Top 40 Before 40 Part 1

71 degrees. Sun is out, birds are chirping, the kids are all outside laughing and playing. BBQ grills are fired up, drinks are flowing freely. Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. Rivals are talking smack. It’s a beautiful day out. But! Do not let it distract you from the fact that we are still indeed in the middle of Winter and it’s supposed to snow on Friday. Mother Nature if playing tricks on us! I refuse to be fooled and bamboozled into thinking I can put away my winter clothes! No ma’am. Also, to the non-believers: Global warming is real.

I say all this to say, that Spring is around the corner and before you know 2020 is here! Ok, I digress. This year, I turn the big 4-0. And I used to think that I would have life figured out and that I would have accomplished all of my goals and simply just waiting out my years with my 2.5 kids, husband and all that jazz, but life had different plans.

Now, I have accomplished TONS and have a great story to tell about how I got to where I am today and a great story on how to get where I am going tomorrow, but none are without lessons. Usually, I do my top lessons for the year at the start of the year, but this year I am going to do this a bit differently. I am going to share my top 40 lessons in life. I will post one set each season to get to 40 in the last quarter of the year. Before I dive in my top lessons, I would love to hear some of your memorable life lessons. Drop me a message, comment, email. All my contact info is available in my “I am Listening” section. Let’s chat!

So, let’s get it!

1.Never do anything that will affect your coin.

Do I even need to say much about this? I think not. You all know what this means. Be responsible. Pass that drug test, show up on time, reply to that email, submit that report, whatever. Do what you need to do to make sure you continue to secure that bag.

2.Men say what they mean, the first time. You won’t change his mind sis.

Look, we can say what we want about men, but they are usually pretty consistent creatures. Yes, there are a few that are “special” but for the most part, men are up front with us on what they want and where they are at. We like to ignore when he says “I am not ready for a relationship” and think “oh he ain’t never dealt with a real woman like me, he will change his mind” no he won’t sis, no he won’t. Just because Dionne and her man worked it out and he changed his mind for her doesn’t me Donte will for you. I have learned that men will change because THEY want to, not because you were so awesome he just had to. He has to WANT to change for you and it has to be on his terms and he has to be comfortable where he is in life in order to do so. And you won’t even be aware of it, because you will think he was always like this. Leroy wasn’t shit 5 years ago, but today, Leroy is sent from Jesus. If you hear any variation of a man saying he is not ready or simply just wants sex from you, be his friend. Nothing more. Save yourself the headache. Your older self will appreciate you for this. And guess what? In having standards, he just MAY see you as different.

3.Jealous and envious spirits are real. Be mindful of the friends you keep

Whew! Where do I begin with this? I am speaking to women about women. There are some women who just don’t want to see you win and act like they do. Some don’t like you because of how nice your hair is, or the attention you get from men, the complexion of your skin, your positive attitude, you get recognized at work. WHATEVER it is. They will hang around you, act like your friend all the while hoping you fail so they can feel better about themselves. Hell, some of these women (girls) will act like they are pro sisterhood and say all the great things like “I am rooting for you and want to see you win” but their behavior and attitude shows different when it’s time to support you or even show up for you. Pay attention. Place them where they should be. Not in your inner circle. I will say the older I get, the more I am running into these women. They are drawn to you, because well, you are amazing. But don’t be fooled. Sit back and observe, you will soon see who is really down for you.

4.All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk

I mean Zora Neale Hurston said it best. Just because we are from the same culture or the same race doesn’t mean that we are the same. It will go back to lesson 3 too. Not all of ‘your’ people will ride for you and it will be your very own people who will stab you in the back and dance in your face. Crabs in a barrel…

5.Never pour from an empty cup

You can’t give what you don’t have. Be leery of folks who expect you to give, give, give and they take, take, take without ever pouring back into you. Save something for yourself. I adopted that term in my 20’s. I needed to always save something for me. I refuse to give what I don’t have. It’s not even money, but time, resources, compassion, advice, clothes, weaves, whatever! Don’t give what you can’t afford to lose. And I don’t know about you all, I definitely can’t give time freely because once it’s gone. It’s gone.

6.Shut up at work.

Ain’t no other way to say this, but shut up. Your co-workers don’t care. They don’t. You don’t need to share your opinion about this stupid wall, or immigration, your relationships, your boss, religion, race relations to the office. Go what you came for. Money. Do your job, keep the atmosphere light and airy. Laugh when you can, be silent when needed and don’t take nothing personal. I have made the mistakes several years ago about being vocal about things and I was quickly labeled the “angry black woman” and those that know me, know I am everything BUT angry. But news flash! I am a minority. My majority co-workers don’t understand a lot about me and my world because it is not their reality. America is not Wakanda and while we are free-ish all battles are not meant to be fought off the battlefield. There is a time an a place for everything. Now, in my workplace, I am told how peaceful and positive I am by both majority and minorities. I just smile and continue to do my job.

7.Divorced men, recently divorced, bout to be divorced men. Stay clear until they heal.

I instantly put my head down when I got to this topic right-chea! I dated a separated man who was going through a divorce. Talk about rollercoaster!! Chile! But I will say this as a divorcée myself. It is not their fault. They don’t know. They are truly trying to understand it all and some days they are up and some days they are down. They love being in a relationship and they love being free. They are happy to be single and angry on how things may have ended and if not angry, feel like they failed. All feelings that are not easy and they are valid. So, with that being said, I tell all my friends, proceed with caution in dealing with a recently divorced man. Be his friend, but nothing more. Let him be a hoe again, let him go to therapy, let him deal and work out his issues. He needs it. This is the one time where you can ignore what he says to you because he don’t know shit. If I could do it all over again, I would have simply been his friend and let him work out his issues before becoming involved and catching feelings. Save us both the heartache. If a man today says “I am recently divor-“ he wont even get the final word out because all he will see is smoke from my heels from hauling ass. No thank you sir. I bid you well. With someone else who ain’t woke.

