In many, many many cases, you should not be using the word “bullying” to describe a conflict in which you are involved.
I am so over grown men and women telling other grown men and women that they have been bullied when in fact, someone was just plain 'ole mean to them.
Words mean things. They are powerful and we can not just throw them around like used dish rags.
Here is the definition of the word “bully”:
" to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants."
In case you are still not comprehending, “superior strength or influence” is when someone is physically stronger or positionally stronger than you AND that person is actually USING their physical strength or positional influence to compel you to do or not do something. If you are missing any element of this definition, YOU ARE NOT BEING BULLIED.
Yes, I am using all capital letters and I am yelling at you. Because I should not have to explain this to adults. Saying that you are being bullied when no bullying is happening is a slap in the face to people who are ACTUALLY BEING BULLIED. You are not being bullied, sis. You are the boy who cried wolf. #StopIt
Please stop using this word to describe when another adult is mean to you. Someone talking badly to you or about you is not bullying. Someone who says things about you that you don't like is NOT bullying. Yes, these adults are being mean to you and that is unfortunate. When this happens, you have to be a grown up and use some conflict resolution skills. You may have to communicate with the other adult about their unacceptable, mean behavior. You may have to go talk to HR about the other adult who is being inappropriate. You may have to (wait for it)....ignore them. What you don’t get to do is throw around a buzz word in an attempt to shame them into leaving you alone. No one is interested in your sad, faux-bullying allegory, sis. You can’t hide behind the word "bullying" because you want people to feel sorry for you.
There are actual children in America who are out here getting bullied at school and church and in their communities everyday. Real women are ACTUALLY being bullied and harassed in their workplace. Members of the LGBTQ community have real stories of how people in power try to shame them and disrespect them into hiding their identifies. There are real-life black people and latino people and asian people who are forced (mostly by the majority) to change their hair, hide their culture or learn a new language. You do not get to join that struggle just because someone was mean to you.
The problem with overuse of the word is that when attention-seeking adults overuse the word "bully" it becomes a buzz word. Buzz words often desensitize society. People in society often pay less attention when actual victims are describing their horrendous experience. Horrendous experiences like that of Aiden Vasquez, a 10-year-old boy who was beat up by a gang bullies after they took his backpack and then beat him up. Or like Kheris Rogers, an 11-year-old girl who had to transfer to a different school because other children were physically intimidating her because of her darker complexion (By the way, Rogers is now booked and unbothered. She started a t-shirt line called #FlexinInMyComplexion which went viral and she has a whole modeling career now. So...#Bloop). There’s also the 42% of Muslim children in this country who get beat up or spat upon just because they exercise their RIGHT to freedom of religion. Doing the very thing that the forefathers of this country fought for. Let that sink in.
Grown Person...the next time someone is mean to you; before you loosely throw around the word “bully” I want you to think of these children and see if what you’re dealing with remotely compares.
Spoiler Alert: Chances are, it doesn’t.
Ahhh, another year, another “New Year New You” Facebook post.
On December 31st, millions of saints and aints will head to their favorite Watch Night Service (some of whom will go there and then head to the club) and ring in the new year by praising the Lordt and asking him to bless those 2018 goals. Pastors all over the country will be praying down the angels from heaven and asking that their members be blessed in abundance, with cups that runneth over, chile. And undeniably, people are going to shout “AMEN” when the Pastor asks God to do “a new thing” in 2018.
But lean in, sis. Let me let you in on a little secret. God has done enough.
There’s a scripture in the Bible that says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” For the most part, people do a really good job on the first leg of the race. We are pretty good at asking. We find all kinds of ways to make requests. We tell our friends. We write it down. We make elaborate vision boards. We journal about it. We post it on social media. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. Heck, I’ve done every single one of them. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. But, that’s normally where we stop. And, to make matters worse, after we stop (and subsequently don’t reach our goals), we blame it on goal-setting. “That’s why I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions….they don’t even work.”
No boo. YOU didn’t work.
So, let’s try something different in 2018. Instead of laying at the altar and crying for the 30 minutes about your how your dreams and desires from 2017 didn’t come true; instead of treating your church’s New Year’s Eve service like a pep rally before a football game; instead of petitioning God yet again about the same goals you had in 2017 (and 2016 and 2015 and 2014); let’s do some work. Let’s look at the other two parts of that scripture and let’s execute.
The Second Leg - Seeking
Do some research and create a plan for your goals. Don’t just talk about losing weight. Find a program to join that will teach you about portion control. Do some research on the internet about foods you need to eat and then plan some time to prep your meals for the week. Don’t just set a goal to start that nonprofit. Go to Google, type in “How to Start a Nonprofit” and figure out what steps you need to take. Then, plan out a deadline for when you are going to take those steps.
Remember that when you set a goal it needs to be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and results based and time-sensitive. That being said, “I want to be healthy” is not a goal; that’s a wish. “I want to lose 15 lbs in 4 months” is a goal.
