Monday, February 13, 2017

I Want To Go To The Museum.

      Beyonce’s Grammy 2017 performance left many in awe.  She graced the stage with a mom-to-be glow dawning a crown that was almost an exact replica of the Black Madonna.  Given Queen Bey’s influence, I suspect that this will mean more trips to museums nationwide and a rise in the purchase of classic art history books and even paintings.  

     In the late nineties, there was a change in the focus of the United States’ schools.  The arts were out.  Students were no longer learning to appreciate the works of Picasso or Monet or Matisse.  A painting was just a beautiful old thing collecting dust on a wall. A sculpture was the weird, heavy thing of the past that you couldn’t move and that you weren’t supposed to touch because it was crumbling.  The loss of the arts was unfortunate as the youth who were prone to partake in artistic works of their hands with eagerness, were now forced to focus more on test scores.  

     The problem is that the world we live in today was created by people who had exposure to classes that emphasized an appreciation for the arts.  Those people were also encouraged to dabble in those endeavors themselves.  The modern society is made up of people who are stuck in the state of reminiscing and viewing the past through nostalgic lenses.

     Beyonce’s public ode to the days when taking a selfie consisted of sitting in one position for hours while someone applied the techniques they spent years practicing on a blank canvas is inspiring.  I’m not going to mock those people creating memes and finding tidbits of info on West African art to share on their timelines.  I welcome it and I say that it’s just a start.  There’s no guarantee that we will always have access to the works of art created centuries ago.  Let’s go! Get to the museum, enroll in those art classes, paint that portrait and share it with world.


Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cheerios Are A Brand, I Am A Person.

       I feel like everyone wants to tell you about how to be a butterfly but they neglect the caterpillar and ignore the cocoon.  Those stages of our lives are important because they determine which type of butterfly we will become.  

     The transformation to your new self comprises of a series of internal events that occur once we’ve decided that it’s time for a change.  It happens because you know there is a better and greater you.  You’re not worried about a better career, money or social status, you are ready to be yourself in a way that you haven’t seen but maybe you’ve always felt.  That comes with a lot though because of the way the world is right now.  We have this thing about labeling others and also ourselves so we feel the need to fit a mold.  We’re obsessed with being a brand.

     I remember telling a friend of mine years ago that I wanted to take a year off.  I had finished college and was working and everything was okay but I felt I needed some time for me.  I didn’t want to travel or do anything specific like learn a skill or lose weight.  I just wanted to be.  I wanted to sit with myself and be myself without a title or any extra obligations.  I did have a child so I was going to have to be a mother but that is something that felt like me.  I wanted to be able to sit with my child without having to run off and take care of some semi-important task.

     You need time to look in the mirror and smile because you see yourself looking back and you’re happy about that.  You need time to sit outside, feel the breeze against your skin and be glad that you’re there, in that moment to experience what life is like for you.  Showing up as you brings a different perspective.  I’m not talking about yourself as it relates to a profession.  Being a lawyer also provides a different set of eyes for life but lawyers read books.  When you're focused on being yourself, you realize that you are the book.  You hold numerous stories with complex plots as well as many incomplete and blank pages that can only be filled once you have lived. 

     We have to show up as ourselves.  There comes a time when that means more than anything else.  There are moments when titles and labels are nothing more but badges we place on ourselves, or allow to be placed on us, so that others can identify who we are.  However, we have, without the labels, an identity that is on a greater scale than any description could bring true understanding to.  Being self, I and me is a fact, not a theory or a merit with qualifications required by an institution.  We don’t always have to be busy with defining self, it just is.  Maya Angelou said, “You alone are enough.  You have nothing to prove to anybody.”  If we could grasp the idea of being enough, that to be is to be enough and stand on that, life would be deeper, we would feel more, things would taste better, the music would sound clearer and the sun would shine brighter.

     It’s difficult to be sometimes.  The world seems to frown upon it.  You look to your parents, friends and loved ones, at times, hoping that they will see you being you and rejoice. Unfortunately, you’re met instead with a slew of questions because they seem confused and even upset by you.  That is hard to deal with but it has to happen.  The reality is, many of the people we hold so near and dear are not themselves.  They are the things that they work for and possess and eat.  They are the activities that they partake in.  Being self is a difficult and tedious task for some because they have not decided to value who they are aside from everything else.

   Welcome the transformation.  Fighting it will only make the moments of uncertainty less clear.  The loneliness will come.  You were alone in your mother's womb.  Darkness and isolation is often necessary to refine the beauty of all that God creates.  


Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Signs You're A Financially Miseducated Millennial

         As a member of the financially miseducated millennials club,  I do not sit around lamenting about my inability to save a nickel or to come up with a budget that is realistic, practical and that does not involve becoming a millionaire by next week.  I started my first job at the age of fourteen and opened a bank account with my first check.  I applied for my first credit card at nineteen and I am well versed on the importance of a good credit score and a decent credit history.  I went to college and I took macroeconomics twice!  Stop judging me, okay?  Thanks. Somehow, I still don't have any money.  I don't feel sorry for myself.  I charge my perspective on and my relationship with money to how I was educated about it.  Here are a few signs that we may be in the same, penniless boat.
  1. You believe having a mortgage means that you are a homeowner and that your home is an asset.  
  2. You believe paying for a college education with student loans is reasonable and that you'll be able to pay off that debt once you get that ideal income from the job you land because of that degree you just purchased.  
  3. You do not have any skills outside of what you gain from books. You don't know how to build anything.  You don't know how to sew.  You have no idea how to keep a plant alive or how to fish.     
  4. You believe it's reasonable to spend most of your money on Christmas gifts and all that comes with celebrating that holiday but you've never taken a financial planning course or read a book on budgeting and actually applied it and you don't have any plans on doing so in the near future but you've already started brainstorming next year's ugly sweater party and pollyanna gift exchange.    
  5. You are in debt and don't have enough savings to live for at least 12 months, comfortably, without a job if you had to do so.  
  6. You do not have a zombie apocalypse stash of cash located in a secret location outside of your home.  
  7. You think you're saving yourself money when you shop at Walmart. 
  8. You walk into Target thinking you're going to be able to get out of there only spending money on things you intended to purchase.  
  9. You work long hours to make extra money but you do not invest the money into anything that can make you money outside of your job.  
  10. You have a car note,  a mortgage, student loan debt, credit card debt and a job and you think you'll be retiring some day and living life- purchasing Christmas gifts for relatives, taking trips and having dinner parties- all with the retirement money. 
     The first step to overcome being a financially miseducated millennial is to admit that you are a financially miseducated millennial.  An entire generation of young adults pursuing life, liberty and happiness with misguided ideas may result in a bleak financial future for their children.  It is time for a collective paradigm shift.  We need financial standardsMillennials have an opportunity to begin breaking the cycle of debt slavery and frivolous spending but the effort has to be made.
     It is time for intentional financial discipline and responsibility.  Black millennials have dived, head first into the financial game but we often start with a negative balance.  What we see as valuable dictates how we spend our money.  Our values are often founded on emotional attachments to traditions, holidays and lifestyles that systematically work against our economic growth.  We need to set financial standards for ourselves based on the idea of longevity and generational wealth.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights. 

      Wednesday, January 11, 2017

      Yes, We Can But We Haven't Yet.

           President Obama's love affair with Black America is like Griet and Vermeer in Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's all made up in the mind. We fell in love with his confidence and intelligence. We were wooed by his charm and good looks. I saw him in person, as I stood out in the rain. The hem of each of my pant legs were muddied from following an endless line of constituents-to-be through campus. After more than an hour, I secured my spot about thirty feet away from the Democratic presidential nominee. In a leather bomber jacket, he let the rain trickle down his forehead while giving a speech on a janky stage, without an umbrella. In my eyes, he was the man this country needed to lead it out of the tragedy that was G.W. Bush's America.

           I’ve been in enough love affairs, all by myself, to know when the feeling is not mutual.  You know, the kind where you let yourself get into a person who may or may not like you that much, or know you exist, but you pine for them anyway.  The idea of that person is enough, in your delusional mind, when that person's actions don’t validate how you feel about them.  It seems we like to love for the sake of love sometimes.  No matter how disappointing the reality of a person is, we'll hold on waiting for them to live up to our expectations.  When we're not actually paying attention, that person is perfect and just right for us.  

           Obama wasn't that much different than the average POTUS.  His skin color and what that represented, along with his beautiful family is what stood out the most.  Otherwise, he didn't give us anything original.  He didn't do much for the country that was particularly memorable.  For those who clung to what he could potentially be for us, he let us down and ignored us most of the time.  I guess you don’t have to do a lot of great things for a bunch of people to love you.

