Different Norm Indeed!

non_normal

As I was working on today’s blog posting I came across the above picture that I had previously saved in my ‘Inspired’ Dropbox folder, and realized that it pretty succinctly describes the motivation behind the naming of this blog. I’ve always been a little quirky, and tried on several occasions during my formative years to be more like the “cool kids”, but always felt inauthentic doing so. Over time I have slowly become comfortable with who I am (i.e., entrepreneurial Black chica w/an affinity for short haircuts, social justice issues, droll comedies & anything by Shonda Rhimes, who reads personal finance blogs for funsies, loves God and is passionate about seeing others fulfill their purpose), and have definitely been enjoying life ever since. In my experience, the “box” that we may try to place ourselves into due to perceived societal norms, family pressures, the media, etc. can be very limiting.  Not only that, but each of us has been created for a purpose that is greater than ourselves.  Meaning that who are you – isn’t even about you.  And by withholding your authenticity you prevent others from experiencing and receiving inspiration from you.  So at the end of the day – do you!  Celebrate your individuality and your unique perspective on the world around you, and in the process know that there is someone out there who will be inspired by you to do the same.

41 is the new 30 ;)

I was recently notified that I had posted my 40th blog posting on this site since its inception in 2012.  Wow – for someone with a relatively short attention span about some most things, I realized this was cause to celebrate *starts to shmoney dance in 5..4..3..2…)!

shmoney dance

 

😉  Now, officially my 40th blog post was a reblog of the important events that were taking place in Ferguson, MO.  Today’s post is technically my 41st post, and while 41 is a prime number that is not given as much recognition as 40 – there is no less cause to celebrate.  As I sat down to write, the phrase ’40 is the new 30′ kept repeating in my head.  Generally phrases like that hold no meaning for me, but the more I thought about it the more parallels I saw between the underlying meaning of that phrase and the direction in which I see this blog taking.  To me, ’40 is the new 30′ represents the youthfulness and vitality that is now being associated with the age of 40.  As someone who will be turning 40 in 9 short years, I can definitely relate as I’ve come to an increased understanding and comfort level with who I am as I age – which is reflected in how I see the world and interact with those around me.  I also want to see a similar transition manifest in this blog space, where as it ages it becomes more authentic and impactful.  So yeah, I definitely look forward to getting my Nia Long/Gabrielle Union/Sanaa Lathan/insert-names-of-other-women-who-epitomize-preserving-the-sexy-here on as I age, and hope that change takes hold not only in my personal life, but in the way I blog, in my pursuit of passions & goals, in how I interact with others, and in the way I engage the world around me.  That motivation is worthy of celebration indeed!

Ferguson: Ten Bloggers Speak Out

Definite food for thought, and hopefully that incites action.

The WordPress.com Blog

Many details about the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, remain unclear. What is beyond doubt is the intensity of reactions to this story — in the media and in neighborhoods all over the US (and beyond). Here are ten personal perspectives on this event and its aftermath, from writers representing a diverse cross-section of the WordPress.com community.

14938226361_6a7a43dfda_oImage by Shawn Semmler (CC BY 2.0)

Gukira

Writer and scholar Keguro Macharia reacts with his usual incisiveness to one of the signature chants of post-Ferguson protests :

If “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is an expression of “humanity,” as one tweet has it, we must ask for whom that humanity is available. In fact, the insistent repetition of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” by black bodies across the U.S. might offer a less promising narrative: it might suggest the banality with which black life forms can never gain access to the vernaculars of the human.

hands up, don’t shoot

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Be great…like Oprah

oprah-wasnt-built-grey

 

I’ve been on mental overload as of late, as many things around me have inspired me to act.  What this typically looks like for me is that something will happen (such as the recent occurrences in Ferguson) that will lead me to develop loads of ideas.  Some of those ideas actually make it to the production stage, where at minimum a gmail account is created – and if I’m feeling particularly motivated a domain name will be reserved on godaddy.  I’ll proceed to share these ideas with others, and use the support from others (or sometimes the lack thereof) to continue to fuel the developing stages of the new project.  But over time, things seem to change and that exciting new idea becomes less exciting as life settles in, time and/or resources become limited, and the awesome reality that I originally envisioned seems farther and farther away.  That idea eventually fades into the background, only to be replaced by a new idea, and then the process repeats itself.  I had a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment on the drive into work this morning as another idea managed to seep its way into my brain.  Only this time, the initial response wasn’t excitement as usual.  No this time I became noticeably angry and frustrated that I keep having ideas, many of them I believe to be great, but haven’t been able to see many of them through.

oprah you mad

Then I came across an article on one of my favorite online spaces (Clutch Magazine) which featured the above graphic tee, and I was reminded that greatness takes time and effort.  While I believed I had (and still have) great ideas, I was allowing impatience to steal time away from working at my ideas and allowing them to develop.  So I’ve issued myself a challenge, and that is to change my strategy and to work smarter (and more patiently) towards achieving my goals.  This idea-generator that I call a brain will be put into good use, even if what it produces does not quite reach Oprah level success.  I will be perfectly content strategically working on ideas that are most important to me, and hopefully while inspiring others to do the same 🙂

 

Source for the tee, and original article by Clutch Magazine on other cool statement graphic tees

 

 

Be the change

bethechange

My intentions were to write a well thought out and researched piece about the current situation in Ferguson, MO that resulted from the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Jr.  I have been following the story closely since the very beginning and have related to the passion felt by those seeking justice.

