I have lived to embrace another year and I welcomed it in style. From the midnight chat with one woman I love, brunch with another, to the minions gif and real encouragement from a third, it has been a lovely day. Good wishes and song from my sisters and my children, messages from friends all over the world and then lovely calming tea and now chocolate in bed – oh yes, it has been a lovely day. Today, we celebrate, eat chocolate, give thanks, ponder and plan to plan. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we fight on.
Another chance to do it all over, to revamp and reclaim. What has not killed me has made me better and yes, stronger. Whatever else happened, I am here. I’m still standing.
I did not make it here alone. There are women who loved me through it in word and in action and I am thankful to them, old friends and new alike, and I can only hope that my contribution to their lives is as impactful as theirs to mine.
Here’s to another year with my tribe. Here’s to power meeting responsibility and birthing realised potential.
I wanted a pic of the cast of Living Single and instead I found the exact thing to inspire me to put into words what I want out of this year:
On food. Eat better. Chips&Russian is my comfort food when work stresses me, and pasta comforts me when life nje just does that thing where it falls apart. I have the jelly belly to prove the folly of relying on white carbs for comfort, and I am over it. This year, I’m eating better. Who knows, I might even start running and weight-training again.
On shelter. Love my home. It’s everything I need though perhaps not what I thought I wanted. I’m grateful for it and this year I want to be a homemaker of note and become the woman my mother raised me to be: the bestest hostess with the mostest.
On career. I’m a writer. It’s taken me a long while to get to the point where I can say that without feeling like a sham, like a fraudster with no shame. I have a job and I’m blessed to be pursuing my career as well. My goal is to eventually merge the two: do what I love (teach) and design and create the programs I teach (write). This is the year I do the work. All of the work.
On sex. If you know me at all, I don’t need to explain the last. Unlike the first three, this isn’t up to me alone, but it’s still a goal because you know what? I have work to do before I can have the sex I really want: great sex with a man who loves me, wants me, chooses me, and with whom I can be my highly sexed and super loving self (TMI? JBS *just be strong). The best sex happens when the intimacy is real and deep and goes beyond just the physical. I know this. So I’m determined to not just hold out for exclusive commitment but to actively become the woman that the kind of man I want can commit to, exclusively.
Today is the first day of my new year. I’m going to do brunch, I’m going to get ready for a new week and a new school term, I’m going to do all of the things I need to do, but I’m committing, today, to doing the REAL work, to not just saying I’m bawse, but to being bawse which gifs and memes aside, really is easier said then done. It’s gonna be hard I know, °but something tells me good things are coming and I ain’t gonna not believe…
I’m taking my person somewhere exoticall for my 40th, and I know I won’t do that if I don’t ‘werk’. She’s my rock, my strength, my inspiration, my drive, my peace, my joy; like my children, she’s why I want to do better and be better.
And so it begins. Happy new year sun goddess, make it count.
Unreserved, unrestrained, his love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed – his love is proud to be seen with me. Uncontrolled, un-contained, his love is a fire burning bright for me.It’s not just a spark, it’s not just a flame, his love is a light and all the world will see.
His love’s not fractured, it’s not a troubled mind; it isn’t anxious, it’s not the restless kind; his love’s not passive, it’s never disengaged, it’s always present, it hangs on every word we say.
Love keeps its promises, it keeps its word, it honors what’s sacred ’cause its vows are good. His love’s not broken, it’s not insecure, his love’s not selfish, his love is pure. -adapted from Pieces, Amanda Cook
Only God can love like this. And only a man living for God can love a woman who is loved like this.
There are women who are traitors to the cause. The cause is self-actualization for black women.
Traitors are women who serve patriarchy by oppressing other women;
women who fail to support, nurture and encourage greatness in other women;
women who sell themselves cheap, for the price of dinner, say, and nothing more, barely any cost to the man yet we grew up knowing that a man had to prove his worth before sexual access was granted, let alone exclusive sexual access.
Now? Thirsty thots everywhere you look, ruining the game for all of us and teaching men that all they have to do is ask and sex will be granted.
