The Forgiveness Secret

Love doesn't hurt you.  But people do. It is inevitable that when you have a relationship with someone as a friend, lover, or family member that you will get hurt.  We are flawed human beings trying to live together in some sort of defined relationship - how we relate to one another. Yes, I've been hurt my fair number of times.  Those twenty-something years were full of painful lessons that taught me to become the fierce and fabulous lady I am today.

Those lessons also taught me how easy it is to forgive.  You must admit to yourself that it is much more difficult to stay angry and resentful towards someone than it is to move on with the relationship or to move on with a peaceful life without the relationship. If you truly search your heart for how you feel, you are probably not angry. You are hurt. Because you are hurt, you want to remain angry and put sufficient energy into to doing that.

I am an ambassador of God's love.  As a child I was empathetic towards everything and everyone around  me. When someone else hurt, I hurt with them.  When someone was sad, I cried with them.  As I grew up I worked hard to change this trait in me because it allowed for family and friends to take advantage of me.  The guys that dated me during that transition really paid the price.  I was a bundle of unforgiveness.  One wrong move and I tossed you out on your matter how fine it may have been.

Since then, my life has come full circle and I have learned to embrace who God has made me. He has made me Love. Yes, I get angry and hurt. But very quickly, the love that is in me takes over and I have forgiven.  What's the secret? Focus on today.

If I focus my thoughts and feelings on today, it is easy to forgive. I may have been angry with you yesterday but today you have done nothing for me to be angry. So I am no longer upset. And because I ignore my ego that tells me to "hold my own" or "stand my ground" I can easily let it go.  It's called a tressPASS so let it pass with the day.

It's easy to forgive when you are not worried about what the other person is thinking. Will they think I'm a push over? Will they take advantage of me in the future?  Those things are not in your control. Forgiveness is.

Teach Me How To Love

"Teach Me How to Love" by Musiq Soulchild is one of my favorite songs.  The first line is "I was always told the true definition of a man is to never cry". He goes on to say that he doesn't know how to surrender his heart to love. He knows his relationship is broken and misaligned but he really does not know what to do to love his woman the way she needs to be loved.

Kamryn Adams
This is a tricky situation for the ladies because we love harder and stronger in a more demonstrative way and often want this same demonstration in return. Do men love us hard and strong?  They most certainly do. But the demonstration of that love can be clouded by experiences from the past or even messages and circumstances from their upbringing. Believe it or not ladies, a man's ability to handle emotional pain and disappointment is nowhere close to ours.

You can give a man almost everything he asks of you, food, strength, shelter, sex, confidence, laughs, intellectual conversation but the one thing you cannot give him is the ability to love with courage.  Loving with courage means that we have faith in the power of the relationships, not necessarily in the person.  Though that line is thin and blurry.  We can often confuse our belief in our relationship destiny with the belief that the person will never hurt us.  That's not a promise in any relationship.  A good friend recently said, "We are not perfect people so there are no perfect relationships." True!

The truth is that our ability to love comes from God because God is love.  In the book of John, the bible says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  We sometimes fear in love because we know that we are not perfect. Women and men alike can have this fear. But, men have a harder time dealing with it by nature.

We also fear in love because we fear retribution from our past. "...fear has to do with punishment."  We are afraid that because our relationship started a certain way or because of the way we have treated relationships in the past that we are in for our "just due".  But if you truly love someone then you must have the courage to move into faith.  Faith that God, who is love, will keep you and the relationship whole and full of joy.

Mix and Match...Friendship Choices

In close friendships the chemistry between women is much more important that the chemistry between men. For the most part, men can interact with one another with little bias.  They can drink a beer, high-five, watch the game and not really care much about the other guys views as long as he is cheering for the same team. On the other hand, women can get a "vibe" from other women that renders a girls night out into a disaster among divas.

Don't get me wrong. Men require a balance of chemistry, just at a different level than women do.  For instance, a man with a lot of swagger and confidence in the way he does things will choose not to spend time with a "sucker" or "hater".  Outdoorsy guys don't build close relationships with metrosexuals. Notice in these instances that the two personality traits are basically opposing.

In contrast, "there's just something about her" is enough for a woman not to build a close relationship with someone who could turn out to be a loyal friend.  I understand this well, because I have formed many relationships with girlfriends who later tell me that they "had me all wrong".  My personal knowledge of human behavior helps me to move past these initial biases without being turned-off by the person. After all, you guys know my motto. "If I wasn't me, I would probably hate me too."  Consequently, I have chosen some very close girlfriends who I might have never met if I let the first thirty seconds of stank determine our fate.

So we choose to be around people who are like us. Sure, we may have a few minor differences in our circle but for the most part, our crew is tightly linked.  But is that the best thing for our social and emotional development?  Maybe not.

If we insulate ourselves with people who think like us and act like us, then we run the risk of stunting our growth and awareness of the world around us.  Likewise, if we surround ourselves with people of our own race, we begin to lose the ability to interact with diverse cultures and perspectives. Ultimately, the world passes us by and we become rather educated idiots.

You get the most out of life when you mix and match your relationships. You should have friends of different races, religions, and ideals.  And I don't mean the one (white/black/gay/immigrant/single/) friend that comes to your Christmas party every year. I mean someone that you speak to on a regular basis.

The irony in building diverse social relationships is that you begin to realize that human beings have a fundamental similarity in love, health, and happiness. When you build diverse social relationships you broaden your perspective on life....and improve your chances of being POTUS. :-)

He Said, She Said

In the past 30 days, I've been to Brazil, Spain, and Switzerland. That's Portuguese, Spanish, and German language in my ears. Trying to navigate my way through the day with limited understanding of these languages is sometimes exhausting and quite frustrating.  When you are trying to discuss something with someone whose native language is different than your own there are plenty of things that can go wrong.  Likewise, communication becomes critical to keep down the confusion and allow a relationship to move along smoothly.

