Talk about self care! Check outy friend’s incredible gift!
The Elegant Economist – Economics for the modern home.
— Read on www.theeleganteconomist.com/
Talk about self care! Check outy friend’s incredible gift!
The Elegant Economist – Economics for the modern home.
— Read on www.theeleganteconomist.com/
“I agree not to embarrass you.”
I’ve had to sign contracts like that before – agreements binding me to behavior that isn’t too loud or too wild or too crazy or too fun or too Black or too…human…
Some were official legally binding documents; some were impossible cultural implications where every day was a new adventure in shame, humiliation, disappointment and emotional terrorism. You look ridiculous. No one will ever want you. Be more like Michelle Obama. Put your contacts in – people like you better with light eyes. Straighten your hair or people will think you’re uneducated. Tattoos make you look cheap…or criminal. You think you’re so smart. Who put you in charge? Sit down. Oh, you’re not a real author. Wow, you’re so talented you make me sick. Don’t pierce anything on your face. Beauty queens don’t do that. Moms don’t do that. Pastors’ wives don’t do that. Don’t wear bright nail polish – colors aren’t professional. Don’t sit there. Don’t sit there LIKE THAT. Don’t wear that. What if people see you WEARING that? Don’t dance like that – don’t dance at all. No clapping. Smile more. Talk less. Stand up, suck it in, bright eyes, chin up, butt tucked. Shave your legs. Shave everything. Except your head. Don’t talk to that person.
Don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t talk too long or too loud. Don’t hug someone too long. Don’t kiss anyone. Don’t hold hands – actually, no PDA at all. Don’t even act like you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend and for the love of all things holy, don’t live with them! People might think you’re… doing intimate things together. Don’t read any racy books or visit any controversial web sites. Don’t go into Victoria’s Secret, or shop for anything… intimate. Don’t talk about bleeding or …periods. Don’t let anyone see your tampons. Or leakage. Be discrete. Act like you don’t bleed at all. Oh, really nothing about the bathroom. Don’t let air escape you – no burps or farts. Oh, God don’t fart! Don’t overindulge in… things… Only drink water. It looks healthier. Don’t drink…alcohol. Or at least, don’t let anyone catch you drinking alcohol.
Actually, don’t let anyone catch you doing anything. Just stand still, look pretty, be docile and polite.
Because if I don’t submit to these things, people won’t like me.
And if people don’t like me, they won’t support me. They won’t talk to me or appreciate me. They won’t want to be seen with me. They’re going to judge me and talk about me. They’re going to reject me. Don’t give them a reason to reject me! Don’t disappoint anyone! Don’t let anyone down! Everyone must like and admire me!
But after all of that molding and adapting and cinching the moral corset, guess what? There are still people that don’t like me. There are still people that refuse to work with me. There are still people that can’t handle me doing my best.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
― Dita Von Teese
So after all of that exhausting (and pointless) people-pleasing, what happens?
What happens when I let someone in? What happens when I open the door and welcome someone into what I really think and feel? Will they be disappointed anyway? After years of trying to present myself as one perfect thing, who is more deceived? The person that thought I was someone else or me — for stifling my personality, silencing my inner voice and denying my own truth?
People say you should never meet your heroes. Because you find out what they present is usually a façade. A sham. An act. An impossible standard even they couldn’t meet. What happens when we grow up and realize even the most flawless looking role models have been leading a double life? Eventually, all skeletons demand release. Eventually, all masks crack. Eventually, pretending isn’t worth it anymore. Who are you, really? Are you putting all your energy into being someone else? Or are you being yourself on purpose?
2019 is my Flourish year. It’s the year that I’m being Octavia on purpose. It’s the year that I stop catching accidental glimpses of my talents and start intentionally bringing out the light burning within me. It’s the year I stop apologizing for being awesome. It’s the year I quit playing small to make others feel better. It’s the year I realize not everyone is equipped to love me, support me and accept me, on purpose. It’s the year that I stop trying to please and impress people that would probably never like me anyway. It’s the year that I stop worrying about how to be one of the cool kids. It’s the year that I finally stop stressing about how to win the attention and acceptance of people that don’t know me and don’t want to know me. It’s the year that I stop trying to be safe.