Women began failing when they began wanting to fuck like men;
when they lost the sense their mothers and grandmothers gave them.
Women began failing when they stopped insisting that they are precious, to be treated well;
when they stopped believing that sex is a sacred act intended to grow and sustain a deeper intimacy between committed couples.
Women began failing when men and media convinced them that there was no need to set high standards regarding who could access their homes, their hearts and their bodies, not to mention their wallets.
Women began failing when they stopped questioning what it is that makes them open up (homes, wallets, bodies, hearts) when they are not getting the same exclusive access in return.
Standards set by women matter. Why?
Because men will only become ‘real men’ when their desire for copulation with anything in a skirt is tempered and ultimately destroyed by their drive to protect and provide for one woman whose respect and admiration they value. Men do not settle for women they cannot love and whose respect they do not value.
Finding a man to sleep with is easy as pie. Finding a man to live with, a man who will add value and make your life richer in almost every way, that’s another story.
Finding a man is easy, finding someone to scratch the itch and quench the thirst is easy; finding a loving man to be a complement to you and your life, to share the burdens and joys of life and not just hard-won orgasms is a whole different ballgame.
Women who set low standards mess up the game for all of us. Men will evolve only as far as the women in their lives demand. If men don’t need to do anything to get laid except ask, then men won’t commit. Why should they when there’s easily accessible punany all over the place?
Think about it. You’re easily accessible punany and you call yourself liberated talmbout ‘needs’ and so forth, but are you counting the cost in spiritual, emotional and yes, even financial terms?
Are you really happy with your current situation or are you afraid to examine your choices too closely in case you find that in fact you’re driven by fear, by media’s popular notions of coupledom as pointless?
Do you really think you deserve nothing more than to be screwed and left by random men?
If you were to demand more for yourself in terms of your sexuality and how you express and enjoy it, what would that look like?
The best part of a natural hair journey is the knowledge you get about yourself. You examine your own perceptions of beauty. You find your own beauty inside, and while you enjoy compliments (who doesn’t?) your need and desire for external validation decrease dramatically. You are a black woman, and like your hair you reach outward and upward, embracing the world and your place in it. Natural hair perhaps more than anything else is the one thing that tells the world who you are and what you’re about, and thus loving your natural hair becomes a political statement about personal growth that the whole world can read.
The woman who relaxes her hair is saying something about herself and her world. So too the woman with a brush cut. And the one with dreadlocks. Yes it’s just hair, yet every single black woman, regardless of how she wears it, has a story about and an emotional connection to her hair and to the story it tells about her.
In 2014 Reuters reported that Africans spend US$7bn annually on wigs and weaves. Hair matters, it matters a great deal. Whether it’s horse hair, 100% synthetic hair, or 100% human hair; whether its yours because it grows out of your scalp or yours because you paid for it, hair matter, and it matters a lot. Whether you hate it or love it, the bottom line is that yes it’s just hair, and yes it matters.
I met a beautiful woman last week. Gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous. Her hair is cut very low, and she is so comfortable in her skin that her self-love is an aura around her, beautiful and authentic. Her story around hair and beauty is about how much she loves herself, because every woman has a story about hair and beauty whether or not they recognise it as such. We had a brief chat about hair, and I was so happy to meet a black woman who has accepted her natural beauty and fallen in love with it. Her skin is beautiful: clear, not a blemish or pimple in sight, and glowy with melanin and pure joy. Looking at her was such a pleasure; she may have caught me staring, gazing rather, when I sat down to lunch with her. I hope not. I may even have been gushy in her presence. My point is, hair is just hair but it’s also much, much more than that. You see, once you love and accept your hair as it is, and accept what it can and can’t do, you’re that much closer to true self-love and from there, mental emancipation follows naturally. You cannot love yourself and choose bondage, but perhaps that deserves its own post. The woman I’m talking about encapsulates black beauty so perfectly, her love for herself and how she expresses that in her self presentation is inspiring and a delight to witness. She’s winning all day, because she has set her own standard of beauty and is living up to it, regardless of what anybody else might say.
