Elle’s World

So far, 2017 has been great!  I am officially in my mid-30s (and I’m totally ok with that!), I went on my second trip to California (even though it was for work), I attended the wedding of one of my best friends, I took my first international trip, AND I start graduate school in 3 weeks.

Travel is always fun!  And I told myself on my birthday that I wanted to travel internationally at least once a year from now until I can’t anymore.  So, for my first trip, I went to Cuba two weeks ago and had a ball!  Although I got sick (like really sick!), I still had a blast and am willing to go back!  The people, the culture, the city of Havana, and most of all, my girls, were just what I needed!  We were there for 5 days/4 nights, and it was long enough!  While I had a great time, I was more than ready to come home.  The process was easy (we got our stuff before the man on Pennsylvania Avenue made his announcement), and getting there and coming back were easy, despite the fact one of my friends almost got me detained because she wanted the customs agent to stamp her passport when were leaving. 😦 (Long story!) I learned about the country, got a nice tan, and brought back some great souvenirs.

My birthday this year was EPIC (though it didn’t start out that way).  I broke my phone, but I had a great 3 day celebration.  And Southern Cousin even came up to celebrate!

Most important, I start graduate school in less than 3 weeks.  I’m excited, nervous, apprehensive, all that good stuff that comes with taking on a new endeavor that is meant to add to my life in the future.

Lastly, my job is going swell. Though I’ve been given more responsibility (darn me for being so efficient!), I am also adding more to make me better.  I am sure this will make me more marketable and valuable at not only my current job but when I look for new positions after I finish graduate school.

So now that we are almost 3/4 of the way done with 2017, I am excited to see what else is in store for Elle.  Oh, and my love life?  The guy from this post is still around (WOW! Has he been around THAT long???), but it’s not what I want.  And I’m seriously considering ending that, for a number of reasons.  Maybe I’ll post about that later.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these last days of summer.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Just Say No

Over the years, I have been in numerous weddings.  I have so enjoyed celebrating my friends as they decide to embark on their journey to become wives.  Most recently, I will be in a wedding this weekend.  And even though the bride and I haven’t known each other long, she and I made a real connection.  I often refer to her as the little sister I never had.  We have a lot in common, hang out on a pretty regular basis, and now we are neighbors.  I definitely learn from her and her groom, and I hope that they learn from me.

Not to sound too cliche’, but when you get a number of women together, things don’t always work out the way you want them to.  Now, I have prided myself on not getting caught up in the petty/insignificant/crazy things that groups of women sometimes get themselves into.  I’m pretty good about letting things roll off my back.  Not to mention that I don’t have those type of women in the circles.

But let me back up and offer some sage advice.  When someone asks you to be in their wedding, it’s MUCH more than just buying a dress (or renting a tux) and standing next to your ace while she/he exchanges vows.  It’s a time AND financial commitment.  At minimum, in addition to your dress and shoes, you’re also going to have to chip in for a bachelorette party and/or bridal shower.  And with the way society is now, the bride may want to do a trip.  And it is the one time (aside from you being married and/or having children) that you have to be unselfish and put someone else before you. Like you can’t complain, can’t whine, can’t say you don’t like your dress/hair/nails. Why?  Because it’s not about you!

In addition to you being unselfish, you have to put up.  Not put up or shut up-just put up.  Celebrating the bride isn’t cheap.  Not only do you have to budget for your dress/shoes/jewelry, you will most likely have to get a hotel room/airfare ticket and contribute to her bridal shower and bachelorette party.  Not only do you shower the bride with gifts, but you also have to support her last days as a “free” woman.  When you don’t contribute, you put undo pressure on the other members of the bridal party.  Let me tell you a story…(don’t worry, it’s short)

A few years back, I was my cousin’s Maid of Honor at her wedding. Her bachelorette party and bridal shower took place over one weekend in Atlanta.  Why?  She was the only person that lived there, and everyone was traveling to attend.  Out of 8 bridesmaids, only 1 contributed to her weekend, which consisted of dinner, clubbing, drinks, bridal shower, and dance class.  I never told my cousin.  And even though she and my aunt offered to contribute, I didn’t take their money.  Why?  Because it’s her day and she shouldn’t have to worry about that.  And that wasn’t her job.  Her job was to enjoy being celebrated with no worries.

