We're (Definitely) Going To Need More Wine

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We're (Definitely) Going To Need More Wine

Here is a little disclosure about me, I don’t generally like autobiographies. I find that they can be terribly dull and full of pomp. I know I read The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish, but if you’ll remember, I also said that the writing left much to be desired. But Gabrielle Union's book We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and Are True was a delight to read! It was finished before I was.

Within this book, there were so many nuggets can could be the area of focus. We could talk about how we pretend to be something/someone we are not so that we can fit into various groups. We could also talk about what can happen to a relationship when our significant others' family doesn't like us. We can talk about the impacts of sexual assault, being with the wrong person, or finding the right person. But what I want to talk about is the process by which Gabrielle Union, not only created a wholly new unit with her husband, Dwayne Wade, but also what her experience in Blackness confirms and re-teaches us.

At the very beginning of this book, Gabrielle explains the way in which she will tell us of her experiences. She pretty much goes in chronological order of her life, while also delving into what they mean in the context of living and learning in America. As a never-gonna-be-considered-a-light-skinned-woman female, I feel like I can hold on to her experiences just a little more than I could for someone who has light skinned privilege. This for me is as important a distinction as knowing that the experience of Black women is different than the experience of white women and other Women Of Color (WOC). It matters because there are levels to privilege in this country. While ALL women are generally, second class citizens, WOC are more likely to be further disrespected and disadvantaged due to their race. While WOC are disrespected due to their race, there still exists (across ethnic status) a general anti-Blackness. When you are Black, you are the “anti.” You are the very essence of what people do not want to be, so that they can hold some status of being privileged. For me, the story of say..Paula Patton would be very different from Gabrielle Union. Yes, both are women of color. Both may even identify as Black women. But one of those women is walking around wearing the gown of light skinned and hair texture privilege that the other can’t even walk into the store to purchase. These are made to order gowns, that are hard as hell to remove. It’s not anyone’s “fault” that some people get to wear it and others don’t, but I think it’s safe to say there are advantages (financial and otherwise) that come with being able to wear that particular privileged gown.

Anyway, I found that the general life experiences of Gabrielle Union were completely relatable. Her formative years seemed to be spent trying to fit in, but with the Blackness rules in tact. She shed pieces of herself to fit in with the rich white kids of her school. She cloaked herself in Blackness when she was around her own. And she maintained the idea that she would need to work twice as hard to get half as far. She also understood that it would often be her perverse pain (and pleasure?) to be the representative of the entire Black race, in spaces where many white folks are gathered. Many people have their story about how they change the outward essence of who they are to be with various crowds. Lots of people, but perhaps fewer than the many who change themselves, remember the moment when that stopped being the case. For me, one of the many times this metamorphosis happened was in high school. When I realized that I didn’t like quite as many people as I thought I should. And when I got to the point where I realized I wouldn’t be with those people forever, I said “fuck it, I am gonna do me.” And I did. I stopped worrying about what the people thought of me and did what was ME--reading, loving my family, eating, etc. Gabrielle Union, my twin, also experienced something similar. Her’s also seemed to happen in stages, with one of the most obvious forms of the metamorphosis coinciding with the writing of this book.

Gabrielle talked about how her skin tone kept her from certain roles, from fitting in completely with her white friends, who couldn’t understand her experience. She spoke about her self-esteem and tearing down other people to feel better about herself; tactics that did not actually work. But what I am most humbled by her sharing is her black experience as someone with money (and fame), and trying to buy the feeling of safety of her neighbors as a way to barter for her life and the life of her husband and step-sons.

The (Other) Talk

In the Black Community we have “The Talk.” This talk is not the one about sex and sexuality and growing into your body and all that Jazz. That Talk seems to hardly happen for some because people are scared and nervous to talk about sex with their kids because it seems taboo. This Talk I’m talking about was featured on the tv show Blackish. It’s the Talk folks give to their children to remind them that the world hates them. The talk that emphasizes that outside of the sanctity of their home, others, usually white others will see them as a threat. Black folk and anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and/or a mind to understand will know that this is very much the case. I am not sure that evidence is needed but let’s consider that in the second week of April a young boy was shot at asking for directions to school. Shot at because they felt there was a threat to them. Shot because a black boy walked up to ask a question. From a neighbor. About school. Because when white people move into black neighborhoods, they do so with fear in their hearts. Because they want to “improve” the neighborhood through gentrification. Again, I digress. Also, in the second week of April, two black men were arrested for...are you ready? Sitting inside a Starbucks waiting for someone with whom they would talk business. This post isn’t about lamenting that Black People can’t seem to do shit without consequences that are disproportionate to their respective “crimes.” This prose is literally about “The Talk" we have to have. Now most people people of color may recognize that this Talk usually happens with children but I want to give a perspective that may not be as discussed. Having “The Talk” with lovers, partners, husbands, and wives.

I am nobody’s wife (yet) but I am partnered but I am having this Talk. As a Sex and Relationship Therapist in the Washington D.C. metro area, I am also seeing people who are having this Talk with their significant and non-significant others. People of color are spending an inordinate amount of time trying to remind people they care for or are starting to care for, to be careful. I, myself, remind my partner to be wise when out so that he can return to me. I ask that hoodies be left alone and the he try to have the keys out and ready when he wants to get in the car.

In Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going To Need More Wine she talks about dropping a “Black Bomb” on Dwayne with regards to their kids. “Black Bombs” are much like The Talk, where the realities of Blackness are told to those who are Black to teach them the “rules” that could guide their general safety and allow them to return to their families. Now, I won’t tell you the specifics, but the idea here was that while at their Florida home (a stand your ground state) Dwayne allowed the boys to go out in the late evening (like 9/10pm). Gabrielle had forbidden it the day before because they are 2 black boys, who are taller than your average, and could be another statistic or hashtag. But it doesn’t end there, she talks about trying to consistently get the boys to understand the realities of being Black boys in a society that hates Black people. It seems that her role, in many ways is to remind them that though they have the privilege of money, that money doesn’t necessarily buy safety for Black bodies which are still reviled. Funnily enough, in another chapter, Gabrielle Union, Dropper of Bombs, tries to buy the feeling of safety for her Chicago neighbors with mittens!

Gabrielle, I can call her that, she is my twin after all, speaks about bundling up in the dead of winter while in Chicago. In trying to get past 2 neighbors, who managed to block the sidewalk, she practiced what she was going to say to be considered a non-threatening negro. It didn't work. They saw her skin color and blanched, maybe even calling her a thug. And the next time Gab went out, she changed up her routine and put on mitten because “thugs don’t wear mittens.” That point had me rolling on the floor--okay in my bed-- with laughter. I literally thought about how she was going to erase centuries of discrimination and anti-Blackness with mittens, which she then says a few pages later! I told yall we are twins!  

To the point: I often wonder about the difference between men and women. Women are told the world is unsafe and they should be aware from a young age. We are taught and conditioned to be aware of the rapists and sexual assaulters who lurk in the dark. We are told to beware of the purse snatchers. As such, we have also been given pretty explicit instructions on how to NOT become a victim. The instructions are fairly simple, if not completely sexist and inconvenient; don’t get drunk at parties, have your keys in your hand before you get to you car, immediately lock the doors, park under a light where you can be seen, don’t walk anywhere alone, cross your purse around your body. If shit really goes wrong, don’t resist if someone wants something from you, even your body, as long as they don’t try to take you anywhere. Men, on the other hand, are told and shown that they are generally safe in their male bodies. The only thing is for Black men, it seems like it can be a warring between two realities. The reality of being a man and having a certain level of “guaranteed” safety. And the reality that for Black men it’s more the skin that is considered the sin, not so much the body itself.

Dwayne thought of letting the boys out at night, as a way of cutting the parental strings. Of letting them show they were capable young men who can go out and return with no issue. Gabrielle, having been told all her life that her female body is an unsafe sin, and her color will get her killed to boot, who has also had said body violated, had a completely different take. Could this be part of the problem? Is there a juxtaposition in being in the “right body but being the “wrong” color? Does being in the “wrong” body automatically make you more aware? Is it the socialization of girls that makes us more aware? I don’t know.

The DOC’s Recommendation

You should have already gotten the book before you even finished reading this! This is one that has re-read value in my opinion. I may have to use this book for another book review! So yes, my suggestion is to read this one. Buy it, if you are a person who purchases books. If you really gotta try it on before you decide to take it home, the library is always a great (free) place to start.

 

Let’s keep the conversation going! What "Black Bombs" do you drop on your loved ones?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hating on Women: from Cosby to Fabolous

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Hating on Women: from Cosby to Fabolous

 

There has been much going on in the last two weeks. Last weeks blog about what a woman is worth if she has no children and no man, as told from the public shaming of Ashanti, was put up last week. But this week, I want to talk more explicitly, about, but not about Emily B. and Fabolous. Let’s start with what we know. What we know is that Emily B had her teeth knocked out. What we also know is that there is a video of Fabolous, Emily B., and her father, where Fab is threatening Emily B and her dad. What we see is that when Fab approaches Emily, there is a bodyguard(?) holding him back, and she runs away.

 

Why am I starting with what we know and what we see? I am starting there because even when we have eyes to see, to read, to really peer, we may or may not use them. I am only pointing out what some people would call the “facts.” But like I said, this prose is about but not about the Emily/Fab situation. This is more about what has been seen after, by the masses. This is more about the value of a woman and her word. This is more about money, memories, and the perception of a world in black and white. What I saw two weeks ago, leading up to this week, left much to be desired.  I saw that women were working extra hard to defend their personhood and the stats that support them, while men required “all the facts” before rendering judgement.

 

In situations where a woman, especially a woman of color, has accused a man of wrongdoing, be it sexual, physical,  or otherwise, there is a haze of doubt that now comes over her words and the situation. Never you mind that we hardly need ALL the facts when it comes to Black men being shot in the street by police, or men saying they have been hurt or wronged, we believe them. More than that, Black women will rally around them. However, let a woman say someone has hurt her and watch how quickly the men need “all the facts.”

What I have seen is an assassination on the character of women who accuse beloved men of...well….anything. They are now worthy of being called out of their names, and having their character doubted. While wanting to know the facts is not a bad thing, it isn’t done evenly across the board. It is a time of picking and choosing who and what to believe, and women are almost never chosen. I often wonder, if like the saying goes, that white people love Black culture, but hate Black people is also synonymous with how men feel about women. Do men love pussy, but hate women? **Granted this is from a heteronormative perspective** I think the question is valid if only because the same arguments Black people use to say we have value, are being used by women when talking to men. I say this because the response is often the same close minded words used by white people to diminish personhood or the presented issue at hand.

The problem is that we tend to see people and situations in black and white. We cannot fathom that someone we LIKE is also not liked by others. We cannot see that people are multifaceted and varied. We can give ourselves leeway and grace because we know that we are both saints and scoundrels, but we imagine something else for others. We have equated that doing a bad thing makes you a wholly bad person. Meaning that if you know the person to have done some good things, you must now deny the evidence of their depravity because it causes cognitive dissonance within you.

