Gasp… I Met My Husband On Social Media!

Earlier this week, I posted a photo of a little Twitter themed pen container and shared that I met my husband on Twitter. I received several comments – “What?” “How?” and decided that I’d write a blog about it. It’s my favorite story that I never tire of telling…

The year was 2009. I was a High School English Teacher. Married (to the man that would quickly become my ex-husband). I spent a lot of time on social media at the time. Twitter was super popular but was relatively new in my world. Lots of people that I knew and respected were on the platform. At the time my handle was @engteacher. One of my favorite people to follow was @rhymefest, who would play this game every day called the “Vs.” Game. He would ask a series of 4 – 5 questions and people would have to anwer the questions. He’d engage with everyone and retweet or share his favorite responses. For example, “would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf” “would you rather be blind or deaf.” I was also in grad school at the time, and enjoyed playing the game before my classes started. I also wondered about the brain behind the game. The questions were always so interesting and sparked great debate.

One night I was on Twitter, and @rhymefest started tweet-ranting:

“I’m tired of being owned by corporations.” He proceeded to talking about wanting to be free of debt and he wanted to do something. I agreed. He then invited those who wanted to do something about it to direct message him. I sent him my phone number. He called me during my lunch break the next day. We started putting a plan together. We would create an organization called “N.F.F.M” which stood for “New Found Freedom Movement.” We talked about building a community together. We wrote a mission statement. We started writing bi-laws. I started researching grants. We planned to put this community in Atlanta. Our conversations started out very innocent. We would get chunks of work done on our phone calls. At the time he was living in New York City with his girlfriend. I was unhappily married. Our 2 – 3 hour conversations would turn into 5 – 6 hour conversations. We were getting so much done.

Before you knew it, we started talking about more personal things. He told me about his children that were living in Chicago. He confided in me about his music career. I told him about my life as a teacher… and I started to complain about my marriage. He interrupted me… “I’m sorry but unless you’re going to actually do something about your situation, I don’t really want to hear about it.” I was shocked that he would say that, I felt a little anger. At this point we had been on the phone for about a month. After thinking about what he said, I realized that he was right. If I wasn’t happy, I did not have to stay. I was in control of my life. I had gotten married for the first time at 18 years old. I was way too young… I didn’t get married for the first time under the right circumstances… All of that swirled around my head. Little did he know, he was saving my life – as I was in an abusive marriage.

My then-husband and I weren’t on speaking terms. Things had been pretty weird for a year prior to my meeting Che. His mother and I didn’t get along. It was pretty much a mess and I had thrown myself into work (I had perfect attendance at the time, sponsored several clubs and did whatever I could to be out of the house). One day, my then husband asked me if I wanted to go to the movies. I said “no.” He then came back about 15 minutes later and asked if I wanted to go out to eat. I said “no.” He then left and came back 10 minutes later and asked if I still loved him. His way of dealing with things was to not deal with them… until that moment. I thought about what he asked me and I said, “I do love you, I’ll always love you but I’m not in love with you.” He then asked another few series of questions that I gave difficult but honest answers to. An hour later I found myself at Starbucks, speaking to my mom about what happened. I then decided that I needed to move out, and called my best friend Kristie who was there no questions asked, tennis shoes on, ponytail tied, earrings out, she was ready lol.

About two weeks later, Che came to visit Chicago in person for the first time. By this time we had been talking on the phone for 2 whole months. We were like teenagers. We would talk and text every free moment that we had, about NFFM, about our lives, about our hopes and dreams. We would often fall asleep on the phone and then wake up and speak before we started our day. The weekend Che came to visit for the first time, we went to see the Watchmen (which came out 3/6/09) during opening weekend. When I picked him up from Midway Airport and he came down the escalator, he gave me the biggest hug. He actually picked me up and spun me around. No one knew that was our first time being in the same space face-to-face. He smelled so good. After that first weekend Che went back to NYC. Shortly after that visit, I moved into my own apartment. Che came back to Chicago, and we moved in together. My friends thought I was crazy… until they saw us together. When I met his family, they all loved me, and before we knew it, in October of that year we started talking about marriage. I officially got divorced in the Summer of 2009 – I believe it was sometime in June or July. Che and I tied the knot on 2/24/10. We didn’t pick the date to be something special. We just went to the Courthouse. We later found out that our wedding anniversary was the exact date, five years earlier that he got divorced from his ex wife. Just thinking about that gave me goosebumps because it was a total coincidence.

We both were married to other people for 5 years. In Che’s case, he said he’d “never get married” after his ex-wife. My first marriage had also left a bad taste in my mouth about the institution of marriage, but we found ourselves saying “I Do” less than a year after we started officially dating. Here is what I do know:

(1) We found love when neither of us were actively looking for love.

