Blog

Dear Rilynn

You are the dopest toddler I know. You love me and shade me all at the same time. You have been unbothered since you were in the womb. Took your mighty sweet time to get here. However, from the day you entered the world you refused to be ignored and let us know immediately that you would be HEARD! I think I said, “Wow! She’a a strong soprano.” The doctor said, “We’ve got ourselves a drama queen!” LOL! I don’t know if you will ever sing. I don’t know if you will ever act. What I do know is that whatever you choose to do or be, you will do it or be it!

As your great aunt and God mom, I have the privilege of watching and assisting you on your journey in life. I don’t know if I will be around in your adult years, or even if I am, I don’t know if all of my mental capacities will still be functioning properly. I hope that I am still physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually available long enough to see you have children. But chances are,  that’s not going to happen. I might not even get to see you become an adult if God decides to call me home sooner than I think. So, on this Sunday when I am in the mood I thought I would leave you with a few words of wisdom from your TeeTee.

So, Miss Rilynn what is it that I want you to know? Well first, I think that it is important for you to remember that your relationship with God is the most important relationship that you can have in your life, even more important than the relationship you have with your mom and dad. Remember that on the days when your mom makes you mad or your dad disappoints you. Your parents, and grandparents, are human. It is inevitable that one day they will hurt you, not even that, you just might not agree on everything. The best gift that your mom  and dad are giving you right now is introducing you to God and making sure you understand His Holy Word. 

You are loved, and you are worthy of love. This world is cruel. It will make you think that you are less than, that you aren’t capable. You might experience rejection and disappointment simply because you are black or because you were born a girl. Don’t worry about it, Miss Rilynn, and don’t let those things get you down. Stand up and keep fighting for what you want-respect, honesty, loyalty, commitment, peace, joy, kindness, and love! You deserve all of those things. Demand them. Don’t rest until you get them because you are worthy!

Finally, I want you to recognize that you come from greatness. Great genes, great culture, great family. Not all of it related to material wealth. However, every bit of your greatness comes from robust attitude, genuine pride, and sincere desire to make the world a better place. Take time to get know your history both globally and within your family, North Texas (Fort Worth) and South Texas (Houston), Southern and African. Learn it and own it. Then walk with your head held high everyday because you, my dear, are royalty. Period.

There is so much more that I want to share with you. I am sure that one day we will have long talks over snow cones and ratchet hip hop. At least I hope so. A blog post is really not conducive to long dissertations meant for private conversations. Yet, I leave this here as tangible proof that you can achieve the unexpected and live the unimaginable. Please do. I want to smile from Heaven one day and say, “Wow! She surpassed my expectations!” 

I love you, Miss Rilynn. I want nothing but the best for you in life. Dream big, accomplish much, and learn a lot. You can do it! Be better than we are right now. Not because we want you to, but because you can. The world deserves a unicorn loving, dinosaur having, cowgirl princess like you! #toddlerslay

Advertisements

Michelle Obama is Everybody’s Homegirl

She isn’t the best friend we wish we had; she is the best friend we KNOW we have.

God is truly good to me. God and my friends. Thank you, Kiphani for thinking of me and allowing me to experience a dream come true, getting to see my First Lady. It is surreal. I hate that word. It is so overused, but that is the only way I can describe this experience. 

If this post seems incoherent then please blame two things: fatigue and excitement. I rushed home to get my thoughts on paper because I wanted this post to be as authentic as possible. I am not a journalist so writing a play-by-play would really be doing a disservice to what I experienced tonight. I really just want to share the range of emotions I felt listening to Mrs. Obama, how I felt hearing and seeing her in person for the first time. 

