Category Archives: Writing

SPEAK UP MUCH?

I have a mentee that will periodically text me about a subject matter she wants to see addressed and the second I saw her note this morning, I knew I would be right here writing about it..

Buckle up and hold on..

In recent weeks, I found myself traveling and commiserating with folks from around the country and in usual form, I am open, kind and share my thoughts as needed. Well the one evening, we had to all get in formal wear  for an event and the minute I strolled through the door, my friend saw one of the attendees throwing all kinds of “shade”  my way by rolling her eyes and whispering something to the person next to her.  I didn’t see her because I have learned how to block that kind of negativity from my line of vision.

I knew what her issue was  though.

Name Every -ism women face, and she had me pegged for it. My boldness and bravery made her feel inadequate and she then tried to transfer that feeling to ripping me to shreds with condescension. She didn’t realize that though. She thought she was within her rights to be jusgemental.

How do I know this? It is what I am told by women all the time who often try to coach it around offering “advice.” 
Aside from this being a total waste of energy and space, it is counterproductive to fall in line with them so they can feel better about themselves.

My response? Maybe if we were not so conditioned as women to “know our places,” not be “overly confident” for fear of being seen as bragging, or being labeled as “bitchy” when we dare to speak up for ourselves, we would see the benefits in speaking up and out.

As a direct result, women often lose sleep about demanding a position they are clearly over qualified for,suffer heartburn at the thought of requesting compensation that befits their value, minimizing the ones who step out on the ledge in an effort to find financial freedom and seeking to destroy the few who dare to do what they won’t.

I can’t even begin to discuss how it messes with personal relationships across the board. We hold on and fester about things we can and should discuss, until it becomes toxic and explodes the wrong way from us.

What do you have to lose but your sanity in trying to fit in to what society deems we should or shouldn’t be? Here are a few things that worked for me in removing the “do as I told ” models from my head-

  1. Speak your truth kindly but firmly and do not waver with eye contact. Prep yourself with calming deep breaths.
  2. Trust yourself. No one will trust you more than you. Your gut instincts are there for a reason.
  3. Be okay with not having a ton of fearless people with you as this is often a singular journey of faith.
  4. Celebrate the wins and extract the lessons from the losses.
  5. Keep the naysayers out of your ears. Lord knows they will try too. People who worry about all that could go wrong, never see what could indeed go right.
  6. Find mentors who have already walked the path you are on and heed the advice that feels right to you.
  7. Authenticity is worth more than silver and gold. You may not be appreciated on the moment, but you will be respected long term.
  8. Know when to step up and pull back. Everything doesn’t always have to be a battle.
  9. Collaboration works wonders. No one is an island. Learn to be okay with saying “I was wrong.” Pride goeth before….

All of that and a few more will give you the freedoms and joy to simply BE..
Dueces and mad love.

DivA

Move Like a Ninja

We have all heard the saying-  “You can’t trust everybody with everything” or “everything ain’t for everybody,” and yet, out of guilt, fear or just talking too diggety dang much, we often shoot ourselves in the foot by over sharing goals and dreams with the wrong people.

The painful lessons that results from said over sharing, often comes in the form of losing friends who despise your drive and determination, and counter it with negativity and intended sabotage of your dreams and goals.

So what are we to do?
Learn to move like a ninja. 
How you say?

Allow me to elucidate.

I am fiercely protective and careful of that which is near and dear to me. My children’s names are not uttered online, I almost never share the scope and depth of my work and most importantly, that man I now call husband was a phantom for the entire 5 years I dated him.

I wrote and spoke about him all the time but he was known as the mysterious “Mister.” It became pretty easy to see who the ones would be to quickly judge and began whispering behind my back (so they thought) that he didn’t exist and one very brave somebody, called my mother and told her I was  making up stories about some non existent man.

By the time I unveiled my man and on my own terms, it was exactly 30 days before we got married. Mouths were dropping all over the place because all the assumptions that abound were dead wrong.

