Own it! Live it! Love It!

My father has taught me many things but one that shapes how I live my life is this…If you do or say something, be woman enough to admit you did it or said it IF the occasion arises that you must own your behavior.  

When I am making a decision I ask myself, “If the Wall Street journal or New York Post runs this story, is it worth it to me?” 

When you make a decision for your life, be woman (or man) enough to own your choice. Sometimes, as a woman of strength and character, you have to make unpopular decisions that are best for you. Other times you just decide that you are a grown woman and you can do and say whatever you choose. In any case, if you choose to do or say it, you must be prepared to own it.  Otherwise, you can set yourself up for a life of guilty regret.

There is nothing worse than being in a situation because of a decision you were either bullied into or just weren't fully onboard with the decision.  We all have had these moments on small scales.  You knew you should not have had that last drink but everybody was having a great time and bought another round. The next morning when you feel like your head is spinning, you are even more angry with yourself because you knew you should not have done it, but you caved to the pressure or maybe you were just trying to be polite. Though a hangover is an easy fix with some Gatorade and Tylenol, other life decisions are a bit stickier. So you need to be wise and move through life at your own pace and on your own terms.

Living your life free to make decisions by your rules is a liberty that most women do not get to enjoy. Societal and family pressure can force us into a life of martyrdom. In order to live a life of freedom to "woman up" to your actions you have to go through a very methodical process of decision making where you ask yourself a list of questions to become certain of exactly what you want to do. For example:

Will I be okay if this turns out differently? 
Will I be angry if it turns out badly?  
Am I doing this because I'm afraid?
Is this something I really want to do or am I being motivated by others?
Will I admit to this action if ever I need to?  

This self examination is particularly important when making relationship decisions.  I knew I was ready to leave my ex-husband when I got to the point where the honest answers to my questions made it abundantly clear what I really wanted to do.

Will I be upset if I see him with another woman? Nope.
Will I be upset if my life is not a success without him? Nope.
Will I be upset if he goes on to be a monster success without me? Nope.
Will I be upset if I never find another man?

Okay! Okay!  I didn't really ask myself that last question but some of you might be thinking that this is your last shot at love. Trust me. If you are asking yourself questions...it is not your last shot.   I finally got to a point where my questioning made me realize that I felt like I could be living in a paper bag and see him ride by in the back of a Maybach having sex with my baby sister and I would still be okay with my decision to leave (and feeling sorry for her).  Yeah, at that point it was time to go.

Sometimes it's not a matter of IF you'll do something, but WHEN you'll do it.  Don't make life-changing decisions until you can wholly own them. You may know what you want to do right now, but you may not be ready to do it. That's okay.  Stay focused on the goal and go at your own pace. 

Here's my rule. I make decisions based upon how the spirit of God leads me and not based upon what others may think, say or do in response to my actions.  I also don't let other's interpretations of what "God says" drive my understanding of my destiny and purpose in life.  For me, there is no blame when things go bad and no credit when they go well.  It is merely, the way my life journey progresses and I own every single step because I'm walking in my shoes...Size 9, 5-inch, strappy Jimmy Choos made just for me.  

The Best Things in Life are NOT Free

They say the best things in life are free.  That is not quite true. The best things in life (family, friends, love, peace, joy) do not require us to spend money. However,  there is a cost to every decision we make or do not make during our journey.  The best things in life are not free. They will always cost us something.

I have just finished an amazing summer with my family and friends.  This was the first summer in many years that I did not fly around the world building equity and value for someone or something that was not actually my own.  I was able to have more than a few girls nights, movie nights, and fun days.  I cooked in my outdoor kitchen ninety percent of the summer days. I ran through my neighborhood, meeting new people, a couple of times a week.  I walked my dog in the morning and actually let her enjoy the walk instead of rushing her through her business so I could get on with my day.  I spent my summer living, laughing and loving everyone and everything around me.  It was fantastic, but it was not free.

The choice to stay home for the summer meant not doing "the blitz" for my second book, "When the Butterfly Falls".  When I wrote my first book, "Par for the Curse",  I traveled all over the country promoting it at book festivals and clubs. This year, I quietly entered the market through social media so I could be home spending time with my family and friends.  The laughter, joy, and peace I had this summer did not require me to spend one dime, but it was not without cost.

I wonder if because we say "the best things in life are free" we often neglect the best things in life.  Because we do not associate a cost with the most important people and things in our lives, we sometimes forget the value of those things.  Here is what I mean by that:

We do not pay money to go to sleep at night.  So we neglect the value of a good night's rest by pushing our productivity into late night hours to do things we consider more beneficial than sleep.

We do not pay money to express our love.  So we often skip the deeply connected "I love you" and rush out the door or off the phone with a quick "Luv you" as a form of saying goodbye rather than a form of expressing our love.

We do not pay money for the joy of watching our children grow up.  So we choose to miss a basketball game, a chess match or a dance recital because there will be other times to do that.

But let me ask you...

What if the next basketball game does not come because you (or God forbid) your child are not alive at that time?  What if the next recital comes but your child is not physically able to dance anymore because of an accident?  I hate to be the sprinkler on your blaze, but we all need to consider that we make a lot of assumptions about the most important things in life.  Is it because we think they are free?

Life is certainly a balance. We cannot spend every moment of every day laughing, loving, kicking it with friends and sitting with family.  We do need to work to sustain ourselves.  There are professional things that require our attention that pose time conflicts with personal events.  But are we really weighing the cost and benefit of those decisions.

Could you go to sleep, get a good night's rest and finish that chapter in the morning?  Does your boss really expect you to be the last one out of the building every night? Think about it.  Are your actions aligned with what you say you value most in life?

So remember...the best things in life are NOT free and sometimes we do not realize how much they cost until we lose them.

Why Powerful Men Cheat?

