Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Post:
Let's Talk About That Dating Thang

This is my first guest post from Black Girl In Maine. She's very to the point, has tons of common sense, and is one of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy.

This one is for the single ladies; actually it’s more for the single Mamas. I have had a few of my regular reader’s request that I write about dating as a single Mama, since I did meet and marry the Spousal Unit when I was a single mama. I started dating the Spousal Unit when elder boy was 3, elder boy is now 18 and he considers him every much his child as he does the girl child. Elder boy sees the Spousal Unit as his Dad, for him he had two Papas.

I have been asked time and time again, how did you do it? Well I will be honest it was probably a different world dating wise than what many of ya’ll are dealing with now. For starters, cell phones were only just coming on line and there damn sure wasn’t any texting. Back when the Spousal Unit and I started dating, we had what the ole folks used to call a courtship, was no giving up the panties on the first date! We talked on the phone a lot, after all as a single Mama planning dates took time and he did not get to meet the boy in any significant way until we had already professed our love for one another.

My Mom and Granny were my guides in the ways of men. After all both of them ended up being married well over 25 years and in both cases the marriages ended because death came first. So for me I am big believer in the old saw don’t let a bald headed man teach you about growing hair, in this case don’t let a woman with no partner tell you about getting one.

I must confess that every time I hear or see women talking about what they need in a man, gainfully employed, good looks, educated, no baby Mamas, his own place, ambitious, etc…I cringe.

Truthfully that sounds good but in the day to day world of real relationships most of that is not really important. After all you can have a man with all those things but should you fuck around and get sick, I am talking cancer or hell even a surgery like I had what can or will he do for you? A highly paid ambitious man may lack the ability to put you first.

If you are a single Mama, will that highly paid ambitious man be there for you and your child? You might be asking what do you mean be there for me. I mean if you were sick, would he cook for you? Clean for you? Shave your hair when it falls out in clumps yet still see the beauty in you when let’s face it you look like Skeletor. Will he still desire you when you are covered in bandages and can barely wipe your ass, hell will he wipe your ass for you?

I know some of ya’ll might be laughing but when you looking for a partner this is the shit you ought to be thinking of. I am not saying settle either but so much of what we think we must have in a man is not what we need or what we may truly even want. A kind, compassionate, empathetic man who is gainfully employed and earns enough to live yet has your back, supports yours goals, loves your kids and is an active partner in the relationship might be better than mister super fine with the high paying gig.

When the babies come will he be up at night with you, changing diapers while you nurse the baby? Or will he roll the fuck over and put a blanket over his head? Truthfully being highly paid, ambitious and educated can generally only take you so far. How many of us know folks with so called educations who really are not that bright and are not curious at all about the world. What good is some fancy letters after his name if he does not engage in the world? If the only news he cares about is the Sunday game?

Now I have already told you when it comes to dating I am old fashioned, what that means is on a date he pays. Now I know some of ya’ll might disagree but it says something to me if the man can’t be bothered to pay, regardless of what you may think. Just because he buys you a meal does not mean you owe him a damn thing. But if you are looking for a man, then let a man be a man and for men that means taking care of shit. Men speak in a language where if they are liking you they generally want to do something for you, this can be as simple as fixing shit, buying you a meal, you get the point. Back when I was a single gal a man that expected me to pay was immediately put in the friend category.

Speaking of categories, what is up with all this friends with benefits shit? Look, you want a man you can’t be free fucking. I have it on good authority from some men that I trust that they won’t ever turn down sex in most cases, but if you are running over to his place sharing your scared space with him because he called at 10 pm, you are not relationship material in his eyes. If after the deed is done he can’t even be bothered to offer you a plate of food, glass of water you really don’t matter much to him. Giving up sex thinking it will lead to a relationship is faulty thinking, and I don’t care what year it is. On the other hand if you want to hit high notes and get your toes curled by all means go for it. But if he is not inviting you to meet his boys or the family, you have been warned.

Listen up, when you meet a man and he is reasonably attractive in some way and he asks you out, say yes and place no expectations on the date. I have said before I did not want to go out with the Spousal Unit when he asked me out, he was so not my type. Long story short, I ended up going out on that first date and we closed the damn restaurant down just talking. I had no expectations and in 5-6 hours we talked about so much and he was the perfect gentlemen, taking me home and not so much even trying to kiss me. Fifteen years later I am still with him. Like I said, I had no expectations and here we are.

