And the NFL keeps fanning the flames..

Just when I thought things could not get more foolish, they do.

And I am over it.

OVER. IT.

You might think I am kidding but I am not.

I. AM. DONE.

I. AM. DONE. WITH. THEM.

The them being the National Football League.

For a while, I have been giving thought to whether or not I would watch NFL games this upcoming season. Some of you may recall that last year after initially saying I was going to watch, I quietly activated my own boycott prompted by the rush of players who decided to take a knee after a certain someone referred to players by a name I shall not repeat.

Do I have a problem with the protesting? Absolutely not. What I had a problem with is the fact that before a certain someone stood behind a podium an hurled insults at the players behind the shield, there were very few who were willing to stand in the line of fire with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid; especially given the reason they started protesting in the first place.

I was disgusted.

Children, young men and women, middle age men and women and elderly men and women – all whom share the same melanated skin as I do – all across this country are being brutalized by those who have sworn to serve and protect us. Some have even failed to return home as a result.

However, this fact was not enough to prompt the majority of these players to raise awareness by taking a knee. So forgive me, actually you do not have to cause I am not sorry, for not being impressed by the one day “spectacle” from people who have more power than they care to utilize.

I was disgusted.

At the same time, some great things rose from the ashes. True colors started being revealed. And there are not many things that can compare to being able to see a person for who they really are.

Owners got it started. Hey Jerry Jones and Bob McNair. Then the players. Hey Tom Brady! Then of course social media ran with it.

Meanwhile, I occupied my time with other things. I read more. I went outside more. I hung out with family more. I slept more. I planned more. I worked on purposeful things more.

Honestly, I did not miss the NFL. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It has been a major staple in my life since I was a young child. From September to February, Sundays were always reserved for the NFL.

As I contemplated whether I would watch this upcoming season, I reflected how I have evolved the last few years. I would say roughly four years ago, me not watching the NFL would not have even been an option. I would not have let any controversy that was taking place effect my need for my football fix. I needed that in my life.

Every Sunday.

But the beautiful thing about life is that every year, just like a tree, you should be growing. And that is what was happening with me. I was growing. I could no longer sit back and be silent about the things that matter. I began embracing the voice that I have that makes people take notice and I realized I had some things I needed to say. Some things that needed to be said. Some things I had to address.

And the more I wrote, the stronger my words became. The more I wrote, the bolder I felt. The more I wrote, the more I knew I could not allow my thoughts to lay dormant.

So I wrote. And I shared my feelings. The raw emotions. The grippling vibes. The fears. The concerns. The insecurities. The uncertainties. They all poured out.

I became unapologectically me.

Maximized.

I was no longer concerned with how my words might be perceived if I address a controversial topic. I was no longer concerned with what people would assume because I spoke my mind. I was no longer concerned with being politically correct.

I had a platform and I was determined to use it.

All these thoughts flooded my mind as I also admitted I missed watching NFL games.

I just kinda contradicted myself, huh?

You ever miss something but at the same time you do not really miss it, you just miss the routine of it?

That was me. Trying to sort out what was really taking place. I missed the routine. I also just missed the professional game period. It is no secret that I love football. I cannot get enough of it so to have a large piece of it removed had me in a space of wanting to fill it back up.

Until today.

Today is when the NFL announced that all players and personnel are REQUIRED to stand during the anthem if they are on the field.

LOL.

Seriously, that is what I did because all the NFL did was just make it easier for me to say I am done.

This is ridiculous.

This is not about unification.

This is not about country.

This is not about respect.

This is about money.

This is about power.

THIS. IS. ABOUT. CONTROL.

And the NFL wants to prove that it is still writes the narrative of its players whether they want to admit it or not.

Sure many will point out that players and personnel will have the option to remain inside during the anthem. Sure many will point out that the NFL has committed to providing almost $90 million dollars to organizations focused on social justice reform. Sure many will point out that the DOJ is the one who got this ball rolling in the first place by paying to league to showcase the military.

I could go on and on about this but at this point there is no point. The league has spoken loud and clear: stay in your place, do your job and do not rock the boat. Cause you cannot have the inmates running the prison, right Bob McNair?

Shaking my head.

 

 

 

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The 2018 Single Life

This post has been brewing since last year…

I just have not taken the time to write out my thoughts. My time was being consumed with other projects, the holidays and travel.

Oh but boy do I have time today!

By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day Good People! I love this day because I love love. This day often gets a bad wrap because so many people spend ridiculous amounts of money on gifts in an effort to prove to the one that they love that they do indeed love them.