Whenever someone asks the question, "Why do people cheat?" I usually answer "because they can". That's the entire thing in a nutshell. It's very true that some people have more of an opportunity to cheat than others. Men with great power top that list. Women are drawn to the big three: money, power, and respect. Powerful men usually have all three so women are drawn to them like moths to light. A powerful man struts through a sea of women daily who are just waiting for a chance to bed him and have their moment in the "dark". What else did Monica Lewinsky get from her act with former President Clinton besides bragging rights to say that she did the President? Power draws women giving powerful men not only the inclination but the opportunity to cheat.

Most powerful men have built empires through struggle and sacrifice. They are fierce competitors who are driven by their will to win. What greater trophy to hunt than beautiful women? After walking through the sea of women that are falling at their feet, they get quite intrigued with the one that isn't interested in their power, respect, or even their money. This drives the powerful man crazy because there is something he can't have. It's human nature for all of us to desire the thing we can't have. This quirk is intensified between powerful men and those women that play the cat and mouse game with them. He may not even really want the woman as much as he wants the satisfaction of winning by getting her in the bed.

Powerful men also spend a lot of time at work. That's how they got to be so powerful. Numerous studies have shown that interoffice romances begin because of the amount of time co-workers spend together in contrast to the time they spend at home with their spouses. Powerful men, full of stress and spending late nights in the office, find a comforting embrace or gentle massage enjoyable. Sooner or later that innocent rub on the shoulders becomes pencil cups and in baskets on the floor. The immense time in the office can drive a wedge between the man and his spouse. It can most certainly mess up their sex life. A powerful man working late with raging hormones and sensual thoughts is a bad concoction for a spouse at home.

Powerful men are rule breaks and risk takers by nature. No man ever achieved great power without taking risks and breaking rules. Cheating on a spouse accomplishes both. It's a tremendous risk for a man with great power to get involved in an affair. What was Bill Clinton thinking? He was driven by his power, his ability to make the rules, his impressive ability to take calculated risks and be successful. The very characteristics that allowed him to hide Monica under the table were the same things that made him a world leader. It's the nature of powerful men to break rules and make new ones. I did not sleep with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. He set the new rule that only intercourse is considered sleeping with someone.
Powerful men by the nature of their lives are susceptible to cheating. It will take the strongest of character and even stronger spouses to contain the outside world in order to preserve the intimacy of a relationship. A man of great power has set his own rules defined by his own desires. The man of great power makes the rules. He doesn't abide by them. So it is sometimes easy to for him forget the number one rule of marriage, which is fidelity.

Do I Have Trust Issues?

All relational interactions require trust. You trust others without even thinking about it. We trust our employers to actually pay us on payday after working our hours for the week. We trust the electric company to keep our lights on if we pay our bill.  I trust my puppy not to pee on the floor if I let her roam around the kitchen. TRUST! It is a necessity in all relationships but never as big an issue as in romantic relationships. If you do not have the ability to trust then you probably will not survive in a relationship. Romantic relationships (dating/marriage) can survive without money.  These relationships can survive without health.  Ironically, many "romantic" relationships continue in longevity without  love.  However, relationships cease to exist without an ability to trust.

What is trust?  Merriam-Webster defines trust as an "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something." When we decide to enter into a relationship with someone we have already actively (or subconsciously) decided to trust them to do what is good for the relationship. No woman in her right mind stands at the altar and thinks, "He is going to cheat on me for the rest of my life."  When a man thinks that the woman standing across from him is going to take him for everything he has in his possession. If we trust each other then everything else in the relationship is workable.

So here is a scenario... He cheated on you. He lied to you about cheating. He lied to you about money. At some point in your relationship,  he has lied to you concerning just about everything of importance to you.  You no longer believe a single, solitary syllable that comes from his lips.  You no longer trust him.

Do you have trust issues?  HELL NO!!!  Does he relationship have trust issues? Absolutely! 

Look at the definition of trust again.  It says an "assured" reliance.  If he/she has broken the "assured" and you no longer trust him/her YOU do not have trust issues. He/She has character issues or truth issues or some other aspect of that definition inside of trust is broken.  It is NOT your ability to trust that is broken.  When someone gives you a clear reason to doubt your reliance on their character, ability, strength, etc, you would be foolish to blindly trust them. They have proven to be untrustworthy and need to rebuild that trust.

Having trust issues means you have an inability to trust. So, if you move on from this particular relationship and immediately start holding another person responsible for the actions of this dishonest person, THEN you have trust issues. You may choose to remain in a relationship with a liar, manipulator, or cheater with a proven track record of not being trustworthy.  If he has not put in the work to prove himself again into "assured" then why would you trust him?  You may have forgiveness issues but you certainly do not have trust issues.  So trust yourself and your judgement. Make him/her earn your trust again.

People Pleasing? Not Ya Girl!

There are numerous perspectives and quotes on our ability to please people. Most notably, Abraham Lincoln said "You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time. You can please some of the people all of the time. But you cannot please all of the people all of the time."  That is a mouthful of truth.

I admit I lived the early part of my life (teens/20s) trying to please people. I made a lot of decisions in my life that led to me being miserable because I decided to do "the right thing" for everybody but me.  I ignored the desires and dreams burning inside of me to do what others expected of me so that they could say "good job" and give me the proverbial pat on the heard.  By the time I was 21 I was praised by those that mattered most to me. I had followed all of the rules: good girl, smart girl, nice girl. My family and friends were sufficiently pleased with the miserable, dissatisfied young woman I had created myself to be.

I was not pleased with myself, my life, or the future I saw before me. I had something else burning on the inside of me. So at 25 I made a very unpopular decision to end the inertia of my life and follow the spirit of God in me. I got a divorce. I moved away.  I began a six year journey of exploration to become the woman I am today. Because I made that one step toward pleasing the God in me, my life has been filled with numerous surprises of faith ever since.

