I'm really baffled, and as much as I try to make rhyme and reason out of it, I'm still at a loss for words.

Could the allure of gaining attention be worth that much to offend an entire race of people?  Now I understand that fame is something that many people want, but is something that is alluded for most.  Therefore, some people go down the path of attaining infamy, because at least people are talking about you.  

I think, usually for me anyway, the sad attempt of "but I'm not racist" that comes along with it once the backlash comes is what stings the most.  Usually this comes when they upload their own photos in a brazen attempt to prove that:  "It's my Facebook/Instagram, I can do whatever I want to on it.  If people don't like it, they don't have to look."  But when it all comes back, there's that argument of "I had no idea."

Me personally, I can't buy the bunk that you're trying to tell me, because I refuse to believe that you weren't grinning from ear to ear, like a cheshire cat, while you covered your face in black shoe polish and giggled internally about the anticipated negative attention you were going to get.  People are rarely as smart as they think that they are and as dumb as they like to play when they get caught.  I feel as though I can't be convinced that their motives weren't to cause a stir, and to live in that one moment of infamy repeatedly as they tell two different stories to two different audiences.  One story of remorse and cluelessness ("Really, I had no idea that it would be offensive.  It was just a costume, and I was trying to be funny,") and the other story of pride and misused indignation ("I mean, I don't understand what the problem is.  They need to just get over it.  Slavery and racism has been over.  I mean, you can't tell me what to do to my face.  They need to just get over it.")

But no, it's not over.  It's staring us in the face when we log in on our social media sites and people who we believed were friends have now helped to issue us back hundreds of years when we were mocked and ridiculed, and treated as less.  You did this when you picked up the shoe polish and decided to engage in a socially offensive costume.

But you're right, you should be proud in the attention that you received.  Because just as brazen as they are to put the pictures up, protestors and people who refuse to sit back idly and be offended independently are now rising up.  The role of #TeamStupid is to help aid in their own demise, and they're just making it easier for their friends, schools, and jobs to know what despicable pieces of trash that they are.  In the case of recent Trayvon Martin Halloween costume incident, one person has allegedly lost her job.  Now, we're just waiting for the rest of you.  So, keep on posting, because you wanted/needed to be seen.  So don't stop people from seeing your ignorance illuminated on your social media accounts.  You earned that attention, and all the repercussions that come along with it.

Stay Stupid.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quenching the Thirst

Dear Bloggers,

Since I've been back to my blogging roots I've been very upbeat and encouraging.  My posts have been trying to help people (myself included) in staying focused and encouraged while following your dreams.  But through all of that, I can't shake the strong impulse I have to want to take this opportunity to vent.

What would make a sweet, happy person want to take her frustrations out in blog form?  Well, it's because of the unnecessary attention seeking behavior that I've been noticing.  I have to be honest, I tend to keep my bubble of information down to what I only need to know.  I'm very well abreast about what's going on in the world, but sometimes, all of the negativity can really drag me down.  Also, because I have a child, these pessimistic news stories have a tendency to make me (and probably most parents) slightly paranoid of what could happen.  So, I try to balance it with some fluff.

Within my fluff search I have been coming across more and more videos and stories of grown people seeking, wanting, grasping for any way to receive the slightest bit of attention, and I have to be honest, it's annoying me.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still pro-#TeamStupid, but when people are just so blatantly trying to get a rise out of anything, I just... it does something to me.  It makes a small vein under my right eye slightly pulsate.

But you know what?  Maybe it's me?  Maybe I'm the one to blame for expecting excellence (or at the very least, normality).  My standards are obviously too high for the world of instant fame, and I need to just learn how to accept people for the dumb, vapid, dolts that many are proving themselves to be.  

But... until I learn to accept it, please allow me this week to express my frustrations.


Stay Encouraged!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Finding Comfort in Silence

Dear Bloggers,

Being in gray areas are so uncomfortable sometimes.  There are usually a lot of quotes that encourages people that to become successful you have to work hard.  But there's such a lack of advice of what to do after you do the work.  You work hard, put yourself out there, spend endless days and nights working on yourself and your craft until you feel as though things are as perfect as they can get.  Then, you submit your work, hoping for a way in, but all you have is... silence.

We know that loud noises can be startling, but silence is usually described as "eerie."  People are so uncomfortable in silence that they'll do whatever they can to end the awkwardness. That works fine in social situations, but it doesn't seem to work well in business situations.  Or, I'm assuming, what do I know?  I'm still trying to work to get to where I'm going.

