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Life Sucks (for now)

life sucksThis time last year I was closing a chapter of my life. After the summer, things got a little dark. I got reckless. I got scared. I got lost. Life sucked and feeling like Dorothy, I clicked my heels together, and drove my happy ass home.

Home was home. It was like pulling on a cozy sweater –extremely comfortable. There’s a reason every great adventure starts when the heroine leaves. Frodo couldn’t destroy the ring from his couch. Harry wouldn’t have become a wizard from underneath the stairs. Katniss couldn’t protect her sister by staying home. I’m a bit tiffed that my point of reference for adventure is overwhelmingly male but you get the point. Change doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable. It’s not a convenience but an inconvenience to the patterns we’ve created. Comfort and change can’t coexist and at some point in your life you’re going to have to choose which one you want. I understand the importance and need for comfort, trust me I do, but if you want to grow, if you want more, if your dreams are too big for the house comfort has afforded you, you’re going to have to get up and create the momentum for change to come into your life.

I was comfortable at home and it was what I needed at the time.  I’m not ungrateful that I have a place to stay, virtually no bills, and awesome parents who care about me. Not at all. It’s a frustration mainly with where I am or perceive myself to be. I’m surrounded by comfort but desperate for change. How do you fix that?

Discomfort isn’t something we should always hide from. Sometimes at the precise moment we feel most uncomfortable is exactly when we need to lean in and dig a little deeper. Sometimes feeling stuck is the exact thing we need to get moving.

I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. We’ve all been through shet and all of it leaves its mark . That’s why I did three things. I wrote “Life Sucks (for now),” a free ebook, designed Life Support, a bi-monthly newsletter, and created the Life Support Forum for y’all. We all need direction, motivation, and support to make the changes we need to live the lives we want. I’m hoping this will help you because it helped me. Sign up for the Life Support newsletter in the upper left bar and get the ebook for free ninety-nine. That’s literally all you gotta do! Who knew the first step to making a change could be so easy?!

MM-Sincerely

Super Tuesday with Neighbors

MM-Super Tuesday with NeighborsI was surprised by the turnout. The Super Tuesday voting line was extending down the street. I knew I had to get out of my car but I didn’t want to. I was scared. The small town I live in is majority conservative and majority white. It’s not like I was advertising who I was voting for but if the last few years have been testimony enough I know by  simply existing I could incite that crowd to violence. But I had to vote. Too many people paid for that right with their blood, sweat, and tears. I had to go.

I walked cautiously towards the end of the line and kept to myself. There was a black woman in front of me and a black man behind me. For a while we were the only ones there. The line slowly started to grow and I kept checking on my car…just in case I had to make a run for it. The strangest thing happened though. I watched as this elderly black couple left the building to get to their car and as they tried to back out, an older white man helped guide them out of the parking spot. Now you might not think this is a monumental deal but they had a Hillary sticker on the back of their van and I had overheard him talking about his admiration of Ted Cruz. He was helpful and the two parties exchanged a wave and a smile as the van sped off. He didn’t return to the line and start spewing hateful grumbles to the other similarly aged white men standing with him. They just talked about their grandkids as the line moved.

The couple two people in front of me took turns holding their newborn and talking about car payments. The dad in front of the woman in front of me was playing with his son. All of the vitriol and hate I had seen on television and social media wasn’t present. These were neighbors who I’m sure I didn’t agree with on everything but neighbors nontheless. I got stopped and complimented on my outfit by older white women who thought I was the cutest thing. One woman asked me to come to her Mary Kay party. A few highschoolers showed up in the lettermen jackets trying to pretend that they were cool, calm, and collected but were obviously excited that they had a chance to vote. I became less concerned with who the people standing around me were voting for and more interested in who they were.

We talked about shows, our families, our vocations, our travels, and more. We all shared and we all laughed. When the volunteers announced that they were doing a periodic count we collectively grumbled to ourselves but the weather was nice and we could feel the air conditioning. All the anxiety I had felt in the beginning had all but dissipated. But that changed as soon as we got inside the building. It was a meeting room used for small functions and baby showers. The little boy in front with his dad was asking him about dinner and going home.

“Why are we here? Are you going to vote for Barack Nobama?”

The energy dimmed and the father quickly shushed his son. He never turned around  to talk to anyone after that. The couple with the baby couldn’t stand in line because she was getting antsy.  When it was the mother’s turn,  one of the volunteers asked her what party she was voting for and she tried to whisper but was too far away.