It is normal human behavior to want to be liked, appreciated, and admired. But when that normal human desire becomes a hindrance to who you are and what God has created you to be,  you may need to face the fact that you might be a "people pleaser".  Do not be ashamed. I was a "people pleaser" for many, many years and it is a hard habit to break. People will criticize you and call you selfish or narcissistic. When I hear those things from people I dust my shoulders off and keep it moving on the path God has for me.  I have been told that I have gone too far with my indifference to the opinion of others.  They say I can be harsh or uncaring about what people think of me. So I go to the Bible for reassurance. Romans 14 says that the "Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval."  Boom! There it is! If I please God, the rest of y'all will be alright.

To further illustrate my point take a look at this. Ironically, I received these two comments on the SAME DAY on the Main Chick Monologues blog :

"Sometimes you come off like you are better than everyone else. Remember to be humble and don't think too highly of yourself." -Anon

"You don't know your worth." - Anon

I printed both comments and sat them in front of me trying to decide how to respond. Am I overly confident and think too highly of myself OR do I suffer from low self-esteem not knowing my worth? I surely cannot be both things at once.  I continue to sit at my desk and stare at the two sheets of paper.  I know that I'm not BETTER THAN anyone but I am BETTER OFF than a lot of people. To God be the glory for that!!!   I surely know how valuable I am in the lives of those around me, the lives of those in my past and as a wondrous creation of God. I was perplexed... I am neither lacking in self-esteem nor filled with conceit. Hmmm? What's a girl to do?

I think I should publicly say "thank you" to my anonymous posters for giving me a valuable experience and the confirmed knowledge that the best way for me to please "some of the people some of the time" is to simply continue being Kamryn and pleasing God. If two people can read the same post on the same day and come to two completely opposite opinions of me, why should I spend any energy worrying about the opinions of others. People cannot even agree on how they feel about me among themselves. Let alone me trying to battle conflicting opinions of who I am - according to someone else's subjective assessment.

I write to the pleasure of my gifts.  I do not write to please all of you or even to please myself, but to be pleasing to God who created me with this gift to express myself with courage and joy. In doing so, I can please ALL who seek to fill their hearts with love.... some of the time and SOME who seek to live in the light of God... some of the time. That's good enough for me.

What do you do? Whatever it is, do it so that you seek to please God with the gifts He has given you.  If you work your gifts according to what God has given you, you will undoubtedly please people...sometimes, but God will be pleased with what he has created in you always.  Be Fearless! 

Morphing Mates-Grow But Don't Change Who You Are

People change. A new born becomes a toddler, a child, a teenager, and becomes an adult. So, is it over then? Once we hit puberty does our evolution as humans stop? As we continue to live and experience new things, we often change what we do and what we believe about some things. These changes may lead to an overall change in WHO WE ARE.  If this metamorphosis occurs after you are married or in a serious relationship it could mean trouble for you and your mate.

I read an interesting article on WebMD about how unhappy relationships are bad for your physical health, as well as, your mental well-being. As I read through the article I began to wonder how the same two people that fall madly in love and pledge to live together in harmony often end up at war.  Well, many times it is because the same two people are not in the relationship anymore.

The Belief Debacle
You have heard me say a million times over that I am a Jesus girl through and through. It does not matter how smart, fine, rich, sexy, outstanding a man may be. We cannot rock together if he does not WHOLLY believe in salvation from Christ, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Ghost.  So, half way through the relationship you decide you want to worship colored glass or become a disciple of Yeezus. You cannot expect me to remain happy in that relationship. You are not the same person. I did not pledge my love to a follower of Yeezus, I said JESUS!

The Physical Fiasco
Ladies, this is a rather important one for the fellas. We all know that six-packs soften and perky boobs sag. No reasonable person expects his/her mate to look the same through twenty or thirty years of marriage. HOWEVER, you need to stay fundamentally the same in physical stature of WHO YOU ARE. Here's what I mean:   If you were weight conscious and fit when you married, he does not expect you to gain a hundred pounds and decide that having children makes it okay for you to change your entire body structure. The same goes in reverse. If you know he likes  "big women" and you decide to drop 150 pounds you cannot expect him to still be on fire for you.  Without strong communication and understanding this could lead to a side-chick scenario.  Men, you aren't off the hook. If you were fresh to death when we got together, staying lined up and smelling good, you cannot decide to morph into an unkempt mess of a man with a homemade hairline and ashy knee caps.

The Ambition Break Down
We shared an ambition to be and do "something great".  Five years later I'm climbing the latter to the dream and you are lying on the couch daydreaming. Houston, we have a problem!  Let me be clear. This is not a reference to the senior partner at a law firm who decides to be a stay-at-home mom or the corporate executive that decides he wants to start a non-profit to help children. Those are changes in WHAT you do, not WHO you are. We have to continue to share common goals in order for us to work together. That means you have to actually have a goal of your own. The ones that appear on NFL Sunday Ticket do not count.

The Morphing Mate
In the spirit of full disclosure I have been guilty of this. So my apologies to my exes and complexes.  The Morphing Mate is the very reason I say that a person must know WHO they are before commingling life with someone else. So, we love each other.  I love (almost) everything about you. You are the man of my dreams - then my dreams change.  It is not your fault. You are exactly who I asked you to be, but now I have changed and I do not want those things anymore. Uh Oh! The morphing mate is usually the death of the relationship.

Did you read this post and realize you have a morphing mate? Do not get too nervous yet. A new person does not just appear in the bed next to you overnight. (If so, you need to call a doctor immediately.) Morphing takes place over a period time and experience.  To avoid the "surprise" appearance of a fully morphed mate, couples should regularly communicate with one another and discuss their thoughts on life, love, and living together in harmony. Now go talk about it!

Judge Not !

I don't know who wrote this or from where it originates but I saw it this morning and had to post it. There is nothing more for me to say...

was shocked, confused, bewildered 
As I entered Heaven's door, 
Not by the beauty of it all, 
Nor the lights or its decor. 

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said,
'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.' 