 

 

Case and point:

Bill Cosby. I don’t care what anyone else has to say on the subject, but there were entirely too many women who came forward about his behavior for NONE of them to be believed. Some were saying it was a white women’s issue, and that white women lie. I am saying that even if you choose to ignore those you have already deemed liars, what about the women of color who also are pointing the accusing finger at the man? Seems that their accusations, their hurts, and the pain they endured has been erased as an non-issue. But, I digress. Getting back to the point, to see those accusations broke something in many people. They did not want to believe that their beloved father of The Cosby Show could also be..I don’t know, a sexual being for one. And for two, be a person who exerts power over others. When you see him as a thing from a tv show (where he was acting) but cannot manage to see the rest of him, do you not do him a disservice? Do you not also do yourself a disservice? The fact is we like to sanitize people to be what we think they already are. We will erase the good or the bad in favor of the narrative that best fits with what makes us feel comfortable. We also do this in our very relationships. We can break up with someone and have a longing so intense it keeps us from moving on. We have forgotten why we do not work and have hyper focused on what made the relationship great. Rewriting history in our minds. OR vice versa, we hyper focus on what was bad in the relationship and forget that there was also good there. Some of us do this in an attempt to move on, but really we are collecting baggage that will accompany us into the next relationship.

Now with Fab and Emily, people have already judged her character and found it lacking. People have already decided, that despite what they saw on the video and have read in articles, his character is too laid back to be beating on any woman. Have we ignored the evidence in front of us? Or does the evidence not matter in the face of the hate we bear for women?

Men have been taught that they are to rule over and lead women. Because women refuse to “stay in their place” we are almost automatically reviled. Women have also been taught to hate women. We hate them for the same reason and also because of competition. Only one of us is allowed out at a time. Only one of various types can be representative of the female voice. Imagine how this impacts the mind day in and day out. Imagine what younger generations are taught. Because even though you may notice the shenanigans, there is still lots of work internally that needs to be done for this to not take the deep entrenched hold. Sexism is much like racism in this country, a constant, woven into the very fabric of our lives. To live outside of that is to tear the fabric, shake the foundations. It requires a daily emancipation, knowing that some days you will succumb. It’s a constant everlasting battle. And as I have said before, I grow tired.

Looking for a therapist to help you process it all? Hit THIS LINK to get on my therapy calendar OR THIS LINK to have a discovery call with me. 

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The Worth Of A Woman with No Man and No Kids: A Response

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The Worth Of A Woman with No Man and No Kids: A Response

Photo by @createdbyjarrod from Nappy.Co

So, last week, on the last week of Women’s History Month, some folks over at Media Takeout decided that they were going to make Ashanti the butt of their jokes. In case you missed it, a screenshot of what they posted to Instagram is below.

 

Ashanti Bashing

Aside from the fact that this is a disgusting display of toxic masculinity rooted in patriarchy that would believe a woman’s whole self should be dedicated to belonging to someone in order to be considered someone of worth, I do want to have a real discussion about this. I especially want to talk to the self identified women who see this, laugh, but in reality take this to heart.

This society, has much to offer, but also lots of ways in which it needs to grow. I once said that I was all for the coming Ragnarok that would shake things up and change this country to be as inclusive/integrative as it pretends to be. This meme, to me is a direct reflection of where the problems are and needs to be fixed: it’s a display of sexism and racism (internalized or not).

Black women have been consistently told since the times of slavery that they hold no worth twice over. First they hold no worth in a place which reveres men. Secondly they have no worth in a world that favors whiteness. When you are both Black and female, you are, in many ways, considered to be at the bottom. Never mind the hierarchy that exists in Black spaces related to colorism and texturism. The context of skin tone and hair texture matter, but I want to speak about Blackness and Womaness in a larger context for right now.

Black women are constantly under attack. We are under attack from the “mainstream;” whiteness who seeks our erasure. We are under attack from non-Black POC, who aspire to whiteness and would do so by stepping on us to be considered further removed. We are also under attack from other Black people, especially Black men, who seek dominance and an equality with White men, to rule over women, not to seek true Black liberation.

I am sure that coming from a self identified Black Woman who is a Sex and Relationship Therapist by education, skill, and trade, this all seems strange and out of the realm of what I should be talking about on this blog. But I am dedicated to speaking about Black womanhood, in all its forms and the impact on the psyche.

This meme came out and some really did think it was funny. Someone obviously thought it was funny enough to post. I am sure others commented. And if I know human nature, someone was offended and was told they were taking it too seriously. That it is a joke. The thing is though, womanhood, Black womanhood specifically, always seem to be the ass of someone’s jokes. Black women, who may have initially been offended, are often asked to re-evaluate their feelings to know that they are taking it too seriously, that it wasn’t intended to be harmful. BUT IT WAS! And I for one am tired of hearing/seeing people say that the way Black women feel about a situation is over done or outright wrong! This can make it so hard for people to express themselves without doubting the very emotions they experience on a day to day basis. 

The problem is that when we are constantly seeing displays that tell us Black women are without worth, or that something must be wrong because we don’t have (or maybe want?) children and/or a man, they are attacks on us as people, on our womanhood, and on our choice to live our lives as we deem fit. These seemingly small instances that tell us to examine our lives and see if we measure up to the expectations others have for us. When men focus on what they want for themselves, they are not told they are being selfish or that they have been devalued. They are not told to hold back because they will not be able to find a mate depending on their level of success. This message is reserved for women. This is why I focus on Black women and their self-esteem and self love. It can be hard to have good self-esteem and to love yourself when you are told that you have no reason to be happy with who you are. This is the reason so many are hurt on a day to day basis; why women stay in relationships that don’t work or are abusive financially, emotionally, or physically. We are scared to be alone. We have been taught to aspire to be chosen by someone. We have been taught that who we get is reflective of what we deserve. We have been taught that being in a bad relationship is better than being alone. The underlying message not often said aloud is “You have no value except that which you receive by having a man” or “You--the person--have no value, only your vulva, vagina, and uterus” All of this to say that proximity to a man who wants to be with you and and give you children is your true worth. IT’S NOT!

You are a human being. You get to decide what you want for your life. I am not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s necessary. People who are trying so hard to tell you what you SHOULD do with your life, are often threatened by what you can and have already achieved. Black people are often told that they need to work twice as hard to get half as far. And Black women are certainly achieving. We are the frontrunners for acquiring advanced degrees, starting up businesses, and Melanin Magic-ing all over the place! That doesn't mean we don't have desires, but we don't have to be defined by those desires. But in all this negativity, what can you do?

1. Acknowledge. Acknowledge that if you have watched ANY American TV shows, grew up in America, etc. that you have received messages about your worth, value, and potential, as a Black woman. Acknowledge all the microaggressions and misogynoir that you have endured thus far.

For those who aren’t Black women, consider that you have received the same messages--evaluate how you think about, talk to, and talk about Black women and women of color.

2. Educate yourself! Seems silly, but I really do think that knowledge can be a form of power. Be more acquainted with words like “gaslight,” “microaggressions,” misogynoir” etc. This education also asks  you to take stock of what has been said and done to you. To learn how  to identify and recognize when it is happening to you. But more than that, for you to determine the best way for YOU to deal with it when it comes. Holding on to the hurts that come your way can provoke feelings of anxiety and depression. They can spiral out of control and have you doubting your worth and your self-esteem can suffer. So, how will you let go?

For those who aren’t Black women: think about what you may have said that came out like a backhanded compliment. Think about what you may have done that would qualify as a microaggression, misogynoir, etc. How will you check yourself (or people around you) in the future? How will you progress in your journey. Do you even want to?

3. Start or continue your healing process. This part is vital. Synthesizing the information you have, starting the process of self love and appreciation can take you far in life. Maybe you will take the journey alone. Maybe you employ a coach or therapist. The choice is really based on what fits for you. If you are looking for a therapist, Therapy For Black Girls is a great place to start, since they have a national directory. If you want to work with me specifically, you can do that by clicking HERE to get on my schedule or click HERE to schedule a free 15 minute phone consult. Just know, help is available to you.

4. Acceptance. Accept where you are in the process. NOT the B.S. that people will say and do to you on the daily. You don’t need to accept bullsh!t. Accepting who you are will change your outlook on many things BUT, it will require the work of up keep. Just because you are liberated on a Tuesday, doesn’t mean you won’t fall prey to some of the same thoughts and actions on Friday. Each day you must choose your path and battle it out. Some days you will be too tired to fight, and that’s okay, too.

The Doc's Recommendation:

We need to call out every instance that is an attack on Black womanhood. We have already had enough ‘jokes’ that are in poor taste. We have already seen the various and sometimes dire consequences of this way of thinking and this toxic masculinity based patriarchy. It's time for change. Time to start with the person in the mirror.  

 

Let me know how you feel below in the comments section. 

 

 

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We Belong Together...? Then Why do I Feel STUCK!

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We Belong Together...? Then Why do I Feel STUCK!

Photo by Kat Love on Unsplash

I got more advice yall. I mean why shouldn’t you get as much as you can from a sex therapist, right? So, here we go again. This is the second post in honor of some of the clients I see. A week or two ago, I did a post on how to get through when you just broke up with someone. You can read that HERE. Today we are moving on to those who aren’t sure if the person they are with, is the person they should be with. In other words, those who feel stuck and aren’t sure how to move forward.

Sort of like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, you could be tryna figure out if the partner you chose (or the one who chose you) is the right fit. But instead of the classic gif:

Yours might be more like, “I love them, I love them not.” OR even more confusing: “I love them, but do we work” Should I stay or should I go.

To the point of frustration: “I don’t know if I am with the right person. I feel stuck!”

 

But let’s talk about why you feel stuck. The answer to that is pretty simple FEAR! It’s a key piece that no one ever wants to talk about. Talking about what you are scared of, for some, makes it that much more real. The thing is though, it doesn’t seem that keeping your fears to yourself is helping. You are still dating in fear, being with unsuitable people in your fear, and basically letting what scares you run your life. Acknowledged or not, fear is winning. Just like you don’t have to be scared to get your butt whooped, you also don’t have to acknowledge what scares you for it to still run your life!

Folk talk a lot about FOMO-- fear of missing out-- but try to make is sound baseless. The thing is that experiencing FOMO probably happens more often than we like to admit. Missing out on a good party or vacation is one thing, it can be easier, in a sense, for some people to get over that. They will make adjustments, plan differently and make sure that they go to the next one. Some people will express that they wish they hadn't missed out, and make sure they are financially prepared the next go round, and actually go. But FOMO can also apply to people.

We are scared that the person we are with, who may be lackluster overall, may actually be our one true soulmate. We are worried that if we leave this person, we will have missed our opportunity to get that “Happily Ever After.” It’s the fear that has most people stuck, not knowing what they “should” do in a relationship. YOU ALREADY KNOW! You know that the relationship you have is not the one you want to be experiencing. You know that the person you are with doesn’t quite fit. You know that you should exit stage left, but you are scared of what is beyond. You are scared of not being in a relationship when society has told you again and again, as a woman--and as a woman of color especially-- that your worth lies in your ability to get and keep a partner. That you must reach for the moon and hopefully land among the stars. When your worth is tied up in having a relationship, the person you are actually with seems to matter a little less. You are willing to compromise a little more. And before you know it, you’re in THE WORST relationship you could have ever dreamed for yourself. Maybe it is not a physically abusive relationship, maybe it’s not “abusive” in any traditional way. Maybe it's that person who cheats or lies, or otherwise is not worthy of your time. Maybe it’s the type of relationship that has you loosing piece after piece of yourself and what you actually want. Maybe it’s the relationship and partner who is not equally yoked, and who you have to pour into but they could never help to replenish you. Isn’t that abusive enough? How much worse can it get when you lose yourself to have a partner?

