All Family Isn’t Good Family

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For Memorial Day, I went out of town to visit my family and returned home feeling frustrated. Being around relatives can do that to you sometimes, but this time was different.

A while back, I came to the conclusion that some of my family members suck. But I just continued to deal with them in small doses and figured that the unaddressed tension between us could be managed because I live far away and our interactions are generally limited to holidays, weddings and funerals.

But as it turns out, those interactions proved to be too much this weekend. So I’ve decided that certain individuals who share my lineage are a complete waste of my time and effort and I’m done being related to them.  Yes, just like that, I decided. And so it is.

People say, “Family is forever,” and “blood is thicker than water,”  but it also takes two to tango, so if they don’t value our relationship, then why should I? For far too long, I’ve held on to this idealistic vision that one day they would recognize how fortunate they are to have extended family. Oh what a joy it would be if they actually cared enough to ask how I’m doing and wait on a response before moving on to another subject. And it would be really cool if they were interested in building a bond with me that goes farther than me traveling to visit them a few times a year. Maybe we could actually be friends, share experiences and have a reciprocal relationship filled with compassion, concern and respect. Continue reading

5 Things That Ruin Friendships

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If a friendship is authentic and strong enough, it can endure obstacles of all kinds, including cross-country moves, busy schedules and more. But even the strongest bond needs boundaries that match in solidarity. Without an unwavering line drawn in the sand that defines what goes and what doesn’t, these 5 situations can be like dropping an atomic bomb on a friendship:

Weddings.

This weekend I pressed play on Bridezillas on Netflix in an effort to take my mind off the hour-long workout I’d finally gotten around to doing. The brides on that show obviously go overboard for the entertainment’s sake, but anyone who’s had a wedding or participated in someone else’s ceremony knows that wedding planning has the unparalleled ability to divide and conquer the most stealthy of friendships. Whether you sucked as a bridesmaid, or had a member of your wedding party show up wearing the wrong shoes, wedding drama can turn friends into enemies. I, unfortunately, found out the hard way. One of my oldest friends and I experienced a parting of the ways shortly after she began planning her wedding.

The abbreviated version involves a ridiculous list of maid of honor duties, a four-month absence in which I heard not a single word from her only to later be accused of being a bad best friend, which was basically a myth perpetuated by a mysterious group of strangers who apparently expected more from me. *rolls eyes*

In the end, my allergy to bullshit and unnecessary grandstanding forced me to limit my participation in the wedding to purchasing a gift and attending.  We tried (one of us more than the other) but our friendship never did recover from the wedding drama. Continue reading

My First #AskAwayFriday with Mrs. Tee of LoveLifeLaughter

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OK, so I promise myself and the world that now that I’m freelancing full-time, I will dedicate as much time to my blog as I do to the rough and tumble world of pitching and networking and finding people who wanna pay me to write and edit stuff. So with that, here’s my attempt to dedicate myself (again) to routine posts.

#AskAwayFriday! I met Mrs. Tee of  LoveLifeLaughter through a #SITSSharefest on Twitter and I thought participating in this exchange with an established blogger could help me familiarize myself with how things go in this here blogging world. I’m trying to get my feet wet and put myself out there in a way I’ve been afraid to do so far. But bloggers like Mrs. Tee give me hope and encouragement! She’s an AWESOME blogger who’s found great success in a short period of time. Reading through her blog, I learned about her family, her interests and that we have a lot in common! Her dedication to blogging despite a HUGE (and lovely) family shows me that it’s possible to do something you love and be really good at it if you stay disciplined and dedicated!

 

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She asked me some off-the-cuff questions that had me LOL’ing, which I tend to do a lot. Check them out, along with my responses below:

 1. What is your favorite hot day lunch? Sandwich, Salad or Smoothie?

Um, when I say I’m a HUGE eater…none of these would cut it for me LOL! But if I had to choose, I’d go with a sandwich.

2. Are you sarcastic or straight forward?

I’m sarcastic, but not in a jerky kinda way. I can be straight forward depending on my mood and the subject. I really loathe when I ask someone a question and they beat around the bush. In that situation, yes I’m straightforward. And I frequently sprinkle my writing with sarcasm.

3. Has either you sarcasm or bluntness ever gotten you in trouble?

In person, it has been known to piss off my husband, but that’s mostly when he doesn’t get it, which unfortunately happened when we first met. Now, I know better. I try to get to know the person before unleashing my sarcasm.  I’m wondering what you read on my site that makes you ask me this…LOL.