I am sure it is the training of being a lawyer, a professional woman, a mother, and the former FLOTUS that makes her have the ability to speak to thousands of women in a sold-out stadium and make us all feel like she was speaking to each of us personally. Michelle, that’s what I call her because she is my friend in my head, is everything we used to be and everything we aspire to be. She is the epitome of a friend. She was honest, reflective, respectful funny, transparent, kind, hopeful, humble, elegant, classy and real! She isn’t the best friend we wish we had; she is the best friend we KNOW we have. We all have a Michelle Obama or two in our everyday lives. At least I do. In Michelle, I see my mama, my sisters, my nieces, my sorority sisters, and my friends. She reminds me that I don’t need to look for squad goals. I already have them. Her conversation was familiar and anecdotal because I have had those same conversations with my friends. So for me, Michelle Obama is a symbol of the familiar;  the average, but not the ordinary, woman on a journey to becoming who God has called her to be. She was and is refreshing. In a world filled with reality stars and shows where women tear each other down, gossip, fight, backbite, compete, and bully one another, it was good to be reminded that that is not who we are, or who we are meant to be. We are striving to be servants with purpose designed to make the world a better place and our connections to each other, even in our differences, unite us. It felt good to hear that and be surrounded by it. Surrounded by thousands of people who felt the same way.

More than anything, Michelle Obama reminded me of the value of community. That is what being a real homegirl is about. Family and neighbors living together around a shared set of basic values. When she spoke of her family and how she was raised, it reminded me so much of my own family. How I witnessed everyone coming together to make sure that our needs where met whether it was paying a bill, making sure a kid had lunch money, going to church, learning to vote, babysitting someone’s child, or just sitting around shooting the shit. My grandmother, mother, aunt, uncles, and cousins. It was a united effort to help each other survive. The sense that the struggle is bearable if we all stick together, and the sense that if you work hard you can accomplish anything. 

Experiencing Michelle Obama live and in-person left me encouraged. I left feeling inspired. I left feeling hopeful. I left feeling like I had just chatted it up with my friend who gave me the best advice and then hugged me while she said, “Girl, it’s gone be alright.” She was phenomenal.

Click here for a snippet from the evening.

Random Thoughts While Working

How long until Christmas break?

  • If we don’t have a personal relationship, DO NOT use my first name. Neither in person nor an email. Please and thanks.
  • How do I say you are getting on my nerves professionally?
  • If your job requires that you have great customer service skills and you don’t like people, please find a new job. I really don’t appreciate the attitude that you give me when I am simply asking for something that requires you to do what you get paid to do!
  • Just because you don’t like me doesn’t mean that no one likes me. When you talk about me behind my back someone WILL tell me. Stop it. It’s childish.
  • I’m not a morning person and I don’t drink coffee. I’m really not in the mood to talk until noon. Keep that in mind when you approach me about random bullshit and the sun is barely shining.
  • I pray. Everyday. It’s for you. But it’s for me too. So. I. Don’t. Cuss. You. Out.
  • It’s a blessing to have great bosses. Shout out to my current bosses, who shall not be named, and to those that I have had in the past! You know who you are. You make (made) coming to work worthwhile and enjoyable. Thanks for allowing me to do my job without the hyper-scrutiny. For listening to me and respecting my knowledge and skill set. For trusting me with projects and assignments that I didn’t think I was capable of doing successfully. You guys are G.O.A.T and deserve more than you have been recognized for. Bad bosses should pay attention and learn!
  • My job needs better mental health benefits. If they had them, people wouldn’t take so many sick/mental health days…LIES! We would still take the days. LOL!!
  • Stop snitching. For real. Just talk to your co-worker first before you tell the supervisor. That usually solves the problem and they will probably respect you more for coming to them straight up rather than tattling.
  • Every day I think about retiring…
  • People are going to read this and think that I hate my job.
  • I actually feel blessed to do what I do, where I do it. Hopefully, the Lord will use me.
  • But if I had a nickel for every time a grown-up called my name to do something they could do themselves.
  • Then I think, “At least you are needed!” Darn it, Baby Jesus! Sometimes I just want to be bitchy. Lol
  • I only wrote this because I know someone somewhere is having the same thoughts. Now, let it go and get back to work!

Finally

  • Per my last email…(Y’all know what that means). 🙂

***How many more days until Christmas Break?

Gifts for the Homies❤️🎁

Shop @beflydesigns and @avamichelejewelry for gifts for friends and family!

I know that many of you are still out shopping for Christmas gifs. Some of you are just getting started. Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays gets you so frustrated that you decide to give up and decide to write all of your friends and family $20 checks just be done, consider buying a gift or two from a local, small business. Not only would it show that you put some thought into your gift, but the person you buy it for will probably appreciate the special attention. 

