Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Simple Act of Kindness?

So, last week I noted on my Facebook page how my 1997 Honda Accord needed about $1500 in repairs. A guy I used to date responded that he had a mechanic that could help me out. The guy was good with reasonable prices, he said.

I told him that I had no plans to get my car fixed anytime soon, especially since I was in school. Also, I noted, the Honda folks had been telling me the same thing for the last five years and my car was still going strong. (except for the fact that my car radio goes out for weeks at a time and then just pops back on)

Anyway, he told me that he admired me for going back to school and offered to get my car fixed.


He said he had funds available to get my car fixed for me.

I just laughed and kindly declined his offer.

Now, I went out on one date with this guy about 12 years ago, around the time I first moved to the DC metropolitan area. He was a nice enough guy. But there weren't any sparks. I had not seen or talked to him since that time. We only became reacquainted on Facebook earlier this year.

He is now married with children. (I know he has at least one)

Do you think he was offering to fix my car just out of the kindness of his heart? You think maybe he just wanted to help out an old friend who's in school? Was this just a simple act of kindness or something more? Why would a man (a married man) I hadn't talked to in 12 years offer to have my car fixed?

I'm not sure how to read this. I don't want to jump to conclusions and immediately think ill of someone because he is a nice person.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 28, 2009

God's Grace (It's No Oridnary Love)

Every Monday and Wednesday I teach a Jazzercise class for Washington Parks and People's "Heart & Soul" program. The class is located in one of D.C.'s most impoverished and violent areas. Even though the class is free for residents who are on some type of government assistance, it has been difficult getting participants.

Today, I got an email from one of my students saying she going to join another fitness program. Right after, another email came: one of my most loyal students said she had to care for her ailing parents and didn't know when she would be able to return to class.

Man, I was down. I love teaching this class. It's a service for an area that is often underserved. My city councilwoman even comes.

But the class was already small and losing two students was devastating. If we lost any more students I would have to close the class.

However, when I got to class today, I had four new students. Four. By the end of class, they all signed up and said they would be back on Wednesday (we'll see).

See how God works?

Just when I was thinking about giving up, God stepped in. When I lost two, he gave me four.

Even though this is only a Jazzercise class, it's often the small things that remind me of God's grace and mercy. It is he who is in control, not I. It's not an ordinary love.

What about you?
Have you ever wanted to give up (on anything), but God stepped in?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love Lost?

So I'm in the Honda dealership this morning and hear a conversation between a man and a woman. The woman looked to be in her mid-40s, the man, in his 60s. They were talking about their kids. She has three teenagers — 17, 16 and 13. His children are a little older — two sons, ages 40 and 31.

The gentleman was concerned about his sons' singleness. It seemed they wanted to be bachelors forever. He noted to the woman:

"I just can't get my sons married."

"They've had good relationships, but they don't want to get married. We've met a couple of young ladies that they've brought home for holidays or on the weekend, but I think they're looking for a young lady like their mother. We've been married 43 years."

"They go to the Dominican, stay a couple of weeks. Then go to Jamaica, stay a couple of weeks; go to Puerto Rica for a few weeks."

"My son always talks about so many broken marriages and so many kids being born out of wedlock. Very few of their friends have settled down. Some got married in their mid-40s. One got married in his early '50s. His '50s !"

"My oldest son was engaged twice, one young lady he had known since middle school. She would come watch him play football, go to his high school games. We thought she was the one. But when my son was ready to settle down, she was always traveling, going back to her country. It was disappointing to him."

"The young lady had an aneurism at age 36. She is now in a nursing home, paralyzed on the left side of her body. She was beautiful, beautiful. You should see her now, wouldn't recognize her. Her speech is blurry. She has a twin who got married this year."

"When we visit her in the nursing home and she sees that my son still hasn't gotten married, she says, 'he's waiting on me.'"

"After her, I think he sort of gave up. It's disheartening. It's sad."

Soon after, the man left. But he gave me a lot to think about.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Strong Black Woman?

Last month I attended an event and there were several young African American women there. I would guess that they were in their mid-20s. During a discussion, two of them felt the need to debate every little point. They were argumentative, at times shouting to voice their displeasure or disagreement with others.

They wanted to be heard. I understand. But sometimes I felt that they just wanted folks to know how smart they were. I wanted to say, “Sweetheart, just because you haven’t heard of something or haven’t seen something, doesn’t mean it’s not true or that it doesn’t exist.”

In her article, "The Strong Black Woman Syndrome," journalist Kimberly Seals Allers writes, "I am afraid that we are unintentionally breaking down our families and creating a dangerous legacy." The article is featured on the blog, Please read it here .

Allers writes in the piece:

"When we perpetuate the dangerous myth of black women as indefatigable, unshakable, and tireless, we are not allowed to be whole human beings with a full suite of emotions. Some of those emotions, which we as humans are entitled to experience, include being vulnerable, needy, and, for lack of a better word, scared sh*tless. We have a right to be that."

