Category Archives: Self-Improvement

M’s-BODY-MEANT

While in the chair at my threading appointment, my esthetician mentioned that my skin hqdefaultwas dry, which is pretty rare for my face. As she was threading, dry skin was coming off with my hair. She then suggested a facial because I have some areas with blackheads. While listening to her, I realized something – I haven’t been treating myself well.

I always drink water, but I hadn’t been drinking enough, which is why my skin was dry. My lips have been chapped off and on for a few weeks and that is also because I wasn’t drinking enough water. I’ve been dozing off uncontrollably at work almost every day for the past month – because I hadn’t been taking my iron or my vitamin D. My purse gave up   the ghost two months ago, my sister emptied the contents into a really cute canvas bag then threw my purse into a dumpster and I didn’t bother to buy myself a new one. My hair hadn’t been colored in MONTHS, and I just kept looking in the mirror wondering why I wasn’t feeling myself while failing to pick up some color to address the situation. I’ve experienced weight gain over the past year, so my clothing situation is sparse, to say the least. I like to dress well, but I just kept covering up with plain clothes all the time and wearing my black Chucks with a frayed lace on the right shoe.

In that chair, I quietly cried because I realized I was punishing myself for the weight gain. I was depriving myself because weight gain had me thinking I didn’t deserve anything – not moisturized skin, not a decent purse, no the ability to stay awake at my desk, and not even some damn new laces or a new pair of Chucks. My esthetician thought it was the threading making my eyes water, but it was really me feeling ashamed for treating myself so poorly. How had I fallen so far without even noticing?

The next morning, I got up, drank plenty of water, took my iron pills, put on my good sweats (because baby steps), put on some makeup, did my hair, and took myself shopping. A purse was the first thing on the list. I followed that up with a couple pairs of casual shoes without lace issues, some tops, and a pair of jeans in my current size that 71p6NUSJpLL__SL1500_look good on all these curves – even the extra ones I recently accumulated. The day after that, I got up early and had a great workout before any Super Bowl snacks could interfere with my goals. I feel 1000% better, these lips aren’t chapped, and I can already see the difference in my skin.

I know trying to get and stay fit is hard AF sometimes and I know a setback can feel like the ultimate betrayal from one’s body. I also now know societal pressures, familial background, and the drive to achieve one’s own sense of perfection can lead to a period of self-punishment if one isn’t careful. Giving oneself grace is incredibly important during this time and so is remembering who one is while focusing on one’s strengths instead of all her weaknesses. plus-size-princessDespite the difficulties, I intend to keep plugging along with my self-care efforts and to be sure that care doesn’t stop at workouts but flows into every other aspect of ways to care for my body. I want to make my care count.

 

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT REPORTING FOR DUTY

BEAT ONECorporal Punishment Reporting For Duty

As a child and well into adulthood, most folks I know have swapped stories about epic beatdowns they caught at the hands of a parent, grandparent, or guardian of some sort. Picking switches, catching hands if the switch wasn’t big or strong enough, watching one’s parent pull an extension cord from the tool drawer in the kitchen, and receiving a blow for each syllable the parent spoke and wondering how they suddenly became so unusually wordy in the process. Many of us know the drill and many of us look back at these incidents and laugh. We chuckle at the time we tried to run from the whoopin’, only to get it worse than we would’ve had we been still. We belly laugh while reflecting on the time we attempted, successfully or unsuccessfully to grab the whoopin’ tool of choice mid-spank only to heighten the intensity of the torture. Often, one ends an epic ass beatin’ tale with some sort of wistful statement like, “What was I thinking?” or “If only I’d listened, I wouldn’t have gotten whooped.” Even parents get into the spanking discussion bragging about how many marks they left, their ability to dish out the correction sans marks, how many times the child danced in a circle trying to escape the belt, and how he/she never tried such a thing again. I’ve certainly told and heard my share of spanking stories and I had the accompanying robust chuckle to go with it, but the older I get, the more I wonder if any of it is actually funny.

If I Don’t Hit You, The Police Will

Like many, I was raised in a traditional Christian church.  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was the general sentiment of parents and all of them felt justified in hitting their children if it meant keeping them in line. After all, “It’s better I beat them than for the police to do it” right? Though I think I understand what folks who believe this mean, I have to say it isn’t really logical, especially when considering the many folks who have been verbally and/or physically harassed, falsely accused and/or arrested, sexually assaulted, and beaten and/or killed by the police were from homes in which parents doled out beatdowns like morning Flintstone vitamins. Black reality has repeatedly shown us good manners, impeccable fashion sense, perfect diction, and even good posture cannot save Black folks from the police. I would venture to say childhood spankings don’t do it either.