The Third Leg - Knocking
Too often, we are asking and seeking with no action. We go to God with these amazing dreams (and we may even do the research) and then we expect that He’s going to magically drop those accomplished dreams in our lap. Bye, Felicia. God has done enough. He has given you life, health and strength. He gave you the idea for the goal or dream you want to accomplish. He gave His son who has provided you with redemption and salvation. He gave you Google. You can literally type in a question about how to do ANYTHING and in less than a second, you can get thousands and thousands of answers. Chile, what else do you want? God to do it for you? Nope. It’s your turn to put in some work for the things you want out of life. It’s your turn to knock on some doors. Ask for help from your network. Say your dreams out loud to as many people as will listen. You never know...someone you know may know someone else who can help you accomplish your goal. But the time for hoping your dreams come to pass without any actual work on your part is O.V.E.R. You want it? You gotta be #TeamAction in 2018.
If you’re interested in putting some action behind your dreams, subscribe to shannondenean.com to stay connected. In January, we’ll be setting up a community of people who are serious about reaching their goals as well as providing sure-fire methods to helping you get to the finish line of your dreams. We’ll also provide you with some check-ins to keep you on point.
Pssst. Come closer. I have a little secret.
I'm not exactly the beauty queen you think I am.
“Huh?” I hear you saying. “You? With your flowy, sparkly pageant dresses and 3 big ol' crowns and your gazillions of photos on Facebook which clearly show that you're one of those rhinestone princesses??? You're not 'exactly' a beauty queen?”
Not. At. All.
Recently, I competed in the Miss Plus America Pageant (MPA), an affair I lovingly nicknamed The Rhinestone Bowl. Because I am the girl that a) works from home 80% of the time b) has a 4 year old and c) spends a majority of my “free” time (I use that term loosely) doing community service of some sort, I spend most of my life in yoga pants and a ponytail. Consequently, being around more than 50 of the most beautiful, well put-together women I've ever seen, made me feel like an interloper in the pageant world. On a daily basis, I don't make a big fuss about my clothes. I like jersey knit because it requires very little ironing. I'm not big on jewelry because it typically gets caught in my hair or on KidWonderful's various snaps or velcro fasteners. And I am very rarely “beat for the gods.” So, it was a bit overwhelming to spend an entire week being able to focus on the details of my outfits. And, clearly, I had not spent as much time on the details as many of the other women. Don't get me wrong, I didn't walk in there looking like Ms. Celie, but you could definitely tell that my inner Mariah Carey was somewhere off the coast of Santorini on her yacht and not in Dallas, TX, helping me get it together.
Now, before you respond with think pieces about my confidence levels and pageants making women feel like they're not good enough, take a breath. I deeply believe in myself and the power that God has given me as a woman. I know who I am, my strengths and my wow factor. However, Proverbs says that as iron sharpens iron, so should we sharpen each other. I can be transparent enough to say that as an active mom and community servant, I've gotten a bit dull on the taking-a-deep-interest-in-my-physical-appearance front. Being around a bunch of pageant beauties only reminded me that it's okay to take out a little extra time for myself and my outfits. It reminded me that while I don't have to dress up in ball gowns everyday, it's perfectly fine for me to break out the rhinestone bracelets or add glitter to my t-shirts.
That wasn't the only nugget of wisdom I got from playing in the Rhinestone Bowl. The whole week was full of Oprah-esque “Ah Ha” moments. Like....
1. Your fashion game ups your fabulosity
“Oh, you fancy, huh?” A notoriously overused phrase made famous by (boo-in-my-head) Drake which I found myself overusing extensively while at the Rhinestone Bowl. Usually, thinking about my “looks” means making sure that my color palettes match or that I throw in a print here or there. I have always been a little understated on the fashion front because I have a big personality and I don't want to overwhelm people. What I learned at MPA is that a big personality in a fabulous dress is double the awesome. I met women who were not afraid to sparkle (inside or out) and it made me want to be a more fabulous me. That's what I mean about iron sharpening iron. Like Marianne Williamson said, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” These girls did not come to play with you. These girls came to slay. In doing so, they unconsciously gave me permission to be bold in personality AND attire. I used to think that I didn't put a lot of effort into my clothes because I just didn't care that much. But, being around all of these fashion plates made me think twice. Do I really not care or am I just not comfortable enough in my own fashion sense to try? Is it that I'm not prioritizing myself? Did I tell myself that I don't care to give myself an out? These questions are the beginning of a whole lot of self discovery. Stay tuned.
2. E6000 is Your Friend
I am not crafty. On a crafty scale of Real Housewives to Martha Stewart, I am Kendra Moore's 4th cousin, once removed. I fear that day when KidWonderful comes home and says “Mom, I need help with my school project” because, unfortunately, he is going to be SOL. Howsoever, this weekend I learned the joys of E6000. Coupled with a pack of rhinestone, this industrial strength, craft adhesive can change your life. It takes 8 hours to cure, but if you you need your clothes to have a little more wow, this is the way to go. Check out a few YouTube videos and learn how to add an extra ummph to virtually anything using this magic potion. I promise you'll thank me.
3. People respond to the sparkle
The average person doesn't know how you got your crown. They don't know if you had to compete at a state level or if you came straight to nationals. All they know is that somehow, you have a pretty crown on your head and they are hypnotically, automatically drawn to you. They are going to come up to you and ask you about it. And they expect you to have something eloquent and magical to say because, let's face it, you have a shiny crown. People don't just walk around in shiny crowns for the heck of it. The shiny crown means that you're kind of a big deal and they want to know why. The shiny crown creates an open door for you to market yourself and promote causes you believe in. As a person who hasn't historically been amazing at self-promotion, I learned that the shiny crown gives me a way to open up and talk about the things I deeply believe in: supporting sex trafficking survivors and empowering women to achieve. What's more, is that people listen because, in their heads, the shiny crown already makes me a winner and an expert. And if people don't listen to anything else, they will always listen to a winner.