As for dating with kids, it’s a fine line but say you do meet “that” man and the early dates are good, you cannot introduce your kids to the mix to early. By all means talk about your kids but don’t bring them along and by all means do not try to be an instant family. I have seen so many women fall into that trap and it’s not good. I say don’t introduce the kids to the man until you have a sense of whether this man is really going to be around. In the years I was single, my son only met 2 of the men I dated, and one of em is now the Spousal Unit.

I also think its important for the man to see that you are a Mama though and how you do that is by making it clear your babies come first. No last minute pawning the kids off on someone to get together with him. He is checking you out trying to see what kind of Mama you are and if he is really feeling you he is already thinking about what kind of Mom you may be to the kids you and he may have together.

Now I will add that I am amazed when I hear about folks dating men who text them and don’t call, technology may change but if a man can’t pick up the phone I see that as a bad thing, Unless he is over in Iraq I would think in the early stages of courtship you want to talk to the man. How else are you going to get to know one another? Think about it, texts and emails are fine and they have a place, hell I use em both to relay information to the Spousal Unit but as a tool for getting to know someone? I gotta say no to that.

So that’s it, just some of my random thoughts on dating.


Readers, wasn't this great? Please share your experiences and thoughts below.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pursuing That Which Captures Your Heart

"Certain things capture your eye,
but pursue only that which captures your heart."

The wisdom in this Native American saying struck me immediately when I first read it, and it ties into the important questions, like:

~ Which career field should I pursue in getting a degree or changing my job? One that pays me well, even though I don't really have a passion for it, or something more risky, that may or may not result in a fat salary?

~ How much time and energy should I put into a relationship that's "just okay" because no one else is around to fill the void? Or should I end it so I can fill that time doing two things: 1) further developing my interests and talents, and 2) seeking a new relationship that resonates with me?

These are the kind of tough decisions we have to make. Sometimes there are no options. You get what you get and are damned lucky to get that.

But what if you've been trained all your life to be near-sighted or blind to other options?

Certain types of "vision problems" are taught to us about family, friendships, hobbies, school, career, and love... the list is much longer than this. We are taught, often wordlessly and by example, what to see, think and feel, and to parrot it all back whether we've bought into it or not.

"Life is without meaning.
You bring meaning to it."

- Joseph Campbell

Learning to see more takes time, effort, perseverance, and curiosity. Attempting this, almost as a rule, results in self-doubt and criticism.

Self-doubt is good; it keeps you on your toes and keeps you honest. Criticism is too; it sharpens you so you'll know what the hell you're talking about and can defend it, at least with those who aren't intentionally deaf.

The alternative to following your passion
is to blow through life, like a leaf in the wind.

This can leave your heart restless and unfulfilled, and is risky too: if you get what you desire, it will be the result of sheer luck, not self-discovery, and as such, may be taken for granted.

For some people, their temperament is such that nothing really captures their heart that they find worth pursuing. This is hardly a crime and nothing to feel guilty about or a reason to harass someone.

Others are so cautious that rolling the dice on a new path sends them into dreadful kind of anxiety. This can be a good thing, as it may be their gut (intuition) telling them something their mind hasn't been able to put words to or accept, such as they shouldn't try xyz because doing so will result in too high a cost from the effort, or disaster due personal or external problems that are flying under the radar. Pay attention to that voice, too.

Otherwise, when there is something there in your soul that yearns to be free, submitting to it may open up a whole new world for you.

“When you follow your bliss...
doors will open where you would
not have thought there would be doors;
and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.”

- Joseph Campbell

Now, I ain't gonna lie to you; this isn't always true in real life. However, it's more true for those who pursued that which captured their heart, than for those who didn't.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Did You Fall Or Fail?

If you want to learn how to roller skate, you might want to first learn how to fall. Babies do it when learning how to walk, but that's not what their proud parents and relatives say.

"Junior learned how to walk! Just look at him!"

Jamal and Jamika took a lot of falls before they got the hang of walking, and they'll take a lot more learning how to run.