Keep the "Bitches" Out: 5 Women to Exclude From Your Sister Circle

Ladies, I am coming off a a fantastic week of sisterly love and bonding. There is absolutely nothing more empowering, cleansing, and filled with gut-wrenching, cheek pounding laughter than spending time with positive, loving, kind affirming women.
Impromptu sister circles form among like-minded women

Sister circles are important to your personal development. Every woman should be able to experience a sister circle that loves her, supports her, and speaks truth so she can grow and progress as a woman.  The women in your sister circle should be loving, kind and not judgmental.  The women in your sister circle do not have to be your best friends. They do not even have to be women that you have known for a long period of time.  In fact, one of the most powerful sister circle experiences a woman can have is with women you have just met.

The sister circle is the place where I can sit down and simply say, "Girl" and everyone in the circle knows what I mean. It is a circle filled with truth, love, and acceptance. No one in the sister circle is envious, competitive or armed with insult.  We are all there for a single reason. The love and support of women.  I can share my victories without jealousy and my failures without judgement. When I walk away from my sister circle, I am rejuvenated.

However, in order for a sister circle to function properly you need to guard it from negative energy and influences.  Ladies, I'm gonna say it the only way I now how - keep those nasty, gossipy, competitive, evil, slick-talking "bitches" out of your sister circle.   So here are five women to exclude and include in your sister circle experience.

Exclude: The "real bitch" who will tell you the truth about you even if it hurts.
Include:  The woman who will share the truth about her so it might help you.

Exclude: The "bad bitch" who says women and men are intimidated by her success.
Include: The woman who has achieved greatness in her own right and wants others to achieve theirs.

Exclude: The "loner bitch" who says she doesn't mess with a lot of woman because THEY are petty Include: The woman who appreciates the love and energy of a group of women though she may have a small inner circle

Exclude: "Bitches with Attitude" who are combative and always challenge the opinions of others
Include:   Women who know how to respect the opinion of others while expressing a difference

Exclude: "THAT Bitch" who has the perfect relationship, perfect children, perfect life. 
Include:  Real women who are thankful for the blessings and share the struggles

Believe me! The above "bitches" are real terms that I have heard women call themselves in an effort to stake a position among the group.  In general a sister circle should exclude all "bitches".  Though many of us may at some point consider ourselves a "bad bitch", "real bitch" or "THAT bitch" the sister circle is not place for the alpha expression. It is a place of love, support, and encouragement and I , for one, am so glad I can find it anywhere I go. Can you?

Smiling Through Clenched Teeth

Mother Teresa said, "Peace begins with a smile".  She probably should have added the word "authentic".  Peace begins with an AUTHENTIC smile, a smile that means "I forgive you" or "I'm okay".  However, a smile through clenched teeth creates just the opposite effect in the long run.

Women are notorious for minimizing our feelings to placate the world around us. After all, as little girls we are taught to "be nice" "play fair" and get along with others. That's what little girls are made of, right? Sugar and spice and everything nice. So after decades of smiling through clenched teeth when sad or angry, little girls grow up to be passive aggressive women.

Guys, you know it.  What word you do not want to hear your woman say because you know it has a hidden meaning? "Fine."   You did something that you know upset her and she simply says, "I'm fine."  You tell her you are going out with the guys on Friday and she says, "That's fine." You think she maybe getting tired of your antics so you try to reel her back in and she says "we're fine."  BEWARE of the "FINE".  It's simply a carryover from our upbringing.  We are being polite and trying to keep the peace.  At least that what we tell ourselves, but the guys know better. Don't you?  Men have figured out that "fine" is a stick of dynamite with a long fuse.  One day for seemingly no reason at all, it will blow up on you.

Ladies, we have to learn to own our emotions. When you are happy, say you're happy. When you're angry, say you're angry.  It is going to require some work because we've been socialized that our feelings are not as important as the feelings of those we love. We smile through clenched teeth to keep the peace but in the end it incites a riot.  As authentic as I have made my world and as transparent as I live my life, even I...yes me, recently had a "play nice" moment.  But it's empowering to say, "I'm not fine." Hopefully, the person on the other end of that is loving and sweet and can understand what you mean. (Otherwise, get rid of him--but that's another post.)

On that note, guys you have to stop being lazy/afraid.  I'm not going to say you need to pay attention because you know damn well when your lady is upset and hurting. However, you are not willing to address the issue because you do not want the conflict. Heaven forbid! There might be tears!!!  I know, but you gotta man up and handle it. Trust me.  Women say "I love you".  Men DO "I love you".  If you take the time to listen and understand and turn that "I'm fine" into an "I'm good" its like saying "I LOVE YOU" from the highest mountain top.  For those of you afraid of the L-word.  It's like saying "I like you a lot" too.  It means you care enough about the relationship to keep it moving forward.  Besides, you know a clenched jaw doesn't open. (*wink *wink)

We live in a world where everyone is smiling through clenched teeth.  But, "home" should be a place of transparency. It should be a place where you can express how you feel. Even if you do not get the response you wanted, the self-empowerment of owning your emotions is so rewarding that everything else is a bonus - whipped cream on top.

What I've Learned from Beyonce

Many years ago when Beyonce was a young girl and leader of Destiny's Child, I heard her say "I'll go wherever God wants to take me."  It was a short piece on Beyonce's life with her father, Matthew Knowles, as her manager.  The fifteen minutes chronicled the sacrifices and struggles that the Knowles family made in order to make Beyonce a global icon.  Along the way there have been thousands of stories and reports about Beyonce, on most of which she does not bother to comment.  I've seen stories about her making blood sacrifices, being a devil worshiper, a liar, a diva, a pathologically diagnosed Multiple Personality Disorder patient who lies about her age and the list continues. She's focused. She's silent. She's not stopping for anyone.

