Thursday, July 3, 2014

I Sat with a Murderer Today




My social work life brings a new person, circumstance or situation to my attention every day.  It’s not until I mentally connect to my inner self that I realize my work goes so far beyond licenses, degrees and a strong writing sample.  It seems that people, whether social workers or not, sometimes overlook the basic, and focus on the complicated and wonder why they cannot understand a particular person, problem, or situation.  People are more than their circumstances and much more than the labels we put on them.  One must look deeper to understand what is within.

So, yes, today I sat with a murderer.  This man sat barely a foot from me at the same table and we talked, and had a laugh or two and all the while I knew that he had killed someone.  Not only did he kill someone but he committed this murder at the age of 11.  Yes, eleven.  At eleven years old he was labeled, violent, aggressive, defiant and psychotic.  He spent the next thirty years of his life in the confines of the penal system.  First, the juvenile penal system then graduating to the adult penal system and finally being released just a little over three years ago.  Still unable to read or write very much, the average person might have given up or returned to a criminal environment and possibly back to prison just out of sheer discouragement and hopelessness.  It’s quite a feat to obtain a job when you have a felony on your record and ‘murder’? Well, let’s just say I hope no one I know ever has to try.

Still plagued by flashbacks and nightmares of the murder that happened so long ago and the ensuing incarceration, he has been linked with a mental health agency and is now on medication that helps him to sleep and helps him to keep an even mood.  He still has a long way to go but I must say he has grown and matured since his release and is making every positive step he can with a little help along the way. 

The take away from this; don’t judge.  Learn who a person is before you decide how much value to give them.  Try to understand their specific circumstances and how your interaction with them might make a difference.  I like to think my interaction with this man helped him in some way.  It may not have been anything I said but maybe he just saw me as a helpful person he could look to for assistance that knew his history and wasn’t afraid.  After all, it wasn’t just his poor choices, but also the choices made for him as a youngster that ultimately decided his life course.  What I liked about this young man is that he learned that although he could not change his past, he could do something about his future.

Some might be thinking that I wrote this for other social workers.  I wrote this for everyone.  Far too many times I see and hear people being judged for their past and misdeeds.  If someone judged you on every mistake you made how would you feel? Could you handle it?  I don’t know about you but I would probably feel awful.

So be kind to one another no matter what the circumstances are.  You might teach them something or even better, they might teach you something.  Well, that’s my story with a Murderer.  Now, I know you wanna hear about my sit-down with a He who is a She. J

Oh Lord Jesus, It’s Tax Time




It’s that time again.  Let’s speak freely on the foolishness I see when the tax returns come back.

So, I get that everyone wants to have nice things and look good when they go out but I’m here to say that all the stuff you buy will not change the fact that you are broke.  If you don’t have a checking and savings account you are doing way too much. 

Try to understand the angle I’m coming from.  I like to travel and shop just as much or more than the next person however I do have limitations when it comes to spending.  Everyone should have a budget and if you don’t, START RIGHT NOW. 

It’s the beginning of a New Year and therefore a great many people will get a Tax Return from Uncle Sam very soon.  My plea is to please do something with your refund other than waste it.  If you are getting a return try to do some of the things listed below. I promise you will thank me later.  For now please don’t do the following;

  • Buy a new car that you know you won’t be able to pay for by March because your tax refund ran out and you didn’t get a raise at work
  • Buy a pair of $1200 Leboutin’s and wear them with a $25 outfit
  • Spend money at some expensive restaurant where you can barely order because you can’t pronounce anything on the menu and furthermore you don’t know if its meat or vegetable
  • Put a chunk of money down on a summer trip, struggle with making the final payments then have no spending money when it’s time to depart

Whew, that’s the abbreviated list.  You get my point so let’s move on.

So when I talk about a ‘budget’, I’m not telling you have to live like a homeless person but spending more than $100-$150 on a pair of shoes is asinine in my opinion. If your salary permits this and you have a checking account/savings account, 401k, stocks and bonds, a mortgage, rental property and $0 debt, then by all means keep doing what you do.  But if that’s not your situation then start today trying to get your financial life together.

