Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's Talk About Black Friday

I, like most Americans, am disgusted that stores are opening as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night which means that people who would have usually had the day off, now have to work. However, I'm not really about to pick that torch up and run with it. Here's why:

In order for a retail store to be open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, workers still have to report to work on Thanksgiving. Nothing has changed since the stores are opening earlier.

I don't believe that people REALLY have a problem with others working on Thanksgiving. Here's a list of people who have had to work on Thanksgiving since the beginning of time and no one through a fit:

Doctors
Nurses
News station anchors and employees employees
NFL players (and commentators and concessions stand workers and security)
NBA players (and commentators and concessions stand workers and security)
Drug store employees
Gas station employees
And depending on where you live big box retailers that are open on the holiday for last minute egg, butter and milk purchases

So, now, all of a sudden everyone's mad that other people have to work on Thanksgiving. I don't believe it. I think it's just the new, sexy thing to be upset about.

If you're really mad don't participate in Black Friday. OR if you're REALLY mad, stop stopping at stores that open on Thanksgiving. If you're thorough, you'll find that you won't support anyone. You'd never watch professional sports or the news again. You'd never buy gas again and you'd definitely never be able to go to a discount store again.

So, I'm not happy about stores being open on Thursday night, but I'm just not going to shop. I'm not signing any petitions or doing any marches. I think this cause is pointless.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh, Give Thanks!

I joined the Urban League of Young Professionals in Pittsburgh, like officially, paid dues and all that jazz. As a part of my membership I need to do 25 hours of community service (I have that in the bag on my own, but they also have events where you can get that in as a group. I volunteered for the Urban League's (larger org, not the ULYP) food distribution.

Can we discuss how impressed I am with the Urban League? Not only did they distribute food, but they took each family to tables of resources available to them: free flu shots, info on Obamacare, free cell phones, nutrition info, big brothers, big sisters, a store call the "No Strings Shop," Operation Better Block, Snap (which I think is food stamps), WIC and the Department of Human Services. After the families signed up, they got to the food distribution. (look out for another post about the community service going on in Pittsburgh and how sophisticated it is).

So many thoughts about this. First, there were boy scouts there participating. Someone mentioned: they need this kind of exposure and by the end of the day I realized I needed it too. Besides being on WIC as a baby, I don't remember my family ever been in a situation that was so dire that we had to have food assistance or other help.

I, personally, have never needed any government assistance [besides a student loan] and for that I am grateful. So I didn't personally know what the process of getting help was like.

I digress.

So my job during the volunteer day was family escort. I walked with the family as they got the information that they needed for the resources, then I helped them bag their groceries for Thanksgiving Dinner, helped them get their gift card for a Thanksgiving turkey, then I bid them adieu and attended to my next family.

I learned that one woman had lost 50 pounds over two years by changing her eating habits. I learned that another woman had a 15-year old son and when the DHS rep asked if he had "anything" on the way, she proudly replied: COLLEGE! I met a married couple with thee CUTEST little boy I have ever seen. Mild mannered and just handsome for no reason.

When we rounded the corner as she was getting ready to leave, one of the women said "This is amazing. I am so blessed. I am truly blessed."

Family, it occurred to me that I can be judgmental. At one point I found myself thinking about how sad some of these situations were. There was a grown woman getting food assistance and her elderly mother came in as another family and got food assistance. I was sad and a bit angry that they hadn't been able to break the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next. There was the man I mentioned who was there with his family and readily accepted help. I thought about what type of courage it takes for a grown man to accept help for his family vs. having the "I can do it all" attitude.

Then I thought about what a blessing it was to live in a place that has resources to share. I lose place loosely because on one hand I mean USA, but on another hand I also mean Pittsburgh.

I thought about the woman making her comment about being blessed and how I see my "blessings" unfold every day. I sleep in a warm bed every night. These families do as well. I'm going to eat well this Thanksgiving. These families will as well.

My God blessed me. The SAME GOD blessed these families.