“Republican,” she said audibly but she turned her back almost as soon as she said it. The woman in front of me went next and had the same reaction when she answered, “Democrat.” It was such an odd thing to witness, minutes beforehand we were all laughing with one another. As judgmental as it seems we could all tell who was voting for who but it didn’t seem to matter when we were sharing our lives. We stood, quite literally, as a community but we left scattered and divided.

It was my turn. When asked, I answered. I didn’t turn to see a response or reaction. My feet were too tired from standing in heels for over an hour. I didn’t feel fear the way I did when I got in line but this weird sense of disappointment. I went off to cast my ballot and then I walked out. The line was longer but people were still doing the same thing. They were talking to one another and they were listening. They were laughing. The were sharing. They were opening themselves up.  They were coexisting.

I walked across the street so I could discretely slip into my flats but an older couple saw me anyways. “Smart girls always have a plan b!” The sweet woman who said this was helped into the Ford-150 by her husband, a stern looking man with a Vietnam Vet cap on his head. He tilted his cap and went to the other side. As they pulled off she waved at me. It wasn’t til they turned the corner that I saw the Carson bumper sticker.

I went home with that still odd feeling. I let it sit overnight but I think I know what it was that I felt yesterday. It was optimism. Brilliant, unrelenting optimism. I don’t for a second think that Donald Trump is some benign force that we can laugh off or that his followers are to be taken lightly. We are living in dangerous and terrifying times. But so did our parents and our grandparents and their grandparents. They laid the foundation for the steps we are on now and it’s every generation’s duty to do the same. Go a little further and push a little harder in hopes that our future children and their children can look back in relief that they don’t have to live what we lived.

There have been many pieces written by much better writers than me with much better insight than me on the problems we face as a nation. We are approaching a time that was some of our ancestors’ dream and others’ a nightmare. We are all scared but for different reasons. For people of color, for the lgbt community, for immigrants, for the poor, we are in fear of our lives. We are in fear of our rights being stripped away. We are in fear of being further erased and silenced. I think the conservative white base would like to think they’re afraid of the same thing but without admitting one fatal thing. Their intangible fear is based on the very tangible actions their parents, grandparents, and millenia of ancestry profited from.  They’re afraid of receiving instead of delegating. They’re afraid of being us; of having to reap what generations have sowed. They’re afraid of being erased, of their privileges being stripped away, of their bigoted voices being silenced, without realizing there’s a good reason for those things to be left behind.

We are in a deep shift. Possibly the biggest our young country has ever experienced. The headlines that have come up in the news, the hashtags, the discussion of the history of racism in this country, these are not new things. These are all conversations that we overheard in our kitchens or at church. These sentiments aren’t new but our ability to publicly speak about them without getting dragged off and lynched is. So our voices are much louder but the very people who should be listening only seem to plunge their fingers farther into their ears. How can we change people’s minds if they aren’t willing to listen to ours?

It may be naive, hell I know it’s naive but I don’t believe you change a person’s mind without first changing their heart. People are hardly moved by data or facts, they’re moved by feelings. Effect always follows affect.  There are always going to be opportunists and hate-mongers. They are usually too far gone for anyone to effectively reach them. But the large majority of this country does not live in that world. Prejudice is inherited, it is taught but the only way it’s allowed to grow is with ignorance. The only solution is interaction. Every terribly ignorant thing I got taught in rigidly southern baptist bible studies got dismantled by my interactions with people. It starts with a question that needs answering, a question that sits in opposition to your idea, a question that will not move until you sit with and confront it. Truth always requires confrontation because along with being obvious, it’s also extremely difficult to accept. It’s a challenge but it’s always worth taking.

We are at that confrontation stage now. We’ve watched on in horror at people’s attempts to suppress it, to even kill it. But the truth always prevails. The truth always wins. Change is inevitable. The only option is to navigate how we get there.

We are a nation at war with ourselves because we are a nation in fear of one another. We are paranoid (some of us not without reason). We are reclusive and now more than ever we need to reach out. We can’t wait for it to be right, for someone to say what we want to hear, even for others to listen. We have to reach now, without inhibition and with love, simply because we must. Is it annoying to have to carry the burden of righting a wrong you didn’t create? Of course it is. Is it fair? Hell no. But if not us, who? If not now, when? 

