Friends…..How Many of Us Have Them?

Going back to my childhood (because everything that we do originates there), I learned the importance of friendship. Somewhere at my grandma’s house, there is my kindergarten report card. On this report card I performed satisfactorily in all areas except the comment section. The comment read “Racquell is very social and has lots of friends, but she needs to learn when it’s appropriate to talk.” Yes. I woke up like this. The same applies today as I’m usually getting in trouble at work for being too chatty and having hour long conversations with strangers I meet on the street.  In addition, Jenny (my mother) has had friends near and far for all of my life. I can’t remember a time when they weren’t there for support for whatever shenanigans she had going on. They were at my birthday parties, their kids became my friends and they never failed to give me encouragement and guidance as I was growing up. Many of them still do.

So it’s no secret that friendship continues to be a major part of what makes me who I am. Anybody that knows me, knows that I absolutely love my friends. Emphasis on FRIENDS. By that I mean that if we’ve never hung out, been to a wedding or a funeral together or your parents don’t know who I am, then we probably aren’t really friends. I have tons of pictures of them hanging in my work space, in frames, just everywhere. Every single one of them. My friends are closer than most of my family. They are my peace of mind when I have lost it and my voice of reason by request. I do my best to keep good people in my life and more importantly keep in contact with them. Even when it sometimes means every now and thanks to the journey of life.

So I decided to share three things that I have learned about friendship over the years. Because well…..like everything else, people change:

  1. Never be afraid to keep it moving
  2. Meet them where they are
  3. There are plenty of seats at the table

When someone shows you who they are, believe them. -Maya Angelou

She said it. Your grandma said it. My grandma said it. I’m saying it again. How many more times does it need to be repeated for you to get it? Somewhere along the lines I remembered that you are not obligated to stay in any friendship that you no longer desire to be apart of. And that does not only apply to friendships. It’s completely ok to keep it moving. I had a friend to simply abandon thirteen years of friendship. Did it hurt? Hell yeah! It took me forever and a day to process it, grieve and move on. I had all types of issues surrounding loyalty and trust after it happened. On the brighter side, this person made so much more room for other beautiful people to come into my life.

Understanding and compassion also go hand and hand in friendships. I became a better friend the day I tried on the shoes of one of my friends. My intention was to understand exactly how they became who they were when I met them. When I tell y’all this made me more compassionate and willing to accept them where they were in life. It also taught me to stop shaming and stop allowing friends to shame me for decisions that they or I have made or continue to make. To be a better friend, at some point, we have to let grown folks be grown. Listen, I used to be NOTORIOUS for taking on their baggage. Those days are few and far between. I love ya. But if both of us are breaking down from all this baggage, who is going to help us keep going? The cycle has to stop at some point. Nowadays, I give my opinion only when asked. If you are receptive, cool. If not, why the hell did you ask me? I’m a friend that’s down for whatever my friends are down for as long as its legal. We all know how I feel about being an inmate (see the post about student loans).

Especially as women, we have GOT to learn our friends. All friends ARE NOT created equal. I repeat ALL FRIENDS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. Some friends need to be told all the details while others need to be given the cliff notes. It’s best to also have friends that are well rounded. Have friends that not only party with you, but ones that also pray with you and for you. I’m starting to hate the phrase “birds of a feather flock together.” Because sometimes they don’t. I’m definitely the Dina (Girls Trip) in my group of friends. And if you base them off of my antics, you’ll be in for a surprise. I have different sets of friends that have come into my life at different times. There are only two occasions that I expect to see all of them in the same room at the same time- my birthday dinners and my future wedding. I know them well enough to know that to ask for more than that would be pretty chaotic. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

It’s Just Hair

Bald headed. Blonde. Red. Mohawks. Curly. Blown out. Cornrows. Box braids. Bantu knots. Marley twists. For the life of me I can never decide what to do next. There are just so many options to choose from. But at the end of the day, it’s all just hair. I’ve found that whatever I do to my hair, one thing that needs to remain constant is it’s health.