While I never want to be in a situation where I cannot provide for myself and my family, I had to check my own biased partly-republican attitude, that if you don't work you don't eat. Or if you didn't make enough, your starve. (Of course you all know I don't really feel that way, but the raw thoughts that came to my head as I judged these people made me think twice about what my biases are and why they exist.)

Sometimes I feel like everyone should do their fair share, but as my Pastor reminded us last Sunday, God's math is not our math. It doesn't matter how much I make or how much I save or how much the government subsidizes my lifestyle. At the end of the day, the same God that blessed me did so, so that I could help the sick and the poor and in doing so he's blessing them as well.

On this Thanksgiving, I'm happy for all that I have and even happier to know that if I didn't have it in the WAY that I have it now, God would provide it some other way. I'm also thankful for that lesson he taught me through volunteering.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

2013 Days in the Chi

When I lived in Chicago, I went to L.A. and New York the most. Like 5-6 times each per year. This year, I will have gone to Vegas (3x) and Chicago (11x) the most by year's end.

I just added it up, and I will have spent 42 days in the Chi by the year's end. I really do need to get a second apartment so I can be comfortable when I'm home. LOL!

I've also spent 28 other days outside of Pittsburgh as a mix of work and leisure travel.

So that's a total of 70 total days outside of Pittsburgh in 2013. (Which, in real life is only 19% of the time. It's REALLY not that bad, when you think of it that way.)

If you flip it though and think that a majority of my days away from the 'Burgh, were weekend days and there are only 104 weekend days in a year, then it seems like I spend about 75% of my time outside of Pittsburgh and sometimes, it does feel that way.

I'm here like 2 weekends each month though. That's enough.

Where do you travel most during the year?

P.S. Still going to do a reflections on my first year away from the Chi. Gotta gather my thoughts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I hate small talk.

Sometimes I like to be left alone.

Most times, I'm an extrovert. I get energy from being around other people. Big groups of people, crowds or even meals with just one other person. When I'm watching TV and live Tweeting it feels better than when I'm watching TV alone. It feels like I have 150 of my closest (and wittiest) friends in the room with me and that energizes me.

But some days, I really like to be left to my own devices and here's why. I don't think anyone who criticizes my opinion genuinely cares about me. Let me explain.

I've been in Pittsburgh for a year. I don't like it. If you read my blog, that should be crystal clear. Now when people ask me how I feel about it, I'm a bit more honest than I was when I first moved here and was feeling it out. I've determined that medium-sized city life is not for me. It does not suit my personally. I am on assignment here and when I finish that assignment I have every intention of leaving.

People... people I know. People I do not know. People I work with, go to church with, meet on the street or volunteer with say things like "you're not giving Pittsburgh a fair chance." "you go to Chicago too much." "You might change your mind." blah, blah, blah.

And so it occurred to me that these people, when they asked me if I liked Pittsburgh, they didn't really care how "I" really felt. They didn't really expect the honesty that would flow from me. They wanted to hear that it suits me well. It's perfect for me. I could see myself living here. It's amazing. People want good news.

Just like when people ask how you're doing. All they want to hear is fine, great, blessed, couldn't be better, amazing and splendid.

I dread Monday mornings when people ask "How was your weekend?" because sometimes my weekend was not good. A lot of times I work on weekends. A lot of times I feel inadequate on weekends because I didn't get to everything on my weekend to-do list. Sometimes weekends are just 48 hours off of work. I dealt with a racist incident one weekend and the only thing worse with dealing with it was having to tell people that it happened and it sucked. People want to think, well, maybe you're overreacting. Well, maybe it wasn't like that. People want to find a silver lining when sometimes things just suck.

And when I am honest, people are so ridiculous about it. And uncomfortable. And their discomfort makes me uncomfortable.

Everything's not ok all the time. Everything's not positive all the time. Sometimes there is no bright side. Why can't people just let me be there and stop trying to make me an optimist or worse yet, a liar.