But as I sat down to write, the coherency that I envisioned seemed to be hindered by the the combination of sadness and anger that I feel, and have felt every time a story like this one is put into the forefront.  For a young man who was soon to attend college, and who had dreams of starting his own business.  A young man who I’m sure wasn’t perfect, but did not deserve to die on August 9th.

This incident and ones similar to it continue to highlight the racial divide in this county.  As much as we would like to believe that America is this utopian melting pot, we still have a long way to go before true equality is established.

I don’t know what the solution should be, which is extremely frustrating for my solution-oriented brain.  But if nothing else I hope that the media attention that this case is receiving causes each of us to examine ourselves and how best we can support the change we wish to see.

What racially-motivated ideas/perceptions do I hold and how do those ideas/ perceptions manifest?

What might I be doing better to promote equality for all individuals, independent of race/ethnicity?

How can I help to create a society where individuals aren’t judged based on the color of their skin?

In what individual way can I contribute to the passing of legislature that supports a just and equitable society?

The eternal optimist in me continues to believe that change is possible, so long as I make it my personal responsibility to support change through my thoughts, words and actions.

Despite its release in 1971, the words of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On?” still hold true today.  One line from that song really stood out to me: “For only love can conquer hate.”  Not only do I want to support change through my thoughts, words and actions, but I desire that unconditional love be the foundation upon which change occurs.

The Point of It All

goodthings

This year has been a year of tremendous change for me.  I have transitioned to living in a renovation project (which for me has been analogous to camping indoors) and have taught myself to drive a stick shift beater.  Despite my initial dislike of cats, I suddenly became the owner of two after a mouse sighting in my home (…a tad overly dramatic I know, but I never saw a mouse again!) and quickly came to love my kitties 🙂  That love was short lived, however, as I had to rehome my pets (the kitties and my dog Lundy) a few short months later after getting an exciting job opportunity that entailed a cross-country move to a state that I had never visited until recently: Wisconsin.

Saturday morn in downtown Madison = Farmer's Market on steroids

Saturday morn in downtown Madison = Farmer’s Market on steroids

A far cry from Richmond Virginia, I have had to provide a decent amount of explanation as to why I would consider a move to the midwest.  But more importantly, I had to say goodbye to the wonderful people (one of whom faked proposed to me) I have met and have come to love during my decade run in Virginia’s Cap City.  I now find myself in a new state, meeting new people, taking on new challenges, and learning a new side to myself in the process.  I’ve ventured out and traveled solo, stayed in a hostel, and have come to appreciate the little things that make up the rich human experience.  Throughout this entire process, I now understand that the point of it all is that purpose will always connect to right people, places, and things.  This is an exciting new journey for me, one that is bittersweet but filled with new possibilities.  I will continue to document life as it unfolds right here – same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!  Until next time 😉

B/c I’m Happy…& a little Determined ;)

gif_happy_dance

I recently shared about my transition into my renovation project, and though I posted about a week ago – in real time it has officially been about three months since I’ve transitioned into my #ProjectHouse (said to the tune of Cash Money Millionaires’ ‘Project Chick’… those of us who came of age in the late 90’s and 2000’s will understand).  Due to the ridiculously random winter that we had this year in Richmond, it has definitely been an experience.  For starters, like many older homes the house lacks proper insulation as well as a central heating system.  Added to that, the radiators that were previously installed in the home (…like back in the early 1900’s…) no longer work, and the temperature over the past few months has been a little on the nippy side.  So what is an adverturesome, budget-conscious, aspiring home renovator to do?  Invest in space saving heaters and large rolls of plastic, that’s what!  My beloved man friend and I spent an afternoon draping sheets of plastic over the doorways of the rooms that I primarily use (as I only occupy the first floor of the home, and only 2 of those rooms at that) to retain the heat emitted by the space saving heaters, as well as over the windows.  Plastic was also draped around the stairs leading to the second floor, to thwart the laws of physics and to support the maintenance of heat on the first floor.  My efforts weren’t entirely attractive…….actually, they’re downright ugly, but they work – especially when paired with a warm sleeping bag, several blankets, and hoodies!  And my successfully overcoming an initial barrier to my ultimate goal was so encouraging to me.  Like really, my physically staying in the house has served to remind me not only of the home’s potential, but also what I can do when I’m determined to see something through.  For that, I have dealt with a little cold 😉  I am so excited to see projects that I start to completion, and during those times when it feels less than convenient to keep pressing forward– I can simply tune up Pharrell’s ‘Happy*’ to bring me back to a positive emotional state.  Because really, when I see all that I have been blessed with and the amazing outcome that is to come, I can’t help but become anything less than Happy.