I don't believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. God created woman from the rib of man. She was created to help him navigate his way in life. Without her, a man never really becomes a man. (Darwinians just go with it, will ya? I'm headed somewhere.)  And despite the skewed notion that God sits on high and sets us up to fail for His personal entertainment, He equipped men and women with the ability to communicate with one another in order to achieve our purpose together. However, it takes some work because our languages, though the same, are very different.  For example, I've been to Puerto Rico and I've been to Madrid. Both Spanish speaking people-NOT the same Spanish. If you are not an international type, think of it as Massachusetts and Alabama. Both English speaking people- NOT the same English.

So here are 5 guiding principals for intergender communication(TM).

#1  Men Can't Hear Women When They Are Emotional
I was discussing this issue with a male friend last week and we both agreed that men shy away from a woman's emotions. Particularly, if that emotion is anger.  Most men tend to be non-confrontational with women. Therefore, confronting a man needs to be a logical and well-thought out plan.  If he has done something wrong and you want him to know it, the best way to approach him is to calmly explain what he did and how it made you feel. This makes for an easier path to resolution and gives you a higher chance of success in meeting the ultimate goal. Togetherness.

#2  Men Think Quietly
Ladies, when your man goes quiet in the conversation. Let him be quiet. He is either 1) trying to think up lie which you will immediately know is untrue so don't sweat it 2) considering what you said and formulating a thoughtful response, so appreciate it 3) completely ignoring you and thinking about something else, so forget about it.  In any case, continuing to talk at him at that moment will be useless and you can use that time to do something else more productive.  Let him think about it and get back to you. CAVEAT:  Ladies when there is no active conversation and your man is quiet DO NOT ask him "What are you thinking about?"  The answer is probably "nothing" because he is absolutely, positively not thinking of a damn thing.  He's just not talking because he has nothing to say.

 #3 Women Think Out Loud
Men need to understand that sometimes when a woman is talking she is merely talking through her options. It doesn't necessarily require a response from you. Many times you happen to be in the room while she is talking, but she is not necessarily talking TO you.  So let her talk it out and respond only when requested. But, be sure to add in some "uh-hu" and "mmm hmmm" in critical moments to let her know you are listening. AND you should be listening even if we are only talking AT you.

#4.  Women Talk in Real Time, Men Respond on a 7 Second Delay
Guys, when a woman talks to you about something, she has already thought the whole thing through in her mind.  A woman's words are deliberate and deliverable.  She expects you to respond immediately. For example, when she says, "Honey, the light bulb is out in the garage."  She means for you to change it. Now. I know you probably heard, "Honey, when you get a chance the light bulb needs to be changed".  However, you did not hear correctly.  Get up and change it. Ladies, try to remember he is not intentionally ignoring your request. Your man is operating on a 7 second delay.  Because he tends to do things when he "must" he thinks you are giving him that option.

#5.  Women Say "I love you", Men do "I love you"
Women say. Men do. Women are expressive with words, be they from their own mouths or from Hallmark's Mahogany collection.  Women want to tell our men how we feel and we expect the same in return.  However, men "do" in order to show their affection. Ladies, a man who goes to work everyday to pay the bills considers this the grandest expression of love. Say thank you. He washes your car and buys you nice things because he loves you. Men, please don't think a woman ungrateful if she values the card you gave her more than the actual diamond bracelet in the box that came with that card. She loves it! CAVEAT:  Please realize that a woman views things in this way...doing something FOR me is doing something that you would NOT otherwise do if you were alone. You would still go to work everyday with or without me.  When you decided to go to (law/film/teaching/medical/grad) school or to be a (insert career choice here) you weren't with your lady, so you don't really go to work FOR her.  Just something to think about guys.

There are thousands of ways that men and women communicate with one another.  Choose the one that  gets your point heard, not just the one that gets your point out in the air. In any case, communication is a necessity so keep word and deed. and Tell 'em Kamryn said it.

Read...  The Five Languages of Love

Sugar and Spice, But Not So Nice

What are little girls made of? made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
That's what little girls are made of?

Just when I start to believe that it is becoming passé to write about the way women treat each other somebody starts acting up in the world.  I was standing in the line at the grocery store and saw Gabby Douglas on the cover of people magazine. What a cute little girl! Gabby Douglas was born in 1995. So, you can imagine my response when I hear of women born before 1975 criticizing her hair while she's winning a gold medal.  Not nice! 

Difficult women are hard on other women. We know this.   But hard on little girls too? Has the competition among women become so intense that there is no longer an age requirement in the game?  I realized joy, confidence, and success at any age is a threat to "not-nice" women.  Gabby Douglas achieved one of her life dreams at the age of sixteen while many women in their 30s and 40s are still brooding daily about not being who or what they wanted to be.  Their tiny minds and miniature esteem cannot accept a little girl being the greatest gymnast in the world. They have to focus on her hairstyle while she's winning because that's the only way they will be able to fall asleep at night. 

Isn't that really why women are hard on each other?  It's not that the presence of another woman bothers difficult women. It's that the presence of a confident and happy woman bothers a not-nice woman.  Success doesn't even really bother this type of woman. If you are successful in work but miserable in your personal life, you will still have plenty of girlfriends.  If you have a great family life, but you are unhappy with your contribution to the world, these women won't have a problem with you either. But if you are happy with whatever your life has become - work, stay-at-home, make money, don't make money, married, divorced, single - you better watch out, my sister.  This is precisely why my motto is this....

"If you love me, I love you.  If you hate me, I still love you because if I wasn't me, I'd probably hate me too."  

I'm well aware that I am hard to be around for many women. They feel competitive and it's hard to compete when you don't know what race I'm running.  You see, I'm running the Kamryn Adams marathon - trying to beat Kamryn Adams.  When it appears like I have failed in some attempt (like I SO cannot sing, but it doesn't stop me from singing) I am still just as happy and pleased with my life. Being competitive with other women is a waste of energy that you could be using to be the best YOU possible.  I'm trying to maximize my gifts and minimize my gaps. So I'll let you in on a little secret... I am not checking for you while I'm running my race.  It is a complete waste of your time to point out my inadequacies to make yourself feel better because when you see me embrace my gaps with a smile, it's going to piss you off even more. 