Some steps you can take:

  1. Acknowledge the fear that underlies your willingness to stay

  2. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP! You do need to acknowledge what you actually want to be getting. When you know what you want, talk to your partner about it. See how you could change up those dynamics either on your own or with a relationship coach or therapist. You might be able to get what you want with the person you are with!

  3. If you have tried, and put forth your best effort but aren’t seeing the fruits that you need, consider that you may need to...LEAVE! I am not sure how you would be serving them or yourself by staying in a relationship you will grow to resent or hate. Weigh the pros and cons. Explore the emotions that come up for you, and act accordingly. Sometimes its can help to talk it out with a friend but is probably better with an unbiased professional. Enlist the help you need. You don’t have to go it alone.

As always, my services on the long or short term are available to you. Hit THIS LINK to get on my therapy calendar OR THIS LINK to have a discovery call with me. What would you discover? You would discover if you would like to work with me in a more long term capacity. LOL. I’ll be back with a new blog post next week!

 

 

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Turn the Page: Harry Potter Series

Turn the Page: Harry Potter Series

If I’m writing about a book, it must be the 3rd Friday of the month. This month, I want to focus on an oldie but a goodie. I allow myself to read 12 books a year. For some, this seems like a lot. For others, is seems a small amount. Allow me to give you context. I have been a person who has had a goal to read 100 books in a year and exceeded my own expectations. I could go through a book in a matter of days. The problem was, it didn’t help my social life at all. I constantly was reading (enjoying every minute of it, if i say so) but suffering socially. In my efforts to have more social time, I reduced my goal and reduced it again. This year I am at 12 books….but I cheat. I cheat by saying I mean 12 NEW books, not 12 books that I may have read before. LOOPHOLE! It is in this way that I am writing this blog on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (you can read the unhelpful synopsis here). This is a book, like all HP books, that I re-read every year, sometimes more than once in a year. (Before you ask, No, it is not boring to re-read the same book. As we reread, or re-experience something, our life experiences allow us to see something different than we did before. It allows us to read the book as through for the first time, simply based on the change of individual life experiences. But, I digress.

 

 

In my reading of the Half- Blood Prince, I was struck my the mental health implications of it all. If you haven’t read or watched the movies, and wish to remain unspoiled, I suggest you move on. I am not holding back in what I am thinking about what I will say. There will definitely be spoilers ahead.

 

Harry, to this point of his life has truly suffered. Before his memory is clear, he lost both his parents. He was forced to live in a household where is it more than implied that he was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and often neglected. We get to catch up with him at the turning point in his life. We get to see him grow and triumph and be a dude always in detention. But in my re-reading of the 6th book, I was thinking about how miserable his life has actually been. The loss of so many loved ones year after year with no pause, no respite. He saw death in his first year. He almost died in his second. His third was marked with learning great and terrible news, but still having to deal with the loss of hope of moving on from an abusive home. The fourth book was the loss of a school mate, and a loss of respect from others. The fifth year was a loss of his godfather, though he gained back some respect and awe. And the 6th year is the loss of a mentor, a girlfriend,  and any hope he had in continuing his education. So, in that sense the loss of Hogwarts, a school that had grown to be his true home.

 

The point is that in spite of loss, and hurt, we can still be triumphant. Yes, he is a character from a book, but what Dumbledore imparts on him, is the same advice we can take in for ourselves. It is important to note that no shitty the hand you are dealt you have OPTIONS. You can choose to go the route of Voldemort. You can make yourself into something unrecognizable, shred your soul until those who thought they knew you wouldn’t recognize you. You can become the vilest evil. AND, the social worker in me, would say you are justified. It is unreasonable that you should suffer and not want others to eat their words and/or suffer as you have. OR you can be Harry. You can, despite the circumstances of your life, choose to work and fight and make something of yourself that people would stop to behold. Of course there is middle ground. You can choose to fight, or you can walk away from a fight and deal with the fact that the fight is constantly being brought to you. Moving forward in that way can be scary. It is a dark place that most aren't sure what they should do or how they would move forward, but like Dumbledore said “ when we look into the dark, it is the unknown we fear, nothing more.” Taking that ride into the unknown can make you stronger than you ever imagined. Moving into your full glory, I would say is your obligation.

 

Think back. Think back to life's slights. To life's hurts. How did you handle them? Did you move in the direction that you felt was best for you? This is not to say that you should use the power of positive thinking in spite of the circumstances you lead. NO! I don’t even agree with that. As a matter of fact, there is a great blog post written by Dr. Tanisha Ranger, that denounced just that. What I am saying is that there is a time and a place for all and you have the responsibility of figuring how what the time is and what that place is.

 

To that end, I say, be like Harry.  Understand the circumstances that have lead to them and the true root cause. (Figuring out the root cause takes more time. Often what we think of as the root is only an ancillary side effect). Acknowledge that emotion and truly experience it. DOn’t try to push it away ,or distract yourself with TV, work, drugs, etc. Just learn to be still. Sit in that emotion. Let it have its say. If that means you cry, then so be it. If it means that you want to throw things, then throw pillows. But don’t deny what you are feeling. It is hard to come out of the other side with any clarity if you are muddled in hurts you refuse to acknowledge and experience.

 

So here is the HOW you can without being a total wreck. Take an hour a day, after work or school. When you have time but aren’t going to be interrupted. Take the time to feel those emotions, write them out, cry it out, or gently throw your pillow onto the bed. Then when you have written, cried, or thrown yourself out and you think you are done, go through a meditation, like this one. See what comes from it. See what you know about you now that you have experienced those hurts.

We Just Broke Up!

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We Just Broke Up!

Photo by Shamim Nakhai on Unsplash

Cuffing season is coming to an end and so are a lot of relationships. Some of y'all didn’t want to be lonely for the New Year, Valentine's Day etc. and are getting around the breaking up with people that you thought could have been special and folk you knew weren’t. Either way, breaking up with someone is never easy and still can hurt. As a sex and relationship therapist in the Washington D.C. metro area, I see lots of people who are in transition: breaking up, getting back together, tryna fix it, etc. For now, we focus on breaking up and how to get through.

 

Here are 3 tips if you are in the phase of “We Just Broke Up!”

 

  1. It’s Okay to be sad. Please stop rushing. It can take a bunch of time to build a relationship and for some, it takes more time to figure out something is wrong. Why are we always in such a rush to be happy bad asses singing Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lovato? Take your time to FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. Those emotions will change, vary, and decrease in intensity over time. And before you say that being in your feelings is somehow beneath you, I want to remind you the Lemonade was the album it was BECAUSE Beyonce went through her feelings, not around them. To do this properly, I usually suggest that my clients take a time out. This is a point in your day when you are allowed to feel and accept every emotion rolling through you. To cry, scream, and throw things (metaphorically--like a tantrum, and literally, like paper and pillows---don’t break nothing).

  2. Cancel Social Media!!! This one seems easy but a lot of folk find this hard. You done broke up with someone and turn into an episode of Relationship CSI! What are you trying to find? What are you hoping to see? Chances are you want to know if they are already happy with someone else OR you are hoping they are as sad as you are to not be together anymore. Please, just STAHP! I know what I said and how I spelled it! Looking at them on social media almost always makes someone feel worse not better. If they have moved on and started being bunned up on their social media, you start feeling even more like poo and wondering if you ever meant anything to them. Don't check to see if they are on that Obama Glow Up! If they look like they are sad, you are likely to think its okay to reach out. For what? Closure? To get back together and repeat the same mistakes that made y'all walk away? I really am not sure why you are looking. BUT that’s not a question for me, that’s a question for you. What are you hoping to find by cyberstalking them on social media? What are you trying to see on the back end, if you have their passwords? Take a moment to check in with yourself.

  3. Finally, the last tip: Come Back to You. You were part of a “we” for at least a little bit of time. Now is the time to come back to you. Who you are, what you like, what you want to do. No checking in necessary. Schedule time to hang with your friends, and actually go. I know that some of us introverts like invitations and like plans, but don't like to really go anywhere. Take yourself out to the movies and to dinner-- yes, I recommend dating yourself. This is your time to be alone again. To do what you want without compromise. Reconnect with self, friends and family. Now is your moment.

 

Obviously these tips are suggestions and can be hard without an accountability partner. BUT the next time someone comes around, you are gonna know yourself even better. AND hopefully because you would have gone through your feelings and really experienced them, and taken the time to come back to Y-O-U, you won't be holding on to fear and grudges with the next one. Don’t let your last relationship ruin you next relationship. Let’s get it together.

 

What are some of your tips for the folks who are breaking up?

 

Get on my schedule and we can work out the breaking up and come back to you! Click here to get started!

 

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Gettin It: Consent

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Gettin It: Consent

Photo Credit: Eye For Ebony via Unsplash

 

So, I have been thinking, re-thinking, and thinking some more about the concept of consent. I already wrote on this subject a month or so ago. It was posted to BLAVITY here. The gist of that article speaks about how there is no intersectionality with consent in the mainstream media. Meaning that when we talk about who has the rights to rule and govern their bodies, we are often talking about the power struggle between white men and white women. Men have dominated over women, and have called it God’s will. This way of ruling is similar but, some may say less harsh, than the way White men have also lorded over People of Color. Basically, the idea being that is has historically been okay to rape Black women and women of color, because people feel like people who are considered Jezebels, don’t have the right to say “NO!”

Folk have become very desensitized and almost expect men to do the ruling and women to be the ruled. We see the same concept depicted in various movies and TV shows. Maybe this is why I find Netflix’s The Crown so interesting. Here is this woman who is ruling over all, including her husband, who chaffes at being in “his place.” But anyway, back to consent. I wanted to make sure that we are on the same page. So in this post, we are talking about CONSENT, the definition, and how it relates back to pleasure and the sexual response cycle

Definition: Consent means having permission to do something or having an agreement with someone. Where consent comes into sexuality is making sure that the person or people with whom you want to do some sexual activity, agrees with and also WANTS to do those activities with you. You should not coerce, convince, trick, deceive, lie, blackmail, etc. to get someone to have sex with you. AND you should be on the same page for what’s going to happen.

For example, a person can agree to “make out” with you. BUT it is both of your jobs to make sure that you both know what it means to “make out.” For some people making out only includes kissing, and touching the chest, back, and arms OVER clothes, while for others it can mean touching everywhere OVER clothes, and the chest, back and arms, UNDER clothes. The idea is to know exactly what you are consenting to and what your partner(s) are also consenting to. To have TRUE consent-- meaning that the person or people you are going to be enjoying sexually are conscious, sober, of legal age, and are able to consent-- means that y'all know what you want to do and how far you are willing to go BEFORE you start. It means making sure that you are on the same page before you start, checking in while you are going at it, and getting a feel for the temperature after you are done.

