Category Archives: Love

How to Survive Bad News ……

Having had to deal with a series of unfortunate events, aka The Leminy Snicket in these parts, over the last two years I have somewhat been able to learn how to cope better with the bearing and the bearers of bad news.

It has been rough actually it’s been downright shitty to be perfectly honest.  What we consider ‘bad news’ is one of those things life tends to throw at us or that we tend to throw ourselves into.  In other words, some trouble we cause, others we bring and some [most] of it the peaceful ones haven’t asked for.   It doesn’t seem to matter.   Not to scare you, but if you’re living and living well or like a wretch, the odds of bad news coming to visit you on late nights, early mornings and midday is likely.  This doesn’t mean all the time. It certainly shouldn’t be every month (I’m praying).  But some years are just rougher than others.  Some seasons reign down stronger.

I’m not immune to it.  In the last 12 months alone, I’ve had to face a series of Leminy Snickets.  That ends today.  It has to. I’m calling bullshit and it has to come into order.  It’s been a Job season and it has to be the end of it.

Bloggers Note:  I would just like to say, I believe as a person of faith we go through many different seasons in our lives.  Some look like those of the Ruths, Jacobs and Davids.  Others feel like those of Job, Jesus and countless others.  It’s a journey. 

I was thinking about it today, and I wanted to write a post on a few of the reasons I’ve managed to survive through it – the last 12 months and the last 20 years real talk.

  1. When you find out, get the call, see the email or the deed, hear the words or are given the information through osmosis or the information fairy, don’t do anything stupid.  In other words, no taking permanent action on a situation that cannot be undone.  We’re often tempted to retaliate and do dumb shit when something is out of order or we find ourselves in a tailspin due to something that may not be out fault.  This is of course easier said than done.  But if you can sit down, walk away, leave or run and just think things through, it will be a lot better.  Going ham and ending up in jail only complicates our lives.
  2. Don’t go it alone. How many times have you had something happen or get one of those awful phone calls and then you disappear off the face of the world? I’ve done it countless times.  My recommendation is to call someone who can handle the information and manages to hold you up and support you.  In other words, don’t call someone whose attention you’re trying to get – call the person(s) that are always there to support you and are there to care for you.  I mean this.  Don’t call the person who will send you over the ledge.  We all have these people.  Just know who your emergency team is and treat them well.
  3. Bad news tends to bring out a whole host of other thoughts and processes we aren’t normally expecting to experience. Sometimes it means we need help to cope and deal.  This could mean counseling.  It could mean a sabbatical. It could mean tackling the problems first hand with an expert or professional.  Don’t be afraid to seek help.  It’s one of the best starting points.  Often they can quench our fears and put out those invisible fires we tend to create for ourselves.  Going to therapy, going to an accountant, heading to a doctor or specialist isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
  4. Don’t make drastic decisions and choices during this time unless it’s an emergency.   In other words, that plan to do something crazy or drastic after you get bad news isn’t something to do.  Contemplate it but sit on it for a while.  In other words – this means don’t turn your life inside out because you lost your job.  Another job can be found or created.   This sounds like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had to talk off the ledge in my time.   On occasion I’m the one being talked off the ledge.
  5. Have faith.  cling to mine.  I’m certainly not a poster child Christian.  Not by any means.  If anything, I use my life as an example of the things not to do when __________ . Feel free to insert whatever really stupid thing you’d think I wouldn’t or haven’t done, something I haven’t experienced and I might surprise you.  I’m digressing as usual.  I have to cling to my faith.  I don’t really know any other way to wake up every day and have a modicum of hope.  In other words, I ALWAYS try to see God in the situation – even when I can’t early on.   Even when I don’t want to.  Even when I would much rather be angry.   I try to see and wonder what God could be up to with what’s happening at that time.  It’s one of the few things I’ve found comforting during trying times.  Even if you can’t possibly find or see anything good in the process, find something to hold on to and ride that wave for dear life.  If you can get through these patches, I promise things get better.They better get better.
  6. Get the right people around you.  I can’t stress this enough, you’re going to need other people.  So, play nice.  Help others.  Love people.  Make friends. Create family.  I have to say this – it may take you years of adding, subtracting and piecing together your network with the right people but it’s worth every bit of it.  Not everyone is going to be there in the long term.  But if you can get the right people around you – the true confidantes? You’re golden.
  7. Take all of the anger/pain/grief and hurt and turn it into something beautiful.  Isaiah 61:3 says that God will “provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”  I add this because every.single.time in the last few years I’ve received the bad news, the good, the beauty that has replaced the ashes has replaced the pain and my life has opened up at every turn.  This blog took off at one of those points.  I’ve met some of the people I’m closest with after those moments.  I have fallen in love.  I’ve been able to do some amazing things. That brokenness that comes with the bad news has allowed me to hit next level.  I’m saying that once you get off the floor and pull it together (which sometimes takes a while) then it’s time to get to work.