8.Your intuition is real. Stop talking yourself into bad shit.

Ladies Ladies Ladies (in my Rotimi Nigerian Butterscotch voice) We know good and well when something is not right. Why do we always talk ourselves into some nonsense trying to justify it? Only to come back later and say “ I should have listened to my first thoughts” God gave US intuition for a reason, we know how to discern accordingly. That is if we don’t talk ourselves into bad shit! Listen to that voice and act accordingly. You won’t fail you. Not listening will.

9.Read. Learn and do your own research. Never take someone’s word as the end all tell all.

Social media is great. Wikipedia is great, your podcasts are lit. But guess what? These are all folks opinions on things of the matter. Read a book, research the topic at hand. Form your own thoughts and opinions and go from there. People emote. People, people and that ain’t always good. People will also comprehend on the level in which they are on and that may not be your level. Take heed on what your hear and form your own opinion and thoughts about topics and about other PEOPLE. “Girl, he is gay, my homegirls told me so” And when you talk to the guy you find out he just didn’t like her and his rejection to her advances made her categorize him as gay.

“She is such a bitch and evil” Come to find out that she is a kind person, but doesn’t take well to being lied to, taken advantage of and cheated on. FORM your opinion.

10.Know your limits. No is not a bad word.

There was a time where I would say yes for everything because I wanted to be liked and accepted. I wanted to be in the ‘in crowd’. Then I had to start saying no. I can’t be who others want me to be. I can’t always inconvenience myself for others who wouldn’t do the same for me. I had to learn myself and what my limits were and act accordingly. I am not the person who can over extend myself all the time and I know I can’t be in these streets 24/7. I need a recharge day at least 2x a week. Yep, I am needy with MYSELF. I love to say no now. It’s like the best word ever. What are your limits? Find out and govern yourself accordingly.

Well that’s all I have at the moment. I have plenty more lessons to come and some I wanted to dive into now but said, no no, in time!

Until Next Time Folks!

With much love and grace,

V.

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Dear Women Of Today

Dear Women of Today,

You can’t claim you are about empowering other women if at the first chance, you talk down upon one. Empowerment doesn’t work like that.

Continuous negative behavior on each other only gives the oppressor power. The power in which we seek and fight to obtain/sustain for ourselves. Equality in the workplace, governance over our bodies, etc. how can we even ask for positive behaviors from another when we don’t display it towards each other? Doesn’t it concern you too?

When did hatred among other women become so popular?

When did tearing each other down become the norm?

When did bad mouthing another woman become how we bond?

When did being a lady go out of style and replaced by lewd and over sexualized behavior? I’m not knocking it, but when did it become the norm? If one chooses not to engage, they become the odd one out. Isn’t this a cause for concern?

How do we demand so much from our men to protect and provide when we refuse to love and nurture? Now, I can go into the men, but that’s on another day because this is about accountability. Because in all honesty, it’s starts with us. How we govern ourselves.

When was the last time you challenged yourself to be kind? And speak only positive words to other women you cross paths with? If you feel you don’t have anything good to say, how about we simply shut our mouths?

I challenge all women. Are you in?

Love,

V.

We Are Failing Us

What a week! Phew! Talk about exhausted but I am taking it all in stride because exhausted means that I have been working and that’s always a good thing. So! A couple of things I want to address one being R.Kelly and the other being dating, but the dating will have to wait!

I have gotten into a couple of debates on whether or not we should still listen to his music. I hear folks saying they can separate R.Kelly, the man, and R. Kelly, the pedophile. To me, it’s one of the same. I personally have not listened to any of his music for years once I started hearing the allegations. I am not going to start now. He is definitely a talented man and no one will ever take that away from him, but at what point as a community will we hold him accountable for abusing our girls? Is the CEO of a company who beats his wife off the clock, a genius still? Because he runs a company and makes a lot of money for his shareholders? Once he gets hit with those allegations, he will be asked to step down. The board of directors will not say, “what he does on his own time is his business.” Those allegations are bad for business period. So, why are we excusing R. Kelly? Why are we continuing to give him business and glorify him? We are failing us.

In a Facebook debate today, I had one guy even go as far as compare religion being a detriment to teens and sexual abuse. He said religion causes more psychological abuse than the abuse that R.Kelly has bestowed upon these young minority girls. Like, is this what we are doing now? Just because he made good music? Stir a new batch of Kool-Aid why don’t we. We are failing us. The argument that he was not convicted in the court of law and that there is no real evidence is sickening. Especially from Black people. My people. How many times has justice not been served when the black person was the victim? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…..

Decades later… nothing has changed. How much more evidence do you need? The marriage certificate to a 15 year old as a 27 year old man not enough? The countless testimonies from his family and team and the girls, not enough? Where there is smoke there is fire. These women are not getting paid to do this, to be subjected to criticism for the world. To be made a mockery of and told that they bought it upon themselves. But all we are concerned about is the fact, that he made good music. We are failing us. This whole situation just truly showed me where we are as a people and honestly, its just sad. But hey, he made good music.

-V.