A Glimpse Into My Life

See it through my eyes & understand me a little more

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Looking Forward to September (#31WriteNow)

August has finally come to a close! WHEW!!!! Even though I’m blessed with the gift of “foresight,” I can honestly say that August took me on a very unexpected ride. Some major things happened in August and I thought I was prepared for what my decisions meant.

I learned that I was WRONG!

But it’s okay (no really, it is. I laughed when I typed wrong) because I am just reminded that I’m strong enough for any challenge I find myself in and it’s okay to acknowledge exactly how I feel. Why? Because other people in the world need to know they aren’t alone and if that means I have to speak up, then so be it.

Anyway, I’m actually looking forward to September. I have gotten into the habit of setting Intentions with each new month (well, I set them with the New Moon really). For a while, I’ll take time to look over my Intentions from last month and see which ones were manifested and which were not. Then I think about my Ideal Life and I ask myself, “What would make my current life aligned with my Ideal Life?” and I set my intentions that way.

As a rule of thumb, I usually shoot for 6 BIG Intentions that can be broken down into smaller goals. For the first time ever, I’ve decided to share them here.

September 2013 Intentions

Intention (n.): (1) a determination to act in a certain way;  (2) what one intends to do or bring about; (3) the object for which a prayer, mass or pious act is offered; (4) a process of manner of healing incised wounds; (5) a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge.

  1. Secure full-time employment that aligns with the benefits I have outlined for myself and a pay grade which will allow me to fully support myself AND move me towards my goals of financial stability
  2. Identify and establish relationships of mentorship (identify characteristics I wish to develop in myself; identify multiple people who hold these characteristics and start conversations with them about possible mentorship relationships)
  3. Increased blog traffic for my personal finance and wealth-building blog, Young, Gifted, Black & Broke (Goal: 250 hits on blog for the month and increase the number of Twitter followers to 50)
  4. Increased blog traffic for this blog, A Glimpse Into My Life (Goal: 750 hits on blog for the month and increased readers to 75 followers)
  5. Develop my Personal Three-Year Plan (think a five-year plan but for the next three years. Why? I want to accomplish these things by 30).

What are your Intentions for the month of September?

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Single Black Female: Is Something Wrong With You? (#31WriteNow)

NOTE: This was a private post written in 2010. Funny…it still applies even though I’m 27. I decided to update it and share it with some of my more current thoughts (in italics).

***

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that question or how often I’ve heard it hidden within some other backwards compliment, but I hear it often. It’s now to the point where I change subjects rather skillfully (if I’m up to the challenge) or I forget all of my Southern upbringing and charm classes and cuss someone out.

Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m a Black woman. No, there is nothing wrong with me.

I understand why people become so up in arms when I take the opportunity to describe myself. It usually goes something like this:

“Oh, I’m 23 (now 27). I have my BS and MA. I hope to go on for my PhD. I want to work in Education (the policy/administration side…not teaching). I hope to…” and so forth and so on. However, in taking the time to describe myself I face these questions later:

1. Do you have a boyfriend/Are you courting? No./No.

2. Why don’t you have a boyfriend? I don’t leave my house? I don’t know.

3. What are you going to do with all that education? Use it.

4. Don’t you know a woman’s place? Yes. It’s her address right?

(Updated Note: I’m probably single because I have a smart mouth and unintentional snark.)

Wait…whoa…what in the fudge sticks?!?!

You see, when I get around family and this topic is always brought up, I’m left feeling like an outcast. Of most of my cousins from 15-26 that identify as a “woman,” I’m one of TWO that are single/uncoupled (three years later and it still applies). That can be a self-esteem killer, and until recently, it was.

I had an interesting conversation with a Sista of mine. She posed the two questions: “What are 10 ways a man could charm you?” “What are 10 ways a man trying to charm you would annoy you?” I gave her my reasons and quite honestly, it was an eye-opener for me (I’m actually going to answer these questions for myself again). The more that I thought about it, the more I thought about how these things impact my “dating” life. I mean, it’s really hard to walk around as a young, seemingly successful, Black woman who is single AND remain confident in yourself when there are so many things out there telling you why you’re still a failure. There are “experts” who release books on why Black women can’t get, keep, and marry a (Black) man. There are nightly “specials” that devote time to harp on the connections we make with each other, our accolades, and then pose the question (usually by non-Black people) why can’t we find, keep, and marry a (successful Black) man. (Sidenote: HA! I’m watching One-On-One and would you know, this is an episode about how a successful Black woman has managed to step on a Black man’s ego and that’s why she lost him).