People are always looking to criticize that which they refuse to put their own work into. Relationships, careers, raising families and simply being a decent human being, takes WORK.

I have also experienced putting my entire neck on the line to help large swaths of folks only for me to keep getting feedback that some people thought this and that about me. I had to shut that mess down because if the people bringing the bones to bury me didn’t have enough sense to shut that down, they didn’t deserve to be in my most sacred of spaces.

As a direct result, I continue to move like a ninja in certain aspects of my life because I know not everyone will be happy that I work my fingers to the bone to enjoy the fruits/rewards.

And do not allow people to guilt you into dragging them like luggage to  your fruits party. They too must work hard and sacrifice something or you take their rocks out your bags and lay them gently to the side.

So what are you over sharing in your spaces sacred or otherwise? Take inventory, see who the detractors are and then cease and desist. Your very success or failure, may depend upon it.

Because love bugs, everything truly ain’t for everybody.

Dueces and mad love,

DivA

Gratitude Or Grousing..

All kinds of things and events  have been swirling around my space in recent days, weeks and months to the place where I have begun to pay full attention. 

 So when  a friend made a comment that she watched my life change in ways large and small since we met some 15 years ago and she was happy to witness it, I began to delve into the why. 

Why was I able to change and grow in ways that is almost impossible to believe on this end by many including myself some two decades later? Why am I still able to continue to grow and change with each passing day?

The conclusion I came to?
Gratitude.
No matter where I was in each cycle of my life, I maintained a level of gratitude for every morsel of it. Yes, even as I struggled to make sense of certain things and behaviors around me. Yes, as I was ridiculed for daring to dream and then going forth to do just what I dreamt about.

Do you know how I came up with gratitude as the answer?
All around me back then, were people who had the same opportunities and challenges I faced. Those of us who came through and  grew, maintained gratitude. 

Those who didn’t, are still in that same place  all these years later because they groused and complain bitterly about things and always looked toward what they didn’t have, versus what they did

They also were never willing to take the necessary risks needed to challenge themselves and grow. They were content to sit back and watch, all while denigrating the efforts of others, believing it was all pipe dreams. Until those dreams became reality with hard work and determination.

What they are left with, is a pot filled with a bitter brew of anger, jealousy, victimhood, and regrets.

Do not let that be you. Challenge yourself to step completely out of your comfort zone. Never forget to embrace each stage of your life fully, learn the lessons, celebrate the victories and most of all, walk in love and kindness.

And give yourselves a break. None of us are good all the time. It’s okay. You can be both AND. I am always a tad amused by self proclaimed “perfect” people who toe the line, do what they are told and then wonder why life is so, well, boring
That which we declare over ourselves, is that which is manifested. Good or not so much.

So what will it be?  Gratitude or grousing?

You decide.
Dueces and mad love,

DivA

The unselfishness of it all..

So my husband and I spent 10 blissful days in Hawaii over the holidays to not only rejuvenate our souls, but to shore up and reconnect as a couple because our collective work schedules can be brutal.

We often would carve out Saturday mornings for our weekly catch up if I am not traveling and we work as one vibrational team,  which means we pick up where the other isn’t able to in the moment. So imagine my shock when he sat me down after watching me frolick in warm waters at sunset in Honolulu … and what he said, made me take a pause for the cause.

He said his greatest WISH when we first got married, was to NOT move me into his current home because it needed all kinds of TLC (he ain’t NEVA lied) and he knew I had lived in this great place for over 25 years raising my own two children. Frankly, he said he was embarrassed and just wanted to do a quick sale, move on to a place of my choosing and start anew with another  mortgage.

He was shocked he said, when I looked him dead in the eyes, told him it made NO sense to start another mortgage at our ages and while the house needed a ton of work, I was willing to put in the time, energy and money with him to get it done.

