Ratchet Review: The Proposal

Great premise and ripe with potential for hopeless romantics to enjoy.

I am not sure that I would have ever read this book if it were not recommended by my friend, Alesha. She’s not a fan of romance novels, but she happened upon this book, and said, “ Cass, this seems like a good book. You should check it out.” You see, she and I have “novel-beefs.” We both love African-American novels and authors, yet we just can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on the specific genre. She is really smart, I mean like she has a Master’s in English smart. I, on the other hand…well, I’m just happy I can read. Alesha tends to read books with the tragic heroes of historical literature, while I tend to lean ever so slightly toward the comical musings of street-lit a.k.a urban fiction!  Books like, Baby Mama Drama or Thugs and The Women Who Love Them…don’t judge me We argue all the time.  “Cass! Why are you reading that shit? ” Because it’s funny.

Anyway, I think she recommended this book because it seemed to fall somewhere in the middle, but honestly, I didn’t want to read it. It is…a romance novel. The gist of the story is that the main character, Nik, meets Carlos who rescues her from a humiliating marriage proposal at Dodger’s Stadium. Ever so grateful, she becomes his friend, and they embark on a gratuitous,  and mutually beneficial, friends-with-benefits relationship. It’s all good until one of them confesses love and the other one has to decide do they or don’t want to take the risk and open their heart for love to reside. 

Great premise and ripe with potential for hopeless romantics to enjoy. However, my hopeless romantic days died a long time ago. Like I said, initially I didn’t want to read it. Having grown up with Harlequin and Avon Romance novels, I should have been giddy. When I grew up, I realized that some of these books were just glorified porn, and having survived a few relationships of my own, I also realized that love just doesn’t happen like that. I’m jaded, but I thought I would give it a go. I was going to give the book one chapter, and if I didn’t like it I would put it down.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The author did a nice job telling a story of how the foundation for a healthy relationship begins with honesty, communication, and friendship. The Proposal was a light-hearted look at what could happen if two people are honest with each other, let go, and have fun. The author also explored how emotional baggage has an impact on how people relate to one another in relationships. Nik’s previous boyfriend was an asshole, a critical asshole at that. He criticized her, and he broke her heart. The result: Nik becomes a serial monogamist who tends to break-up with men before they break-up with her. Carlos, on the other hand,  has placed a large amount of pressure on himself to support and care for his family. He is the self-appointed father-figure and feels like he has no time for anything meaningful. They are both emotionally unavailable; consequently, they feel they are perfect for what they want from each other: just sex. 

As a reader and ex-hopeless romantic, I was sold. This is real-life. I didn’t want to read another book that lied to me about how great and easy it is for people to fall in love, I’m too old. I know the truth.  love is like meatloaf; you mix all of these different things together, blend it, and beat it until it’s smooth, then, you bake it for a couple of hours until it ends up being delicious. That’s love. You put in the work and effort, and it becomes great. 

Again, it is a romance novel, so I am sure you can predict the ending. And, it does have that bubbly, romance novel tone and feel to it. I needed just a little more “ratchetness!” OH!! And I LOVED that the characters were from diverse ethnicities, but I wish the author would have been more descriptive about their cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes I felt like I had to guess, “Is this person White, African-American or Hispanic?” 

Overall, it was a nice enjoyable read. I give it three and a half bookmarks out of five📚📚📚📖. Great for reading on the beach. Get you a copy before you go on summer vacation!

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10 Things You Should Appreciate at Work