Allers asks if we are damaging ourselves and our families with our strength or our 'I don't need anybody or anything' attitudes.

She writes, "Sometimes we do need help, and sometimes we are not okay."

What do you think?
Do you think our "Strong Black Woman Sydrome" sometimes hinders us, our families?

Do you think this impacts our ability to have loving, lasting intimate relationships?
(some men are turned off by what they call "strong black women.")

Do you think you'll be seen as weak if you reveal your vulnerability or allow someone to see that you may not have it all together?

Think about how we look at women who can't seem to hold it together at work, who may be a little emotional. Are we judgmental?

There are many who believe they have to put on a strong face to the outside world - at work, etc. —  but what about at home? Shouldn't you be able to let down your guard and share your fears and tears with the ones you love?

I think there's a delicate balance that ALL women have to achieve — showing people that we're no pushovers and at the same time, also showing that we are compassionate and caring human beings.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Serena, Kanye

Wow. It was an interesting weekend.

Serena got upset and Kanye was, well, Kanye .

What are your thoughts about the
outburts of these two talents over
the weekend?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Here We Go Again

Last Friday, while I was in Mississippi visiting my family,
I missed a story on NPR's Tell Me More titled, "Black Women: Successful
and Still Unmarried." Please read the story here . (Be sure to read some of the 91 comments that follow the piece.)

The story referenced results from a new Yale study which found that "highly educated black women are twice as likely to have never been married by the age of 45 as white women with similar education."

Surprise. Surprise.

Obviously this isn't anything new or groundbreaking. Many Black women are living this reality everyday.

The two young ladies featured in the piece were smart women, both with advanced degrees, but mateless. They noted that "black women are often encouraged to choose advanced education, but sometimes at the expense of personal relationships."

One specifically said that when she went to graduate school at age 21, marriage really wasn't a priority in her life.

"I thought either you do school or you do marriage ... but never thought of them as being able to co-exist," the young lady said in the story.

I can definitely relate. When I went to Ohio State at age 21, marriage was the furthest thing from my mind.

But maybe my priorities were in the wrong order.

If I hadn't gone to grad school, I could be married with 2 or 3 kids — going to Girl Scout meetings and Little League games. And when I think about it, my advanced degree hasn't really help me make more money or even get a better job. Instead, I'm single and broke ! And this degree doesn't keep me warm at night.


Okay, who am I kidding? I don't think I'm single because I went to grad school. It was only a year out of my life. I wasn't ready at that time.

Now I'm ready, and there's nobody to be found.

I think about my two stepsisters. One is on her third (or is it fourth?) marriage and she isn't even 40 yet. Her sister will be getting married for the second time next June, she will be turning 30 soon. They both got married right after high school and have never had trouble finding husbands.

One of the ladies noted in the NPR story: "Men tend to become 'distinguished' as they get older. Women just get old."


What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Father Knows Best?

I may need to move back to Mississippi: The slower pace. Family. The good home-cooked meals (I can just taste my grandma's peach cobbler). The low cost of living.

But most of all, I have no trouble attracting men.
They like my voluptuous curves and surprisingly don't seem to mind my natural hair.

When I was there for Christmas, I met a nice young man at Target, a single father, mild mannered.

During my most recent trip to Mississippi, I met another nice young man. I was looking for a comforter set in Bed, Bath and Beyond when he walked up to me; told me that I looked very nice.

His name was Ricardo. He was from Houston, had gone to school in Oklahoma (on a football scholarship) and had gotten a master's degree in Chemistry (a scholar-athlete, love it!). He was in Mississippi for Dental School, his first year.

He seemed, on first meeting him, like a really nice person.
Too bad he was only 27. (I'm nearly a whole decade older than him)

But that wasn't my major concern.

At this point in my life, I would like to date someone in which
there is a relationship that leads to marriage.

It would have been fun to go out with Ricardo for a nice dinner, but I know
ultimately I could not have a serious relationship with him that leads
to marriage.

Ricardo is a Mexican-American. My father would kill me if I did not marry a Black man. He would disown me, think ill of me, say mean hurtful things about me. You should hear what he says about my cousin who married a Latina woman.
My father is a racist and he's told me so. He doesn't even want me to marry someone from Africa: "You'll be one of several wives," he warns me.

He doesn't know that I've dated men of all nationalities, ethnicities, religions (yes, I went out with a Jewish guy a couple of times. He was nice). The last guy I dated was Nigerian. As a student at Ohio State, I went out with a guy from Kuwait. I mean if someone was nice, I saw no harm in going out to dinner or enjoying a movie.

As much as I like going home, there's a certain freedom in not living there. I can date whoever I want without someone (mainly family) judging me about my choices.

I know you're probably saying, "It doesn't matter what your father thinks, it's your life."

But it does.

I want my father to like and accept whoever I choose as my lifetime mate. I don't want to hide my husband or have to choose between my husband and my family.

Although I would also PREFER to marry a Black man, I don't want to feel bad for liking or even falling in love with someone who may not be African American.

What are your thoughts?