Y’all know I LOVED my blonde hair. That one time I took it platinum blonde and looked like Sisqo (per my grandma) was a highlight in my hair journey. 40 volume developer was no joke. It cost me. Not only had I completely destroyed my hair, but I also had to nurse it back to life. That took time, patience, lots of money for products and lastly trial and error. It would be lovely if I could use everyone’s go to staple- coconut oil. Unfortunately I have quite an allergy to it. There are a few products with small concentrations of coconut (sometimes labeled as coco neferius) that I can use such as Aussie and Camille Rose. Anything beyond that and I’m scratching more than a kid with chickenpox. I gave the oils a shot for a brief moment before it hit me.

Think about it. As a kid your hair grew like wildfire right? This was with no thanks to relaxers and hot combs with no heat protection. All the “bo-bos” and beads and rubber bands that were purchased between 1990 and 1999 probably could have funded my college education. We relied so heavily on protective styling and somehow got away from it. But what else did grandma use on your hair? Let’s all say it together. Blue Magic hair grease! Or any variation of grease. You smell it in your nose right about now don’t you? Probably wiping your forehead at the memory of grease cooking your edges during the summer months when whoever did your hair got a little too heavy handed. I can recall having hair down my back in the 6th grade before folks came along with the “don’t use grease, use oil instead” movement. Well folks, I’m back on the hair grease. This has been the healthiest that my hair has ever been.

Now by no means am I trying to convince you to start using grease again (natural hair internet vultures, please don’t come for me). I’m simply sharing my journey. Nobody ever believes me when I tell them my maintenance routine. Their response is usually “seriously?” That’s it. That’s the secret. Whatever you do to and with your hair, just make sure that you are protecting it, cleaning it, and keeping it moisturized. And as I always say, if it ain’t growing, it ain’t healthy.

So….About these Student Loans

I would say somehow, but I know exactly how I got up to 110k worth of student loan debt. No, you didn’t read it incorrectly. Your eyes ARE NOT deceiving you. $110,000 worth. Do I feel like I have $110,000 worth of knowledge in my head? Depends on who’s asking.

How sway? How? In undergrad, I transferred four times. Vance-Granville Community College to NC A&T. Then to UNCG. Then to GTCC. Then back to A&T. At each school I got as much of the max loans each semester and balled out on refund checks like most students. *cues Crew by Goldlink. I’m still trying to figure out what I was thinking. Like Racquell, you have to pay these loans back at some point fool. All the clothes. All the food. All the liquor. Now we won’t mention the tattoos because they were all totally worth it. Or all the trips I took. They were worth it too. Fight me.

As if that wasn’t enough, I gave myself a six month hiatus from school following undergrad. I knew I wanted to go to grad school but didn’t truly know what for. All I knew is that I had to make moves before the student loan grace period let up. So I enrolled in Capella online for I don’t remember what. Wasn’t feeling it and transferred to Strayer. It was during this time that I learned that grad school does indeed, cut refund checks.

Ballin! Yeah, ballin until it was time to do that exit counseling and remembering that I have to pay every dime back. So yeah. That’s where I am now. I was happy and saddened to finish my masters program. The grace period is almost up. The thought of faking my own death has been a conversation that I’ve had with myself pretty regularly. Sure I’d be off the hook for the loans but then I wouldn’t be able to use the degrees under my name. But in the event that I did, I could go back through undergrad, hunt down all the scholarships that I can qualify for, and finally major in what I wanted- English.

But that’s neither here nor there. I think I’ll take the legal route and sign up for income-based repayments. There is no need to have raked up the debt so that I can sit under the jailhouse. It’s just not worth it. I’ve seen Orange is the New Black. I’d be somebody’s bitch in no time.