4. Shoes tied or untied when you take them off?

OMG, I used to be so concerned about this! But I don’t have time, so I kick ‘em off without even thinking…Come to think of, where are my shoes…

5. How many keychains do you have?

I have a few that I collected from traveling,  but I don’t really use them. I had a friend in high school whose keychain was so ridiculous and loud and that changed my entire outlook on keychains haha…

6. On a hot day do you still drink hot (coffee or tea) or only cold (shakes water iced tea/coffee)?

Well, I will but if you’ve experienced any form of Texas heat (which can strike at a moment’s notice, even if it snowed yesterday), you will run for the first cold beverage. So typically I gulp down anything that’s cold and stay away from stuff that makes me sweat even more than the sweltering heat and humidity.

7. Do you prefer poolside or sitting in the sand?

Without a doubt, the SAND!!! I was just on the beach in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago. Ahhh, how I miss the sound of the ocean waves…I’m convinced that in a former life,  I was a beach bum. I’m trying to get back there, but the whole bum thing isn’t working out that well for me…I got bills, ya know.

 

On the beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

On the beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

8. What did you eat so far today?

Uhhh, *hides face* See, what had happened was…Let’s just say it wasn’t healthy lol.

9.  What’s is the last song you heard?

I’m not ashamed (well, just a little bit) to say it was New Edition’s “If It Isn’t Love.” I had a lot of writing to do today, and for some reason old R & B sparks my creativity.

10.  I am in love with your story of finding your ‘niche’. What advice would you give to someone else searching for their place?

Whew, I feel like a hypocrite answering this because I still don’t feel like I know my place. I’m still trying to find my way. So far, that’s involved trusting my gut, which is a bit of a struggle for me. But yeah, that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. Do what feels right for you. Do what you would do if no one else was watching.

 

 

 

A Quote To Live By

 

imperfect blogging day 11Day 11 of the Imperfect Blogging Challenge highlights the importance of quotes. My favorite is:

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront; you cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

This quote infiltrates my thoughts and actions each and every day. For me, it represents a simple, three-part equation that leads to personal growth. To fully explain what it means to me, allow me to break it down into two parts.

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront.”

I think about this when I find myself constantly complaining about the same issue or when someone vents to me about something that’s been nagging them forever. Talking through it, around it, and about it is like covering a bullet wound with a band-aid. Much like the bullet, the problem won’t vacate the premises until its located and removed with surgical precision. If not, it is guaranteed to do potentially irreparable damage to whatever surrounds it, be it friends, family, jobs or health. Focusing on the first half of the quote drives home the importance of nipping a problem in the bud before it snowballs out of control.  I’ve been duking it out with some pretty durable self-doubt lately and simply writing about this quote is shedding a little light on how I’ve been breathing life into my ongoing dilemma.

“You cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

How can you resolve an issue if you don’t know what it is? Oftentimes, I annoy myself to no end with over-analyzing, but in the case of identifying the source of an issue, this trait serves me well. It encourages me to dig beneath the surface for more clues. Sometimes this comes in the form of writing down my problem then reading back what I wrote. And as weird as this may sound, lately I’ve begun keeping video diaries. They’re definitely for my eyes only and the probability of them winding up as a YouTube soliloquy is absolutely zero. So while I may cringe at how the camera magnifies that huge zit or how badly my hair needs a trim, watching these videos of myself also increases my self-awareness and sometimes what I thought was a monumental, irreversible issue really isn’t. Continue reading

Advice To My 2013 Self

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I’m a little bit behind on this 28-day Imperfect Blogging Challenge–three days to be exact. But it’s better late than never. That’s what I think about when I recall where I was this time last year and match it up to where I am now. There have definitely been some major changes, some scary changes, but I am confident those changes were necessary, even if they seem foolish and risky.

WHERE WAS I THIS TIME LAST YEAR?

I’d been working at my job for two years, had graduated to a new position that previous fall and I was already thinking of what would be next. Bored. Unmotivated. And wishing my life away by the day, trying to convince Friday to come early every week. I remember that I was always planning to do something. I planned to get serious about writing professionally. After purchasing a domain and joining Twitter, I planned to start posting blogs. I planned to submit a short story I wrote and enter it into a writing contest. I planned to resume writing a book. But I did very little of what I set out to do.

I spent a lot of time saying I didn’t have time and the rest of that time worrying about what would happen if tried to do what I wanted.  I saw the blogs of more established, successful bloggers whose sites were more visually appealing than mine. I had no idea what I was doing while they seemed really comfortable forging a digital footprint that clearly displayed who they were. Frankly, I was intimidated and my progress was snail-slow. Continue reading

Are You Addicted to Struggling?

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Growing up, several disappointments caused me to construct a wall around myself to dull the impact of any future letdowns. For a long time, that wall was my Employee of the Year, never calling in sick or sleeping on the job. I programmed myself to believe that happy times were earned by bad experiences and if something good were to happen, then impending disaster waited around the corner for me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. But what I thought was a stealthy source of protection actually dismantled my ability to embrace blessings and happy moments in my life. This may sound insane, but I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to struggling. Yep, the support group, 12-step program type of addiction.