Yes, one, both, or all of you could change your minds. You can decide you want to go further than you discussed or that you want to stop altogether. For this communication skills are definitely needed. You have to know when you aren’t feeling it, and be brave enough to tell someone to stop. And if you’re the one being told to stop, you have to remember this ain't just about you and what you want. You need to listen to make sure the person or people you are having sex with are still on board. If they aren’t STOP! On the otha hand, if it all just feel so great and you want to keep the pleasure going, communicate that with your partner(s). "Keep going" and "Don't stop" are easily said in a moment of passion. 

I know this can sound waaaaaaayyyyyyy complicated. And based off what they show on TV and in movies, it can seem like this is the opposite of SEXY! But, sex is about pleasure! It is about feeling great in your body alone or with help of another person(s). It’s about their pleasure and your pleasure. And really, how much pleasure can people have when someone doesn’t want to have sex with you or doesn’t want to do what you want sexally? Exactly! It wouldn’t be great for them, and you would have been the person to steal their joy. Not cool.

The sexual response cycle, that most people know, was created by Masters and Johnson back in the 60s. Basically the idea is this:

1. You start off feeling excited in your body. Start having sex and whatnot. 2 You feel great and it holds steady and increases incrementally 3. You have an orgasm 4. You and your body calms down.

The thing is though, this is very specific to the BODY and doesn’t talk at all about the mind! The body can still go through these phases even if a person doesn't want to have sex. ( and we know that not all people have orgasm) So the question is now what?

The answer is that there are other sexual response cycles that add a bit more. I personally think about this one, created by Whipple and Bash. Basically, you add desire before excitement, and you add the reflection after. The “Desire” part means that they WANT to have sex with you. And you have asked for and gotten an enthusiastic YES! Before assuming that because someone desires sex physically, that they want to have sex with you or that they are willing, mentally/emotionally.

I repeat: Just because someone PHYSICALLY looks like they want to have sex with you, doesn’t mean that they do! A person can desire sex physically and still say NO!

A person who WANTS to have sex with you (body and mind) will be after your pleasure and theirs, which makes it more fun. When you have enthusiastic consent for whatever sexual activity you are about to get into, when the person reflects back and thinks about all the nasty, delicious, toe curling stuff y'all did, they likely won’t feel coerced and violated. When people feel good about what happened, they are likely to want to do it again!

 

The Doc’s recommendation:

GET CONSENT!!!! It’s really that simple. If you want to get some coaching on how to get consent or seem unsure…

...You can book me for a Coaching or Therapy session. Let’s get to having great consensual sex...because it feels great!

 

 

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Self Care Level 2: Mental Health

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Self Care Level 2: Mental Health

We are finally back to #SelfCare! It has been a while since the first post on this subject called SELF CARE: LEVEL 1 . But we are back at it again! If you remember the last one, or just read it for the first time, Physical self care was the first level. Some people may not understand why I made physical care level 1, but here are a few quick reasons: 1. Taking care of yourself physically comes most naturally for some people...i.e. Washing your booty, eating, sleeping, etc. For level one, I only asked you to evaluate and step your game up on something you likely already do daily. 2. Check out this link on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Basically, this tells says that in order for you to reach the highest potential for yourself, you must first meet your basic needs. Those basic needs start out with a need for sleep, water, food, air, and sex...or in other words, meeting physical needs. Some would say “sex” is not a basic need. I would disagree. Sex can be not only a biological imperative, but can also be a form of exercise and a way to achieve release. Also. I am not talking about what most folk think about when they see the word s-e-x. I am thinking about oral, vaginal, digit (finger), anal, and solo SEX. Basically, all the ways you could have sex, alone or with partner(s).

 

Self Care Level 2: Mental Health

 

Mental self care, with respect to how we are talking about the various levels here, will be relegated to making sure that you are able to take care of your Level 1 (physical) needs with ease. This requires you to be the expert on you by knowing what works and doesn’t work for you! Here are 4 ways to support your Mental Self Care.

1. Breaking “Bad” Habits: So you have bad habits. It’s okay! We all do something that we would rather not. The key here is to not only identify that “bad habit,” but also to know what you want to be doing instead. In other words choosing a replacement behavior. Having something to do instead makes transitioning off something easier because there is still action. In order for this to be successful, knowing where you WANT to be and WHY are important. Your “WHY” will remind you that though the process is hard, you have a good reason for going through it. Why puts pep in your step. Know your “why” and it can feel a tiny bit easier. Breaking a bad habit takes around 21 days. But then again, so does...

2. ...Forming new habits and routines. This is the part two, in a way, of breaking bad habits. The goal is to form new habits and routines that are more aligned with what you want. If you’re asking how this even relates back to Mental Self Care, allow me to tell you. This relates because when we are comfortable with what we do on a day to day basis, we reduce our chances of feeling mentally taxed and stressed. The brain likes routines, it helps it to know what to expect and can prepare you for it. And when the Brain is on board, it can even get easier. Think about this, I’ve been a person who would get up at the crack of 11am. But then I would spend my day feeling behind in work. I decided that I needed to wake up earlier to get a better jump on my day. So I decided I should be waking up at at least 8am. Well, those first few days it was HARD! My body and my brain were in a routine that was different than the one I was trying to force it into overnight. When I finally got it right though, MAGIC!! Like Black Girls Are Magic.  I felt like a Unicorn of efficiency and routine! --Routine doesn’t mean you are boring or unspontaneous, it means that you are getting yourself in a habit that can better allow creativity to flow. I choose to write something every day around 8:30am. Because this is a routine, I am getting better at writing at that time. I’m finding I am more creative in the morning--before I have the chance to get pissed off by people’s microaggressions or other crap-- it works for me. You have to find what works for you.

3. Mental Breaks. Sounds easy and routine to give yourself a minute, but most people don’t. Give yourself some time to rest. Trying to be “ON” all the time is exhausting. Throughout the day, give yourself time to go blank or go to your happy place. You could be physically tensing up your body and not even recognize it! Take a deep breath in, drop your shoulders, release that tension that you are holding. Now I know this sounds all very physical, but when you are mentally worn or stressed, you tend to show it with you body. Mind body connection...duh! Here is a video to help out with taking a break. It’s about 5 minutes and offers a guided way of coming back to yourself and relaxing your mind

 

 

4. Reflection: This one may not seem as obvious but it goes well with the tips above. The idea here is that you think about your day, or evening or reflect on the mental break you took and evaluate how you are. Reflect on if you feel like you’ve been mentally stressed. If the answer is YES, then think up a solution that you can try for whatever the issue was.  The great thing is that with reflection, you get to keep trying new ways of doing something until it resonates with you and it works! 

I know I’ve spoke about a lot of this in the abstract without too many concrete ideas, but if you need or want help, you can always schedule your Discovery call!

Homework: Same as last time! In the first level, you were asked to create a routine for the physical self care. This time around, you are being asked to include more elements! Modify you schedule until is actually works for you. Forgive yourself when you stumble and choose a time to start again. For some people, they messed up by 9 am and want to start again at 12 noon. For others they need the day and will wait until the next day to start over. Choose what works for you! There is no pleasure to be had in punishing yourself day after day because you messed up on a Monday. Add in time for mental breaks this time around. Also, identify what the “bad” habits are that you want to break --Procrastination is often the biggest one people come to me with-- and create a plan for what you are wanting to accomplish that gets waylaid my procrastinating tendencies.

Looking for a therapist? Get on my schedule by clicking here

 

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Turn The Page: Last Black Unicorn Review!

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Turn The Page: Last Black Unicorn Review!

For this third Friday of Blog writing, just days after Valentine’s Day, the focus is on none other than Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn, synopsis here. Like most Black folk, I was slightly pressed to read this book. Not only because I am “Rooting for everybody Black” but also because I am in a book club, and that was the assigned book. Let me tell y'all that it took FOREVER to track down a copy. Amazon was sold out. Barnes and Noble was sold out. And being the bougie princess that I can be, I wanted the physical book, not just an electronic version I don’t have anything against electronic books, FYI, my kindle account is popping! For some books though, I always want a physical hardcover copy. The for biggies, I usually  get a physical copy like the HP series, Awkward Black Girl, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, or the New Jim Crow---a girl may have no name, but she still likes what she likes.

In reading this book, which I honestly felt was stilted and not that great to read--I heard the audio book is better-- nothing stood out to me more than that Tiffany stifled her own inner voice and instincts and was consequently put in some rather shitty situations. But I digress. Allow me to really set up what I would like to say before we knock it down.

Valentine’s Day has passed and there are many people both happy and mad about what they got or didn’t get from a loved one, side piece, or boo-thang. But like I said last week, “...for this Black History Month, I want to focus on self love...” What better way to keep the focus alive than by talking about trust, one of the foundations people have identified as being fundamental in a relationship. Obviously, the relationship we are talking about is with numero uno, Y-O-U! Some people would say that if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself first, that all other relationships are doomed to fail. I personally don’t really believe that. I feel like you could have found a model of trusting and loving yourself, which may simply come with time, and that seems to have been the case to Tiffany Haddish.

In her book, the chapter entitled, "The Ex-Husband," Tiffany gets into how she met, fell in love with, and eventually broke up with her Ex-Husband. Don’t get in your feeling about spoilers, that sentence didn’t spoil anything..she said EX husband, not current husband. It’s kinda obvious from her title of him that they broke up...duh! Anyway, she got with this man, who was an officer, but not a gentleman--sorry, I couldn't resist, who turned out to be emotionally and physically abusive. He attempted to control her by moving her away from friends and family, gaslighting her, shaming her, and beating her. Sometimes, people don’t know what an abusive relationship is without someone putting their hands on you, but there is certainly more to it than that. In the resource of this blog, you can download the Wheel of Power and Control, which gives a few different ways that a relationship can be abusive.

Anyway, to get to the point of this writing, Tiffany, in retrospect, sees that there were signs that this man wasn’t quite right. From the cruise ship where is stalks her, to popping up at her house when she didn’t answer the phone. And while some people would sit on a high horse and judge her for ignoring those signs, lots of people ignore signs that the person they are trying to be with is NOT the one for them. We ignore that the person texts or calls us just a bit too often. We ignore or rationalize when they want the full timetable of our day--because they care, right? We ignore that we can never go to their house or that we can only call at specific times of day. We ignore a bunch of little things but we also ignore one of the biggest things of all. We ignore the hell out of ourselves. We ignore that feeling of intuition that strikes up and tries to tell us that something is off. We ignore that pit in our stomach and rationalize away the creeping anxiety we experience at night or throughout the day time. We know for ourselves that something feels wrong, but we allow friends and loved ones to talk us back into a situation, without giving voice to what we feel. And it’s understandable. People have been taught that emotions aren’t that important, especially men folk. We are taught that logic and reason alone should be how we base a choice, should be how we made decisions. But as a therapist whose basis is in Emotionally Focused Therapy, let me tell you, right here, right now, that Emotions Serve A Purpose! They are one of the barometers we have that try to protect us. Sometimes, yes, they can be hypervigilant, or otherwise distracted, but they are often ON THE MONEY! For example, anxiety helps to put you on alert to a possible threat--emotional, mental or physical. Feelings of sadness lets you know that you yearned for something or loved something, but it didn’t go your way. Which incidentally can help you prepare for how you will do better in the future!