10 things to appreciate at work that will help you have a better day. 😊

It’s Friday. I just got paid. And it is one of the rare occasions that the weather in Texas is pretty decent. I feel great!
Yet every day isn’t like this. If you are like me, you sometimes dread hearing your alarm go off. It is the signal that the peace and quiet that you have so carefully cultivated in your bed is about to come to a quick and dreadful end. It is time to get ready for work. If you are like me, you wake up with one consistent thought every day: I just want to be left alone. And, if you are like me, you know that is likely not going to happen. As you wash your face and choose which shoe works best with your professional style but also won’t pinch your right pinky toe, you know deep down that someone is waiting on you to arrive to help them solve a problem that they could have solved themselves two days ago. You also know that someone is waiting at work with the work-ethic of a snail. You know that there is a millennial waiting in the wings to tell you all of the ways that they are smarter and more efficient than you, the Gen-X relic, who is out of touch with reality, but yet, they still need your help to get their project done which, in fact, could have been done three weeks ago if they had just listened to you the first time.
If this is you, don’t give up! Focus on what is good and right on your job and I promise you will have a better time of it. Here are 10 things to appreciate at work that will help you have a better day. Enjoy!
1.) It’s so nice when you walk into work and the first thing someone says to you is GOOD MORNING with a big, bright smile! They aren’t waiting at your door ready to ask for something before you can even put your lunch kit down.
2.) Shout out to the people who show up to work and do what you ask them to do without complaining. They are the real MVPs!
3.) If I had a dollar for every time someone said let me help you with that or let me get the door for you, I would be a rich woman. Thank you so much. You are appreciated (in my Tupac voice).
4.) FLEX TIME is like manna from Heaven. 🙂
5.) So are lunch breaks! If you’ve ever worked in education then you know the value of being able to sit down and eat a nice sandwich in relative quiet for even 15 minutes. It’s more than a breath of fresh air. It’s an oxygen tank for a low capacity lung. I. Can. Breathe! And, guess what, I get one every day. LOOK AT GOD!!
6.) My kids steal books! What a blessing!!
7.) Note to self: when you feel like you don’t belong, remind yourself that you do! You got this!
8.) Special shout out to my colleagues who leave a friendly restroom. It’s the small things that matter most. 🙂
9.) I appreciate a person who gives me so much consideration that they give me at least 48 hours notice when they want me to give them some pertinent information. It lets me know they appreciate my time. And guess what? When you appreciate my time, I try to appreciate yours. You get the info early!
10.) It’s just good to have a job you like going to every day. Thanking God for His deliverance and covering!
P.S. When your day gets rough, make sure you turn on the Essential 90’s playlist on Google Play or Hip Hop BBQ on Pandora. They are fire! 🔥🔥 (I’m Dreamin’ by Christopher Williams makes it all better. He’s my boo! 🥰).
*the many faces I wear to work (educator, author, servant, and prayer warrior). 😊📚🙏🏾📝 💻

In My Feelings

This past weekend, my line sisters and I participated in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Joint Founders Day Celebration for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. We, along with more than 100 other women, were honored and we celebrated 25 years as members in the largest and one the most influential African American sororities in the nation. This was a pretty awesome day. Well, it should have been awesome. There were so many positive things happening, but the only thing that I could really focus on was the negative conversation in my head. As you read this post, please don’t think that I am looking for sympathy. That is not my steelo (for all of my non-90’s readers, that’s hip hop lingo for style). I guess what I am trying to do is process what I am thinking and feeling so I can end the conversation in my head and move on.

Anyway, what should have been a glorious and grand day was almost a bummer and it was no one’s fault but my own. You see for most of the day all I did was criticize myself in my head. My outfit didn’t fit right. The braids on my hair were awesome, but my edges wouldn’t stay down. My hips were on full display, and not in a good way. It didn’t matter if I turned to the left or to the right, whether I crossed my legs or stood straight, none the pics I took were flattering.  I should have picked the other pair of shoes. My pearls weren’t pretty enough. When I walked I could feel myself waddle. I even ran into the back of my line sister during the processional. I was soooo over the day. I just couldn’t feel what I should have been feeling. I should have been excited. Yet, all I could think about was how out of place I felt. Not because I was in a room full of bosses and change agents. Not because I wasn’t smart enough to be there, or that I hadn’t worked hard (well…for a few years I took a vacation). Not because my line sisters and chapter sorors make me feel bad or judge me. Nope. For the most part, they think I’m pretty dope. And, I think they are amazing! We have no problem gassing each other up. It was simply because I let negative thoughts cloud my thinking.

You see, I’m my own worst critic. Some would say I am self-deprecating. I’m not sure if that is the correct word, but I am definitely hyper-critical of myself. Yesterday, it almost got the best of me. I can honestly say that even listening to the keynote speaker, one of my Founders granddaughters and my national chaplain, THE Vashti Murphy McKenzie, tell me emphatically to “SLAY IN MY LANE,” I couldn’t shake that feeling of…dissatisfaction. I just knew I wasn’t happy with myself and it sucked. 