Now there are all kinds of books on the subject and some geared specifically towards African American’s and their spending habits and Michelle Singletary has a money column in the Washington Post business section (yes they have a business section, you should check it out) giving you tips and ideas on how to save and have a strong financial portfolio but I’m not going to even make you read all that. I’m just going to give you some simple things to keep in mind when spending your well-deserved paycheck/tax refund.

  • Pay God – You know why.
  • Pay yourself – I know this seems like common sense and if it doesn’t it should.  Paying yourself is one way to ensure that you have money put aside for the eventualities that often come up in life.  95% of the time you need money for that eventuality so think ahead and save yourself some stress.
  • Pay your rent/mortgage/utilities, car note/insurance, credit cards – this isn’t an exhaustive list but you get that these are necessities.  Disclaimer: Not paying your rent WILL result in homelessness; not paying your car note WILL result in the purchase of a SMART TRIP.  I’m just saying.
  • Food/clothing/kids/etc – everything that is not a necessity will typically fall in this category.  That’s where the budget is most helpful. 

Contrary to popular opinion it’s really not necessary to have your hair, nails, feet, lashes (top and bottom) and eyebrows arched every single time you get paid.  I can hear it now, “Nu uh, Norika. I got to be lookin’ right.”  My response: Lookin’ right for whom?  My smarty pant sisters will say they do it for themselves.  Yeah right.  You do it to attract others, let’s be real.  Again another conversation for another time.  The bottom line is that you can definitely do beauty on a budget and less truly is more.

  So, when you start checking your mailbox daily for your check keep in mind that better days can be ahead if you give a little, save a little then spend a little.  Just spend wisely!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leave Trash Where It Belongs....I'm talkin about your "Man"

Yes, I just called your man trash.  I know, you can tell me how that's not right and I shouldn't have said that later on but I have to address the subject of "Potential".  Every single person on Earth has potential. Lets see how Merriam's Dictionary defines Potential;

po·ten·tial (p -t n sh l). adj. 1. Capable of being but not yet in existence; latent: a potential problem. 2. Having possibility, capability, or power.

There you have it. Being with someone who hasn't realized ALL of their potential is one thing, being with someone who hasn't realized ANY of their potential yields exactly what the definition says, a potential problem.  I don't know about you, but I surely don't need any problems especially ones that haven't come into being yet.  I like to avoid problems altogether if possible.  So, I can't be in a relationship with anyone who won't work regularly, doesn't contribute to anything and barely takes care of themselves.  That's not what makes them trash though.  What makes them trash is when they are all of the above AND an Ike Turner understudy, a convicted Felon and addicted to marijuana.  I'm sure you know someone who has dealt with a man like that or maybe that's your man.  I don't know but those are problems that I'm sure you don't want to deal with now or in the future.

I'm not saying that these people don't have redeeming qualities and that they will never be anything but if they aren't taking active steps towards something then you don't want to spend a lot of time with these folks, they have stuff to figure out.  Any man who wants a great woman is going to have something to bring to the table, regardless of their past.  Real men don't make excuses.  They do what they have to do. They think about you and not themselves. 

Now every man has the potential to be something great.  However, life shapes and molds a lot of young men into people that can't comprehend manhood.  They didn't have any role models. In that case, women can not teach them how to be men.  They have to figure it out for themselves.  Some never try to figure it out.  They just continue to be triflin'.  Then try to make you feel like you had something to do with it.  Leave these people alone! Just don't put up with it.  You simply say, "Look, I like you and everything but you just aren't on the road to where I'm going so, it's been real."

Either the man will go back to hang out with the rest of the garbage or he'll be intrigued and want to know where your going on this road.  Either way you have to keep moving forward.  Keep learning about yourself.  Its the best way to happiness.