These aren’t steadfast rules, these are just a few I could think of given the last few months I’ve been having.  Mostly to remind myself that trouble don’t last always, as the old folks used to say and encourage you to hold on even when you don’t want to.

How do you get through?  How do you cope?

I’m thankful for all of you and that you take the time to go on this journey with me…. read, comment and share.  I’m also thankful that I have been able to share so much of what happens.  If you’re not following me on twitter, you can find me @fromraewithlove
My actual life story may not be one of notoriety but it is full of lessons…. stay tuned for the corresponding book.

Hope floats…..

When It Has to End – A Requiem in Portishead

*the real name of the person who this story is based on has been changed

There comes a time when things come to an end.  There is a season right?

But what happens when you want someone to remain in your life and they can’t?  There’s no fallout, no hard feelings, you don’t hate the person – maybe it’s the direct opposite of all of the above.  You’re in love, you’re happy, you want things to progress – but they can’t – they won’t.  What do you do?  How does it happen that a person, while still loving you has to walk away?  Is it fair? Of course not.  Will it happen? Possibly.

Tonight is a wonderful night for me to release this post.  Mostly because two years ago I was in the throws of a wonderful romance.
A matching worthy of a short film.  I promised all of you I would tell some of the stories behind most of the messages in this blog and today, that’s what I’m going to do.  This relationship, even in the fading embers taught me so much about myself.  I continue to think about him.  I am thankful for the time because it gave me a glimpse of what can be. What’s possible.

Tony* and I met through mutual friends.   After becoming friends with one of my co-workers and her husband they both felt her and I would be a perfect match.  They didn’t want to make anything official but he knew about me and I knew about him – before we met.  Late summer of 2010, Tony walked into my life.  We found ourselves debating but kindred at the various house parties our [mutual] friends gave.

When we first met,  I was out back grilling burgers.  I was smoky and perfumed.  I knew he’d be there that night so I was casual but cute.  It was a BBQ.  I was cooking.  It was a good combination.  He opened the door as if he knew he’d find me out there.   The exchange, albeit short was already fiery.   That night, I had expected him to at least ask for my number.  Nothing.  Not one fucking question to a phone number.  It took us several parties and debates for him to ask my girlfriend for my number.  Even then, she asked, “Tony, are you serious? Because she’s special.  And if you’re not – just leave her alone.”  He replied, “Just give me the number.”

I don’t think he was serious.  Or at least he didn’t think we’d turn into anything serious.  I’m well aware he didn’t intend to have any feelings for me.  Our first night became a long night and then turned into four months.  Four months of dinners, cooking, listening to records, me listening to him create soundsets and mixing, me singing in his studio, watching him fix his car, riding to thrift stores and auctions, having dinners in random places – along with these sweet nights and fragrant mornings spent on the porch.  Jazz and cooking breakfast together.  Laughing at the same things.  Calls at work [on my office phone] and laughing.  Long calls and me trying to get off work early to get to his house.  His house …..

Him and his house were home to me.  Like I’d never experienced.  Before we met, before we ever went out, my girlfriend told me that our respective houses – that is Tony* and I’s houses, were replicas of one another.   Until I saw it (on hour 12 of our first date) I would have never believed her.   But his artwork and the collection he had built took me back to another era.  We loved all of the same things.

A few days into our first date, he helped me move.  Not because I asked him, but because he just showed up with the beautiful green lantern (that’s what I’ll call his car).  He loaded it up in the ice and snow and helped me move all of the small items we could into my new apartment.  Let me also add, my new apartment was (and still is) a third floor walk-up.  He hauled up load after load. On the first night I was there, he called me to ask if I was ok and felt safe.  I hadn’t seen that in so long.  Not like him.  The next night he was over my house putting the bed together and helping me rearrange the heavy items.  Again, where does this happen?