However, as a "nice girl" I am concerned about how being a spectator at my race may make you feel. I want to uplift other women. I want you to watch my race and start running your own to win. Successful women who work to make other women envious are also classified as "not nice".  You are not a hater but you want to build a hater nation around you.  You need to gain your confidence by making other women feel bad about themselves.  As a "nice girl"  if I know my presence shines a light on just how unhappy you are with yourself,  I will stay away from you because I love you and I want you to love yourself.   It's not my intent to share my life and make you feel bad. I share my life to encourage you because if I can build a happy life, so can you.  When you do, you'll find that you'll be more focused on  celebrating the achievements of other women and less focused the chipped nail polish of a women who threatens  you. 

Great Sexpectations

It is positively amazing to me that people would rather have sex than talk about it.  How can you be embarrassed to have a conversation with someone with whom you are mixing body fluids and allowing to enter your body...or whose body you are entering? Duh! When did society become so distorted that it is easier to give oral sex than to say "I want oral sex". Blow job! Blow job! Blow job!  There are people who are blushing to see the word in print, but will drop to their knees at the sound of the light switch.  

The beginning of good sex is communication. Women, shame on you for not telling your man what you want. Instead of communicating with him, you fake orgasms, complain behind his back, or just shut the sex down all together.  It's not fair to him and it's not fair to you. No one can learn to please you if you don't tell them exactly what you like...and do not like.  Not communicating about your sexual needs is the beginning of what can become a cycle of infidelity and distrust in a relationship. Before your panties hit the floor and the condom wrapper tears open (hopefully) you should have a conversation about your sexuality.

I think more people should talk openly to their children about sex. Early and often. Talking to your children about their sexuality will not make them promiscuous if you explain the joys of sex and the proper placement of sex in their lives.  I certainly wish we all could have followed God's word and not had sex until we were married.  However, you can talk about God's expectations for sex without making sex seem dirty or something "bad girls do". Many women get married and don't know how to be intimate with their husbands for this reason. 

The "bad girl" image doesn't only affect the sexuality of women. Men who have also been programmed during their adolescent that "bad girls" will give it up begin to build assumptions around the sexual needs of women.  If a woman is highly sexual, then she must be promiscuous. This bad girl baggage often follows them into marriage and now they can't perform on their "wife" what they used to do on their "hot girlfriend".  They were raised to seek out "naughty girls" for sex. This causes women to be dishonest about their sexual past (which can be dangerous) and their sexual desires. 

Communication is the key to a long, happy, healthy sex life. Don't be embarrassed to verbalize what you want in the bedroom. Your mate wants to please you. If you can't find a way to broach the topic... Happy Humping!!!!

Becoming One is Not Always Fun

I once heard someone say that building a relationship is like making mashed potatoes.  You take two different potatoes with different shapes and sizes and the first thing you do is scrub them until all of the dirt and debris is removed.  Then you peel off the skin one slice at a time.  At this point the two potatoes are starting to look alike.  After you have washed and skinned them, then you place them in boiling hot water until they soften.  And once they soften up, you take a mallet and smash, smash, smash them together under pressure until you can't tell that there were ever two different potatoes in this one smooth mixture.
Becoming ONE is like making mashed potatoes

"Oneness" take a lot of work.  It certainly feels sometimes like you are being scrubbed, skinned, boiled, and smashed by the trials in relationships and so it's important to remember that every successful relationship has been in hot water and smashed under the pressure. In fact, I've found that couples who seem "perfect for each other" who have magical relationships are simply on the other side of a storm.  They are still hand in hand and whether or not they FEEL head over heels in love, they are true to the commitment they have made to their relationship despite the troubles inside and outside of their sphere.

When you are going through the "oneness" cycle, it can be tough. This is usually the time when your heart feels very little and your mind wants to become disengaged in coupling.  The answer is not to force yourselves together and "make" it work.  Instead, try taking a "breather" first.  This doesn't mean that you need to physically separate, but you certainly need to go to your separate corners mentally and think about why you are together.  During this time do not focus on your mate and your individual wants and needs. During this time, you should focus on the collective vision for your lives.  Where do you want to live? Do you want to take vacations? Work in the community? Drive fast cars? Or host backyard barbecues?  Think about the kind of life you want and how the two of you can build it together.  Whenever I am ready to dive head first off the relationSHIP, I think about how I want to visit and spoil my grandchildren one day. I want to sunset in happy times and drive a 2-seater convertible so young people can wonder why such an old woman has such a flyy car.  And when I am thinking on all of these things, guess what?  I am not alone in my vision. I'm with my mate laughing with wrinkled hands clasped together.  His presence is evident in my future dreams.

Thinking past the current moment of being in "hot water" helps you keep the big relationship picture in perspective.  A critical component of "oneness" is to always have a vision of the future together.  Until you "catch" the vision, you are only as good as the current day - which sometimes might feel like you're a smashed potato.

Love Can Be Like a Box of Chocolates

Kamryn Quote: “Love is like a box of chocolates. There are alot of different flavors to satisfy your taste.”

Some people say that dating outside of your race is a big deal. Some say they have never thought about dating outside of their race. A few lost souls may even suggest that it is wrong to do so. As a lifetime student of this thing called love, I say “it depends”.

Dating outside of your race isn’t as much about skin color as it is cultural background and behavior. If you grew up eating your mother’s fried chicken and collard greens, you may have a hard time marrying a woman whose idea of soul food is potato chips and chocolate candy. (Though surely good for the soul.) If you grew up in a culture where the father is the sole provider and you marry a man who expects you to work, you may have some issues. Sure, these things can happen between people of the same race, but the likelihood that there will be major differences in behavior and mindset are greater in interracial relationships. Sometimes.

Two people coming together brings two worlds together. People were opponents of interracial dating because of ”the children” but I suspect all that has gone away with the browning of America in most intelligent populations. Advocates of dating outside of your race have always said “we’re all the same, regardless of color”. Not true either. If you didn’t have a black mother, you are going to have to adjust to having a black mother-in-law. Trust me! Growing up with a black mother is no day at the spa.