In recent years, people who share the air I breathe have lashed out and called me names, hurled accusations, used their business degrees, high school diplomas, and reality TV expertise to diagnose me with something...anything to make them feel better about standing next to me.  For many years I responded to each and every dart thrown my way. I provided "proof" to disprove the relative truth that dwells in their minds. Then, I realized that the time I spend on trying to undo their mess is time I could be writing my next book or developing new talk show material.

When I accepted that God planted a destiny and purpose in me to be fulfilled I got focused, really focused.  I knew WHAT and WHO needed to be exited from my life.  I did not have the courage to end those relationships or the tireless banter it would take to explain why.  So I let God do His work. "Get 'em out!"  That's when one by one, my "friendships" started to fail.  All the while,  I was happy, peaceful and contented because I understood exactly what was going on in my life. Consequently,  I maybe be seen as a "selfish, narcissistic, attention-seeking sociopath" because I do not miss relationships that God has removed from my life.  Some may consider me "ungrateful" because they feel they have supported me along the way. So let me take the time now to thank you for your service.  However, you are not longer qualified to hold my ladder.

One day, I'll be a global media personality planting seeds of love, hope, and endurance in the very same people whose brokenness will attack me. But because I am focused on my destiny and making the most of the gifts God has given me, I keep it moving.  I ignore the name calling and incessant obsession with my past mistakes. When frenemies get upset about who I AM, they start making calls to tell the world who I was- which is kind of redundant because that's exactly what I do.  There is a scripture that says what the devil meant for my harm, God uses for my good.  Dwelling on my twenty-something missteps only strengthens my brand.  It qualifies my current position that any woman can change her life drastically if she puts in the work to be whole, focused, authentic and learn from the world around her.

There is no story I won't eventually tell, I'll do my "Life is But A Dream" documentary one day. But even then, I won't spend time undoing fables and legends of who I am.  Just as Beyonce never really showed us whether or not she had her baby - because she doesn't need to do that. She's Beyonce and what a few miserable, broken people think of her hasn't stopped her journey. I'm sure she hurts sometimes, she's human. But she stays focused on her call. Thank you Beyonce for keeping me focused.

There are plenty of people who can't stand me now.  That kind of comes with the territory. But those people need to realize what God is doing for them by removing them from my life.  If you secretly hate me now, can you image what you'll feel like when God completes the work he has in me?

Don't fret. I'll always remember the good times.  It's okay I still love you, because... honestly... if I wasn't me, I'd probably hate me too.

Seeking Truth: The 3rd Time is Alarm

Steve Harvey has a book called "Straight Talk, No Chaser" which is a sequel to "Think Like A Man".   In part of the book, Steve gives women advice on how to get the truth from a man. He says you have to ask the same question three times in three different ways.  Seriously?  Who has time for that?

Harvey says the first answer will be the answer that makes him look good. The second answer will be the answer he thinks you want and the third answer will be CLOSE to the truth. Close?  I have to ask you three different times in three different ways to get "close" to the truth?  That's entirely unacceptable.

Relationships between two honest and committed individuals take a lot of work. You must endure money issues, family issues, work issues, etc.  There are stressors outside of the relationship that affect mood and attitude that can cause stress in the relationship.  On top of all of that I have to get the truth out of you in triplicate?  No way!

Here is why that's dangerous:

#1 If a woman knows she can't get close to the truth until the third time she asks, then you train her to ignore your first two responses.  If she makes a habit of ignoring most of what you say, it will be a matter of time before she ignores your voice completely even when the truth is not at stake. Ignoring becomes indifference and indifference can become infidelity so tell the truth the first time.

#2 If a man makes a habit of telling a woman only what she wants to hear then she will expect everything out of his mouth to be completely aligned with her views and wishes. Therefore, when he tells her something she doesn't like, there will undoubtedly be high drama. So "no" will be out of the question.  A woman who is never told "no" may begin to do whatever she likes...which could end up being a "whoever" she likes.  So don't make a habit of telling her what she wants to hear. Tell her the truth-the first time.

There are plenty of good things about the number three. But when truth is at stake, three strikes and you're out! Some say three is the number of completion.  I like that because if it takes you three times to tell me the truth our relationship is sorely finished.

Judge Correctly or Just Don't Judge

"Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."  That's what Jesus said in Judea way back in the day at the festival (John 7:24).   After all these years folks are still judging by what they THINK they see in others.

I cannot count the times that someone has come to me and admitted that upon "seeing" me that they had some erroneous thoughts and negative opinions. Then, after watching a while, talking a while, walking a while with me they finally get it.  There are three lessons in this:

#1  Our "vision" is clouded by our own perspective and experience.  We can't always trust the way we see it. We see it like we have experienced it before and if we've never experienced it then we believe it not to be true.  Truth is subjective and changes with perspective. Facts are not.  Many times we ignore facts because we are an opinionated people. Instead, our truth is based upon our feelings or experience with the facts.  So when we "see" someone who reminds us of someone else we say "I know that type" so we judge them a being a certain way.  When we see someone that may appear strong at the moment, we judge them as being a person of strength. So on and so on...

#2  If you are faking it,  people eventually know who you are on the inside no matter how you might cover it on the outside.   The more time we spend with people and watch, walk, and talk with them, we begin to learn who they are inside.  So it is futile to attempt to go through life with the mask on unless you plan to change relationships/friendships over and over again.  Sure, there are times when you must guard your being, but in building relationships with others - friends, family, romance - you must be authentic and transparent.  You might as well be, because eventually everyone figures it out anyway.  Truth and transparency speeds the process to either break-up or live happily ever after.

#3You need to be certain of who you are on the inside so that no matter what others think or say, you know WHO and WHOSE you are.   People are going to form opinions of you because its human nature. Most times those initial opinions will be inaccurate because they are shaped by past experience and subjective thoughts.  It is important for you to always know exactly who you are at the core so that those opinions do not make you behave in a way contrary to your nature.  Learn not to be put off by the inaccurate opinions of others,.  Try to understand that it is not a personal attack of you but rather a personal experience for them.

