I tried to get all cute and come up with a clever title.  That really didn’t work.  But, today I want to talk about strength – or more so the perils of strength and others’ perceived notions of “strong individuals.”

I’m touted as one of those “strong black women” many days.  I’ve heard it often. I even believe it’s true.   Friends have told me this – although they call me a creampuff (Henry).  But that’s more about how my heart goes out to people and how I relate to them.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  There is strength in an open heart right?

Equally, I am surrounded by men and women, who in many ways are like me.  They do too much for too many people – with no ROI (return on investment).  That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with helping people – there isn’t.  Nothing wrong with being strong.  Nothing wrong with having the capability, resources and means to help others.

There are a few caveats.

I have come to understand when people see people who are strong they tend to fall back and not jump out there to assist.  I think this happens with men and women.  People come to rely on the strong:  that we’ll fix it, we’ll get it done, we’ll be there, we’ll hold things together and we’ll keep it all together – while still holding ourselves together, pursuing our own desires, living life and living up to those expectations and demands of others.  I don’t necessarily think being seen as a strong black woman is necessarily beneficial.  Mostly because others tend to heap their burdens into my proverbial lap.  There is a price to pay for it.  In the wake of trying to feed ourselves and take care of our families, you mean to tell me I have to “be strong” and “hold it all together” too?  I call bullshit.

Fact is there is peril to being strong.  For as many benefits there are,  it seems like there are equally the same amount of concerns.  I’m here to say, this isn’t an optimal place to be, nor can the pace be kept forever.  All of us have to learn our boundaries and where to begin and where to end.  If everyone is always tugging at me in a room and I’m the most desired in the room, I’m in the wrong room(via TD Jakes). By the way, I left that room some time ago.  Being strong  isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  People tend to overlook strong people because they think we don’t need anything.  That’s so far from the truth.  In fact, I’d like to say most of us who are “holding it all together” so to speak are the ones who need love just as much as others – if not more.

I think many of us touted as the strong ones who get our hearts broken – we still remain strong for the sake of everyone around us.  I’ve pretty much tried to give that up too.  If I need to cry, then I’m going to cry and if you happen to catch me in a moment when things are falling apart, then it is what it is.  I mean, I cry, I break down.  I need people to look out for me as well.  But because most people have rarely ever seen tears stream from my eyes, if they do, it makes folks nervous.   But I’ve learned the strongest people need an amazing team of people they can trust.  So who’s on your team?  I mean let’s look at Michelle Obama.  She’s our quintessential go-to woman of strength – or at least she’s mine.  I can’t imagine the things she’s had to endure within public eye and under public scrutiny.  She has a team.  She has her family.  She has people surrounding her to help her.

Really, the point of this post is to expose the fact that strong people need support as well.  In other words, just because someone looks like they have it all together, doesn’t mean they’re not struggling. Go back and read what I said again.   Stop sitting around like there’s nothing you can do to help folks.  The excuse gets old. She doesn’t need anything. He has everything.  She looks like she’s doing fine.  He’s always together. How do you know?  You think because the person has all the trappings of success they don’t need anything? Have a seat.

People always need something – maybe they need you to show up more.  How about just showing up period? How about being present when you show up and not tuned in to the TV or your iPhone?  How about running errands for the person?  Bringing a bag of groceries over.  How about you start dinner sometimes?  I mean – the premise of it is to make a person’s life better, easier.  Do you live with someone?  Are you married? How about just doing something WITHOUT them having to ask for things to be done.
Strong people become weary too.  And when we break down, often we are the epicenter of everything.  What happens when we stop?  Is that where we really want to position ourselves?  Is it that important for us to be needed that we can’t let others in to help us?  Strength can be renewed but love is at the core of that renewal.  And this sort of love I’m talking about is an action-based love and not one based on lip service.  In Exodus when the Israelites found the Amalekites,  every time Moses held his arms in praise, the the Israelites were winning.  When he lowered his arms (because he was weary), the other side began to win.  So his brother Aaron and Hur  held his arms up:

Exodus 17:11-12 it says, “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.

Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”

And that’s my entire point.  Moses was strong.  He may not have always been confident, but he had an Aaron to hold his arms up when he became tired.  Hold someone’s arms up tonight.  Even if you think they don’t need it.  I see so many of us who support our families and do all of this work and there’s no one supporting us.