Falling does not equate failure when the rules are fair. Putting those little ones on a tightrope and expecting them to learn how to walk and run there defies the odds of success.

Such is the case of your chances of succeeding when the game is not fair and the odds are stacked against you.

You fell, but did you fail?

Let's look at education. In many urban areas, the dropout rate is over 50%. Did those students fail because they're too dumb to learn, or because the materials were inadequate and/or boring, the classes overcrowded, the athletic policy for who can play ball too strict, and the community so impoverished that the one or both parents in the home are too stressed to spend time helping with homework after they get home from they low wage job where they stood on their feet and sucked up to whoever to keep that job?

Speaking of jobs, let's touch on career. Women still earn less than what men do, and workplace discrimination against blacks, Latinos and some other minorities hasn't gone anywhere. Unless you have a "white-sounding" name, you have a 50% chance of not even getting the interview.

While both sexes need the ability to be financially independent, it also impacts on a man's comfortable zone in providing as a husband. Is it small wonder that fewer men propose marriage?

This leads into love. Do you want to be in a loving and sexually exclusive, long term relationship, but feel like a failure because you aren't, and haven't found anyone interested in being with you on those terms in a very long time?

What about the stats that show 70% of black kids are born to unwed mothers, or that the percentage of blacks who get married are very small? Between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of never-married black women doubled, from 20% to 42%. I'll bet that after the Census collects data next month and releases it next year, it'll be a helluva lot higher. It already is in some areas, so high that kids in one article told their teacher that "marriage is for white people".

Thus, if you're on that hamster wheel of endless dating and being or having "just a friend with benefits", and beating yourself up over why you can't seem to connect, have you legitimately fallen in your goal, like a baby falls when learning to walk?

I'll put it this way: you're not likely to find water on a desert, so don't curse yourself because you're thirsty. You haven't failed; the dating game has failed you, compounded by the social changes in the past half century and even the last decade.

For example, people who marry before their age 21 are often viewed as foolish and impulsive, and the young are encouraged to do anything except marry, i.e., go to college, work or the military.

Yet, our biology, late adolescent and young adult sexuality won't wait for us to get hitched before giving in to our sexual appetite. Finding a virgin after age 18 or 19 is rarity, and abstinence is a huge struggle that most people cannot do when they have choices to do otherwise.

I haven't found the statistic matching what I read, but it feels intuitively true: the more sex partners a woman has, the lower her odds of getting married. The reasons may be:

-The older you get, the more set in your ways you get, and the more relationships and sexual flings people have had tends to make them a little more cautious, suspicious or even jaded

- The old double standard what men can do and what women shouldn't do,

- Over two million people are incarcerated, and most of them are men, and most of them have little education which ties into the first example. While they yearn for the company of a woman, they have none, and that's well over a million women who might have a man if so many weren't locked up - over half for non-violent crimes, common in poverty.

- For whatever reason, more men than women are gay,

- Men die while fighting wars. The number of women who do is negligible when comparing. For the 5,300+ men who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, that's 5,300 women who won't have a partner. In Vietnam, over 58,000 men died. That's a lot of good loving for a lot of women - and the men who died - that got wasted on war. Take note, none of those fatalities count the enormous number of men who returned severely impaired, disabled, or committed suicide.

- (Addendum) See Brownbelle's great theory in her comment after this post for another reason.

In an alternative universe where people walk only on tight ropes, the baby who cannot learn how to walk is considered handicapped. Parts of our daily world has become like this.

The next time you think you failed, regardless of your gender, ask yourself whom the failure belonged to. While I'm all for taking responsibility for one's actions, it might not be you.

Then get up, and try to find another place to walk.

Monday, March 22, 2010

As Far As The Eye Can See

Welcome to Letters To A Young Sista, and this is my first post here. Previous articles prior to today are full or partial reprints from my earlier writings, which fit the spirit of this blog. Enjoy.


The metaphorical beach extends for many miles in both directions, as far as the eye can see. The landscape is lush, like a tropical paradise that brings delight as well as danger. You have come far, but still have a ways to go around this island of life.

A reasonable estimation of my distance is that I have traveled not quite two-thirds the way, but then again, I could be only about one-half or as much as nine-tenths around. You are younger than I, and if in good health, it's reasonable to assume that your journey is newer.