4. Can't Hear You. Speak Up
Let's keep it all the way one hundred. When you get 50+ smart, educated, opinionated women in a room, being heard and having a distinct voice is like shouting at a spaceship from the bottom of the ocean. While I was there, I started wondering “What if all of these driven women got together and supported each others dreams? What kind of impact could we make? How amazing is our new network of sisters and how world-changing would it be if we galvanized?” So, I said that in an open forum. And you know what? There was a whole lot of agreement from women who were thinking the exact same thing. So, when you have something important to say, say it. Quickly, concisely and with passion. Even in the midst of all those smarts and opinions, your voice matters when you speak from your heart.
5. Sam Moon
If Walmart and Claire's Accessories had a baby, that baby would be Sam Moon. This store full of rhinestoned magic is proof positive that everything really is bigger in Texas. If you have never been, I am absolutely not going to spoil it for you, but I will post some pics of the magnificent steals that I got while I was there. The website does not do this store justice, but check it out to get a small sample of why every beauty queen, model and fashionista in Texas is shopping here.
The Rhinestone Bowl is over, and like Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, I didn't come home with the big prize. However, the wisdom I got is priceless. Maybe I'll go back and try again or maybe I won't, but what I know for sure is that I'm sharper than ever and I will never be the same.
If you would have told me three weeks ago that I was a millennial, I would have laughed at you and given you a swift “LIES!” in my best Tamar Braxton impression.
Let's face it, I am the married mother of a rambunctious three-year old who is basically trying to hold it together until either Oprah or Beyonce realizes they need me to be their personal assistant. I clean up poop and/or pee on a consistent basis. I wear braids and extensions out of sheer convenience, not out of a sense of fashion or personal style (chile, who is trying to get up on a daily basis and do hair for an hour? Not this girl). I take my kid to soccer practice and watch him and other tiny humans who have no idea how to play the game, clumsily run around the soccer field until someone makes them take a water break. I have a super-regular Office Space inspired nine-to-five. In my mind, that is NOT a millennial. Millennials are sleek, well-dressed twenty-somethings who job-hop every year, drink a lot and use Google to answer all their major life questions. They live at home with their parents or in tiny, well-furnished apartments in the city. They don't have kids. They also don't have worries.
So, between cooking dinner and trying to keep my kid from jumping off the bannister, I was editing an article the other day about millennials and their impact on philanthropy in the digital age when I had to pause and take a double take at the first sentence. It stated “Millennials – loosely defined as those between the ages of 18-37...” Eighteen and thirty-seven? “Who is she calling a millennial.?” I asked out loud, black-girl neck roll included. Ever the dedicated fact-checker, I did a quick Google search (yeah, I know what I said about that) and found a few articles which talked about the age for millennials. The thing is, none of the demographers actually agree on the age range. Pew Research, a nonpartisan fact tank (and the organization that makes it their business to know all the statistics about literally everything) describes millennials as people who were between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2015. Technically, that means I am millennial. since I didn't turn 35 until November 2015. Other demographers and organizations put the start date during the late seventies. Still, others note the start as “sometime during the early eighties.” Most demographers say that millennials are those whose birth years fall in the years of 1980-2000. Either way, the definitions I found on the web made me millennial-ish at the very least.
But what does it mean? Now that I realize I fall into this category, I've got questions about whether I want to play in this sandbox or nah. Who are millennials at their core? What differentiates them from every other generation? I read a ton of articles and pitted those descriptions against me and some of my friends. Here are a few things that resonated with me:
We Are Here for The Technology!
All of it. In all shapes and sizes. We have not met a new technology we didn't like. If it will make something happen faster or more efficiently, we are down for it. If it is going to make our lives easier, sign us up. And, if it is going to entertain us? Well, give us a double! We are the most technologically advanced generation the world has ever seen. We can have information in a fraction of a second. We can learn virtually anything for free. We carry small, powerful computers around with us all day long and we stay connected. Even our televisions are smart. We connect with one another across continents. We can write books with our voice. We have vacuum cleaners that run for hours with the push of a button. Our cars can drive themselves. This technology has made us both impatient and badass and we know it.
Netflix Over Everything
As Quad from Married to Medicine says, “We are very busy.” We often do not have time to sit down at 8pm eastern standard time/7pm Central to watch a television show week after week. We have things to do. Empires to build. Celebrities to follow. But we might have a random, free Saturday to binge watch House of Cards. Some super-smart person decided to capitalize on that and gave us all the gift of Netflix. Now, I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want and cable companies can not make me do otherwise. And so, Netflix gained another loyal customer and AT&T lost valuable marketshare. (Or it could just be me....)
We Are Not Here For the Status Quo...