I’m going to also toss in a message to my strong folks out here – we have to allow people the space to help us as well.  Give someone the room to hold your arms up for you and help you.  Stop trying to do everything all the damn time.  If someone extends a hand and you know the gesture is in kindness, allow for them to help.  Many of us get into this trap of being control freaks.  We need to surround ourselves with people who are worthy of our trust and we can depend on when we need to turn to them.  Refer to my being the most sought after person in the room.

We have to be able to have people we can go to in times of need.  Have you cultivated it?  Or have you trained everyone that you are in charge and have to do it ALL?  I’m not there any longer.  I welcome the help and the support these days.  Most times because the people in my life have my best interest at heart.  I can trust them.

So, a couple of action items here – if you have someone in your life who’s the person always in charge and doing things for people (and you) ask how you can help them.  It sounds like this: How can I help you?  What can I do for you today?  By the way – the first time you ask, they’ll probably be so shocked and will probably turn you down.  Ask again.  And then again.  Be sincere.  And if they can’t tell you how to help them, then you need to study them and figure it out.  I’m sure you can do it.  If you mess it up, don’t worry.  Try something else.  The point is you have to at least put yourself out there and try.

If you’re one of the folks who thinks people aren’t helping you enough – ask for it.  But I want to make sure you ask the right people.  Who’s always there for you – even when you don’t call?  They want to help you.  Ask them for their help.  If they can’t, don’t get upset.  But I want us to be able to get better at asking for help.  Not being afraid of being a burden to someone because we too need help, love and all of those other things we give out.  Some of us want to be seen as so perfect we’re afraid to reach out to people and say – “Hey, I need you.  I need your help.”

I will say firsthand I KNOW how hard this is. I tend to do it all on my own because I’ve been so disappointed in the past.  But you know what?  Now in my 37th year I understand there are times when I just need to ask people for help, for advice, for time, for their presence and even just a hug or a kiss –  and be ok with the fact I need it.

I’m working on all of the above.  Everyone needs help.  Everyone needs someone to be there for them.  Even me – the queen of not needing help.  Just a short note on this Tuesday evening.   I would love to hear your thoughts.  Always feel free to comment below or send me an email at fromraewithlove at gmail dot com.

Love,

Rae

To Check For (verb)

[tu chek fawr]

Definition: To keep up with someone, to check in on them, to act like you give a damn. To have their back when they need you.  To support them.  To love them when they act a fool.

So who’s checkin’ for you?

I use this term often on the blog because I love it.  It’s an old school term but it’s timely.  I’ve talked about it a few times.

Just thought I would ask to see if you know who’s on your team and gives a flying hippopotamus about you?  Who are you checkin’ for?  Are they showing you the same kind of love?

Fact is, the people who I care about – I try to make sure they know I am there for them and love them.  If any of them happen to be reading this – let me tell you first hand and publicly how much I love you and you mean to me.

Sometimes, I’m not able to be there for them as I would like to be.  Other days I fall short. But I give a damn.  They matter to me and I’m pretty sure they know it.  If I do, it’s impossible not to know.   Because if I’m not here tomorrow then what will happen?  I don’t want them to ever think for one minute I didn’t love them.

But really, I also know who’s checking for me.  I may be sweet and fluffy and whatnot (I am!) but it has nothing to do with my capacity to see when people are for me or not.  Not that they’re necessarily against me.  It’s just they’re not on my team.  I’m on theirs but they’re not on mine.  It’s like following someone you really like on Twitter, someone you really know or connect with – and they don’t follow you back.  Or they mute you.   Or people who are always asking you to support their events but then you throw a party and crickets come out after they promise to promote it for you.  These things…

*side-eye*

Get an abrupt stop and a side-eye.  An evaluation.  And possibly a disconnect.
Or maybe you always find yourself doing all of the helping, the caring, the advising, the assisting, the supporting,  the picking up, the paying, the protecting, the loving, the worrying – without any reciprocation?  I’ll tell you what, it’s not the business and I have been checking for myself lately.

Yeah, so these days, I’m not on that ship any more.  When it comes down to it, it doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be seasons where people need you.  There are.  Support and love them.  But you can’t look five years back and realize you’re the only person who’s checking for anybody.  It can’t work that way.

From one softy to another, stop being such a pushover.  Stand your ground –  equal rights my friend.

Special note:  asking for some shit things from someone who flat out isn’t capable of giving it to you will only upset you, give you high blood pressure and an appointment with your living room floor.  Demanding something from someone who WON’T give it to you might mean you have to break.  Sometimes, people just can’t give you what you’re looking for or won’t.  It’s ok.  Move forward my love.  Press onward.