Get creative this Christmas.  Creativity need not require large amounts of money. If you are shopping on a budget you can still give great gifts and support your local economy. Instead of heading to Walmart or the mall, try perusing social media. If you are skilled at arts and crafts, Pinterest is a great place to get ideas on making gifts by hand. Amazon is also a great place to get reasonably priced gifts, but honestly, try looking at some of your friend’s pages. The rise of social media has fostered opportunities for new and upcoming entrepreneurs. You would be surprised at the number of people that you know who are business owners and would appreciate your support.

I want to highlight two businesses in particular that I think are super dope! 

First, if you need a graphic tee, check out Be Fly Designs (BFD). BFD operated in Fort Worth, Texas and it specializes in providing creative and compelling tees that empower African-American and female communities through fashion.  It is owned by my friend and soror, Beletra Thomas, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Beletra’s t-shirts offer inspirational, motivational, political, and sometimes comical messaging in a way that allows you to wear your activism. My favorite shirt says “Faith Eliminates Worry”. Sometimes when I know I am facing a tough day at work, I wear that shirt to remind myself that everything will be okay. Coupled with some slacks and a blazer, I’m professional and ready to take on the world. I wore it this summer to my sorority conference and got lots of compliments on it. I also love the shirt that says, “FLY (First Love Yourself)” because sometimes I have to remind myself that I need to make myself a priority. I am waiting to buy the “Gangsta Napper” shirt because sleeping is my specialty. But don’t take my word for it head on over to http://www.beflydesigns.com to see for yourself. Oh…BFD offers great sales too! Quality product at great pricing; you can’t lose! 

My friend and Soror, Erica, rocking the “Spread Love” tee from the BFD collection!

Now that you have a cute shirt, you gotta add some dope accessories. Ava Michele Jewelry is the place to go. Earrings, necklaces, and some really fly arm candy! I love Ava’s pieces and not just because I’ve known her for almost 30 years (she’s also a Fort Worth native), but because she really takes her time to design and assemble pieces that men and women would love. In particular, her stacked braclets are cool, elegant, and super classy yet you can wear them for any occasion. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Ava Michele ensures that each color of the Divine 9 is represented in her pieces, but anyone can wear them! Follow Ava on Instagram @avamichelejewelry. You won’t be disappointed. 

Custom stack from Ava Michele Jewelry. LOVE!

And if you think its too late to order, it’s not. I contacted both of these ladies and said, “This is what I need. How can you help me?” They both came through! More than anything, they offer quality customer service.

So stop reading, pull out your laptop or cell phone, and start shopping!

Be Fly Designs: http://www.beflydesigns.com

Instagram: @beflydesigns

Facebook: @beflydesigns

Ava Michele Jewelry: 

Instagram: @avamichelejewelry

Facebook: @avamichelejewelry

Ratchet Review: An American Marriage

Ok. I know I told you guys that I don’t write book reviews, but dang it, I have to share what I read with someone.  I finally finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and personally, I’m a little pissed. First let me say this, there is a reason that I don’t read the books on the Oprah’s Book Club list. Auntie Oprah tends to go for content with suffering and tragedy. Me, not so much. When I read, I want to escape my day-to-day existence. I want to laugh. I want mystery. I  want love. Intrigue, drama even. Basically, I want a reality show in words. Not Oprah. Oprah likes downtrodden and forlorn on an intellectual level, and honestly, I am not that smart. Self-deprecation aside, I just don’t want to be depressed when I read, and I find that Oprah selects books that leave me feeling like I need to book therapy appointments for the next year. I. Can. Not. Deal. Which brings me to An American Marriage. I had hope that this book would be different. Boy was I wrong. 