But let's be honest.  A lot of times the reason that silence scares us is because then we're left with our own thoughts.  No one is as judgmental on us as we are, and we know that.  So, to avoid having our thoughts bring up what's wrong, and how we could have possibly messed up, we crave the noise to drown it out.  Whether it's a startling bang or a whisper, we just want something to end the silence.

However, after you do everything that you can, you can't force someone's hand to move for you, for your own sake.  I'm not saying that you have to stop working, but you should probably stop worrying yourself on something that you can no longer change.  You did your work, you got it out there, it's no longer in your control.  Now, all you're left  with is... silence.

However, it all depends on what you do with that silence.  Use it to strengthen yourself, your resolve, plan for a possible success or failure, refocus your goals and hopes for the future.  Silence can be overwhelming, but it can also be something that you can find comfort in.

Stay Encouraged and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Face Behind the Paint

Dear Bloggers,

One of the duties that I felt like I needed to do, as a single mother, was to make sure that my daughter had a social life.  At the tender age of two, it was important for me to get her out of the house and socialize as much as possible.  While exploring our new surroundings we discovered an event that happens every third Thursday, which is "Diva Night."

A time where women meet in downtown, explore the shops, and possibly win prizes.  The first time we went I was expecting more mother-daughter duos, but we were the only one.  I began to think that it wouldn't be worth it, and we should just continue making friends at the park, library, and fast food play areas.  But, when I saw how much her face would light up in the crowd, how much she loved the attention, the acknowledgment, I decided to make it a staple.  Every other day of the month we are mother and daughter; but once a month, we would transform into Divas.

Putting her in cute outfits, and jeans and a t-shirt for me, we would go and parade around the downtown streets, enjoying the wares and stares, proving that no matter how young you are, you can be a "diva" too.

But today's Diva Night is a costumed event.  I got my daughter's costume earlier last month.  As she will don an elephant costume, I planned to gladly be the accompanied clown in our circus of life.

But today, I'm not feeling too diva-ish.  Long nights and early mornings are been making me reassess my need to want to go out tonight.  I began to question, was it Kayleigh who really enjoyed Diva Night, or did I want to so desperately prove to myself, and anyone else who sees a single mother and daughter, that we can have fun as well?  If I were to put on my clown makeup tonight, what would be hiding under it?  A person who is happy to engage with the crowd of baby boomers (most of the participants of "Diva Night" are a little up there in age.  They're divas nonetheless though!), or someone who wants to fight the perception of what a single mother should be?

Diva Night isn't until hours later, and I have time to decide.  But regardless of whether I go or not, my daughter will still have her costume to wear for Halloween, and she'll shine either way.

Stay Encouraged

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stop Comparing Yourself

Dear Bloggers,

There are a lot of things that can stop you from progressing in life, and a large majority of those things are from our own doing.  One of the things that I have had to struggle with, while pursuing this new direction in my career, is with comparing myself to others.

When I first decided to make this change in my life I did as much research as possible.  I bought books, studied, and also looked at the background of some of my favorite movers and shakers in the business that I'm trying to get into.  I felt like I was ready, and once I sat down to start working (to get into the business) that's when all of the knowledge of these people began to haunt me).  I began to look at their credentials and their career choices and began to doubt my own abilities.  So many of these people came from Ivy League schools, and even though I cherish the degree I got from the University of Illinois, would it measure up?

I then began to look at their work and began to get scared.  These people are geniuses, could I even measure up?  I began to look at my work compared to theirs and feel as though I wasn't clever enough, smart enough, don't have enough obscure references that only people from Harvard would get.  But why would I?  I didn't go to Harvard.  Is it too late for me to apply to their grad school program?  Maybe I can get an in with this profession this way?

After talking myself into a tizzy (and crying in the shower, so my tears will blend in with the warm water that came crashing down on me) I began to realize that by comparing myself to others made me almost talk myself out of my dream.  I've dreamt about this since I was a child, but just started pursuing it the last few years.  I've made amazing steps toward it, and I'm not about to allow myself to stop me.

I don't know how long it will take before I get to join "the team" of professionals that I look up to.  But I do know that when I do, I won't need to compare myself, because within that "team," I will always stand out as "me".

Stay Encouraged

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Encouraging Yourself

Dear Bloggers,

You know that great friend that you have?  You know the one!  The one that will lift you up when you're feeling down, affirm your greatness when you're questioning your own abilities, and talk you off of your emotional ledge when you feel as though you've talked yourself into a tizzy?