*drops mic*

Love,

Rae

“If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me … What scares me the most is not knowing and accepting that just about everything is not in my control. That makes me feel unsafe….I used to think that what scared me was the idea of being abandoned until someone said to me, ‘Only children can be abandoned. Adults can’t be abandoned because we have a choice. Children don’t have a choice.’ So I started to rethink. ‘OK, it’s not that. What’s the underlying thread that really scares me?’ I think what scares me is not having the courage to reach my full potential … That I would allow fear, insecurity, and doubt to rule me and that I would ask for only a little of what is actually there for me. It would mean that I would be settling.” ~ Demi Moore

courtesy of Page Six‘s article on Demi Moore’s Haaper’s Bazaar interview.

I need to speak on this today.  Probably because I’m fearful at this very moment.   I started writing this post on December 19 and it’s been sitting.  I was already feeling uneasy then for good reason that just continued to escalate.  When I read the quote above today from Demi, it really hit home. I need to thank her for her candor and for being open.  This statement got me right together.

I knew it was time to send this post out.  I’m not the only one who’s afraid.  She spoke about how I’ve been feeling.   Maybe that I’m fearful of the future and what’s coming.  I’m fearful of what I have no control over.  Fearful of not being loved.  Fearful of not doing the right thing or reaching my full potential.  Of losing the most valuable people in life.  Of the uncertainty of it all.

But how am I supposed to handle fear when it’s right at my door and about to come in and have a drink with me?  What happens when it greets me in the morning when I wake up?  That up-in-my-face-all-in-my-damn-business sort of fear.  I  can’t escape it.  It doesn’t plan on going anywhere.  It’s right there.  Sitting on me.  What do I do then?  Here’s a few of the things I do:

  1. Pray
  2. Get thankful. I remind myself of what I’ve gotten through at this point.  I reminisce over the good and the love in my life. It helps reset my tone.
  3. Assure myself said situation isn’t permanent.  Most things are in passing.  It’s about getting over a wave.  If said situation is permanent, there wouldn’t be anything I can do about it.  Or is there?  Am I just in panic mode because I feel hopeless?
  4. Seek help.  This is important.  There should be at least a couple of people who I don’t have to hide my true feelings or tears or nervous breakdowns aka panic attacks.
  5. Hide. This doesn’t solve anything but sometimes, just being able to be away from it all has helped me.  I “hide” at home or at a trusted friend’s “safe” space home.
  6. Take a nap.  Reset.  Start over.
  7. Breathe.
  8. Cry.
  9. Get a new plan of attack when things seem to fall apart.
  10. Find someone else that may need my help more than I feel the need to feel sorry for myself.

Thinking about everything that’s happened over the last few years, there were so many things I feared happening that STILL came to pass.  Some people will say it was the fear that brought it to pass.  Others would say maybe I knew things were coming and I was prepped in advance.  I don’t think it was either.  I just think it’s life.  Shit happens.  It’s about how you manage that shit and navigate it.  Me being afraid didn’t change anything.  Me standing still didn’t stop life.  Choosing not to move, not to fight, not to do anything is still a choice.

I admit here and now, I don’t always succeed at managing my fear.  Sometimes, I just have to stay home in bed and pull it together.  Sometimes it’s caused me to make the wrong decisions or just drop everything and not fight. Instead, I took flight. Because I didn’t face up to some things, I think I lost some valuable situations and people.  However, each situation was a learning process.   Sometimes running makes things worse.

All of us handle these things in different ways.  Sometimes it’s about loss –  the death of a loved one or it’s about a partner or spouse leaving.   The most amazing relationship suddenly falls apart.  It could be the loss of a significant amount of money, it could be unforeseen  illness or debt.  It could be a betrayal of trust.  It could be disappointment in ourselves or about where we are in our life.  Or about our own actions.  Or fear of the truth.  Fear of the truth!  Fear of having to face the inevitable.  What about the anticipation of the unknown?  Yup.  Afraid of that too.

By the way, everything on the above list has taken place in my life over the last few years in some form.   Each one has it’s own story.

But here’s the best part of it all –

When the worst of my fears were realized, I was freed.   I mean, I’m going to admit all kinds of shit has rained down.  But as it has, as I’ve forced myself to face it, I’ve become just a little bit braver, just a little bit more fierce and a little bit less fearful.  I work hard at being more brave these days.