There’s a reason why the coloniser and the slaver set standards of beauty that taught black people to hate our melanin and the coils and kinks in our hair. The reason is that once a black woman learns self-love, she becomes unstoppable. Worldwide black women are waking up, one melanated queen at a time, and the world was never ready. #staywoke
We’re coming, and we’re coming for everything. Every. Thing.
Luck is never more elusive than to those who need it most, just as it never rains but pours for those without shelter. Lord, but why is this my life? What a dreadful way to end the year from hell. And y’all thought 2016 was bad.
Every birthday is a milestone for me and as the next one approaches I’m beginning to evaluate my year. You know, #monitoring&evalution things.
In the past few weeks I have managed to piss off a total of three men who, in their various ways, expressed a desire to ‘be with’ me.
I’m just over here praying like really God, REALLY?! Can a girl catch a break and be found by a Transformer? This Decepticon storyline got old waaay back (thank you LS for that gem 😘).
Anyway. In the interests of #doingbetter in my new year I asked myself, what did I do wrong? I asked myself that question because you know, #selfimprovement.
After much introspection, I have concluded that I did nothing wrong. I was just myself. Because I believe in #femrising, open living, and in serving as a teaching aid for #squad (things ‘just happen’ to me so somebody might as well benefit), I’m going to tell you what I did.
N.B: I have recently come to the conclusion that I am a dating idiot and so if you can help me, please do.
Here, in no order of importance, the tales of dating shenanigans:
Man No.1 did something that upset me. I’m still upset when he tries to start a conversation a couple of days later. I remind him that I’m upset and why, and that his apology was lack-lustre. Because you know, men aren’t mind readers, dumdums that they are. *eyeroll.
His response? ‘Let’s move on.’
You KNOW what I did next. I laid into him like I was his mother and he tracked in mud just as I got done polishing the kitchen floor!😂
Our conversations now are limited to the hey/hey/later type of exchanges because I’m still upset and he keeps telling me to ‘let it go.’ Nigga don’t try me cos I’m this close to letting your insensitive self-centred ass go.
Man No.2 asked me to commit to him exclusively because he’s committing to me. Sounds good, right? He’s smart, well-read, funny, gainfully employed, I mean he could get it…but here’s the thing: I’ve been on one date with him, a coffee date for that matter. How’re you going to all but propose on the strength of ONE date though? I get that most people can tell if there’s gonna be a second date or not, so can I, but er, nigga slow down, let me catch up, mmmkay? This is not the Patty Stanger Show, nor is it an episode of Love At First Sight. I knew as I said ‘Can I think about it?’ that I’d never hear from him again.
Part of me wants to say to him ok, let’s do this. But the other sensible part of me reminds me that although I’m past that age of dating for six years before marrying, I’d still like to know what I’m getting myself into before handing over the keys to the chastity belt. Men who think that’s asking for too much creep me the pharck out.
Man No.3 is married, so for me conversation about anything beyond friendship was pointless from get-go. He asks me to reconsider. No. Please? No.
I tell him I’m offended that he thinks I’m worth nothing more than second place. No, that’s not what he means.
Oh, it isn’t? So you’re not propositioning me to help you cheat on your wife? No, he says, not like that.
Me, with one eyebrow raised: Tell me please what exactly it is about me that says ‘Mistress Material?’
He explains: he doesn’t want me to be his mistress, he knows I’ll never accept because I’m too ‘feministy’, whatever that means.
Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere, I think. This, I can handle. If there’s one moment I recognise it’s the one when a man makes a pitch for casual sex. They’re never overt about it because if you’re asking a woman to let you tap you can’t exactly come out and say it like that, right?
He says: I’m just saying, I think we’d be great together, you know. I know you feel it too. Give me just one chance. The unspoken subtext is: let me tap once and I’ll leave you alone.