Well, that's me, and most likely you as well (I like to think that the people who read my blog are nice people, not ultimate douchebags).  I always find the dynamic of being able to help someone with either just listening, or helping them to maneuver their own way through their emotional hills to be an empowering experience;  but also a sad one at the same time.

For the life of me I'll never fully understand why some of the very intelligent and encouraging people in my life will doubt their own abilities to greatness.  I find myself with the desire to have them look in the mirror or their past work and let them see all the things that I see.  Why can't you see how great you are? 

It's not until having one of the many talks with my sister Kelli that I realized that I was doing the same thing to myself.  I'm going out on a limb with my life and my career and hoping, praying, and working toward getting to my goal.  But, I have my moments of wanting to stop, because of the fear that I'm not good enough, or "how could I compete with the same people that I look up to?"  Fearing the silence that comes with waiting on either an acceptance or a rejection, I found myself needing the reassurance of the people close to me that I can do this;  I am worthy of pursuing this dream, and being reminded that I am good at what I do.  Why can't you see how great you are?

I realized that though I'm a great friend to others, I was an ultimate douchebag to myself (...that felt very weird typing that out...).  I would be so loving and caring to my friends' and family's problems, but with my own I would be the person who would not only bring up my insincerities, but encourage them.

I know that as humans we have a tendency to be harder on ourselves than anyone else, but sometimes we need to allow ourselves some grace.  We need to know that we are worthy of reaching, seeking, and accepting our dreams.  You were giving that drive, that motivation, that talent for a reason, and it's not fair to yourself to ignore it.  It's also not fair to me to tell everyone else but me.

I have a date with my mirror.

Stay Encouraged!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Three Lefts to Go Right

Dear Bloggers,

There are times when thinking about America's history can sometimes freak me out.  When you boil down our history to the essence, it's essentially a land that was built on the blood, betrayal, and tears of so many innocent people.  It's unfair to think that the strong survived, because they did so with such tyrannical methods, but these horrendous acts are what make up the genesis of the United States.

The reason why this can sometimes concern me, especially on this day, Columbus Day, is that my mind constantly goes back to the saying that "history repeats itself."  As time has progressed I know that there have been laws, treaties, conventions and doctrines to try to prevent the past genocides from happening again.  The United States has built itself up where we're not afforded the luxury of  such poor decisions, but has built itself up to be a stronger, more prosperous union.

Though no one is perfect, and disappointments will inevitably come, history doesn't necessarily have to repeat itself.  But, my concern that people can so blindly go along the grain to avoid persecution, while inflicting pain on the innocent still holds firm, and is what essentially what caused me to go in a different direction than I expected.

My life has changed so drastically since my last personal post.  I've never been one to be ashamed of whatever direction my life has went down, but I'll admit that it was hard, initially, to realize that the last time I wrote I was very much married and in love.

As true as those feelings were, the feelings you begin to feel as a union is beginning to wind down are very much true as well.

As open of a person as I am, I'm not too keen on discussing things when they're happening, and I found myself trying to find peace, encouragement, and solace on my own.  I ventured to go the easy way, going with the grain, to avoid the verbal assault from those who question the actions and behaviors of single mothers.

My daughter, in all of her adorableness, was ever present to the journey.  Not really knowing what to say, or really knowing what was going on, she was able to be a compass for me.  Allowing me to see a direction that I should go down that I was initially too afraid to.

While assessing if I was able to do everything on my own, I realized that I was in a situation that was no longer about me.  It was my child.  I wasn't afforded the luxury of just sitting back and blindly following with the way that I felt I was supposed to go, because my daughter would essentially be the victim of a history that was slowly being replaced with hurt, anger and pain.  I didn't want that to continue to be her present, and then go on to be her future.

So, I left.  Leaving the pain of a love that once was, to venture to the unsure future that is "single motherhood," I have to be honest, I'm happy with my decision.  I have been able to rebuild my life in a way that would allow me to be a stronger, prosperous person; and even though the history of my life has been founded upon horrendous acts, the laws, treaties and doctrines that I have set up for myself has proved invaluable.  I know that history has a tendency to repeat itself, but at the same time, having my daughter doesn't allow that luxury, and neither does my happiness.  

Stay Encouraged, and enjoy your Columbus Day

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When I Knew I Was a Writer

Dear Bloggers,

I've been saying that I was going to start back posting regularly.  I found out about this blog competition:  "Writing Contest:  You Are a Writer," and figured that I would use this to get me back to my blogging roots:

I first learned I was a writer in first grade.  After living through a lot of the craziness in Mobile, Alabama, my mother moved her, myself and three siblings to East St. Louis, IL, in an effort to get our lives back on track.