           Doing one thing right every now and again does not a legend make but in the case of Obama, we overlooked his mistakes or outright wrongdoings.  I would have loved for him to have been the one.  I want to be able to say that after eight years of chanting, "Yes, we can," that we actually did something other than chant.  Like so many other times that I've gotten my hopes up for someone, I'm left empty.  I stood behind someone who never turned around to acknowledge me.  

           Obama had the potential to usher in a new America but he didn't.  As he leaves the White House, he will be leaving tire marks over the hopes and dreams of Black America, whether they know it or not.  While listening to his farewell speech, many will sit and write their love letters, pleading for President Obama to stay just a little while longer.  They won't speak of actual accomplishments that made anyone better, instead they'll continue to fantasize about what could be.  I'm not going out like that.  I'm putting his number in my phone under Do Not Answer and tossing out the scrapbook I made when I still had hope for us.  


      Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

      Sunday, December 25, 2016

      The Revolution Will Be Musical.

           Solange's A Seat At The Table continued the conversation on being Black and female in America that Lauryn Hill started eighteen years prior.  It was a timely digest on how to make sense of what we felt about all of the experiences we had been having and witnessing others have- since the period of time in a America that provoked The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which was dropped in 1998.  Like Ms. Hill, Solange answered the call to give an empowering, chin lifting and Synclaire James-esque "Woo, woo, woo" to our sisters during a tumultuous climate in the U.S. This is an atmosphere that is a result of going through stress at home, while feeling the pain and hearing the cries from our sisters around the world.  She got on her knees with us, put her arms around those who were ready to stand and whispered affirmations and prayers with those whose legs had finally given in to the weight laid on their backs from day to day. As I listened to the lyrics of Cranes in the Sky and Mad and the interludes featuring Master P., I felt that the table I was sitting in was located in the cafeteria of the school that the students featured in the interludes of Lauryn Hill's album were attending at that time.

            While Lauryn stood up in class and dared to be the one to speak up during a post Civil Rights, post War on Drugs era, when doing that was a bit taboo, Solange saw us- sitting around screaming over each other, crying and banging our heads on the table, turned on the music and allowed us women, alongside our men, to have a therapy session.  There were no specific remedies or calls to action other than to be Black and unabashed and unashamed every day moving forward.  Lauryn reminded us that we were more than what we were being, what we were seeing, what we were experiencing in the environments shaped by decades of disenfranchisement and miseducation.  Solange met us on the brink of the sadness and depression that our ancestors- brought into slavery and mistreated because of their beautiful dark hue, might have felt and reminded us to love who we are, even when it seems that no one else ever will.

            I love a good book.  I also consume documentaries like they're the last cup of spring water on a hot day in July, but the music sinks into my blood and bumps to my heart. The vibes permeate through the air around me long after the songs have stopped playing.  I played The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on loop, almost every day.  I was about twelve when it debuted.  I was on my way to making a new transition in my life as a teenager.  I would be looking at boys a little longer, deciding what I wanted my personal style to be and ultimately begin thinking about who I wanted to become.  For a girl in the hood, in a horrible school district, with little around to inspire or develop my creativity or my sheer will to be somebody, Hill's album was right on time.  It's a classic album that speaks to my thirty year old self, as much as, the 12 year old, pre-social media child I was in the late nineties.

         As a mother with two sons, I was holding my breath, taking big gulps, sighing and kicking walls just thinking about the hail storm that I had brought my babies into. Solange tapped me on the shoulder and brought my attention to my emotions that I tried to hide at times. She ensured me that I could have those feelings and that I could also prosper, hold my head up and charge toward the future with a purpose and also with pride.  YES! We are Black in America and what that means is we can and will survive whatever is thrown our way.

            We have to keep the conversation going and add some action (there are so many things to do, on so many levels, in so many areas and we are so capable) and a lot more love and compassion to it during the times ahead. While each person chooses what role they will play in the evolution of our people, let's be each other's peace.  Let the wisdom of Lauryn and the nurturing spirit of Solange be what we bring to the table.


      Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

      Happiness Doesn't Come To The Faint Of Heart.

           Today I am overjoyed.  As 2016 comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the layers of unconditional love I have been cloaked in- all year long.  It has been a year of many battles on a physical, mental and spiritual level.  From all that comes with welcoming a new baby into the world and being diagnosed with a diet related disease all while being a home educator, wife and a financially miseducated millennial; I should be worn thinner than mummy bandages.  However, I'm good.