I say one thing to these specials and experts:

Spare me the story of the tragic Black woman that happens to be successful and goes to sleep alone at night because she can’t find a successful Black man. And here’s why.

I’m 23 (now 27). I’m (still) being told that I need to start looking for a man. I need to settle down and have some babies (okay…now I want to. Then I wasn’t ready). That’s great. It’d be nice if I weren’t alone (if only it would cut down the chatter at my family reunions) and it’d be nice if I knew of multiple successful Black men aged 22-27 (let’s move this on up to 27-33-ish or something) looking to settle down. The fact is, they aren’t. MEN MY AGE ARE NOT LOOKING TO SETTLE DOWN (hmmm…this isn’t true so much anymore cuz I’m older now). Besides the countless male friends that I have (okay, 6 so as not to sound like a floozy), I also have 5 brothers that were raised by BOTH parents to play the field and put women through the wringer before they put a ring on anything.

So yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m Black. Yes, I’m a woman.

And there is nothing wrong with me….. I still want a boo though. LOL

You Can Be Anything!!! – pt. 2 (#31WriteNow)

As promised, here are my (somewhat) final thoughts on believing I can be anything.

This morning, I had a phone call with a support coach to help me with my business. I’ve been frustrated for a long while about where it is and the results I’ve gotten and after some soul-searching, I realize it was the same frustration that was at my job and in relationships and everything. Basically, there has historically been a disconnect between how people saw me and how they treated me. And I mean ALL people.

Including myself.

It is in this disconnect that the frustration has festered and grown BUT it is in this frustration that I have decided to want a new life. As my Life Coach AND my Support Coach (two different people) have said before, “If there is a desire, the Universe works to present an opportunity.” Seriously, they both said this! In being anything, I desire to be everything that I’ve ever wanted to be.

I want to be:

  • Wealthy
  • An example of prosperity and abundance
  • Content with life as it is
  • Grateful for everything that comes my way
  • A doctor (in the philosophical sense)
  • An AWESOME daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, etc.
  • A wife
  • A mother
  • An example to others that they can get out of debt and STAY OUT of debt
  • Stylish
  • Confident
  • A successful business
  • A successful businesswoman
  • Sociable
  • Worldly (someone who travels a lot)
  • Fluent in two more languages (Italian and maybe Arabic; the third language is up for grabs lol)
  • Healthy
  • A marathon runner
  • Well-read (I love books!)
  • Someone who reaches the goals she sets for herself
  • Compassionate
  • Understood
  • Loved
  • Mentally healthy
  • Someone who has grieved the loss of loved ones in a healthy sense so I can move on and develop/strengthen relationships with people who are here
  • A mentor
  • A mentee
  • An example to people that they can make it too and someone who provides tools (I sometimes feel that’s what I missed in the healing process)
  • A known blogger for Young, Gifted, Black & Broke
  • A writer
  • AWESOME

I know that bringing this list to fruition will take some serious self-reflection and some serious internal work with building a new mindset and developing new habits but I’m up for the challenge. What’s exciting about this (and scary all at the same time) is that people have also shared that I’ve only touched upon the tip of my potential. There’s so much more there.

Let’s see where this journey takes me next. Cheers!

Reflections On the 21-Day Meditation Challenge (#31WriteNow)

I did it! I’m so proud of myself for completing the 21-Day Meditation Challenge on “Miraculous Relationships” hosted by Deepak Chopra with the assistance of one of my FAVORITE personalities, Oprah Winfrey. While this wasn’t my first meditation challenge I’ve signed up for, it was the FIRST one I’ve completed and did the days in order (read: I didn’t skip or miss days). This challenge was three weeks of internal work to build Miraculous Relationships and I believe that it was well worth it.

Relationships, in general, are something I struggle with. Even with my closest ties to people, I feel inauthentic in many of my interactions. There is always a mask to be worn because I fear that I won’t be accepted if I truly share with people who I am, how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking. The older I get and the more I choose to do some internal work, the better I understand that I’ve developed this style of interacting with others as a coping mechanism. This stems not only from the abuse I endured when I was younger but also as a result of witnessing how people treat others who are vulnerable.