We moved in with our grandmother and the host of other relatives and foster children that lived there, and I started going to elementary school.

As a child, I've always had a bad habit of procrastinating and this time was no different.  My teacher told the class that there was a mandatory writing competition for first graders up to fourth graders.  It was optional for fifth and sixth graders.  But everyone had to have their "Young Author" books in by a certain date.  In normal Kendra-fashion, I put it off, telling myself, "I'll get it in in time."

On a Friday the teacher reminded the last two of us in the class who hadn't turned in our books that we had the weekend to finally finish our stories, but they had to be turned in on Monday.

I got home that night, did my homework and decided to leave the book to do on Sunday.  I had important things to do, like watch cartoons, or "The Love Connection" with my grandmother.

Monday morning I woke up feeling extremely refreshed, and before everyone else in the house.  I took a nice long bath, got dressed, ate breakfast, and then sat down and wait for everyone else to get on my level.  When everyone woke up, it was the normal mad-dash of people getting ready and fighting over the bathroom.  Like the boss I felt I was I sat and provided color commentary to all the commotion.

While teasing one of my sisters it hit me like an asteroid:  CRAP!  I FORGOT TO WRITE THAT STUPID BOOK!  Panicked, I grabbed a random notebook that was on the couch and ripped out about five to seven sheets of paper and folded them in half.  Then I went to a corner and just started scribbling down a story.  I didn't care what was on the paper, I just needed something, so I wrote about our move from Alabama.  However, whenever someone in my family came around I would hide the book and pretend like I wasn't doing anything.   When they would try to hold a conversation with me, I would internally yell:  "Get away from me!  I'm trying to do my homework!"

But, I wasn't as smooth as I realized because my mother caught me.  Instead of being mad (which I just knew she was going to be) she grabbed a handful of crayons and escorted me to the car.  When we got to the school she allowed me to sit in the car and color my illustrations.  When I got out, she wished me luck, but also gave me a stern warning of:  "See, this is what happens when you procrastinate.  Don't let it happen again."

I walked into my classroom right when the bell rung, handed my teacher my story and felt like I could breathe again.

I totally forgot about it all until one random morning my teacher told me that she wanted to talk to me during lunch.  That's what she always said to the bad students, and I dreaded what she had to say.  Racking my brain, I panicked with trying to figure out what I did wrong.  Lunch time came and I went to her, lips quivering, slightly shaking, and feeling like I could pass out at any time.  She began to ask me questions about the story.  After I told her my answers she took me to the principal's office where my oldest sister, Amber, was there as well.   They began grilling both of us.  The entire time I'm thinking:  Will they stop asking me questions about the story and tell me what I did wrong, so I can cry and tell them I'm sorry?!  They then called my mother on speaker phone and I knew I was done.  This is it.  They're going to tell my mother I blew up an orphanage.  

While they questioned my mother about if she participated with me writing the book (which she adamantly exclaimed:  "No, that was all on Kendra.  I told her not to procrastinate!  Is she in trouble?")  They finally told me that I came in second place in the writing competition.

A myriad of emotions hit me, like:  Y'all did all of this just to tell me that I came in second?!  It wasn't until they revealed the full magnitude of it that it began to sink it.  The person who won first place was a sixth grader.  So, this first grader, who wrote this book about twenty minutes before leaving to go to school beat out everyone from first grade to fourth (including my two sisters) and the fifth and sixth graders (except for one) who opted to do this?  These students who actually gave time to it, who were tenacious, and didn't sit in a corner fighting back tears fearing that they were going to get caught for procrastinating.  I beat them?!

For some reason I began to feel a peace come over me.  Growing up I had a stuttering problem, and communication was always very difficult for me.  When you have a speaking difficulty, people begin to believe that you have a learning disorder as well.  So I was always talked down to, and made to feel as though I was lesser than my two older sisters.  Also, being the third out of four sisters I was constantly compared to my siblings.  Amber and Kelli were deemed the smart ones, and whenever I tried to expose my intelligence I would get a pat on the back and a gentle push in the opposite direction to let me know that talking wasn't what I was supposed to do.

I knew I had so much to say, but didn't know how I could say it.  It wasn't until I  came in second in that competition that I found where I belong.

Because my school's administration was so impressed by my age, they entered my book in a larger writing competition and it won fourth within the district's.  It made me feel so proud of myself, and validated that I might not be my sisters, but I am a writer.

Stay Encouraged!!