So on a day that is filled with some fantastic memories of being with some of my very best friends for 25 years, some pretty amazing big sisters and mentors, some of the sweetest neos (my little sisters), celebrating a huge milestone, and in addition, celebrating my line sisters 50th birthday party (it was EPIC), I allowed myself to focus on stupid shit.  Stupid shit like feelings of inadequacy because my dress didn’t turn out like I had imagined because my hair hadn’t turned out like I imagined, because I don’t walk like I think I should walk, or because my stomach was protruding. You see inside, I’m still just an insecure little girl wanting to fit in and be best that I can be. 

My first lady said in Sunday school yesterday that when we think of leprosy we usually think about the disease in the Bible, people with open sores and living in isolation because they are contagious. She talked about the idea that if you think of leprosy in a spiritual way then you will understand that anyone can have it. In a spiritual sense, leprosy is anything that is toxic that overtakes your life and isolates you. We all have it in some way. My leprosy is judging myself too harshly especially in comparison to other people. It almost ruined my day. Almost

So right in the middle the Soror Mackenzie again telling the crowd to “slay in our lanes”, I decided to focus on why I was in the room and instead focusing on what I thought I was or wasn’t. I was there because in the 8th grade I decided I wanted to be a member of a group of women who were powerful, women who changed the world. Women like Barbara Jordan, Lena Horne, and Shirley Chisholm. I was in the room because when I got to the campus of UTA I saw a chapter of young ladies who were involved in the community and who were leaders on campus. Like we used to say back in the day, “The Deltas ran the yard.” I was there because when I decided to apply, my friend was a regional officer and she wrote my letter of recommendation at the last minute because the person who said she would write my letter originally wouldn’t even answer the phone. I was there because on April 15, 1994, I crossed burning sands with 11 other women who were excited and eager to no longer be pyramids but full-fledged Deltas. We didn’t have to practice throwing up the pyramid in the room or softly saying oo-oop so no one else could hear it. We could say it out loud! We could work and serve our community with other powerful black women. I was there because I wanted and I was a change agent.

Luckily, I spent about three years in therapy, learning to recognize negative self-talk. Luckily, I have developed a few strategies to help me focus and redirect such toxic thinking. ANNDD, I know Jesus and I could hear Him speak to me and say, “You are my child so you are worthy and you are beautiful. Then I heard my granny call down from Heaven to say, “Look, little girl! Ain’t nobody thinking about that shit but you!” 

I was in the room because of the sisterhood! We have been through so much together! Graduations, babies, marriages, divorces, health problems, money problems, and career changes. Chapter meetings, state meetings, regional conferences, and national conventions. Lord have mercy, even lemon squeezes (Deltas knew about Lemonade well before Beyoncé) because our is grand but so are our fights. You name it, we’ve been through it! It has been a journey.

When people get married they say they do life together. I “do life” with my sorors. My friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have three blood sisters that I adore.  No one can take their place. But you know what? When God gave me my sorors, he showed me “sisterhood amplified.” My sorors are there right along with my sisters to support me on this journey, and I would change it! 

My mind was playing tricks on me. It was lying to me. But being with my sorors changed the game. We shut it down!!! We partied, laughed, danced, and celebrated my line sister who is aging not just gracefully but phenomenally! She is sweet, supportive, smart, and successful! My other line sisters and sorors too! We held the 25-year debate of who was the meanest, Kiphani or Misty (I promise you, we will have this debate at our 50th. SMH). It was a day that I needed. Joy…I just had to take the focus off myself and enjoy the moment, enjoy my friends.

I think it is called imposter syndrome, and I write this because there are women that feel the same way. We talk ourselves out of experiencing and feeling joy. We smile, but inside the struggle is real. If you feel this way at times remember, there is more about you to celebrate than to criticize. Know that you are not alone. Fight those feelings of inadequacy and flip the script in your head. Take the focus off yourself, embrace your sisterhood, celebrate life, and live in the moment with your friends and family. Fight it, Sis. I promise you, it is worth it! I am so glad I did. One of the BEST DAYS EVER!

P.S. Kiphani and Misty, it’s a tie. You are both nice-nasty! 🥰🤣

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.