With the wedding I’m going to be in this weekend, I won’t go into too many details.  I’ll just say one person still owes me money for events that have taken place and another told me that she can’t contribute anymore (we have one last event scheduled with the bride and groom) as she is in a wedding next weekend as well and is tapped out.

All of these instances have told me that I need to learn to say “No”.  From now on, if a family member/friend/loved one/soror asks me to be in her wedding, I’m going to decline.  And it’s not because I don’t love them; it’s because not everyone in the wedding party realizes the commitment that she is agreeing to.  And just because someone didn’t plan properly (or because they’re a slacker) does not mean that I should make undo sacrifices. I’m not here to take care of grown people.

Now, I’ll admit that this blog may not be the best way to communicate that, but….yeah, it is the best way to communicate this.  Because I’m here to share my story.  And I feel that people who are involved in my life (the good, the bad, and the ugly) unofficially sign up to become a part of that story.  It is never my intent to embarrass or call out folks; I don’t name names-that’s messy.

Oh, and my own wedding (when that day comes)?  I’ll be on a beach somewhere with my boo and our parents. The few people that I have shared this with in the last 12 hours think I’m crazy, and I’ll change my mind.  Not to mention it totally goes against the next to last line in this post.  The older you get, you realize what’s really important.  And me stressing over somebody else’s wedding because people can’t contribute is not at the top of my list of priorities.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Moving Forward

It has been almost 6 months since Southern Mom passed.  Some days are great.  Some days are not so great.  Last week was rough since I had to go to home to handle some business on her behalf.  (I took the shortest trip home I’ve ever taken this weekend.)  And while it was rough, especially Sunday, I am moving forward.

There have been some upsides and positive things that have occurred-I presented at a workshop this weekend related to education.  I received an email earlier today about speaking at an engagement this weekend.  I started a book club.  We’ve met twice so far, and these ladies are a trip!  We have so much fun together.  And, most importantly, I bought a house.  In DC.  (My soror/friend/road dawg Original Najeema suggested I blog about that.)  Let me say that was not an easy process.  And I definitely thought it would take me at least a year to do it.  But I did it.  And I love my house.  Now, I will be brutally honest with you-while I LOVE my house, I was hoping that the seller would have assisted with the closing costs, but that didn’t happen.  And while I definitely could have walked away, I didn’t.  And for a number of reasons.

One, I love that house.  It is completed renovated and has the amenities/updates that I wanted.  Two, I was tired of house hunting.  Sure, it was fun in the beginning.  But every house, with the exception of one, that I put an offer on or was interested in, someone beat me to the punch. (LONG on that first house…)  I got tired of finding gems that other people found before me and watching them take possession.  Third, it was EXACTLY what I told my realtor I wanted.  So why wouldn’t I keep it and move forward???  Lastly, I had to tell myself that while I was putting up all of the money upfront, it would still be MY money, going towards MY house, and benefiting ME in the long run. So, earlier this month, I became a homeowner!  My realtor took a picture of me at the last walk through (where I was VERY animated), and of course, I celebrated with a happy hour.  What’s super funny is that Southern Dad called it.  His words two days before I closed?  “Ok, Elle, when you close, it’s not the end; it’s the beginning.  And don’t think you have to go out and celebrate with a happy hour.”  O_o Color me shocked!  How did he know my life???  Needless to say, I didn’t tell him until the day I closed that he was right about the happy hour and that invitations were sent the previous week.  We both got a good laugh from that one.

While I’ll always mourn my mother, I can’t become stoic.  I have to keep moving forward.  I know that’s what she would want.  And I thank God everyday for my family and friends for their continued support.  I know I couldn’t do half of the stuff I need to do without them willing to lend a helping hand.