I’m not safe.
I’m not predictable. I’m vulnerable and real. I am the kind of hero that is graceful and messy and beautiful and flawed
I need to talk this one out with my favorite therapist: my keyboard.
I’ve been tagged in all the things and murmuring in the groups and dryly commenting snips of my opinion on my Facebook timeline, but then I thought – wait, what am I so afraid of saying out loud? I haven’t held a title in 11 years and I’m completely and fully retired…but I’m still tight-lipped under the fear and shame of actually speaking my mind. I’m still afraid of not sounding like everyone’s favorite sweet, demure, mild-tempered, crown-wearing inspiration. I’m still living under the censor of Miss America.
But I’m not a titleholder any more. I’m a bold, fierce, grown woman who is ready to fearlessly and fully step into her purpose and calling. At least, I’m trying to be. And with that dedication of rebuking inhibitions, let me tell you what I really think – or at least, ask the challenging questions:
I wonder how my sons would feel if someone said those awful things about their mother and I wonder how they would feel if no one did anything about it…
1. Miss America Organization, what do you think are you doing? (Hear me saying that in my most disapproving Mom Voice) Why are you dragging your heels and deliberating over what is very clearly a cut and dry decision? Netflix, CBS and NBC all acted more swiftly and justly than you – and they are for-profit entities. In taking time to “properly” “investigate” (those are air quotes, by the way), you are putting one wealthy white male’s fragility above hundreds of thousands of strong, brilliant, ambitious women you claim to represent and uplift. You’re brushing off all of our #metoo stories, all of our social platforms, all of our hard work and dedication to becoming our best selves and helping the next wave of young women to climb upon our shoulders and achieve higher. Shame. On. You. Suspension? Really? That’s lazy. It’s ineffective, it’s inconsiderate, it’s rude. You, too are a victim of your own censorship; your own imposed keeping-up-appearances lifestyle. It’s time to get raw and vulnerable, and pull the plug on this middle-ground girl-next-door façade. We all know, well-behaved women seldom make history (thank you, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich), so let’s put some hot sauce on these unsalted boiled carrots. It is 2017! In the year of the #metoo campaign, the silence-breakers being our persons of the year, with the march of the nasty women in pink pussy hats, you know better.
It’s time to get raw and vulnerable, and pull the plug on this middle-ground girl-next-door façade.
2. When people find out I was Miss Michigan, their gut reaction is, “Well, gosh I can see why, you are SO BEAUTIFUL!” I choke on my immediate response and accept the compliment – truly, I appreciate the kind words. What makes me gag a little is that people STILL think all we do is smile and wave and say “world peace.” They don’t know about the years I spent practicing my cello until my fingers were numb and immovable; they don’t know about the hours I spent dancing until my toes bled and physically training my body to do beautiful and amazing things on the stage. They don’t know about the hours I spent writing and speaking about the need for cultural diversity at all levels of everything that is American, and how much better humanity would be if we took a moment to empathize and converse with someone of a different background. They don’t know about the time spent writing and rewriting my life view essays, training, and crying, and holding my sisters’ hands as we work ourselves raw to put ourselves through school, and add something worthwhile to our resumes – all so that we can climb just one more rung in the ladder that is still a white man’s world.
The masses still think we are just money-making babes in bikinis and most of them associate us all with Trump’s Miss USA ties. Well, The Miss America Organization is vastly different from the Miss USA Pageant – at least it was until the news broke out. Today, the MAO in the news is nothing but a mirror of the same demeaning, dismissive, heartless, thoughtless, disconnected attitude towards women and genuine character that we see in the White House. It’s disgusting. To the MAO Board, it is your lack of action that is putting ratings, broadcast backing, viewership and support in jeopardy – not the CEO’s deplorable behavior. If you say you’re different, be different. Do the hard thing. Be bold. Be fearless. Maybe we just need a woman of color running that place. We made it happen in Alabama. Let’s get it done in MAO.
