30 Things That I Know at 30, continued

I used to sing in the shower.  Now I just think.  As the water hits me, so do my thoughts.  Running through my day.  Running through my emotions, my experiences, my feelings, my all.  It's my quiet time.  This morning, as I washed my hair, I had even more time to think.  Today's 30 things come from my shower thoughts.

13.  Love doesn't conquer all.  
Funny thing is, I have a poster in my office at work that says the opposite, "Love conquers all."  I used to believe this, truly.  This year, however, this thought has been challenged and ultimately defeated.  I don't believe it anymore.  This year, I fell in love.  I fell in love with a man that wasn't ready.  And I know that he loved me too.  I know this in my gut.  But when you don't know how to give love, when you don't have much of yourself to give, your expression of love falls short.  The feeling of love has to translate into action. So love in and of itself, isn't enough.  It has to pervade action, thoughts, words, etc.  When it does not, it won't conquer all.  It will leave you with a reality post, such as this.

14.  Family will kill you if you let them
I come from a fairly religious family, particularly my extended family.  You know, one of those, "giving honor to God who's the head of my life," families.  Well not exactly, but maybe an octave below this.  To my family, Christianity is all about sacrifice and giving.  I would say that I agree, but even this has to have a limit. This year, my family has pulled and prodded me, to the point where my home wasn't my safe haven.  If you know anything about me, I am all about peace, and solitude, and mental health.  For most, their home is the place that brings them all of these things.  My house has not been that for me this year.  I finally had to put myself at the forefront.  My wishes had to be to priority.  My peace is my responsibility, and no one else's.  I had to be selfish, and clear my house and my life of the extra responsibilities I was placing on myself for the sake of being selfless.  If not, I wouldn't have much of my "self" left.

15.  Money doesn't buy happiness, but it helps
I think I am a fairly happy person.  I'm usually in a good mood.  Even when I am having my moments, it doesn't take long for me to snap out of it.  However, I know that much of my happiness comes from my ability to do the things that I enjoy.  I am able to eat delicious food, get massages once a month, and travel at least twice a year.  But most importantly, I am able to pay my bills without stress.  Being able to reduce my debt, actually pay my student loans, do the things I love, and stay above water?  That makes me very happy.

16.  These old shows might be classic, but the acting was not great.  Good Times.  The Jeffersons.
I mean Good Times has some of the worst acting I have ever seen in my life.  Thelma was cute and all, but her acting is comparable to Lisa Ray from Single Ladies, not even The Players Club.  Sorry. The Jeffersons is a very funny show, but the actors could stand more guidance from even Gabrielle Union circa 2000. Louise might have been a sharp dresser, but her acting is deplorable.

17.  Change is hard.  Uncomfortable.  Scary.  Anxiety provoking.  And good.
Everytime I have had to make a change that was work related, it was for the best.  It pushed me.  It challenged me.  It forced my professional growth.  It's easy to get comfortable in the workplace.  You know who is going to be short or curt.  You know who is going to bake pumpkin muffins and bring them into the office.  Your coworkers become your family.  You become very good at doing your job, at satisfying your usual clients, at making your quota, at fulfilling whatever task helps you measure your worth.  And then the opportunity comes up to move to another company, to take another position, or to have more responsibilities.  And it's scary.  It's different. Your measurement of success is going to have to shift either permanently or temporarily.  For the sake of pride or fear, you give this opportunity more thought than needed....No more "you" language, let me make this personal.  I have done and experienced all of these things.  But when I have stepped out and accepted change regarding my career, I have experienced the most satisfaction.

Thanks for listening to at least two of my most vulnerable moments.  Be back soon.

30 things That I know at 30, continued

8.  You can learn a lot from people that look nothing like you.  Maybe more.
I’m Chavonne, a thirty year old African-American woman from Georgia.  I grew up in a middle class family having both my parents heavily involved in my life.  My extended families on both sides are small, but close knit.  I went to Emory University and Georgia State University.  I have three degrees.  I’ve worked in schools for the last eight years.  I’ve worked since the age of 14.  Most would say that through these details I just described, I probably would be a well rounded, heavily cultivated person.  You’re right, I am, but not only because of the above mentioned qualities.  I think all of my experiences have made me who I am, but I know that I have had the tendency to live, work, and play with people that are just like me…middle class, college educated, African-Americans.  And that’s great.  I think its fine.  If I look, however, at the times when my personal growth was embarked, when my limits were pushed, my mind was expanded, and my soul opened up, many of those times have been experienced with people, that based on purely superficial things, were nothing like me.  They are not middle class, perhaps not college educated, maybe not African-American…they are who they are, but they have pushed my thinking to a place unfamiliar.  I am forever grateful for that. 