In December, I finally had my first paid piece published on xoJane and Clutch. Looking through an old list from 2010 reminded me that this goal had been a long time coming. But I barely acknowledged the fact that I accomplished my goal because I was worrying about hypothetical backlash from my family and inconsequential opinions of complete strangers. I couldn’t resist manufacturing a struggle instead of simply enjoying my moment.

Before I quit my 9-5 to pursue writing full-time, I envisioned my last day on the job as a par-tayyyy filled with celebratory Tuaca shots that would leave me doing carpet angels in the middle of my living room floor. Instead, my struggle mentality lured me into stressing over whether I’d be able to make a living writing and wondering to myself how long my husband would  support me before this idealistic “chasing my dream” notion got old. Continue reading

The Benefits of Having an Alter Ego

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Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.

But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.

Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt.  And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
Continue reading

Reasons To Smile

 

Me...smiling.

Me…smiling.

Far too often we focus on the things that make us upset or piss us off. Thanks to a SITS writing prompt recommended by my fabulous pitch partner and fellow blogger, this post is dedicated to the things that made me smile this week. I must admit that I had to give significant thought to this question as I’m accustomed to having a dreadful glass half-empty viewpoint on most situations. Sadly, I can fire off a list of stuff that angers me with little to no contemplation. But the good thing is I’m in the process of changing that, starting with this post! That said, here are a few things that happened this week to turn my frown upside down:

1. Making progress at a new writing gig: Twice a week, I’m responsible for posting at least three entertainment related articles. Usually, I pitch to my editor, then post, lather, rinse and repeat until I have three write-ups. But this week, I finally managed to simultaneously pitch all three article ideas and have them accepted at once. Sounds like a small feat, but hey, it made me smile and relieved some pressure. Also, yesterday was the first time since I started this gig that I felt completely in a groove where my writing is concerned. I feel like I’m recognizing and developing my unique writer’s voice and constantly creating is a true testament to the mantra, “Practice makes perfect.” Continue reading

Dear Commercial Christmas, We’re Done

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Over the years, the meaning of Christmas has changed drastically for me. I went from a wide-eyed, excited child who couldn’t sleep Christmas Eve night in feverish anticipation of the gifts that awaited me beneath the tree, to a grownup who spent way too much money on gifts, that in my own misguided way, were intended to show loved ones how much they meant to me. After a few painful lessons in money management, I realized how un-cute it is to spend the first half of a new year paying off sizable debts incurred by splurging on expensive Christmas gifts.

Don’t get me wrong–it was fun while it lasted. Among the Commercial Christmas gifts I bought (and received) were the latest and greatest electronic gadgets, expensive jewelry, computers and more. My purchases grew bigger with time, until the spending took a toll on my bank account, while battling aggressive crowds and trying to outdo last year’s gift took a toll on my spirit. Continue reading

7 Ways Working a 9-5 is Like Being On a Reality Show

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim---no longer a cast member.

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim (pictured in gold)—no longer a cast member.

So today, I’m pissed and totally over the work drama, so let’s skip the fancy intro and get right to it. Here’s a list of seven ways jobs make their employees feel like they’re on the set of a sleazy reality show, only the lighting isn’t flattering and workers aren’t getting the hit singles, paid club appearances, Christian Louboutins and fresh sew-in weaves in exchange for their troubles.

1. Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with my clique, clique, clique…: Ahhhh, cliques. The delightful dollop of people who consist of a lumpy, co-dependent, shit-talking mass of conjoined humans. They tend to share a brain, so it’s no wonder they don’t take too kindly to outsiders. They routinely convene about when and what to think, and the unfortunate soul who manages to permeate their wall of nasty judgments and constant gossip regrets it immediately and hopefully has the wherewithal to retreat just as quickly, lest they wish to give up their souls to the devil in exchange for the coveted honor of “fitting in.”

2. Bullies: Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the notion that adults can’t be bullied. Just like they appear on each cycle of Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” a narcissistic, sociopathic bully seems to be a workplace staple. I’ve dealt with my fair share of them, from an alcoholic, racist judge who thought it was cute to unplug my automatic stapler each time she passed my desk, to other co-workers who took more pride in delivering stare-downs and partaking in feverish whispering sessions than they did in actually working. Just like aggressive playground tyrants and reality show jerks, most of the in-office offenders don’t stop unless their targets knock them flat on their asses, whether in the form of an official complaint or a nice-nasty tongue-lashing. (Full disclosure: Both methods have worked for me.  There are other methods, but…nevermind.) Continue reading