Ultimately, I want to get to a place where I KNOW I can be myself and this challenge was the first step. It’s exhausting (for me) to pretend to be someone I’m not. It’s hard for me to play the “I’m alright” card when I know I’m not.  At this point in my life, I’m starting to grasp that I have no more expendable energy to keep up a façade so that others feel absolutely comfortable with me. But that’s not what this post is about (I’ve actually scheduled a post for later this week on expectations and acceptance). This particular post is about finishing a challenge and the BIG thing I learned.

I just have to say this again – I FINISHED a 21-Day Meditation Challenge and this makes me proud!

What doesn’t make me proud is that after turning a mirror onto myself, I realized that I have a problem seeing things to the end. I can set an awesome goal and even outline a very doable plan but for some reason, the follow-through isn’t quit there. This realization is scary because I have major dreams and goals that require a precise attention to detail and most importantly, following through.

The good news though is that I’ve decided to kill two birdies with one stone (sidenote: I do not like this saying but it fits). From now through the end of September, I’ve chosen to focus meticulously on (1) understanding myself and the way I function and (2) developing new techniques and habits so that my goals are reached. I’ve asked three people to be my “accountability buddy” and I’ll be sharing with them my goals on a weekly basis and the progress I’ve made on each one. In addition to that, I’ve decided to seriously study just about every aspect of myself using various tools like spiritual reading plans, astrological information (at some point, I’ll share my reactions to my Natal Chart) and good old trial-and-error.

Moving forward, I want to build a foundation that best protects me from extra stress in my life while I reach for my goals (I mention protection here because setbacks and failures are inevitable). I’m absolutely glad that I made the decision to stick with this challenge because I can already feel a difference in how I relate to myself. I’ll use the excitement and confidence I got from completing a challenge to begin this process of self-actualization and I’m eager to share what I learn along the way.

What challenges have you completed that you are proud of?

You Can Be Anything!!! – pt. 1 (#31WriteNow)

The other day, while clearing out some things, I ran across a folder of assignments and work that my Mom has kept for years. My first thought was, “How in the hell did this shit get in here?”

Excuse the language…y’all. I’ve just been frustrated about being the dumping ground for everyone’s stuff for a while.

So as I’m looking through this folder, I came across an assignment my Brothers (they are twins) did in the first grade. The assignment was a worksheet filled with prompts and they had to finish a sentence and then draw a matching picture. Seriously, what they came up with was CUTE!

One brother was like, “When I grow up, I want to be a… dinosore astronot (dinosaur astronaut)!” The picture he drew with it was equally cute — it was literally a dinosaur as a rocket (he must have learned about animal rights later on) and he was in a space suit. It was literally awesome…but what made it more awesome was that he got an “A” for completing the assignment (even if his answers didn’t make sense because they didn’t). The only feedback he received on his assignment was that the teacher corrected the spelling of his creatively spelled words.

But that made me think about all of the things I’ve ever wanted to be and all of the things I used to find joy in doing that I don’t anymore. At what point did I start to believe that I couldn’t be anything I wanted?

Somewhere along the line, I started to settle for what made other people comfortable and I don’t like it. While I reading my Brother’s dream from first grade, I remembered being on the bus in tenth grade once. I was singing along to a song (to myself) and a “friend” of mine encouraged me to sing it louder only to say that I wasn’t good at all and laugh [another friend told me that I didn’t sound bad at all and asked why I was in Talented at Visual Arts (or TaVA)]. But what stuck with me was the negative thought/feedback I received from a friend.

I have been needing a little bit of a push to finish my Personal Statement for my PhD applications and I thought of this as that negative memory played back. With that, I’ve decided to take a moment to just be my First Grade self again…and write out everything I want to be because I can be anything!

I’ll be back tomorrow to share it. 🙂

Being a Business(woman) IS Hard (#31WriteNow)

So if you follow me on Twitter, then you often hear me mention Professional By Design NOLA.

That is my business.