I read an article this weekend when a friend shared it on Facebook.  While I don’t like the term “Motherless Daughter”, it was SPOT ON with all of the thoughts that I have when it comes to my mother and how to deal when people ask about my parents or how to deal with a potential mate in the future.  And even now, certain things happen that make me think of memories I have with my mother (that time we would sing Sisqo’s “Got to Get It” just because of a particular lyric in the song, that time I heard her curse for the first time because I spilled Dr. Pepper in her car (I was floored!), how she would tell waitresses to call her by her name and not “Hun” or “Sweetie”).  She was such a dynamic person, and I hope that I have made her proud.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

“The Book of Negroes”

Unfortunately, BET’s miniseries “The Book of Negroes” did not get as much fanfare as say the “Love and Hip Hop”, “Real Housewives”, or “Bad Girls Club” franchises. I have to admit the only reason I heard about it was because I watch “Being Mary Jane” and “The Game”.

For those of you who have never heard of it, “The Book of Negroes” is a 3 part miniseries based on the true life of Aminata Diallo, an African woman who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery.  What is unique about Aminata is that she wrote The Book of Negroes, a ledger of free Blacks that lived in New York, most of which sailed to Nova Scotia to escape the injustices of America.  Aminata was an educated woman who was not afraid to back down from anyone.  In a time when slaves were to “know their place”, she demanded respect.

This miniseries is one of the best things I have seen on television.  It was well written, included amazing acting, and was well produced.  For me, it made me think about the Black community as a whole and how we are looked at by other cultures.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the separation of the Black family.  Chikura, a young African boy that Aminata met right before she was kidnapped, found Aminata once they were adults on plantations in South Carolina.  They ended becoming husband and wife, only to be torn apart NUMEROUS times.  And both times Aminata gave birth to their children, they were not together.  The great thing is that Chikura ALWAYS found her, which to me shows that even though their family was not always together and was broken many times, Chikura never gave up on her.  Not to mention Aminata never had eyes for any other man.  Something else I noticed were the enslaved Blacks.  It’s no secret, if you know the history of the US, that whites commonly referred to slaves and Blacks as “animals”.  Watching slaves in chains, practically dying from thirst and starvation, I couldn’t help but think that there was something animalistic about them.  When given water and/or food, with no utensils but their fingers…how else is one to act?  I wonder how non-Blacks would think if they saw (or knew) that their ancestors were placed in chains, having to use the bathroom on themselves, using their fingers to eat.  It’s a super disheartening and disturbing sight.

There are some of you, a friend of mine and Southern Dad included, who believe that “I’m tired of slave movies” or “I don’t want to see anything like that”, and you have no interest to watch “The Book of Negroes”.  The thing that I will say to you (and the same thing I said to them) is that this miniseries is SO much more than a slave movie.  It’s an opportunity to learn about our history and heritage and a story that is not widely known and that was not shared in any history class you had in school.  So, if you’re snowed in (like I am today), you should definitely start watching it. Or look up the actual book.  You will learn so much.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

I’m An Optimist

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with a co-worker that focused on relationships, but it wasn’t a conventional relationship talk, if that makes sense.

He (late 20’s, in a relationship) was stating how he was having a conversation with his sister, and she said that “there are no good black men left.  Most are taken, in jail, or gay”.  Well, let me back up.  I can’t remember if his sister in fact made that statement or if his sister said she heard another woman make that statement.  (My memory’s bad.)  In any event, I told him that I don’t subscribe to that notion.  First, I don’t want to think negatively, because I truly feel that when I do begin to develop a relationship, the thoughts I had pre-relationship will follow me once I get into a relationship.  And I do not want to enter that with negative thoughts.  Second of all, I know a lot of great black men-I’m related to some, and my friends married others.  Of course, I said people only show you what they want you to see, but from my point of view, these were men who loved their wives and children and took care of their families. (Yes, you have dudes who are jerks out there, but that’s not limited just to black men.) And I truly believe that there is a man out there that God has made just for me.  Not sure where he is yet, or if we’ve even met, but God made Eve for Adam, so I don’t think that He meant for us to be alone.  And by us, I mean my future husband and me.

(So…as I look back over my statements, I can see how some can seem negative…maybe we should call Elle a realist; I take a realistic view at things.  No one has time to sugarcoat stuff-I’m getting too old for that.  Maybe you can compare me to your 70 year old Aunt Edna, the lady who never bites her tongue and says EXACTLY what’s on her mind.  But I’ll still practice a little tact.  😉 )

I’ve always looked at things with the glass being half-full.  And I believe that thinking has boded well for me.  Even in situations that were not so great and where things seemed dire.  For all of my single people, men and women, who are out there and think that there are no good women or men, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  We just have to make sure that we can be a benefit to our mate when he finds us or when you find her.  Meaning, we have to make sure we are bringing our best selves to the table.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

My Life is NOT Boring!