MM-JonStewartQuote

 

SLAY…but first

MM-Slay21516I would hope at this point that I wouldn’t have to offer any further critique, analysis, or interpretation of Beyonce’s, “Formation.” As usual, Bey went wig hunting and did not return home to Blue Ivy empty-handed. She got ALL of us and the message was well received. Slay, in all things you do. My teeny addendum to that is to take care of yourself first.

I have friends all over the world who are killing it. Some are professors in Paris, graduate students, doctors, writers, filmmakers, actresses, musicians, activists, politicians, and mini moguls in the making. I like to think of myself as the Taraji to their Viola because I celebrate ALL of their wins. I’m proud of them, hell the world should be proud of them too. They’re pouring their lives into a craft or a public service and at the root of it all, uplifting people. It’s beautiful to witness. But I’ve seen the underside of ambition as well. The brushing off of mental health issues, the not sleeping or eating properly, the functioning on no sleep for days at a time, the crying, the loneliness. Not to say the end goal is not worth moving through those things but there’s a difference between suppressing them and moving past them. One is about management, the other avoidance.

As woman of color we are often taken for granted and written off. Good isn’t allowable because great is the only way we can get our foot in the door. We make a bevy of sacrifices but it’s time we stop sacrificing ourselves. Make yourself a priority. Turn off social media and turn on the bath. Read. Take a walk and clear your mind. Meditate. Find healthy ways to manage your stress. When the loneliness creeps up (and it always does), call your friends. Laugh, cry, emote, and cleanse your emotional palette so you can be the best you. You are your biggest advocate, ally, and tool but if you don’t take care of yourself you can become a self-directed weapon. Take the time, no, MAKE THE TIME to check in with yourself.

Although a lot of us were raised to grin and bare it for the sake of accommodating others’ needs, you don’t have to. If something is wrong, say so, even if it’s just to yourself. Invest in something therapeutic. Find a zen ritual that puts you at ease and don’t forget that you have people who love you or are probably going through the same shit. It’s easy to get lost in the need to prove yourself, the desire to prove a point, and uplift an entire community. Just make sure you can find your way back to center and if you feel you don’t have anyone to reach out to, reach out to me! You know I’m always happy to listen.
Part of feeling better, doing better, and being better is recognizing that your needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Don’t forget it. Until then, slay on queens.

MM-Sincerely

The Jumpoff Purge: Why 2016 Will Be Dateless

MM-jumpoffpurge11416 (1)Much like my winged eyeliner application, dating did not happen for me until it was way past being fashionable. There are acceptable behaviors one exhibits in the beginning. Dickstractions are common. Flawed decision skills are on display. Low standards are unfortunately at play often without you recognizing it because of aforementioned dickstractions. It’s ok. We’ve all been there. But at some point you wise up. Your standards become higher, your self-esteem soars, and you see your needs with perfect clarity.

It’s a peculiar realization to see that you have more dicks in your gallery after eighteen months of dating than happy experiences.

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I literally have dick to show for it.

Not for lack of trying. I tried just about every venue (even reddit…shutup) just to see what was out there and funnily enough it was the same across the board. I’d hear the words, “I’d kill to have a girl like you,” followed by actions that proved they didn’t. For every, “I wish I had a smart woman in my life,” there was a dick pic to match. At some point I went from sad to jaded and succumbed to the pressure of the dating game. Might as well join them, right? But why? Being complimented or denigrated for the way you look eventually falters into meaninglessness when what you truly want is for someone to see you in complete, flawed totality.  I wanted more. I want more…but I just wasn’t getting it. How is a list of someone’s favorite movies going to prove someone’s long-term compatibility? How will favorite quotes prove if he can handle my demons? How can I tell if he’ll see everything I have to offer if all that he offers are memes and filters? I want more but I feel like modern dating has developed into a game where you accept less. Why?

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Kissing all the boys leads to cooties and more bullshit.

When you’re a pudgy nerd in highschool (basically Tina Belcher), sex and physical intimacy are these romanticized, far off things. They seem exciting and beautiful and they can be. But so often we trade the time spent on pursuing someone worth it for low-hanging fruit. To be frank, fuckin’ ain’t hard.  It takes little to no effort to find, procure, and maintain bootycalls. Sexploration is fun and I encourage it if you’re going to do so safely but it’s not everything. We have to stop acting like in order to be relevant or happy or even successful we must run the “app race.” Every time I talk to friends it becomes less of a conversation about successful matches and more a party of commiseration. If it sucks so much why do we torture ourselves?