It’s The Only Way To Teach You RespectBEAT 2

Sometimes, I hear parents say they hit their children because they need them to develop a healthy fear of their authority figures. I understand. The belief is if the children are afraid, they will comply to avoid physical consequences and on the surface, it makes sense. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is generally about parents mistaking fear for respect. Many slaves obeyed their masters. They were quiet whilst uttering an occasional “nossuh/yassuh” as they bowed and scraped while careful not to make eye contact. But none of that was respect. It was fear – the emotion that breeds contempt, resentment, hatred, distrust, and destroys the will to think of ways to be and live better. If getting one’s child in line is only achieved by frightening the spirit out of that child and giving birth to contempt, I feel it’s safe to say it is time to look for alternatives.

I know the common thought about how there are so many white serial killers, white collar thieves, trust fund miscreants, and even little baby whites throwing retail store tantrums while screaming at their parents because they all got time outs instead of whoopins, but is that really what it is? My mother wasn’t one for a lot of corporal punishment, but in my upbringing, what affected me most was her being disappointed or disgusted with me, not her using a belt to try to get me in line. It was my desire to make her proud of me that kept me well behaved, not the threat of the belt, which only made me afraid.

I Hit You Because I Love You

I think I would have a difficult time telling my hypothetical child to steer clear of romantic partners who put their hands on her while she’s stands listening to me still aching from the last time I beat her. I think I’d have an even harder time telling her I spank her because I love her but a man who hits her doesn’t love her at all. It’s a powerful mixed message I wouldn’t want to send. I have witnessed children flinch from fear whenever their parents call their names or do something simple like reach out to fix the child’s collar or zip up his/her coat. Once, after putting hands on my friend, her mother came downstairs and lamented to me about how tired she was from spanking her daughter because “It just takes so much out of you.” She sighed deeply, smiled to herself, then treated herself to some lemonade and a talk show. I just sat there silently because I was too afraid to go up those stairs to check on my friend. I needed to save my own hide.
BEAT 4
We Have To Do Better

Ever since the movement to stop child abuse by informing children they could call the police if they are the victims of abuse, parents everywhere, mostly Black folks, have made numerous jokes about breaking a child’s fingers for trying to dial 9-1-1 or about taking them down before they can even get to a phone. Others have complained about police beating and killing children but not being able to hit their children themselves. Something is wrong when folks start to lament their inability to cause bodily harm to their children. People are literally fighting for the right to hit their children and they don’t seem to understand the abusive nature of their complaints. My mother always told me I am obligated to do better once I know better and I subscribe to those words daily. It all leaves me wondering if we are really helping our children by beating them or if we are damaging their trust in us and causing them to fear and resent us instead of respecting us. Maybe that rod isn’t the belt or switch we always thought it was. ©

 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I watched this video today and was saddened. Unlike the brotha in the video, who was disheartened by what he considers to be the complete lack of unity on the part of Black folks, I was bothered by the idea we often oppress ourselves by the way we speak on who we are and what we do. Take a moment to watch the video before reading: Black People Why Can’t We Do What Everyone Else Is Doing
BLACKFOLKS
Though I certainly understand the sentiment behind this brotha’s story, I have a mixed response. I am incredibly tired of the narrative Black folks assign to themselves with this broad brush. “We’re the ONLY race who doesn’t (fill in the blank with something positive)” or “We’re the ONLY race who DOES (fill in the blank with something negative).” It bothers me greatly because 1) the narrative isn’t fully true or fair 2) the narrative sets a tone for how folks believe they are supposed to behave instead of setting one of expectations to do better 3) the narrative stereotypes other folks.

Listen, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have a solid covering of friends and family who come through for me in the clutch EVERY DAMN TIME. BLACKFOLKS3If it’s an emergency, help implementing a plan, a request for input, a ride, some food, help moving, or just his/her subject matter expertise, they come through and I do the same for them. And guess what? 99% of my folks are Black. No, we aren’t an anomaly. I chalk what I have up to the kind of person I strive to be and the effort I make to surround myself with like and BETTER-minded folks so I have the opportunity to grow from our relationships and so do they.