If you're trying to make us fit your mold or play by your rules, we have no problem getting ghost. And if you try to make it too hard for us to be successful, we'll leave your sandbox and go build our own. Millennials are known for giving zero effs about antiquated ideas like “paying dues”, “going along to get along” or “playing our position.” A Gallup poll from May 2016, shows that over 55% of millennials polled were considered “not engaged” or not putting energy or passion into their jobs. The polls surmised that millennials are indifferent about work and show up just to put in their hours. If I had to guess, I'd say that's because millennials have realized that corporations are not invested in their progress and millennials, in turn, aren't all that invested in Corporate America.
But, it's not just Corporate America. In every industry, we've seen millennials circumvent traditional routes to success. Want to have your own sketch comedy show or talk show? No need to shop your show. Just record it and put it on Youtube. Want to get your music out to the masses? Record it in your home studio (which you can learn how to build for free on the internet) and upload it to iTunes and your personal website. Maybe you're an author looking to get your content out there. Write a book, self-publish and upload to Amazon. Millennials are not going to be held back by your rules and processes. We came to slay!
We Like Wine
We drink a lot of wine. Far more than previous generations. We don't really care how old it is or who made it. We care that it tastes good and keeps the party going.
Don't Bother Trying To Hide Big Issues...
Two words: Viral video.
No longer is it possible to hide big issues from us.
We are posting, tweeting and Snapchatting about everything. Some of 2016's biggest conversations came out of consistent and continually social media sharing. Remember Alton Sterling? Philando Castille? Those videos went viral and sparked national and international discussion on police brutality in the black community. Remember the pipeline protests? Those videos got people all over the nation talking about the rights of Native Americans. How about the Women's March? Women all over the world stood in solidarity with American women to protest injustices that affect us all. You can no longer tell us that something doesn't exist when we have viral video to prove that it does. Politicians can't hide or give us vague speeches about nonexistent progress. We are skeptical and we are not here for your political bull. We are in the know, we have proof of the problems and we will not go quietly into the night.
We Get Knowledge
Not only are we leading the generations in traditional education, we're getting knowledge in more unconventional ways. I've got a couple of degrees, but I realized that in order to stay relevant, I needed to delve into the world or programming. Recently, I went to a coding bootcamp to learn how to code. My mother, a baby boomer, couldn't exactly understand why I'd want to pursue this since it doesn't have anything to do with my current job. When I tried to explain what coding is and how it works, she smiled politely and wished me well, but I could tell she didn't really get it. Education makes us more valuable and it means we don't have to be tied to one industry. Millennials know that in order to be competitive, we have to be versatile. Not only are we getting our education in colleges, we're also heading to bootcamps and certification courses at a higher rate than any of our predecessors. We're also getting loads of training online using websites like Udemy and Coursera. That knowledge translates into more money at a younger age. And that is the name of the game for millennials.
Needless to say, I've proudly (and now, knowingly) joined the ranks of the 75.9 million millennials in the United States. While, I still have some traditional views, my values and behaviors seem to align closely with those of my fellow technologically-savvy, educated Generation-Yer's. As I continued to read, I realized that I could probably write about 10 more millennial-type descriptors which also describe me and my group of friends. But I'll stop here. Because it's a random Saturday and Netflix is calling my name.
Until next time....
At the end of 2014, this “New Year, New Me” meme exploded across Instagram and Facebook. Women who had never worn a high bun or purchased lace up stilettos (because the strangled-calf look is not cute) took to social media to declare their independence from jealousy, fake friends, and negativity. You could almost hear the clamors of “That's right, girl!” and “Yaaassss” as women all over the internet ceremoniously stepped into 2015 (and later 2016) with their symbolic tan dresses and bags full of God, Love and Focus.
As 2017 approaches, I can practically feel the Google searches increasing for this photo as women prepare to delude themselves into believing that the “new year, new me” catch phrase is going to work some magical power over their lives. The problem is the catch phrase is supposed to be a spark, not the fire that will sustain warmth. Don't get me wrong, the power of positive thinking works, but it doesn't work alone. You have to add some considerable effort to get to results. Honestly, we are so busy with our fast-paced, hustle and grind, can't-stop-won't-stop lives that building meaningful, worthwhile change just.....takes to long.
Cue the Insta-piration!
In today's modern society, we are inundated with so much information that, in order to ingest it all, we only process really short snippets. Don't get me wrong, social media has been awesome for helping us stay connected to one another. However, it has conditioned us to only process 140 characters of information at a time. And guess what? Real change doesn't happen in the time it takes to read a tweet. We read these you-can-do-it memes, get a couple of scriptures about how God knows the plans he has for us and post a few inspirational quotes about how change is gonna happen in the new year. Instant inspiration. We're feeling good about our decision, right? And then, on January 3rd, we wonder why no change has come.
This year, let's try something a little different. Instead of hurriedly posting a few memes and New Year's quotes, let's take some extra steps and make these resolutions a reality.
When I was working as a manager at Shane Co, we did inventory on a monthly basis. Counting thousands of little packages filled with diamonds, sapphires and rubies was annoying, but undoubtable necessary. The inventory report provided the management team with a great snapshot of what pieces of jewelry we had on hand, what stones we were short on, and what settings we had in stock. The inventory report was the first step in creating our sales plan and our sales goals. That sales plan allowed our team to push certain inventory to customers so we could hit our goals.