Take a look at YOUR potential.  What do YOU have to offer?  When you figure that out, bring it into being.  Then you'll be ready for that man that doesn't want to drag you into the garbage with him.  He will want you to explore new places and things and hold you in the highest regard.  That's what we are all really after.  Well, you have to hold yourself in high regard first so a man can recognize what he has to do to get and keep you.  More than just 'potentially' be a good man.

That being said, even garbage can sometimes be recycled and given new life or made useful again. I challenge my ladies out there who question their relationship or see trouble ahead to take a step back and allow your man to choose; New Life or Landfill with all the other garbage?  Either way, its a decision THEY have to make on their own. If they make the right one, hopefully you will be happier, if not, get the trash off your shoe and keep walking!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm TOO picky.....You're not picky ENOUGH

When it comes to relationships, I feel like I have to break it down a little further for some of you that are trying your hardest to be with someone.  I'm the best person to do this because a big part of my personal and professional career revolves around knowing and studying human patterns and behavior.  Yes, I can get scientific but I won't because that would be lost on some so I will try to keep it simple.

There are a lot of dating questions floating through the atmosphere and yes, it is a lot to take in because choosing a mate is serious business.  Even choosing who to date is serious business and can make you really frustrated.  So here are some tips to help you along.

1. Beauty

Those of you who are really worried about height, weight and attractiveness really need to put that in perspective.  If you are looking for a man, you want to know who he is and what his goals are.  Don't care that he's not your preferred height, care about whether he is on his way somewhere or too busy trying to look good.  I'm not saying be with someone who isn't attractive  to you but beware that you aren't looking over a decent person because he doesn't meet your height requirement.  Funny, you have a height requirement and no job requirement.  Fix it.

2.  Age

The age question has come up several times in the last few weeks. How old is too old? How young is too young?  These questions can be answered in several different ways.  Personally, I don't think age is a factor until you start to compare what you want with what you have.  For instance, dating a younger man has its benefits just as dating an older man has benefits but it depends on what you are looking for at the time.  You have to understand the stages of human development to make this work for you and have fun doing it.  For example, if I choose to date a man that's 19 then I can expect that I'm going to be paying for stuff and competing with things that a 19 year old wants to do.  You might say well then what's the benefit? Well, ask yourself what else can you get from a 19 year old? Think on it....

3.  Kids

For those that have kids, I feel for you.  All I can say is that your kids should come first and if you are with someone or dating someone who isn't being a father and role model to their own kids don't count on them being that for yours.  That's a battle that I wouldn't advise engaging in.  It can get ugly and your kids caught in the middle.  Be cautious.

4.  Geography

Look past your immediate location.  Venture out.  Read my post "Girl, go somewhere" for tips on this.  Your man might not live on your block or in your neighborhood or even in your state.  If your having trouble dating or finding the right kind of guy for you, widen your net.  I've recently come to the realization that maybe my man's name is Jean-Claude or Alejandro...who knows...but I haven't been to Mexico or Europe in recent years but I'm open to the possibilities. Time will tell.  It's on my to do list.

Those are just a few things to be mindful of as you enter or re-enter the dating scene.  There are tons of other things to be, do and say but I won't go into it here.  You need to digest what's been said already and see how your current method of attracting and meeting eligible men measures up.  I'm sure there is at least one of these items that needs to be revisited in your life and adjustments made.

Now, I really don't consider myself to be 'too picky' but I will say that there are people that I just don't have time for and that I am reasonably sure will add nothing to my life, therefore I don't bother trying to date them.  After the age of 30 you just know what's going to work and what isn't. 

If you haven't figured out who YOU are already, then you don't need to be dating anyone if you are currently single.  I hope that doesn't sound harsh but some of the relationships I learn about make me cringe.  If you are in an unhappy relationship then this might be part of the problem.  You may be suffering because you have yet to learn what real happiness feels like.  If you don't know that, then how can you recognize it from your partner? Food for thought.