Even when I started this blog, I had a list of about 50 names written down.  There was one close to this name and instead he gave it the From that we see today.  I remembered him saying “Because you’re giving something to people Rae. It’s from you.  That’s what you do.”  And with that – it was From Rae with Love.   He paints, he mixes music, he sings, entrepreneurial, eclectic, could repair and create anything, could talk about anything and knew just how to touch me.  I don’t know if it gets any better than the space we shared.

I cooked in his kitchen.  We made the bed together.  We were at Sam’s together.  The junk yard.  Listen – on top of this man being fine as all get out, I found myself with him on a random Sunday at a junk yard pulling out seats – out of a BMW – and then I watched him pull the defective one from his car and replace it with the new one.

I was in love.

He told me stories of why and how he had landed where he was in DC.  Of a flourishing and then failed business.  Brilliant, talented, sexy and ambitious.  I was basically on top of the world.  Let me be honest – I have loved men in my time.  And it was good, but Tony* was just… different.  Like looking at myself in male form.  I’d never met a man like him.  And I loved him.

But in the midst of a misunderstanding of me leaving my bracelets at his home (he thought I left them on purpose – I didn’t and I am rarely if ever without them) everything began to unravel.  In one conversation, he was gone and I was left to try to put the pieces together as to what happened.  In some ways, I will never fully know.

I haven’t really been able to talk about this relationship on here because I held out hope for a while that things would reconcile, that they could reconcile.  That maybe he’d come to his senses and find his way back.  How is it that something is too perfect?  Until I met him, I hadn’t really experienced that sort of kindred love since I was in my early twenties.  In the blink of an eye, I found myself calling and calling more…. emailing and sending messages.  Trying to understand what happened after I had asked where are we going with this?

Mind you, I still think I shouldn’t have asked.  But I also learned in that instant that if I had to ask, I was already in trouble and doomed.   As much as I’m all about asking men out, etc and being ahead of the curve so speak, I’m traditional in many ways.  I found myself on a side of the coin I thought would never flip.

Losing him turned my world inside out.  The months that ensued after that were months of confusion.  My friends worried about me.  I worried about me.  I looked for him.  I still do some days.

We had a moment at the end of last summer and I sat on his porch behind the crepe myrtles.  There was this old church pew he’d managed to secure on the porch and it made for good sitting on warm nights.  I was at home.  I just wanted to stay.   But I knew it wouldn’t last but for a few minutes.  But in those minutes, the Universe aligned for me, sang and rocked me into a space of full contentment.  Of never wanting to leave.  But there wasn’t any choice.  It had been over – for more than a year.  Could we reconcile?   I mean anything was possible.  During a later conversation, I even offered to go to counseling with him.  You see, here’s one thing I’ve learned – if you love someone and you want something, you need to pull out all the stops. ALL OF THEM.  Do you hear me? Every.single.fucking.stop.  Like your life and your house and whatever that other thing is that you most value depends on it.  If you don’t?  You’ll never ever be able to rest and sleep with yourself.  Sometimes you have to fight for love.  Experiencing defeat isn’t actually defeat it’s just a temporary loss.  Even if you lose the person.  If nothing else, I’ve tried.

But the thing that gets me is every time I hear Portishead or Gil Scott Heron.   It never fails I’ll hear Portishead’s All Mine and all I can think of is him.  Mostly because we used to sit in his space and listen – to records upon records.  Laugh… watching movies and him teaching me about all of the things I had missed.

On a night like tonight, I think of him and I just want to call.  I want to run home.  I want to tell him what’s happened today because I know he’d understand if no one else did.  But I can’t.  And that’s the worst part of it all.  Not having a place to belong or to go home to.  Or realizing that you yourself may be the closest thing to home that you may ever see.   The thing is, I know there is more to everything that this…there is other love and there will be home.  In fact, tonight, I grieve at that fact – to get so close to something and not be able to have it (another blog post for later this year).  It’s just sometimes, you can’t help but remember that moment when something comes to an end.  You want to scream at yourself in that moment, before the moment that changes everything. Hindsight.  I didn’t want that relationship to end a few years ago.  But then we never do – do we?

I also realized that home is often a person and not a place.  I’ve know this fact for more than a decade now.  I often also realize it’s why so many of us wander around aimlessly.   We’re looking for a person, a great love – and not a place to settle.

