Monday, January 28, 2013

Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken

[photo via]
I've written about this quote before. It speaks volumes to me. Everyday, I learn more and more about myself and everyday I learn to show the world more of who I am and less of who I think people want me to be.

It's not always easy.

But it is always necessary.

Last week, I turned down a pretty good (and well paid!) social media campaign because I knew that it wasn't a good fit for this place and space. I knew that there was no way I could put a personal spin on the topic at hand and present it to my beloved readers -- you. I knew that I wouldn't have gotten anything from it (except, maybe a few pairs of shoes and outfits from the payout... I kid, I kid). But, most importantly, I knew that it wouldn't serve this audience in the way that I've set forth to serve this audience.

So I said, "No."

And it felt good.

I've chosen to be myself in this place and space. My single mom, delicious self who works hard, plays hard, and is almost getting it [kind of] together. I share my trials and triumphs because it speaks to people and it helps someone along their own journey. I try to be candid, even if that means being vulnerable and "putting it all out there."

It's not always easy, but at the end of the day, it feels... right.

So today -- and everyday! -- I want to encourage you to be yourself. Share your journey and share your story with others. (Trust me on this: someone somewhere is waiting to hear it.)

You're fabulous. Not to mention, everyone else is already taken.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Won't Let Him Down

Aiden has been spending more and more time with older men. It’s been a blessing to both of us, but mainly to him.

He wants it. 

He needs it. 

That rough-and-tumble-this-is-testosterone-territory, I-love-my-mother-but-this-other-person-TOTALLY-gets-me moment seems to be what he lives for these days. 

I'm beginning to notice it more and more. And I've been doing something about it -- seeing to it that he spends more meaningful and productive time with other males.

But something happened a few weeks ago that made my heart sink. 

My friend A, Aiden, and I were playing with his toys on the living floor of my apartment, and, in the midst of laughter and smiles, Aiden called him, “daddy.” 

I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and I’m not even sure if A noticed the Freudian slip, but in that very moment, I felt sorry... 

Sorry that I didn’t pick a better parenting partner to help raise Aiden; sorry that Aiden doesn’t get to call someone “daddy” every day; sorry that Aiden doesn’t have the security in a father that he deserves. Just… sorry

That night, as I read Aiden a bedtime story, tucked him in, gave him sweet hugs and kisses again and again and again, and rubbed his back until he fell asleep, I vowed to have him spend as much time with other lovely male mentors as he needs. 

He wants it. So badly.

And more importantly, he needs it. So badly.

It's so very crucial to his development. 

And so.

It's up to me to see to it that it happens. I can't let him down.

I won't let him down.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{Personal Style} The Work Pants

[pants: Joe Fresh; blouse, shirt: F21; shoes, ring: Aldo; lip: Rimmel London]
There's something about skinny jeans that I love. They make my legs look long and slender, and they pretty much go with everything.

Except... I can't wear 'em to work.

So I've been on the hunt for a pair of pants that I can wear to work, but that also has a "slim and skinny" fit. (I totally just made that term up.) I was at a loss until I stumbled upon these bad boys from Joe Fresh (one of my new fave stores, by the way). And, now I'm in love.

They're trendy and fashionable, and totally work-appropriate. Score!

I paired it with a pale pink blouse with a necktie, a vest, and patent pumps for a sophisticated flare.

And, of course, there's my top knot that's been my super easy, no-fuss, go-to hair style these days. Although... the FLOTUS totally has me crushing on her bangs and I'm seriously contemplating a hair-style change.

Hope you all have a very stylish week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Moms Want From President Obama

[photo via]
I'm not here to tell you want moms want. I'm here to ask you. I'm writing a piece for an online publication and we want to know what you want to see from Obama in his second term. So whether you voted for him or not, and no matter where you stand politically, I would love to here your opinions on the following:
  • healthcare
  • education
  • gun control laws
  • environmental issues
  • anything else you deem important
Your name and age (if you feel comfortable sharing it) will be included with your quote. You can either leave your quote in the comments section or email it to me directly at

Let's have America hear our voices.

Ready... set... GO! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Confronting and Releasing Your Fears

[photo via]
Most of the time, I like to think that I'm a put-together grown-up. I've written about this before. But being a grown-up is hard sometimes. Sometimes, I have to deal with things that I don't want to deal with (at the moment), but I have to deal with because dealing with it is what makes me a mature grown-up.

Sometimes I'm successful at this sooner than later.