Loving yourself and listening to your instincts can be hard, but let’s start with building trust. Trust yourself to pick a great outfit for wherever you are going, without being on 10 different consult calls with friends for approval. Trust yourself to pick where you want to eat, consequences of calories be damned. Trust yourself to know what you want, even if, at this time, you aren’t ready to voice it to others. From the small ways you trust yourself, you will eventually get to larger more grand ways of showing that trust in yourself. Like a budding relationship, but with yourself. Don’t forget that trusting yourself starts with acknowledging that self communication. That you have to listen to yourself. You have to make an effort to be in the moment, acknowledge what you are feelings, and try to figure out why. Sometimes that takes meditation. And for some it’s helpful to have a therapist.

The Doc’s Recommendation:

Read The Last Black Unicorn, if you haven’t already. Tiffany Haddish demonstrates the reasons WHY you should not ignore the signs. But to get good at it, your job is to build that self-trust by listening to what your emotions are trying to say.

Resources that can help:

1. Wheel of Power and Control

2. Here is a short video to help you settle into learning to listen to yourself

3. Here is a way to get on my calendar if you are looking for a Black therapist to help you Rock out on your journey of self-love and living authentically.

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The Black Panther: It's Black Y'all

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The Black Panther: It's Black Y'all

Typically, as Valentine's Day approaches, we talk about the type of love between one man and one woman. The type of love that can lead to engagement rings, marriages, and ultimately children. Very heteronormative and traditional, I know. While this love is lovely and held in high regard, I want to make sure that we’re also including other types of relationships. 1. The romantic relationship love of any type: Women with women, men with men, women with men, and people alone. 2. The love we have for family (chosen or blood). 3. The love we have for our friends. But for this special Valentine’s Day, we are not talking romantic or familial types of love. We are talking about the love of Black people. Because like Issa Rae said, "I’m rooting for everybody Black." What better time to root for everyone that’s Black, than right now in Black History Month!

Often times, self-love is seen as something that is ancillary or has no real purpose when we are talking about love in general. It is assumed that people are just supposed to love themselves, no question. We forget that self love and pride are HARD to do when you feel like you haven’t been given anything to shine on. MEANWHILE, we talk about earning the love of another person with whom we would like to spend our life as the only love worth considering. Like I said, that type of love has merit, but for this Black History Month, I want to focus on self love and the love of a people.

What I know and what I’ve researched, says that representation in media matters. When people see themselves in various roles on tv and in movies, they believe that they themselves can achieve something that is beyond what they know. OR at the very least feel a sense of pride that people who look like them are being considered and chosen for big roles. Think about it this way, before some folks saw Gabby Douglas Douglas, they figured gymnastics was for everyone who wasn’t Black. Before Michael Jackson, Black people felt like they could only be relegated to R&B, not pop. Before the Obamas, a Black child may have dreamed about one day being the President of the U.S., but most never really thought it was a possibility.

Black people have often been relegated to seeing our people on the news cast in the role of murderer, thief, vagrant, drug dealer, and with stunning regularity, murder victim. I am not saying we don’t have movies in which we are featured. I am saying those movies are often labeled “Black” Films and snubbed at the mostly white award shows. But I feel like we have been on a roll! Hidden Figures came to mind for me! And now this BLACK HISTORY MONTH we get our own Marvel movie: The Black Panther!! The best part is that this movie, that is not even out yet, seems to be Blackity Black Black! But the real BONUS is that It’s already outsold other Marvel films!

But ask yourself WHY? Why is THIS Marvel film already poised to outsell the others? What makes this one so special? I think it’s because of what I already said. Black people are starved to find themselves in fantastical roles where they can show a RANGE of emotions. To feel and display more than the anger that has often been ascribed to us. To see more than a few celebrated light-skinned African Americans gracing the screen, or to see white people who have been made up to look racially ambiguous, take roles that could have gone to people of color. Black people are proud to see not only a representation of them, but also to see that these people look like them. Black people of all shades are going to be in the Black Panther movie. People of all hair textures and styles. Both Black men and Black women, not a lone Black person (ahem, Will Smith).

This prose could easily be taken as something that is not inclusive of all people. To that I say Stop it. This is about celebrating young boys and girls, adults, and those in between, who are beyond excited to see The Black Panther. There is an excitement for a movie whose budget is finally somewhere useful, with producers and a cast that will make it something for the Black folk who will see it. It’s almost similar in feeling, but far surpassing, the frenzy of the latest Wonder Woman movie. Just like people (usually people who identify as ‘men’) in Hollywood thought that a woman in the lead couldn’t hold a role that would garner critical acclaim nor green money, Black movies have also been relegated to the back burner (granted, it is much harder if you are a Black woman movie, intersection matters). But Disney, who OWNS Marvel is using what some have called “white” dollars to make a movie with a Black writer and a Black Director with a Black cast. Isn’t that almost the definition of Blackity Black-Black?

And because most Marvel movies have a villain, we will have Black villains BUT we will have Black heroes. We will have brave people and we will have cowards. We will be able to see the full range of Black people. We will be able to see more than the negative perceptions that have often been foisted on all people, white and Black. Being able to see people in a different way, leads to open minds. Leads to people being able to consider that just because you saw one Black criminal in your life, does not hold that all Black people are criminals. We are many varied, and diverse.

But How is this related to mental health Doc? I don't get it!

Self esteem, self pride, and self love are important parts that make up a person's mental wellbeing and health. What it seems to mean for Black folk right now, is a bolster of pride, Black love, and self-love, as people re-examine what they know and add to their list of Black characters. I see more Black cosplayers shining bright, grinning, and happy to have more Black characters to choose from. I see pride in the faces of Black children who are excited to see this film. There is a re-examining of what is beautiful and an expansion of that definition as well. You can be dark, have extremely curly hair, short hair, full lips, dark eyes, and still be beautiful. I’m seeing it happen. It walks into my office. I hear people talking about it. I see people considering it. I see people comparing themselves to it and being happy with what they are seeing. We have so much pride in fact, that if it turns out this movie sucks, you won’t be hearing it from us.

 

From the Doc, a Reflective Question: What movies made you feel a sense of pride? Or changed the way you say yourself? Why?

 

 

 


Booking Dr. Donna for therapy to work on your self-esteem is EASY, click here to start the process that leads to loving you from the top of your head, to the soles of your feet!

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Take time to relax! Guided Imagery Video

Take time to relax! Guided Imagery Video

Photo Credit: @createdbyjarrod on Nappy

Hey Yall! Sometimes what we need is to take a moment (or five) relax. Here is a guided imagery video recorded just for you and set to some R&B. ENJOY!

Mental Health Myths: On being “Okay,” Broke, and Black

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Mental Health Myths: On being “Okay,” Broke, and Black

Photo by Clarke Sanders on Unsplash

 

It seems that with the start of the New Year, ALL the folk, especially Black Women, are more aware of their mental health. Even with all this supposed awareness, people aren’t sure what they are looking for or seem to be unclear on what “Mental Health” constitutes. Things people commonly say about therapy to me includes: “My problem isn’t important enough to speak to a therapist about” or “I don’t want to take up time from someone who *REALLY* needs therapy” or “I’m Black. Therapy is for white people.” This way of thinking and speaking allows people of color to talk themselves (and their loved ones) out of therapy before they have truly considered it. Let’s spend some time speaking about 3 Mental Health Myths. Then maybe we can have some honest discussion about our needs.

Myth/Thought 1: My problem isn’t important enough to speak to someone

So, you are “okay” or “fine.” Things are hard but not “I need therapy” hard. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?? All “problems” and issues are relative. We are constantly trying to check ourselves and one another for what we need/want help with. Think about it this way, would you tell someone with a toothache that occurs only when they eat that they don’t need to see a dentist? Is the person who has a constant toothache more in need than them? What about a person who had all their teeth knocked out? We can and do a great job of comparing our individual pain to the pain of others. The problem is we forget that it is still PAIN! Seeking help for your pain doesn’t mean that you are more or less important than someone else. It means that you are ALSO important and YOUR PAIN MATTERS! Of course you can go it alone, but there are lots of therapists, both of color and white, to see you. As long as you matter to yourself, even marginally, what you are experiencing will be important to a therapist/counselor as well.

No, I am not going to debrief the myth on “I don’t want to take up time from someone who may need therapy more than me” because it is really covered under the first myth. Your problem, issue, challenge, or pre-occupation is important. If it is important to you, it matters. All you need is the right therapist who also agrees. Think about this, compared to someone suffering from severe depression, some folks would say that sexuality or sex lives don’t matter. I would (not so) humbly disagree, as would a whole lot of other sex and relationship therapists and educators I know.

Myth/Thought 2: I can’t afford therapy

You can! The better question here is “do you want to afford therapy?” There are many therapists in private practice, including myself, who may not take insurance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford therapy. Therapy can cost up to $250 per session, and that can feel super expensive. But are you worth it? Is your peace of mind worth the price tag? Many therapists not only take insurance, which can help with the out of pocket costs, but also offer a superbill or sliding scale. A superbill is like a receipt you can submit to your insurance company to be reimbursed. A sliding scale means that you can get a whole new price just based on your income. If those don’t work, you can also go bi-weekly instead of every week to offset the cost. You can see if your therapist will give you half an hour at maybe half the cost. It’s gonna take some doing on your part to work out the money, but you can afford it (if it’s important to you).

Quick Tip: If you sign up for An Open Path, you can find therapists who offer therapy for between $30-$50! Yours truly is also listed on this website, though I max out at a certain number of participants.

Myth/Thought 3: I’m Black. Therapy is for White People.

If I had a dollar every time someone told me this, I could retire with frequent traveling to Nigeria to see my family. The idea that therapy is a “white people thing” is a lie! Should I type that again? BLACK FOLK NEED THERAPY TOO! Sometimes I wonder if white people live longer BECAUSE they seek therapy. We Black people talk about how “Black don’t crack” but fail to keep in mind that while we look lovely and whole on the outside, we are sick and breaking down on the inside. We have to take care of our mental health. Being born, growing up, or otherwise paying attention to these United States is HARD for people of color! Especially for Black people. Especially now, under President Cheeto! Dealing with racism, sexism, colorism, texturism, not to mention poverty, redlining, the prison industrial system, lack of representation, prejudice from other people of color, etc. is EXHAUSTING! Yes, you can go to church, but you can (and should) go to therapy, TOO! Services like Dr. Joy Harden’s Therapy for Black Girls, make it so much easier to find a therapist who may understand your experience, without necessarily having to come out of your African American Vernacular, or translate. For example, some Black therapists have spoken about how the Black folk they see are happy to have someone understand what a Becky is without further explanation.

I focus in on Black people, but specifically Black women in the Washington D.C. Metro area. WHY? Because intersectionality matters! Being Black is a difficult privilege, but being a woman too?! Sexualized prejudice and racism are literally killing Black women. Add into being Black and woman identifying yourself on the LGBTQIA spectrum, or having darker skin, or having curlier/coiler hair or anything else that takes you from the “ideal.” It gets that much harder. I am a Black Sex Therapist. I couldn’t even exist in a way that allows me to focus on Black people, if there were not Black people who were looking for Sex Therapists who are of color. Think about that!

The Doc’s Recommendation: Get the therapy or help you need. Dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, sex(uality), family, self confidence, self acceptance, perinatal, financial, eating, sleeping, panic, hair and beauty, overspending, etc. is hard. Your mental wellbeing is ESSENTIAL. Let’s be the generation that ends the stigma on therapy, and allows Black folk, and PoC to finally  free themselves and  reclaim our mental health. It’s (past) time.