(2) Our foundation was truly built on friendship. Because we were in two different cities, we didn’t have the distraction of sex and being physically together during those first few critical months of a relationship.

(3) Our failures at our previous relationships made it easier to navigate all challenges that came up. We were better communicators because we had both experienced what happens in a relationship when you don’t communicate and you allow resentment to build.

(4) The very thing that initially attracted us to each other was this desire to build. Our honeymoon was Che’s City Council Campaign. Donda’s House is a manifestation of our dreams. Our marriage is just the icing on the cake. We believe that our marriage was divinely ordained. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.

(5) When two people want each other, there is nothing or no one that can stop them from being together. We both took a huge risk, but ultimately we allowed our hearts to lead the way.

Next year we will celebrate our 8 year Wedding Anniversary and 9 years of being together. We’ve already started talking about what we want to do for our 10 year anniversary in 2020. If you have questions about dating online, or about our courtship please let me know. I’m happy to share whatever I can. Thanks for reading!

Writing has always been my way of processing things. Check out some of my posts about marriage:

What I Know About Marriage – Part 1: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-1/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 2: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-2/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 3: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-3/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 4: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-4/

You’re Unhappy? Now What: https://donnienicole.com/2014/05/07/youre-unhappy-now-what/

If you’d like to read more of my pieces on relationships, click here.

 

 

BoHo Berry Challenge

At the beginning of the month, I started the July BoHo Berry Challenge. Time got away from me, so I wanted to spend some time sharing the responses to the rest of the questions, since tomorrow is August 1st! The questions that I am responding to are in bold and different colors so feel free to scroll to read the answers you’re most interested in!

Day 9: My Best Habit 

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I am obsessed with keeping a clean bag/purse. My favorite purse to carry is the Coach Turnlock. I’ve written about looking for the perfect [carry-on] bag here. One of the my best habits is that I use a pouch system for keeping my bag organized. Depending on what I need to carry, I can swap out my pouches to make sure that I have everything that I need. Sometime soon I’ll write a post about what I keep in each of the pouches.

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Day 10: My Worst Habit 

My worst habit is that I don’t clean out my e-mail inbox. I’ve heard lots of debate about both the benefits and the ridiculousness of attempting to achieve inbox zero. While I am not on the side of Inbox Zero, I would like to figure out some regular sorting, processing & deleting schedule so that my inbox isn’t too out of control. I process e-mails daily, but once the emails are processed they pretty much sit in my inbox. This is a habit that I am working on. I am equally bad with responding to text messages (after I’ve read them) and responding to Voice Mail Messages (if I could delete my voice mail entirely I would)…

Day 11: 10 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Scrapbooking
  2. Pinning Things on Pinterest
  3. Glitter (on anything, anywhere)
  4. Sending people mail (I love to send handwritten notes and greeting cards)
  5. Bubbly Drinks (Prosecco, Champagne & Moscato D’Asti are my faves)
  6. Live Music (I’m a huge fan of live instruments & live performances, I regularly go to concerts. The last concert I went to was The Art of Rap (featuring EPMD, DMX, KRS-One, Ghostace Killa, Raekwon, Crucial Conflict, and Rakim). It was amazing! My girl and I are going to Made in America in September to celebrate her birthday and I most look forward to the kick-off of Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tour and to seeing J. Cole, I loved his last album.
  7. Organizing and cleaning things (brings me a sense of peace and calm)
  8. Good TV: Right now I’m watching Power, Insecure, Love & Hip Hop (all of them lol), Being Mary Jane, Queen Sugar and I’m so excited about the return of Greenleaf!
  9. Shopping (I enjoy shopping, especially at Thrift Stores & Electronic Stores)
  10. Things That Smell Good (I’m obsessed with candles, bath products and home fragrance products).

Day 12: Book(s) I’m Reading Right Now 

I just finished reading John C. Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. My favorite books to read are nonfiction. I taught High School English for 12 years, so it is difficult for me to read and enjoy fiction (unless it is my favorite author Toni Morrison). I also really like classic literature (behind Toni Morrison, F, Scott Fitzgerald and Zora Neale Hurston are my favorites). I love to learn, so I prefer to read nonfiction because it helps me to stay sharp.

Day 13: My Greatest Talent

I’m super resourceful. I very good at research and I’m very good a teaching myself things that I don’t know.

Day 14: A Note To My Younger Self 

Dear Little Donnie (Don-Don, Metaphor (my poet name):

Do not worry so much about what other people say about you or think about you. You won’t even remember the names of most of these people in 10 years! Don’t allow their bullying to affect you. 