Love should be celebrated. Every day. And if whoever wants to create a day to highlight love then yes, let us celebrate! I just do not believe you need to spend thousands of dollars on flowers and roses on February 14 when you can get them half priced on February 15.

Anywho, that is not why I am here. Well the day of love does tie into the whole premise for this post so let me begin.

“I’m quite single and occasionally I mingle…” Thank you Cee-Lo Green for that dope line.

Yes, I am single. Now normally I do not publicize that aspect of my personal life but it is necessary for how this is about to go down.

Men, leave me alone!

Ha! Nah, but for real. Leave me alone! Shall I proceed? Yes, indeed. Shout out to Lil’ Kim & Lil’ Cease for that one.

Men, this is what I am going to need you all to stop doing. Stop trying to tell me how to live my life. Stop trying to “fix” me. Stop trying to change me.

I am amazing just the way I am. Bruno said so.

Now, let me back up.

I have a few dudes in my life who I cherish wholeheartedly. They are my guys who know me very well. They have seen the very sweet side of me, the sarcastic side, the consoling side, the lovable side, the fun side, the persistent side, the frustrated side, the optimistic side, the hopeful side, the wishful side, the discouraged side, the adventurous side and a few other sides.

They are the ones who I seek advice from, call up when dudes are ‘out of pocket’, vent to when potential boos get slid over to the moving on pile and so on.

They are the ones who can check me when I am wrong, convince me to give someone a chance, call out my double standards and give me a boost when I need it.

But the rest of you all are going to have to simmer down pronto because I am beyond fed up.

This is the ridiculousness that I heard last year –

“Oh, you want too much out of a man.”

“You need to relax those expectations.”

“You are going to have to go out more if you want to meet someone.”

“You’re difficult.”

Yada yada yada. Blah blah blah.

Listen.

Ya’ll know I am bout to go in when I say listen. Haha.

Listen.

I am perfectly ok with being single.

Yes, I want to get married.

However, I am not relaxing my standards just because you cannot live up to them.

At 36 years young, I know who I am. I am confident in who God created me to be. Every day I am evolving but the core of me stays the same. My core is the essence of me. And I know the type of man that will have to come along if he has a desire to combine our journeys.

I have too much to offer to the right one.

And I have never been one to settle.

It is a new year but I am sticking with that old phrase.

To all my single ladies: Own who you are. Do not change to try and make yourself more appealing. Be authentically you always. The one man that is suppose to appreciate you down to your core will be grateful that you did not conform to the worlds philosophy.

To the men(not just single men cause I have had married men try to tell me how I need to change): You have no idea what is like to be a woman. Every day we are told through numerous channels we are less than you, we cannot do what you do and that we need to dumb ourselves down in order for you to be lifted up. Instead of always telling us what we need to change, embrace the complexities of us. We are the ones who smile through the pain. We are the backbones in most families. We are the ones who make a dollar out of 15 cents. Yepper, a Tupac reference. We are the unsung heroes. We are the faces behind the glass. We are the bearers of life.

Those things should be celebrated. Not condemned.

In 2018, it is not a crime for a woman to be single. Do not treat it as such. If anything, a woman who chooses not to settle should be the type of woman you single men should be seeking.

There is a reason she is single.

And I can almost guarantee it ain’t cause nobody wants her.

New Year, Same You…

It is that time of the year again.

You know what time of the year I am referring to cause you have seen them all up and down your timeline for the last two weeks.

Time for all the ‘New Year, New Me’ posts. Or the things I’m doing different in the new year posts.

But check it.

A lot of these posts are from the same people that posted the same thing before 2015, 16 and 17 rolled up in here.

Now first, let me just say I am not knocking anyone who has a desire to make certain changes in their life. The first step is admitting you need to make those changes. However, I think a lot of people miss a very important step which almost ensures they will be in the same position at the end of the year that they were in the beginning.

They did not change their MINDSET.

Listen. THIS. IS. THE. KEY.

How do I know this? I had to do it to get to where I am today. I had to do it to allow my purpose to be revealed. I had to do it for peace of mind.

IT. STARTS. IN. THE. MIND.

Think about it. Pun intended.

Lets take working out for instance. You have made a decision that in 2018, you are going to incorporate consistent exercise into your life. Your health is not where it needs to be and your doctor has been encouraging you to begin a fitness regimen. You have kids you want to see grow up and become old so you say you are going to do it for them.

You start out strong in January. You are going to the gym five times a week for an hour. You are feeling good. You are taking your lunch to work. You are eating so much salad you are resembling a garden.