When I look back, I see my footprints in the sand. Occasionally I see only those of God's favorite son, and I remember well the storms He carried me through.

If you haven't hit that part of your journey, trust that He will be there for you too. However - remember that saying, man proposes, God disposes?

Yeah. In other words, God has a plan bigger than you. He may or may not save your situation, or the people or things you cherish most. If he doesn't save your physical life, you'll know your journey here on Earth has ended, and that there's a new one ahead.

Our ancestors could tell us a lot about this. On your metaphorical beach are their footprints, further than the eye can see into the past.

If you are an African American sista, chances are that they came from many parts of the world. While the footprints look similar, when you visualize the owners of them, the variety of the women who have gone before you is astounding.

These women may not have looked a thing like you, nor be related by culture, language, or blood, but their choices, lack of choices, the men they had children with or raised, combined with written and unwritten history, all resulted in you, and where you are now.

Some of those women lived lives of terrible suffering, while others had it relatively good by the standards of their time and place.

We never knew them, but we are interconnected. Their joys and pains resulted in you, just as what you go through will be connected to those who leave footprints on the beach in the future.

If you believe God has a plan as opposed to everything simply happening at random, then in your darkest moments, you can find comfort in knowing that your problems and pain aren't for nothing.

Not all who read this will believe what I do or agree, and that's fine, for we are in different stages and pages of our spiritual path. My temples are now sprinkled with beautiful silver hair. I didn't realize these things when it was jet black and I was a young sista.

Thus, this is my first message to you in my first post here: Nurture something positive that is in tune with your spirituality.

Take time to develop it while you a pursue higher education, money, material possessions, love, passion, friends, family, and career, because at some point in your life, many or all of these people and things may disappoint or disappear.

At some point you will too. An unwavering faith could mean the difference between hanging onto your equilibrium and sanity when everything else fails in your life, or going nuts and giving up.

Let your inner eye look not only where you are, but as far as the eye can see.

~ Kit

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Snow As A Metaphor
For Troubled Relationships

Have you ever been right, and everyone knew you were right, but still, something wasn't quite right?

Still, you're stuck in the snow, and you spin your wheels, this doesn't do a thing to free you, so you roll up your sleeves, get out the shovel and sand, and finally, movement.

What about the snow's perspective?

"Hey, I don't really want to be stuck to you. It just happened, and I'm just being me," Snow says. "So ain't I right, too?"

"But I'm entrapped," I say. "And you're so cold and overwhelming in a blizzard that it endangers my survival."

"Yeah," he agrees, "but I'm also fun and playful and make you laugh. You know this, and you also know I get too deep and cold sometimes, which makes me unbearable to you. This is how God made me and you know that too. Because of this, you ain't one hundred percent right."

I hold my head down in shame; what Snow says is true. We have a love-hate relationship.

I say, "I have to move on, Snow. I'm sorry. If I stay, I will freeze to death. Where I'm going, it's warm, and if you follow me, you will melt."

"You want me to die? I'll die if you want me to, you know I will. A piece of me dies every time you misunderstand my nature and reject me, and you turn up the heat with your anger."

"I know," I say sadly. "But no, I don't want you to die. I love you."

"I love you too."

Moral of the story:
This is one reason why conflict exists in many relationships.


Note: I wrote this metaphor in part of post on my other blog, 2-07-2010.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Beach Towel Metaphor

The Beach Towel is a little worn from time and use, but still durable, pretty and fluffy. It's been great for the fun vacations, picnics, early afternoons at the local pool, for wrapping it's figurative arms around two young kids to warm them up, and for drying off the dog when wet.

It picked up a few stains along the way - spots from wiping bloody noses or small cuts. The many tears it wiped away from falls by the household kids left no such spots but the towel remembers them.

At times it's been used as a bathroom mat, for there was nothing else for them to stand on when the floor was cold, and their small feet - their very foundation - were bare and unprotected. It never liked this very much but tolerated it.

The Beach Towel became particularly tired a week ago. The oldest kid, now nearly grown, did what felt like a rain dance on it for three very intense days. She was left quite soggy, but began to wonder if the water came from her own tears or tears he was hiding. It was a mystery because he showed no outward signs of crying.

