The Personal Is Political…

A few days ago, one of my favorite bloggers and scrapbookers released an extremely personal statement on her blog. Ali Edwards & her husband are going through a divorce. I was moved by her public announcement because she literally has thousands of fans and scrapbook enthusiasts and in one moment she decided to be vulnerable & authentic. Her post titled, “The Evolution of My Story,” was so moving because it was tucked in between beautiful professional Thanksgiving photos and exciting contests. It was a reminder that we all have challenges and that we are never alone in those challenges.

Caption: A peek at my Scrapbook Collection. I start with my birth and have documented everything in my life.

Sometimes people who are in the public eye create & become caricatures of themselves. They become iconized until the crap hits the fan and then they start chasing their shadows. They lose touch with what it means to be human and when they finally do become vulnerable they are punished for it. Now don’t get me wrong you must retain some element of privacy despite your public profile. There is a such thing as T.M.I. (too much information) but when you are going through something that is life-changing, you’d be surprised to know how many people are going through the same exact thing behind closed doors, and how they will wrap their arms around you in solidarity and support.

I have learned so much from Ali, and in my mind she is like my creative big sister. I want her to know that my prayers and thoughts are with her and her family and that I am inspired by her courage!


My Spin on “Why Wasn’t I Good Enough”?

Why Wasn’t I Good Enough
, was a particularly interesting post for me because many women feel that way. For whatever reason when a relationship goes sour women often blame themselves.

When I was single I used to say “God is preparing me for something better and protecting me from something worst.” I only had one situation where I “jumped out of my body” for a man and it was for my first love (read the full story here: That’s another story for another day.

When it comes to relationships, I do feel like women:

(a) Can sometimes be delusional and go against what we KNOW to be true. Stuff that literally pokes us in the eyeball and I’m not talking about a man that can pull a mean Whodini! I’m talking about blantant – broad daylight – flashing lights stuff.

(b) Act more liberal than we really are – ESPECIALLY when it comes to those cloudy love connections (e.g. friends with benefits, long distance relationships, etc.). Then we get angry when we have to face the consequences of our false liberalism.

(c) Blame, blame, blame for the failure of a relationship but rarely take responsibility – (even if the responsibility is simply making a bad choice or having the wrong timing). Male family members and friends are particularly good at pointing this reality out.

(d) Have a sense of entitlement when things fall apart. I’m sorry but some people treat bad (or unhealthy) relationships like peroxide. They want to let it bubble & fester. I’m more of the pour the alcohol on it – let it burn and MOVE ON type.

What was most disturbing for me was that the young lady asked “Why wasn’t I good enough?” Inherent in the question is a fractured sense of self-worth and therein lies the problem. While Slim may not have wanted to admit it – it may have been her insecurity that turned him off and often those who are the most judgmental are the most insecure…

You CANNOT force a man to be with you!!! You CANNOT will a man to be with you. Men are pretty independent creatures and they do whatever they will including commit.

Now this does not let men completely off the hook because men stretch the truth, make false promises and literally make women fall in love with them in order to be intimate. I’ve been told by several men that they quote “will do anything to have sex with a woman” unquote. So my best piece of advice is to pay attention to his actions and not his words.  If he stops calling, he doesn’t want to talk to you. If he moves all of his stuff out of the crib – he doesn’t want to be with you or live with you anymore. While it is easy to say “I love you,” it is an entirely different thing to show it. While it is easy to say “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” it is an entirely different thing to propose, pick a date and walk down the aisle. While it is easy to say “I care about you” It is an entirely different thing for him to always be accessible including day time hours. If he is only available by text or e-mail you should be concerned!

Ultimately a man’s actions LITERALLY speaks more truth than his words…

Just my 22 cents…

The Carter Bunch: A Look At Lil Wayne’s Blended Family

My husband and I were watching a documentary called “Without a King” about the current King of Swaziland Mswati III. Swaziland is the only country in Africa that has a monarchy. King Mswati III was the son of King Sobhuza II who had 110 wives and 240 children and came into power at the tender age of 12. One of the issues the documentary explored was polygamy, which has been an ongoing debate that I have had for as long as I can remember as I am personally both suspicious of and against it. While watching the documentary I started thinking about rapper Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter. Now Dwayne is not quite a polygamist because he only had one wife.