I’ve been asking myself that for the past year. Is it worth it to be tired, jaded, and burnt out for the chance of a few fun dates? Is it worth my time and energy to go through countless interactions that I hate in order to find a few good ones that might pan out? The romantic in me wants to believe so but the realist knows I need to take care of myself. I’m giving myself and yielding no returns. It’s easy to find an interested party but I also want someone who will challenge me. I want to grow with someone. Do you really need to have  your phone flooded with random numbers or do you just need one person who matters to call you? Do you want a shit ton of first dates or just quality ones?

When every conversation devolves into a, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” situation it becomes more of a transaction than a relation.  I’m not looking for some noble Galahad to come and save me, I’d just like for someone to talk to me who isn’t blatantly staring at my chest or looking at his phone or calling his mom to tell her he met her future daughter-in-law…did I mention I’ve been on some bad dates?

Even though I came to the game late, I often wonder if I even showed up to the right one. Dating has changed drastically over the last five years. Like bad sex, it seems more aggressive, less focused, and based in mimicry. Instead of a quest to find the right one it’s become a f*ckfest for all the “ones” along the way. People care less about pursuing mature relationships but maintaining bachelorettehood into perpetuity.  How many people can you get? How much attention can you maintain? How many compliments can you leverage? How many hilariously bad dates can you go on? It’s flighty. Instead of buying into a person and committing to them we window shop. We walk from display to display, we try them on, we walk around the store with them, we test them out and when they no longer hold our attention we move on to the next one.  But you know how you shouldn’t go shopping on credit because you’ll spend what you don’t have? The same applies to dating. You can’t date on credit. You can’t give what you don’t have. 

That’s why this year is dedicated to a cutie named moi. Dating can be fun but it hasn’t been for a while. I love love so I often get lost in it. It’ll come around or I’ll find it when it’s time but for now I’d just like to enjoy being 25. I know what I want. Genuine connection. Conversation instead of gimmicks, understanding instead of histrionics, calm instead of calamity, plans instead of whims, commitment instead of emotional detachment. I know these things are not hard to find because I see them in so many  of my loved ones’ relationships. But I’m not going to force a timeline or drive myself crazy over it. I deleted every irrelevant out of my phone. I took down all my dating profiles. I’m sticking to my guns but  I’ll need y’all to hold me accountable because THE.THIRST.IS.REAL. When it gets rough, like tall, lumberjackesque ginger rough, I’ll remind myself of this year’s mantra:

So what about y’all? Are you taking a dating fast? Waiting? Or skipping in line? Let me know in the comments! As always, feel better, do better, and be better!

MM-Sincerely

 

Toxic Trick: Identifying Rotten Friendships

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  Toxic? Let’s Detoxify 

     Don’t act like you never saw that Apprentice clip or Vivica on The Real. I hate to use derogatory language toward any woman but let’s face it, we all know a toxic trick or two. How does one define a “trick” you might ask? It’s fairly easy.

     A trick is someone who will smile in your face and lie on your name behind your back. A trick will claim that they love you while trying to steal your joy. Require further illustration? Let me help you out. Years ago I was at a club with a few close friends. Nothing out of the blue. Summer heat, Rihanna’s blaring, drinks in hand, we’re all having a good time. In comes a guy a friend had been talking to. She breaks off to talk to him while the rest of us watch on. Now keep in mind this girl’s “best friend” is also present. She is the living example of a trick. She watches as our friend flirts with her guy and heads over to them. Before long she’s in between them and not soon after her tongue is down the guy’s throat. Being the bleeding heart I am, I walk over to my friend with my bestie ready to throw bows. She tells us it’s ok, that her friend was only helping her.

Dr. Who whaaaat reaction

Yeah you read that right. She was so sure that this person who displayed crappy behavior fairly regularly was looking out for her, because that’s what friends are supposed to do. But she wasn’t a friend, she was a trick. We found out later that her friend slept with her crush that night.

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Identify A Trick

     So how can you avoid this? First you have to be able to spot a trick from a mile away. There are four easy steps to finding out if this person has the best intentions for you.

  1. She forms attachments too fast and has boundary problems

     After an hour of knowing her you know way more intimate details about her than you care to know. She seems to have a terrible sense of self-awareness and will attach to you quickly. Everything you do is great or funny. She may even refer to you as her bestie when you’re still acquaintances.