He said I shocked him FURTHER when he offered to at least upgrade my car and I cackled with a thanks and said I would much prefer to keep the one that is already paid in full.

I am silently listening to all of this with my heart full because I truly loved him enough to get in the trenches with him and didn’t realize he struggled with what I opted to do.

He then said that he had never seen that kind of unselfishness and that many other women would have taken him up on the offer to move pronto with their nostrils turned up. It was that unselfishness however that solidified his love in a way that made him say if anyone dares to hurt me, he would take action in ways that would stun them because no way was he jeopardizing what we have built together.

Our home isn’t just beautiful to LOOK at now, it’s also filled with warmth and LOVE. These things are important.  Flashy things bring temporary joy- it’s who we are at the core that matters.

When we say we care about someone, it should not come with a bunch of superficial conditions. Rather, we should  work together as a team to reach where we desire to be together and if the core of our love depends on where we live, the square footage of our Homes and what we drive, it’s only a matter of time before the cracks begin to show.

If we want a full manifestation of goodness and light, we have to be it in all we say and do. If and when my husband and I decide to move from where we are currently, it will be a decision we make together and not for the benefit of anyone whims or fancy. Because at the end of the day? All we TRULY have to depend on? Is that core love we walked in the door with. We know enough to understand that life is cyclical and when hard times come, without the core in place, trouble is not far behind.
I love my nerd y’all. Believe that.

Dueces and mad love,

DivA

Dear younger self…

I woke up this morning to a text from a young lady, who asked if I could share a few tips on love/self care for young women because she felt education was pushed in society but not much else beyond that and the results are every where in these streets. I thought about it and here is MY list. 

1. Follow your parents rules but Develop a few of your own.

Our parents are supposed to be our guiding system and usually that makes sense because well, they are our parents and their immediate goal is to keep us safe, if they have sense and a sense of direction. Not everyone is so lucky and had to develop survival skills early on in life. But what if your mom or dad chose to remain in an abusive relationship for example for whatever the reason they had in their head at the time? Does that mean you should grow up and do that too? Or did you go in the opposite direction and become an abuser yourself?  Learning to develop a sense of right and wrong, also develops the gut instinct that will  keep you  from going down the wrong path. 
2. Love yourself without apology.

We are often taught, especially as young women to take care of everyone before ourselves. That is a lie that keeps on perpetuating itself. By the time you look up from taking care of others and are too exhausted to look after you, it’s often after you are ill or boxed into a corner rife with decisions that are costly to your soul. Take care of your basic needs first.

3. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes but learn from them.

How many of us have found ourselves in a relationship from hell?  I sure have. More than once too. And yes, I cried got mad and wanted to put a hurting on a couple of them. What I didn’t do? Was stay in that space. Holding grudges is counterproductive I wrote out my feelings, discussed it with someone I could trust and then took the steps to regain my life by moving the hell on. The only person that wins when you stay in that vicious cycle of trying to hold on to that which no longer wants you, is the killer of your self esteem. And trust me- losing that precious commodity is too costly and usually not worth the ninja you were pining over. In fact, you will look back and say HOW did I do THAT? But use it as the lesson for what you don’t want to embrace moving forward.

4. Choose your friendships wisely.

The hardest lesson to learn is that not everyone has your best interests at heart. Jealousy and complacency is a beast. Many of your friendships will NOT last forever. The truth is, most of us will only have a few cherished friends that’s spans our lifetime. The goal is to see and feel who those people are and ride the wave with them no matter what. We aren’t perfect people and it’s wonderful to have someone you can confide without feeling like your stuff will be in the streets before the words leave your mouth. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
5. You will have doubts/concerns but there is a reason for that.

The greatest gift we are given that is often ignored? Our Gut instincts. That thing will ride us like a monkey on steroids and some of us STILL will choose to ignore it to our own peril. My advice? Don’t do it to yourself. Our gut instincts are spot on so even if the person in front of you is saying all the right things or is finer than wine, follow that deep still voice within because sooner or later, whatever it is you were feeling, will manifest itself. Protect yourself by holding back and choosing to be reserved until you know what that thing is. So worth it in the end.
6. RELAX.