Dwayne has four women that he has procreated with – Antonia (who was also his ex wife), Lauren London, Nivea and Sarah. Lauren London is an actress famous for her breakout role in ATL. Nivea is a R & B singer whose most famous single was “Don’t Mess With My Man,” Sarah is a model and Antonia was Dwayne’s childhood sweetheart, the mother of his first child and the only one he married.. The whole reason why I am sharing this story is because of the harmony between the four women. Trashy journalists often try to pit one woman against the other but from all accounts the women have accepted that they all have children who are fathered by this one individual.

Recently Antonia was remarried and both Nivea and Lauren were there to support. Additionally, Dwayne publicly wished her and her new husband well and said something along the lines of “welcome to the family.” All of the children (who are half-siblings) know each other, and even his oldest daughter speaks fondly of the other mothers. In one episode of Antonia’s reality show, her daughter said “I admire Nivea, she is like my big sister.” Her mother in an interview said, “We talk. We have a great relationship. I’m good with all of them. I try to keep the kids cool because they’re all in the same situation, so we don’t have time for any drama.” She also said “He tells her about it, so I just go along with the flow. He’s a great father.” She continued “I didn’t grow up with my dad’s kids and I don’t even know half of them and I don’t want that for Reginae. I want her to have a good relationship with her brothers and be able to see them whenever, go to their house, they come to my house and that’s the kind of relationship we all have.”

A friend said that Dwayne is in the situation that he is in because of his financial security, so the women are not “fighting” for limited resources. Perhaps, but I’d also credit their maturity and selflessness. In situations where two people procreate it sometimes creates a war when the other partner moves on. It is one thing to get divorced or break up when there are no children involved. It is an entirely different thing to do so when there are children involved. While “the mothers” may not be best friends, I do think that it is in the best interest of the children that they are respectful of one another, their respective roles and the importance of the children being able to spend time together as a unit with their father (or mother).   Ultimately you can’t change the past, all you can do is deal with the reality of right now and I feel that is exactly what is happening with Mr. Carter and the mothers of his children.

My Marriage is Different

When we have little to no experience in unchartered territory, the first thing that we look for are “signs.” Signs for what’s appropriate, boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, and directions to help us figure out (A) where we are and (B) where we’re going. We do the same thing in our relationships – often looking outside in order to answer the questions that we have inside. To give meaning to our alien emotions.

Sometimes we look at other relationships and other marriages with disdain. “Your wife is evil…” or “Your husband is inconsiderate…” and sometimes we even venture into the “You should break-up/get a divorce/have an affair” conversation with your family members, our besties, our “bruhs.” We think that we’re being helpful when actually we have no idea what we’re talking about.

A woman was recently complaining about her husband, and her friend said, “So… you should leave him…” The woman then responded, “My marriage is different.” The way that one partner relates to the other partner is not the same in all relationships. People communicate differently, express love diversely and remain committed for multiple reasons. The way that two people act publicly is not always the same in how they act privately. What may be a pet peeve for one, may be undeniably attractive for someone else.

Our society has become very much in support of individualism. People are encouraged to “be who they are.” Yet, when it comes to relationships we establish very strict criteria. Monique (The Comedian) was put through the ringer when she announced that her and her husband have an “open marriage.” Chrissy from Love & Hip Hop was scolded for proposing to her boyfriend Jim Jones. Rumors are always flying about Will & Jada being “swingers” but who are we to judge? It is up to individual couples to establish the “constitution” of their marriage. A marriage is simply a life-time commitment between two people – everything else is negotiable…

Are You Ready For Marriage?

You’ve been with your guy for a long time, you’ve met the fam and perhaps you’re coed roommates. Here is a list of things to think about before you jump the broom:

1. The me becomes we. Many of decisions that you make must now include your partner’s perspective. Everything you do and everything your partner does becomes a mirror reflection for the rest of the world. Are you ready for that kind of accountability?