So sometimes, when I go home to visit, I wish people wouldn't ask me how I like Pittsburgh and when I get to work on a Monday I wish people wouldn't ask how my weekend was. I just want to be left alone because no one is truly listening to what I say and why. They just want me to be happy and positive and all the time and when I'm not they want to fix me.

Today, I don't want to be fixed. I want to be left alone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Your Vision For Someone Else?

Ok, who watched the TLC biopic? Also, is it pronounced bio-pic or bi-opic? I've heard it both ways. Bio-pic makes common sense. Bi-opic makes grammatical sense. I don't know what to call it.

Anywho, in the TLC movie, T-Boz and Left Eye go into Pebbles and L.A. Reid's office with a girl named Crystal to audition and Crystal can't sing. So Pebbles kicks Crystal out and they find Chili.

In real life, Crystal talked to bloggers and said the story happened a bit differently. She said she and her manager came up with the idea for TLC (not sure if that was the name or not) and sold it into Pebbles for financial backing. She was in with T-Boz and Left Eye and asked if she could take the contract home for her mother to see and Pebbles swiftly kicked her out of the group.

I believe Crystal. I also got a revelation out of it.

T-Box, Left Eye and Chili were greatly blessed by the group TLC (despite financial troubles). They also had music that reached people and I'm sure someone was blessed by their music. So it occurred to me that God can give you a vision THAT IS NOT EVEN FOR YOU. And you will share it, thinking, of course this is for me, God gave it to me. And he can swiftly give it to someone else.

I think that can apply to SO many simple things in life: a job, a husband, a baby. I might want some of those things, but that's not necessarily what God has for me.

But also to big ideas. Thing about how Mark Zuckerberg stole Facebook from those twins. Maybe I'm getting away from the message, but the point is (and I'll make it personal): Everything I dream up, isn't for me, but it's important for me to share my ideas, my goals, my aha moments because God may bless someone else with it.

Yeah, that hit me in the chest like a ton of bricks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crushin'

Did you ever have a crush on someone because someone else suggested you should? This seems so silly, but I met a dude in a professional. Thought he was cool. Thought he was cute. Figured I see him again, so didn't sweat it. Kept the party going.

Then someone goes, I know someone you should meet. He's a cutie *proceeds to run his stats, etc.* Lets me know he's single (although there is an ex-girlfriend looming, which ALSO, I already figured out because when it comes to dating: I.DO.THIS.) Anyway, according to them single is single and I add that to my repertoire of things I now know about him.

THEN, I'm at work, minding my own business. Writing a deck (because that's all I do at work) and out of nowhere, he pops into my mind. And then, butterflies. Wait, WHAT?!?!?!?!

Man, what the hell?

He IS cute though. And I probably SHOULD date him, but I'm mad that I'm crushin' dude because someone else suggested it. I feel dirty like I'm the girl looking at the *insert undesirable attribute here* dude after all the pretty girls started dating him when I wasn't really checking for him otherwise.

Ah, well. I'll let y'all know if anything pops off with said cutie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

You're Right

I'm not particularly entrepreneurial, but I have lots of ideas. I'm not really into working around the clock, doing payroll, thinking about my bottom line every waking moment of my life. Things of that nature that come with owning your own business. I rather enjoy turning off for the weekend.

But, I have an idea for a business.

Lots of times I am irritated, agitated, perturbed, or just downright unhappy at work. Usually these are fleeting moments and situational in nature. They're usually caused by someone not doing their job in a way that I think they should. Or by someone doing or saying something shitty to me. If I were to retaliate, I'd be stooping to their level. Not saying anything at all has me in this blind rage that whoever talks to me next will have to deal with.

So I want to gchat my friends and complain about this stuff, but then it's like I have to give so much background info. Then I want to talk to other coworkers about stuff, but I don't have any true allies in the workplace. I have advocates, but they are not appropriate to parties to whom I should gripe, bitch and/or complain.