Everything is going good until mid-February when you are put in charge of a big project at work. Your work hours are longer. You are exhausted by the time you leave work. And it is cold.

Working out as a priority slowly fades to black. You look up and it is May. And that energy you had in January has disappeared. You think about the results you did not see. You think about the progress you did not make. You think about the goals you did not reach.

You look up again and it is December 31.

What just happened?

I can tell you what happened. Even though this is one example, it happens across many spectrums.

YOUR. MINDSET. WAS. WRONG.

You changed your actions but did you change your thoughts?

Our minds are sponges. They soak up A LOT if we allow them to.

But what are you allowing it to soak up?

What did you tell yourself when everything changed because of work?

Did you say to yourself – “It is always something.”

Did you say to yourself – “I am never going to lose this weight.”

Did you say to yourself – “I will start up again when I have time.”

If you said any of this then you had already defeated yourself before you had a chance to begin again.

We can be our own worse enemies – speaking death over our own lives.

Listen. Life is not perfect and that is one of the beauties of it. The ups, downs, round and rounds teach us so much about ourselves.

But it is what we tell ourselves in those moments that are tough, hard and challenging that determine how far we go and if we reach our goals. And it tells us everything about how we view ourselves whether we want to acknowledge that or not.

My friend Che says it all the time, “Life is hard.” Yes it is but that is not a bad thing. Hard does not have to be a negative because so many good things come out of hard times.

Hard times breed resiliency, determination, strength, courage, genorosity, creativity, humility, passion, compassion, perseverance, kindness, grace and love.

They help to pull out the good in you, if you allow them too. They also help to reveal those ugly parts that need to be eliminated, redirected or reworked. So do not fight them, embrace them. But embrace them with a thought process that you can overcome whatever obstacle you are facing.

Tell yourself that! Tell yourself how awesome and amazing you are. Tell yourself you are an overcomer. Tell yourself that you will accomplish that goal or dream. Tell yourself you will lose the weight. Tell yourself you will eat healthier. Tell yourself you will become a better you in 2018.

But then do not get upset when you have a “setback.” That is life. And life happens. Remember it is not perfect and it is hard. But what sets you apart is how you respond to it. If you beat yourself down about it then you know what you have done, wasted time you cannot get back. But if you say to yourself, “You know what self, you did not get it done today but you get another chance tomorrow. You can do this!” you will be more likely to get it done than you would be had you taken the other route.

And while I am at it, let me encourage you that when it comes to changing your mindset to one that craves positivity, please be mindful of the things you watch and the people whom you allow to experience you up close. That people part. Yeah, THAT. IS. KEY.

PROTECT. YOUR. MIND.

And watch things change for the better.

Even if your circumstances do not reflect it right away, your actions will. Your responses will. Your approach to life will.

BELIEVE. IN. YOU. Speak LIFE over yourself. Maintain your TUNNEL VISION. Get back UP when you fall down. Live WITHIN the CONFINES of TODAY. Listen to music that UPLIFTS you. IMPLEMENT the plan you wrote down. Converse with people who will KEEP IT REAL with you. Converse with people who INSPIRE you. Converse with people who CHALLENGE you. Take RISKS. And READ, READ, READ.

YOU CAN DO THIS!!! The REAL reward is in the JOURNEY not the destination.

Cheers to 2K18 and those renewed, positive minds that are going to propel you forward into your destiny!

 

 

Let me tell you how I feel…

Yall, I am tired.

I am tired of so many things.

I am tired of hate. I am tired of prejudice. I am tired of oppression. I am tired of profiling. I am tired of privilege. I am tired of scare tactics. I am tired of racism.

I am tired of conversations about why Colin Kaepernick chose kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of peaceful protest. I am tired of debates about why Kap is not on an NFL team. We all know why. I am tired of discussions about the flag. I am tired of telling people that are so pro-flag that they should scale a flag pole the next time they see one flying while it is raining. Flag code violation. I am tired of dialogue saturated with demands. I am tired of of people “wagging the dog” every time the narrative takes a turn back to its original intent.

Listen.

I have not watched an NFL game in two weeks. Yes, I knew almost immediately that the blue team in Dallas got Aaron Rodgersed again because it was all over the internet. But that is not my point.

It is no secret that I love football and it is no secret that I love watching professional football. However, I have been beyond disappointed to see so may players take the bait when it was dangled in front of them.

And please do not get me started on some of these owners.

But let me get back on track.

Listen.

