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