“Black folks don’t come together?” Really? Well then what are we doing in Missouri, California, New York, Florida, online, in print, in television, in film, in books, and on lecture circuits? These aren’t solo missions. We don’t write, speak, create, love, feed the hungry, tutor the academically challenged, counsel the downtrodden, and teach our communities alone. We build together. We fight oppression together. We create and foster families BLACKFOLKS4together. We plant gardens together. We build homes together. And without question, there is always room for improvement in our endeavors, but we are not the disjointed, hateful, envious, lackluster, ambitionless folks we are so mistakenly quick to purport ourselves to be. We are fighters, believers, thinkers, creators, and lovers and we don’t have to live three families to a two bedroom apartment to be those things. We are not less than and even though some of us don’t get it and opt to not get on board with the plan, we are still brilliant.

So, I get it. I get what this brotha saw when he looked at his neighbor’s house and his people who came through to help him be great. I get what he thinks he doesn’t have for himself. I get it he doesn’t feel he has what his new neighbor has. I get he’s hurt because he has bought into the narrative Black folks do absolutely nothing as a team. It is certainly BLACKFOLKS2true as humans, we can be self-involved, indifferent, removed, and just plain mean at times, so I fully agree we all can and should be better in the interest of our survival and progression. However, I challenge him to think about what he really sees around him. To think about each time he’s seen folks who look like him reach out to others and help. To consider when he’s been in the clutch and his folks came through for him. To think of every time he’s seen donations of time, money, and talent going into the realization of some Black person’s dream. I challenge him to help change the narrative. I challenge him to rave about the times his folks helped him. Consider the times Black folks got together in the interest of greatness. And when I say him – I’m talking about all of us.

 

FREE REFILLS

When I was a little girl, ordering a soda at McDonald’s meant whatever was in that cup was all I had to drink. I ordered, a worker poured my soda from behind the counter and that was that. If I finished my Hi-C Orange before my burger and fries were done, because enhanced-30752-1395980139-8McDonald’s uses those huge straws that suck up everything in one gulp, it just meant my meal ended on a very dry note. Over time, I learned to savor the soda with smaller sips until one day, magic happened. McDonald’s started offering free refills. I could get my same small soda, drink all that orange goodness, and then get myself some more until I was full or suffering from brain freeze and a tummy ache. It was a magical time in my childhood fast food life. Now, the same rules apply, but not just for soft drinks in restaurants.

Lately, I have seen so many women and girls thirsty for attention, validation, love, a compliment, etc…, they hang on the words of boys and men hoping to take any verbiage and turn it into that thing they need to feel satiated. If it’s an insult, they pick it apart, reassemble it, and present it to themselves as a flimsy compliment he really meant to give. If it’s disrespect, they break it down and try to make the words form something else like a Soul Train scramble board – so they can convince themselves that isn’t really what he meant and those words were just him joking because he’s so damn funny. They are willing to create the reality they wish they had and excuse the inexcusable because that need to feel relevant to boys and men is paramount. I understand that need, but it can never be met in the midst of unkind words and backhanded compliments because it simply isn’t there.

In the same way I got to start getting my own soda, girls and women have to start quenching their own thirst to be loved and respected. Feeling frumpy and looking for polls_phil_0041_631151_answer_8_xlargesomeone to boost your ego? Get in that mirror and tell yourself you look good. Feeling unloved and/or unwanted? Have a talk with yourself about how great you are, how smart you are, what a good friend you are, how hard you work, how you excel in areas, and you are worthy of love. Never be so thirsty, you will accept any old words as the validation you need – particularly not when you can fill up your own cup.

Like anyone, I love a good compliment. I like to feel wanted, relevant, and even vital. I thrive off positive attention and engagement with folks I know love and care for me, but when no one is around and I need a feel good moment, I get myself an extra-large cup and fill it to the rim because refills are free. ©

SAY YES TO THE SUMMER DRESS

I spent the greater part of my morning fiddling with my skirt and trying to think of new ways to make my stomach disappear without control top panties, a corset, or some quick pre-workday surgery. Unfortunately, none of those options were really viable or appealing, so I had to come to a realization or two – I look good as I am, even as I’m working on my body, and I need  to stop comparing myself to someone else’s body reality and remember to love and live in my own. 2f07044280693a5140b08330507333d1

The whole concept of body image and feeling good about being in one’s skin is an ongoing effort for me. I hate to call it a struggle because something about viewing my body that way seems counterproductive, but figuring out how to love it as is while working to improve it is most certainly a stru…er…challenge.  On one hand, I think about what my body looked like light years ago, pun intended, and I feel like I somehow ruined everything, but on the other hand, I think about how much my body has experienced, how well I treat it, how healthy it is, even if it doesn’t look the way I want, and how it gives me a great return on my investment in it. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol have never been problems for me. I eat clean more often than not, and I exercise. I should pat myself on the back for that – even if the back I pat has an extra roll on it I don’t like.