9.  The word, “no” should be a popular word in your weekly vocabulary.
I have learned that people will give to you and take from you as much as you allow them.  Initially, when you meet someone, they are trying to learn you, trying to gauge what is okay and what is not.  It's up to you to teach them the appropriate things and ways of interacting with you.  I always say that you teach people how to treat you.  Teach them how to accept the word "no" as well.  Don't be a "yes" person for the sake of pleasing people.

10. Ratchet women are ruining dating for I don’t know, regular women.
I'm a good catch.  I'm cute, funny, laid back, sophisticated yet down to earth, college educated, family oriented, etc. etc.  I sing Jodeci and can quote scenes from Coming to America and the Five Heartbeats.  I do more than microwave meals.  You know, I'm basically perfect.  I kid, well just a little. However, the dating scene for me has been less than subpar.  Hey, and I could definitely be the odd woman out.  Maybe everyone else's dating experience in Atlanta has been amazing, but mine has sucked balls.  Gigantor ones.  More and more, men are having to do less work.  Be less interested. Be less aggressive.  And they are still able to walk around here like hot commodities.  Women have come too easily for so many of them, that when they find one who demands more, not even extreme expectations, they are unable and unwilling to fall in line.  Why would they?  You ratchet ones aren't demanding much.  

11. Don’t let your boyfriend or girlfriend feel single.  They might mess around and act single.  
I read this quote on a high school friend of mine's Instagram page.  It actually had many more expletives in there.  Something like, "Don't let your boyfriend or girlfriend feel single.  They might f**k around and act motherf**kin single, b***h!@!"  Too much?  I may have exaggerated a little, but you get the point. If this isn't real life, I do not know what is.  It's true. Relationships require attention.  They require work.  They require time. Relationships require that you get your needs met.  Of course, every need that you have may not get met through this one relationship, but I look at my relationships as friendships as well.  It's not just about the physical, its about a friendship.  Are you my friend and can I talk to you?  Can I depend on you? Are you there for me to vent when I am having a good or bad day?  On the weekends, prime boo time days, am I seeing you, or am I at home or out with my girls?  You can keep playing if you want to, but when you let your boyfriend or girlfriend feel single, they will look elsewhere to get their needs met.  It may be a family member, a same sex friend, or an opposite sex friend that becomes a homieloverfriend.  You have been warned.

12. If you’re under 50 and take over 2 hours to text back, you should get your life.
This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves, like, in life.  I just don't feel like it takes that long to text back. Unless you are at a place without good reception, sleep, driving on a roadtrip, or working out, responding to a text in a reasonable amount of time is easy.  I didn't even include work on this exception list, because I don't even have reception in my school building and I STILL look at my phone several times a day, in the hope that some reception has somehow pervaded the cinder block walls.  Texting is for fast and easy communication.  It even alerts you when you get a text.  And I do not know about the next man, but when my phone alerts, I look at the phone!  Funny how that works.  What is the point of having texting capabilities if you are not going to use it for it's purpose...convenience.  

Thanks for listening and reading.  I need to finish these before I turn 31, so be looking for my next post one day soon!

30 Things That I Know at 30, continued

Yes, I know.  It's been a couple of weeks since by last 30 at the age of 30 post.  I realize that you have been anxiously awaiting my next five, and I trust that the previous five were educational and have made an impact in your life.  This week's top five...here they go:

6.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
                We all give benefits of the doubt, and we should allow room for mistakes in our daily interactions with others.  However, we have got to pick up on patterns of behavior and thought.  We can’t make excuses for people or accept everything as happenstance.  People behave, await our reaction, and that reaction helps determine their future behavior.  When someone throws you under the bus, on a “technicality,” believe that they will do it again.  When someone doesn't follow through as they said they would, believe that something in them makes their word less of a priority.  Of course, we can allow for some human error, but for the most part, believe that their behavior reflects their character, their personality.
7.  Life is for living.
                I thrust myself into work.  I started working at McDonald's at 14.  I worked all throughout college, up to 3 jobs at one point.  After I graduated from college, it was off to full-time work I went.  I became a teacher at the tender age of 22, and haven’t stopped yet.  But somehow in this myriad of jobs, I happened upon a job that allowed to me to work in an organization full of hippies, world travelers, and liberal minded folk.  They have lived in Buddhist temples, road tripped across the country, skydived, and run a winery in Costa Rica.  And this is far from an exhaustive list of all the “out of the box” living they have experienced.  At that time, the most I had done was lived in LA for six weeks.  I would say that I was perfectly happy living inside this box, working a 9-5, well a 7-3, but to be honest, I wanted more.  I want more.  Can I just live? 
Two quotes come to mind.  Katt Williams’ reference to weed in Pimp Chronicles, “Weed was put on this earth for people on the struggle and it’s got a chemical called fuck it.”  Now I am not a proponent of weed, sorry, but his point is well taken.   Stop thinking so much.  Overanalyzing.  Just do you.  Which leads me to my more sophisticated quote, by Duane Michals, “Trust that little voice in your head that says, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if..”; And then do it.”  If something pops in your head as a thought that interests you, do it.  Just push forward.  And even if it feels crazy, sounds out of “character,” do it anyway.  I would have to disagree with John Legend’s “Ordinary people” in this sense.  We’re not ordinary.  Back up, let me speak for myself.  I’m not ordinary.  I’m multidimensional.  I have layers.  I have interests, and goals, and thoughts that defy typical Chavonne.  Why not tap into that sometimes?  Nobody creates rules for your creativity and freedom of spirit.  You do that. I do that.  We put a ceiling, a cover, a top, a fence, parameters, over and around our creativity of mind and actions. I cannot be true to myself if I do that.  Don’t know about you, but my life is for living.

And in the spirit of life is for living, I know I said five, but I’m going to make it two this time.  Y’all have read long enough.  I got a little carried away on number seven.  Until next time….

30 Things That I Know at 30

I turned 30 over a month ago, and with this new age milestone, has come a lot of headaches, heartaches, "ah-haa-ah,"(insert finger pointing and Eddie Murphy makeup here) and "reality of the situation" moments.  Now of course, I haven't learned all of these things in the last month.  It has been at least a decade of lessons or realizations that have inspired this series of blog entries: 30 Things That I Know at 30. I hope you enjoy.

1.  Sometimes, the best thing you can be is selfish.
We've been raised to think that selfishness is a negative thing.  That you should put others before you.  That you should be giving.  That you should sacrifice, almost to a fault.  But at the end of the day, (that's how you know when people are being serious) you can't be selfless all the time.  Selfishness definitely has its place.   I'll admit, this is a hard balance, but I'm learning that few things to the extreme left or right are good.   Cause at the end of the day, most people that you associate with will not love you more than you love yourself.  So do yourself a favor, be selfish sometimes.

2.  You can't plan for everything, but a rough draft is good.  You can revise and edit.
I'm a planner, and that's no lie.  I like to know what I am doing each day.  I'm not that spontaneous.  This is something that I have wanted to work on, to allow myself to be in the moment at times.  I have gotten better, but again, few things to the extreme left or right are good.  Everything shouldn't be planned all the time, on everyday, right down to the minute.  However, walking around all loosey goosey all the time makes you, dare I say it......waste time.  So get some business about yourself, pencil some things in.

3.  Your mind, your thoughts, your opinions, your feelings change often.
This is so the definition of me.  I guess its maturity and exposure that helps with this.  I have had fairly strong opinions of weaves, "nonewfriends," and the state of education, and basically all of those opinions have changed to some extent over the years.  I guess I realize that things aren't black and white.  There are exceptions to every rule.  