Here’s the deal: Love is the only reason to marry outside your race. Love is the only reason to marry anyone.
Here are 5 reasons NOT to date/marry outside of your race:

#1 You want something exotic.
#2 You are fed up with the men/women in your own race.
#3 You believe the stereotypes of the culture i.e. “All Asian women are docile” or “Black women are sexual beasts”.
#4 You believe dating a certain race elevates your social status.
#5 You want pretty children.

Love is hard enough to find in this world of broken, bruised, and flawed people. I say if you find it, jump! If you find it outside of your race, then that’s where you find it. Whether you choose to date outside of your race or you just can’t shake the flava of your mama’s cooking or your daddy’s swag find love wherever you can. Don’t judge either side of the issue because it’s all a matter of perspective.

Tough Girl, How's That Workin' For Ya?

I absolutely love being a woman.  We are such unique creations of God. We have gifts and strength that men do not possess. We are incredibly valuable to the circle of life. It's unfortunate that all women don't realize how powerful, beautiful, and marvelous it is to be a woman. Instead...they choose to be "other".  To me there is nothing worse than an insecure, petty, manipulative, hate-filled, or drama-filled woman. God help us if one woman possesses all of these traits.
I’ve dedicated the majority of my adult life to helping women get on track. I don't have all the answers but I can use my many mistakes in life to encourage, inspire, and uplift women so they can become all that their hearts desire. However, when I see women who cannot respect the position of another woman, it warrants a good old fashioned…blog post.  Play your position and stay out of my lane because over here… you just may get run over.  
I wish every woman possessed the assurance of self that she could be comfortable in her own skin.  You can’t let the beauty, grace, or spiral curls of another woman provoke you to jealousy or desperation.  Your gifts and talents are yours alone. Celebrate them without infringing on the glory of the woman next to you…or after you. You’re fabulous in your own way. Work it!
In no other situation is this behavior most evident than the “ex factor”.  A broken woman is affected by the ex factor in one two ways. 1) She is in competition with old ghosts and busy showing the ex-girlfriend/babymama her flavor…artificial flavor rather than working on the current relationship. 2) She’s the ex-girlfriend/baby mama that can’t stand to see her ex happy with a new woman so “she wants that old thing back”. Rather than focusing on self-development…lose weight, stop smoking, take a cooking class, she spins her wheels on empty rhetoric to build her esteem only to be let down again. Stop the madness, ladies!
Women need to be real with themselves and check the motivation behind their actions. Those of us without a mask recognize those chicks that “fake it til they make it”.  Those chicks never really do figure it out.  When women mistreat and compete with each other with petty false confidence it’s probably because somewhere along the way they felt unloved, unwanted, and inadequate.  They are unhappy with themselves, therefore, unable to be happy for anyone else.  Not only will this toxicity cause them emotional pain, it will be a repellant to healthy, stable, and fulfilling relationships with friends and in romance. 
Being "bad" isn't about humiliating other women and standing toe to toe with men. Being "bad" is about understanding your power as a woman and your unique talents and gifts.  So you still think that smart mouth and nasty attitude make you the baddest chick?  How’s that workin’ for ya? 

Yo Mama is So...

As a mother of two sons, it absolutely warms my heart to watch NCAA football and hear a big ol' lineman say "Hi Mom" into the camera.  During March Madness the sight of a nervous mother biting her nails and saying prayers while her "baby" is at the free throw line is endearing.  Boys love their mothers and for that I am very grateful. BUT...

Allen Iverson and his mother, Ethel
When you win the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, I don't want to see you holding your mother's hand on the court. You are a grown ass man and at this point in your life your mother should be the foundation of who you have become, not the foreground of who you are. As a fully grown, bill-paying, baby-making man I don't want to see you holding your mother's hand unless you are leading her somewhere NOT her leading you down the tunnel like a five year old. If your mother is young enough to be in the club with you and sleeping with your teammates, I'm going to need her to sit it down and I need you to lead that effort.

Who is Tom Brady's mama? We know about Giselle and Bridget Moynahan but have you ever seen his mother. Is she running around screaming about her baby.  Does she think his moment in the spotlight is her time to shine. Nope! The only reason we have ever seen Peyton and Eli's mama is because she's married to Archie Manning. The only reason we see him so much is because he was a quarter back too and the story is an amazing illustration of talent.

Donovan McNabb and his mother, Wilma
Around the age of three both of my sons told me that when they grow up they were going to marry me. At which point I immediately corrected them. "I am Daddy's wife. You have to get your own wife."  They've been level set since then.   This pervasive sickness of a son who functions as his mother's husband, confidant, friend, and financier has got to stop.  It's embarrassing.   I want my sons to find a wife and get some favor.  I don't expect them to be in love with me for the rest of their lives. I do expect them to love and respect me. But they will hopefully one day have their own lives, one in which I am an admiring bystander and an occasional shot from the press box or segment on ESPN.

Peyton Manning and his WIFE, Ashley
Why do I know these women?  Gloria James, Ethel Ann Iverson, Wilma McNabb and most recently Pamela McGee, JaVale McGee's mother.  This isn't little league where the team mom is to be revered for bringing snacks and wiping noses. These are grown men who should love and respect their mothers. Mothers who should gracefully sit with pride as they watch their sons mature into viable citizens and hold a legacy in the community. If that's asking too much, then simply use his money to develop a life of your own not paralleled with your child's success. If you can't do that, then just sit down somewhere.

By the way, who is Dirk Nowitzki's mother?  She was a famous German National basketball player. I looked it up. And guess what? I couldn't even find a picture. Hmmmmm.  Just in case I was wrong I googled NHL moms and found that the Chicago Blackhawks took the moms on a road trip. That's all. MLB moms, same kind of stuff. So before we start beating down Hollywood on their portrayal of Black motherhood, I guess we may want to check their sources. They just may have googled "NBA moms" and came up with 36 million hits to tweet. Speaking of tweeting. Anyone know Larry Bird's mom?

Is He (or She) Toxic?