This is the one piece of advice I wish I had as a younger person. Everything happens in our lives for a reason. Even the not so good stuff but what I learned now that I didn’t know then,  is that those lessons became the impetus to the places where I am now in life and it all made perfect sense. If I didn’t have the imbeciles, I would not have been able to fully appreciate the gems.

7. Have faith/belief in something greater than yourself 

We are souls in earthly bodies. Having faith, praying, asking for guidance in the universe, is a beautiful thing to experience and so choose to believe in the existence of that which is greater than you.  Your words when out into the universe, has no choice but to manifest itself. Choose wisely, what you think and say. 
All of the things above along with kindness, has helped me on the road of my personal journey. I hope it helps you a tiny bit. Be kind to yourself and the rest will fall into place.
Dueces and mad love,

DivA.

 

The fear of excellence

Well here we go… 2017 is upon us and with so much spinning, what with a new incoming President for this great country, not to mention life changes seen and unseen, it can feel exhilarating and unfamiliar all at once.

I have been intentionally quiet for a few weeks here because I have begun taking steps so completely out of my comfort zone,  and while I recognize that true change never comes without hard work with lessons disguised as failures along the way, I found myself today, gripped with fear, after enjoying a ten day respite with my husband to clear my head.
It’s time to, as old folks say, piss or get off the pot.  Fear of excellence has crippled way too many. I refuse to be in that number.

I have had a zillion conversations with others about walking fully into one’s purpose and still I find myself wondering how many friends will I lose for my bravery, who will be the ones that tries to undermine my efforts and am I even crazy for going down this path?
What keeps me going, is the knowledge that continuing to follow that status quo or doing what others deem to be acceptable, has never been the road I took my entire life and this is not the time to second guess what could be the best moves to date.

So here we go… one day, one hour and one minute at a time, with constant prayer and an ever vigilant soul, there remains no choice but to keep pressing forward. No matter what.
Nothing comes to a dreamer but a dream right?

I wish for you all a 2017 filled with grace to handle the bumps life sends your way, the humility in dealing with the victories and the kindness that continues to live and support those around you and beyond.
Be the far reaching ripple and the disruptive wave. choose wisely in knowing when to be what.

Dueces and mad love,

DivA

Outdated in a 10 second society..

I can’t STAND shopping. I despise Shopping malls even more. Yes, I am indeed a girl, and yes, the statement above probably makes me an anomaly, but there it is.

So imagine how I broke out in hives at the mere  THOUGHT of having to enter a mall recently and here is the culprit- my FIRST generation IPad that I was hoping to get “tuned” up because it was acting sluggish.

.

The poor Apple tech looked at me like I was crazy and informed me slowly and gently, that my machine was just OLD.
So old in fact, that it wasn’t compatible with the new micro processors they are currently using and all she could suggest was that I give the thing a proper burial or hold on to it for posterity sake.

As I looked on lovingly at my device and then at her young and chirpy face, I suddenly felt old too and wondered if as I aged, I would become disposable like so many of the elderly around us.
Here is the deal- we all eventually slow down and while our memory may not continue process at the speed of sound,  there is a definite amount of wisdom that comes from living to a certain phase in life that many could tap into with loads of benefits. History and it’s contextual meaning serves a purpose that will help us to garner lessons and avoid certain pitfalls. That comes from the folks who lived long enough to recount what books and historians don’t always capture.

Not only that, we could practice patience and empathy and kindness when dealing with the seasoned members of our society because one day, should we be so lucky to live a life of length, we too will need it.

So as I snapped back to miss chirpy in the Apple Store describing the newest machine and the slice of my liver it would cost to upgrade, I chose to hold on to my ancient  device until it decides it has had enough of me.