Yesterday at a meeting, I told my friend that my life was boring when she asked me what I’ve been up to.  For a long time, I used to associate my dating life with whether or not my life was interesting.  Yeah…I’m glad it took me 30 some odd years to come to my senses.  On the contrary, my life is far from boring.

First, let’s talk about my job.  Some folks don’t like their jobs.  But not me.  And I’m not just saying that.  I love what I do.  Some of my co-workers find it hard to believe when I say that I’m glad I’m there. Don’t get me wrong-there are definitely aspects that I wish I could change (nothing’s perfect).  But on the grand scheme of things, my job is pretty snazzy.

Second, I’m still super involved.  I serve on a few boards, I’m becoming more involved with my local sorority chapter, and I’m heavily involved with part of the planning for the DC Black Theatre Festival (which I always love!), that is scheduled for the end of June.

Third, I have a social life.  Just this weekend, I went to happy hour, the Wizards/Bulls game, AND an NFL playoff watch party.  I had fun!  I hung out with some old friends and met some new folks.  And I played Spades, which I haven’t done in awhile. And though my partner and I didn’t win, I know if we had kept playing the second round we would have redeemed ourselves!

Lastly, I actually DO have a hot date this Friday.  It’s someone I’ve known for awhile, and I’m glad this opportunity presented itself for us to hang out so we could get to know each other better.  We’re going to hear one of my FAVORITE artists.  Oh, who is it, you may ask??? Well, it’s me!  🙂  It’s been awhile since I’ve taken myself on a date, unless you count me sitting on my couch watching “Scandal” and “The Walking Dead”.  To be honest, I definitely thought about inviting my friends to go with me…but I decided not to.  It’s been way too long since I’ve gone out by myself and enjoyed my own company.   And in an effort to take care of me in 2015, I feel like I can be a little selfish.

So, as you can see (and you being me), my life is far from boring.  I have stuff going on.  And my social calendar for January is continuing to fill up as we speak…well, as I type this.  In any event, I charge all of you to take yourself out on date.  If there is something you enjoy doing, go do it.  Don’t invite your girls, your boys, or your boo.  Go by yourself.  And rediscover how great of a person you are.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

New Year, New Elle

2015 is here!  This weekend, I had a few friends over for a vision board party. (You chicks left all your fatty foods and wine for me to eat!  Don’t worry-I’ll find something to do with it!)  I didn’t finish my board as I was making sure my guests had a great time.  Instead of just going through magazines and cutting out pictures and quotes that I liked in previous years, I know EXACTLY what I want to include as I know the goals that I want to accomplish this year.

Over the past few weeks, different things have been shared with me to make me reflect on things and to help me establish what goals (I don’t do resolutions) I want to accomplish in the new year.  My main goal is to focus on me-spiritually, emotionally, financially, and physically.  On the spiritual aspect, I’ve joined a local church (FINALLY!) that I love!  I missed my church during the two Sundays I was in SC for the Christmas holiday and thoroughly enjoyed the NYE service.  I can’t wait until they start Wednesday Bible study again in a few weeks.  In the spirit of being transparent, I’ve thought about seeing a professional, specifically in dealing with the death of Southern Mom.  I know that it is something that I will have to endure for the rest of my life, but I want to make sure that I am taking care of me first.  I’ve started working with a financial planner, and even though I feel like he has put limitations on what I can do (although he really hasn’t-I just hate budgeting), I know that his assistance will benefit me in the long run.  Lastly, I need to take care of my body-point blank and the period.  I need to eat better.  I need to start working out.  Not to sound vain, but I think I’m a cute girl.  And I feel that I can be even cuter once I start taking care of myself.  In short, I don’t want to just survive-I want to live.

I hope that in the next 360 days, I become a person that I am proud to be and that is better than the person I am today.

So what are your goals for 2015?

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.