Author Lillian Glass, wrote a book called Toxic Men.  I recommend any woman who is addicted to an unhealthy relationship to read the book, understand its content, and change your behavior.  Toxic men have a combination of four traits:

#1 Cause negative emotions in you
#2 Behave badly towards you
#3 Affect your behavior in a negative way
#4 Lower your self-esteem

By Sara Apples

He causes negative emotions in you

All men can get on your nerves at times, but if you find yourself in a constant state of emotional flux you need to pause and consider what the relationship is doing to your psyche and wellness.  My experience with the toxic man caused me great unrest.  I was either really happy or in great pain. It was exhausting. The percentage of time I left his home with a large pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes far outweigh the times I left with a good feeling about our relationship.  But I loved him and I wanted to make it work.  Finally, my emotions became so erratic that I didn't recognize myself.  I knew the relationship was unhealthy for me but I couldn't bring myself to end it.  The memory of the good times (and the incredible sex)  pulled me back, only to end up crying and questioning the relationship once again.  It was a vicious cycle. 

He behaves badly towards you 

We are human and we sometimes hurt each other unintentionally, but constant bad behavior warrants an immediate dismissal.  My toxic man was very critical of me. He minimized my intelligence (as if) and demeaned my womanhood because of my strong personality.  He tried to control me by setting "rules" for phone behavior and selecting my friends.  He lied. He cheated. He schemed. I was blinded by the big "O" and made dumb by the achievement of finding my G-spot.  But eventually even Lebron fouls out and I had to say "Buh-Bye" to Bad Boy. 

He affects your behavior in a negative way

The toxic man caused me to behave in ways I previously found to be unacceptable.  From tapping his phone line to shelling out hundreds of dollars for a private investigator, I felt like I had lowered myself to be with him. Actually, just being with him was a betrayal of my values.  It was demeaning and I felt embarrassed by my behavior.  I'd rather skip the rest of the details on this one. 

He lowers your self-esteem
Okay, so it's no secret I think pretty highly of who God has made me and I like who I am as a person.  So fortunately, the toxic man was not able to lower my self-esteem. Although I did question my true esteem for staying in an unhealthy relationship as long as I did.  A woman can forget how capable she is because a toxic man has duped her into believing that she is worthless without him. 

I felt powerless to end this relationship until one day I simply bottomed out.  It took a few more weeks but I finally just hung up the phone one day and moved on. Sometimes, I think of  the fun we had and the intense romance. It makes me smile. Then I quickly remind myself of the intense pain I felt on so many occasions.  My parents raised a princess, not a piñata.   

The Bad Times in a Good Marriage

Recently I was discussing the book, "With Ossie and Ruby Dee" written by two people who boast one of the greatest relationship survival stories ever. What I love about the book is that Ruby Dee and Ossie are transparent about how they struggled to keep their family together through the years.  From adultery to experimenting with an open marriage, they told their story candidly.  Their story is not so much different than any other couple that has endured fifty years of marriage. (Yes, I said "endured") The difference is that they were courageous enough to tell the story. Kudos to them!

One of the biggest problems in a marriage is the lack of strong relationship peers to help the couple realize that problems in marriage are normal.  Anytime I hear someone speak of the "perfect marriage" I know they are hiding stories of blood shedding arguments, slammed doors, hours of silence, and maybe even a departure or two.  Any couple that says they never fight, probably beat each other with cast iron skillets.  I've found that when people pretend that they have a perfect marriage, it is usually because their marriage the words of Charles Barkley, "Turrible".   If more couples with good marriages were transparent about the trials and work it takes to maintain a family, more couples would have "good marriages".  

I married the best man I have ever known.  His character is of great value to our communities and to our family.  His passion for scholarship in our communities has driven him to help numerous students in pursuit of a college education. His ability to uplift those around us is only surpassed by the manhood and perseverance he has shown in our marriage. He is unequivocally, undoubtedly THE best man I have ever know...and he works my one good nerve.  There are days when I am so fed up with looking at him that if he says, "Good Morning" I am annoyed.  And guess what? In the last 15 years we've been together and 10 of marriage, I am fairly certain he has felt the same way.  We have had problems - to say the least.  

The key to keeping a family together is simple. Well, not really, but it sounds simple.  The difference between people who stay married and people who divorce is that people who stay married...stay married.  Hurt, betrayal, loss, and the pressure of finances affect "good marriages" just as they do ones that end in divorce. There are no characteristics of couples who stay married versus divorce.  For my saints out there shouting "Jesus" - There are Jesus couples that get divorced and non-Jesus couples that say married until death do them part.  But, couples that share an accountability for staying together put their heads down and drive through the storm even when they don't feel like it. 

One of the things that I have found to help with this accountability is a circle of friends - a village - that supports the culture of family. This works not simply because you have like-minded couples to share with, but also because your families are so intertwined that the dissolution of your marriage would impact the village.  It causes you to think before you give up your marriage.  

Ego has no place in a relationship, particularly a marriage.  In a "good" marriage, you sometimes risk outsiders criticizing you for staying together, but as long as the two of you agree that there is something to be salvaged you continue to work together.  Good marriages have bad times. In those times you must remember the old saying, "This too shall pass."  

Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, and The Single Relationship Expert

I would like for a woman who did things "God's way" to tell me how she GOT her husband. I want the story in past tense and I want it to be 100% TRUE.  Don't leave out that you gave him hand jobs and blow jobs while maintaining your virginity.  Don't leave out the frustration and loneliness you felt along the way. Single women, who have never been married and give advice on how to get a man are really starting to annoy me.  How in the world are you writing books and blogs on how to get the man "God's Way" and you don't have the man yet?  You are clowning on God's abilities.

First of all, you don't manipulate God with your behavior. If God still required sacrifices in order to secure our blessings we would be over run by floods, locusts, and fire.  Secondly,  if you've been such a good girl and God honors behavior then why don't you have a man? You clearly want one because you keep talking and writing about it.  You're well past 30 and have never had a serious man in your life, yet you keep talking about how God is going to bring him to you because you are doing things "God's way".  Is God just messing with you? Teasing you? Perfecting you at the ripe (and rather late child bearing) age of 45? You're witness is whack! You need to check out "Am I single because of the Black Church?" 

