Sharing in Happiness

So I wanted to take some time to write about happiness.  I’m a firmly believe that we are in charge of our own happiness.  Sure there are things that piss us off from time to time, or our circumstances help lead us into a state of depression. But, while these things contribute to our feelings, we ultimately decide to be happy or not.

ImageWith that said, I think it is really important for us to rejoice in other people’s happiness.  We obviously have a choice when it comes to this as well.  If your coworker gets a another job opportunity before you  (even though you both have been working feverishly to find one), you can choose to be happy for them (or not).

I recently experienced a similar situation. I told my coworker about a new opportunity and was immediately met with anger and disappointment. Now, while I will definitely miss my old job and coworkers (some of whom became dear friends), I’m excited for the opportunities to come.  I was expecting some ambivalence and maybe a little sadness because we won’t get to work together daily, but not outright anger.  To be clear, this isn’t a situation of “hating”–it really is just a choice to be angry instead of sharing in my happiness.

ImageIts important for us to share in the happiness of our friends and family because we all want that for ourselves at some point.  I mean how can we truly be happy for ourselves, if we can’t delight in the happiness of a loved one?

Your friend graduated in four years (it took you five), your cousin buys a house (but you were looking for one first and still haven’t found one), your sister has five kids (and you can’t seem to have one).  All reasons to feel a little sad about your particular situation, but no reason to harbor resentment or not be happy for others.  Someone once said to me, “if you cannot be happy for someone’s blessings, then you’ll never get blessed.”  True statement.

ImageSo to my unhappy coworker, whom I’ll miss despite our recent clash, I will continue to be happy for you as things continue to look up.  Great things are in store for you, I know it! To others who are reading, be genuinely happy for your loved ones as they experience great things (even if it happens when you’re experiencing a rough patch)! I mean after all we “don’t need no hateration, holleration’ in this dancery”.   Besides, your friends can usually tell if your faking it.



Era of the Mistress?

There are two dramas on the air that, while they are good shows, make me uncomfortable. But before I get into what makes me uncomfortable (although it’s no big secret if you’ve read the title), I want to talk about why these shows are good.

Scandal, ABC

Scandal, ABC

Scandal (on ABC) and Being Mary Jane (on BET) are two dramas that have captured an untapped audience, black women.  There are very few shows, dramas particularly, that target black women as an audience and casts black women in leading roles.

Kerry Washington (who I adore) plays the fierce Olivia Pope who is having an affair with the President.  This is major…Kerry is the only black woman in a leading role on a major network show.  She is an awesome actress and really deserves all the glory she’s receiving for the role.  Gabrielle Union plays the successful single news anchor Mary Jane who has a complicated personal life.  As a black woman, it excites me to see these women taking on challenging roles and getting some (much needed) attention for doing so.

What really grinds my gears (Family Guy reference noted) is that these characters, though successful, attractive and smart choose to be mistresses.  Now, I’m not one of those “these shows are an attack on the institution of marriage” types…because I really don’t think that’s what these shows intend.  However, it does concern me that main characters in these shows are mistresses.  What also bothers me is the reactions that I’ve heard (or seen) on social media.  They range from “I’m waking up early to go down on my man” to “what you won’t do for your man another one will” with the #beingmaryjane or something equally disturbing for #scandal.

Being Mary Jane, BET

Being Mary Jane, BET

Are these shows subtly trying to keep women in “their place” by telling them “if you don’t do everything for your husband, he’ll cheat so you better get on the ball”?  I resent the notion that women must always cater to men…husband or boyfriend.  Men and women should cater to each other.  Furthermore, why are we encouraging women its okay to share a man who has a wife?  A cheating husband is a cheating husband and he should be blamed for his actions.  BUT, he is cheating with someone. If you know a man is married, why would you take part in helping him destroy his marriage?  If he wants to destroy his marriage, let him do it on his own and deal with his conscience.   Are we also showing men (if they’re watching) that its okay for you to cheat if your wife doesn’t do what you want sexually (or otherwise)?  If men don’t want to be married, they need to figure something out (without cheating on their wives).  But us as women, particularly black women, need to stop accepting the role as the mistress (side chick).

What worries me the most is that I hear 14 year old girls talking about Scandal while I’m riding the bus.  Fourteen year old girls should not be watching this show (and parents can deal with that part the way they now how).  I just hope these young girls aren’t absorbing this stuff and thinking a) it’s okay to be a man’s mistress or b) it’s okay to accept being cheated on because it’s a part of life.

I’m going to get off my high horse now, because again I do watch them (Scandal more than Being Mary Jane). I just wanted to get out something that has recently started to bother me.  I may stop watching them, I may not, I don’t know.



Commenters & Trolls: Extremism at its Finest


Photo Credit: Kip Lyall

I regularly read news articles, blogs and other posts online to catch up on what’s happening on the outside of my little bubble.  This is harmless, right? Well, maybe not so much.  Lately I’ve been increasingly becoming turned off by the comments people make on articles and posts that generally wouldn’t elicit extreme comments.  We’ve all been there though, right? You’re reading a post or a blog about something pretty simple and straightforward and then…BAM, you see the most obnoxious, hateful comment you’ve seen in a while.

So, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and I saw a pretty standard post written about Amiri Baraka, former NJ poet laureate who is recently deceased.  The comment says:

Today, Newark’s light is dimmed with the passing of Amiri Baraka. A true son of our city, Amiri was a veteran of the civil rights struggle who left an unforgettable mark on our world. He was a literary icon who wrote essays, plays, poems, and books that will not be forgotten. He was a political icon, setting the stage for the empowerment of those who had been locked out for so long. The history of Newark cannot be written without an account for the life and legacy of Amiri Baraka. We are everlastingly grateful for his service.

You would think, okay this is something typical that I or anyone else would write about a well known influential person who just died.  But then I read one of the comments on this post and I was taken aback.  It read:

I am appalled at those comments, Shavar. Amiri Baraka admitted that he was delighted at the 1967 riots, because he wanted the Jewish and Italian communities to leave town, so that Newark would be left to the black community. Only then did he realize the error of his ways. He said that he thought that the African-American community was totally cohesive and in much better shape than it was. Moreover, he wrote that horrific poem indicating that the Jews engineered 9/11. He has always been an anti-Semite and you should go back into history. Read that poem. Re-evaluate…

This comment set off a whole slew of comments going back and forth spewing hate.  Hmm…I thought to myself.  Now, I know that everyone has done both good and bad things in their lifetime.  I also know that we’ve made some controversial comments here and there (don’t judge me and I won’t judge you).  But, shouldn’t it be acceptable to write some positive comments about a deceased person?   People try to remember the good when loved ones die, not the bad.   I mean damn, the guy literally just died.  I don’t want to get too much into the comment above, but when is enough enough?  When will it be okay for random Facebook user number 1 to post something that isn’t generally polarizing (i.e. “Newark’s light is dimmed with the passing of Amiri Baraka”) and Facebook user 2 to read it, disagree with it (internally) and just keep on scrolling?  Why do people always have to antagonize everything?

I read some other article (I can’t remember the name of it), but it simply read something like “John Doe was killed while taking the trash out of his home”.  I read several comments that said “wow, that’s sad” “RIP” “prayers to the family.”  However, the comment that got the most responses read something like “good, let them all kill each other, there will be less on welfare.”  One of the responses called this “top commenter” a troll. I didn’t know what it meant (apparently I’m not as well read as I thought 😦 again, don’t judge me).  The Urban Dictionary defines it as “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a news group or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” Now your asking yourself (just like I did)…do people actually do this? Yep, they do.  It’s unfortunate, but yes they do.

Trolls are like the family members you don’t want to sit next to during Thanksgiving dinner. You know the ones who look at you and say “have you gained weight?” or “you look halfway decent today, is that a new outfit?”  I don’t wish any harm to anyone, but I’m calling it. 2014 the end of the troll. The trolls online and the trolls in our real lives.

And that’s my rant for now 😉

What I learned from a 2 year old


There’s a story that I like to share with friends who are overburdened or overwhelmed.  This can be due to family/work/school responsibilities or a combination of everything.

A few years back my daughter was going through what everyone refers to as the “terrible twos”.  She was strong-willed, wild and did all those things that two year old’s typically do (sticking things in her mouth, pouring salt on the floor, bumping her head while hiding under the coffee table).  You name it, she did it.

I would say to her (in my I’m your mom so you’re going to me voice) “just sit down for a few minutes so I can get my head together” to which she would reply “NO!”  It drove me crazy! No matter what I asked her to do, the answer was “NO.”  After losing my mind a little bit and her becoming (slightly) more calm and easier to handle, the word that she kept saying was stuck in my head. “No”…”No”..”No”

I had been previously guilty of saying “yes” or “I’ll see what I can do” to friends and family who need my help or money for their own situations.  Taking on the problems of others, while having my own responsibilities had taken its toll on me.  I’d realized that I was taking on too many responsibilities. In addition to being a mom, I was working, going to school and dealing with family issues.  I was that overburdened friend who needed to be counseled.

That word “No” started to go through my mind more and more often and guess what?  I started using it! I started saying “No” to requests that were adding extra stress that my body could no longer afford to handle.  I said “No” to requests for money from people who squandered their own.  I said “No” to babysitting other people’s children almost as often as I had to deal with my own.  I said “No” not “I’ll see what I can do” and I felt liberated.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stop helping family and friends completely.  But, I did ask myself Do I have to help this person? How would they get through this if I wasn’t an option?  I helped, but on my terms and when I felt less stressed.  I got interesting reactions to this new me. They ranged from blank stares to “you’re selfish.”  These reactions were coming from people I constantly helped and were simply not used to hearing me say “no.”

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I felt bad for saying “no,” but I slowly realized that when I was saying “no” to them, I was really saying “yes” to me.  Saying no allowed me to say yes to spending more time with my daughter, reading a book, or simply taking a nap.

I learned one word that liberated me from unnecessary stress. And to think a two year old had to teach it to me. I will never forget that word. It helped me keep my sanity.