Enter Roy and Celeste, star crossed lovers who marry a few years after they meet in college.(Side note: another reason I don’t like writing reviews is because my summaries tend to be too long; I’ll try to keep this one short). Roy is a country boy who made it big and Celeste comes from black royalty…well not royalty, but her family has a little paper. She’s wealthy. Kind of like Dre and Bow on Black-ish. Roy is doing his thing in the business world of Atlanta, and Celeste is an artist finding her niche making poupees, dolls made of fabric. They visit Roy’s parents in the small town of Eloe, Louisiana when Roy gets arrested and falsely accused of rape. Celeste tries to hold Roy down (stand by her man for regular folks) while he is locked up, but soon finds herself feeling like she and Roy don’t have the commitment level needed to maintain the marriage. Celeste decides to leave the marriage and starts caping for Roy’s best man and her friend, Andre. Needless to say, Roy gets ghosted and Celeste shoots him the deuce (she leaves him in the jail cell he’s stuck in).

Now, that is the gist of the story, but in the words of my pastor, “Let’s start over and see what the Lord is telling us today.”

The Lord told me that Celeste was trifling! She vexed my spirit for the entire book! She was selfish, self-absorbed and immature. She didn’t understand what commitment truly was. Commitment is staying with your husband when he is in jail fighting a rape charge. She was his alibi. She knew he was innocent. When the rape happened Roy was with Celeste. I really wanted the author to explore what it would have taken to stay. Instead, she wrote a character who was cliche. Don’t get me wrong, if she wasn’t already married to Roy, I would understand her shooting dude the deuce. However, they were already committed to each other and she basically said, “Nah, bruh! I’m out.” 

Next, Roy was stupid. He had this false humility thing going on. “Don’t wait for me,” but he really wanted her to be ride or die. Then say that! She can’t read your mind. Then she wrote his ass that Dear John letter and the truth came out. He was pissed and was like, “Don’t write me no more…but can you keep putting money on my books…and keep having your parents pay for my attorney to beat this case?” Really ______?!!! I could see that happening in real life. LMAO!

Oh and don’t forget Andre. I won’t waste too much time on him other than to say that Roy gave him a much needed ass whooping that Andre’s daddy told him he deserved! That was my favorite part of the whole book!

Is it a good book? I guess…Oprah says it is. It is well written. I think, in my humble opinion, the book really took a look at how communication can make or break a relationship. It showed how adversity reveals the true character of a person. Love and commitment happen when the butterflies fade and the sex stops being bomb. When you are arguing and fighting and trying to figure out how to navigate the world together. When your kid is sick and you don’t know what to do. When the month is long and the money wrong. The person standing beside you is the person that truly cares for you.  If someone runs from you when trouble starts, they aren’t meant for you. It doesn’t mean you are going to like each other all the time, but you are committed so you CHOOSE to stay and love that person through the good and the bad. That is an American MARRIAGE. The book doesn’t give too much hope for hopeful romantics. So, I will give it a 3.5 out 5 bookmarks because I was hooked on the story, I just hated the characters and I was in my feelings! It was good…I want my money back though, but I borrowed it from a friend.

The StairMaster is my B*tch! #30430

September 13, 2018 I told my trainer, “I think I want to do the StairMaster for thirty days straight.” He was all for it. “Good! Thirty minutes, everyday. Let’s go!” I wasn’t ready. It was Thursday and I had a plan to start on Monday. ANDDDD, I was only going to do 15-20 minutes. In true fashion, I started negotiating-Can I wait til Monday? Why do I have to do 30 minutes? This isn’t your goal, this is my goal! We went round and round until he said, “Stop trying to get out of it. You’re starting today! Let’s go!” So I started. It has been a journey.

Five days in I got sick. Sinus or allergies or something. I didn’t know what to do. I knew if I stopped I would have to start over or it would extend my time. I refused to stop. If I didn’t have a fever or I wasn’t dizzy, I went. I just blew my nose a lot. And for those of you who are wondering, I wiped down my machines REAL GOOD! I developed shin splints too. Those sucked, but I put a little bengay on my legs and kept it moving. Some days it was really hard to do because of other commitments I had, but I didn’t use that as an excuse. When I don’t workout with Chris, Planet Fitness is my go to gym, so I would just roll into PF at 9 or 10 o’clock at night to get in my 30 minutes.