I was recently called a relationship expert because I've had "tons of boyfriends and two marriages."  Okay, "tons" is bit excessive and "boyfriends" is definitely off the mark.  "Droves" is probably more accurate and "male acquaintances" is best fitting.  I cannot tell you how to have a good relationship because each relationship is different. My interests are not just romantic relationships but how we all relate to one another, in general.  Relationship expert? No. Experienced in dealing with men in friendships, family and romance. Definitely!

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell defines an expert as someone who puts in 10,000 hours or more on a subject.  Dealing with my father, step-father, two husbands, four fiancés, two sons, three brothers, brother-in-law, three godsons, four uncles, eight bosses, six nephews along with the "droves" we discussed above, I have put in at least 250,000 hours with men. I don't know how to braid hair but I grill a mean steak and have a strong opinion on the BCS vs play-off debate.  

So, yes. When I see a woman who has never had a romantic relationship with a man, has no brothers, or relationship with her father proclaim to be a relationship expert it makes me cringe.  Then when you throw God in the mix, making the Almighty look like he is reneging on your good deeds it vexes me. Yes, those of us who love God often try to abide by the rules.  I know I did. But I still ended up having sex with a young deacon on the kitchen table after 7 months of abstinence in our relationship.  It happens!  We break the rules. But thank God that those rules do not determine whether or not we end up living our lives with a wonderful companion. We are human and have many flaws which is why relationships require wisdom and understanding.  Wisdom and understanding that can only be gained by actually being in relationships with others instead of being frowned up on the couch with your bible and hoping Idris Elba pops up at your door.

You Asked For Me, Didn't Ya?

The book of Genesis says that God put Adam to sleep and took out one of his ribs to find a suitable helper for him.  When Adam woke up there was a grown ass woman laying next to him.  Eve was not created as a girl child to be raised by Adam. She didn't need him to tell her what to do. Men, take note. When you find a woman you love, she is (hopefully) what I like to call "good and grown". This means she has a defined personality and has been raised in a manner that you are actually interested in her just the way she is. 

Don't turn this blog post into a religious debate over roles of men and women. Not interested in that at the moment. I am more interested in exploring the needs and desires of single men who are looking for a "good woman".  Recently I wrote about "the list" that many women have.  Men have a list too.  But fellas be careful that you can actually handle what's on that list. 

Women tend to have lists made of characteristics that are unrealistic or unimportant. Men tend to put very real characteristics on the list. You know exactly the kind of woman you want to get, which is not always the kind of woman you want to BE WITH.  For example, men are visual creatures. They want a woman that is pleasing to their eyes. She has to be sexy, beautiful, and enticing.  When you meet her, you admire her body, her smile, her hair and all the dudes in your crew give you a high-five on having a "10". You love it...for a while. And then all the focus on her beauty wears thin. You become annoyed with men looking at her all the time. And if your boys happen to make mention of the fact that she's still a "10" then you look at them crossways. 

Over the years the men who have courted me have been fairly consistent in their assessment.  They pursued me because I was strong and smart, but sip tea with my pink in the air. They loved that I had a big personality and some money of my own. They liked the fact that I loved sports. They could take me to the game and actually have a good time without having to explain the rules, players, and goals.  They loved that I'm fly and loved that they could take me to nice places and have luxury experiences with me. Yep, that's all well and good for a little while. 

Then it goes like this...

I'm strong...but you want me to depend on you.
I'm smart....but you want to make decisions for me.
I'm girly...but you hate that I cry.
I have a big personality...but you wish I would just sit down somewhere. 
I have my own money...but you hate that you can't buy me anything that I can't buy for myself.
I love sports...but you hate that I always want to watch or go to the game. 
I'm fly...but you hate that I shop so much.
I'm fancy...but you hate that I won't eat a hot dog from the corner. 

Suddenly it's all too much. You look down at your rib and realize that THIS is exactly what you asked for and you can't handle it.  To complicate matters more, when you met me I had a man. You pushed and pushed to impress me. You just wanted one drink or one afternoon lunch. You wanted me and you wouldn't stop until I fell madly in love with you. Back then, you knew it was your swag and your masculine bravado that got me. You made the hair stand up on the back of my man's neck and you knew it. But now, your manhood is shaken and you no longer think that you are special. You don't believe that your swagger was my cryptonite. Now you just think I'm not trustworthy and any old dude can come scoop me. And so, you want to keep me locked in a box on a shelf. 

You can no longer enjoy the thing that you thought would make you the happiest in the world because you are worried that you can't keep it forever. Relax, you asked for me didn't ya? 

My Relationship Requirements

Ladies, remember when you were looking for the perfect relationship with a man who would be 100% honest, faithful, and true about his feelings.  Guys, remember you wanted someone who cooked like your mom and sexed you like that chick from sophomore year?   In clearing out my closet for new spring fashions, I ran across my old journals. In one of them I found "the list".  It is dated from my 26th birthday.  So let's see how the 26 year old me was thinking. Shall we?

The List
 1. Know God
 2. Love children
 3. Feel it is his destiny to be with me
 4. Financially stable, make more money that me
 5. Can't mistake my desire to be "sweet" as weak.
 6. Love his family
 7. Willing to explore new things and places
 8. Have a goal
 9. Understand sex is a spiritual act with physical pleasure
10. Willing to lead me, even though I am a strong leader

This seems reasonable enough but let's break this list down using an additional 15 years of experience.

# 1 "Know God" is a silly thing to put on your list. Everybody knows of God in some form or fashion. "Love God" would have been a different requirement and anything about Jesus would have been a bit more discerning.  It is  likened to putting "be spiritual" on the list.  No one actually admits that they aren't spiritual in some form so if you want to get to the bottom of a man's spirit life there is only one way. Observe and don't ignore what you you see.

The same goes for "love children". Since we were all once children, a person that doesn't love children is a special type of person. Children are everywhere.  Unless the person walks around malls, street corners, and restaurants snarled up at the kids, they probably are okay with the presence of children on the earth.  However, they may not want to create one of those little jokers. So "want children" is a better criteria for mate selection.