Stop thinking so far into the future! When you think so much about the future you are missing out on the present. 

Done is better than perfect. As long as you are doing the best you can, you should be proud of yourself. You don’t have unlimited time and you don’t have unlimited resources. Do the best with what you’ve got. 

None of your boyfriends are your future husband! They are simply warming the bench for the love that you will eventually experience and the love that you need and deserve. 

Study abroad when you have the opportunity to! Don’t wait until you’re out of college to start seeing the world!

You are loved. You are needed and you will leave one hell of a footprint on this world! 

Love,

Yourself

Day 15: How Can I Make A Difference? 

For the longest time I’ve wanted to start gathering my mentees for a monthly breakfast. I’m hoping to implement it in August or September (I think I’ll wait until this Mercury Retrograde ends lol)….

Day 16: My Life Philosophy 

My mission in life is to close the gap(s) between my reality and my dreams and to help others do the same. 

My life philosophy includes the following tenements:

(1) Train your replacement. I believe that we should always be sharing our knowledge and experience with others so that they can have the skills, the tools and the competency to replace us.

(2) Money is a by-product of success. Money is a tool, not the ultimate end goal. I’d like to earn and make money in order to do other things.

(3) Be of service, not self-serving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to consider oneself and one’s own needs, but its equally important to think about others.

(4) Don’t make it to escape it. Our neighborhoods are often considered things to “escape” or to run away from. The very definition of success is often to “make it out the hood.” I think we need more people to stay, to be the examples and to own businesses and social services and social programs in our communities, especially those that have concentrated poverty and are considered low-income.

Day 17: How Can I Grow Today? 

I want to spend more time journaling. This article talks about the value and importance of journaling daily. One day I’d also like to become an author, so I like to keep copious notes that can be used for the books I hope to write and publish one day.

Day 18: What I Love About My Life?

The most important thing that I love about my life right now is the freedom. I have the freedom to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I’m married to a man who supports me as I grow as an individual and evolve. I have lived in houses and been in relationships where that was not the case and more than ever I have peace of mind because of the freedom I enjoy!

Day 19: I Feel Happy In My Own Skin When…

I feel happy in my own skin when I look good. I started working with a stylist about two years ago and that was one of the best choices and most useful decisions I’ve ever made. To have someone whose job is to worry about what I look like is a beautiful thing. It means that I can spend time on other things. I also feel happy in my own skin when I’m only in my skin – lol. That’s an entirely different conversation for an entirely different day.

Day 20: What I Need To Hear Today… 

Today I need to hear “thank you.” I do a lot for a lot of people not because I expect anything in return, but I’m not going to like, “thank you” feels good. Sometimes I feel like people take my kindness, my time and my optimism for granted… When I feel that way I usually withdraw into myself, or really withdraw into my own mind.

Day 21: I Am Grateful For…

So for this I’m going to set the timer for one minute and I’m going to just write a list of everything that I’m grateful for, as much as I can get to in one minute. Here it goes (in no particular order): my home, my vehicle, my washer and dryer, my husband, my dogs (Muffin & Marley), my bonus (step) babies, my sissy and the fact that she lives across the street, my family, my eyeglasses, my laptop, my iPad, my phone, my organized closet, the work that we just had done in our house (we had a floor repaired and have some more work happening the next two weeks), my plants that have lived for as long as they have, good TV shows that inspire reflection and dialogue, my blender and fresh fruit smoothies, Crazy Crab (the food is so good and its so close to my house), my spirituality, the ability to travel (I’ve been so many places this year and am heading to Africa in September ;). That’s all I had time for. I could keep going. I find that whenever I feel like things are bad, thinking about what’s good and how I’m good is a great exercise in healing.

Day 22: What Negative Self-Talk is Holding Me Back?

I’m hard on myself and like most women I can think and talk negative about my body. I find myself in a bind because I am always in the process of trying to have a baby, while also trying to maintain a positive lifestyle. Sometimes I worry that if I go too hard on the fitness side, I may be creating a dangerous situation for the child that I pray will be in my womb sometime soon. When you add to that, we’re also having health care issues, it’s just a recipe for disaster. Please just pray for me and us that I find the perfect balance of a healthier lifestyle and (one day) a health pregnancy and full-term safe, healthy delivery for baby and me.

