Sister Act

There’s nothing like the bond among friends, and every woman should experience that. We can love our men, but we need a network of supporters who own a space in our world that doesn’t include the boot of our lovers. Friends get us, they have the same struggles: wavering self-esteem with age, PMS, weight concerns, hair, body issues, love, pettiness, doubt, etc...

When my mom decided to move my brothers and me to Atlanta in 1990, I was open to change but a little doubtful. I loved my school! I was happy in Virginia. But even though GA wasn’t for me, and we only lasted a year, it was long enough to establish a great bond with these ladies.   

Kamilah Watson, Alona Joseph, Dawn Wright, and Tomisha McIntyre   

Kamilah Watson, Alona Joseph, Dawn Wright, and Tomisha McIntyre  

 

When I moved, I had to snap as many photos as possible. It was a bittersweet moment that left a lump in my throat for days. Sure, I had my first real best friend, Dawn Lourenzo from VA, but this was my first gang of friends. The New Yorker, The Georgian, The Virginian, The Chi-Towner. We just fell into place. No drama, no real fights, just a bond of tweens who missed their hometowns minus the one who was already in hers, Alona. 

Back in the day before social media and cell phones, staying in touch would require the hardcore effort and dedication like Dawn and I had. We wrote since my departure from VA up until the start of high school. And when I tried that  tradition with my ladies of GA, it didn’t quite work out, and having to write three ladies on top of my constant one sounded like an unrealistic task. 

As months turned into years and time progressed, it was clear that what we had was as happening as Vanilla Ice’s career. I mean, maybe we each carried one another in our hearts, but we wouldn’t know that. Once the era of high school rolled in, so did new friendships. 

 

 

Dawn Wright, Angela Pinder   —Fourth of July 20l3

Dawn Wright, Angela Pinder —Fourth of July 20l3

I met Angela in high school, and we’ve been in touch ever since. I say that because she moved to Miami to be with her family, who’d also left Virginia many years after our high school graduation. But out of everyone in our inner circle at school, she’s the one I held dearest to my heart.

In high school, we had our moody days. I would come crabby over the dumbest thing, but she was even more moodier. What mattered to Angela was that I didn’t take it personal. I’ll never forget the day we started our morning together on the wrong foot. I went to art class and she went to her class, whatever it was. By the time I came out, she’d slipped me a note, apologizing for her mood. I wasn’t gonna hold a grudge against my ride or die, so it was all forgotten. Besides, our moods rarely lasted past first period.  

We were bonded by all-things life. No topic was off-limits. I mean, as teenagers, we laughed about certain boys behind closed doors, revealed our crushes, acted petty, discussed which girls annoyed us. We had our own type of sense of humor. We were two Geminis who existed without affectionate references and hugs. We were just homegirls. Besties. But homegirls. We showed each other our art work, because she was artistic as well, but it wasn’t until adulthood did I discover just how talented she was. Again, I had a low-drama relationship with Angela.

To this day, I can go for months without calling her. She can go months without calling me. Texts may exist between us, but when we call one another, we just pick up where we left off from. Lately, we chat more frequently with me cracking up at her venting about her intolerance for Miami, but pouting at her longing to move back to DC. 

But before she moved to Miami, she was still a Washingtonian when I met my sister in college.  

 

Rita Stevens, Dawn Wright—November 2017, sleepovers  

Rita Stevens, Dawn Wright—November 2017, sleepovers  

I met this Gemini in 1998. Rita was the one who just knew so much and wasn’t the typcial college student. She spat nothing but knowledge and had that old spirit about her. Yeah, we could talk about everything under the sun, but the level of depth was unbelievable. Our talks about men, politics, socialism, racism, government affairs, love, friendship, health, mental health, the economy—core issues that people need to stay on top of to stay ahead of life. But even though we have that realnesss between us, we also have a fun side.

We have a tradition that every time we get together, a plate of Mexican food has to sit in front of us. Why? Because in college, we enrolled in Spanish and bonded over the music, the culture with and without our Latina friends in our highly-diverse woman’s college of DC. In car rides to the club, my boyfriend would share his collection of salsa, bachata, and merengue music, and with that, Rita and I picked certain songs that would hang with us today to offer that sense of nastalgia. Just last month, she hoped into my car and when she heard one of our merengue songs blaring, she instantly shrieked with laughter and in that moment, we both knew that the girls were back in the house. 🎶Donde estan las mamis? Where the mamis at?🎶 Thank you, Oro Solido!!!