 

RESOURCES!

Want an appointment with yours truly? Hit this link to get on my calendar.

If you are thinking about getting yourself a therapist, here are a few other places to start your search Therapy for Black Girls, Psychology Today, Open Path, and/or Black Therapists ROCK!  

Click HERE for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if we could be a good fit.

 

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Self Care LIFE! : Level 1

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Self Care LIFE! : Level 1

Photo Credit: @tamarcusbrown

I’m going to ask you a real question and I want you to think of a real answer. How are you? This is not a trick. I am literally asking how you are. I am willing to bet that you thought of Fine as your answer. But are you really? How much time and consideration do you give to yourself and how you are feeling on every level? Physical, Mental, and Emotional.

 

In America, especially in the Washington DC Metro Area, the home of politics and people who don’t necessarily have time for proper rest, we are constantly on the go. We are constantly considering what we say and to whom. We are constantly on our guard. If you are a person of color, chances are you are even more so on your guard. If you identify as a woman AND are of color, chances are you life has been, in some ways, hijacked by considering what you say, to whom, when, and weighing out the possible consequences. Considering and re-considering, all the time can be EXHAUSTING! Black women especially, are known for being Superwoman; constantly on the go with a whole heap of folks on the list to take care of, with the self being nowhere near the top.

 

How do you take care of yourself when times are hard and (for a lot of people) have felt hard for awhile? Take it back (but let’s not go too far), if you will. Some people have been upset and disappointed since the November presidential election, holding out small amounts of hope. Out there in the universe, there have been consistent issues, protests, and shenanigans stemming from the current President, then there are things like slavery in Syria, the water in Flint, police brutality, education reform, tax reform, net neutrality, and the recent 1 year anniversary of the Women’s March, which for many still didn’t adequately address PoC. There is a lot going on “out there” and then of course whatever you deal with on a daily basis: anxiety, depression, Sallie Mae, general health, friends and family, office politics, etc. It can be a lot. So, how do you take care of yourself?

I done took you back through the whole fog huh? Feeling a little up tight? Let’s take a deep breath together. Breath so deep and s-l-o-w, think 4 seconds breathing in, its like you want the air to hit your feet. Hold it for 3 seconds, now release that breath S L O W L Y for 6 seconds. Repeat as necessary.

Let’s get into what we are here to talk about: Self Care. It is a buzzword these days, but we are going to consider it anyway. Many people are under the false notion that self-care is that thing you do once a month by either taking a bubble bath or having a massage. While those things are great to do and can be part of your self care routine, they are not the end all, be all in taking care of yourself. Like most things, there are levels to this. We are going to start on Level one for this blog post. The next level will come up another time. For now, though, let’s focus on this level and see if you can help yourself to feel a bit better.

 

LEVEL 1: Physical Self Care

 

Self care can be suuuupppper basic, and yet still so hard. For this level of self care, its about making sure you take of your physical body. The body you wear is gonna be your home for a while. This ain’t GET OUT where you get to transfer your brain bits to someone else and use their body like a house. No ma’am. Taking care of your physical self can be as simple as getting enough sleep at night. Making sure that you are eating and snacking throughout the day. Or even staying hydrated. Self care, is not just the grandiose things we have to pay services for, but these small gestures that show we care about ourselves on some level.

 

Taking care of your basic needs is a great way to start a self care regimen, if you don’t already have one. For those of you who already make sure you get your sleep, eat, and drink; let's take it up a notch. Now that you have taken care of your body, maybe throw in some exercise, and upgraded your food game to include something other than pizza and chicken (of which I have been more than guilty of having day after day for a couple of weeks--HEY NO JUDGEMENT!!).

The easiest way to start is to create a routine. Think about what you do naturally when you wake up in the morning. What are some small changes you can  make to ensure you are taking care of yourself physically. For me, it was hard to drag my butt out the bed. I like my sheets, it’s too comfortable. I just didn’t want to get out right away. NOW, I wake up an hour earlier than I need to, take some time to roll in the sheets, check FB, IG, and my email. Read for 20 minutes and then get out to start the other physical portion of my routine. I brush my teeth, make my breakfast, and really set myself to work.

Now, for the evening routine! This is the time to pick a bedtime that helps you get up at your preferred time in the morning. Maybe you need to get to sleep earlier? Again, create a routine that works for you. Make tomorrow's lunch, brush your teeth, take a shower, and be in bed by 11, and lights out shortly thereafter. Find what works for you, try it out, and adjust until it is a streamlined routine.

HOMEWORK: Many of the people who work with me would tell you that I tend to give homework. You are no different. :)  Observe the routine you currently engage in and try to make it work for your morning and evening goals. How can you streamline your day to make sure you are eating, drinking, getting enough rest, are clean, etc.? Now that this is all at the forefront of your minds, try to make your day better by meeting those physical needs.

 

What are your plans to improve your physical self care?

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Turn The Page: The Cruel Prince

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Turn The Page: The Cruel Prince

Welcome back to another Friday blog! By now, if you’ve been following, you’re probably guessing that I am doing my part to ensure there is a blog post here EVERY Friday. B**** you guessed it! You was right. B*****, you guessed it! Grah-Grah! Sorry, I got into my OG Maco Moment. I’m coming back out. Anyway, the point is that every Friday, for the year there will be a new blog post. And because I am a fairly avid reader, on the 3rd Friday of the month, there will be a book review. Now, it won’t all be fiction, but it will all be reviewed from my perspective as a sex(uality) educator and therapist.

The first book we are reviewing is The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Here is the synopsis as borrowed from her website, feel free to click the synopsis to head on over to her site, if you think I don’t have the copy and paste functions down BTW: Don’t be judging me for borrowing! You ain’t think I was gonna summarize something that was already summarized, did you?:

    “Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
  Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
  To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
  In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

 

Of all the things I liked about this book, that Holly Black made sure that not all of the characters were entirely likeable, not even the narrator, was probably the best part. Sometimes, in the pursuit of making a character unlikeable, some authors give unredeemable characteristics, but with this, it wasn’t the case. Same goes for the ones who seem likable. They can be so one dimensional and boring. Holly Black found and walked a steady line between “I like you, but you’re sorta f*cked up!"

This is only the first book in a trilogy. If I had known that, I probably would have waited until she was done. I hate waiting a whole year between books. I know, patience is a virtue, but it’s a bit much.

Now, It may not seem like it from the book synopsis, but this book speaks a lot to sexuality and to mental health in general. Without spoiling it too much for you, if you should choose to read it: Sexuality wise it talks about unwanted physical attraction, wanting to fit in, and basically asks the question of “How far will you go to get what you THINK you want?” These are important questions because people are asking or acting out these questions on a daily basis.

Sexuality Perspective

Think about it this way, Black people were stolen into a world that is not their own, then raised up in this world where the ONLY way to be considered beautiful is to be White. To have white skin, straight hair--long & blonde, light eyes, a slim figure, and the white person's disposition. With these attributes you are allowed upward financial and social mobility. You are allowed to traverse groups and be accepted as one of their own. Now, how many Black folk do you know are able to successfully traverse those lines? EXACTLY! Those who are white passing, can get a pass, because some White folk won’t even recognize that the person is Black. People with a lighter skin tone and a kink free hair texture may be able to reap some benefits as well. Don’t argue with me. There are studies that show that Black people who have more Eurocentric features have more social upward mobility AND are able to gain financial security BECAUSE some white people see them as more capable to doing work, more trustworthy, and essentially, more like them.

To reiterate the question: How far will you go to get what you THINK you want?

There are plenty of people who still employ the brown paper bag test, as a requisite for entry into their lives. There are still people who still look for those with “good” hair as possible partners because they don’t want to have a child who is dark with kinky hair. The sales of bleaching creams across the world should tell you something about how far people will go. You could even stick the use of relaxers in the category. Some people will only go one step, but others are willing to go all out! And that bring us back to the book at hand.

The question is: How far is Jude willing to go to be accepted into this new place she was stolen away to live?

The Answer: I guess you will know if you choose to read the book. No need to purchase, your local library is waiting for you to go in there and check out a book. :D

Mental Health Lesson Learned

When you meet someone and they are mean, or cruel, or nasty, or nice, lovely, trustworthy, etc. you basically start with that one piece of information. You have no background. However,  there is always more information! We tend to practice some level of moral relativism for ourselves. We think about our individual circumstances and what led us to where we are and why. We forgive ourselves based on this knowledge and try to move forward accordingly. What we often forget is that the same is true of other people. They don’t spring into being and make decisions right there completely untouched by other forces. I won’t spoil anything from the book, but one of the main characters, Cardon is cruel beyond measure. You get to a point where you dislike him based on the one perspective you get. BUT then you learn a little bit more about him, you start to fill him out as more than a one-dimensional character. The Same goes for the other characters. You will think are nice, you learn more about them, and your opinion might change. It’s like what Shrek said “Ogres are like onions.” Well, so are people. We have many layers. The top layer is what we show based on the layers inside.

The point is that no matter how likeable you want to seem or how others may seem, you don’t actually know their full story. You are privy to a small snapshot of their lives and think you know it all. This goes for the person who cuts you off on the road, or who is mean to you in the office. There is a story there. When you are the butthead, you know your story and may give yourself some grace. How could things be if we all remembered that people have stories, and decide to give them some grace, too?

The verdict: I recommend reading this book. I'd love to have a discussion about it :)

 

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On GOLDDIGGERS and Monogamy

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On GOLDDIGGERS and Monogamy

There has been a sixty second clip making its way around where a woman says that monogamy was made to be beneficial for men without uh..means....you know.. Money, Chedda, Green! Now before anyone gets on a high horse, the conversation seemed to be very heteronormative, but that doesn't mean it didn’t have value. Anyway, the conversation was on Golddiggers and I think  it’s time to talk more about THAT!

For the people who have not seen it, I am including the full conversation link right here. Beware! It is NOT short!  It should be qued to right before she says what she said

Now that you’ve watched it (and probably got interested in the whole conversation), for me what she said resonated. Exchanging money for beauty and vice versa is not a new concept! The fact is what the sister said about men not liking the idea of a golddigger because of their lack of financial means and because of their discomfort, is all too well and true. 

Men have been taught that it is okay and perfectly normal for them to choose their mates based on the attributes that they find desirable. They are allowed to feast from the plate and try out various forms of cuisine before attempting to make a purchase of any kind. When they are done sampling, they get to choose what they want based on their tastes. Please note we are NOT talking about how society helps to determine those tastes (though we could).

Pretend for a moment that there are 100 diverse women in a room. As if picking people from a menu, a man can say he only wants a woman with “good hair.” From that statement, assume that 50% of the women are now out of the running. If the chooser should also say that they don’t want anyone darker than a brown paper bag, then maybe 40 women are left in the room. Of the 40 women left, we  know they are all lighter than a brown paper bag, with hair that is a texture they find to be acceptable. From there he can say no one with kids or disabilities of any kind. Let’s say from there there are only 8 women left. From there this man will continue to scrutinize the options before him to find the woman that best meets his desires. Add in him wanting someone younger than him, shorter, etc. Now left with 2 options, he chooses the one who he thinks is prettier with the bigger ass, smarter brains, and (excuse my language) juicier pussy. She wins! And so does he! YAY!!