But sometimes... I'm a straight up punk. I stall. I avoid. And I convince myself that I need to stall and avoid because it's a defense mechanism, some sort of a survival tactic.

I'm not even kidding.

But this year, in order to experience progress, I'm resolving to do more things that scare me. Starting now.

This week, there are three things that I plan to confront, deal with, and then release.
1. Talk to my school's Principal about an uncomfortable subject that's been on my mind for the past week-and-a-half.
When it comes down to it, the topic is not even a big deal. But I've been maybe kinda sorta avoiding the inevitable conversation because having the conversation will make me uncomfortable. But... I just have to do it and be done with it.

2. Read an email from Aiden's School Psychologist.
The email is a follow-up conversation that she and I had three weeks ago (prior to him going on Winter Break). To my defense: she just sent the email to me two days ago and I've been really, really, really busy since then. (*Wink*) But I will open it. Today. And read her thoughts. Today. And respond to it. Today. And deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. Today.

3. Actually open a bill that I received a few days ago.
It's been looking so sad just sitting there on my kitchen counter. Unopened. (Am I the only one who does this?! Don't answer that.) The funny thing is, I know how much the statement is. And I know exactly when I'm going to pay the darn thing. But I still haven't opened it because I don't want to face it and actually see the number and do the mental math and face the fact that X amount of dollars will be used on a bill instead of on something more important, like, say, shoes. Just kidding. (And yes, I'm a punk.)

But this week, I will put my big-girl pants on, suck it up, and deal with it. Because I know that it's going to be okay. And I'll see that I was being a total punk for no apparent reason at all.

The only way to get through hard things is to go (and grow) through it. After all, they don't call it "growing pains" for nothing!

Monday, January 14, 2013

{Dating Tales} Date Smarter in 2013

It’s fourteen days into the new year and I’ve decided that one of the things I’m going to do in 2013 is this: date smarter.

Let’s face it: dating smarter helps protect you from messy breakups and heartaches that’ll make you want to do nothing but lie in bed on a Saturday morning even though your son is saying over and over again, “Let’s discuss our plan for today, Mommy! What are we going to do?” But it’ll be tragic if you answered by saying that the only thing you’d like to do is lay there. All day long. And possibly eat ice cream. All day long.

(Totally not talking about myself here.)

In order to avoid this catastrophe and date smarter, I’ve come up with a list of things to do as a single mom who dates:

1. Date different types of guys.
I love that dating shenanigans have a way of being pleasantly surprising. And, more often than not, when I accept an offer from a guy I thought I wouldn’t be into because he wasn’t “my type,” I end up having a really good time and enjoying a new experience. It’s a total win-win.

Head on over to The Date Report to read the rest of the article. As always, feel free to "like" or share it all over the Internet. Just sayin'...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Almost Getting It [Kind of] Together

I’d like to think that I’m pretty put together.

I have a very demanding job and go to work and give it my best. I make conscious decisions about parenting and try my best to think things through whenever it pertains to Aiden. I write almost daily so that I can update this space and meet other freelance deadlines that I have. I workout. Most of the time. I make healthy eating choices and drink lots of water. Most of the time. I take time for myself when I can and I also make time for friendships. Most of the time. Oh, and I go to church to work on my relationship with God.

From the outside looking in, I’ve got it together. Most of the time.

But I’m not Super Woman.

In fact, I’m nowhere near being Super Woman. And sometimes I’m holding things together by a thread. A very thin thread. Sometimes I forget things. Sometimes I take longer than I expected to adjust to new things. Sometimes I want to kick and scream and throw a tantrum because I’m stressed out. Sometimes… life kicks my ass.

But when I wear my burdens lightly and gracefully, I come off as “strong" and "capable" and "Super Woman." The trouble with that is, people think that I’ve got it all figured out and that I'm always put together.

I don’t have it all figured out. I don't pretend to, either. I'm not always put together. I don't pretend to be, either. I'm pretty transparent about that on this place and space. Sometimes… life kicks my ass.

But I’m working on it. I’m working hard at it. And I’m putting it together. And I’m trying to keep it together. 

I hardly ever watch the show Girls, but I saw the tagline on a bus last night and it spoke to me – “Almost getting it kind of together.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

{Dating Tales} Should This Be A Deal Breaker?

[photo via]

I'm a Writer.

Well, let's back that up a bit. I write things for the Internet sometimes. It's a nice part time gig and one that I absolutely love.

I'm also an Educator. I used to be a Teacher and now I work as part of the leadership team in an elementary charter school.