So many things are out of my (our) control until most of the time, there’s no reason for the worry in the first place.  It doesn’t help with what I need to do and where I need to go.  It doesn’t stop things from happening around me.  It only paralyzes me.  I will say fear can save your hide, but that’s a discussion for another time.  I’m not speaking about caution today or how we process all of the warning signs that arrive before something tragic happens.  In this case, I don’t classify this as fear.  That’s intuition, caution, discernment.  I (we) should listen when that’s the voice that’s speaking.  There’s a difference.  It’s not negative.  It’s cautionary, warning.  Loving.

This fear I’m speaking of as mentioned above, is a nay-sayer.  It’s abusive.  It takes an unfair advantage over your movements and your mind and spirit.   It can wrap it’s bony little icy fingers and hold you down.  It’s not Godly.  It’s something different.  It’s the kind that talks you out of the good things appearing in your life.  It’s the kind that has you confused and making terrible, rushed and inappropriate decisions.

So, I just wanted to get this off my chest today and confess.  Yes, I am afraid.  I’m not as brave as everyone thinks I am.  I just have faith.  I have hope. I believe I can make it through because of who God created me to be and because He’s with me every step of the way.  I know where my help comes from.  Why should I be afraid?

Marianne Williamson said, “Sometimes we need to tell our fear to go to hell because that’s exactly where it came from.”

Today, I’m telling my fear to go to hell.  I encourage you to do the same.

Love,

Rae

Menahan Street Band “Make the Road by Walking”

When this song was first introduced to me months ago, I knew I was going to use it.  Besides the fact that Jay-Z sampled this gem and it’s a great song, what’s even greater about this is the title.  It says everything in five words.  The song is an instrumental.  Take a listen to it.   I think of Afrobeat and blaxploitation films and afros and all the good times of the 70s  I was too young to capture.  The funny thing though, is the song was recently made.  In the last five years if I’m not mistaken.  But, that’s just a little history.

Make the Road by Walking

It means I’m on this path and the road doesn’t appear until I start walking – until I step out. It’s like the bricks, the paved road or the dirt road appears before me as I TAKE each step.  In fact, it’s like sometimes I don’t even see the road.  Can’t see the road, I can’t see ahead.  Like a foggy, rainy night.  I just have to trust there’s a road underneath me and walk (or drive) slow.  It’s a scary idea.  But truthfully, I’m mostly doing that each day right?  Although I can control my own actions,  I never have control of the factors outside of myself where it involves another living creature, the weather and elements.  There’s a lot of uncertainty out here.

Have you seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

In the movie, Indiana Jones faces three tests in order to reach the Holy Grail.  If you know anything about the Indiana Jones series, of course the tests seem damn near impossible.  At the same time he’s about to go through these three challenges, his father (Sean Connery) has been shot and is dying.  So, no pressure right?  Right.  On the third and final challenge, Jones arrives at this cavern and needs to get to the other side.  However, there’s this big void.  You know – it’s like looking across a canyon and someone telling you that you need to cross it.  But there’s no bridge.  Jones has his father’s diary and following the instructions he steps out on faith, sticks hit foot into the void.  In other words, it looks just like he’s stepping into nothingness.   And then lo and behold there’s an invisible bridge!!!  Damn.  So Jones is smart – he throws dirt across the bridge to make sure he can see the way and steps on across.  Pretty amazing.

Cue soundtrack to my life.

Invisible bridges, canyons & voids, dirt and swashbuckling!

It speaks to faith right?  Faith in God, faith in my own ability.  Faith enough to really step out and make my road or at least trust there is a road.
I only do that by walking.  No one can walk the road for me.

How many times will I have to step out into the metaphorical void and not have a clue as to what’s about to happen?  From living these three decades and change, I can say there have been many times. From moving, to changing careers, to dating, to loving, to starting a business or pursuing a hobby that’s been a dream.  Each time has been scarier.

I’ve also come to accept God isn’t planning to bless me within my comfort zone.

It means I am going to have to take some sensible risk.  Everything that has a major blessing to it is something I wouldn’t be able to handle on my own without the help of God or those God-given talents He’s given me or the people I have been blessed with in my life.

Now of course I could just sit at home and live my life “safely.”  And frankly, some days that’s exactly what I want to do.   Be content with whatever I have.  Accept this is where I am in life. Because it is comfortable.  It’s safe.

But what if I’m not?  What if I believe there’s more out there and all I need to do is get across this void?  Then I am going to have to make the road by walking and step out in faith.

Anyway, life is about a lot of uncertainty.  I can say that for sure.  Over the last 12 years, I have learned to relax and believe things are going to have to work out.  I have purpose.  There is a plan for my life.  There is promise.  I had to become comfortable walking my own road and with my own path because it’s not like anyone else’s – if only for the fact that there are invisible bridges, canyons & voids, dirt and swashbuckling.