I mean, I hadn’t seen my girl since 2014 and we live less than 30 miles apart! But we’re two Geminis who just fall into our own bubble of existence and not everyone can handle that kind of friendship. Our phone calls are sometimes the things that should be the girl time. When you know your girl will always be there waiting for you, you don’t trip, but you can’t let the phone be the girls’ night out either. But this is my sis. We don’t argue, we keep it real, we support one another, we laugh, we know when the other is drowing without throwing up flagging hands of help. My mother is her mother. My brother and boyfriend are her brothers. She is, my sister. 

Thanks to social media, I found my original crew. Alona used to be on FB, but after a few years of wishing each other happy birthday from one Gemini to another, our how-ya-doing-social media chat became the best part and last of our digital reunion. Tomisha was on FB, and even though we exchanged the how-ya-doing-so-happy-to-see-you talk, months later, she disappeared from FB—and from social media. Kamilah was on MySpace, because it was cool at one point. We exchanged numbers and shared a joyous, long conversation one time and after that, we, too, failed to keep in touch. 

Last year, I found Kamilah on LinkedIn. We were so happy to find one another! I took her number and never used it. I wanted to, but I think I felt so relieved by the fact that I’d found her, that the time I planned to her call just slipped away day after day. But when I logged onto Instagram one day a few weeks ago, I told myself that there was no excuse why we couldn’t find one another in 2017! So, I found her account and I took her number again and promised to call when I had no chance of interruptions.  

Over the phone tonight, we were like three women with an invisible table in front of us drinking martinis with salads. With beaming excitement, there were many times we each wanted to talk at the same time, so there was plenty of, “Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.” We also talked about the people we used to know. “Hey, do you remember the girl or boy who . . .?” 

The moment was filled with relief among women who shared history, memories, laughter, and respect. Alana may be missing, and maybe that will change, but there’s no break in our chain. We managed to anchor down a promise to keep in touch once a week moving forward.

I realize how blessed I am to have best friends near and far, who feel more like the sisters I craved to have growing up. One thing is for sure: If the ability to survive distance and time is indicative of a strong friendship, then the title ‘sister,’ was fitting after all.

 

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My last day at Salem before moving back to Virginia. 

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Why Wait For The New Year When You Have Today?

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Change. It can scare humans so much that we have to put a date on it. That date happens to be once a year. And I’m here to tell you, that if you want to change something, don’t wait! Let it happen immediately so you can put that improvement in motion. 

Case in point: I went for a (I know, no one wants to talk or hear about this, but get over it) colon cleanse one day back in 2007 in DC, and at the end of it, the technician (can I call her that?)—who was also the owner—instructed me not to eat anything with eyes. Laying on my side and with my bare butt poked in her direction, my eyes widened. What? Lady I am black! We needs our chicken!!! I mean, she should understand. She was black herself. Why would you ever tell another black person to lay off the chicken?

Well, hell. I’d paid over  $100 for this procedure. Besides, my stomach felt like heaven. It felt refreshed and brand new like a newborn. I was going to obey. Sighing, I finished up with her and went home. So, reporting back to work the following Monday, I informed my vegetarian friend of the instructions, which made her happy. And by the end of the week, I realized that I liked the absence of meat. My coworker urged me to keep going, and she was the extra push I needed. And when Thanksgiving came around, I told her that I couldn’t guarantee not touching the bird. She told me not to do it. In my heart, I agreed, it was the right choice. Thanksgiving came and I wasn’t even tempted. Notice how I didn’t wait to change on New Years? You wanna know how long I stuck by that lifestyle? I stuck by it for seven years. Eventually, a girl needs her chicken!

That fall night in October, I went to Whole Foods after work and picked up some chicken from the hot bar. Fried. Baked. You name it! I ate it. I was glad and unashamed. When you know you know. And I didn’t need a new year to make the change back to a carvinorous diet. 

I have more examples, but I think you get the point. Though I didn’t seek out a new dietary change the day of the colon cleanse, I could’ve used the New Year as an excuse to continue the vegetarian journey after the mandated week or to convert back to my meats for good. I did neither. True change that needs to be done should happen in an instant, even if that instant is the very next day. Days are renewed in 24 hours, but some of us wait for a new year to usher in the much-needed change. I know, I’ve been there almost every new year. But sometimes we wait for the new year, so we can keep wearing comfortable just a little bit longer. And we all know, comfort isn’t growing. So, slip into something less comfortable. I mean, if it ends up not being for you, you know where to find  your security blanket. 😊

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Purpose and Passion

How are are you treating yourself? Is this life what you’ve made it, or is this life making you? I know the feeling of both, so I know how to help you with your insight. 