*I love the go-go version of this by the way.  I can’t help it, it’s the PG County girl in me 😉

Own Your Power

I had an absolutely amazing weekend, one that was absolutely full of love as I was able to reconnect with great friends prior to embarking on a major life change (more to come!).  During that time I was also introduced to this phenomenal woman and loved her ‘Take the Lead’ talk so much that I had to share.  This woman is a legit BEAST – and I admire how she manages to not lose her individuality within her professional identity.  I hope that you enjoy and feel empowered on this Monday morning!

Scandal meets The Cosby Show: The Claire Huxtable Effect

scandal-abc

Last night’s episode of Scandal was in one word – AMAZING*!  I am guilty of being one of those viewers who likes to anticipate what is going to happen when watching shows, movies, or reading books.  Maybe it’s because I’m a tad impatient and a wee bit analytical, but dang-nab-it there’s a certain level of satisfaction I get from accurately predicting the outcome.  I also quickly become bored with media that doesn’t force me to engage in some degree of detective work – which brings me to this week’s epi of Scandal that had me guessing from beginning to end (with the exception of that parking garage scene with Huck & Quinn/Robin…I so called that!).  So you’re telling me the bomb goes off & my fav Byron Douglas may die….WHAT?!  I love how Shonda Rhimes plays puppet-master with our heart strings every week, and yet we keep coming back for more – lol!  Aside from the drama, love triangles, rapid-fire speaking, and occasional lip quivers – the one thing that amazed me the most was the clever use of camera angles and positioning to conceal Kerry Washington’s pregnancy.  I’ve come to affectionately term the show’s pregnancy concealment as ‘The Claire Huxtable Effect’, as it reminds me of the attempts made by ‘The Cosby Show’ to conceal actress Phylicia Rashad’s real life pregnancy.  She was frequently filmed in bed, sitting at the table, or more obviously posed seated behind large stuffed animals. 

We know what you're hiding...

We know what you’re hiding…

Camera trickery seems to have advanced a lot since the late 80’s/early 90’s, as it was easy to forget that Kerry Washington was pregnant.  Kudos should definitely be given to whomever is behind directing those scenes, because for Olivia Pope to appear even remotely pregnant would be, in a word, Escandalo!

 

 

 

*The one downside to this week’s and recent epis is the use (or rather lack thereof) of Harrison. He used to be more of a key player, but now it seems he and his gingham shirts are slowly fading into the background. I don’t know if this is intentional, as he has had some public personal problems recently, but I would hate to see his character killed off and not even missed. Just saying…

In consideration of facial & chest hair…

So last night was SVU night (which features the original Olivia…don’t act like you don’t know), which is a standing tradition that I share with my now ex-fiance.  During the episode (which was a good one – Benson be going through some things & Orange is the New Black guy is a little too convincing…) my compadre revealed to me that he was on the verge of a major life decision, and one that he felt the need to share with me.  Our conversation went a little something like this:

Him: “I’m thinking about cutting this off” (motions to beard)

Me: “Why?”

Him: “Because it’s hot.  And I’m thinking of getting rid of this too” (proceeds to point to chest hair)

Me: “No, WHY?!”

Him: “It’s starting to itch”

Clearly our convos are always super deep.  The remainder of our conversation had to wait, though, until after we had witnessed Olivia’s fate from being kidnapped by her captor, but once 10pm hit our conversation resumed.  Now to place this in context, my beloved man friend (his Iyanla Vanzant-inspired nickname) is very familiar with my affinity for beards and chest hair.  And not in a pervy way, but in a healthy respect for masculinity kind of way.  I’ve attached two pictures as references.

 

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

Ummmmm...

Ummmmm…

The first is an example of a visually appealing amount of facial and chest hair that exemplifies manliness without being over-the-top.  The second pic ventures into uncharted territory, as the chest hair is in the position to be braided up with beads.  This includes chest hair that manages to escape and creep up beyond the shirt collar to chill on the neck for all to see.  At the end of the day, there are different strokes for different folks, and ultimately all men are given the license to “do you”.  But as it pertained to my friend, I did ask him to show some level of consideration in his decision making process as selfishness is never a desirable attribute – for any gender.

Sidenote: Today also happens to be my parent’s 32nd wedding anniversary, and in a weird and convoluted way this posting is very timely as my father was my very first beard and chest hair exemplar.  Thanks Dad & enjoy your Anniversary *cues Tony Toni Tone*!