Are You Living or Are You Existing?

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I woke up this morning with a heart full of gratitude. I thought about all of the doors that are opening for me. I thought about my purpose and the passion that I’ve been chasing. Truth is, everything that I’ve been doing is coming full circle from my desire to work with teens and teen girls and my desire to be a writer…the webs are connecting. Finally. So I took an opportunity recently as a full-time high school teacher with KIPP NJ. I figured it would definitely help my writing and speaking skills, it would most certainly help me to understand a huge portion of my audience when it comes to the books I have prepared: teens, and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to fund those published author dreams in the process. Yes, I am still writing for Madame Noire, Upscale Magazine and editing for Black Girl Magik, so imagine the stretching that’s about to take place come September. Yikes!

I see often on social media “I know I wasn’t born to just pay bills and die.” My question is…what are you doing in your life so that you aren’t JUST paying bills and aging? Ask yourself are you really living or just existing and what can you do so that you can fully start to appreciate your life in it’s entirety? For me, it lied in financial security and freedom. I am literally a starving artist. My plate is always full, but my bank accounts are also always near empty and I knew that in order to fully embrace my life again as I had when I was in Newark…I had to change my perspective on things. I quit my job in October 2015 because I hated it there. I was at a place that only allowed me to exist and trying to live often left me broke and hungry. So I figured, hey I’m going to pursue this writing thing full time…in the meantime until I finally figure out my place. Well, I found it…let the living commence!!

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Anyway, lately I’ve been connecting with some pretty awesome and inspiring people who dream beyond their 9-5’s, but who also know that they need their 9-5’s in order to live their dreams. One guy, in particular, named Stephen talked to me about his daily checklist and how he holds himself accountable in all aspects of his life. As he was talking, I found myself writing down what he was saying. I wrote down every question on his daily checklist and I thought for someone who realizes they are existing and wish to start living, this is a great place to start.

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Now, these questions might do absolutely nothing for you, but the most important thing is that you’re asking questions about your life because when you ask questions it means that you’re curious and when you’re curious it means that there is still room for growth and when you’re growing, you’ll never find yourself in the same spot every single day existing.

Are you living or are you existing? Are you dancing or are you holding up the wall?

 

 

Unpacking The Bags of Others.

Erykah Badu’s song “Bag Lady” released in the year 2000. I was only in the 5th grade and I would ride the bus to and from school on the other side of my city, but I remember the bus driver would always have the radio on and it would always be on the soul and R&B stations so on our way to school and on our way home from school the bus would be full of kids singing along loudly, not fully understanding what these songs were actually about.

I remember listening to “Bag Lady” literally thinking it was just about women carrying too many bags. Like the kind you see struggling to catch the bus, with a bunch of groceries or shopping bags, but as I got older I began to understand the figurative meaning of carrying bags. We as women tend to carry a lot of them and often times when we’re told to let them go…we don’t know how.

Sometimes as black women it’s hard for us to unpack the luggage we carry because often times its not our own but someone else’s so we don’t even know it’s there. But it is and it affects us and those around us deeply. If you’re one of those women it’s time to start doing some self-checking on the state of your mental and emotional well-being. If you haven’t done so, now’s a great time to start. Who’s bag are you carrying?

There are times when I’m around certain people and my entire attitude just shifts. I find myself easily agitated, complaining and upset and it’s really unnecessary for me to be feeling that way. There are times when friends are going through a tough time and while it might be ideal to be there for them, their energy is taking a negative toll on you. It’s okay to let all of that go. It’s also okay to be there for them without taking on their baggage. It’s possible.

Don’t burden yourself with someone else’s baggage. Women we are often guilty of doing that. We absorb the burdens of our children, our family, our friends, our significant others and we carry them with us. We can’t resolve them because we don’t even know that the death of your friend’s grandma’s sister’s cousin is stuck with us. You don’t know that your best friend’s boyfriend’s financial issues are now your burden because she talks about them whenever you’re around each other. You don’t know that any of it is there simply because it isn’t yours, but it’s there. We are the original empaths, but while we’re emotionally investing in others, who’s checking on us? Who’s bags are we carrying?

So in the words of Ms. Badu “let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go.”

6 Times I Got My Life Reading “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Today was the perfect day for some much needed R&R (reading and relaxation) time. So after watching a few episodes of Bob’s Burger on Netflix, I decided to disconnect and tackle the books that I had gotten in a recent book haul on Amazon. I finished the final chapter of the mystery book that took me a month to read and decided that I would dive into some of the great works Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Half of a Yellow Sun a few years ago and hadn’t had the opportunity to read any of her work since so I was excited when I got my hands on a copy of “We Should All Be Feminist” that was originally adapted from one of her famous TEDTalks.