Today, the MAO in the news is nothing but a mirror of the same demeaning, dismissive, heartless, thoughtless, disconnected attitude towards women and genuine character that we see in the White House.
3. Miss America is NOT just another beauty pageant. It used to be. It was made to be. But it has since evolved into the largest scholarship organization in the country, helping to put young women through school and repay student loans. It is the only “pageant” system that requires talent on and off the stage. We have intimidating academic aspirations and accomplishments; we donate hours upon hours of our time and talent to spur our society onto some better version of itself; our cultures, practices and skin tones and bodies come from all curves of the globe; we eat right, work out, take care of our families and friends, and we look damn good doing it. It’s time that the state and national leadership – reflected this. Why isn’t Miss America being run by a woman and backed by a thoughtful, compassionate, world-changing, forward-thinking, culturally and ethnically diverse, Board?
As a mother of half-white sons, I wonder what they think of me. I wonder how they see my role in their lives and how that translates to all women – all Black women. I wonder if I’m raising them to be the kind of man that will not only NEVER call a woman a c*nt, but would also bravely stand up to the kind of disgusting man that would. I wonder if they will not look at a woman as “other” or “less than.” I wonder if they see my hard work and will in turn do that hard work themselves, or if they will just expect other woman to pick up the slack for them. I wonder these things. I lose sleep over these things. I pray that my boys will grow into men that know better. Men that wouldn’t bring another white man onto an already monochromatic team – men that will deliberately look to work for and with and uplift women of all colors – men that will be honorable and make just and fast and swift decisions with compassion and care, putting the safety and peace of mind of others before their own selfish gain…and I wonder how my sons would feel if someone said those awful things about their mother and I wonder how they would feel if no one did anything about it…
Earlier this week, I shared an article about Training Your Partner/How to Start a Relationship off Right and I fittingly, had the opportunity to put Step 5 into practice this week, too (see my final word below).
I had been on a few dates with someone and there were red flags that I noticed but chose to ignore in the name of being mature and responsible and giving this person the benefit of the doubt. Once I followed my own advice, Steps 1-4, it was most definitely time for Step 5. Why? Because he was exhibiting abusive behavior. It was subtle, sneaky. I didn’t really see it happening. He was a fun and pleasant person, and I genuinely enjoyed his company. But in the midst of our good time, he would insult me and challenge me so regularly, I started to feel inadequate. And then I realized why: I was allowing myself to endure abuse.
Finally, there are names for these patterns. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s time to learn, look and listen. Equip yourself and be aware: This. Is. Abuse.
Negging is that tricky subtle negative garbage that is intended to knock down your confidence just enough so that you’ll be more <air quotes> approachable. The Neg-slinger hopes to pique your interest for being seemingly so disinterested with you that they treat you as if you’re nothing special. AKA passive aggressive insults. AKA bullying.
In this article, where negging is introduced as a pick-up method complete with tips and tricks for using the best neg at the best time to get the girl you want, the author also warns against using the negging <air quotes>“technique” inappropriately, where is comes out as an actual insult. Well guess what, it is an actual insult. Negging is bullying. Negs are passive aggressive self-esteem-crushing blows no matter how you want to define and refine it. Negging is bullying. Bullying is abuse. Do not put up with it.
Some that I heard recently:
“Wow, cute top! I love last season knock-offs.”
“Omigod, I can’t believe you’re not wearing tights. That dress is so short. Aren’t you cold?”
“Three kids, huh? What’d the third one do walk outta there?”
“Wow, cute top! I love last season knock-offs.”
Please imagine my face in response. There were no words. <Negger, please.>
Have you ever been made to feel like you don’t remember things correctly, or your judgement is off, or that you’re just plain going crazy? Yes, that’s a thing. That’s an abuse thing. It’s called gaslighting. Gaslighting is when your abuser makes you question your own sanity.
“Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The term owes its origin to the 1938 play Gas Light and its film adaptations. The term has been used in clinical and research literature.” (Wikipedia)
“Wow, you totally made that up.”
Unfortunately, gaslighting and negging can go hand in hand. Because in the context where you might actually stand up for yourself against a neg, a gaslighter might say:
“Wow, you totally made that up.”
“You’re just too sensitive.”
“I’ll talk to you when you’re not PMSing.”
No, a-hole you need to stop being a jerk. It’s not me. It’s you. I’m not internalizing things incorrectly; you are saying hurtful things and you need to stop.
Gaslighting is a high-stakes mind-game for control of your emotional and psychological dependence. Be aware. Your experience, perception, and opinions are all valid, especially when you feel hurt.
Emotional abuse is brutal. It peels back your skin and digs its nails into your most vulnerable places. It’s an infection that seeps into your soul, telling you there’s something wrong with you; you’re not good enough; you’re a disappointment; no one wants you. Emotional abuse speaks life into whatever your self-defeating thoughts are. It crumbles you from the inside out, ultimately making you fully dependent upon the abuser as you fight for their approval. But it will never come. You will bend over to satisfy them, but they are insatiable. You’ll fear the same rejection by a stranger so you want to stay where its comfortable. At least you have someone right?
Be strong, be confident. Even if you have to do it alone. You deserve to be happy, comfortable and fully accepted by yourself as well as in your relationships. If someone isn’t making you feel seen, loved and valued, then you deserve better.
So, here’s what I sent to my once-gentleman caller after I had certainly endured quite enough of both his negging and gaslighting:
I just listened to your message. Let me be clear that I am not now and was not Friday riled up, angry, or upset; nor have I overreacted. I am very calm and matter-of-fact. I know what kind of man I want to share my time with and energy on and you have simply shown that you are not that man. Plain and simple.
We are not married. I am not obligated to keep company with someone who has imposed negative critique on both my physical figure and my home in addition to continually taking a teacher/preacher tone with me as if I need to learn lessons in patience, wisdom, confidence and my family relationships. I have the right not to entertain a relationship where I do not feel fully accepted and cared-for as-is. I do not need to be coached/changed/fixed/improved/educated and if I do I will take the initiative myself, not because you told me to.
I appreciate your effort after the fact, but I cannot trust words, only the actions you have shown me and what you have shown me is that you want to be with someone tidier, more physically fit, and willing to be lectured. I am not that person. I am quite comfortable in my skin and in my apartment and I am mature enough to handle my own relationships and decisions without you imposing unsolicited advice.
In your next relationship I do hope you do not imply her body or home need improvement. Most women will not respond well to that or as mildly as I have. Also, thank you but no thank you for dinner. If you’ve already got one foot in DC, I really don’t see the point even if you managed to stop casually insulting me on a regular basis. I’m certain there is someone that is a better fit for you as I am sure there is for me as well. Good luck.
AND SCENE. Do not settle. Be strong. Advocate for yourself. It is much better to be alone and healthy and happy, than in a relationship that is defeating and miserable.
Part of my Road to Relovery includes accepting myself – every part of myself – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and the hardest one, physically.
I’ve been shamed and teased about my body shape and even coached on how to hide the curves and how to learn to walk or sit or dress differnently so that I look “normal.”
Now I’m at a place where I don’t need external validation because I’ve validated myself.
But guess what…
A Big Butt Is A Healthy Butt: Women With Big Butts Are Smarter And Healthier – ELITE DAILY
Sometimes it just feels so good when science tells you it’s all good.
past tense: validated; past participle: validated
check or prove the validity or accuracy of (something).
“these estimates have been validated by periodic surveys”
demonstrate or support the truth or value of.