So, before charging into 2017 with prosperity scriptures in hand, the first question we have to ask ourselves is “what's in your stockroom?” You have to figure out what happened in 2016 that kept you from hitting those all-important goals. You also have to determine what traits you have that work in your favor. Taking an inventory of your life is going to help you create a realistic plan of action.
Let me tell you what inventory does not mean. It isn't the surface stuff. It isn't about going to your refrigerator and cleaning out all the junk food. It isn't about cutting up the credit cards. Taking inventory involves identifying your weaknesses so you can plan for them. It means discovering your strengths so you can exploit them. It means you have to honestly call out those character flaws in yourself so you can both face them head on and create ways to overcome them.
For me, the deeper issue is a lack of consistency and discipline. I don't feel bad about saying that because I know I'm not the only one. You shouldn't feel bad about whatever your inventory report tells you. Your inventory may be distraction (you start on something, but you can't seem to finish it). It could be low self-esteem (every time you start something, you rationalize your way out of finishing it). It could be that you're trying to stay busy so you can mask some type of pain. Whatever is on your inventory report, you can't allow your weakness to be a place of shame. The word weakness does not mean failure. It literally means “the state or condition of lacking strength.” A weakness is an area of opportunity for you to overcome. Your freedom comes the minute you stop seeing your weaknesses as death certificates and start seeing them as a condition you can change or capitalize on.
Think about it like this: When Toys R Us runs out of the Xbox Ones at Christmas, do they shut the store and stop selling video game consoles? Absolutely not. They know that you are going to come in for a Xbox. They know they don't have it. So, they keep it pushing and try to sell you a PS4 instead. They understand their weakness and play to their strength. And that, my friend, is what we have to do to hit our goals. Get distracted easily? Break down those goal in short, doable steps. Being a little too hard on yourself? Record your friends saying awesome things about you and play it to yourself over and over until you believe it. Too busy to work on your goals? Make it a social occasion and ask some friends to come over and work on them with you. You don't have to allow your lack of strength in an area to stop you from thriving.
What's the Plan?
“I'm going to throw away all the junk food in my house and eat 1200 calories a day.”
Friends, this is NOT a plan of action. This is a photo caption on Instagram. Don't do this to yourself.
Since words mean things, you all know I like to crack open my Merriam-Webster and give you a starting point for meaning. Check out what my good friend Merriam says about the word plan:
a : a method for achieving an end
b : an often customary method of doing something : procedure
c : a detailed formulation of a program of action
d : goal, aim
Now, all the rest of the definitions are great, but my favorite definition is C. Because when we are trying to build a life that yields results, we need a few details to be in place. When you design a plan, it has to be one that takes your inventory into account. Let me give you an example.
You're trying to create a healthy eating plan. You love to cook, but you currently eat out a lot because you don't have a lot of time to prep meals. Here's what a detailed plan might look like for you.
1. I'm going to throw away all the junk food in my house and eat 1200 calories a day
2. I'm going to replace that junk food with 6 small meals a day
3. I'm going to download 1 month worth of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner so I don't have to hunt for different meals to cook myself.
4. I'm going to go shopping on Friday night after work for my items (Sunday afternoon is my backup shop day)
5. I'm going to buy some fresh foods, but I'm also going to buy some healthy pre-packaged foods in case I get in a pinch.
6. On Sunday, I'm going to cook two or three large meals in the crock pot, put them in tupperware plates and freeze them for the week so all I have to do is whip out a plate and pop it in the microwave.
7. I'm going to get calorie counts for items at my 5 favorite fast food spots/restaurants so if I'm in a pinch, I can grab fast food and still stay within my calorie count
8. I'm going to give myself some room in my 1200 calories to have a treat.
9. I'm going to download an app on my phone to track my calories
10. I'm going to use my phone to set reminders for myself to eat my meals and track my calories
See how that does a better job of setting you up for success? This plan takes both strengths and weaknesses into account. It also allows for the fact that life happens and some things are beyond your control. There are several tools out there to help you create a detailed plan for whatever goal you are trying to achieve. There is no shame in joining a group or program that already has a detailed plan mapped out for you. The point is that your “New Year, New You” meme is not going to help you sparkle and shine like a detailed plan will.
The Audit Team
In a lot of companies, there is no department more hated than the audit team. Their sole purpose is to get all in the middle of your mix and tell you exactly what your team is doing wrong. It seems like they never have anything nice to say and they are normally the people who mess with your bonus at the end of the year. They are clearly not on your Christmas card list.
But, without them, businesses far and wide would fail.
Likewise, if you don't have anyone to whom you are accountable, your goal is going to fall flat on its assets. Who are you accountable to? Who, in your life, can tell you that you're not hitting the mark? Because that is the person who needs to become your best friend. The person that mercilessly calls you out on your missteps is exactly the person who will keep you in line. Accountability can come in a lot of different forms. For you, it may be posting your results on social media every Monday. Maybe it's joining a support group. Maybe it's a gorgeous trainer that makes you want to go work out. It may be telling your nosy auntie who's always trying to compete with you what your goal is so you can constantly show her up. Whatever method works, friend. You just need to find something or someone that holds you responsible for your results.