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So I found me an awesome sun spot in my room, made me a huge cup of warm chai and prepared to have my life handed to me. Although, I do wish it were a longer read, her words did pack a powerful punch and it was really interesting to see how “feminism” showed itself in so many different ways culturally whether in America or in Nigeria. So in between sips of chai, I found myself with a bulk of yellow stickies making notes and sticking them in between the pages I wanted to read over and over again. Here are six times I got my life, snapped my fingers and let out a “yaaaaasssss” as I read along. Had I been at her TEDTalk, I’d have probably been that one black woman doing that.

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“But by far the worst thing we do to males–by making them feel they have to be hard–is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.”

“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all–it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.”

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“We use the word respect for something a woman shows a man, but not often for something a man shows a woman. Both men and women will say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage.’ When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway. Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity–‘Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.’ When women say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage,’ it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream. We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.”

“Some people ask why the word ‘feminist?’ Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that? Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general– but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem that should acknowledge that.”

“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men.”

If you didn’t get your life after reading those quotes, or if you weren’t prompted to get your own copy then I don’t know what else to tell you, but it sparked something in me. She made it a point to make feminism a universal cause. We should literally all be feminist just as we should all read this book!

Next Up: “Americanah”

5 Podcast To Get You Through The Monday Blues

In this digital age, there are certain things that I miss at times like the importance of a landline phone, or a good paperback book and talk radio shows with music and hilarious discussion topics. I’ve jumped on the podcast bandwagon. I love them. I laugh with them and shake my head in agreement with their commentary. There are five in particular that I look forward to every week to get me through my 8 minute ab workout or help me get through the digital pile of deadlines that find their way onto my desktop.

The Friendzone 

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I’ve been a HeyFranHey fan since my earlier Tumblr days in 2009 and she serves as the right amount of balance between Assante and Dustin with their hilarious antics and commentary. Listen along every Wednesday as Dustin Ross, HeyFranHey & Assante explore mental hygiene, because who in the hell wants a musty brain? 

Girlboss Radio

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In case you’re ever in need of some morning inspiration #Girlboss legend Sophia Amoruso finds some of the most brilliant women entrepreneurs and gets all the inside scoop on their building process, career gems and strategies. It’s also girl chat as well.

Black Girls Talking

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It’s like dialing up for girls on a conference call. Black Girls Talking is a podcast wherein 4 black women discuss pop culture, Beyonce, & the pursuit of the perfect body oil.

Another Round

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Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.

2 Dope Queens

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Join the 2 Dope Queens, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel. Plus a whole bunch of other s**t.

Produced by WNYC Studios.

So you know, while you’re brushing your teeth or while you’re getting dressed or frying you an egg or simply making a smoothie, give one of them a listen and get ready for some morning laughter.

 

 

There’s An App For That | Project Dragonfruit

Move over Alex Hitchens there’s a new date doctor in town. Somewhere on the interwebs a genius scientist has created something that’ll allow you’re geekiness to flourish. A digital land for your cosplay dreams to be a 24/7 reality. Out with the days of being a shamed Eagle Scout. Here are the days where a man (or woman) spending days battling the worst pokemon or running through hours of “Call of Duty” is the new “Netflix and Chill.”

If you’re looking for a life partner as devoted to finding the seven dragonballs as you and believe you have a strong connection to the growth of Goku; If you’re ever looking for someone to spend the rest of your comic con days with; If ever you need someone to be the Kagome to your InuYasha…there’s an app for that.

Seriously, the people over at Dragonfruit have created an online database and dating site, soon to be app for all your geek love to prosper. In their blogosphere they tackle everyday dating topics such as anxiety, first dates, long distance relationships, but even feature topics such as Cosplay Connection and a Relationship Help Desk.

 

 

Do you ever feel like you just don’t fit?  Your family doesn’t understand your interests, and why even bother to tell your coworkers what you’re doing this weekend, right?  Only your friends, the ones who share your geekiness, really get you.

Geeks can have a hard time finding friends who share their interests (although it’s getting better all the time) and an even harder time finding that special someone.

Although it is still in Beta, Dragonfruit is looking forward to launching their dating app in both iOS and Android format. However, you can still sign up for an account on the web betaThis dating site makes geekdom as cool as the days of Lambda Lambda Lambda.

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BeatHead Babe: Green Aphrodisiac | Corinne Bailey Rae

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Today was off to a slow start with the dark, rain and gloomy feeling of exhaustion that comes with Mondays, but it turned out to be an almost sunny day by noon and the weather picked up a notch to a warmer temperature, so I took that as an opportunity to take a walk in the hopes of walking off the pain from my weekend workout.

I tend to do this thing where I’ll put my headphones on and turn the volume up really loud and walk and sight see things I’ve already seen, but in my mind, I’m walking in a music video (don’t judge me, you do it too). I love this song by CBR. I have been a huge fan of hers since “Put Your Records On” and her albums just become more and more soulful as she evolves as an artist.

I think there’s a cool coincidence that my favorite color is green and me and my love have this thing where we’re both into extraterrestrial things and space and astrology to which neither of us has studied, but it’s so interesting. Anyway, this is an amazingly soulful tune that will mellow you in a gooood way and turn those dreary vibes into chill ones.

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