Many the Milestones

2017

January- Cheers to another chapter

February- 1st time at a live boxing match

March- Turned 27. Got Milo.  Visited New York for the 1st time

April- Got my first car without my grandma as a cosigner

May- Concealed Carry Class (bucketlist)

June- Finished MBA

July- Essence Festival (bucketlist)

August- Launched http://www.prettydoperight.com

September- Went to my first Nigerian Wedding (super lit)

October- Brian McKnight concert (bucketlist)

November- Fully coordinating 1st wedding

December- 1st time out of the country- Dominican Republic

 

Goal setting is a bit overwhelming for me. I’ve read so much material on how to effectively set goals, in different categories, with different deadlines. Sounds like a bit much right? My notebook looked like scratch paper from a Math EOG test. I realized that this wasn’t realistic for a scatterbrained person such as myself.  At least not always having an answer to the annoying “where do you see yourself in five years” question. Honestly I don’t know. 5 years ago, I had no idea where I’d be at this very moment. See how much sense that makes? I had to learn how to look back at the small milestones. They count too. Nowadays making time for self care such as “me time” and doctors visits go unappreciated. I’m always reminded of them when I think back to when I didn’t have health insurance. See. That’s a milestone. It’s easier to look back to track progress.

Adulting sucks. Some days when my alarm clock goes off, I drag until I know I’ll be at least ten minutes late for work. I cringe whenever rent is due. Heaven forbid if I get sick and have to burn up vacation time. But hey, these are the perks of being “grown” right? Nobody is going to reward you for the things that you are supposed to do. I think that sometimes as adults, we get caught up in the “what you’re supposed to do’s” (paying bills, going to work) that we forget the “what I wanna do’s (take random trips, start businesses).  That’s why it’s important to have a good support system. These are the folks that are in your corner, whether they are seen or unseen. I’m a huge advocate of checking in every now and then without being worrisome. These are the folks that keep you motivated without even trying.  A short and sweet “hey what’s new with you” is always appreciated. Listen. Nobody wants to hear about the stuff you’re supposed to do. We wanna hear about the things you are doing that you’ve put on the backburner. And then there are the accountability partners with whom you share many of the directions that you want to go in. Unfortunately they are just that. Directions. Shit happens. Life can come at you full force within the blink of an eye. Good support systems help keep you on the general path.

Family, peers and colleagues will have you believing that you aren’t working hard enough. If my life was left up to outside forces, I’d actually be in worse shape. If you’re the friend that’s applying these pressures, please stop. Back off. You’re beating a dead horse. We know. We know. WE KNOW. You have all the answers. All of your ducks are in a row. Blah. Blah. Blah. And I mean that in the least defensive way  possible. Everyone’s life course is different. Allow us to appreciate the small milestones. Ya know. The things that you find insignificant. They mean more to us than you’ll ever know. If goal setting actually works for you, cool beans. Don’t hesitate to share how well it works or your technique. Everything just ain’t for everybody.

 

From Bitter to Better

You ever started cleaning up and stumble across an old flash drive. Yeah? Ever come across a few gems that you hadn’t shared with anyone? Me too. I found some material that I wrote back in the summer of 2014. I had titled it “Spare a Heart: My Ultimate Grow Up Manual. Looking at it now, I started it out with my love life, or lack thereof. It’s pretty bad. Here are a few excerpts:

Guys are no longer giving women the option to date, not be a “coverup” (for the down-low guy), to be the side chick, to be more than sex, or to merely be anything more than just their physical or verbal punching bag. Where is the communication? Where is the transparency. Where are the relationships? There is no loyalty. Just greed. Have your cake and eat it too.

Time and time again, I find myself in the same boat. I’m devastated over a guy that does nothing for me besides give me great sex. Hugging and cuddling here and there doesn’t count. It’s just enough to keep me hooked and booking another appointment for the following week. When is enough simply enough? I’d love to be given the option to actually become emotionally attached.

Maybe I’m not selective enough about who I let into my life. I’m broken, therefore I’ll continue to attract unhealthy and broken people. Racquell. Captain Save a Hoe. I always feel the need to fix them. In my mind, I’m fixing them up for me. In reality, I’m building them up for someone else. It never fails to put me in some pretty awkward situations. I hate it. Another thing. Opposites attracting isn’t always ok. Sometimes they need to be repelled for the sake of my heart and my sanity. I hate that some people are only assigned seasons in my life…..