Listen, nobody loves a good quote or inspirational tweet or meme more than me, but that won't be enough to get the job done. Real results won't happen with just insta-piration alone. Take your inventory, make a detailed plan and be accountable for your actions. Who knows...in 2018, your success can insta-spire someone to make real change too.
I have been flipping between CNN and MSNBC since 8 pm. I have pulled up about 4 forecasting sites and two news sites as I follow every report of this presidential election. Watching the votes come in has been a nail-biter. With every state that they call, I take a sip of wine. Some sips are in celebration. Some in agony of the outcome. I have already had two glasses of wine with a third one in my future.
My nerves are shot. And by the looks of Facebook and Twitter, so is the rest of America's.
I am not certain of the election at this juncture, but what I know for certain is that no matter the outcome, on November 9, 2016, America is going to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
We throw that term around a lot, but in less than 24 hours, at least half of America is going to come face to face with its effects. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. America has had too many experiences – tragedies seeped in racism, classism, gender inequality, religious oppression – where we have experienced or witnessed terrifying events.
As a black person in America, I am terrified. Terrified that the leader of the free world will be a man who is neither considerate or respectful of my race or gender. More importantly, I am terrified that the people who voted for him will be considerably more comfortable displaying their own prejudices. I am fearful that the country is about to be a very scary place to live. I can imagine that Muslims and Hispanic Americans may feel the same way. I am equally afraid that at least half of America will not care about the real danger that the other half of the populous faces when homophobia, xenophobia, negrophobia and hispanophobia are rampant.
Here's the thing. I also know that half of America is afraid that the government will take away their jobs and continue to increase their insurance premiums. The other half of America is afraid they won't be able to operate their businesses because of the strains and taxes placed on them by the government. I know that they are afraid of the moral and ethical direction of our country should Hillary Clinton take office. I know because some of these people are my friends. They've openly expressed their fear. They've shown me their insurance premiums.
Regardless of who wins tonight, when we wake up tomorrow, we have got to find a way to heal. We have got to find a way to peacefully coexist. We can not allow our country to take a step backwards. We've got to keep pushing the democracy forward, no matter the odds. Operating as a divided nation only makes us susceptible to dangerous outside forces.
Tonight, President Obama said it best:
“While we've seen some new things this time around, what isn't new is that the democracy has always been rowdy and raucous. We've been through tough and divisive elections before. We've always come out stronger for it. So whether your chosen candidates wins or lose tonight, let's all agree to stay engaged and push ourselves to do even better. Most importantly, not to see each other as Democrats and Republicans, but fellow Americans.”
No matter who the president is, the sun will rise in the morning. Let's try to make the best of it and work to heal our differences.
"Now, what we've been doing is looking at the data, and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day..."
Jesse Williams's speech was not racist. It was realistic.
If you are my friend and you don't understand what's going with the #AltonSterling shooting or you truly want to have a real conversation (no judgement) about why African Americans in this country are so angry when these kind of tragedies happen...inbox me. Let's talk.
Let me also say...police officers are not the problem. Racist people who operate as police officers are the problem. Racist people who operate as jurors are the problem. Racist people who operate in any profession are the problem.
Let me also say this....For those of you who see racism ONLY as an active expression (i.e - the things people DO or SAY) please know that racism isn't just an expression, it is a state of being. It happens in your mind first. It is when you look at a 6'3 black man as an imposing threat, but don't feel the same about a 6'3 white guy. It's when a white face looks "friendly" to you, but a black one looks "menacing". It's when you completely ignore and negate the cultural experiences of people who are different than you. It's when you just don't care enough to think about the amount of diversity in your clubs and social organizations. It's when you look at your social circle and realize that everyone in it looks like you. It's passive. It's subtle.
It's still racism.
And it is the reason that so many of young, black men are being shot and killed.
It's not because officers are horrible people. It's because black people are like foreigners to them. Racism creates a very basic "us" and "them" mentality. It is very easy to quickly categorize someone as "them" when you already think of them as threats, lowlifes, and "not like us." And once a person is placed in that box, it is very simple to take their life when you are making split second decisions.
My prayers and condolences to the family of Alton Sterling. May God have mercy on the us all.
What I read today in my old journals made me cringe. Literally clutch my imaginary pearls and gasp in horror.
The old saying goes that “you are harder on yourself than anyone else will ever be.” But what I was reading wasn't just my being hard on myself. It was belittling. It was deflating. It was a harsh, judgmental tone that I would never allow someone to use when talking to my best friend. I would slice them in half and shut that mess all the way down.
But here I was, reading page after page after page of some of the most shockingly harmful words that I had ever seen. And to think, this was not some random hater “throwing shots at the throne” as Jay Z might say. This was just a written conversation with me, myself and I.
Here's an example. About 3 months after my son was born, I had this to say to myself...
“My weight is back up and there really nothing I can do about it. I tried to work out last week 1 hour on the elliptical for 2 days – but my milk supply (I was breastfeeding at the time) dropped significantly for a couple of feedings. I can't lose weight and I can't make enough milk. And honestly, I feel like I'm not enough...like I can't even make enough food to feed my child. I t makes me feel like I can't do anything right.”
After reading that I thought, “Sheesh Shan, give her an effing break! You'd just given birth for god sake. It had only been 3 months....what did you think? The weight was just going melt off?