So here's what I'd like. I'd like a fake electronic sounding board, mentor and/or therapist who will listen to all the complaints I have and just hit me with black woman affirmations:

Um hm. Yeah girl. They did WHAT? No, they didn't. Aw hayle naw. They know they wrong for that. Ooh girl, what did you DO?!?!?! Naw Joe. Uh uh. Wouldn't let that shit happen to me though. And my absolute, favorite. You were right!

No advice. No seeing the other person's side. No "don't do that, you're going to fired." Just straight up and down, I hear you, you're not any less awesome because that person is horrible, you are RIGHT and now that you know you are right, get back to work.

Who wants to create that start-up. I'd be your first customer and I won't even charge you a finder's fee for the brilliant idea.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life

Grandma: How much weight have you gained?
T: Hmm... Probably about 10 lbs. I weigh about 145 now.
Grandma: Well, you look good. You're getting a little gut, but other than that, you look good.

Now, I could be writing this blog post to tell you that, as evidenced, by my very honest grandma, I need to carry my tail (and my gut) to the gym. And how traumatized I am every time I go to her house and get that good, honest feedback.

But my outlook is much more positive. I translated my grandmother's words to mean "Baby, a gut has not now, nor will it ever impede action."

Oh, what a wise woman she is. That ain't nothing but the truth.

I hope you'll keep a sunny outlook today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More on Mental Health

It's always a good time to talk about mental health. Here's another one-pager that they distributed at my church. I found the information helpful, so I am sharing.

Mental illnesses are very common, but also very commonly misunderstood. People who have a mental illness are frequently stigmatized by others who think it's a rare and unpredictable, even dangerous, condition. The truth is, mental illness can be experienced by anybody.

Myth: There's no hope for people with mental illnesses to recover.
Fact: There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than every before, and more are in the works. People with mental illnesses lead active, productive lives, and recovery from their disorders is real and possible.

Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with a mental health illness is no more violent than anyone else. In fact, these individuals are much more likely to be the victims of crime.

Myth: Mental illnesses are brought on by a weakness of character.
Fact: Mental illnesses are the product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Social influences, like the loss of a loved one or job, can also contribute to the development of various mental health problems.

Myth: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
Fact: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavorial, or mential problems, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health services.

Helping children and adults with behavioral health challenges and their families, caretakers and significant others feel connected to their community and included in the broader society is a priority for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health. Stigma, based upon myth and fear, toward people with substance use disorders and mental illness is one of the barriers to inclusion and contributes to social isolation.

Info provided by Behavioral Health Inclusion Project: Lives Enriched Through Understanding and Spirituality.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From The Dress Files

I know you all are dying to know what I did after this post. Thanks to your comments and some sage advice from my friends, I sent the GORGEOUS dress that didn't fit back. While working out is important to me, I decided not to drop the 5 lbs to get into the dress this time around.

I tried to find a similar alternative, but you really do get what you pay for. So I went in a completely different direction and got a dress from Rent The Runway. It's full price was about the same as the dress I wanted, but what I paid for it was pennies to the dollar. I think it was still a showstopper, but just in a different way.

I'm giving myself 30 points for loving the skin I'm in, making a positive money decision AND being fly while doing it.

As you read this, I'm likely driving back to Pittsburgh after being in the Chi for 10 days. I likely will have cried the entire first hour of the drive (not visually safe, I'm sure, but there's no stopping the tears when they start to flow.) There are only 17 days until Thanksgiving and I'll be back home with family and friends and world class spas and good shopping and once again my heart will be filled.

Happy Monday y'all!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Today marks my one-year anniversary at my new gig and my move to Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, I'm in Chicago for the week. LOL!

What does this MEAN?!?!?!? What did we learn here today? As usual and in the words of Al Sharpton on SNL with Kerry Washington: nothing.

(I can't find the video to embed and I have work to do, so you'll have to Google it if you didn't see it).

Side note: I never have an actual anniversary with a man so when places like the Melting Pot or Southwest vacations asked for my anniversary (birthday would be a better thing to ask for), I just put my work anniversary, which has always been in November for some reason. Also my mom's marriages to my late stepfather and my current stepfather were both in November. It's a good month to celebrate stuff. ;-)

Where NOT to find a mate

Someone Instagrammed a screenshot from Bossip about what HBCU homecomings were good for you. It said something like "for the husband-thirsty, try the Spelhouse reunion. There are a plethora of educated men, blah, blah, blah."