Now allow me to reflect at how much I’ve grown since three summers ago….

I’m no longer bitter. I’m better.

I learned…….It’s okay to be super in tune with my feelings and emotions. And it’s perfectly ok to NOT share them. Everyone isn’t ready to accept them. They also don’t always deserve them. The average person will blow it off as “it’s not even that deep.” To me, it is.

I also had to learn that I was competent enough to make good decisions on my own with or without the approval or disapproval of others (most of my friends either hate that or love that about me).

A lot has changed. A lot has not. I am newly single, again (don’t look for the pictures, they are all gone, continue reading please). So, as I was saying. I’m single again but not back on the prowl as Trina suggested. I’m chillin. No. Seriously. I’m good. This recent breakup opened a very healthy can of worms. My creative juices have been flowing. Now don’t get me wrong, he gave me an amazing three months (that seems to be the common expiration date) that I’ve had in a long time before shit simply went left. Deal breakers are deal breakers folks. Everything happens for a reason. Blah blah blah. All the cliché sayings that you can think of. But trust me when I tell you that he restored my faith that there are still chivalrous and romantic men outchea. I needed that because I had definitely lost all faith. I was content with living single…..with Milo. The stereotype of “the successful single black woman” didn’t bother me.

Guys are a hit or miss. There is no magic formula to get them. Wait 90 days or 90 minutes. I just learned to enjoy people for how ever many seasons that they are in my life. Learn from them. Grow. And understand that it is okay to keep it moving. I also had to realize that there were parts of myself that needed to heal so that I could stop attracting guys that were broken in those spaces as well. And to give up the damn timeline of how love works. In my mind, I was supposed to meet my future husband junior year of college, move in senior year, get engaged a year after graduation, get married the year after that and pop a baby out the year after that. All while paying off my student loans, buying a new car and a house. *Checks checklist to see how much of that actually happened. Nothing but the new car. You see how foolish it all sounds.

I love the space I’m in now. I love being single. It took all of that for me to fully appreciate where I am in life and the beautiful things that are happening daily. I love the option to be alone or entertain someone. I love the option to have options if I chose to do that as well. Perspective is key.

Kicking It Up A Notch

Pressed. That’s exactly what I was when I first ordered my personal business cards for Pretty Dope Right. I spent almost 3 hours going through different formats and fonts trying to find the perfect one. I was like a kid in a candy store. And then there was the logo part which I still don’t have. To hell with it. I wanted these done as soon as possible in time for homecoming (I mean why give out your number when you can just slide your card). Hopefully folks will be sober enough to remember the person that gave them the card.

The basic design is from Vistaprint but the remainder of the content is all mine. I ran the card idea by a few folks and the question that everyone had was- are you going to add your social media handles?  Quite honestly…..no. Everything that anyone needs to know is on my website. I can be contacted here. All of my social media handles are connected. I just want users to actually visit my site. Even if they don’t go back and read all of it, at least check some of it out.

The blogs are and will continue to be all over the place. That’s how my mind operates. Nothing fancy about it. I write as I go but most of it comes to me at work. Apparently that’s when I do my most “creative thinking.” When I’m not jotting down ideas at work, I write in random places like my car, at restaurants, mid convo with other people. Hell I’m in a work meeting right now writing this one.

I post my blogs every Wednesday at 10am. Then I hound my friends and family to death about reading it and watch excitedly as my views and visitors counters go up. I celebrate that night with an Epsom salt soak accompanied by a glass of wine. On Thursday and Fridays I allow my brain to rest and recharge. I believe that this will keep me from burning out. That’s also another reason why I only post once a week. Saturdays and Sundays are what I’d like to think of as my peak days. I can spend hours on end writing. Oh. Another thing. I don’t just work on one blog at a time. I’ve always got material lined up (currently 20 weeks worth of content ready to roll). I add to them. I take away from them. Most (99%) of my blogs are written in a notebook before they are typed up on Monday and reread and edited (unprofessionally by myself of course) to death until Tuesday night when I “sleep on it.” It’s saved as a draft until 9:59 Wednesday morning when I hit the publish button. This isn’t a formula for blog writing, simply my method.