You were still figuring motherhood out. Still trying to get used to this little ball of energy that didn't sleep. You were getting ready to go back to work and you were incredibly worried about that. It's ok that you weren't on the Kim Kardashian post-baby-weight-melting-magic-diet. Kim makes her money based on what she looks like. You do not. Damn, girl....be easy.”
The truth is, every woman I know is her own worst critic. While I believe that a healthy dose of realism is, well, healthy, there's a point where keeping it all the way real with yourself goes horrifically wrong. There's a stark difference between “hmm, this dress might not be flattering for my figure” realness and “hmm, you genuinely suck at life” mental abuse.
Don't skip over those last two words.
Mental abuse that you are doing to yourself.
Without help from anyone else.
Yes, girl....I am talking to you.
Ladies, we are killing ourselves with our own thoughts. We're killing our chances at joy and happiness. As quiet as it's kept, a negative view of yourself is keeping you from achieving the thing you so desperately desire to conquer. How exactly can you motivate yourself to have the will power to follow a new diet when you keep telling yourself what a failure you are? How do you plan to write a book when you keep telling yourself that you're too lazy to do it? How do you plan on being an awesome businesswoman when the story you keep playing in your head outlines every business failure you've ever had?
See how insane that sounds when you read it?
One of the most dangerous phrases I found myself repeating in my journal was “I need to get my life together!” It seems innocent, but when you dig a little deeper, you'll realize it's toxic. It screams of not-enough-ness. It makes you feel like you're somehow behind. It subtly belittles you. It makes your previous wins unimportant. It silently screams that the life you've already lived isn't any good.
As my Grammie would say, “Lies from the pit of Hell.”
Instead of focusing on where you think you should be, let's take a moment to look at the four reasons you don't need to get your life together.
1. Because You Are EXACTLY Where You Are Supposed to Be
There are no accidents. If you didn't get that promotion, it's because you weren't supposed to have it yet. If you aren't making six-figures, it may be because you haven't learned the lessons or developed the habits and skills of a six-figure earner. If you're a stay-at-home mom and you want to open your own business, you may be running into roadblocks because it is not your time. Oftentimes we are in our current spots because we have not learned the lesson needed to move to the next level. Here's the thing. If you try to go to the next level without learning the necessary lessons, you don't thrive. There's a quote by author Jim Elliott that says, “Wherever you are, be all there.” While I'm all for setting long term goals and planning your success, once your plan is in place you must live in the moment so you can get the necessary skills you need. Be present where you are so you can get what you need to move forward.
2. Because The People You Are So Concerned About Pleasing? They Don't Care....
I'm going to admit it (even if you won't). A lot of our need to get to the next level of our lives is for the benefit of “The Unknown They”. If you're new to my blog, the Unknown They are the people you are flossing for so they can envy you. You, in turn, can feel as if you've arrived. The Unknown They don't have names or even faces. But we seek their approval like it's manna from heaven. For some reason, we want the Unknown They to like us. To see us as successful. To look at our relationship and believe that we've found true love. To see our children and go “Awwww.” We want the Unknown They to respect us. We consult them on everything from which baby crib buy to what man to date to what job counts as cool and acceptable. They guide our choice on everything from running shoes to which neighborhood to live in.
Let me let you in on a little secret. The Unknown They don't care. The plastic surgery you just took out a second mortgage to get? They don't care. As a matter of fact, they thought you looked better with a little more weight. The Loubitans that you maxed out your credit card to purchase? They don't care that you've got them unless you're going to share. They are probably going to talk about how uncomfortable you look standing there in too-tight shoes. They could care less about the state of your life. They are too busy worrying about their own.
This is really going to blow your mind. The people who you know and love? The ones with faces and names and history with you? They don't care either. (Except for your mom. She absolutely cares and is judging your every decision. But, she's probably it.) They don't care if you got the latest must-have wardrobe or rock the hot item from two seasons ago. They don't care if the dude you're dating appears to be the Jay Z to your Beyonce. The people who love you care that you are ACTUALLY happy. They care that you are able to live the life you want to live in peace and joy. They want to see you smile. They do not care if you have your life together. They love you whether you're the pillar of success or the poster child for falling apart.
3. Because You Are Already Slaying
When someone tells you that you're one in a million, this is not just a cute, throwback Aaliyah song. You are literally one in a million. Well, not just a million. Try 200 million. A man normally has to shoot out over 200 million sperm to fertilize one egg. Know what that means? It means to make it to life, you already out swam at least 199 million others and won. Your momma was not just being nice to you when she said that being born makes you special. The fact that you made it here means you're already a winner. Build on that.
4. Because Every New Moment is A New Chance To Make Better Choices
I'm not one of those people who believes that you have to wait until January 1st to make resolutions. I also don't believe in waiting until Monday to start a diet. Honestly....what's the hold up? When you make a decision to change, the next moment is when the change begins. And you have the power to do it. You don't have to beat yourself up about your previous choices. You don't have to get anything together. The life you want is as simple as making a different decision. It just requires that you make that decision repeatedly, until it becomes a habit.
In short, you don't need to get it together. Your life is already together. Your decisions may need work. You may need to stop mentally abusing yourself. However, regardless of where you are, your journey is not an accident. You have the choice to use that journey to help you get to better decisions. Your path was never meant to be a mirror that showed you all your flaws. It was designed to help you identify opportunities for growth.