Now, I called this post “Being a Business(woman) IS Hard” because it is. And why write it as “Business(woman” and not “businesswoman”? Simple. I am my business first (it’s just me). I just happen to be a woman. But that’s not what this post is about. It really is about my frustrations with being a Business(woman) with a particular type of company.

Professional By Design NOLA is a personal development company that happens to focus on the professional development aspect of securing a job. My approach has always been to get people to see themselves differently and equip them with a mindset AND a resume/cover letter so that they are better prepared for applying to jobs, doing well in all of the interviews and fielding multiple offers.

It works. I’m awesome at what I do. I can point you to testimonials of this.

But there are a few “issues” that I continue to run into.

FIRST: “Oh you do resumes? Can YOU call me so YOU can tell me what I need to do differently?”

Wait. What? You mean to tell me you have a question about my services and rather than ask the question via the form of communication you chose to contact me, you want me to call you and have a conversation with you. You know what that’s called? A consultation. You schedule consultations. You do not do consultations on a whim.

Next issue.

SECOND: Friends who say: “Hey Court! Can you look at my resume and give me feedback?”

You mean…for free? Like you know I have a business and that’s what I do for my business and I’m supposed to do that for free? Wait…before I tell you why that’s wrong, I’ll let the Joker (courtesy of Heath Ledger do it):

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Like, if you take nothing else from this post, take this: It is offensive to ask your friends to do something for free that they charge for ESPECIALLY when you won’t agree to make it beneficial for them. Period.

THIRD: “Can you negotiate on your price?”

I love people and I understand that there are some instances where money is TIGHT! But this one is potentially the most hurtful. Economically, business people set prices so that they are (1) attractive to buyers and (2) meet the bottom line. In the first couple of years, a business like mine (one which offers a service and does not sell a physical product like shampoo) struggles a little more. We barely make enough to cover the costs that go into the business (advertising, outreach, etc.), so it is hurtful when someone approaches a conversation about our services on some “I’m going to try to get a discount” ESPECIALLY if you are inquiring about a sale or special promo.

FOURTH (and final): People who you’ve helped in the past trying to get free advice out of you every other time they talk to you.

Again, I understand that money can be tight. I get that. But do you go to the grocery store and expect to walk out with a dozen eggs because you paid for eggs that one time you went to the store? No. You wouldn’t even approach a grocery store like that. One – you consider that a need. Two – you respect the authority and the business. Three – it’s just dumb to do otherwise.

Basically, I just wanted to come and share a few things that have been bothering me.

If you have a small business or a product/service you sell, can you share how you handle these things without rubbing people the wrong way?

I would appreciate it.

Follow on Twitter: ProByDesign NOLA

Like on Facebook: ProByDesign NOLA

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Progress! (#31WriteNow)

Pour it up! Pour it up!

Watch me fall out.

I have finally narrowed down my list of programs to apply to. Oh, y’all didn’t know? I’m applying to PhD programs for the Fall of 2014. 

This is an update. 

I count this as the post for today. lol

*Don’t judge me…I may do a whole update in the future but heavy, heavy stuff has been going on.

Would You Be Ready? (#31WriteNow)

WHAT?!?! A double-post! Girl what?!?!? lol

For whatever reason, my creative juices are just flowing TODAY. I’m not mad. Nope. I’m gonna ride this wave until it drops me off wherever and I think y’all will appreciate this very short (and to the point) post.

Earlier today, I was doing my regular stuff I’ve been doing since August 18th (job searching, business building, tweeting, facebooking, tumbling, etc.) and the biggest “AHA!” hit me in the face. As I was searching for a position I deemed worthy of being considered by me, I came across a listing that was posted by someone I’m quite familiar with. As I looked at it (and determined I’m not interested in applying for it), I remembered something she told me a LONG time ago:

“I appreciate the attention you pay to detail. It shows you’ll be ready for whatever happens next.”

Here’s why it was an “AHA!” moment: IF anyone called me and said, “Courtney! HURRY UP AND GET TO ABC COMPANY IN THE NEXT 17 MINUTES! They are holding interviews for this position that I said you’d be perfect for and they are willing to talk to you now!” I would not be ready to go. Speaking frankly, I don’t think I’d be ready if someone called and said that opportunity was available for the next four days. I’m not ready. My hair isn’t done. My laundry isn’t done. And I’ve just been downright sad (I mean, rightfully so…but still…I gotta get out of this).