Ten days in I asked myself why I was doing this. The answer was simple. Because I didn’t think I could. I decided then to give myself a reward once I made it to day 15, a nice little pair of cubic zirconia earrings from Target! They cost me $19, but I love them. Hey, I ball on a budget. Maybe when I reach my goal weight I will buy a real pair.

This was the point where I knew I couldn’t stop. I had people cheering for me. My friend Price, “Cass! I am so proud of you!” And there is always my Soror Kiphani, “Thirty minutes on the stair master? Girl, you are a beast!”  I had to keep going, but I needed a change. So, I started adding minutes. Some days I would do 35 minutes, and on Wednesday, two days before my deadline, I did 60 minutes. It was TOUGH! sometimes I would hit pause, but I realized that prolonged my time. I got slick though and started lowering my intensity level to so I could breathe for a minute and then I would go back up. No matter what I didn’t stop and I never went under 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018, I finished! Level 6 for thirty straight minutes! I didn’t stop or lower the intensity level! This time I will allow myself to say, “I’m proud of MYSELF.”

I still don’t like the StairMaster. It is not of Jesus. But God will make your enemies your footstools and so he did the stair master! I feel a lot better. My energy level has been really great. My attitude has definitely changed for the better. I think I leave my stress on those steps. Each drop of sweat is a worry, a burden, that is no longer on my shoulders. My joints feel much better too especially my hips!

One of my goals was to lose 10lbs. I only lost 5, but hey that’s a half bag of potatoes! In the words of my niece, “I ain’t tripping.” I hear some of my friends balk at the StairMaster and I don’t blame them, it’s not easy at all. But, if you want to master that thang and make it your b*tch too, here are a few tips:

  • Sip water as you are working. Even if you drink it regularly. Trust me it helps!
  • Have a couple of pieces of chewing gum. Keeps your mouth moist. I like two pieces  because the water dries the gum out. I switch out half-way through the workout.
  • Bring two towels. One for sweat and one to wipe the machine. The sweat stings my eyes and I can’t take it. A wet machine gets slippery. I refuse to go viral falling off a StairMaster…can you imagine?! LOL!!
  • Start low. I finished at level 6, but I started at level 4. Start where you are, even if that is level 1 or 2. No one knows but you!
  • Bring an extra shirt. I think I got sick on day 5 because of that BIG ASS FAN at PF. My shirt was wet and I went outside in it. The next day I was sneezing, so I started changing into a dry shirt afterward and I’ve been fine ever since!
  • Get you a bomb ass playlist. If you are hype, the time goes by just a little bit faster.  Sometimes I just play MJB and I feel that girl power blow through my speakers! #YASSSQUEEN! But I really like ratchet rap…you know the kinda music where people will wonder if I’m really a 47 year-old professional! #hehe Here are few of my favs: Blow the Whistle, Too short; Ante Up, M.O.P; Pull Over, Trina, Rubber Band Man and Motivation, T.I.; Big Pimpin’, Jay-z; Drip, Cardi B; Southside, Lil Keke.  I have about 50 songs but those are tried and true!

Anyway, it was super fun and I’m glad I did it. Now, I can walk by the StairMaster and give it the side eye like, “Bihhhh! You ain’t ready for me!” 😉 Don’t judge me. It’s how I have to psyche myself out! Now, let me go get my reward for finishing, rest up (I’m taking a week off), and plan my next challenge! #30430 #stairmasterchallenge #befearless

P.S. Thank you, CHRIS! Stop by EveryBody Fit Personal Training Studio in Arlington, TX. Maybe if you come to class he will give me discount. Hehe! 🤣

Nappily Ever After

It’s finally here! The movie that I waited on for a full year. I’ve watched it twice. Was it that good?  Hmmm…I think watched it more than once to make sure that I was watching it with a critical eye rather than as a fan. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie, but I wanted to make sure why I enjoyed it, and I wanted to make sure that I gave the film a fair chance.