I am a relatively calm person. I do not let a lot of things or people get under my skin. I have enough purposeful projects in rotation that I do not have extra time to spend being concerned about what people think about the things I do or do not do.

But here lately, nothing grinds my gears more than someone trying to tell me or another person who looks like me when, where and how we should think, speak, sleep, tweet, demonstrate or voice our opinions.

This is not Sesame Street. And we are not your puppets.

I/we have every right to think how I/we want to think. Speak when I/we want to speak, sleep when I/we want to sleep, tweet what I/we want to tweet, demonstrate how I/we want to demonstrate and voice our opinions about topics that matter to us.

The First Amendment that so many get in their feelings about guarantees us that right. It guarantees it for you too.

The difference is I/we am/are seeking change and many are seeking to hold me/we back. There are many people who do not want me/we to continue tapping into the power reserve that resides inside of me/us. There are many who want me/we to just be obedient to their demands. There are many who just want me/we to be satisfied with where I/we am/are and with what I/we have.

It makes me laugh.

So let me tell you about me.

I may be tired but I am a fighter.

I want love to reign.

I want peace to prevail.

I want comprehension to be ongoing.

I will fight for justice.

I will fight for equality.

I will fight for truth.

I will not be silenced.

I will be heard.

I may bend but I will never break.

I am the granddaughter of a Montford Point Marine.

Google it.

He passed that DNA on to me.

I do not want to talk anymore.

I want to see results because actions speak louder than words.

And even though I am tired, I refuse to give up.

Or be quiet.

Or give in.

I was crafted for the long haul.

And I am not going anywhere.

 

Yes, I will be watching the NFL this season…

This blog post may come as a surprise to some.

Many of you have watched me take a stand against injustices I see and encounter. Many of you have read my thoughts about what has been happening in this world. Many of you know I have no problem expressing how I feel about certain situations. So many of you may have been expecting a different blog title than the one you received.

Listen, everyone knows I love football. Not just like. I love it. Always have. Always will. Youth. Middle school. High school. College. NFL. I love it all. It is an escape for me. It is a place of solace in this crazy world. It is something I look forward too every September. And they are the reasons why I will be in front of the tv tonight.

Let me be clear. My love for the game is not greater than the desire I have to see things change in this world as well as effect change. However, here is the reality. The National Football League has long been a corporation that expects its employees to behave a certain way, follow certain protocols and always put the interests of their team, first. No different than most businesses, right? Well the difference here is the NFL has long been a corporation that rarely practices what it preaches. It wants to protect the shield but it has not been willing to do what needs to be done to make sure the shield is presented in a continuous, positive light.

Take a look at the facts.

The NFL has had an issue with drugs for years. Instead of addressing it head on, they initally tried to ignore the problem in hopes that it would go away. However, it did not so they were forced the deal with it.

The NFL has had an issue with its concussion protocol for years. Instead of addressing it head on, they tried to ignore the problem in hopes that it would go away. However, it did no so they were foced to deal with it.

The NFL has had in issue with domestic violence for years. Instead of addressing it head on, they tried to ignore the problem in hopes that it would go away.However, it did not so they were forced to deal with it.

See a pattern here?

Instead of using its voice to be a prominent opponent of these issues, the NFL decided long ago that the overall image of the shield was more important than the people behind it.

Listen, I get it. Again, it is a business. However, it is disappointing to routinely see one of the most powerful locomotives in this world routinely being reacticve instead of proactice.

Still, knowing all of this has not deterred me from watching the product that has been put onto the field. I love it and I do not ever see that changing.

Do I wish that it would? Absoluely. Did I consider boycotting? Sure did. Am I suprised at the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick? Absolutely not.

I am hoping that the NFL will learn from its past handlings of major controversies. The movement Kap started will not be ending anytime soon. If anything, its picking up even more steam and instead of trying to ignore it the NFL would be wise to face it head on. Deal with the injustices that not only plague our society but the National Football League as well.

The NFL is a well oiled machine. You would have to actively boycott it for years to make even a small dent in the profits they accumulate. And if you really want to make a noticeable dent, then the boycott would have to extend beyond the league and into the pockets of their partners as well – DirectTV, Gatorade, Verizon, Nike, Papa John’s, etc.

In the meantime, we all can do more in our own communities to deal with the injustices that surround us on a daily basis. Mentor some youth. Attend city council meetings. Volunteer. Hold community events that promote unity. Speak out against racism, sexism, classim, all the isms. Run for office. If we are going to make real changes that have a lasting impact then it starts in our communities. Lets all do our part to ensure that happens.