It takes a lot of time and interaction to really learn who a person is in order to judge correctly.  It takes years of work. You have to watch, walk, talk, and listen.  If you don't have time for that then I think you should just stop at Matthew 7 before moving on to John 7 and "Judge not".

Stages of Grief After a Lost Relationship

The stages of grief can be related to any loss in your life.  It can be a loss due to death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a pet or the loss of a relationship due to circumstance.  When we lose relationships we often go through a grieving process.  I've changed a number of relationships in the past year of my life. Most of them I tossed away because I had endured enough of the drama and the relationship was no longer fruitful.  A few relationships I valued enough to let go of and keep moving.  It takes courage to end valued relationships and there is a grieving process involved even when you know it's the right decision.

I'm proud to say I have reached acceptance in my grieving process. It was an enlightening road that provided me with valuable life insights.  Don't fight the emotion that you feel when grieving a relationship.  It's part of the learning for your journey. The stages of grief are:  Denial, Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  I am careful not to list these in any certain order because the grieving process is not a self-controlled plan. You don't go step by step.  These are all the things that you may experience when going through a "break up".  You may not experience all of these and it may be in a completely different order than listed.  In any case, embrace what you feel.

I can vividly recall the "denial" I felt at the loss of my relationship.  Looking back I now see that the relationship had been deteriorating for nearly a year but I was in complete oblivion.  When I realized it was finally over, I was in complete denial. In conversation, I still referred to the person in the same way despite our lack of communication and clear rift. I could not get my head around the truth that this person was no longer apart of my life.

After denial I went through what I think was "depression". It was painful. For weeks I walked around ready to cry at a moments notice.  I tried to ignore the pain I was in.  Unfortunately for me (or fortunately depending on your view), my life is too involved to have an "isolation" stage where I just keep to myself. However my feelings were certainly in isolation. I struggled not to show my pain. Then one day I was standing in the kitchen alone and I finally had the courage to let it go. I said, "It hurts" aloud from my mouth to God's ears. I repeated "It hurts" probably like ten times, each time felt like it was more intense than the other. Finally, after weeks of holding it in, I cried. I cried until my eyes dried. This was the end of my depression/isolation stage.

"Bargaining" was the stage where I realized that I was grieving. The other stages I can tell you about now in hindsight. At the time I was going through them I had no definition for what was happening to me. It was a good thing that I realized it during this stage because you have to be very careful with bargaining because it can lead you to do some really irrational and careless things. If the other person is grieving too, this stage may thrust you back into an unhealthy relationship.  Sometimes you bargain directly with the person or thing that you lost. Many times we bargain with God. "If you do this...I will do that."  Me? I did neither, I bargained with myself. I went into full-blown, maniacal planning and execution mode. It was quick. It was powerful and it turned my life upside down.  Luckily I'm good standing on my feet or my head.

After I realized how silly I was being in my bargaining process I got pissed off.  "Anger" was the stage where I carried around a different pit in my stomach.  I finally removed the person from my phones and email distribution lists. I was done! Throughout the day my mind drifted to aspects of the relationship. These memories made me roll my eyes or sigh. I wanted to slap somebody, anybody.  I went through a mental list of all the things I had done to love and support this individual over the years. For our relationship to end the way it did, well...it made me angry. I felt I deserved better. Gratefully, after a few days,  I put iTunes genius on "gospel", jumped up on the treadmill and ran until I nearly melted to release the toxic emotion in me.  Anger had passed but I was not at acceptance. I went back into denial and started to think that after some time passes, everything will be alright.

Ironically, "Acceptance" sort of snuck up on me.  Like most human process, we give no thought to the steps of progress. How often do you think about blinking or breathing?  That's how my grief process progressed. Once I actually accepted that I was grieving I embraced my emotion daily.  I reconciled in my mind that the relationship was unhealthy for me and to the other person, too.  I wondered if we could ever develop a healthy relationship with so much baggage behind us.  Day in and day out I pondered on the loss.  Then one day, very inconsequentially, I realized that I had not given a thought to the person or the relationship in quite some time.  I was at acceptance and didn't even know it.  I began to smile at the thought of the good times and breathed a sigh of relief that we ended an unhealthy pattern that was not productive for either of us.

In fact, this blog post did not come from thoughts concerning that particular relationship.  I recently ended another unfruitful relationship.  I went straight to acceptance on that one and moved right on along my journey. The comparison in how I dealt with the loss of the two relationships gave me insight into how valuable each was/was not in my life...which gave me the idea for this blog post. I hope it helps.  Miracles and Blessings, Kamryn.

Captain Save a Bro' - My Strength for Men Who Need Me

Back in Detroit in my late twenties I was given the name "gal pal".  I hung with a group of guys that I had loads of fun with during the week.  We golfed. We partied. We had cookouts. We confused everybody in the club on the weekends. One young girl, five older guys - who's the mack? It proved to be a very valuable year of my life adding to my knowledge of men and helping me to better understand the interconnection between genders.  We are indeed very different, yet called to live together.  The Bible says "be fruitful and multiply".  Well, the multiplying isn't hard but that being fruitful thing...takes some work.

After hanging with the "old men" for that time, I went back back to my clique of guys who were around my age or younger.  There were some differences, but ironically there was a whole lot that was exactly the same. From twenty-three to fifty-three, there was a baseline behavior, thought pattern, and struggle with men.  During this time I dated different races, religions, and cultures and saw many of the same things.   Men have many of the same internal battles - how to stay faithful (and excited) with a mate, how to provide for their loved ones, how to make and find a place for themselves in the world.  However, I realized that there was a particular struggle that men of color faced with these issues because I came to realize that not only did they have internal battles but the constant opposition of the world pushing against them. They needed a champion - a cheerleader - a hero.