Know there is always risk by walking our own roads.  But no risk equals no reward right?

Make your road.

Walk it out.

Love,

Rae

This is a basic list of some of the lessons I have learned over my years of dating.  It’s not exhaustive.  It doesn’t and probably will not cover everything.  It will however, show a few lessons.  I’m sure I may even have to refer to this list from time to time.

Please check out Volume I of “Things My Exes Have Taught Me”  here to catch up.

Without further adieu, here is Volume II (hey, I’m rhyming now…someone call Def Poetry Jam for me):

    1. Relationship does not mean isolation or ignoring your own needs.  You’re human.  You should be able to maintain a relationship with your man/woman/significant other/dog and still be able to have hang time with your friends and family.  You should still be able to find some time to breathe even if it’s for a few minutes.  Hobbies, happy hour, family vacations and all your other hullaballoo.
    2. Never let anyone gaslight you.  If they try to make you think you’re crazy and you’re not – think again.  There is nothing wrong with a trusted second opinion.
    3. Never chase – goodbye can really be good.  See here.
    4. Never chase – allow him the room to come to you, come back to you or try to work it out.
    5. Never chase. (yes it’s here three times because it’s that damn important)
    6. There are many good men out there.  Don’t screw them over.  You could be “the next woman” at some point in your life and never want to have been what they were talking about on Single Black Male as Girlfriend Zero.  Don’t be that girl/woman/fiancée – you’ll thank yourself for it later.
    7. Read more.  Read things in their entirety.  Have some depth.  It’s important.
    8. Don’t just take someone at their word all the time.  Actions are much more important.
    9. Lip service doesn’t pay for anything.  Not even attention.
    10. I recently talked to a girlfriend of mine, she mentioned that Niecy Nash had said you have to “Date for your priorities and not your preferences.”  Nuff Said.
    11. A woman can grow to love a man.
    12. Sometimes, it pays more just to not want to “find out” if there’s “anything between us.”  Please know, everyone you have chemistry with isn’t destined to be your mate and certainly doesn’t deserve your time.
    13. Being alone can be sexy.  You’ll never have more time to work on yourself than when you’re single.  Cherish the time.
    14. Real relationships take work.  There will be fireworks and chemistry.  But the real work comes when the fireworks and chemistry die down.
    15. Choose a mate you’re willing to work with, forgive and are willing to work through things together.  Better yet, find a person who’s all of those things too.
    16. Lies matter.  If you catch a person being deceitful, lying and all that other jazz, you may have to cut them off.  It’ll save you some time.
    17. You are not a personal Jesus.  Let Jesus do the saving.
    18. Character is far more important than a bank account.  Learn to look past all the glitter & gold.
    19. Wait to have sex.  You won’t miss anything.   It will always be there.
    20. Be authentic.  If you need to cry, aren’t having a good day, are having an amazing day – learn how to be transparent with someone so they know who you really are.
    21. Let him see you without the make-up, the hair and all the extras. See #20 above re: authenticity.
    22. Know what you’re looking for.
    23. Find your yellow brick road and stay on it!  Find your red shoes & Toto and your crew and get on it.  Don’t stray, no detours. Have a plan.  And yes, I plan to get it just like this singing and dancing the whole way – join me :
    24. Be aware of who or what you’re attracting.  If you don’t like who and what is attracted to you, “you” are the common denominator and will have to do the changing.
    25. Know what you’re attracted to.  Did you know that can change as well?  Trust me on this one.
    26. Make sure you’re ready when he shows up.  Which means, you need to be your own prototype.
    27. Work on the betterment of yourself at all times.
    28. Find a mentor
    29. Pray more, talk less
    30. Listen more, talk less
    31. Watch more, talk less
    32. Do more, talk less
    33. Talk less
    34. Develop a gentle & quiet spirit, I Peter 3:4.
    35. Love yourself unconditionally through all of your mayhem, foolishness, hullaballoo and fuckery.  Your love for yourself will radiate everywhere you go.  Genuine, outright, knockdown drag out love.

    What else would you add to the list?

    I’d love to feature your lessons I haven’t covered so far.  In box me here or tweet me  @fromraewithlove with your suggestions and comments.

    Love,

    Rae

    P.S.  Here’s what I’m jamming to tonight – Phyllis Hyman (I miss her…) and one of my favorite songs “What you Won’t Do for Love” – is there a better combination?

Honestly, I have been asking myself this question for a while now.