Tonight, I’m wishing all of those who wander, in search of home (including myself) that you’ll find the place and the person where you truly belong.  I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.  My story is just beginning.

Love,

Rae

If You Want to Quit….

I haven’t written anything since around the first part of the year.  Not because I don’t love writing, but well, because I seriously thought about quitting.

Hold on – stay with me…. this blog is about telling the truth right? So I’m going to tell it.

Yup, I thought about quitting the blog and leaving it up here as a testament and then moving on to something else – like writing an e-book and shit since everyone else is doing it.  Did you know I’ve basically written an entire book over the last year of tapping these keys on this blog? I also think that last sentence sent me into a tail spin a few weeks ago as well.   As a writer, as a creative, as an introvert (yes, I’m an introvert), we often retreat unto ourselves in order to be able to get things done.  Introverts need to be alone, or in my case just at home in peace with some alone time (doesn’t have to be spent fully alone).  Although it can be that thing the renews me, it’s also the time I have the most doubts.  In another post, Choosing Right in 2013 and Beyond, I talked about still quiet moments.

Those are the times the difficult decisions are made.  It’s those moments when no one can see you (or me for that matter) and we have to make decisions that may affect our lives for a long time to come.   The quiet times are also the ones when I  sit still and deal with how I feel about something that’s happened, or someone or myself.  It’s not always easy.

I let some things someone said and did affect me for a series of weeks.  And well, to the strongest and the best of us –  it happens.  The funny thing is it happens in waves.  One thing happens, then another – like there’s no break in it all.  That’s why I’m writing about it.  I want you to know, I think and have thought about quitting the blog – not all of us admit it.  Although I’m strong, I’m resilient,  I’m not immune to the things people say and do.

Then, I got trolled on twitter.  That’s when I finally realized that it’s only when you’re on the verge of something truly important, you get all of the naysayers, the doubters, the haters and the negative events.  It’s MEANT to be a distraction from what you’re (I’m) supposed to be doing.   If I stop writing and sharing, stop what I’m doing, there’s no one here to tell my story – there’s no one here to express the things  God means to do through me.  Why should I let anyone stop that?  That being said, I may have been slowed down, but it doesn’t mean I’m quitting.

Note: Slowing down doesn’t mean you’ve quit.

So, no – I’m not quitting.  I’m not going anywhere.  There’s value in what I do – even if it’s just for me.  Although I don’t have all of the answers, this blog and the things I present aren’t meant to have all the answers.  I write to record things.  I write to make sure I am sharing the things that have happened to me – so that maybe, just maybe you:  1) know you’re not alone 2) can learn from what’s happened to me 3) get a good laugh from time to time 4) know it’s ok to take a break from time to time 5) there’s value in being transparent and brave.

 

I am also in the process of deciding on changes to From Rae With Love.  I’ve been saying that for a year now and well, sometimes life gets in the way and other things take precedent but it will have been worth the wait when it finally gets done.

I say all of this to say, if you’re thinking about quitting something you’ve wanted to do all your life, dreamed about – because of your own doubt or someone else’s; because you’re faced with a lot of challenges; because it’s not currently popular;  if people are talking about you and your feelings are hurt?  Press on.  It’ll be worth it.   Give them more to talk about.  Make it worth their while.

If you’re thinking about quitting – don’t.

Get yourself together.  Slow down if you need to.  Let people walk away (just the ones that really want to go).  Walk away from those that are hurting you.  Surround yourself with people who you really love and adore.  Find new and important things you love and adore. Hide out like an ostrich for a while.  Drink bottles of wine.  Pray.  Clean.  Buy$200 worth of candles and incense and other home items and spend reckless amounts of money on decadent cheese and cheap wine and awesome brunches and crafts you don’t need and creating vision boards out of expensive paper and creating long ass run on sentences like this one.  Sleep in.  Talk aimless walks (not the kind where you don’t come back, just the kind where you don’t have a set destination). Retreat, plan, regroup, execute and then stunt on these muthas out here.  I’m just saying – that’s what it amounts to – or that’s what I did.  By the time you do all of that, you’ll find your mojo again and your way back.   Holla at me in the comments….