So today I made the decision to get ready and I’m going to start by (painfully) doing my hair. Clearly my life doesn’t move until I show I AM ready. I’ve been saying it long enough. Now to prove it.

If the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself to you, would you be ready? If not, what do you have to do to get ready?

Battle Scars (#31WriteNow)

Every Tuesday, I watch Catfish: The TV Show with the rest of Twitter. Usually, people share some very witty reactions to the show but there was something about last night that made me uncomfortable. There is this internal dialogue or belief system that people seem to hold where a person who struggles with mental health issues (1) deserves to be lonely and (2) should not speak up about it in public. What came across as a heartfelt concern for the young woman was built upon this idea that the young man in question was so messed up that there was no way he could ever be “not crazy.”

That’s…scary.

Selfishly, I thought of myself when I read the tweets/comments from folks who talked about that young man. While I’ve always been open about my challenges with mental health as an adult, I am always hesitant to share what it was like being the child of two service persons who were diagnosed with service-connected mental health disability. I’ve seen firsthand what “crazy looks like on an ordinary day” and I continue to live that existence.

Daily.

But I called this piece “battle scars” because what I dealt with daily (child abuse, mental and emotional abuse, paranoia, etc.) was brushed off as “oh that’s just how they (my parents) are.” Even recently, I traveled with my Mom to a family member’s funeral and a relative made the comment, “Girl! Your Mom has always been crazy. But you take care of her.” That comment made me pause. It made me want to scream, “No! She’s not crazy! She’s experienced trauma and you’re being dismissive of it by calling her crazy.”

But I didn’t.

I went on. And I thought of the quiet scars my parents carried. Long before they joined the military, they both went through traumatic experiences that others expected them to shrug off and move on from because “that’s what Black people do.” I thought of how those wounds festered and every now and again, we could feel those hurtful experiences in how they interacted with us. I thought how the military and its lack of support in the mental health arena (possibly) made it worse.

Because I think it did.

I thought about the time I saw my Dad hold a gun to my Mom’s head because “everyone was out to get him and he just wanted to see his kids” after returning home from Operation Desert Storm. He didn’t pull the trigger but what if he had? And I thought about how I’ve lived with that memory…and it haunts me today. So I understood the comments about the concerns of the safety of the young woman but there was no concern for the young man.

I sometimes wonder if my parents would have been a little less damaged had they not joined the military but I don’t have a time machine or any way to know that. But what I do know is this — people could help with the healing of others if we just examined our bias and damaging beliefs that we hold about the Unacceptables who struggle from mental health issues.

Trauma.Invisible scars.And there is no help.

A Purpose Driven Life (#31WriteNow)

For the past year and some change, I’ve struggled with being able to identify my purpose in this life. To make things more confusing, I’ve had trouble with being the person that other folks came to for advice. To me, it would seem like these people would ask a question, I’d give my advice and then something GREAT would happen to them almost immediately after our interaction.

Yet, I was still stuck…in whatever “rut” I was in. I guess you can call it a rut.

Then yesterday, I was trying to take a nap and it suddenly hit me. It was almost as if my Spirit responded to someone who asked me, “Why is it that you do what you do?”

In a brief moment, I answered this question very matter-of-factly:

“I do what I do because I want people to see who they truly are and KNOW that they are more than capable of doing whatever they want, which is in contrast to what society has convinced them they are. I know that this understanding of one’s self only comes through self-exploration, but often we have to be pushed to that point to begin with. For us to do that, we have to get a different point of view and that comes from being exposed to new information. Ultimately, with each project, job or task I undertake, my goal is to education and share information with people so they are equipped with the tools to better their lives.”

And why?

The “Why?” is what really tripped me out but things started to make a lot more sense to me. The “Why?” do I do this is because I have struggled with feeling like this has been lacking in my life. As I’ve gotten older though, I realized that it wasn’t so much that I lacked the support necessary to understand this about myself.

That was actually a hangup due to my expectations and being quiet (more on that tomorrow).

Recently though, people have been placed in my life where this message is reaffirmed for me. As I begin to understand my greatness and live in my brilliance, I know that I’m being equipped to share this with others.

For a purpose as great as this, my challenges (while difficult) are a bit more comforting.