2. Compromise replaces conflict. A marriage will not work if you are not willing to compromise or “give.” Sometimes it’s as simple as not making something minor an issue (do you really care about that one grain of rice that your sweetie forgot to sweep up?) or as major as coming to a happy medium (giving up your job temporarily to stay at home with the kids and become an entrepreneur vs. sending your child to daycare). Bickering, nagging and nit-picking are all unhealthy for your marriage.

3. Unconditional love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that this man/woman is “the one.” In other words, you’re not settling for something less than you want or desire. If your economic status changes, if he/she becomes handicapped or captures a disease – would you still love him/her? Is it difficult to imagine life without this person and that feeling is reciprocal? Unconditional means without pause. It means loving someone in spite of their shortcomings.

Marriage is not to be taken lightly. It is the longest commitment that you can/will ever make. It is the most important contract that you will ever sign (oh yeah… that “marriage license” is a law-binding agreement). It can be the best or the worst decision that you will ever make.

Are you ready for marriage?

Age at marriage for those who divorce in America

Age Women Men
Under 20 years old 27.6% 11.7%
20 to 24 years old 36.6% 38.8%
25 to 29 years old 16.4% 22.3%
30 to 34 years old 8.5% 11.6%
35 to 39 years old 5.1% 6.5%

According to the chart above, the older you are when you marry, the less likely you are to get a divorce, so in other words… Time is the best thing you can give yourself…

Abusive Vs. Strong Man – Part 1

While watching Real Housewives of Atlanta I was baffled by the relationship between the beautiful model Cynthia Bailey, 43, and her live-in boyfriend Peter Thomas. The two were planning a wedding and in one episode, Peter told Cynthia he had closed his restaurant Uptown and he wasn’t sure how they were going to come up with the $20,000 for the wedding. She started to cry, and he went on a rant about how he wasn’t going to tell her anything anymore.

Cynthia had a 10-year-old daughter, and her husband Peter is perceived to be one of the “strong” men compared to other women’s partners. He is very vocal about how we feels about the other women and he believes very strongly in traditional gender roles with the man as the provider and the woman as the nurturer. As he said in an interview “If I need her to do something for me again, she better step up. That’s part of her duty as a wife. Because she’s never gonna call on me and I say no – never.” Anytime a man refers to “wifely duties” he subscribes to traditional gender views.

He does help in domestic responsibilities, and is often the one cooking and washing dishes on most episodes, so his gender views may only be related to the financial realm.

Cynthia’s sister and another housewife, Nene Leakes whose own marriage fell apart this season discouraged Cynthia from getting married and it all lead me to think about two things. (1) What is the fine line between a strong man and an abusive man? and (2) When is it time to get married or to break off an engagement?

So this blog is going to cover the strong man vs. the abusive man. Next week, we’ll discuss when is it time to get married.

Strong Man vs. Abusive Man

A strong man is confident in his decision making process. An abusive man is stubborn in his decision-making process.
A strong man is willing to be vulnerable. An abusive man exploits the vulnerabilities of his partner.
A strong man is open to suggestions or criticism. An abusive man uses suggestions or criticism to fuel his abusive behavior.
A strong man supports his partner’s friendships. An abusive man tries to isolate his partner from other relationships (both male and female).
A strong man values his partner’s opinions and desires. An abusive man is very selfish and is only concerned with his own needs.
A strong man makes his partner proud and she glows with happiness. An abusive man makes his partner apologetic and she overcompensates for his behavior.
A strong man is motivated by his convictions and is not afraid to communicate his truth. An abusive man is motivated by his aggression and is afraid to face the truth of his problematic behavior.

While we only saw a “slice” of Cynthia & Peter’s relationship, the fact that her family members and those around her were concerned is a major red flag. While I’m not willing to label Peter as abusive, his behavior certainly made me uncomfortable for her. While there is a fine line between a strong and abusive man – there is a clear distinction between how someone makes you feel and if they make you feel sad, worthless, unattractive or uninspired there is no question what type of man you’re dealing with.