It’s the least I could do. Don’t judge me. Just smile and cluck at my sentimentality and wish me and my outdated machine well.
Dueces and mad love,

DivA.

High Apple Pie in the Sky Hopes..

Steve Jobs was an eccentric dude who had a dream. He was laughed at, ridiculed and often scorned for his out-of-the-box thinking, and even lost several Jobs and failed at business ventures a few times. He kept at it and what he left behind in these apple Products through his ingenuity with a partner that believed in and joined him, is priceless, has forever changed the way we use technology and forced other companies to step their mediocre games way up.
Oprah Winfrey- the little “black gal” who was too ambitious for her britches, was told by the station manager that if she moved from her “cushy” job in Tennessee to Chicago, she would most certainly fail. And yet, she followed her gut and kept going through her mistakes by remaining authentic and sharing herself fully, which connected her to billions of people eventually. She dared to dream of owning her own network and had the balls to shut down her successful show, close HARPO studios in Chicago and took her entire life to Los Angeles.

All kinds of obstacles were thrown her way and people she thought would stand by her side, judged her for doing what her heart said. Because why did she have to be so bold in wanting a network? Didn’t she know what a mistake that was?  Why wasn’t she yet married? Why did she share so much of her personal life? Why, why, why? She hunkered down and kept moving with the few who believed.
Today, she has a successful network, studios larger than the one she had in Chicago, and has given us one of the BEST pieces of programming in “Queen Sugar.” Her boldness has created jobs, launched people to become their best selves and on and on. Imagine if she had listened to that station manager and her daddy who thought she was just out of pocket in following her heart.
These are just two examples of many who dared to actualize their purpose. 

Why am I saying all of this? When people don’t understand YOUR dream, or they feel uncomfortable with what they can’t possibly visualize, they WILL try and derail it with their opinions.
You will feel hurt and angry and discouraged but what you must NOT do? Is give up. The world deserves what is inside of you because you never know how you are impacting mankind in your bravery and determination to follow your PURPOSE.
To the naysayers who can’t seem to help themselves with their doomsday comments and judgements of those around them that are daring to explore what they dream about, please understand that you are only fuel for dreamers to keep moving and growing and doing. 
The cemeteries are already too filled of people who died with their dreams within because they were told to keep that “stable” job or whatever the thing is said to deter people no matter how well intentioned you may be. Just because it doesn’t make sense to you, it does not make you right.
Failure is also not a bad thing. It teaches us the lessons that will create the solid foundation as we move to higher heights. So allow people to fail UP instead of talking them DOWN to your level of comfort. Be unselfish enough to get out the way of the ones who carry the fire within the pit of their bellies to live beyond the pale.

We all aren’t designed to simply exist in the boxes we allow others to create for us. 
So while you keep judging, we will keep those high hopes. No matter what.
Dueces and mad love,
DivA 

Good Googa Uber!!

So I had to get an Uber for several Days  in a row and I have come to the conclusion that many of those drivers listen to people confessing their souls while giving up a few confessions of their own

Chile listen… it ran from the ridiculous to the scary but this one dude made me gasp, smile and shake my head all at once.. 

When he got to my door and saw my infirmities, he hopped out his car, got my crutches and bags and was just wonderful in a way that told me he was special. His Hat was on backwards and when I got in his car, I noticed the back of his seat was almost reclined to a sleeping position.

He slid in and sat up with his seat just that way. I didn’t question because I have seen it way too much with young guys driving around in Philly.. they will keep chiropractors in business with that mess but I digress..

After asking if he could call me Miss Andrea and my answering in the affirmative, he proceeded to tell me that he was originally from Ohio but was transplanted to Reading at a young age and after feeling like he had too few opportunities, he moved here after meeting a young lady online and had been here in Philly now for a few months.