Love,

Rae

Choosing Right in 2013…and Beyond

Happy-New-Year-2013-Quotes-Wallpaper-600x450

Happy New Year Everyone!! I pray the year is amazing so far for you.  I’ve been in a wonderful place lately.  Mostly because a lot of the work started last year.  I also know I love a New Year.  The passing of 2012 and seeing 2013 had me grinning all day on December 31st.  Mostly because I felt like I had won. I am winning.  I had made it. I am making it.  I hope and pray you find yourself in a place of renewal and restoration as you’re reading this.

On today I only want to stress two things – choose God and choose yourself.

Yeah, I just cut to the quick.

At the beginning of 2011 I didn’t have a clue as to many of the things to unfold in 24 months.  But do we ever?  I know for me, so many days, I pad along and mind my business.  The same happy in and out rhythm of life.  Thinking about, planning for all of the things I want, the things I want to do, the people I love and want to spend time with. How I want to create my life, what decisions are coming.

So today, this post is about a statement my bestie Donna (hey boo!) and I used to say – “Choose Right.”  We used to talk about it in terms of men who would walk up to the two of us and then not know who to choose.  Being that we were very different in some ways (in looks, personality) we are kindred.  It used to confuse men.  So the rule was once that if he chose one over the other, well then, the choice was made.

I think today, we’d both look at each other and we still wouldn’t care – we never did.  I also think we’d manage to say “hey – I met this guy and I’m not interested in him but he’d be a good fit for you.”  Then tell the poor guy that he had a better shot with someone else.   It bees like dat sumtahms.

I write all of this today to say we need to choose right. And this doesn’t mean all of our choices will be easy ones.  It’s the ones that count that we most struggle with.  Or is it?  It’s those choices we have to make when we’re alone, sometimes at night when there’s nothing else moving but us.  I mentioned it before, the most important choices come in the still and quiet moments when there is no one around to watch you struggle and cry.  I also think if you’re not careful, so many of the choices we make are the quiet, silent ones.  Sometimes, you have no idea deciding to go deliberately do something (or not), ignore a phone call (or not) or choosing not to make a decision (which is a decision) can change the course of things to come.  It seems like an unimportant decision – but so many of those add up to the way our life looks in five years. A decision to not participate in a project that you thought was worthless and a waste of time can be a million dollar idea.  The point is – you thought it was a small, insignificant decision.

But it’s ultimately up to us to make the best choices for ourselves and for our families. Sometimes those choices will be ones that break our hearts but are necessary.  Sometimes the choices will be cut clear.  Sometimes the choices will break someone else’s heart. but you have to learn to choose what’s right for you and run with it. Prayerfully, it doesn’t hurt anyone else. but the most important thing is – does it help you?

Our choices eventually define us.  Good, bad, indifferent, selfish, considerate, loving or hateful.  It’s those seemingly small decisions that add up day after day.  Like grains of sand in an hour glass.  Or drops of water over a rock. The water wears the rock down over time – one drop at a time.

I learned so much over the last 24 months.  A culmination of all of the lessons I have learned as a young woman until today.  Some things that managed to rock my foundation.  Some things – the lessons can’t even be unwrapped yet.  But the thing is, all of those events put me right where I am in this moment on January 3, 2013.  So I am thankful for these situations and even for the people – some of them that were seasonal – that taught me.

I really got to work on my vision board last week.  I listed what I wanted overall for the year.  I am still working on it and I plan to list everything I can think of in the next few days. Also, I was thinking about something a dear friend said to me about the vision board being static – as in fixed.  I told him that isn’t necessarily true, but I’m thinking I may have been wrong on that statement.   Those are things I really want and desire.  I don’t see them changing anytime soon.  You win on that one Sir.

I have a post coming up about the lessons learned in 2012.  I am also about to do a co-post with the bestie @RoddKlever on our theme for the year.  I’m trying to get Donna to do a guest blog – you think MY writing is good? She’s got stories for days. I’m also planning some wonderful projects and additions to the blog. I can’t wait to share them with you!! I’m really excited about this year, about life, about the blog, about my writing and about all of the things to come!

So remember – choose God, choose yourself.  You don’t go wrong making those decisions.

Can’t wait to share the remaining posts with you over the course of this month.

Let me know – how are you feeling in the new year? Did you make any resolutions?  A vision board?  Making any major changes or moves for yourself?

Love,

Rae

The Perils of Strength

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

Who’s Checkin’ For You?

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

Volume II : Things My Exes Have Taught Me…Yellow Brick Roads Do Exist

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?

Who Will Marry a Woman Like Me? The Single’s Challenge to Get Whole

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