Day 23: If I Knew I Could Not Fail… 

Failing is a part of growth and a part of the process of life. Failure is an opportunity to try again. “I don’t lose, either I win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela. I think it is irresponsible to try to teach people not to fail. I believe in failing spectacularly, laughing, dusting oneself off and trying again…

Day 24: Who In My World Inspires Me… 

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Right now I am most inspired by my friend Kris Williams. Kris is the owner of Fame Marketing and she does so many amazing things. She runs a full graphic design/marketing company, she produces an amazing magazine. She just launched a social-enterprise that involves coffee. I love Kris because like me not only is she a dreamer, but she executes and moves toward her dreams. She doesn’t just talk about it! Plus she looks amazing doing it all and has the sweetest spirit.

Day 25:  My Sweet Spot…

I’m going to answer this literally. I’m in need of some good banana pudding! I’m also a fan of Dulce De Leche Ice Cream.

Day 26: How I Want Others To Describe Me… 

When I was a teacher, I used to have students to write their own obituaries, during our Edgar Allen Poe unit. It was controversial, but it was also incredibly powerful. Here is how I want other people to describe me (without going into too much detail):

Kind, Creative and helpful. A good listener, witty and smart. A person whose presence was more welcomed that it was dreaded. Someone who positively impacted and changed the lives of people. A person who created the change I wanted to see. A dreamer. A doer. A Humanitarian. A Philanthropist. A lifelong educator. A mom to her own children and to her children by blessing.

Whew! When I got to the end of that my eyes started to well up. Sometimes it is important to step outside of our bodies and to consider how other people may be receiving and experiencing us.

Day 27: I Feel Successful When…

People are able to do something better because of my influence, my guidance and my instruction. I also feel really good when I accomplish something super technical. I recently installed a Smart Lock. I just knew that it was going to take all day and be terribly frustrated. I mastered it in less than an hour!

Day 28: My Ideal Day… 

I’m going to be real specific here. My ideal day would go something like this:

6:00 a.m. – Wake Up – writing, prayer & meditation.

7:00 a.m. – Work-out

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast & setting the agenda for the day.

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Work, work, work, work, work, work (meetings, writing, responding to e-mails, etc). Lunch would happen somewhere in the middle.

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Home stuff (cleaning up, meal prep and planning, bill paying, family time)

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Me Time (TV Watching, scrapbooking, friending lol).

9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Reading (I would like to read every single night)

10:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. – Whatever needs to be done

12:00 a.m. – Bedtime

Right now 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. is my work time. I’d like to get a better handle on that sometime soon.

Day 29: Positive Affirmations…

The thing that I have been telling myself the most lately is “Everything happens for a reason.” It helps me to roll with the good and the bad punches. I’d like to start actually considering the reasons in my journal/reflection time.

Day 30: I’ve always wanted to… 

Learn SPANISH! Before I go back to South America I want to spend more time learning Spanish. I studied in High School for 3 years but have forgotten most of it because I haven’t used it. I’ve also always wanted to take a cruise, so I’m hoping to cross that off my list in the next 2 to 3 years.

Day 31: Lessons Learned This Month… 

a. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, with whom you’re supposed to be with.

b. Everything doesn’t deserve a response.

c. You have to write things down, otherwise you will forget them. This was something that I’ve always known, but a process I have had to remind myself of over and over again this month.

 

Love Jones 

We often tell kids not to believe movies. It’s imaginary. It’s not real. It can set up the wrong expectations.


The Year was 1997. I was in middle school, but I was an avid writer – of journals & poetry. 4 years earlier I saw Poetic Justice which made me fall in love with the poetry of Maya Angelou. 

Love Jones invited me to learn about Oshun, and the power of philosphy, and memorizing quotes and it was the first film that I consciously remember that featured black intellectuals being cool. Although I was still young, I felt like the characters in Love Jones were people that I wanted to know. 


Love Jones was also the first time that I fell in love with the City of Chicago. At the time I was living in Kansas City, Missouri about to make the transition to Minneapolis, Minnesota for High School. A few short years later, I’d make the decision to attend DePaul University in Chicago.

In addition to Darius Lovehall, Teacake (pre-madness)!from Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God were my two favorite male characters. Little did I know just how much their influence had on who and what I would be attracted to and ultimately who and what I’d marry. 


I jokingly refer to my husband as “my Darius” and “my Teacake.” He’s a creative, he’s into deep intellectual conversations, he truly has his own unique perspective and path independent of what others think about him. He rides motorcycles and he’s a true son of Chicago.

Well next Saturday, Che & I are being honored by Black Harvest Film Festival for our community work! I got goosebumps when I realized that they are also celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Love Jones! In some cases life does imitate art and we get glimpses from the universe that confirm we are exactly where we should be, with whom we should be… It is always a blessing when someone validates you and your work and it’s wonderful that a film that meant so much to me, will be a part of the experience! 