When they announced last year that they were turning Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas into a film starring Sanaa Lathan, I decided then to read the book. I remember when it came out amid the contemporary African-American Literary Renaissance phase in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. You know, the boom that brought us authors like Terry McMillan, Omar Tyree, and Eric Jerome Dickey. I remember being resistant to reading the book because the natural hair movement was just getting started and I was firmly #teamrelaxer. I wasn’t even open to giving the book a chance. Not back then. But almost 20 years later, and having endured my own big chop, I said, “Why not?” I knew I would support the movie because Sanaa Lathan is my friend in my head (I have a lot of those including Oprah)and I had to support my girl! So I started reading the book last November, and well…tt wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it. I guess I don’t know what I expected, but I was underwhelmed. No shade to the author. Some books we love, some books we don’t.

I was still excited about the movie the though, so on when it dropped on Netflix I was ready. After two views and a bag of popcorn, I would say that Nappily Ever After was quite a treat. Sanaa plays Violet, a woman who believes that in order to marry the perfect man she has to be perfect in every way including long, straight hair. Violet goes to great lengths to maintain this perfection including having her mother come to her home at four in the morning to flat-iron her hair before her boyfriend wakes up (idiot). The movie, and the book, look at Violet’s journey in releasing perfectionism and owning and loving her natural God-given beauty. It’s about recognizing what type of woman you are and being confident in yourself.

Now that is the gist of the movie without giving away too many details. I think every woman should watch it. It is romantic, and funny, and dramatic, and sad in every place it should be. The movie is filled with A-list actors like Sanaa, Ernie Hudson, and Lynn Whitfield. But to me, the star of the show is the young lady who plays Zoe. Daria Johns brings Zoe to life. She is the daughter of Violet’s potential suitor, Will. Zoe’s mother is absent from her life and Will is raising her alone. Violet meets Zoe in the hair salon and makes some really mean comments on her poor behavior, attire, and hair. Zoe overhears her and you can clearly see the hurt on her face. 

Daria Johns

Even though Zoe manages to issue her own dose of revenge to Violet, they eventually manage to form a relationship with Violet giving Zoe the mother figure that she has been longing for. Zoe in turn gives Violet wisdom on being herself. She helps Violet to see that happiness is not being perfect, but in being proud and confident in who you are as a person. Miss Johns is perfectly cast! If I watch the movie a 3rd time it will because of her. She was refreshing to watch. She gave an honest portrayal of a girl who is confident yet simultaneously seeking validation. I just kept thinking, “I wish she could be my daughter!” Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age.

Zoe’s initial interaction with Violet, and the movie overall, also brought back childhood memories of my own hair journey. Some comical. Some painful. Sitting at the knee of my mother getting my ears burned with the hot comb ( I still have a scar on my arm from getting burned). Getting my hair permed in the 1st grade because my sisters felt like that would be better than the hot comb. My hair falling out from the perm. Getting a Jheri curl. Getting my hair cut off. Being called Florida Evans by my uncles. A “friend” telling me that my hair looked like rats had been sucking on it. Trying to sleep straight without messing up my hair. Making love and worrying that your boyfriend will ruin the $80 you just spent at the hair salon. It. Has. Been. A journey! So when Violet insults Zoe, I felt the sting in my chest as if she were speaking directly to me. And I grieved. I grieved for the brave girl who died a little inside when someone attacks her because of her hair, her looks, her body. It hurt. And that is the beauty of this film, that every woman will feel compassion and empathy because we can all relate to the Zoe’s and Violets that live inside of us.  

I’m not a reviewer, of books or movies. But, I do love stories that I can relate to especially those that speak to my experiences as a black woman. Nappily Ever After the movie ( I want to make that clear because again, the book just didn’t do it for me) does just that. It speaks to my hair journey, my body journey, my work journey, my love journey, the journey with my family . It speaks to the journey of waking up and figuring out that I’m ok, just as I am. I am still not fond, of my “natural” hair. Yet, I can’t imagine ever going back to a relaxer, and weaves just aren’t my thing. I think movies and stories like these, more than anything, reinforce that no matter wherewe are on our journey, we are perfect just they way we are. 

Read the book. Watch the movie. Tell me what you think.

P.S. There were a couple of scenes that I found to be awkward and unrealistic. The scene where Violet shaves her head (awkward). The scene where Will rubs scalp on Violet’s head (awkward and unrealistic). Why? BFF was just doing to much for me (insert eye roll). But, pay me no attention, that’s the cynic in me! ENJOY!