           It has been a peaceful year.  I made the choice to do a lot of falling back, which is in part, quite natural to me but in other respects, extremely difficult and uncharacteristic.  I am a proactive, take charge kind of woman who is also a laid-back hippy (without the assistance of drugs).  If there is a word for that, I'm not sure what it is but that's me.  I tapped into that hippy side a lot more this year, in that, I just let go.

           As much as I was frustrated and at times felt like I MUST do something, I could not physically bring myself to move.  Instead, in the midst of all of the noise, I had to listen to that quiet voice within that said, "Chill."  And so I did.  The results, have transformed, even elevated my way of thinking and my spirit.

           There has been one question in my mind, what have you learned from this?  I have learned that my world will not explode if I watch rather than do.  I've learned that sometimes, I just need more information and that things happen so that I can get that information.  I've learned that although I am imperfect, there is a divine perfection at work within me at all times.  Those lessons have brought me to a place of gladness today.


      Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

      Thursday, December 8, 2016

      The Best Of Who I Am Is What I Strive To Be.

           I think that some women run into problems in our relationships because we have not owned the best parts of who we are.  Who we are spans from ourselves to our mothers to our grandmothers to their mothers and so forth, with the collective wisdom gained through each of those individual life experiences. There is a narrative of inherent weakness and uncontrollable emotional ineptitude among women that does not represent, in truth, who we are, what we are and why we are.  For those reasons, we live out our daily lives in a functionally delusional state of being- which we call happiness, that this mindset affords us.

            We spend time, subconsciously or otherwise, recreating what seems to be the worst experiences of our mothers. Although we struggle a bit differently than them, we never evolve.  We aren't leaving any emotional wisdom for our daughters to build upon and use to triumph in their relationships with themselves, with men, with other women or even with nature.  Instead, we carry on the lie that there is always some battle to which we should suffer and sacrifice ourselves for while draining out all of our strength without ever fully replenishing.  It has to stop.

            If love, as you'd hoped it to be, appears to be a myth, expand your knowledge of love.  Spend more time outside of the experiences that you have with other people with the objective of growing because of it, rather than despite it.  What is a weed in relation to a flower?  Competition.  We have let the weeds within us grow for too long and with each new season, less flowers bloom and less fruit grows.  What might happen if you make it your your business to expand the best parts of you? I believe it's possible to live in a way that doesn't leave us bare, overtaken by the imbalance of bitterness, insecurity, desperation and disappointment.

            We do not arrive as empty vessels.  We are full of all those things passed on to us.  You can do more than survive a situation, you have the gift of intuition.  You can navigate your way around potential heartache and unnecessary conflicts.  You don't have to experience everything firsthand to learn from it.  It's time to leave a legacy of bliss, joy and happiness along with triumph without battle scars.


      Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.

      Tuesday, December 6, 2016

      My Goal Is To Set Less Goals.

           At a time when it seems that so many are driven to be fast moving go-getters,  late night grinders,  paper stackers and independent- empire building, influencers, I just want to be a good mom, read books and author at least ONE novel in this lifetime!  Gah, the pressure is always on to do more though.  How I am supposed to get anything of substance out of life while trying to do and be it all?

            I have concluded that living that way is not for me.  People may laugh or scoff at my audacity to be no one and at times, do what appears to be nothing and I am okay with letting them.  The last time I checked, I am not a twin.  I came here alone to live out this experience, exercising my own free will.

            To be clear, I see the virtue in having a goal and pursuing it.  I do not see the virtue in having a goal that is not of your own- meaning someone fed you an idea and you adopted it as your own because you see them as an authority of some sort.  The only good that can come out of drag and drop living is learning that you are better off taking the time and putting forth the effort to pursue what you believe is right for you.  "Put some respek on" your ability to think for yourself.

            Also, as a homeschooling parent, piling on task after task seems to contradict the purpose of home education.  I am in favor of an organic approach to education where the ultimate goal is gradual self-mastery.  I take that same approach to living life in general.  Goal setting can be arbitrary if you don't first set customized standards.  So where does that leave me?

            The weird thing about trying to predict the future is that no one knows what's going to happen until they get there.  Rather than beat myself in the head with thoughts of things to come,  I cling to what I have in front of and within me now.  This is life, today, a tomorrowless journey best approached with a spirit of gratitude.

            Now that I have that off of my chest, here's what this blog is really about, for now.  Ms. Friday Nights is untamed, unabashed creative expression.  At times, thought provoking amusement.  Some fun.  Some entertainment.  If you're into that sort of thing, good.  If not, also good- I'm up for the challenge of changing your mind.


      Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:@Msfridaynights.