I’ve reached the adult threshold where everyone is getting married, having children.  I mean EVERYONE.  Not just a few people, but most of the people around me and around everyone else for that matter.  Maybe it’s the recession?  Maybe it’s true love.  Fact is they are all boo’d up.  It’s a tad unnerving at times.

I’m a lover of love.  I enjoy seeing people happy and together.  I support each and every one of my friends in their unions. I laugh and cry with them.  I tell them to hold it together when it’s going poorly.  I want them to be together.

The fact remains I am still single and some days you feel some kind of way about it.

No marriage prospects in sight.  It had been this way.  You meet a guy, you think he’s the one, and then for whatever reason or number of reasons, he turns out NOT be the one.  In fact, you should have never even been dealing with this joker in the first damn place.  Right?

Right.

I am on a no dating challenge currently.  It was just time.

I realized all the time that’s has passed and found myself a little nervous.  Clocks are ticking.  I can hear the bells ringing – and not wedding bells.  I mean the kitchen timer, times up kinda bell.  Or rather a buzzer.   Waking up another morning asking, “What’s wrong with me?”

For the men reading this – yes, women think this and well, we’ll never admit it to you in your face if you confront us.  However, there a few who could care less.  This really isn’t about them (no h8).  It’s for the women, who like myself are looking for the life they thought they’d have at this point and are grappling with the life we currently have.   So it’s what is versus what I want (or expect).

Or rather, I’ve asked myself what’s wrong with me?  I’ve had this talk many times with myself and wondered what I am doing wrong.  Fact is, there were a number of things I was doing wrong.  Those are for another post.

The most important thing I had to realize is that I had to BE the prototype I was looking for.  That’s the number one thing I was doing wrong.  I wasn’t living up to the best version of myself.  The best woman.  The best Rae.

What does this mean?  It means you better be willing to give all of the things you’re asking for from your mate.  It means being long-suffering.  It means knowing what the I Corinthians verse 14: 4-7 really means & to be willing to honor it and get yourself to living as close to all of it as you can.  Practice – and not on dates!!  But on your loved ones.  For those who don’t know what it says:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

It means I better get to work.  I mean, there is some serious overhaul to be done.  And here I thought I was in good shape.  But then over the last year or so, and after my Lemony Snicket aka the series of unfortunate (dating) events, it brought me to a point where I realized there was a lot of work to be done – on myself.  While I could blame others, at the end of the day, the position I’m in is my responsibility.

I have some issues and they better well be resolved, or well on their way to being worked on before I even think about taking on someone else’s issues.  You realize of course when you get married, you’re taking on all of the other persons issues.  If you think you’re ready for a husband, the better question is to ask if you’re ready to be a wife.  Am I ready to be a wife?  Lord have mercy.

The gut feeling I listened to managed to serve me well.  I knew better all this time than to get married too early.  The truth is, years ago, up until very recently I probably would have made a terrible wife.  So, those brothers are probably as thankful they didn’t marry me as I am that I didn’t marry them.  Do we as women ever think about that? SMH….

Then my mind starts to wander.   I get to thinking: I’m cute; I have many “intangible” talents;  I’m stylish; I have good taste; I’ve been sensible (sometimes – let’s say enough to count me in as not crazy).  Oooooh!  Eccentric.  Okay, maybe I’m a little crazy.  I know right from wrong.  I can recite the days of the week, my address, I usually know what day it is (although I had an episode with that this past weekend – EPIC fail).  I can cook.  I can make a mean Sunday or whatever other day dinner you need.  I’m eclectic.  I’m giving to a fault.  I can empathize with you &b share in your pain.  I can love hard.  I tend to be hilarious without trying.  I’m agreeable – on most days.  I’m kinda surly at times though – but some men like that so it’s really an asset.  By the way, I also have assets. (wink)

And so does every other woman.

So why am I NOT married?  Damn.

Mainly because none of the above really matters.

It does matter, then again, it doesn’t.  How beautiful I am, how well I can cook, how well I can maintain things and hold them together – that doesn’t make a relationship stick.  Men have left for more or for less.

What matters is my character.

Ouch.

Yes. Character.

When I started to dissect all of the things I need to resolve, I realized I have my work cut out for me:

  • Deal with past  pains and hurts of exes.  No bitterness please!  No cold witchery is allowed.  No holding a man hostage for the faults of others before him.
  • Master being a Proverbs 31 woman and a women who embodies the “Love is patient, love is kind…”
  • Pay off some, if not all of this damned debt.
  • Learn to honor my commitments.
  • Learn to be on time.
  • Learn to set boundaries.
  • Discern who I should let go and who I should let stay.
  • Learn what to reveal and what not to.
  • Learn a measure of self-control.
  • Work on all of those things on my to do list : writing, publishing, house, travel, countless other things….
  • Cultivate myself into the best version of myself as I can while I’m single.
  • Maybe learn how to dance burlesque.  Just saying.  It’s helpful.  LOL….