Having a preference is not necessarily a bad thing--though if you know me, you may see that I gave him preferences that are generally aligned with White supremacist standards of beauty--but that’s for another conversation. So where does the problem pop up? Money brings options and broke men are mad at their lack of Hallie Berry options with their thousandaire wallets. To have someone judge a person based on financial success, means that there are many folks not in the running, and usually not for the type of woman they covet. Monogamy is for the broke man who wants the best woman he can get and afford. Polyandry is for the woman who wants to deal with many man and be comfortable. Polygamy is for the rich man who can afford many beautiful and talented wives. Don’t be suckers, what shawty said in the video is true. Get out your feelings!

Now when a woman does this same thing to a man, to go on a shopping spree where men are for her consumption to pick and choose and discard accordingly, men have a hard time dealing with that. Why? Because this society is patriarchal and favors men being able to choose and scrutinize. Many men don’t understand what it is to be under that microscope and have someone discard them for the attributes that they don’t have. They have been told and believe that women only choose men based on love, not on looks, money or any other tangible attribute. But women are much like men with their 100 lined up in a room scrutinizing to get what they want. In this society, men do the choosing and women get chosen. Because it is seen as the "natural order," to have a woman choosing and discarding men, especially based on monetary means, makes many men uncomfortable. The idea, again, is to have a woman who is enamored with a dude so much that she is simply feeling lucky to have been “chosen” as marriage material. They want to be the consumer, not the consumed. To be the consumed is to know that if you aren’t chosen you lack something in the eye of the person you wish would look at you as a contender. To win is to know that you had some attribute, maybe financial, that they chose. This, in a way, can be diminishing because you may have been chosen for what you have, not who you are.

Many men do NOT have the emotional capacity to be under the microscope in that way. Women are used to it because their worth, in this American society, is based very much on how they look which usually precludes those who don’t adhere to the beauty standards as outlined by the Eurocentric Cis-Het male gaze. We can talk about how that gaze has informed how many men of various cultures see their women, but that’s besides the point. Men can’t handle the scrutiny because they don’t have a frame of reference for it. It is an uncomfortable place to be, especially when cognitive dissonance kicks in and they realize that they have been doing the same thing to others and their feelings are hurt.

As long as both people know what they are getting into, all should be fine. Be upfront, be honest (with yourself and your potential partner). Do you have a financial requirement prior to dating? 

My recommendation: Grow up! Everyone you look at is also looking at you to see if you are even on their level and if they might be able to upgrade on that ass. It’s not always personal, sometimes it’s financial.

 

 

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New Year, Same You: How 'bout those GOALS?

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New Year, Same You: How 'bout those GOALS?

Are you still without purpose and goals?

They say “time flies!” Living your life is both the slowest and the fastest thing you will probably ever do. Everyday brings a new challenge to overcome, and every year can bring a new theme. This year, I know I am about letting go of my fears and embracing my destiny. I know I am destined for greatness-- that may sound pretentious, because we all think we are great, but my greatness is planned out. My greatness is in goals, and my greatness will be in my follow through.

The start of 2018 gives you a chance to re-evaluate who you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you achieved in 2017. If you are satisfied and want to go no further, have not more goals to achieve, are d-o-n-e, you also don’t need to keep reading. You can leave (click the “x” in the corner), because this post may not be for you. This post is for people who want. If you are dissatisfied with where you are and what you've achieved, read more. If you are hungry for more in your life, read more. 

People think I am talking out of my butt when I talk about goal planning and intention setting. I am not. I’ve done goal and intention setting with all types of folks, from children to adults.  I am able to move forward with intention and know greatness is coming because I don’t just wish; I plan, I create, I follow through, and I re-evaluate. No, I am not saying this is foolproof. I am saying that if you want something, you can probably get it with making the right steps. So let’s start!

GOAL PLANNING 101

Goal planning doesn’t have to be a harrowing process. BUT you do need to realize it's a process. Unless you win the lottery, you probably won’t have all you dreamed of overnight. You have to plan to learn, learn to plan, and put those feet to the beat! Here are 4 steps to moving into your greatness!

  1. Review: Yeah I said it. REVIEW!!! Look at the last 3 months of your life, the last 6 months, the last year. What have you done and not done. Though you may say you had "no focus" you were just "living your life," take a closer look. What did you do in the past months and year? What did you seem to focus on? What did you accomplish? What did you set out to do/get/achieve? Did you meet those goals? We have heard that saying before: You can’t know where you are going unless you know where you’ve been. This is your Sankofa moment. Look back, see where you’ve been. Accept it for what it is: good, bad, or ugly.

  2. Reflect: People have told tell me reflecting sounds a lot like reviewing. It aint! To review, you look at what actually was. To reflect, you look into yourself. Sit down in a quiet place (or the type of place that gets you thinking-- personally I like to listen to a little Beyonce, Sza, Rihanna; a playlist I call SizRihBey, to get me pumped and thinking. It gets me reflecting about what I think of me, my sex life, my joys, sorrows, needs and wants. MUSIC!! It’s a medicine for me-- find what works for you and do that. If walking gets you thinking, do it. If it's making pasta while dancing to Bruno Mars lights your inner fire, do it! Do what works, but remember the purpose is to reflect. Think about what you want in various life areas. Then think about WHY you want it. Purpose is important. You need real reasons that will make you want to do the work. You want a WHY that when you get tired and wonder what you’re doing, your WHY answers the questions and helps pick you back up.

  3. Write: If you think it and keep it in your head, it may never get done. Your wish/dream needs to be in your head and heart for you to want to do anything, but it needs to be on paper, in your phone, on your social media, wherever you can see it, to make it happen! You should see those goals DAILY! They should be your pre-breakfast and your post-dinner. When you write down what you want, you have already started to make yourself accountable. When you write down what you want, you naturally start to plan how to get there, start to recognize the steps you need to take. I promise y’all, I live what I preach. I write my goals out every year. I like to make some of them easy, so I feel like I got some momentum. BUT then I write some lofty goals that make me feel like I gots work-ta-do! My goals are on my bedroom wall by the door. I see them bad boys every single time I exit. I KNOW that means when I come back to my room, I want to make sure that I have done SOMETHING to move me in the right direction. Write 'em, see 'em, read 'em, live 'em.

  4. Do: This is is hardest part. If it was easy, everyone would be living their dreams. To DO your goals, you need to have written them properly. You need to know what the steps are toward your goal. Then you need to put your feet to the street. For me, "doing" is placing your goals and all their steps into a calendar (in pencil). This lets you know what you are doing each day, and allows you space to DO them, since they are already part of your to do list. Seriously, if I could write a whole dissertation in about 15 minutes a day, you can reach your goals in about the same time. 15 mins per goal though :)

These are my 4 tips for meeting your goals in 2018. This is what I do, this is how I help, this is my contribution back. I love goal planning and helping my friends and family achieve their dreams. The thing is though, none of this will work for you if you don’t wanna do the work. If you don’t reflect and truly know yourself, you can make all the goals you want and never get anywhere. Find a coach, if you need one. Get an accountability partner, if you want one. Whatever you know you need/want INVEST in yourself to make it happen. Otherwise it's you who will be looking 2019 in the face knowing you ain't did a damn thing in 2018. It’s you who won’t be reaping the seeds of what you could have sown with nothing to do but wait for the Game of Thrones series finale. If you want more, you have to work! Let's WORK!

What's one goal you have for 2018?

 

PRO TIP: Check back here soon. I will be doing a webinar on goal planning. You might even learn a little more than you expected :)

 

 

 

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She’s Gotta Have It: A Lesson in Black Womanhood

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She’s Gotta Have It: A Lesson in Black Womanhood

My watching of the 2017 She’s Gotta Have It is virginal and pure as the driven snow...well as pure as I am capable of, as a person who reads too much..not just books, but also into situations and people. BUT I come untainted and with no comparisons, eye rolling, or teeth sucking with the nostalgia of someone who has watched the original who can’t let go.

Just to be clear, this ain’t my brand of poly. I am not here to discuss her selfishness or other issues, but the lesson i gleaned in watching the first 4 episodes. That’s all :)

 

Watching tv is not a passive activity (at least not when I do it) especially not where it comes to the inclusion of people of color. I note who is included, how they are included, why they seem to be included, and the ways in which that inclusion plays out. This time around, because it seemed to be so Blackity Black Black, I simply focused on the narrative and how the story was conveyed, not so much on skin tone and hair texture. I must say, as someone who did NOT binge watch every episode (yet), I am very much drawn to the narrative! I am proud to see Black folk, as a person who is Black. I am excited to see a woman of color, as a Black woman. I am especially overjoyed at the No Fucks Given narrative in telling the pure unadulterated truth where it come to intersectional showing Black womanhood, love of self, finding one's way, daily life, and even seeking help with a Black therapist who doesn’t come off as unethical! I feel like I am #winning! Without further ado, here is the lesson I gleamed in watching the first 4 episodes.

 

Lesson: A Black woman will never just be a Woman.

 

A Black woman, no matter her position in life, can try to be herself in the moments when she is alone, but the instant anyone is welcome into her loving bed, she become fodder for societal expectations, often through the white cisgender heteronormative male gaze (cishet gaze). I say cishet white male gaze for many reasons. Male Gaze because she is looked at as the object for sexual gratification, as most women would say they are seen. Indeed, she is seen as an object to be worn on the arm as an adornment. As a thing to be used for sex. Cishet Gaze: because of the sex she should be having and the arms she should be adorning are male arms. Because there is a threat to male ego and manhood to see women fellowshipping together. Because women together, who are same gender loving, are still made to have their relationships compared to heteronormativity, because being lesbian, bi, pan, etc. sexual, doesn't save you from having people, with the cishet male gaze, wanting to see you have lesbian sex with another woman for their gratification. Because even in those moments, your sexuality and body still don’t belong to you. White Gaze because she is Black. Because there is an automatic juxtaposition on the Black body to be compared to White people, to be known as inferior and have to make up for it with the aspects of appearance that can be changed. To have to prove oneself better, because stereotypes flourish on bodies of color. So, again, being seen through the Cishet White Male Gaze, and all it means to be seen as inferior based in race and sex and to know that the cishet white male gaze is not relegated to white men alone.

All the messages of white womanhood imposed on black womanhood, while being given a few sexual tropes from which to choose-- mammy, jezebel, sapphire. A black woman is never just a woman. If she refuses to perform womanhood the way it has been packaged for her, she won’t win. She isn’t free to have the sex she wants, with whom she wants, when she wants without constantly being questioned, side eyed, or cajoled both by the lovers she takes and the friends she has. Policing how we express our sexuality is as much a part of Black culture as shea butter and coconut oil. When she is unyielding and won’t do what she has been taught; when she is obstinate and stubborn, refusing to play the role written for her, she is an object both of loathing and  of intense desire. Her simple refusal to commit to hetero-monogamy and be with the ONE person (read MALE) she is OBLIGED to be with, makes her questionable but also sparks an intense desire.  That refusal, attitude, expression, and freedom is seen as a threat, and the need to subdue her becomes stronger in those who want to possess, cage, and own her.