What is my end goal you ask? Truth is…..there isn’t one. I just like to write about what I want to write about. It’s therapeutic. I just hope that all the right people read it. If money ever becomes involved in the equation, I legit just want to make enough to pay off my car, student loans, quit my job, write with Issa and travel with Milo. Is that too much to ask? That would be pretty dope right?

*ps go visit the Creatives You Should Know section, you just might see your name

 

Thank Me Later

So after last weeks post, I thought that I should follow up with another post about books. This post is much shorter and requires a lil bit of participation on your end. While they may not be my favs, there are a few good books that have changed my life for the better. See the list below:

All About Love- Bell Hooks (love)

The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho (life)

Body Punishment- Maggie Lamond Simone (Anxiety, OCD)

Oh the Places You’ll Go- Dr. Seuss (life)

Chocolate Flava- Zane (sex, see last weeks post)

There are plenty of others that will be added to the list in the near future. You should see my collection. I’ve been a bookworm since I was a kid. Reading is my escape up until I snap out of it and realize that an entire day has passed while I was reading.

I just finished reading The Law of the Garbage Truck by David J Pollay. In his book, he discussed how we need to stop taking on the garbage of other people and how we need to stop dumping our garbage on other people. If you entertain it in any capacity, you give energy to it. This is energy that cannot be replaced. David suggested that we should simply “keep it moving” for lack of better terms. It made sense to me. This is a book that I’ll only suggest to folks that are serious about protecting their energy. Thank me later.

What are you reading?

*ps. currently reading Emotional Wellness by Osho

Escape

Escape

I can’t take it much longer I say as tears fall down my eyes

Everyone sees my tears but don’t hear my silent cries

Where can I escape to

A place where I can have peace of mind

Somewhere I know I won’t be found

A place where I don’t suffer from harsh words and fierce blows

A place no one would suspect 

A place no one knows

Peaceful silent without a sound

Someone please help me escape the torment

Feelings of abuse kept inside

Thoughts of running away no longer can I hide

And the one person whom I can trust

Has an escape for all of us

For us the ones who try to escape life, love, abuse, hate

And has a plan for those who look and do not see

The pain deep down inside of me

I can’t take it much longer I say 

As tears roll down my eyes

They see the tears but do not hear the cries

If I could have one wish

I would wish to escape

And live life like I’m supposed to live it

Happy, joyful, comfortable bliss 

Now you know how me and others feel

And how everyday we love this terrifying nightmare

Please believe us. Be aware

8/3/03

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I wrote this poem when I was 13. I’m 27 now. For 14 years I battled with and overcame suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety (which may come as a complete shock to many family members and friends). I’m now at the point where I no longer battle with these thoughts, have to take meds for the panic attacks, or suffer from constant depression. Please understand that everyone fights their battle differently. What worked for me may or may not work for you. 

I first identified all and I do mean all my triggers. People. Places. Things. I wrote them down. I grieved for them. They had become an intricate part of who and what I didn’t want to become. After all the tears were gone, I then began to surround myself with positivity, laughter, peace, love and adventure until it overflowed. These are all of the things that I strive to pour into others daily. 

There is no “typical look” for a person suffering from mental illness. We tend to have the biggest smiles. Biggest hearts. Be the biggest givers. While being the biggest pretenders. Everyday we fight to avoid going back into those dark spaces. If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety or any mental illness, help is available. You are NOT weak. You are NOT alone. And most importantly your story is not over; 

If no one else loves you, I do

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273- TALK (8255)

That One Time I Tried to Write a Book

I began working on this material sometime last year. Like Forrest Gump, one day I felt like writing………

It was released in 1994. Mr. Robert Kelly’s Bump and Grind. Now I didn’t know what bumping and grinding was but all I knew was that I wanted to do it in the worst way. I knew from an early age that sex gave you powers. And if this is what being on crack felt like then I knew exactly why people become addicted. There is so much magic in bodies being intertwined. Sweating. Panting. Gripping sheets. Changing positions. Tongue biting. The whole six. The whole nine. Hell the sixty nine! I’m a big fan. Any emotion that humans express can be seen during sex. I’ve found myself toting panties in my pocket plenty of mornings before class or work. Happy shame. 