I plan to continue my efforts during football season.

 

Til next time…toodells.

Venus: #ClapForHer

A few weeks ago, I had an urge to write about one of my favorite athletes – Venus Ebony Starr Williams.

[Source: The Times of India}
I was on vacation but I woke up early that Saturday morning to watch Venus claim
what I just knew was going to be her sixth Wimbledon title. But it was not meant to be. However, my urge to write about Venus was still there.

But then I got back home and life happened, as it always does. A day turned into days and they turned into weeks and then I looked up and it was September.

The great thing about this though is the fact that Venus, as she always has been, is worthy of having this blog post written about her.

Let us revisit some facts. She has been a professional tennis player since the age of 14. She won her first Grand Slam in 2000 – 17 years ago. She appeared in her first US Open semifinal in 2000 – 17 years ago. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s disease – an autoimmune disease which causes fatigue and muscle and joint pain. In 2017, Venus is now 37 years young and has reached the finals of this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon. And when the rankings are updated, she will be ranked fifth in the world.

Excuse me but it is a must,#ClapForHer.

It has long become a practice in our society to only celebrate the champion. The one that gets the trophy. The one that gets the celebratory ring. The one that gets the win.

I am one of those persons. Everybody is not a winner. In life, there are wins and losses. Or wins and lessons. I like the latter.

But when it comes to Venus, she will always be a winner. What we are witnessing, at her age, in her sport, with her health challenges, is unprecedented. And I do not think we are appreciating her as much as we should.

This woman should be celebrated to the utmost. She has been a warrior for women. A frontline fighter for equal pay. And a champion in every sense of the word.

My hope is that this weekend, she will win her third US Open title – 16 years after she won her last.

However, even if she does not end up with the “winner’s” trophy in the end, it does not change a thing.

Venus Ebony Starr Williams is and will always be a champion.

#ClapForHer

Finding balance within the grind…

I wear many hats. I am a freelance writer. I am a certified personal trainer. I am a group exercise instructor. I am a community servant. I am an advocate. I am a DJ. I am a public relations consultant. I am a marketing specialist. I am a youth development coordinator. I am an event planner. Add to that my dedication to my family, healthy living and my love of eating and what you will find is a person who is grinding in her purpose but is still struggling with finding that happy balance in her life. 

One of the best decisions I ever made, well God made it for me, was to move back to my hometown. I get questioned all the time about why I moved back. I used to find myself giving this long explanation but now I simply say because this is where I am supposed to be. Moving home has opened so many new doors of opportunity that it would take all day to list them. I am grateful for all of them. However, now I find myself having a dilemma. How do you balance it all when your plate is full and you still want to put more on it and you know more will be put on it but you are currently struggling to find a place for it all?

In eight days I will be 36 – I know you are counting down with me – and I have made it my personal mission to find a balance that works for me in my new year. For the past few years, I have put a lot of time and energy into my branpire(brand + empire) and not enough time and energy into myself and those that I love. I understand my grind and most of those close to me understand it. However, that does not mean operating at this current level is acceptable. 

A few months ago one of my close friends, who grinds just as much as I do issued me the reality check I needed. It was early one morning and I was still up working on a project. We were texting and I made the mention of being #TeamNoSleep. I promptly received a reply telling me to go to sleep as I was chastised for such ridiculous goal. My friend then proceeded to remind me how important sleep is no matter what our goals are.

I was shocked because the texter would routinely be up until 3 and 4 o’clock. I had the texts to prove it. But something had changed. That last text that was sent was simple but on my end it was powerful. I was running on fumes and my mood sometimes reflected it. I found myself being irritable, annoyed and had little patience for certain situations. I knew something had to give. 

I live a great life. It is very fulfilling. However, I want more of what makes me happy. I want more time spent with my family and friends. I want more time spent reading under the dogwood tree with my feet firmly planted in the grass. I want more time spent running. I want more time spent traveling. I want more time spent writing leisurely. I want more time spent on adventure. I want more time spent resting. I want more time spent eating pizza. I want more time spent laughing. And we all know how much I like to laugh and eat pizza. 

As the years have rolled on, I am appreciative and thankful of the fact that I am constantly in a state of growth. I am learning so much about me as I embrace exactly who God created me to be. I know that everything that worked for me at 30 will not work for me in the coming years. I know that I am living out my purpose even if certain circumstances do not reflect that currently. I know that the best is yet to come. 

And I know that in Year 36, I am going to get what I want. Watch me. 

 

#CheersToTheBalancedLife

 

This moment :-}