And when you start going through that list, that’s when you get to the answers, you make the progress, the husband shows up.  Here’s the truth, we can look on to others lives as much as we want, but if we’re not making any progress in our own while watching others, we’re failing ourselves and setting ourselves up for future failure.

Fact : you’ll never have as much time as a married person to work on yourself as you do when you’re single.

Same message : I need to BE the prototype I am seeking.

What am I doing to better myself?  Am I taking classes?  Working smarter to pay off this debt?  Trying to fulfill my dreams?  Out here blogging and working on this book like I keep TALKING about?  Taking care of the obligations I am responsible for?  How’s my relationship with God?  Am I actively seeking my purpose?

Fact is, I wasn’t ready.  And if the right man had shown up these years, he wouldn’t have been looking for a girl like me.  I don’t know if I could have even recognized him.

I think when I realized this, I had to lay down in the bed for a day – okay, it was two.  Really.   I got out of bed to shower, make a snack and get a glass of wine.  I stayed in bed to drink, eat and watch those damned four-hour Lifetime love movies and Weddings on E! and all of the other girly movies.

It was deep.  I cried – a lot.  (Girl models do this…)

I didn’t like the woman I saw when I got raw and real with it.  I mean, I loved her, but there were some things she was going to have to get past before she could even consider being someone’s wife or think about even a relationship.

All of this isn’t even really about being a wife, or getting married, or having a committed relationship, or getting the man/woman we want.  It really boils down to being the best person you can be.  Being able to be your authentic self and live your life to its fullest.  Being able to get past your own bullshit, and then really get on with your own life’s business.  Not being stuck in a rut.  Not having to relive every day as if it’s the same day of mediocrity.

This whole realization was difficult.  As mentioned in previous posts, this year has visited me with some seriously difficult days.  They haven’t been as merciful as I had hoped, but then again, maybe they were all too necessary to bring me to a point where I was ready to “get it.”

So who do I see when I’m getting myself together in the morning?  Do I like her?  Do I love her?  Can I depend on her?  Can I call on her when I need her?  Do I find her worthy of a good life?  Is she valuable?

The answer to all of these questions today is a YES.

However, she still falls short.  To put it mildly, I have fallen consistently short of my expectations for myself over the years.  And well, there’s still hope at the beginning and the end of the day.  I still have it.

The main thing is progress is being made.  I’m becoming a better woman each day.

Progress.

Progress.

Pro-gress.

This issue is so close to my heart because it’s so important for us to know our worth, for us to propel ourselves to all God would have us to be.  It looks different for everyone.  What yours looks like is very likely different from mine.  It doesn’t make either any less important or more important for that matter.  It doesn’t have anything to do with who you marry or being married.  It’s dealing with you.  Your character, your attitude, your spirit.

I promise, if you’re not already whole when you end up in a relationship, the holes are going to surely cause a wind of serious change in your relationship.  You’ll lose the very thing, the very person which and who was most precious to you.

I love you enough to tell you to get whole: to work on yourself in the process of waiting.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

So don’t get the title of the post twisted.  I believe in love.  I believe there is a man out there for me.  I believe I am worthy of this man.  There is a man out there who is designed for me, fashioned for me – or shall I say, who I’m fashioned from.  He will be able to handle all of me.  All the multitudes that I contain.  He will be ready for me and I’ll be ready for him.

He will love a woman like me.  He will have been searching for a woman like me.

The point is, I need to be ready to receive him.  I need to be the best person so that when he meets me, I’ve developed or am at least in route to developing into that woman.  It’s also crucial because without this development, I just may never be able to see him and appreciate him.  I may never recognize him.

I am taking the time to work on all of those issues I see within myself that need to be squashed.  I’m meeting my demons face to face. I’m inviting God to meet me where I am and work through me, on me, with me.  I’m working to attract that which I want. To BE attractive to that which I want.   I’m working on being the best version of Rae that’s humanly possible.

I just want to offer hope for you.  I have this little blue flame of hope knowing all things work for the good in our lives.  The Word says it.  Please know if you’ve been putting it off, begin the process and all of the doors begin to open for you.  Revive your life and yourself.