A Man’s Perspective on Homewrecking…

2010 has been the year of the “homewrecker…” The label has been tagged to everyone from the anonymous women that Tiger Woods slayed, to R & B sensations like Alicia Keys & Fantasia. I’ve pretty much watched from the sidelines while the comments section of the blogs have torn Alicia Keys, Fantasia and Gabrielle Union to shreds.

SWIZZ with his first wife MASHONDA while she was pregnant with their child.

My best friend & I had a great conversation about homewrecking and we came to the conclusion that:

“No woman can wreck a home that isn’t already broken. A woman can’t take a happy man…”

We talked about the fact that MaShonda won’t stop talking and revealing her private business to the media. We ridiculed her and said she needs to shut the EFF up and raise her children and co-parent with Swizz. You can’t force a man to love you. You can’t force a man to stay in a house with you.

SWIZZ  & ex-wife MaSHONDA during happier times.

However, we’re both happily involved in long-term relationships and I started to wonder were we being biased? When I got home, I asked my significant other about it and told him the conclusion that we came to about so called homewreckers. He said he disagreed.

PICTURED BELOW: Married Antwan Cook & Fantasia

I told him, now if a woman knowingly becomes involved with a married man or a man that is in a permanent relationship, she is definitely a homewrecker because she continued with the relationship despite knowing the circumstances. But then I said, if a woman doesn’t know, and she falls in love with a man and then finds the truth out later, then she’s not a homewrecker. He disagreed… I crossed my eyes… He said:

“Please! A woman knows when a man is involved or married. He doesn’t have to tell her, but there are lots of signs to show that a man is married or committed. Has he ever taken her to his home? What time of day or night does he call? There are always signs.”

I couldn’t argue with him. Any woman who is involved with a man but only has limited access to him or never gets to visit his home is obviously lying to herself. Even more, I told him what happens when a man says that the relationship is over and he’s getting a divorce or moving on. Divorces take a long time and the relationship is over long before the divorce papers are signed and granted by the judge.

SWIZZ & ALICIA KEYS marry in the Summer of 2010.

My sweetie said:

“A woman needs to be able to see the actual divorce papers to know that the marriage is over. A man will say or do anything because he wants to have sex with her. Women are too easy…”

I totally agreed. In the case of Swizz, he divorced Mashonda and married Alicia Keys. They are expecting their first child together and they seem happy. In that case, Alicia, who was once the other woman “won” because she has a long-term commitment from this man. He certainly could’ve continued to string her along, and many committed or married men do just that… they string chicks along and replace the when they become too much trouble.

D-Wade & ex wife Siovahn (who attempted to sue Gabrielle Union at one point)

He also talked about how a homewrecker can set up conditions to wreck the home. Whether that is getting pregnant or harassing the wife via phone or e-mail. As he said, if a couple has to pack up and move to another place because of a crazy ex or “sidepiece” and they have to shell out a few thousand dollars the “homewrecker” has wrecked the home. If she gets pregnant then the wife has to deal with this “illegitimate” child…

Gabrielle Union & D. Wade out & about & posing formally for pictures.

So I guess I agree with my significant other in many ways. However, my issue is also with the male and not very much attention is spent on that. A homewrecker wouldn’t be able to wreak havoc if she wasn’t invited into the “home” in the first place. Engaging in any way with anyone outside of the relationship when one is committed is an invitation to the destruction and despair that infidelity can cause and while women are crucified for it, men are not (unless of course they are married and have to pay half of their assets or lose respect from the public or others in the case of politicians like John Edwards).

I’ve had personal experience with this. I knowingly dated a guy who lived with another woman and I believed him when he said the relationship was going to be over. They weren’t married (& I certainly would’ve been more reluctant if they were), but I allowed myself to continue to fall. I honestly believed that we were soul mates so I wasn’t very considerate of the woman he was living with. Thankfully for my sake it worked out & we eventually moved in together and committed to each other BUT how often do those situations not work out?

What are your thoughts on homewrecking?