As is the norm around the warm months of the year, memes about women, warm weather, and summer dresses permeate my Facebook feed. Today, I saw this one and was immediately annoyed. 11196248_823727781052664_5193530587267528661_n (1)As a woman, I deal with enough. What I don’t need are folks scoping me out to see if I have a spare tire so they can spend time judging it. Whose stomach is this anyway? I spend my days concerned about my professional progress, whether I write enough, whether I can do what I love and support myself, and  if I’m a good enough daughter, friend, sister, writer, and thinker. I obsess enough over my body and have no desire to deal with others who are more concerned about my stomach than I am.

So ladies, if this warm weather has you itching to put on a summer dress – do that shit. Don’t make apologies for your body to any other person because you don’t owe anyone any apologies for it. Just make sure you get the cutest one you can find and that your stomach feels right at home in it. ©

 

TALK THAT TALK

I weigh too much.  My body fat percentage is higher than it should be, I need to make some

Picture1serious improvements to my ab workout, and my devotion to procrastination sometimes interferes with my ability to tackle the first three issues. All these things about me are true, but they are far from a full definition of who I am, what I work to accomplish, or what I believe I represent as a person. Recently, I was talking to a friend who reminded me about the importance of avoiding negative self-talk in my fitness journey. Not long after, I considered how that relates to the way Black folks often discuss themselves and their “plight”.

As I peruse my various social networking sites, I come across the usual rhetoric – “If Black folks would spend half as much time investing our money as we do buying Jordans, we’d be better off,” or “I see this video of this baby dancing on Facebook, but I bet he doesn’t even know his alphabet yet. Black folks always focused on the wrong thing, that’s why our children are failing” or “That’s the problem with Black relationships, the women aren’t supportive and the men don’t know how to treat a queen.” The list goes on to a seemingly 11024692_10153042575565310_3668182119721558509_nendless location in space and time, and at a certain point, it appears all Black folks are is a bunch of people riddled with problems they can’t ever seem to solve because all they do is waste money on frivolities, make more babies who dance but can’t read, and embark on a series of unhealthy romantic relationships.

Of course, some of these behaviors apply to some Black folks. Just like I weigh too much and tend to procrastinate, some Black folks spend too much money on Jordans without investing in their educational or professional goals, but just as there is far more to me than what I weigh, Black folks far exceed the generalizations we spew about ourselves and I think a lot of what keeps many of us in a life holding pattern is the way we speak about ourselves and the way we absorb and believe the things others say about us. Black folks are brilliant, resilient, resourceful, creative, artistic, and advanced in all areas of professional life. We are inventors, investors, and innovators. We set trends folks chomp at the bit to follow and everything about us, down to the features with which we were born, is emulated. Sure, some of us definitely need to work on our parenting skills and ideas for our long term financial futures, but those shortcomings do not make us any less amazing and are but a small part of the truth of who we are. no-negative-self-talkI think if we started focusing on where we excel more than where we fail, we’d be in a better, more progressive place in general. If all I see in my mirror is a woman who weighs too much and procrastinates, I lose. When I look and see a woman who is smart, witty, hardworking, healthy, active, funny, and progressive, the shortcomings are much easier to master because I’ve acknowledged I have every last tool I need to overcome them. Maybe black folks should try this same thing. If we start talking ourselves up instead of down, we win. We discover ways to overcome the negativity that plagues us and we are more likely to find our brilliance – right under all that negative self-talk. ©

GETTING THERE

I am not a morning person and sometimes, I think I might not be an afternoon or evening one either. It takes all my “can” just to get out of bed in the wee hours to start my work day. For months, I’ve been telling myself and others I need to get in a morning workout in addition to my evening one, but it rarely happens. At six or seven o’clock in the evening, I’m sometimes ready to work out, but at six or seven o’clock in the morning, I’m not ready to anything that involves being outside my bed. For me and countless others, the struggle is often in just getting there. Every work day morning, I stumble out of bed, wait for my eyes to wake up, which usually happens about fifteen minutes AFTER I open them, shower, moisturize, dress, do something with my hair, maybe put on some makeup, then make the mad dash to the car to get to the train station. This morning, I got on the elevator and a coworker commented, “You look like you don’t want to be here today.” I had to tell her, it isn’t the “being here” that’s the problem; it’s the “getting here.” I had to acknowledge the way the latter is the crux of my ongoing battle with procrastination.