So let me get this straight. You don’t want me as a mistress because I’m whatever, but that same whatever has convinced you that all I’m good for is a one-night stand, if that? I’m pretty sure he was thinking of a quickie in some God-forsaken (literally) lodge that charges per hour.
I was unable to can.
I am still unable to can.
I’m the girl every man wants to “be with” but that no man wants to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death. It’s not a pleasant thought but then life isn’t particularly pleasant, all told.
So there you have it. The Life and Times.
Remember: I make all the mistakes so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
The most difficult times in a woman’s life are when she is alone. The difficulty lies in the horror felt by a grown woman upon realising that she is facing an endless procession of dreary days without the warmth of affirmation and the comfort of just being, without being approved of as she is. In my view love is not love if it does not come with acceptance.
I have learnt -some might say the hard way- that love cannot exist where there is falsehood. I have determined that when love comes I will have no trouble recognising it because it will be without guile or subterfuge; it will manifest boldly, freely, bodaciously. I believe in love that is unashamed, certain, determined, sure; love that is faithful and loyal, love that chooses to love even through the longest winter and the darkest day.
I’ve complicated love in my past by trying to turn things that were not love, into love. Things like lust, desire, loneliness, fear, co-dependence…those things we hide in ourselves and find in others, things that, unfortunately, form the foundations of our most intimate relationships because we rarely dare to just be who we are. If you think about it, most of our relationships are founded on lies, on things that imitate love because love is hard and doing the easier thing is always, well, easy, which is why we do it so often. Those relationships based on lies and misrepresentation of self are common because everybody settles, as my hero (you know yourself) would say. But with all of that said, I dare to dream.
I dream about real relationships, theones where you don’t have to perform, the ones where you can be random and petty because this is a safe space and they don’t judge, and where you can admit your lack of motivation to do housework and nobody thinks that makes you a bad person because it’s just one more thing to know about you. The conversations in such relationships are free, open, honest; it’s how we talk to our bestest friends. At least, that’s what I think it’s like to have a real best friend, to be someone like Monica and have a Chandler in your life, or Temperance with a Seeley Booth. Someone who can absolutely take all of your love with it’s fears and delusions of grandeur, and love you truly, madly, deeplyin return.
Have you read my writing on love? It’s fantastic. No, I mean it’s fantastic as in improbable, implausible; nonsensical. Well, be that as it may that’s what I want. That implausible, improbable kind of love, the stuff my dreams are made of. I want that and up until very recently, I didn’t realise that I’ve been cheating myself of the thing I really want – to be loved for who I am- by never being who I truly am. It struck me that the reason I have not been loved how I want is that I haven’t always been honest about what I want, nor strong enough to respond appropriately, honestly, when I was presented with things that pretended to be love, but weren’t. I am older now and better loved, and as a result of both I am able to love myself and others authentically.
Living life by performing truth. The world’s a stage and all that.
Well, I’ve decided to play the part I really want to play. If the world’s a stage and life a performance, best believe I’m the star of this show called My Life.
On Writing as Self-administered Therapy
This reminds me of public speaking in high school. Yes; shy, introverted, socially-awkward me who always puts her foot in it by saying the wrong thing- this shy woman was once an awkward but award-winning public speaker. My command of the English language flees in social situations (but not when I’m training, funny that) and I often struggle to express myself when speaking; but the words I write! My God!
You don’t know how therapeutic writing is for me. I don’t do it just for the likes although those serve their purpose. I write because words are my life, the grace that saves me. This is why I’ll write books, and why I’ll once again be a public speaker: because that is who I am. I am the woman who writes, who speaks her passion and lives it, bodaciously. I want to be that woman. I am that woman. In the show that is my life, the part I can play most effectively, most authentically, most truthfully, is that part. In the show that is MY life, that is who I am.
Who are you showing up as, in your life?
I choose to show up as the passionate black woman writer/speaker who loves wildly, freely, deeply, and is loved as much in return.
So yes, it’s difficult to be alone, it is so very very hard, but what’s harder still is trying to turn into love anything pretending to be love. Love cannot be apart from truth, and I would far rather be alone, than be lied to.