  1. She has no friends or extremely shitty ones

     I used to not judge people for being loners and I still don’t. A trick is not a loner, a trick is usually high on the fumes of her own self-delusion. Their friends will either be people who don’t reciprocate the sentiment or take extreme advantage of her. She continues the cycle by taking extreme advantage of them. See what I mean? Shitty. If she is without friends, that should send up another red flag. Other relationships are a window into what yours could potentially turn into. If they all look busted as hell or she mentions any variation of, “females are too dramatic, I prefer guy friends,” steer clear.

  1. Talks and never listens

     It is a well established fact that I talk a lot. I started a damn blog so I could talk even more! But I’m well aware that my friends always need a listening ear and good friends provide that. Tricks do not. The same woman who told you “females” are dramatic is more than likely a tornado-cum-shit storm of histrionics. She will tell you all about her terrible relationships, her shitty job, her crap roommate, her bad haircut, her dreadful day, her turbulent childhood, and her horrible family before you even sit down. She will tell you these things because it benefits her but unlike in healthy friendships, she will not stop or take the time to really listen to your bad shit. She’ll just keep going along, fishing for compliments and encouragement along the way until she gets her fill and then she’s out. She’ll either physically leave the conversation or check-out mentally. Everybody has their bad days so if this happens once or twice don’t pay too much mind to it. But if it’s been a year and she barely knows your last name? Drop that ass off at the curb.

  1. Talks Behind Your Back

     Everyone does it to some degree but if you are getting word from near strangers about atrocious statements being made about you and you’ve done nothing to warrant them? Dropkick a trick. Cut her loose before she drags you down an even more emotional draining rabbit hole.

  1. Her Middle Name Isn’t Taraji

     Does she celebrate your successes or does she try to downplay your triumphs? Does she support your efforts or does she try to persuade you to focus on hers first? Does she distract and talk you out of doing the things you want? When you’re winning, does she stand up and applaud? Real friends have your back. True friends will be as enthusiastic for your dreams as you are. Good friends support you. The only word for a person who doesn’t is an enemy. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

How To Confront

     But what about those of y’all who got the memo late and are already in toxic relationships with tricks? How do you confront the issue?

     If we were dealing with adults with some kind of emotional structure I would tell you to be honest, to be fair, and to be tactful. But we are not dealing with adults. Truth is to a trick what water is to the Wicked Witch of the West. “TTs” don’t understand the truth because they’ve yet to confront it in their own lives. They don’t mess with it and well…you’ve seen the havoc it’s wreaking. Your main priority is you. Close your eyes for a minute and imagine your leg gets caught in a poisonous vine. It grows rapidly and at this precise moment is already to your knees. To your left there’s a machete and to your right some supergro fertilizer. Seems like an easy enough choice, right? Nope. In reality, toxic people are poison and yet so often we allow them to creep and grow until they’re sucking the life right out of us. You don’t have any more time to waste being miserable. Cut it off. Even though you may want to act up, don’t. Do not expend anymore emotional energy on this person. Be blunt, not brutal. Be assertive, not angry. But know this, a trick is essentially an emotional vampire. They feed off of your energy and will do anything to get more out of you. They may bring a whole new level of drama. They may beg. They may even start acting better. But what they do is no longer your concern, so let them go. Cold turkey. Do not give these people access to your life. They don’t deserve it and most importantly, they haven’t done anything to earn it. Put those boundaries up now and realize there will be resistance from both sides. It will seem a heck of a lot easier to fall back into the old status quo but stay the course. Good things don’t come easy and you deserve to have a toxin-free environment.

How to Prevent

     If you’ve ever found a mouse or roach in your home what was the first thing you did? You set a trap, you got some spray to keep their friends from joining them. What is TT Raid? Boundaries. Be upfront about your boundaries in all relationships. If people know they can push you, they will. Don’t give them that opportunity. Give new people an “observation” period before deciding to proceed into friendship. Don’t test them because that’s also another toxic behavior but watch how they react to things. How do they talk to you? Is their concern genuine? Do they have an agenda? Pay attention then make the judgment call. Last but not least, stay in your lane. In the words of the great poet, J.Cole, “don’t save her [if] she don’t want to be saved.” Bleeding hearts like me always want to help people but before you throw your hand out to lift someone up make sure the person grabbing onto you won’t be pulling you down.

What do you think? Have you experienced toxic tricks before? What’s your advice on how to handle them? Subscribe and leave a comment below!