X11711Getting_There_Self_Inking_Reward_StampOleta Adams made is sound so simple when she sang, “Get Here” and was even kind enough to list all the various modes of transportation one could take to make the arrival a reality. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t seem to respond to her kind of cues. Most of the time, I’m excited about, or at least mildly interested in, my social plans. I look forward to linking up with folks I enjoy while listening to some good music, dining out, or having a few drinks, but for some reason, I have all the trouble in the world getting there. I want to go, I’m excited about going, and I know I am going for sure, but there is always some sort of inner glitch that makes the getting there feel like I’m walking through three feet of mud whilst carrying a hundred pound backpack full of bricks.

I can’t help but think most, if not all, of this issue is mental.  If I start prepping  two hours before I need to leave the house and during that time I am distracted by dishwashing, clothes folding, and tub scrubbing, it occurs to me I am purposely sabotaging myself,  leaving me late to arrive at my destination.  I never have the same fervor for cleaning as I do when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  Somehow, I doubt I’m alone in this.

Ultimately, I find with anything, the biggest challenge is getting to it. Whether it’s getting in a workout, going to the grocery store, or getting to dinner on time, being there is pretty straightforward, but the getting there is where the hard work is. I don’t want to spend the rest of my adult social life “on my way” or “running a little late,” so right now, I’m working on getting there more often. I don’t want to miss anything.©

 

WOMEN – FTW

These days, it seems the best way to get through to a lot of women is to be a man who comes up with memes and mini-motivational messages that sound pretty but really don’t do anything but disparage women, blame them for failed relationships or lack of relationships, and remind them how they must bend themselves into pretzels physically, emotionally, and spiritually to “keep a man.” Though I realize I’m living a testosterone- free existence sans the alleged benefits of testicles and a penis, my hope is what I have to say will permeate the minds of the women who read this despite my lack of “maleness”. The ongoing attack on women and girls is real and its effectiveness is evident in face to shoeface conversations, books, film, articles, social networking, advertising, etc… From every direction, women and girls are bombarded with ill-conceived, sexist, and antiquated ideas about who they should be, how they should behave, what they should think, how they should dress, and what they can say without losing that ever important air of femininity all self-respecting girls and women should possess. If a child misbehaves, the first question folks ask is, “Where is his/her mother?” Because after all, a child engaging in humanistic behaviors such as tantrums is surely lacking in proper mothering, right?  If a woman is accosted by a man in public, be it verbally, physically, or both, the question is, “What did you do to provoke this?” Because after all, that woman knows how her “mouth” can be plus, she really shouldn’t have worn that outfit if she wasn’t looking for something to happen to her. If a once married woman is freshly divorced or separated, she is quickly labeled as yet another woman who, “just can’t keep a man.” Because after all, the positive and lasting status of a happy relationship solely falls on the shoulders of the woman and if that connection is somehow compromised, it must surely be because the woman didn’t cook enough, work out enough, listen enough, or blow her man enough. I mean, seriously, when are these women going to get it together? That seems to be the prevailing question when it really should be, “When is this society going to stop holding women responsible for all the tragedy while stripping them of their parts in all the triumphs?”