But fast forward to the here and now. With me listening to Meshell Ndegocello and playing with a dildo. I’m 26. No kids. No husband. A queen size pillow top bed. And the sex drive of a porn star. Where did I go wrong? 

Let’s take it back to middle school. Yes middle school. I’ve always been an avid reader. There is nothing like getting into a good read and forgetting all time and space. Well for me the game changed when I graduated from Nancy Drew mysteries and Babysitters Club adventures. I got my hands on my aunts book Chocolate Flava by Zane. What in the world did I do that for? My life hasn’t been the same since! My grandparents have always prided themselves in having a non-trouble making bookworm for a grandkid but they were utterly clueless as to what I was reading as long as my head was in a book. But it wasn’t in the clouds either. It was in orgies. It was in sex therapy sessions. It was in the back of cars with the windows fogged up from hot sweaty sex. These books carried me all the way through high school. They extended beyond my burning desire to wanna “do it”. Beyond stuffing my bra with tissue to get at least an A cup. Right on up until I gladly gave up my V card my freshman year of high school. And so it begins…….Kitty: The Memoir

And that was as far as I got

Little Monsters

*To the instrumental of Pretty Girl Rock by Keri Hilson

“My name is Rocky, I’m so foxy, fly oh my just a lil bit cocky”……ok clearly I shouldn’t quit my day job to become a singer, so I’ll stop now. But seriously, I can’t recall a time where I was afraid to be the center of attention. I’ve been in the church most of my life, so naturally I’ve always been involved in some of everything (thanks grandma and papa). It helped me easily adapt to any crowd and speak rather well without getting sweaty palms, stuttering or having to pretend that everyone in the room is naked. The congregation is always so full of encouragement (debatable).

So it’s no surprise that I signed up to be in the fourth grade talent show at my elementary school. This was my indeed shot at fame. I was geeked. This was around 2000, back when “passing notes” was the thing and you got your first real shot at love via paper letters (rolls eyes at my childish foolishness). Of course I already had a boyfriend. He shall remain nameless for the purposes of this blog since we are still friends on Facebook. He was in the process of moving away so I decided to dedicate my performance to him. I was going to “sang” my heart out.

The song I selected was “Never Let You Go” by Faith Evans. It was okayed by the talent committee and I was even encouraged to add to the dramatic effect of the performance by having him onstage while I sang to him. How romantic right? The day of the talent show came. All of the universe was conspiring for us to have this moment………..everyone except his mom who randomly picked him up from school early that day. I was left prepared to sing to an empty chair. My turn came. Showtime.  The music started and I began to (or so it appears to the crowd) “sing”.

The worse case scenario unfolded before my very eyes. Someone in the back yelled “hey, we can’t hear you”. You know what happened next right? Backstage turned down the music and turned up my mic. Well now the secret was out that I’d been lip-synching the entire performance! Til this day I don’t think I’ve ever been booed so much in my life! They went in. I mean Apollo style and the only person missing was the Sandman to sweep my non-singing self off stage. Looking into the sea of students, the only thing I thought was “who raised you little monsters? You don’t boo children!” I continued my performance until the song went off, took my bow and exited stage left. I can’t remember if I cried in the back.

I later went on to be in additional performances and pageants and so on and so forth. Here it is seventeen years later and deep down I’m still the girl that got booed. Over the years I didn’t get better. That’s NOT what I said. For the record, I still can’t sing. However, I do sign up and howl to the high heavens at karaoke. This talent show clearly should have broken my confidence. Instead, it instilled a seed in me that still continues to grow. Be you with confidence. Do you with confidence, even when you don’t have support, for there will always be little monsters in the crowd.

*sidenote. If you or anyone you know was at that talent show at New Hope Elementary School that day in 2000 and participated in the “booing” activities,  slap yourself. Please and thank you.