Married To The Game: The Wives of Professional Athletes

Divorce between regular people is ugly… add cameras and millions of dollars and it gets downright disgusting. Tiger Woods finalized his divorce from Ellen Nordegren this week and it made me think about the marriages and divorces of professional athletes and other celebrities/high profile individuals. I don’t want to get into the debate about whether we hold athletes & public figures to a higher standard, there is no question that we do, but as a woman who has experienced divorce, I understand how love can transform into extreme dislike, how material goods become symbolic ornaments on the fallen tree of a broken relationship and how children become pawns in the never ending quest of mate checking.

While there are certainly perks of being married to a “baller,” (someone who plays professional sports), there are also drawbacks. Pre-Tiger, Ellen was a nanny and “model,” and because of that, the public is quick to throw the “gold-digger” title on her. That is the first drawback of being married to an extremely wealthy man. Many people assume that the relationship is not based on real love, whether that is because (A) the woman is labeled a gold-digger or (B) the man is accused of wanting a “trophy wife.”

  • Tiger Woods & Ellen Nordegren
  • Married: 5 years
  • Children: 2 (3 years old & 18 months)
  • Tiger’s Net Worth: $900 million (with an annual salary of $85 million)
  • Divorce: Due to infidelity (over 10 women publicly admitted having an affair with Woods)
  • Divorce Settlement: an estimated $100 million and the two will share custody of their children (neither Tiger nor Ellen will confirm this)

Ellen enrolled in school and plans to earn a Master’s Degree in Psychology in order to work with children in broken families.

  • Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy
  • Married: 17 years
  • Children: 3 (one teenager and the others young adults)
  • Michael’s Net Worth: $500 million
  • Divorce: Irreconcilable differences (including infidelity).
  • Divorce Settlement: $168 million (largest ever divorce settlement publicly recorded)

  • Mike Tyson & Robin Givens
  • Married: 1 year
  • Children: None
  • Mike’s Net Worth: $50 million (at the time he & Givens wed)
  • Divorce: Irreconcilable differences (including infidelity).
  • Divorce Settlement: $8 million

  • Mike Tyson & Dr. Monica Turner (sister of Michael Steele – of Republican fame)
  • Married: 5 years
  • Children: 2
  • Mike’s Net Worth: $50 million (made over $300 million as a boxer)
  • Divorce: Irreconcilable differences (including infidelity).
  • Divorce Settlement: $6.5 million (+ $4.8 million home & custody of the kids)

Mike remarried in June of 2009 and is still married to Lakiha Spicer (the two have a child together and lost a child together). Publicly, he is very appreciative of his wife and has filed bankruptcy.

From the outside looking in, there are many perks to being married to a pro-athlete including: being able to travel, having the money to live a good lifestyle which provides free time for the wife to be able to pursue her own interests.

Steven Ortiz, who has interviewed over 40 pro-athlete wives for his project discussed some of the drawbacks which include:

  • Having to be guarded about emotions and personal lives (no privacy)
  • Having to relocate at any moment (no real stability)
  • Single parenting while husband works
  • Infidelity (many wives discussed not being able to “control” husband while away from home)
  • People don’t take them seriously (often labeled gold diggers or not considered intelligent)
  • Can have trouble transitioning to life after husband retires (many pro athletes have health issues and deal with depression once they are no longer in the spotlight)

Rita Ewing (Patrick Ewing’s ex wife) who wrote a novel called Homecourt Advantage said in an interview “the sporting world is conducive to infidelity… the mentality of the teams and the management condone infidelity. There are team rules that prevent wives from traveling on the road…” She goes on to discuss that many teams hold family workshops/classes encouraging the married couples to have “safe sex” and she remembers walking away from one session with a “condom on a keychain,” as a visual reminder to have protected sex with her husband. Several wives also discussed the “public persona” that the husbands have and while they get to know all intimate aspects of their husbands, the public is mostly exposed to “1/100th” of who they are as people.

I have incredible sympathy for Ellen and other professional athlete’s wives because they have to go through the pain and embarrassment of divorce in the public eye. While most women can walk away from a failed relationship, these women are forever “tagged” to their high-profile husbands and the divorce is like an open wound that is constantly exposed. I agree with Rita Ewing, who says the best thing that we can do is “give them the space” to work out their personal problems. Being married to the game has it’s perks, but it also has it drawbacks. While it is “cheaper to keep her” in many cases like Ellen says, “without trust and love” a relationship is doomed to fail.