I guess that's when I put on my cape and decided to become "Captain Save a Bro" - coined from the 1993 song by E-40 with a similar name. I have brothers and eventually had sons who would suffer the same opposition to their value.  So, I started to look deep inside of a man to see his worth - the God in him.  I purposed myself to find something great about every man that crossed my path. Sometimes, it was easy. Other times a brotha' made it hard for me to see but I eventually found it.  Bruised, battered, scarred by hard- I left every man in better shape for the next woman. When I made my exit, (as super heroes do),  he knew he was great. He knew he was smart enough to do whatever destiny had planted inside of him.

Looking back on my ex-boyfriends and mates I realize that I've done my share of saving:  Searching the nation and Canada for crutches long enough to help a seven-footer then getting on a plane to hand deliver them out of the country,  fixing resumes and doing mock interviews to target better jobs, researching programs and filling out applications to send him back to school, riding a bike along side a runner training for a marathon, cooking six healthy meals on Sunday to help him lose weight,  fixing protein shakes and high calorie meals to help him gain weight, staying up late while he finished writing his song, doing his slides for the big presentation, helping him promote, and finding the right electronic cigarette to help him stop smoking.  But my coup de grace was  intervening with the surgeon before they cut off his leg so he could eventually walk away with another woman and give her the benefit of all I had done.

I wish I could say in all of these things that I received much in return from these men, but I cannot say that at all. Nobody saved my liver or lung, brought me soup when I was sick, or held me down while I didn't have a job.  But that is the brokenness that I saw in a "bro".  Sometimes when they finally get the respect they deserve and they realize just how great they are, the anger and resentment propels them forward.  It becomes a life of "I'll show them damn it!" rather than "God use me for your glory".

Please don't confuse what I am saying. I got something very valuable from my efforts. When my guy pal recently called me "the man whisperer" and "captain save a bro",  I thought back on all of it.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I initially got a little sick to my stomach and thought to myself "ungrateful bastard!" (What? I'm not perfect.)  But, I quickly, within minutes, came to understand that these men helped me to realize who I am. I AM LOVE. That is who God created me to be.  I don't know how to connect with a man that doesn't "need" me.  I need him to need me so that I can be who I am - helping him become who he is. We have all been created for something and it's not something as superficial as being a writer or a marketing executive. We are all created to produce fruit in others.  How productive are you?

Getting to Know You: Compatibility Traps

They say opposites attract and that might be true.  However, if you want to sustain a healthy, productive, lasting relationship you better have something important in common. Many times we are so starved for a relationship that we ignore signs of incompatibility early in the dating evaluation process.  Men usually ignore these signs. Women usually see the signs but believe they can compensate for them or lead him to change.

Here are just a few compatibility traps to avoid:

If a person is a smoker when you meet, please assume he/she will always be a smoker.  He could stop smoking. Absolutely! But you can't build a relationship on what COULD happen. Think of all the turmoil that will ensue when you come home from getting your hair done and realize in a few hours your $1200 human hair weave smells like an ashtray.  You are going to be pissed off and the day is ruined.

When you met your woman in the club she had a sexy Virginia Slim hanging between two french manicured fingers but now four months later you want her to stop. You are disgusted by the habit and feel like she needs to stop if she wants the relationship to work. She's not wrong for continuing to smoke. You are wrong for ignoring an important compatibility sign. When she drops ashes on your new white sneakers the day is ruined.

Speaking of smokers, don't date a master BBQ chef (or a guy who thinks he is) if you are strictly tofu and thinking of joining PETA. It's not going to work no matter how great the sex is and how much he reminds you of Boris Kodjoe.

If your idea of comfort food is sushi and Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, you need not pick a man who loves a sloppy joe sandwich with ketchup and sugar on it.  It sounds like an easy fix. Let him eat sloppy joe while you enjoy your sushi, right? Nope!  This small nuance says so much more about the two of you. Food choices can be a sign of things to come. If you take her to a 5-star restaurant for Valentine's Day and she is not excited or appreciative because she just wanted a hotdog, both of you are going to be upset and the day is ruined.

Recreational Drug Use

If you are "drug-free" and want to stay that way, you probably don't want to date a chronic weed smoker who lays in bed all day or a guy on MDMA who feels like a champion. If you like to get high and ride with the top down, you probably don't want to date a young man who protests outside of the medical marijuana facility with a sign that reads, "Marijuana is the gateway to crack".

Oh, and alcohol and weed people don't mix.  If she is a silly or crying drunk, she is simply going to blow your high with her antics. It goes without saying that any kind of "upper" need not pair with a weed smoker. You will just be running on two different speeds for the entirety of the relationship.

Special Sex
Sex is a very important compatibility trap.  Men, the first thing you need to know is "frequency" needs to just come off of your list because while she's trying to get you, she's going to ride you like Seabiscuit, but after a while she's going to be too tired and too busy to do all that every night - especially if, in all that sex, you gave her the wonderful gift of a swollen ankles and a few children.

If your idea of "special sex" is swallow on his birthday and his idea of special sex is attaching jumper cables to your nipples and starting the Ferrari, it's not going to work.  He's going to be bored or you are going to be charred. For one of you, the day is ruined.

The Ex and the Next
This is a big one. If his last serious and happy relationship was with a stripper named "Cilantro" he might not be appreciative of your education and passion for the black family.  If he's okay with her son sitting in the living room with a contact high and watching the Boondocks because it's a cartoon, then your parenting styles might be a little different if you get together. You like to discuss current events and he enjoys explaining to Cilantro that the two houses of Congress are actually the same building.  If she's "tatted up" and all you have are the same two earring holes your mother gave you as an infant, well... you may be a little dull for him. If you like to hang out and chill without make-up and she goes out looking like "the mask, he may not be okay with your natural beauty and the day is ruined.

Seriously folks, the notion that opposites attract is a good one and can provide for lively experiences in your relationship. However, it's important to share common values and beliefs about the things that matter most to you.  Only you can decide what those things are.  Don't ignore them or try to compensate for them in the beginning because it can lead to problems in the future of your relationship. When you have a foundation of things that bond you together, no matter how bad it gets you find a way to make it work.  Opposites attract but compatibility keeps you together.