4.  Daddy’s little girls have a hard time dating. 
I'm a daddy's little girl (shoutout to all the dads for father's day). I have a high opinion of myself.  I know what I deserve and I know what kind of treatment makes me feel good.  Makes me feel appreciated.  Makes me feel wanted.  I owe so much of that to my dad.  But what's difficult is that most daddy's little girls are spoiled.  Their daddies have, in a purely innocent way, been their daughters' first boyfriends, well almost, you know what I mean.  They have changed their daughters' tire.  They have pumped their gas.  They have opened doors.  They have listened to their daughters' happy moments, ecstatic moments, and sad moments.  When that daddy's girl begins dating, they have this extraordinary level of unconditional love to compare these gentlemen to.  Many men fall short, and the women come up empty.
I'd like your opinion on this...when does this become unrealistic?

5.  Mold is really hard to get out of your clothes.
I hate washing clothes.  I hate washing clothes because I hate folding them, and I hate having to read the directions on how to properly care for the clothes, and I hate having to hang up my bras.  Call me lazy.  I don't care.  But I now realize that washing clothes is no joke.  You have got to be on top of it.  You just can't wash clothes, and eat, sleep, workout, go to the mall, and come back and put the clothes in the dryer.  You literally need to wait for the buzzer to go off.  One unfortunate day, my nephew put a wet washrag in my hamper, and mold grew on one of my favorite shirts from Urban Outfitters!  I soaked it in vinegar, washed it in vinegar, Oxi-Clean, and even switched to Tide for this project.  Still ruined.  Ain't nobody go time for that!

I hope you enjoyed my first entry in this series.  Holla back!

A Suit Doesn't Cover the Ratchet

I had the extreme pleasure of going to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater  yesterday.  I’ve gone for the last few years, and it’s always great to see such expression through dance.  As I was walking up to the Fox Theatre, I was overcome with minks, 4 inch heels, dress suits, and other expressions of Sunday’s best clothing.  I instantly thought, “Oh Lord, black folks going to the ball-et.  They have got to show out.”  However, my mom instantly hushed me, supporting their efforts to look fancy huh, at this event.  I kept quiet.

With two minutes to spare, we were seated and ready to enjoy the show.  Throughout the show, I was impressed with the long lines, the delicacy, the lightness, and the strength of the dancers.  But you know what?  I was quickly reminded that everything that glitters ain’t gold….that a suit doesn’t cover the ratchet.  I would have been much more pleased had the dance guests simply googled “ballet audience etiquette” where you will find several articles surrounding this topic.  I will review a few rules here.
1.        You don’t have to clap after every move.-There are so many nice movements that the dancers perform.  You could quite frankly clap through the entire performance.  But that is not appropriate.  Clap after each piece or when the dancer performs an extremely difficult or challenging move.
2.       Go to the restroom on pauses and/or intermissions.-Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is so clever.  They place several pauses and intermissions throughout the performance.  It’s like they are trying to train our bladders!  Utilize those times to go to the restroom because going to the restroom in the middle of the performance is …dare I say it, rude!
3.       Return to your seat during pauses and/or intermissions.-Okay, so you have gone to the restroom during a pause or intermission.  Gold star for you.  But unfortunately time doesn’t allow you to come back before the dancers resume.  If you are not on the end seat, it’s proper to wait for a pause or a break between the dances to return to your seat.  You interrupt everyone else’s experience because of your bladder pressure.
4.       Do not leave until after curtain call. -  This has to be the most important.  After the most historical piece of Alvin Ailey, Revelations, the dancers come on the stage and do rounds of bows.  It’s like leaving church during alter call, it’s just…dare I say it, rude!  This was the worst display of movie theater etiquette that I saw during the performance.  They weren’t even finished “rockin my soul in the bosom of Abraham,” before people were trying to leave!  I was so disturbed. 

Thanks for indulging me in this explanation of ballet audience etiquette.  What I think made me more upset about this situation; however, is the false sense of professionalism and success that some black people own. People came dressed to the nines, but that’s it.  It’s not about how you carry yourself, the conversation that you can hold, or the words that come out of your mouth, it is about what you are wearing.  That makes you professional.  That is your exhibition of success.  I’ve seen this happen in so many instances of work, femininity, and class.  A suit automatically makes me professional.  High heels and polished fingernails make me a woman.  What I wear unequivocally makes me classy.  Well sir or madam, I do not agree.   These aforementioned things tell a chapter of my story, but they are disposable.  When I go home, and take all of these items off, what makes me classy then?   What makes me cultured?  It is how I hold my head up high, how I treat other people, what holds my interest, and what I think of myself supported by my actions that make me classy.  That’s my definition.