That being said, I'm a stickler for grammar and punctuation. Proper grammar and proper punctuation. Ask Aiden and ask anyone of my former students. That's just how I am and I don't think it's asking for too much.

That being said, I just can't bring myself to date someone who makes basic grammatical errors. I've been talking to this guy -- let's just call him BGG (Bad Grammar Guy) -- and, about a week ago, I told him this: I'm not interested in dating you.

When he responded by saying, "I'm wondering what's missing n you eyes," I wanted to reply, "IT'S YOUR GRAMMAR!"

But I didn't.

Of course, it's not only his grammar. It's his spelling and punctuation too. (Just kidding. Sorta. He's really a nice guy and all, but I'm just not feeling him in that way.)

If you were to go back and read my previous posts/Facebook status updates/Tweets, I'm sure you'll find a grammatical error here and there. But I won't date someone who constantly makes grammatical errors as though he didn't finish third grade, especially since English is his first language.

[photo via]

I cringe whenever I read a text from him that says, "Ok kewl just sayin hi."

Newsflash: A 30-year-old man should know where a period goes. Period. And he should not say "kewl" when the word is "cool."

That's not cool. At all.

Bad grammar is a definite deal-breaker for this delicious single gal.

But, here's the thing: Am I being too weird/shallow/stuck up about this? What's a definite deal-breaker for you?

Editor's Note: This post, which was entitled Bad Grammar Guy, was originally published on August 1, 2012. Now there's a potential new guy (more on that in a later post... stay tuned), but the same issue -- bad grammar. (Is this some kind of trend that I missed the memo for?!) He thinks it shouldn't be that big of a deal since it's just texting. What are your thoughts? Am I being too picky?

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Things Our Kids Teach Us

[Aiden, at the Ann Hamilton Event of A Thread Exhibit]
Scene: Aiden and I are talking about random things. Every and anything. The conversation suddenly turns to talk about Skylanders, a game (or action figures or some sort of new "thing") that all the kids in his class are obsessed with, yet I am not getting it for him until he's at least 6-years-old. Call me "Mean Mommy."

Aiden: Can we go to Target to look at the Skylanders toys?
Me: No.
Aiden: But I'm not... um, um, you don't have to buy it because I'm not 6-years-old, but I just want --
Me: No. But we can discuss it when you're 6-years-old. That game is not for a five-year-old.
(Shocked. And a little annoyed.) Mommy, I didn’t finish what I was saying!
Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll stop doing that from now on.
(Continues with his suggestion. I listened to the entire thing this time. But I still didn't take him to Target.)

Two days later…
Aiden and I are talking about random things. Every and anything. The conversation suddenly turns to talk about Skylanders, a game (or action figures or some sort of new "thing") that all the kids in his class are obsessed with, yet I am not getting it for him until he's at least 6-years-old. Call me "Mean Mommy."

Aiden: Can we go to Target to look at the Skylanders toys?
Me: No.
Aiden: But I'm not... um, um, you don't have to buy it because I'm not 6-years-old, but I just want --
Me: (A little annoyed. I mean, seriously! How many times are we gonna talk about this toy?!) No! But we can discuss it when you're 6-years-old. That game is not for a five-year-old.
Aiden: (Shocked. And more than a little annoyed.) Mommy, I didn’t finish what I was saying! You said you we're going to do that anymore!

And just like that, Aiden taught me something else about life.

Sometimes I tend to cut people off at times when I think I know what they’re going to say. So sometimes I tend to finish off their sentences or answer their questions before they finish speaking. (I call it "Saving Time," but I guess it's kinda rude.) 

And my five-year-old is teaching me to stop doing this. And let people finish their sentences and statements and questions. Because what they have to say is important. It’s not just about me and my precious time.

Man, I love that kid for all the lessons he teaches me.

What are some things you’ve learned from your children?

Friday, January 4, 2013

{Guest Post} Raising Mommy

Written by Chanel Free

As a new mom, I always think about what I can do to give my girls the best life possible. I'm not talking about material things (although that is part of it) I'm more focused on having them grow up to be well rounded young women that understand their worth, set goals, and pursue them to the best of their ability. Essentially, I want to raise them right.

Give them the best of the best, teach them all the lessons I have learned, shield them from hurt and pain, and be a great role model. I will be damned if my girls look up to Nicki Minaj because they don't have a positive female at home that shows them the way. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to judge anyone, but I believe that the reason many young girls get off track in life is because they don't have full-time positive role models to look up to.