The Love Funnel

Do you know why we exchange rings in relationships? It's not because we love each other and so we want to give nice gifts.  If that were the case we could exchange watches.  It's also not to signal to the world that you are off the market. There is nothing about that ring that keeps people from approaching you. In fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect.  We exchange rings when we attempt to enter a committed relationship to remind ourselves - not others- that the circle on our finger is never ending. It goes on and on, round and round. There is no beginning and no end to a circle. Just as there is no beginning and no end to true unconditional love. 

Can you imagine if you wore a triangle on your finger? How annoying that would be. I have a few bracelets that are odd shaped with angles. I always end up taking them off by mid-morning because those angles get in the way of what I'm doing. Though a triangle has no beginning and no end, it is not as smooth, continuous, and functional as a circle. 

What if the tires on our cars were triangles? We would have such difficulty moving forward. What if our pupils were triangles? Our vision would be grossly distorted. The world on which we live is round. The sun that provides our light is a circle.  There's something special about a circle. A triangle - not so much. 

So, I refuse to acknowledge three people in a relationship situation as a triangle.  I prefer to call it a "love funnel".  A funnel has three points- looks like a triangle- when you look at it from a 2-dimensional view.  However, the bottom point of that triangle has a hole in it. It leaks. Just as someone in that love triangle has a hole in them. No matter what you pour into a love funnel - the effort, the time, the money, the genuine, unconditional love - it will leak from the point with the hole in it. 

If you plug the hole, all the things you pour into it will remain and fill up the funnel.  As the time, effort, and love you pour into the funnel begin to build, you watch it increase. But you can only watch this from above the funnel. The view from above a funnel is, ironically, a circle.  So, if you plug the hole in a triangle (funnel), you end up looking into a circle (ring). A circle that can remind you of light, love, fidelity and truth. 

If you haven't figured it out - the hole in that love funnel is you. Otherwise, you would not be involved. If you are involved in a love funnel, full of dishonesty, fear, and selfish indulgence then there is a hole in you. 

If you are a woman and you know he is in a relationship, you have a hole in you.
If you are a man and you know she is in a relationship, you have a hole in you.  
If you are a man and you have a wife and a girlfriend, you have a hole in you. 
If you are a woman and you have a husband and a boyfriend, you have a hole in you. 
If you are single and you know that person is consistently cheating on you, you have a hole in you.
If you are single and you cannot manage to stay true to the people you are with, you have a hole in you.  

HOLY Cow! That's a lot of holes. But it's okay because we all have had our holes. I'm not going to tell you how to fill it.  I filled mine with the love of God and learned to love myself unconditionally. Once I did that. I could unconditionally love everyone else God created in a healthy, functional, respectable way. Sometimes that means leaving in love or staying in love or resting in love or waiting in love or just living in love.  No matter what you choose to do. In order for you to get out of that triangle and into the winner's circle, you've got to plug that funnel and fill that hole.  

Love in Ruins

Nothing brings more inspiration to this blog than Thursday nights. I can always count on ABC's "Scandal" to muddy the waters of love.  Last night Fitz told Olivia, "You ruined me" to which she responded, "I'm ruined."  He then said, "I don't care."  Does that sound like two people in love? It has now been a year since Liv and Fitz ended their relationship and they are both still "ruined".  As I watched with a lump in my throat, I asked myself, "Have I ever been ruined by love?"

So let's examine this.  Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy or boast and it is not proud. It does not dishonor others and it is not self-seeking. It keeps no record of wrongs.  As I quickly reflect on the definition of love, I do not see anything that could potentially harm me, let alone leave me in ruins.

Now, I have certainly had some relationships that took a pretty big toll on me.  But I cannot blame that on love. Love is not to blame for the brokenness I felt when I failed to change a man into what I thought he could potentially be.  In fact, based upon the definition of love i.e., patient and kind, one could argue that I was either 1) too impatient to wait for change or 2) not kind enough to accept him as he was.  Either way, I clearly did not love him. I loved the potential him that I was trying to create. Ladies, you know we are quick to fall in love with a guy's "potential".  Can I get an amen?

With regard to Fitz and Olivia - love does not dishonor others.  Uh-oh!  As much as Mellie gets on my nerves, the relationship between Fitz and Liv is one big slap in her face. God is the creator of love and He is not the author of confusion.  So, when you do love someone it will not be at a time that either one of you is in a position to behave in a dishonorable way.  Love is not self-seeking so if you see something (someone) you want that belongs to someone else do not go after it - until it is available for you. How confusing would life be if God kept hooking up "soul mates" who were hooked to other people? We would be one big ol' chain of foolery.  No! When love (God) comes into your life, it develops in peace and rejoices in truth. You cannot rejoice in truth as secret lovers.  

"But Kamryn, I know I love him and he loves me. Our timing is off but I know he is my soul mate."

Listen, I feel you and I feel for you.  You are correct, YOUR timing is off, but God's timing is never off and God is what? LOVE.  If you truly believe that this is love based upon the definition of what love is - then be patient.  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.   Do not adulterate (no pun intended) your love by making it dishonorable.  Trust in love to bring you back to each other if it is real.  Love never fails!   God uses the foolish things to shame the wise and I am not even going to try to figure it out.  I learned enough through David and Bathsheba to know that God has a way of doing things with love that we do not understand. So I will never pass judgement.

HOWEVER, I will provide you will compelling truth.  Love does not leave you in ruins.  If you are in a relationship and you feel ruined, harmed, hurt or ashamed,  it is not love.  Relationships have challenges- financial, physical, emotional and otherwise. But during those times, you should not feel ruined by the love in the relationship, you may feel hurt by the circumstance but love fills you with hope.  Love is facing a stack of bills together, holding my hair while I throw up, and allowing me to comfort you when you are hurting.  Love is not a feeling. Love is a state of being. Love perseveres. It is never left in ruins.