What say you?  Are you working on being the prototype?  Are you working towards being as whole as possible?

I am.  I’m sure you’ll hold me accountable to it.  Please do.

Love,

Rae

I needed to get to part II of Give Up to Get Up sooner rather than later.  I waited a few days to see what everyone was saying.  Let me say thank you to everyone who reads, comments, passes through and sends direct messages to me.  I am ever grateful for it and thankful.

I began writing part II, and then I received news that the ever talented, soulful Amy Winehouse had been found dead in her London home at the young age of 27.  I mean, I JUST found out.  It stopped me right in mid-sentence while on the phone with one of my good friends.  All he heard me say was – NO! Shut the front door! NO …it can’t be.  Then I checked online and it is and was true.

It hit me hard.   Then I had to stop writing part II…or maybe this is a bridge to it.  I don’t know.   All I know is that I’m listening to an Amy Winehouse playlist – y’all know how I love my music.  I’m really having a hard time grasping the fact that the life  in this voice I’m hearing is gone.  What we have from her is it.  And man did she bless us!!!  Have you listened to the WORDS and the subject matter?  Isn’t she singing our thoughts and lives?  What she left for us is a blessing and it’s what we have to remember her by.

Mostly, I pray she has found her place in the Heavens where her voice and all that soulful talent can reign down on us.  I am thankful she was able to release her talent and share those vulnerable parts of herself and her creativity with us.  In that sharing, she leaves her legacy. So Bravo! Ms. Winehouse for being the spirit you were, for sharing with us and may your spirit find comfort and rest.   Her music alone is worthy of study.  It’s the kind of music you can listen to when heartbroken or upset and you feel it!!!  Get that ugly cry out.  You know she feels you… has been right there.  So young and she was channeling all of that soul, dropping talent on us left and right.  May we all reach the places and destinations in our lives where we can leave an indelible mark and change the world from our stage for the better.

It’s always sad and unfortunate when someone so young, so talented with so much potential is gone.  Really, it’s sad for those of us who are living, who lose someone too soon.  Period. I am saddened by her death.  Her decline was made a public spectacle and we all watched.  I’d like to think many of us wanted her to win, to pull it together.  Then there are others who watched and cheered and waited for her next fall.  Doesn’t the latter happen too much nowadays?  People waiting in the wings – hoping to see another person fail?

Only people in her situation or who have managed to come out of her kind of situation can truly know what demons she was dealing with.   Mind you, demons like this come in many forms, shapes, problems.  I stand here today stating first, that many of us should not judge her, nor should we condemn her.  So many people have been lost to those things they couldn’t let go of; many of us are losing to the things we can’t go of.  Many of us really aren’t too far above where she is and we can’t see it.  We look like we have it all together – and we don’t.  Some of us, had it not been by the grace of God – for WHATEVER reason, would not be here to even have an opinion on the matter in the first place.  So I say to those who criticize, judge, have negative words or are spewing “vitriole” – have a seat.

We have lost so many talented people over the years to various forms of what can be referred to as “troubles.” So many talented people have dealt with and are dealing with demons and troubles, so to speak, that aren’t always evident to everyone else.  Sometimes, these talented people happen to be ourselves.  And we need to know when to ask for help.  We need to be able to know when we have crossed a line and are taking things too far.  I also say we need to make sure we have people who surround us that can, hopefully, pull us back when we cannot see ourselves and honestly, don’t even want to see ourselves.  Be ever mindful of this.

We also have to make sure we know how to reach out to the other people in our lives that need help.  Have you been watching anyone you love fall apart at the seams lately?  Didn’t say anything?  Haven’t called to check on them or just stop by and say hello?  Our culture has become so accustomed to “minding our business” that we fail to look after people under the guise that we’re “minding our business.”  We’re “minding our business” at the decline of our families and our relationships.  Sometimes all it takes is a call or a visit.  Just saying.

Here’s a call to actually look after ourselves and each other.  Let’s re-learn how to do it if we’ve forgotten.  It’s easy to get caught up in the daily bullshit and humdrum of the THINGS we consider important when the only important things are people and ourselves.

I could go on and on with a list of things I need to work on.  So, I’m speaking from my own glass house right now.  I’m ok with it.  I will take responsibility for my own bullshit and shortcomings.  I ask for you take a look around your own glass house and begin those repairs before things start falling down around you and they cannot be fixed.

Be mindful, if you woke up this morning, there’s still something for you to do…someone for you to reach out to and help and love and encourage.

Look out for yourselves and after each other.

Love,

Rae