 

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It all started back when I was in my twenties. I was optimistic, ambitious, but then found myself suddenly lost. Yeah, I just knew I was going to be  in the field of psychology. One way or another. I cringed at the thought of enduring a master’s program just to become one, but that’s mainly because my professor in undergrad unintentionally made it sound so daunting, but he was being truthful. I didn’t want to hear about math. Are you kidding me? See, this is why authoring and I go hand in hand. I just apply math to count my coins. 😂😂😂   

Okay, so really, let’s just say that I got off track when I lost my brother. No real direction or motivation, just forced to trudge along and to get excited about the future. I didn’t know it, but inside, I was dying.

The girl who was hopeful growing up, assertive, positive, self-assured, had become a shadow of herself. What would it take to get back to who I needed to be? I mean, my twenties felt silly. I was all over the place while touching nothing. It was me and teaching. I was effective at that and if you wanna know how to raise a successful child and how to parent with ease, I got you. I can sell a book on that, and I probably will. But in my twenties, I did so much soul searching, my soul ended up running from me just to get away from my flashlight. You understand what I’m saying? Sometimes, we look so deep, too deep, in fact, that there’s nothing to see. Nothing to find.  

That’s because, your flashlight turns black. Even a new pack of batteries won’t turn it back on. What to do now but to look stupid in the dark in your own life?

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Boo! Turn the lights back on, silly? Did I scare you! Ha! Calm down. I’m alive!!!  

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In my twenties, I was the most dead. I was beaming with life up until twenty-three. Bear with me: My brother was diagnosed in April 2003, I turned 23 in May 2003, so not knowing exactly how the cancer would change things, that steals who you are bit by bit. Would I lose my brother who felt more like a twin? That kills the spirit. The ups and the downs of the sickness. He’s in remission, he’s not. The chemo’s taking. It’s not! So by May 2004, he passed on Memorial Day, a week and a day after my birthday/college graduation. I died that day, too. 

 

With eyes wide open and air in my lungs, I still died. Now, this is not to make you sad. This is to recount the day I knew my life was no longer going to plan. And that kills a person’s soul. Soul searching can be liberating after a divorce, after you lose friends, a job—whatever. But it’s always scary!!! Who will you meet inside of you? But after a death, it’s indescribable. 

I mean, I thought I was alive. I smiled, laughed, cried, prayed, ate. I did everything like others. But my light was dim. And it was fading with each year. Do you think anyone could tell? Nope. I’m not that kind of person to show that. I had a person to be. I wasn’t necessarily faking it. I just knew that this was a showdown that God and I had to battle together because these mere mortals couldn’t do anything about my pain. Not my mom, not my other brother, not my man, not my friends. Just God and me. 

I didn’t know what to do for a living. And that was a problem! I made money, bought car after car, went clothes shopping, but I was still poor. I was poor, because I wasn’t planning. I was poor, because I wasn’t climbing. I was poor, because I had too many aspirations but no affirmations. I didn’t have a clear vision. I was poor, because I didn’t know what dream I was waking up to accomplish per day. I was just waking up and reporting to work. I was reading self-help books. I devoured them! From beauty, finances, business-starting, vegetarian lifestyle, to love, I was devouring these books. At one point, I even enrolled in cosmetology school after seeing those commercials one too many times. Darn those ads! Guess how long that lasted after convincing myself that standing over someone’s head was my passion. Cue the eye roll here. But in America, you’re taught to be someone! Doesn’t matter if you don’t own that person, just be her! She’s gotta be successful and employed! Be. Someone. America doesn’t care how you get there, or how much money you spend educating yourself. Your parents and the school counselors throw you into college out of fear of you losing momentum to learn. You gotta hurry up! Know who you want to be by 18! Those kids will be born and you won’t have time for college! Gooooo! 

Well, yes, and no.  