As for #3, that's just 26 year old drama.  Though some people get married on a whim, most people put a little thought into whom they will marry. Knowing the 26 year old me, what I meant was that this man would feel so connected to me that he would never think of doing anything to jeopardize our relationship. Unfortunately,  over the years I've found that when men are in the most compromising positions the one function that is shut down is the "thinking".  The truth is that people make mistakes. Men nor women intend to hurt their mates.  Hey! It happens.

Financially stable is a good one. Any man thinking of getting married needs to have his financial house in order. Any man that was going to marry me, really had to be financially savvy and credit worthy because I am a stickler about my financial fitness. Make more money than me?  Yeah...damn near impossible at this stage of the game. If I had truly understood my own earning power, I would have never put that on the list.  I'm going to say that this one was a direct result of dating millionaire rappers and athletes at the time.  Next!

#5 I'm not really that sweet so we can skip that one. That was back when I was trying to dim my light and dampen my fire in order to coddle the insecurity of the guys I was dating.  #6 Duh!  #7 - Now this was and still is very important.  I travel the world and embrace many cultures. I love all types of foods and customs.  Yes, I love fried chicken, greens, yams, and mac & cheese.  But I am a huge sushi fan and have taken a strong liking to baba ganoush. Can this detail be worked around? Certainly, but it puts limitations on what a couple can experience together and leaves room for me to have a passionate affair with a Lebanese sky diving instructor.

"Have a goal", #8,  seems like a duh! But with the additional 15 years of experience I realize that this is quite important.  I have so many things yet to do. There is no way I could have been with someone whose idea of life was getting a nice house, nice job, and chilling on the deck. I bet I really didn't even understand this at the time but somehow I lucked into it.

#9 "Sex is spiritual" is such a delightful perspective.  Then you realize that despite our best efforts and intentions, sex slows down in a seasoned relationship and the hot fire is often relegated to drunken date night or vacation sex. Real talk! Though you definitely have times where you get it in, the day to day sex is less of a spiritual occurrence and more of a natural thing to do once the kids go to sleep- if you can stay up for it.  No pun intended.

As for the last one, I'm going to say that even at the tender age of 26,  this was obligatory.  I was looking for a Prince, instead of a partner. Since then the years of toils and trials in relationships have allowed me to realize my own shortcomings and accept the shortcomings of my mate.  "Happily ever after" takes work and sacrifice. It takes forgiveness and understanding.  Making a list of what you want in a mate may guide you to a person but it will not make the relationship road any easier to navigate. People grow and change. If you are a "list person" and you must have a list to guide you then make a list of how YOU will behave in the relationship. At least then you can look back and be sufficiently entertained by your hopes. Happy Hunting!

No Change to Spare

Yesterday I was walking up 125th Street in Harlem when a man asked me a question that rang in my head for the rest of the night.  "Can you spare any change, darling?"

7 days ago I turned 40...

Since then I have had two parties, one relationship defining conversation with my mate,  was in the hospital for 3 days, had a texting massacre that ended a friendship, ate about a dozen cupcakes, attended a little league game, and gave the graduation key note address at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building in Harlem. IN THAT ORDER. Change happens quickly and I have no change to spare.

Spare change. At any other time in my life a man asking for spare change would make me reach into my bag and hand him a couple of coins.  But after the last 7 days of my life the word "change" has much more value than a dollar.  Change brings about progress. It brings about growth. Change brings new beginnings and happy endings. So no...mister, I have no change to spare. I need all the change my life can bring so I can live full of joy and abundance.

2012 brought about my new focus on meditation.  For me, meditation is simple. I lay there and shut the hell up (literally), listen to what God has to say without asking Him for what I think I need.  I recently took a trip to Nevada to meditate for three days. It was my mini eat, pray, love experience.  During that time, every single thing that happened to me during the past 7 days I began to feel coming down the tracks.  So though I was affected by this week's events I was not surprised nor dismayed. In fact, I breathed a sigh of thanks for the heads up.  I welcome the change that is brought into my life because I know from change comes growth and satisfaction, wisdom and character.  I know this because at 40 I've been through quite a few life changes. I want even more. I want all of my change. Give it to me baby!!!

If you feel like you are stuck in a less than fulfilling life right now I encourage you to change it up. Change your life one decision at a time. Start taking the time to think and meditate on the things you want and how to achieve them. Start making the right moves to get it done. Make the changes that are sometimes hard to make. If you want to max out your talent, your potential, your have no change to spare.

Step I: See Color

This post is not for the die-hard racist or radical. You, my friend, are the minority in this country. You wreak havoc on the societal standards that we endeavor to employ. Your very existence is repulsive and not worth the effort of my finger tips on a keyboard. Most of us do not wake up in the morning with hatred in our hearts for those different from us. Most of us think of ourselves as kind, loving, people who have no bias toward others. Most of us…are deluding ourselves.

These two phrases: “I do not see color” and “I do not think about race” are indeed offensive. I am a Black American woman. I want you to know this, acknowledge who I am culturally without harming, hating, or abusing me. The goal is not for us to ignore race – which “good” Americans claim to do. The goal is to embrace our racial and cultural differences without fear or hatred in our hearts.

Race should not be motivation for how we feel or behave towards others. Our initial impressions are often shaded by race. As good, God-loving Americans, we consistently have an undercurrent of race that has been projected upon us by our experiences, our nation’s history, and popular media.

Imagine a man in his mid-thirties, beer belly driving a pick up truck. He is dipping snuff and spitting out of the window. He is on his way to pick up a six pack from the package store and then head out to the pond to do some fishing. Imagine a man in his mid-thirties, slim and well groomed. He is driving a silver family sedan. He is dropping off his children on his way to work at the bank where he is a Vice-President.

What color are these men? Some of you will say one is White and one is Black. Some of you will say both are White. A few of you will say both are Black. Most of you will say “you do not know” because that is the true answer to the question.

How did you imagine these men when you read the description? THAT is a different question. The human brain assigns a picture to your thoughts. Those men had a physical appearance in your mind. The fact that your brain assigned a race to 80 words on a page means that race is evident at the core of our being. The longer we continue to ignore this, the longer our journey as a nation of diverse people.