“in a healthy family a child’s feelings are validated”
synonyms: prove, substantiate, corroborate, verify, support, back up, bear out, lend force to, confirm, justify, vindicate, authenticate
“clinical trials now exist to validate this claim”
make or declare legally valid.
synonyms: ratify, endorse, approve, agree to, accept, authorize, legalize, legitimize, warrant, license, certify, recognize
“250 certificates need to be validated”
|synonyms:||obstinate, headstrong, willful, strong-willed, pigheaded, obdurate, difficult,contrary, perverse, recalcitrant, inflexible, iron-willed, uncompromising,unbending; More|
Today – and as I grow, heal, mature, and hopefully evermore – I am stubborn. Being the peacekeeping, balance-loving, diplomatic Libra that I am, I usually believe there is always a compromise and solution – we just need to explore the possibilities and find it. But there are some things I have learned are nonnegotiable. Some things are what they are – some people are who they are – and I’m finally learning to be unapologetically me.
So, Sorry. I’m not sorry. The list below is my final farewell to things about myself I have learned to love, despite others’ – yes real people’s – strong suggestions to change, eliminate, or “correct” – and yes, I said “correct” with a side-eye. Skip you. I’m not sorry.
I’m not sorry for having a wide nose.
I’m not sorry for having full lips.
I’m not sorry for having brown skin.
I’m not sorry for having dark scars.
I’m not sorry for having dark brown eyes.
I’m not sorry for looking like Vanessa Williams.
I’m not sorry for having a bubble butt.
I’m not sorry for having a lisp.
I’m not sorry for having a crooked smile.
I’m not sorry for having brown gums.
I’m not sorry for having bulging eyes.
I’m not sorry for not talking how you think I should talk.
I’m not sorry I’m independent.
I’m not sorry I’m not attached to my phone.
I’m not sorry I didn’t want a second date.
I’m not sorry I passionately want to explore all my talents.
I’m not sorry I want to be a working mother.
I’m not sorry the laundry isn’t always clean.
I’m not sorry the house isn’t always spotless.
I’m not sorry I hate shaving my arm pits.
I’m not sorry I get hair bumps when I do reluctantly shave them.
I’m not sorry I also hate shaving my ahem…
I’m not sorry I don’t shower every day.
I’m not sorry I have thick, coarse, self-knotting hair.
I’m not sorry I have short nails.
I’m not sorry I have rough palms.
I’m not sorry I love everyone.
I’m not sorry I love white people.
I’m not sorry I love black people.
I’m not sorry I’m black.
I’m not sorry my pelvis isn’t flexible.
I’m not sorry I don’t always enjoy chicken wings.
I’m not sorry I’m allergic to watermelon.
I’m not sorry I defy your stereotypes.
I’m not sorry I have stripy stretch marks after carrying four children.
I’m not sorry I will never look the same in a bikini.
I’m not sorry for wearing a bikini.
I’m not sorry for being vulnerable.
I’m not sorry for speaking freely.
I’m not sorry for having ideas.
I’m not sorry for talking.
I’m not sorry for speaking up.
I’m sorry for singing.
I’m not sorry for refusing to work for free.
I’m not sorry my name is hard to pronounce.
I’m not sorry I’m afraid of the dark.
I’m not sorry I’m a slow reader.
I’m not sorry I don’t enjoy deep analytical conversations.
I’m not sorry for walking away from an abusive situation.
I’m not sorry for exiting an abusive conversation.
I’m not sorry for refusing to participate in gossip.
I’m not sorry having a tattoo.
I’m not sorry for wanting a hundred more.
I’m not sorry for liking tattoos.
I’m not sorry for being attractive.
I’m not sorry for dressing well.
I’m not sorry for not giving you my phone number.
I’m not sorry for not smiling when I don’t feel like smiling.
I’m not sorry for following my dreams.
I’m not sorry for loving karaoke.
I’m not sorry for enjoying TV.
I’m not sorry for loving a day on the couch.
I’m not sorry for having abstract ideas.
I’m not sorry for being creative.
I’m not sorry for not fitting into your box.
I’m not sorry for not being Michelle Obama.
I’m not sorry for having goals.