It’s got to be a collaborative effort. Parents need to pay attention to their children’s natural interest when they’re in preschool. Too many times, parents try to reroute kids back to “what pays.” You know what pays, parents? Passion! So when they get to high school, the counselor can feel like they’re ready for college. Do you really want your child to spend thousands in a program that may not work? Remember those young adults who attend Mom and Dad’s house for dinner, and over mashed potatoes and steak, they gotta tell their parents that they’re not gonna attend law school because they realized how much they love blah, blah, blah? Yeah. True, we “find” our passion late in life, but remember you are your most truest as a kid. Were you steered from the arts and craft section of class and redirected back to science? Did your parents cringe when they found out you loved to play more than recite numbers? You were probably more blunt until a loved one told you to hold back your tongue. You saw the world from a view of possibilities and yesses before people started to spill a bunch of ‘no’s’ into your pool of possibilities. You saw things logically, cut and dried. Remember as teen spitting this advice? If someone doesn’t love you, leave them. But you see adults crying to make a choice that they see is clear, because hearts get in the way and we try to glue things without any adhesion. Yeahhhhh. Try gluing Saran Wrap against a sheet of paper using tomato sauce. Does that work? No. Kids are simple. Adults are complicated. We overthink. We develop fear as something natural. I remember one author in my self-help book write that babies  fall over and over and keep getting up because the idea of ‘can’t’ doesn’t occur. They eventually learn how to walk! It’s the adults who seep negativity in. How right he is!

Maybe I blogged about this before, but when I was three, I taught myself to read and write. When I was growing up, I devoured Anne M. Martin books and R.L. Stine and then Harlequin novels as a young adult. I aced English my whole life (till one course in community college showed me how awful I was at writing a formal paper. She didn’t knock my butt into shape though) and by 18, I decided to write short stories because a book seemed impossible. I’d make it no more past 10 but when on to college anyway to major in English to become an author. See where I’d be today had I not chickened out and went to psychology? I was AFRAID of not having money as an author. I chose money over passion, and I would never do that again. But do you see how childhood shaped me for my adulthood? I didn’t ask to be great with vocab or to pick up writing, spelling, and reading with little effort? I didn’t ask to love devouring  books like a hungry man does food after work. This was all innate, and I say my purpose from God. And when we feed the purpose, we feed our souls. Needless to say, I don’t need no flashlight, I am my own light. 

 

So many headaches could be avoided if we just do what comes naturally and leave out the equation of money. Yes. Life requires money. You gotta pay rent, mortgage, car note, and all that goodness. But at some point and to a certain degree, money as an incentive has to take a backseat. Your happiness has to be the driver so you don’t crash. Is there a way to let your happiness make you money so that they become inseparable like my brother and me?

I’m rich now! I wake up with a purpose. We writers have a rule that if something doesn’t push your plot forward, it must go. Well, my life is like that and yours should be, too. My choices are intentional, and if they don’t push my life forward, I don’t engage. It’s as simple as that. I breathe better, I now pray more for others even when I need it for myself. I give more ‘thanks’ to God than before and without following it with a need. Don’t waste time with a constant focus on money. I have people in my inner circle with great salaries, but they’re tired. They want something else. Can you blame them? We’re put here to fuel our dreams and when you forget about your passion for the sake of money, you forget to dream and you’ve already fallen asleep! Some people say, “My dream is to make money!” I shake my head. At least say sales is your dream. Usually people in some sort of pyramid setup or sales say this. Money is the result of some kind of work performed which means that it’s always gonna come anyway. That’s conditional. If we work, then we’ll get paid.

Now, let me clarify, that this is not to bash anyone’s choices or to make anyone feel bad. And this is not to say that I don’t have my days. I still feel like my hope is as deep as the pockets in my jeans some day. Had it been anything but my passion, I would’ve quit by now. Being an author is around the clock work with many tasks that NEVER end. There is no clocking out. You stop to eat, sleep, take time for loved ones. However, if we’re intentional and passionate, it doesn’t feel like work, but play. No one will have to convince you to do anything. You won’t believe that you get paid to do something that brings happiness! You’ll eat, drink, and sleep this. Even the headaches of it all won’t convince you to quit. When things look bleak, you’ll refuse to give up on yourself. It doesn’t matter if you work for someone or for yourself.

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If you can relate to those points, then congratulations, you know your purpose in life. And if you don’t know what that passion is, look toward your childhood and think of what you gravitated to most. Ask those who witnessed your development. What do you gravitate toward now? Don’t overthink it or I swear I’ll beat you down! Forget about then concerns and don’t block your brain. Don’t say, “Ohhh, if I didn’t have kids or well, when this is not a factor”—stop! Just reflect without worry of elements. Think. Connect. Be honest. What would you love to do without caring what it took to get there? What don’t you tire of? What do you do well?

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When you realize your purpose, you get passionionate. When you work with passion, you’ll have focus. When you have focus, you’ll have happiness! 

 

 

**Stop by tomorrow, and I’ll share my view of aging from the eyes of a thirty year old.  

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