In this meme and social networking laden society, I see countless attacks on girls and women. Before there is even sufficient opportunity for a girl to develop into an independent minded, pragmatic, creative, self-assured individual, there are all these societal rules and standards applied to her that do nothing but stifle her personal growth. She must learn early on to suppress her intellect, her interests, her ambitions, and her sexuality lest she run off all the boys with her well-earned confidence. She can’t think too highly of herself and what she has to offer the world because what good is education and professional success if one has no man? I mean, all the personal achievements in the world won’t hold you at night and give you babies. So, before a woman can even effectively get started, she’s stunted by someone else’s boundaries for her life. If her clothes are too body conscious, she’s a ho. If she dresses too conservatively, she’s a stick in the mud. If she likes to have an unabashedly good time, she’s a party girl only good for one thing. If she prefers books and baking to bashes, she’s the ideal for a wife, who will likely be cheated on with the woman having the unabashedly good time. On the surface, all this makes it appear there is no winning. However, girls and women can walk away with the win – if they create their own definitions. When women opt to define womanhood for themselves, be it a homemaking, cookie baking, baby raising, homeschooling one or one of bachelor degrees, boardrooms, mixers, and contract negotiations (or even one in between), we WIN. When we understand “real” women are not just one way but are made up of every kind of woman conceivable from the video vixen to the nun, we WIN. When we stop defining ourselves based on the antiquated and damaging views of old wrapped up in a bow and made to look pretty, we WIN. I see memes regularly pitting one type of woman against the other. Recently, it was Amber Rose v. Michelle Obama waxing philosophical womenabout doing anything for attention versus demanding respect. It raised my dander without question. I don’t know Amber Rose or Michelle Obama, but I do look at them and see two women seemingly doing the work that makes them happy. One twerks and one touts the goodness of homegrown vegetables and regular exercise and to me, BOTH are women deserving of respect and patriarchy has no right to strip it from either of them.  When women become elitist and use what they see as their social status to down other women whose life choices are different, we LOSE. When we let the framework of patriarchy define womanhood for us causing division among us, we LOSE. I hate being a loser. It took a lot of introspection, reading, listening, inquiring, and rewiring for me to get past my upbringing and the affect societal ideals of what makes a woman worthwhile for me to understand the constructs of femininity and realize I get to define what it means to me without the influence of old adages, religious rhetoric, or sexist foolishness developed by men and sadly partly perpetuated by women.  Though it took me almost 40 years, the journey was worth it because – I WIN. Now I know without question, the prostitute on the corner is a woman just like I am in the corporate world. The 21 year old woman with two children by two different men trying to hold it down is a woman, just like the wife of the President of the United States. Different lives, different choices, but still women and deserving of better than a bunch of judgment and denigration.

Despite my lack of male parts, I know now what it is to be a woman. It is simply about being comfortable in one’s skin, being interested in constant self-improvement, and not feeling the need to make apologies for being witty, talented, flexible, sexual, or spiritual. It’s about standing firm in who one is and not letting it be a result of who someone else said one should be. That is how we WIN. When we teach these ideas to our daughters, nieces, and mentees, we allow them to visualize a world in which they create their own reality instead of one that picks the truth for them forcing them to acquiesce to an existence of mediocrity and glass ceilings. I need to see little girls WIN.

Memes and mini-motivations messages via cell phone videos have their place, I suppose. I generally think of these things as funny ways to pass time, but when they are used as tools to down women and convince them everything that ails humans is our fault, I have to take exception to them.  Changing the definitions is how women WIN

 

 

 

Dads Who Lunch

While sitting in a restaurant for lunch yesterday, I saw the older man sitting at the table next to me stand up to greet his approaching daughter. His face lit up when she arrived and he squeezed her like she was the most important person he knew. I tried not to be obvious with my staring, but sometimes in all my efforts to exude strength and fierceness, I see something that reminds me of my vulnerabilities.

Over my life, I’ve often lamented my lack of an active and interested father. My father’s indifference served to provide me with an emotional void, random insecurities, and in my young adult life, a need to have men like and validate me, or at least pretend to. As hard as my mother worked to be a great parent, she was limited by human nature. No one parent can be a mother and father to a child. That simply isn’t the way it works.  Unfortunately, the school of thought meant to bolster the confidence of single parents by telling them they can be both mother and father is misleading and serves to negate the relevance of dadlunchthe other parent at the peril of the child.

Now, I would be lying if I said I am not a well-adjusted, fully functioning, self sufficient, contributing to society 40 year old. Fortunately, I have turned out pretty well, but  a few poor life choices in my younger life gave me the kind of life lessons I probably would have avoided if had an interested father. It isn’t any fun, but it seems to be the common reality of those of us who go without one parent.