As he shared his life story, he said “you know, people judged and asked why I was making these moves and taking these risks and I told them I am the author of my book. I didn’t ask for editors and I am writing the story the way I see fit.” I damn near high fived the back of his head for those profound words of wisdom!

He went on to say,  he was filled with nuggets but had a hard time taking his own advice.

Then it got real. 

He said he would always choose women for their bodies and what was between their legs instead of what was between their ears and that he realized he was choosing Shallow intimacy over substance because he didn’t want to put in the work it required to have a good relationship.

He is so into this new woman who, from all accounts is so smart, he wonders Why she is with him, that he made a pact to NOT have intimacy with her for a year. He is coming to the end of that year and swears he loves and appreciates her all the more because they spent time learning about each other and doing things beyond the bedroom. 

Well I’ll be. 

His lesson and the way he chose to go about changing his habits, showed up this way and who am I to judge?  He truly believes in the power of intention, following ones passion and hard work, after he met the owner of a Car dealership while being his waiter and the owner found him to be so personable, he offered to train and hire him to sell cars.

He went from making $7 an hour to 60k per year AND he Ubers on his days off! I love it!!

The tenacity of the human spirit is something else. 

When we got to my destination, he took my stuff to the door of the building, shook my hands, thanked me for listening and odd he went.

I learned so much from him, not the least of which is to not stay stuck in your circumstances and to take bold leaps even if you can’t see where you will land.

We don’t get to judge people in their journey because it’s different from our own- our oath is simply that. Ours.
Dueces and mad love.

DivA

The Season of CHANGE…

Early last week, seemingly out of the blue, I received a phone call from one of my mentors who said she felt the unction to pray for me so she stopped what she was doing and we prayed over the phone.

I couldn’t figure out what that was about because I was cool and life was good… and then, the very next day, running in my bare feet to answer the doorbell, I slammed my left foot into the base of my sofa.

And broke not one, but two toes.

Ouch.

I knew immediately at least one was broken because the searing light I saw as I went down on those fluffy cushions, was a vision of heaven and hell all at once.

But to know me fully is to know this- I’m super determined to do whatever I set out to and so I got up, and went about my business while limping. I was so bold, I walked in a fashion show two days ago, changed outfits 4 times and had 5 inches of heels on and didn’t miss a beat. No one would have guesssd I was in pain at all. See for your self..


And it went on for days. Six to be exact, where I went to work and attended events, before my husband forced me to go have my foot x-rayed because we Iced, elevated and taped those toes together to no avail. 

So by the time I got the delightful news that I had done the obvious and they gave me crutches, the ugliest shoe known to mankind, my films and a referral to see a surgeon, it was slowly sinking in that I would have a new normal for the next few weeks.

This is where it got interesting- my phone began to ring and texts came in at all kinds of hours about what folks can do to run errands, take me to work etc and I was simply blown away. We live in a “I’m doing me and you better do you”  society, and yet here I was, the grateful recipient of love in the midst of this change happening around me. 

I’m freaking grateful. Believe that.

I also noticed something else too. And I will be back to address that at another time but this mentor had not a whole week ago, sat me down and said the season of change is upon me and the ones who don’t want that change to take place, will be the least kind or helpful and may even eliminate themselves by finding a reason to disagree about something to create issues.

The thing is this- I have been swirling with the winds of change for a while now and that meant stepping into spaces of discomfort and off ledges of  comfort and complacency.

If we want to fully actualize our purpose here on earth, what other choices do we have? If you are the smartest person in your circle, you need to get over yourself and elevate with people who already are where you are trying to  go so you can learn and grow.

I can see with these broken toes, the lessons in this new season has begun but the beautiful part is simply this- prayer works, the turmoil won’t last forever and the sun on the other side of it all, will be blinding in its splendor.

Never let the challenges deter you from you mission but also cocoon yourself with at least ONE person, that you can call and share with no matter the hour.

To my dogmatic mentor- you know who you are-thank you.


Dueces and mad love,

DivA