Call me? Definitely

(770)981-4002.  That was my private phone number growing up.  I remember talking for hours on that phone.  Getting to know boys, boyfriends, and wanna be boyfriends.  I literally considered the ease in which I was able to conduct conversations with a guy as evidence on the amount of chemistry we had.  Could we talk for hours?  No pauses?  Finishing sentences?  Did we really have to tell each other to hang up in order to get off of the phone?  "You hang up, no you hang up.  On three hang up?"  Yep, I did that.  It may not have seemed like it then, but a guy had to put in some work, stay on the phone line, to get to know me.  I mean, it doesn't seem like this equated to high standards, but clearly, it does.

Unfortunately, times have changed.  With modern technology evolving daily, it has become way too easy to get to know people through social media.  I can never have laid eyes on someone, but know their occupation, likes/dislikes, food allergies, marital status, etc.  Now this is okay if I'm facebook stalking someone, getting to know them from afar.  But if I am really trying to get to know someone, or better yet, they are trying to get to know me, Imma (incorrect English, but this is how strong I feel) need them to pick up the phone, and put in some work.

My girlfriends and I have talked about this extensively.  If a guy is trying to get to know me, more energy is needed.  I know that we may eventually text, or somehow text throughout the "getting to know you" phase.  "Good morning," "Have a good day," "Good night," those are all fine to let me know that you are thinking of me.  But please, please sir, do not text me with a "What's up?" or a "Hey!" as a first exchange.  Clearly, your conversation skills are not what's up.  You will indefinitely be ignored.  And really, I'm not being overly particular, or picky, but how much energy does it really take to do what we so happily did at 14 years old?   Have a genuine conversation.  Pick up the phone. Get to know me.  I know we can't be in each other's presence all of the time, so let me hear your voice.  Let me know if our interactions are forced or free flowing.  For goodness sake, learn my speech pattern.

I know that everyone doesn't like talking on the phone.  I get it.  And I'm not saying to over exacerbate this method of communication either.  What I am saying is...texting gets the job done. Bravo to the phone companies for creating such a convenient tool.  It's great when used as intended.  It's a way to quickly contact someone to update them, share a funny tidbit, check-in every few weeks, particularly if you do not feel like talking, or have the time to do so.    But quite frankly, if you really want to get to know someone, you need to have the time and the desire.  If not, you're wasting your unlimited text messages.

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

I'm not the nicest, most considerate person to talk to when it comes to single motherhood.  Maybe it's because I'm not a mother.  Maybe it's because I experience the ramifications of poor parenting and inadequate love each day in my family.  Maybe it's because I see generations of illiteracy walk through my school doors each day.  Whatever the reason, I am not Team Single Mother.  I do not automatically give single mothers a pass.  I do not assume that all single mothers are trying their hardest, and want the best for their kids.  And I don't feel like all single mothers are owed anything.

People are quick to say that being able to reproduce does not make a man a father, but dare I say it, it doesn't make a woman a mother either.  Why should we assume that being a female carries some sort of motherly gene that gets activated when  a woman gives birth?  Let's be clear.  There are some sorry, pathetic mothers out there that have no right giving birth to a dog, let alone a child.  I get tired of hearing single mother mantras and soliloquies, as if it applies to all.  I can't feel sorry for you when you have three kids running behind you, one on the hip, and one that you're expecting.  A handout?  Some help?  Child please.

There are some women that have children for very selfish reasons.  To keep a man.  To be forever connected to a man.  Because babies are so stinking cute.  They make a very linear decision to have a child, without thinking about what it really takes to parent one.  These are the women that get pregnant by men that have fatherless children, but feel that they will have a different experience.  That, for some reason, he'll be a better father for her soon to be fatherless child.  But the cycle continues.  Women have got to think with their brains, not their longing for male attention or to feed their ego or insecurities.  I don't feel sorry for them.  I feel sorry for the children that are born into such foolishness and instability.

And here's my ending preface...I know many excellent single mothers.  This is no disrespect to them.  They have amazing children, with amazing experiences and loving lives.  They look at their motherhood as a gift, rather than a burden.  Cheers to you!  Sing your single mother mantra, but keep the others out of it.