A Look Around My Office 

This morning I said that I’d go live on Instagram to do a tour of my office. My baby dog was spayed this morning, so I decided to spend the evening cuddling with her. I did want to share some of my favorite things from my office:


Above: My IKEA Expedit shelf holds so much. These large square bookcases can hold so much! 


I recently purchased some Philips HUE LED lights. I control them from an App in my phone. They can change colors, the bulb doesn’t get hot and they can work together to create scenes! 


Beyonce is my absolute favorite! I had one of my favorite posters framed. I also recently purchased the “What Would Beyonce Do” desk tag from Modcloth, which lives on my desk.


Peacocks are my favorite animals. These feathers were the first thing I purchased for my office and I designed the rest of the room around those colors.


My gallery wall. I’m thinking about adding another row of frames at the top. 


I save all of the cards that I receive. This one from my Aunt I turned into a piece of art because I love the words & the messenger!


Everyone I travel in the world, I always purchase art. This piece I purchase in Mumbai in India and its a silk painting.


Another piece of art I picked up from an artist in NOLA. I loved the rhinestones.


My Vision Board and a 3 month calendar that lives above my desk. I change it annually during my end of year, new year rituals.


I found this Vintage Olive Green file cabinet on Craigslist and it’s one of my favorite pieces.


This is my super fast and powerful Fujitsu Scansnap ix500. I’ve seen it used in Medical Facilities and it allows me to digitize all of my documents. I keep a digital file cabinet of everything in Dropbox.


I love words especially the words on this cup from Michaels.


My favorite scent is Pink Champagne from Pier 1. I have diffusers, candles and room spray. I initially purchased it immediately after New Years, and was told that it was seasonal. I’ve gone back every month and it’s been there. Maybe they will make it a permanent part of their collection.


Glitter is my favorite color, followed by gold, followed by pink. I had to have this lava lamp because it combined so many of my favorite things.


I try to find gold or metallic office supplies whenever possible. Here are a few of my favorite items.


These pens used to be my favorite back in the day! I use them now often for scrapbooking. I found this mega pack on Amazon.


My office is the place where I get my work done. I have a high capacity black and white printer/copier and a regular HP printer for color. I am able to get most of my work done on these two machines. For larger jobs I go to FedEx or order online. 

So these are some of my favorite things in my Office! I look forward to the day that I can decorate my DH Office!!!!

Meeting Extended Family Members in Colombia 


Caption: This beautiful woman said that I looked like her daughter and she sang a song for us. 

Yesterday my mother-in-love, my husband & I had a chance to tour Palenque de San Basilio in Colombia. Our tour guide was Alex Rocha of Experience Real Cartagena. Palenque is significant because it is the first free town for Africans, established in the Americas by former slaves.


Cartegena de los Indias, had over 1.1 million enslaved Africans enter their ports. Some of the slaves escaped & established these Palenques which means “walled city.” Palenque de San Basilio is one of the last of the surviving Palenques & thru still maintain many African traditions & customs. Cartegena is 70% black, and Afro-Colombians make up 10% of the national population. 


Caption: Benkos Bioho was the liberator of the people of Palenque. There is a school there named after him and a statue in the town square. 

Palenque is about a 60-90 minutes drive away from Cartagena, into the mountains, rural area. When we arrived, I felt super emotional, to learn about my people, to see where they lived with my own eyes & to know that they had been making their way since 1691, when the Spanish Crown guaranteed Africans of San Basilio de Palenque their freedom. 


I am so grateful to Alex, who also runs a youth Center in Cartagena & his family for the experience. Alex teaches the youth English, which is the key to better a economic future. My experience in Palenque is one I will never forget & it is one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had traveling abroad. 

BoHo Berry Challenge – Day 7 

An Area I’d Like To Improve
I’m always on a quest to find more efficient productivity systems. I find myself constantly downloading new apps, purchasing new planners, and reinventing my productivity structures because I don’t feel like I have yet mastered or feel 100% comfortable with my current systems.

I’d like to eventually develop and stick to processes that include:

1. Daily routine 

2. Strategic Planning 

3. External Communication (for both private and professional affairs)

4. A system for keeping up to date with my scrapbooking and writing 

5. A system for clearing digital clutter.

If you have any suggestions for any of the above! Please let me know! 

BoHo Berry Challenge – Day 6 

Day 6: I Need Less…

1. Social Media – seriously considering putting myself on a tight schedule. 

2. Emails – the constant avalanche!!! 

3. Items in my office – my home office is a super cluttered. I need to purge it!!! 

4. Apps on my phone – too many apps! 

5. Files on my computer – too many files!

When I look at my list I realize I need less clutter!