The noun “winner” can mean the obvious “someone who wins” or the more pertinent informal definition: “a person or thing that seems sure to win or succeed”. The truth is that you cannot spot a winner in a crowd because being a winner is not something that can be seen. It is a bright light on the inside of person. A “winner” is the light that shines inside of you as you journey through life being “you”. No person, place or thing can keep you from being a winner – except you - because no one knows the rules of play but you.

A winner seems sure to succeed –which means in life, self, and the totality of living. Being a winner isn’t about trophies, championships, and material spoils – though we don’t begrudge the symbols. Being a winner is about being “you” - being whole in mind, body, and spirit to accomplish that which “you” were put here to do. That wholeness brings light and success to everything you do. If the only true competition on earth is the challenge to be “you” in a world forcing you to conform, then the way I see it, it is impossible to lose as long as you keep playing.

Since it is impossible to accurately spot you as a winner in a crowd, it is equally impossible to spot you as a loser. The only person that can be defined as a loser is someone who has self-selected the title. Only you know the criteria for being “you” and whether or not you are truly achieving at the goal of being “you”. Don’t let someone else define success for being “you”. If you were playing checkers you wouldn’t use the rules of chess to determine the winner. That would be insane. Likewise, you can’t use the criteria of being someone else to determine whether you win at being “you”. Some of the greatest “winners” on earth are unknown while some of the biggest “losers” are people we celebrate daily. You cannot truly see who’s who with your eyes.

Only you know if you are a winner in pursuit of your destiny. Are you winning at being you? If you don’t believe you are winning, consider how impossible it is for someone else to be a better “you” than you. Losing is impossible in these terms – unless of course you give up on the task. So if you think you are losing, develop your plan, look in the mirror and declare, “Winning!”

Seek and Ye Shall Find a Cheater

I recently had a discussion with a private investigator that proved to be very interesting. She said that 9 of 10 people (men and women) that come to her with suspicion of a cheating mate find out they were right. It reminded me of something one of my female colleagues told me. If you think a man is cheating, he is.  I ran that little tid bit by my PI friend and she explained it in a more concrete way.  She said that if it were not for the need to sustain a living doing investigative work, she would tell every concerned spouse this..."Chances are if you feel so strongly that your spouse is cheating that it landed you in my office, there is no doubt they are cheating."  It made such logical sense. 

As I drove home I thought about what she said. It was true. We know when someone is cheating but we always want the proof.  But why is that? I have a couple of theories. The first hypothesis is that we are actually looking in the hopes that we are wrong. So even though our gut and our good sense tell us that something is not right, until we see some evidence we allow ourselves to remain in a painful state of emotion. My second theory is that we actually do not want to be with the person so finding the evidence of cheating gives us a reason to end the relationship.

Most of the time if you are snooping around you will find something. The question you must ask yourself before you begin your quest is do you want to remain in the relationship or not.  If you are in such turmoil that you are hacking into email accounts and voicemail systems, gather your emotions and make a real assessment about the relationship.  If you know you are not leaving then spare yourself the misery and do not snoop. If you want to end the relationship, do not look for excuses to mask your intentions. You are an adult and do not need to justify your feelings to anyone but yourself. If you want to say, do so. If you want to go...go. Be fearless. 

Why Are We So Judgmental?

I heard Bill O'Reilly on the TODAY show this week saying that we should not celebrate Whitney because she did drugs. He went on to agree with Matt Lauer that the media has covered Whitney's battle with drugs but "not in a judgemental way".  

Is it our job to be judgemental?  Why do we have an opinion on whether Beyonce birthed Blue Ivy or used a surrogate? I'll tell you why - being judgemental allows us to feel better about ourselves. It's an opportunity to point out a vice or flaw that another person has that we do not have. We take pride in being able to say, "I would never..."  Because there are so many things we have done and would do. 

Bernie Madoff swindled people in a Ponzi scheme. YOU WOULD NEVER DO THAT! But you are still intentionally dodging the person whom you owe $1000.  Some girl gave up her baby for adoption. YOU WOULD NEVER DO THAT. But you decided to have your child and let your grandmama and 'em raise it. Rhianna has befriended Chris Brown again. YOU WOULD NEVER DO THAT! But you hang on to a dude that you know is cheating on you with multiple women because he's given you multiple diseases. 

You get the point?  If we all focus on being better people in our own lives perhaps we can influence the behavior of someone who is watching us.  Instead of pointing fingers at the faults and flaws of others, how about looking in the mirror and give a fair assessment of who you are as a person, a friend, a mate, a parent.
I have so much "stuff" with me that I have no time (nor inclination) to worry about the flaws and missteps of my fellow imperfect beings.  NOTE: This article is judging judgmental people for their judgement. See, case in point.

Whether Jay and Bey birthed the child or bought her at IKEA, it has no effect on my life. It was their decision on how they wanted to start their family.  Let's all try not to be do judgemental of the decisions that really have no bearing on our lives at all. It's not easy to do because we want to justify being better than somebody. Nobody wants to be the the devil on earth...well, except maybe Nikki Minaj . Just kidding.  Kind of.

Love is Unconditional, Relationships are Not

The hardest thing to do is end a relationship with someone you love...truly love. True love is unconditional and remains long after a relationship ends. It is eternal. If you can say that you "used to love him/her" - then you never loved them at all. There is no such thing as "used to" love. If you truly love, then you always love.

Unlike love, relationships are conditional. The rules of a relationship are determined by what each individual is willing to allow in their lives. If you cheat on me, I may still love you but choose to end the relationship because I can no longer trust you. My love for you is not determined by your behavior...our relationship status is.

Despite loving you deeply, I may need to end the relationship because I love me too. Living without someone you love is painful and so is living with someone you love who continuously causes you pain. There are no hard fast rules to relationships. Where one couple will dissolve another may thrive and become stronger. It's an individual decision.

The most important thing to know is that love and relationships are two separate things. Love is spiritual and eternal. It is, most often, uncontrollable. If you keep going back to a bad relationship because you love the person. You will be in that cycle for the rest of your life because true love never ends. Relationships do.