All of my focus is on 'raising' them and doing the best that I can for them as a mother. Never ever did I imagine that they would be raising me. Teaching me lessons. Showing me things about life through their eyes. All this time, I was thinking about what I can do for them never considering what they could bring into my life. Obviously, I knew that having kids would be a joyful experience and that's what I had hoped for. But, I hadn't contemplated that they would be teaching me--Raising Mommy!

[Chanel and London]
London is 2 years old and Violet is 2 months old. One summer afternoon, London and I were enjoying some mommy and baby time. We were coloring and she was having such a great time. She had just learned how to use her new crayons and was fascinated by the fact that she could write on something including the walls in my house (but that's a whole other post). Each time she made a mark in the book she screamed and smiled. Me on the other hand, I was coloring inside the lines trying to make our picture perfect. Then, it hit me!

You don't need to be perfect! Sometimes, its okay to be all over the place, to just be free and enjoy the moment. Not worrying about what the outcome will be or what others will say. I guess, I got so caught up with taking care of myself, my man, my kids, my home, and pursing my career that I had lost some of my ability to be free.

I had trained myself to be structured and focused so that I could manage all of the things I have on my plate. In that very moment, London had taught me to always remember to enjoy life. Let go! Be free! Appreciate the little things!

Motherhood is complex. There is no handbook to show you whats right or wrong. The funny thing is, when moms tell their daughters about motherhood and when women share their stories about becoming moms they boisterously talk about the hardships of parenting, but whisper about powerful moments that shape us and our little ones.

As parents we make lots of sacrifices and burn the midnight oil just to make sure that your kids are safe and secure, but I urge you to be open to learning from your little ones. They have lots of value to add to your life. By encouraging them to do their best, we can also learn to be our best. Embrace the experience. Savor each precious moment. And enjoy all that motherhood has to offer.

About the author: Chanel is a Brooklyn mother of two beautiful baby girls named London and Violet and girlfriend and partner to an amazing man named Jay. When she's not at her day job as an Advocate Counselor, she blogs over on Unleashing Your Bad B.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nine Ways to Experience Progress This Year

[photo via]
The New Year always calls for a time of reflection. Of past successes, past failures, and past lessons learned. It also calls for a time of thinking of the future and focusing on my hopes and dreams, goals and visions.

If I could pick one word to describe the year that I’d like to have in 2013, it would be progress. I’d like for you, for this community, and for me to progress in all areas of our lives.

But I know that in order for progress to take place, there are certain things in our lives that need to happen. Starting now. So, this year, I hope and pray that you…

Do things that scare you more.
It’ll be uncomfortable, no doubt. But out of that uncomfortable feeling will come tremendous growth. Trust me on this.

Do things that you enjoy a little more.
Life is stressful enough with all the things that you have to do. Throw something in there that you like to do to every once in a while. Seriously. Hobbies are good for the soul.

Be less busy and more productive, as my Pastor Cochy would say.
Like I said, life can get crazy at times. But prioritize in order to get things done. Work smarter (and not just harder).

Be focused.
Decipher where you need to invest your time and energy and actually take the steps to do just that. Some things are just not worth it because it’s not fruitful. Be bold enough to walk away from those things.

Save more money.
Even if you’re only able to put a few more dollars into a savings account each month, do it. I have a pretty ambitious financial goal this year, but I’m also excited about it. (More on that in a later post.) Don’t wait. Start now. At the end of 2013, you’ll be happy you did.

Make wise career decisions.
Take steps to get where you want to go in your career. I did and the results have been pretty sweet.

Confront your past.
And seek healing from past hurt and past pain. This will help restore all other areas of your life. It’ll also help you to be awakened enough to love differently. And courageous enough to receive love.

Date smarter.
If you’re married, date your spouse. (I’m not married, but I hear dating your spouse is fun.) If you’re single, have fun getting to know others. Enjoy new experiences with them. But develop an emotional and spiritual connection before you develop a physical one. You’ll be happy you did when it’s all said and done.

Nurture the gift that’s within you.
So many of us are gifted and talented in so many ways, yet we don’t share those gifts with others. But, our gifts are not our own. Our stories and struggles are not for us alone. They are there to help someone else. Know this: there is someone somewhere waiting for you to share your gift. 

So... start today. After all, there's no time like the present.

Happy New Year darlings! I wish you all health and happiness, progress and prosperity, loads of love, and a little more sparkle. (And pink!) I hope this is your most epic year yet!


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