So, I'm encouraging you to be picky but realistic.  Find the person who is right for you.  It's work though.  If your lazy about it, you will surely not find what your looking for.  Its amazing to me how long us women can take to buy the right outfit, right car, etc but take the first man that comes along and smiles at us.....Girl, Stop it!! That's what makes me tired of you!

It's ok to NOT give someone your phone number just because they asked.  It's ok to say no is all I'm saying.  Work on you so that when you are ready to jump out and find 'THE ONE' you will save yourself a lot of wasted time, disappointment and frustration. You might even have fun.

Previous Love and Hip Hop Episodes

So here is where I am with most of the characters on Love and Hip Hop; Atlanta

I'm really upset with Rasheeda's husband.  He was so insensitive to his wife after hearing that she was pregnant.  I commented on a friend's news feed that there has to be more to the story or why would he have such an extreme response to a delicate situation?  I think asking or telling, rather, your wife to have an abortion because of inconvenient timing is ludicrous.  I agreed with her when she told him he was acting crazy.  I think I would have to separate from him for a while to see if he got his head on straight.  I would think that after being in a relationship for 13 years I would deserve a little more than a trip to the abortion clinic, driven by my own husband.  How sad is that? I can't help but shake my head. I expected more.  Rasheeda is just too beautiful to even have to go through that. Sad.

Traci and Drew. Traci completely lost me when she flipped the script on Drew's business skills after he lost her half of the investment money.  And since she didn't say, "you gave him $25K?" She said 50K which makes me inclined to believe that she probably gave up the entire 50 with him giving her back $25K once the business was successful.  The other reason I think she fronted the bill was because Drew just wasn't mad enough about losing money whether it was 25k or 50k. If I lose $5...I'M MAD! LOL

But since she entered into the agreement under false pretenses, now she's in the hole.  She just wants to be all in Drew's face and he doesn't even fake interest.  Would you give someone like that 25k? I wouldn't give someone like that 25 cents. Her sister hit the nail on the head when she brought to light that if Traci wanted to open a store she could do that without Drew, which is true.  So, why did she do it? According to her, Drew was successful in his business ventures but everyone else could see that she just wanted to be close to Drew and have a reason to be in face for no apparent reason.  Now that he made a worse than rookie business move, his business skills always been shaky. Come on, even I know that money does not change hands until everyone has agreed and signed on the dotted line.  That's not shaky business skills, that's non-existent business skills. LOL

Even though she was crying on the show I couldn't help but giggle that the plan backfired.  I'm not making fun of her pain I just don't sympathize with women who try to be undercover chasing a man.  Your transparent. Just stop. You look foolish to your friends and family and its just no good for your self-esteem when the house of cards comes tumbling down.  Traci needs to get focused on something else other than Drew.  He's not even that cute LOL

K. Michelle, K. Michelle, K. Michelle...I just don't know what to say. In the beginning I felt like she was kind of real in a ghetto way and now I just think she REAL loud.  Her tone and volume immediately turn you off from even wanting to hear what she has to say.  And she actually might be saying something someone needs to hear.

Dear K. Michelle,

Lower the volume.

Thanks in advance,
Crusading Black Woman

Did Joseline tell Che Mac to crank her braces?? I'm STILL dying laughing over that one.  Joseline is still holding on strong and Stevie j was right, he created that monster.

Stevie, Joseline and Mimi, well you know how I feel about Mimi. I could just do without her. So I will leave her alone for moment, until my next post since I'm kind of behind.

Thus far the show has not disappointed and I hope the drama continues.  Real life is just too depressing to be consumed with it 24/7.  At least Love and Hip-Hop is good for a laugh or two on Monday nights after a long day of working.

Stay tuned for what's next!!

Leave a comment if you dare!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GIRL, GO SOMEWHERE! No, LITERALLY, GO SOMEWHERE....