Be present for your lesson. Be positive to yourself for your own personal growth.
Then, go be great.
If you're anything like me, you spent most of Super Bowl 50's HalfTime show screaming at the top of your lungs. The show itself was epic: there was good music, excellent show production, an old school dance-off between Beyonce and Bruno Mars and a kumbaya lovefest at the end that rivaled the 'We Are the World' video of the late eighties.
And then Beyonce blessed us with a special surprise gift. During a post-show 15 second commercial, she announced the Formation World Tour. The 40-date tour has its first date set for April 27. Ticket sales for American Express cardholders begins on February 9th and will be available for general sales on February 15th.
Check out the tour dates below:
Wed. April 27 Miami, FL, Marlins Park
Fri. April 29 Tampa Raymond James Stadium
Sun. May 1 Atlanta, GA Georgia Dome
Tue. May 3 Raleigh, NC Carter-Finley Stadium
Thu. May 5 Nashville, TN Nissan Stadium
Sat. May 7 Houston, TX NRG Stadium
Mon. May 9 Dallas, TX AT&T Stadium
Thu. May 12 San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium
Sat. May 14 Los Angeles, CA Rose Bowl
Mon. May 16 Santa Clara, CA Levi’s Stadium
Wed. May 18 Seattle, WA CenturyLink Field
Fri. May 20 Edmonton, AB Commonwealth Stadium
Mon. May 23 Minneapolis, MN TCF Bank Stadium
Wed. May 25 Toronto, ON Rogers Centre
Fri. May 27 Chicago, IL Soldier Field
Sun. May 29 Detroit, MI Ford Field
Tue. May 31 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Field
Fri. June 3 Boston, MA Gillette Stadium
Sun. June 5 Philadelphia, PA Lincoln Financial Field
Tue. June 7 New York, NY Citi Field
Fri. June 10 Baltimore, MD M&T Bank Stadium
Sun. June 12 Hershey, PA Hersheypark Stadium
Once again, Mrs. Carter has returned to snatch our edges and leave us mesmerized.
Just a day before her scheduled appearance at Super Bowl 50, Beyonce drops the gritty, all-black-everything anthem “Formation,” proving again that the Queen clearly knows how to create a little buzz.
The video is EVERYTHING. Set in Louisiana, Beyonce boldly says in her videos what she will not say in interviews. 'Yonce (the very grown up, alter ego to Sasha Fierce) has given the ever-proper Beyonce a vacation and taken over. It is as if 'Yonce went into the studio and said “Hey producers…let's write a track that takes the attitude of “Grown Woman”, “Flawless”, “7/11” and “Bow Down”, add in a couple of lines about what I'm NOT here for anymore, make sure to remind everyone that I'm still slaying the game and remind the people to stop trying my patience because I'm still from the hood of Houston and they don't want these problems. Got it? K. Thanks!”
And when Beyonce, producer Mike Will Made It and co-writer Swae Lee (from the rap duo Rae Sremmurd) emerged, what they had was a song/video which they should have called “Beyonce: Uncut.”
Since “7/11” dropped, many people think this semi-rapping music (where she gives it to you unapologetically-raw) is a new direction for Beyonce, but honestly, she's been going down this road for a very long time. If you remember her song “Ego”, you'll remember that she was telling the world (as nicely as possible) that she had “every reason to feel like I'm that chic.” Every year that she grows and matures, Beyonce gives us a little more raw, insight into her thoughts and feelings about everything from feminism and equal pay (See: Run the World “F-u, pay me”) to the Black Lives Matter movement in the video for “Formation.” Beyonce knows that she has all the money she'll ever need and now she is just going to say what she wants to say (your feelings, be damned). What I appreciate is that she doesn't do it for the press or tabloids. She puts her views into the music.
King Bey also takes the time in this video to let us know that although she has all the money she'll ever need, at the core of her soul, she's still a black girl from Houston, TX. Think about that for a moment. Houston boasts the 9th largest population of African Americans in the country. It is a city bursting with black culture. Like Atlanta, Houston has it's own style of urban music (it's called Screw, for those of you that didn't know). This is the stuff Beyonce grew up listening to. This is what she's influenced by. Her line in the new video “Got all this money, but they couldn't take the country out me” is Beyonce's way of letting us know that she hasn't lost her sense of self. Houston is still in her. She's still “part negro, part creole.”
What I love about this piece of work is that Beyonce is unapologetically black all the way through this video. She is both showing and telling us that she is perfectly fine with her baby girl's hair in an Afro. She loves Shawn Carter's nose exactly like it is (thank you very much) and she is all about Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay biscuits. Me too, 'Yonce. Me too.
We know that she's the queen of a good anthem. “Formation” is the anthem for a lot of us. Black 30 and 40-somethings who's parents worked their butts off to provide us with a better life. Those of us who grew up middle-class and have made something of ourselves, but don't forget where we came from. This is the anthem for us. It's our continued to reminder to keep going, keep growing and keep SLAYING.
And in case you missed it, the last line of the video is my favorite. This is Beyonce's call to action for young black men and women everywhere. “Always stay gracious. Best revenge is your paper.”
Indeed it is, Bey.