When I got over my initial disgust that women can win in rhetoric (A woman who makes it known that she wants a husband is husband-thirsty, but a woman who isn't quite ready to settle down is viewed as new-age and needing to take cues from women of old.)

So yeah, when I got over that I actually laughed out loud because homecoming is where you WON'T find a husband. Not because he's not there, but because he's not looking for a wife during homecoming weekend. I've met a ton of guys during big party weekends. It's never amounted to anything.

When there are too many good looking men and good looking women it's like overload. Everyone's trying to see who wants to be down for the weekend and then it's like hey, that was a good weekend and then everyone moves on with their lives.

Contrary to what Bossip will have you believe, here's a list of places that you shouldn't even expect a long term situation from. It's just not set up for that.

Where I won't find dates or mates (we may hang, but it's going nowhere fast):
  • Homecoming (any school)
  • Inauguration
  • NBA Allstar Weekend
  • Superbowl Weekend
  • Professional Conferences
  • At work
  • Strip Clubs (don't let those well-meaning magazine articles fool you ladies. I've yet to find a woman who met her HUSBAND at the strip club. It's not set up for that.)
Since I want to look on the bright side, here's another angle.

Where I've found dates (I've vibed with a lot of guys I met at these places. These aren't bad places to meet people, we just weren't compatible.)
  • Hardware stores
  • Grocery stores
  • The club (the BEST stories come from dating guys you met at the club. Where would I be without the stories?)
  • On the Street (LOL! Sometimes I have to walk to and from places and I meet people)
  • Fundraisers (Write a check, find a man! LOL!)
  • Church (When I was going to New Life in Chicago every week I could not for the life of me figure out how to convert any of those cuties committed to Christ into a long-term mate prospect. When we're at church we're worshipping, then we go home.)  
Places where I've found long-term mates
  • College (going to grad school for the purpose of having access to more men is not out of the bounds of what's possible)
  • Vacation (this may have been an anomaly, but hey, it works well for me.)
  • Through other friends  (this is my favorite way to meet people. I'm pretty sure this is how most people in the world have met their spouse. Google it. I'm pretty sure this is where the money is.)
What'd I miss? Where's a place I absolutely shouldn't expect to find a mate in? What's a place I may have overlooked.

Monday, November 4, 2013

But, It Doesn't FEEL Good

I am learning so much about myself, my reactions to things and how appropriate they are and are not. Let me give you an example. When there is a conflict at work, I feel bad about it. When I feel bad about things, I think they are my fault. When I feel at fault and cannot correct my faults, I feel like crap. When I feel like crap, my entire life sucks. I feel like the entire world is ugly because I feel bad (when really the world looks exactly the same, but it's me who changed.)

So here's what I learned. The presence of conflict does not constitute FAULT on my part. It is not necessarily anyone's fault. And it doesn't feel good, but everything is not going to feel good all the time. A lot of times people would rather feel good than to do what is required. So when I do what is required and it doesn't feel wonderful, I sometimes feel bad about it and I should not.

Is this the most abstract thing you've ever read or what? The details would bore you, but that's my lesson and I hope someone can benefit from me sharing it.

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite PR pros, Bill Whitman, that hopefully more eloquently sums up my stream of consciousness.

"Personal and professional growth are rarely experienced without some discomfort."

Does that make more sense? It's ok if something you did didn't make you and everyone else around you feel good if it helped to get to a necessary end. As long as your actions were appropriate, know that it sometimes takes discomfort to get to a higher level (this could be a spiritual lesson, too. So much in that quote, Amen.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quote of the Day


I lifted this from @thefabgiver's Instagram. I absolutely love this quote. It's so simple and I need to repeat it daily. I shall print it out and put it on my desk. :) What's your favorite quote?