The only way to dry her was to wring out the water, less mildew attack and begin to rot her from the inside. Everyone knows that mildew is one of the greatest enemies of beach towels everywhere. To succumb to it beyond a certain point is to risk emotional and even physical death, so she squeezed and squeezed out her feelings into words, which were her tears.

It was a painful process, but she, and many other beach towels she'd known had been through it before, so she knew it was necessary to survive.

Afterwards, she didn't feel so fluffy, and everyone knows that fluffy for a beach towel is happiness.

She did the next best thing she knew to do, which was take a warm bubble bath followed by a nice tumble in the dryer. She had two trusted bubble bath products to call, and allowed both of them to scrub away her mildew-like pain, and a trusted, book-like dryer to warm her up with His everlasting compassion.

Refreshed again, she told the Rain Dancer no more.

This is when she learned he thought he had outgrown tears, but in fact, his emotionally and verbally stomping her was just another manifestation of them, and part of why she had become drenched.

The water of pain that she had wrung out were his tears too.


Note: This is the metaphor part of post I wrote in my other blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Excess And Deprivation

In this fairly blessed culture, one's greatest enemy is often ourselves. It's generally something tied to excess of something we like, deprivation of something we need, or both.

I've used this poem as a tool to help others help themselves. It's ideal for people with serious addictions, but nearly everyone has some trap they keep falling into.
Read this carefully:

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the street.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


No, I didn't write that poem. It's titled Autobiography In Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson. Amazing, isn't it?

When it comes to the demon you've been wrestling with, if you have one, which chapter are you stuck in?

I'll throw out some ideas in different categories. You'll see issues of people here that affect your life and tempted to say, "Oh, that's so n' so!", but this ain't about them, it's about you and your stuff, so try to focus on that and what you need or would like to do to bring about change that you have control over.


Excess: Knowingly being a sucker in any kind of relationship, reckless promiscuity, love or infatuation addiction, being needlessly critical or argumentative, oppressively dominating another in love, family or work, using anger to control others, being a workaholic to avoid emptiness in your social relationships, wasting time with people who drag you down or things that bring you little satisfaction.

Deprivation: Avoiding face-to-face social connection with others, putting hobbies and pleasurable activities on the back burner, ignoring your loneliness for companionship, sexual starvation, ignoring signs of depression and anxiety.


Excess: Overeating, eating foods you shouldn't if you have a specific health condition, not practicing safe sex to avoid disease or unwanted pregnancies, smoking, abusing alcohol, using hard drugs or steroids, staying so busy that you don't get enough rest or sleeping too much.

Deprivation: Not getting enough exercise, not eating properly or taking vitamins to compensate, not getting help for any kind of addiction or mental health issue that affects your body or mind.


Excess: Buying things you don't really need for yourself or others, gambling to excess.
Deprivation: Ignoring important bills, not saving for something critical, not developing your academic or career options to its fullest.


The burdens we carry with us are like unwelcome baggage... heavy, like a bag of rocks which weighs us down. Sometimes we pick it up luggage by accident, and since we are creatures of habit and like what we like, this can be to our demise.

More frequently the burdens we carry are generational, passed onto us by one or both parents, our extended family, grandparents, or further back on our family tree. It can be barely in our consciousness or unconscious, or, our troubles stem from a social burden and part of our community or culture.

I won't lie and tell you this is always a bad thing, because all sunshine and no rain makes a desert.

Our troubles can give us insight into the human condition and make us stronger, better and more useful people.

Thus, just as the earth needs rain for growth, we need the challenges that comes from problems to become stronger and give us depth. View your issues not as a curse, but possibly a gift, which teaches you how your problem developed, and how to overcome it.

What you learn may apply in different areas, and also be helpful in your relationships with others - and maybe prevent the next generation, i.e., your kids, from picking up your baggage, developing your less functional coping skills in some area, and later falling into their own hole.

As you begin thinking about all of this, you might become ready to unload that some or all of that baggage that has been weighing you down.

Proceed slowly, because success in things that matter most is a journey, and takes time and nurturing. Your problematic habits of excess or depriving yourself probably didn't develop in one day, and they're not likely to disappear as quickly you'd like, so be kind to yourself.


Note: This article is a reprint of post I wrote in my other blog on 11-30-2008.