She is at the intersection of blackness and womaness. White people would deny her blackness, but so would black males. There is an idea that black men only want to be with black women in so far as the “dangerous curves” her body can offer. The desire to be with a black woman seems almost entirely sexual attributes that can be utilized for male pleasure, with either an ignoring or an exotification of her skin. The idea being that it's nearly impossible to be both black and attractive. So if you are attractive, you must not be entirely black OR you are some type of exotic exception to the rule. The second those attributes of sexuality and beauty may be hinted at as not being theirs to possess, she goes from an object of desire to a Black Bitch (re: sexual assault). This is the story of many Black women who are accosted and assaulted in the street and told they should be flattered by the approach. That she is a Black Bitch and not just a bitch is very much indicative of what else is really being said. The fact is that by racializing her bitchness due to her audacity to not watch for ashy assed fuck boys, the naming of what diminishes her value must occur. Calling her a Black Bitch is to say not only is her womanhood under attack because she won’t acquiesce but also to say she is less woman because she is Black, which is ironic, because is this not the same thing the slave master already did? In classifying the Black woman as an able body capable of the work of a man and labeling her sexuality as overdone to the point of masculinity, have black women not already been robbed of their womanhood, for which they have fought and continue fighting to get back or define in our own terms? What other reason is there for racializing her bitchness? The attempted devaluing is meant to put her in her place while establishing a hierarchy. Remind her of her inherent lack of desirability due to her race (re: Blackness) and sex, while re-establishing dominance over her by reminding her that her body is for the taking, and though Blackness may be a common denominator, the everpresent penis marks him as conqueror, not the conquered.


Gotta thought, opinion, or question? Let it be known in the comments below!

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5 Strategies to Prevent Murdering Your Family over the Holidays

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5 Strategies to Prevent Murdering Your Family over the Holidays

I know this may seem a bit late as one of the main food gathering holidays has just passed. But, I figure late rather than never is probably the best policy.

We all have a family, blood, chosen, or otherwise, to meet our need for meaningful connection. No matter if the family is self manufactured or imposed by blood, the fact remains that even if you love them to pieces and enjoy being around them, they will likely get on your nerves and you will get on theirs. That’s why I decided to give you my 5 tips to dealing with family situations over the holidays (so you don’t--figuratively-- kill each other).

  1. Pick a presentation strategy. My first bit of advice is to pick your strategy. This means sitting on your own and figuring out what works well for and resonates with you. Are you going to be truthful? Aloof? Agreeable? Confrontational? Whatever your desire, what ever fits your decision, try to pick how you want to go into various conversations that we all know will come up. For example, I am Nigerian American, first generation to the U.S. I know that I can expect family to ask me about when I will finally get married. It’s just the thing (I know lots of people across cultures experiences this, but there is something extra intense about Nigerians. There is a sense of entitlement to the information. More than that, there can be a complete disregard of what you want for yourself with the bullying/imposing nature. Not to mention that you can be held up in a 10 minute prayer focusing on getting you married and having that marriage be successful and child producing...but I digress. Let’s get back to the strategy at hand.). Since you undoubtedly have the best knowledge of your family and yourself, what strategy are you willing to use? Will you tell the truth and be okay with a long conversation offering explanations? Will you be agreeable to keep people out of your business or end uncomfortable conversations earlier? Or will you be so aloof and or confrontational that the question never has the chance to be asked? Picking what you want to do on various situations that you KNOW will come up can not only help you reduce feelings of anxiousness, but can also help you learn even more about yourself.

  2. Take breaks as necessary. This task requires you to be mindful of yourself and what you need. This means paying attention to yourself and not just the drama around you. Your lovely uncle may have asked one question too many, or your aunt may have thrown just a tad too much shade in your direction, LEAVE! If you aren’t ready, willing, or able to get into it with the family, you may need to take a breath and a break. In advance of seeing the folks, think up some strategies you already use that are helpful in helping you identify how you are feeling, calming down, and taking care of yourself. You need to be your number one priority. By taking care of yourself, you ensure that the holidays are what you want without having all the extra you wish would disappear for a year. Taking a break could be stuffing a little extra food/gum/water in your mouth to keep those shady ass daggers from being produced and distributed, or finding a reason to leave the house early. If you’re traveling a little further, it may also behoove you to consider if a hotel, Airbnb, or a friends couch may need to be part of your family gathering plan. Escape plans can be too necessary!

  3. Bringing someone or nah. Sometimes inviting a friend, lover, or whateva can help by adding a buffer to what could otherwise be too much. But really think on this, because depending on the gender presentation of who you bring and what that person means to you, it could also throw your ass in the deep end of those “When are you getting married?” conversations. Pro Tip: If you choose to bring someone with you, PREPARE THEM! Don’t have them walking into the family drama blind to what’s going on or to your needs. Give them all the info you feel they need to know to navigate those shark infested familial waters. Let them know why, other than for their lovely company, you are bringing them. If you are looking for a buffer, it's hard for them to act in that capacity if they spend all their time away from you.

  4. Knowing when not to even show up. Toxic families are real. Just like you may need to divest yourself of horrible romantic relationships, you may also need to chuck the deuces to toxic familial connections. I didn’t say it was easy, I said it may be necessary.

  5. Try tips 1-4 first. If all else fails, bring your own handcuffs and keep your hands off sharp objects!

But seriously, It’s important to recognize your level of safety with your family, not just physical but also mental and emotional. Do a self safety check. Notice if you can be you in all you glory, or if you feel the need to put a damper on certain aspects of yourself to guarantee physical, emotional, or mental safety in specific situations and conversations with the fam.

Sometimes our families of origin aren’t a haven of support and safety. That’s okay! Just recognize what you have, and make your choices accordingly.

What strategy will you be using this holiday season? Comment below!

 

 

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Was Everyone Born WOKE? Allowing Space for Forgiveness and Growth

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Was Everyone Born WOKE? Allowing Space for Forgiveness and Growth

Photo Credit: Anter Blackbird on Unsplash

Is there a point where we as people actually allow for forgiveness and growth? There are a bunch of people who talk about how “Woke” they are and how they won't entertain questions about how they reached their various levels of woke-ness. Referring people to Google who ask pretty simple questions and simply want more context. But I am concerned that in this age of instant information from yester-year, and social media draggings, we aren’t actually allowing people the opportunity to not only own the shit they said, but we aren’t allowing people to think, process, apologize, and make amends. Please understand, I am not saying that we forgive foolishness with no boundaries or that we don’t consider every facet before accepting an apology. What I am saying and seeing is that if someone we have agreed with on many points, says one thing we don’t agree with, without giving them time to explain their stance, or the happenstance around it, we publicly drag or humiliate them, then proceed to throw them away.

 

 

Maybe it isn’t seeming that harsh, so consider this. I had the luxury of growing along side technology without all the instant gratification. I had to know the Dewey Decimal system (never learned it though) and I had to get dirt on people the old fashioned way, note passing in class, and 3 way ambush phone calls. These days, someone says something in 1993 that was recorded and that shit is being brought up and thrown in their face in 2017 as if they said it yesterday! Can you imagine some of the things you said as a child or adolescent being thrown in your face now? As a child/teenager, I hadn’t achieved the level of growth, understanding, wisdom, or separation from my parents, that I have now. I was someone else with entirely different opinions. My thoughts were shaped by what my parents said and did, what I saw on tv (and took in as the truth), the world and time we were in, and my very limited view of the world. I was not “woke,” though if you asked me if I knew everything, I would have told you YES, unequivocally. Even now, with more growth, understanding of self, and presumed knowledge, I am still growing, still changing. I will probably hit a whole new level of being WOKE before 2018 arrives! To be done growing, to be done learning, is death. I am not dead and so I continue to change, learn, and evolve. You probably aren’t dead if you are reading this, so I give you the benefit that you are still changing, learning and growing—in whatever direction that may be.

 

So, I ask, think back to the person you were at age 16 (when we all thought we knew it all), 18 (when we were considered adults), 21 (when you knew or thought you were grown), 25 (when things kept changing and you realized the gravity of your actions for the first time--with a full prefrontal cortex), and now, at whatever age you may happen to be. Have you grown in the last 5 years? Have you grown in the last year? Really reflect. What about your worldview has changed or evolved? How do you feel about religion? Racism? Sexism? Rape culture? Colorism or texturim? How have you changed with regard to your thoughts on politics and families, on the foods you like and the combination of liquor to water to juice? Have those things changed for you? If so, then why do we crucify people and hang them out to dry because they aren’t as WOKE as we are? Why can’t we understand just like there are aspects of ourselves that we love and loathe, there will be aspects of others that we may agree and disagree with. I am all for being sensitive to the needs of others, but I am not for the dragging up of shit from many moons ago without evaluating who that person is today and what they may have or not have done to try and evolve from that person that they were.

 

Everything you say isn’t up for public consumption, with witch hunters out to condemn you and tie you to the stake. Consider that most people are likely to say some fucked up shit when they are nervous, angry, anxiety filled, depressed, etc. OR WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE ALL THE FACTS..like most people don’t. It doesn’t make it right for them to be linguistic assholes, ‘cause words can and do hurt. If you are smiting people left and right with your words, then you should have consequences, but also consider people’s actions before you light your torch. Remember that people grow and change and often regret both the things they say and don’t say. Allow people to grow, allow people to disagree with you and level up their WOKE-NESS factor. If you don’t allow folk to grow and change are you really growing into the person you want to be? Or are you just another person intolerant of people who don’t do what you would do, say what you would say, or believe how you would believe? Context is everything.

What to do instead:

  1. Know the facts, as much as you can gather

    1. What did the person say or do?

    2. When did it happen?

    3. In the past year, what have they done that may be different? Same?

  2. Reflect on what YOU think about all the stuff in #1?

    1. Think about how it impacts you personally

    2. How does it impact your work? worth? or the lives of your loved ones?

  3. Then, take whatever action you deem necessary.

I am only asking that we give a bit more consideration. In this day of internet gangster’s it feels like there are waaaaaay shorter moments between the words on the screen and the sharing with the world. I’m asking you to consider taking a mindful moment.

 

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Sexual Compatibility With Smell and NO SEX!

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Sexual Compatibility With Smell and NO SEX!

So this video up under these words is from September 26, 2017!

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This episode spoke about a lot of stuff including THIS article by Damon Young Straight Black Men are the White People of Black People! Now, you won't see mention in the short video below, but that's because I have heard the people, and they want a shorter video! So, sorry, but you missed it. Basically, misogynoir is B.S. that people participate in. Here is some more, in simplified terms

White men > White women > Black men > Black women

Got it? Basically the white man shits on the white woman, shits on the black man, shits on the black woman. Now forgetting the two at the front, basically the article and the discussion from the day spoke about how Black men enjoy the privilege of being men at the expense of the identified personhood of Black women. Saying things like "we are all Black" and asking Black women to focus on race over sex, because for them, sex doesn't matter. Black women are at the crossroads of racism and sexism, and the issue Black women have is that there are many Black men who refuse to acknowledge that there is an intersection, which can be fatal for Black women, even by the hands of Black men. 

Anyway, you missed it. Come to a LIVE taping on Instagram and you too can be part of the magic! Without further ado, here is the (condensed) video!

What was the QOTD: How can you determine sexual compatibility without having sex?

Resources!!

1. Does this make scents : Article about the power of scents

2. What does Bustle say about sexual compatibility? Find out Here

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