Hey folks, I know its been a little  while but Love and Hip Hop has just had my blood pressure up so I decided in the interest of my own health I would not write about them for now.....but I did do a YouTube video about it LOL, check it out Love and Hip Hop 6/17

Anyway, I'm starting this post off with this picture for a reason.  I just want to share a passion of mine and hope that it catches on in our community.  The above picture is a Rose window at Chartre Cathedral located just outside of Paris, France.

When I was 16 years old I was fortunate and blessed enough to be able to travel to Paris and its surrounding cities and walk through this very Cathedral and take my own pictures of the historical architecture and believe me it was such a wonder.  Although I was there with friends and we had a lot of fun, it was educational in nature and believe it or not, I've never forgotten all of the people, sights and sounds and history that I was a part of.  Traveling is a necessity.  Now, most people will probably say, I can't afford it.  In some cases, that might be true however if I was to take a look at your current budget I could probably squeeze the money out of your Weave, mani-pedi, everyday latte money.  Yes I went there. Don't get me wrong, I love a good weave and I get mani-pedi's too and I love Starbucks, but if I had an opportunity to travel to another country and could get there by temporarily sacrificing any or all of these extras then I wouldn't hesitate.  I want this idea to catch on in our community.  I want my close friends and family and anyone else who wants to see the world before they die to seriously consider trying to make their travel dreams come true.

What does travel do for you? Well, aside from it being a great, exotic, getaway, you will come away with memories and stories that will last you a lifetime.  Stories to tell your kids, stories to tell at work, stories to tell your potential boss at a job interview.  Truth is, everyone likes a well-rounded, traveled, individual.  I can't tell you how many brows raised when Paris or Rome was thrown into a conversation and I was able to say, yes I traveled there when I was a teen.  Just the look of surprise was good enough for me, even if I didn't get the job. I believe what it said to whomever I was talking to is that hey, I'm no dummy and I've been further than the end of the block in my own neighborhood.  I don't want to be an "Around the way, girl", I want to be an "Around the WORLD girl"!

So, take an interest in travel.  Look on a map, do a google search and learn something new about someplace new.  It will open your mind and the next thing you know the Travel Bug will have you in its grips and you won't want it to let go. I see a tour of the Amalfi Coast in my future and believe me I'm saving my pennies...Roll with me, if you think you can handle it...BEWARE, its not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When you KNOW what you DON'T LIKE, STOP LIKING IT!

This is my saying for those who find themselves reliving the same experiences from one relationship to the next.  There's always a "next" because those same things that broke up your last relationship are the same ones that will break up your current one....and the one after, unless you take steps to prevent that.

If you know you didn't like the fact that the last brotha wasn't working, then you aren't going to like the fact that this one isn't either. If you didn't like the fact that your last man didn't have a car and you had to drive everywhere, my hunch is that you'll soon grow tired of playing chauffeur to this one too.  So why spend the time? Look deeper.  Why do you regularly pick these men that seem to have these issues, and then find yourself frustrated and upset?  Is it that you feel lonely? Do you feel incomplete when not in a relationship?  What connection, if any, do you feel you really have with this person?  All these questions help us to grow in understanding ourselves and how we get to what we really desire. 

Being a nurturer, I too have been caught up in trying to do my part in relationship but somehow crossing over the line and assuming roles and responsibilities that should have belonged to my partner.  I was able to sustain for a while but then, I got tired.  Once I gave up those extra responsibilities the relationship either thrived or it ended or in some cases both.  Ultimately, everyone has a role to play.  I believe after a certain age boys should try to be men. It happens sooner rather than later for some, and for some it never happens, its the luck of the draw.  It happens in due time for every individual.  We are superwomen like Alicia Keys said, but we just don't have the ability to speed up time and make our partners realize the importance of, I don't know, having a job and a car. 

So, when figure out what you don't like, never settle for it again. If you find yourself in a relationship and realize, uh oh, I'm liking what I don't like, STOP! Go immediately to your best friend and talk it out over drinks and then plan your exit.  :) It's not worth getting your blood pressure up.