I’m not sorry for laughing too loud.
I’m not sorry for dancing too much.
I’m not sorry for being silly.
I’m not sorry my feet stink some times.
I’m not sorry for farting.
I’m not sorry for slacking on my pedicures.
I’m not sorry for having a sweet tooth.
I’m not sorry for having three children.
I’m not sorry I refused to be talked down to.
I’m not sorry for being intuitive.
I’m not sorry for being right.
I’m not sorry for making mistakes.
I’m not sorry for being happy.
I’m not sorry for being sad.
I’m not sorry for needing help.
I’m not sorry for falling in love.
I’m not sorry for changing my mind.
I’m not sorry for believing in magic.
I’m not sorry for being Christian.
I’m not sorry for looking for the truth in all religions.
I’m not sorry for saying, “No.”
I’m not sorry for being strong.
I’m not sorry for being brave.
I’m not sorry for not counting calories.
I’m not sorry I’m finally starting to know my worth.
I’m not sorry for being Octavia.
Blogging is hard. Blogging is especially hard when your blogging isn’t what keeps your lights on. Blogging is especially super mega hard when you want to put all your stuff out there, but…you can’t put all your stuff out there.
What’s not hard, is going to my Happy Place when I feel overwhelmed and frustrated – whether by my own doing or external. When I need to escape or need to be reminded of what I really love in all this world – besides my adorable children – I close my eyes, take a deep breath and envision my alternate reality. That’s right, what I really love in this world – besides my adorable children – is the power of imaginative creativity.
So that’s where I went. That’s where I’ve been. Playing with my imaginary friends and getting ready to continue their story. The next volume is long overdue, but here she comes. Taryn and her gang are back. And I am so excited – thrilled – and healed – because of her.
Get ready for Volume 3 – there’s plenty of time to catch up on the first two novellas. Check ’em out!
Want to read a piece? Check out one of my favorite chapters here on LinkedIn.
I’ve learned so much about myself over the last year – especially that I have introvert tendencies and need time to be a hermit. I need that alone time to recharge my own battery and recover from the world. I’m an empath on many levels and my non-stop interaction with people can be as draining as it is energizing.
Anyhoo, it was during my hermit mode last night as I plopped on the couch after work and barely moved til morning. I turned on the TV, which I rarely get time to do and I simply potatoed. I watched an interview on Oprah’s Where Are They Now with Kathy Kinney. Yes, Drew’s very own Mimi character.
Well, this woman is brilliant.
She has a book and blog called QUEEN of your own life. She said, “Happiness is an inside job. When you compare your insides to someone else’s outside, you will always come up short. When someone is working overtime to give you the message that you are not “enough,” that’s a glaring sign to turn on your heels and walk away. In fact, run away. That person or group of people are toxic.”
So while I was a hermit last night, I was about to turn on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, simply because I like watching women parade around sometimes. I mean who doesn’t…I am a former beauty queen after all. But then I decided, no. No. I’m going to sit here and watch Ghostbusters. And then I’m going get up and make a quesadilla. And then I’m going to come back to this here very spot on my couch and watch Home Alone 2. I made the conscious decision not to watch those mostly naked ladies. Why? Because I would feel like shit today.
Because all I would do is stare at their unnaturally flawless skin, hair, breasts, butts, and waistlines; their hair-bump-less underarms and bikini lines; their unobtainable legginess. And then I would take tedious mental notes of how not a single part of my body looks like an inch of theirs and never has and never will.
And then, I thought about Mimi. I’m sorry. Her name is Kathy. I thought about Kathy.
When you compare your insides to someone else’s outside, you will always come up short.
I thought about being my own Queen. I thought about how my own Road to Relovery is undoing years of feeling like the dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. It’s partially about dating and searching for romance, but it’s also about loving myself first. So, no. I didn’t watch Vicky See’s last night. I sat on my couch and ate my dang quesadilla. And this morning, I felt rested. I felt sexy. I felt powerful. I felt like I could conquer the world.