There are support groups for these women as well including “Behind the Bench: The National Basketball Wives Association” that helps the women cope.

It’s Written All Over Your Face…

You don’t have to say a word… I was looking at some old pictures of myself (circa 2003 – 2008) and I quickly realized that unhappiness, frustration, repression and sadness manifest in your physical person. For me, it looked like acne, a complexion that was a bit off, lots of weight gain (to the tune of 20 – 30 pounds heavier than usual – just put it like this, I’m usually an 8/10 – I was in 12s, 13s & 14s!). I even started losing my hair! As my life spiraled out of control, I lost control of my appearance, I buried myself in work to avoid being at home and as long as I was working – I could numb the pain. That meant working 10 – 12 hour days every day.

In January of 2009, my life changed for the better – FOREVER! Not only did I meet the love of my life, but I also started to notice my skin clearing up, the weight melting off and I slowly started to recognize the “me” in the mirror that I thought was gone forever. I started getting regular compliments from people (“You look good girl”), dating inquiries and requests (“Is Donnie single?”) and my graceful and elegant posture that I was infamous for in High School returned. I attribute these positive physical changes not so much to my boobie (who certainly deserves some credit), but to God and to the power of the human spirit. I had to have the courage to let go of a bad marriage and a stressful work situation in order to be truly happy.

Every now and then I get a glimpse of a woman who is so buried in pain that you can see it in the permanent frown lines, hear it in the nasty tone of her voice and recognize the baggage around the mid-section that didn’t use to be there. Her eyes are hallow, she gazes intensely but not intimately and there is an emptiness in her voice.

Ladies, It’s never too late to release the stress. Don’t worry about what other people think or say, only think about yourself and your best interests and ultimately you will be free! Freedom & happiness not only feel good, but look good.

Wifeable – 5 Things That Guys Want

After countless conversations with guys and my own experiences (I’ve been wifed and asked for my hand in marriage more than once, one guy even tried to trap me with a child), I’d like to share some insight on what guys are looking for when they decide to tie the knot.

(1) Positive energy & attitude. No one wants to be with a depressed, cynical chick. Now that doesn’t mean you have to be little Miss Sunshine all the time, but your good days should outweigh your bad days.

(2) Domestically Competent. Call it sexist, elitist or whatever “ist” you want, but every man wants a woman that can cook and clean. In this day and age you get extra points if you know how to fix a button, bake dessert from scratch and “line him up” with some clippers. Women can continue to invisibly burn bra’s and treat the kitchen like it has some invisible fortress surrounding it, but you better believe that domestic capability ranks high on the “wifeable” list.

(3) Goal-Oriented & Intelligent To marry someone is to enter into a conversation that never ends. You have to be able to “converse” with your man (bonus points if you know that “conversate” is not a word) and you have to have goals beyond the next twenty-four hours. Heck even the trappers (women who try to trap men with babies) can comprehend goal setting, aiming and reaching.

(4) Sexually Open-Minded We’ve heard it a million times – a man wants “a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed.” Do not make declarations about what you will and won’t do. 15 -20 years ago, head was negotiable but in 2010, it’s just not. It’s kind of like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances – it should come along with the package deal of being married. The key here though, is that the whole world does not need to know how open-minded you are. Think of it like G-1 classified information between you and your fiancé.

(5) Supportive. Last night, I went to see “Who Do You Love” an indie film about Chess Records and one of the things that struck me was when Mr. Chess left his wife to be with Ivy (a.k.a. Etta James). He loved his wife madly and passionately, but she was not supportive of his dream of opening up a club and starting a record company. Now I’m not saying that you have to support something ridiculous (under no circumstances is it okay to spend $1,000 on his “dream” to win the $300 million jackpot), but you have to know your man well enough to know when something has captured his attention and you have to show interest (ask questions about it, offer advice, constructive criticism) and if possible HELP (make some phone calls, type up a proposal, etc.) but never, ever, ever dismiss it because that is the quickest way to send your man running to arms of another woman who will support him… Stroke your man’s ego, and you’ll have him forever…