I have nothing but love for my mother who gave me everything she knew to give and loved me in a way that helped me feel relevant. Familiar with the issues I’d encounter, she tried her best to prepare me and keep me feeling whole and for that, I am grateful. However, despite excelling in her job as a super mom, there were still a few glitches in my deadbeat dad life matrix. I certainly acknowledged and overcame them with time, but the road was pretty bumpy. Sitting in that restaurant and looking at the man and his daughter made me wonder if some of my pitfalls could have been avoided with a few lunches. ©

Sorry, Not Sorry

PaulaIt often starts at an early age – two children are out on a playground insulting one another for some reason. The words get harsher and turn into flying baby fists. After prying the two apart, the authority figure calms the children, hears their stories, then demands the two apologize to one another. Usually, the apologies are lackluster. With clear vitriol and perhaps even future plans to pound on each other some more out of the eyesight of prying adults, the angry children mumble insincere apologies to one another, are sometimes forced to find kinder and more sincere-sounding ways to give those apologies (“Say it like you mean it!”), then go to their separate life corners. I know I have been this child a few times and it leaves me wondering if the apology is really necessary. DL

Granted, exchange of cruel words and physical blows is not a good way for anyone, child or adult, to spend time. If I had my way, life would only be about discovering pleasures, loving each other, existing in harmony, and randomly breaking out into choreographed dances everyone inexplicably knows how to do without having practiced as a group.  But alas, life isn’t like that at all. Conflict is very real and it is constant. One’s idea of honesty can lead to greater understanding or incense others, which can lead to some sort of bash fest. Sometimes, just feelings get bashed and other times, faces do.

But whether or not the conflict is true, false, mean, or somewhat mild, what is it about human nature that requires an apology to be made whole? What makes folks so willing to accept an unfelt apology for being willfully wronged? When fighting over Legos and getting hit in the face, a mumbled, “Sorry,” has never done anything for me but make me more irritated.
TayYe
Then there’s the gracious acceptance one is expected to give after receiving a half-hearted forced apology. One is wronged on purpose, the perpetrator is “caught”, and suddenly, one has to become some sort of Mother Theresa/Ghandi type of figure and be willing to turn all the cheeks to accommodate an insincere apology so as not to look like a douche. What if we all just stopped that? What if the next time someone comes with the fake apology, we all just tell them it isn’t real and therefore isn’t accepted? What if nobody was forced to make the fake apology in the first place? Wouldn’t that make things better?

I suppose my real issue with forced remorse is the fact  authority figures are helping lay the foundation for the way so many of us lie about the way we feel and the things we do as adults. Some folks plot and scheme, enact their evil plans, then apologize to beg off on responsibility. Other times, the aggrieved accepts the apology with a quick, “It’s ok,” when it is far from “ok,” because it’s easier to avoid discussing feelings than it is to confront matters. Stephen

Though I believe heartfelt remorse and apologies are definitely called for in relationships centered around love, mutual respect, and professionalism, there are some times when one just isn’t sorry.  Why do we insist on forcing her to pretend to be otherwise? I can say I have never appreciated a reluctant apology and certainly not the kind that drips with some sort of tone that let’s me know the words are being uttered under duress. These days, politicians and other public figures, parents, lovers, and friends have found a way to give the half assed apology. You know, it’s the kind during which a person apologizes for the way the aggrieved party feels. “I’m sorry you felt that way about me punching you in the stomach,” OR “I’m sorry if you thought me calling you a fat, jobless, hopeless bump on a log meant I do not think you’re smart.” These sorts of apologies are the worst to me. Somehow, folks find a way to utter the words, “I’m sorry,” and blame the person they wronged at the same time. It is cowardly and insulting and I prefer silence over that. I can accept a person feeling his behavior was justified and needs no apology before I can accept one that means nothing to the person who uttered it.

SterlingAt this point, I prefer the “Sorry, not sorry,” method. It is honest, it is real, and it is sums up everything. It says, “Though I respect the fact you feel uncomfortable, wronged, or hurt in some way by what I said or did, I have to be honest in telling you I am completely okay with my choice and respectfully decline to make any apologies for it.” The idea of it all seems so freeing! No more faux apologies and forced feelings. No more resentment for being made to accept an apology that wasn’t heartfelt and no more masking of ill-will. Everyone gets to be his or herself. Of course, the downside is the fact there are always consequences for one’s actions, so one has to understand there may be some hell to pay for being unapologetic. I, however, am willing to accept that possibility for the opportunity to change the mamby pamby way we are socialized from an early age to lie to ourselves and others for the sake of appearances. And you know what? I’m not sorry. ©