Re-Inventing Elle

Commence means “to begin:start” (thanks dictionary.com).  I had my fourth commencement ceremony almost two months ago.  And while it was a very joyous occasion, after all of the pomp and circumstance (see what I did there???) was over, I felt like something was missing.  I was asking myself, “What’s next?” And if I can be honest with you all, I was a little disappointed.  I had this great plan that once I finished, I would get promoted and begin a new sojourn professionally.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  So I felt lost, alone, and somewhat empty.  We all know that commencement ceremonies not only show an end to studies but they are also to serve as a beginning of something new.  And with my not getting my promotion as soon as I would like, for me, I felt like there was nothing new for me to do.  Not only did I no longer have to read books or write papers or do group work (thank GOD!) but I felt as if I didn’t have anything new to look forward to, either.  And that was very disheartening.

After I got over my little pity party, I had to do what I tell my students-come up with a Plan B. So that’s what I did.  Just because I didn’t see the promotion I wanted at this particular time didn’t mean it was never going to come.  So I created a plan to better myself so that I can be ready when the time comes for me again to apply for a promotion.  In addition to getting myself ready professionally, I knew there were some other changes I wanted to make personally.  I’m eating better (yes, even during the summertime with all these cookouts and trips), I’m getting more exercise, and I decided to change my hair, which for me is really nothing new.  But the change I’m seeking will be a little more permanent than my previous changes.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Additionally, for me, especially growing up, it was important to me that people liked me.  And I hate confrontation/arguments, so I would say “Yes” to a lot of things that I didn’t really want to.  Or not speak when I didn’t like something because I hate dissension.  Welp, the new Elle is speaking up more, being more assertive, and making sure that I take care of No. 1 first! I have to protect myself and my feelings (no one else will).  And if that includes telling people “No” or doing things for me, then so be it.  Will people be mad?  Probably.  Do I care?  Not really.  Just as others put themselves first, I MUST start doing the same!

Oh, and my love life??? Meh, but of course old flames start rising again during summer time (I’ve had two old beaus reach out within the last two weeks).  We’ll see what happens, but if I can be honest, I’m trying to live a Hot Girl Summer!  And I think you should, too!

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

Taking Care of Self

The first time I went to see a therapist/counselor was three months after Southern Mom passed away.  While dealing with the grief of losing my mom I was also dealing with the loss of relationships with certain members of my mom’s side of the family.  I saw the therapist a few times, an older white woman, who was pleasant enough but not very helpful.  After my third session, she and I mutually decided (I think she guided me to this stance more than anything) that I was dealing with my grief appropriately and I should contact her anytime I felt the need to come in.  Needless to say, I have not seen her since.

About 10 months ago, I decided that I wanted to see a therapist.  Not because anything was wrong, but because everything was going right. But the therapist had to meet certain criteria.  She had to be black. She had to be a woman. And she had to be on my insurance. After doing some research, I found a consortium in the city and made a phone call.  At the time, they did not have anyone available that was accepting new clients.  So I waited a little over 5 weeks for them to call me and tell me they had someone available.  Since then, I’ve seen her a few times and she’s been awesome.  She’s had me open up about my familial relationships, dating, and other things that are going on with life.  She makes me think outside of the box.  She has me think about things a lot differently that I have in the past.  And for that, I appreciate her.

Now some of you may think I’m crazy for stating that I wanted a black woman therapist, but I respectfully disagree.  First, it’s my therapy, and if there is a particular person that I feel comfortable with, that’s going to be my request.  Second, I knew that a black woman would understand certain things that I may encounter in life because we have race AND gender in common.

I haven’t seen her in sometime (we have an appointment tomorrow), and I almost cancelled my appointment.  Not only because I have things to do, but because it’s hard to talk to someone about your most intimate thoughts.  Even if you have a relationship with them. Even if you feel comfortable with them.  It’s hard to honestly, really, and truly take care of yourself.  Yes, we may travel, hang out with our friends and family, go out for cocktails, or read a book.  But making sure that we are mentally fit is an important component of self-care.

This summer, I have pledged to live my best life, inclusive of having fun, taking breaks when needed, and talking to my therapist to work through stuff or just to say “Hey, girl!”

I kindly advise that you all do the same!  Figure out what not only makes you happy but what you need to do in order to stay healthy.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

PS The podcast is going GREAT!  To catch up on all the episodes, you can find us on, The Femme Noir Files, on Google Play, iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!  Be sure to subscribe, rate, and share! 🙂

It’s a Brand New Day

Greetings, all!  It has been awhile since I’ve written a post.  Honestly, I feel that blogs are becoming outdated.  (Maybe I’m wrong. More about this in a minute.) But also, as you know, I haven’t had a lot of time because of graduate school.  Well, I have great news!  I’m officially done!!! I graduate next weekend, and to say that I’m ecstatic is an understatement!  Southern Dad flies here in a week. (Can I just say that getting him here and trying to convince him that flying is the best is SO hard?!?!  And these recent plane crashes have not helped!) For those of you that pray, please pray that he has a safe flight and that we have a fun week while he’s here!

So, back to my thinking that blogs are becoming outdated….I think that more folks are using media in new ways to create news and express themselves. The latest way to do that? Podcasts!  I think I started listening to podcasts a few months ago, and I have a small list of ones that I listen to regularly.  I listen to them mainly for entertainment purposes.  After listening to a few, I thought, “Elle, you should have a podcast, too!” But then I thought that maybe I wasn’t interesting enough by myself to have one (which lightweight isn’t true since I have cultivated a great community with my readers).  In order to have different perspectives, I recruited two of friends to join me!  We are currently in the VERY early stages of production.  So far, we have a name (that took some work), logo, a consultant, a part-time producer, and we have a few recordings under our belt.  I can’t wait until we begin releasing episodes!  I believe we have a strong, solid concept and I think you will like the voice that we have created for ourselves.

With Mother’s Day coming up, it’s made me think a little more about my relationship with Southern Mom.  I miss her everyday, but when Mother’s Day, her birthday, and the holidays roll around, she’s on my mind even more.  A friend shared on Facebook that she and some friends are visiting a medium on Sunday.  She did something similar before and talked about the positive experience that was had with other people.  For a split second, I thought going.  But then I hesitated. One, because I don’t fully believe in psychics or the like. Two, if this “reading” is real and Southern Mom “speaks” to me, I don’t think I would be emotionally able to handle it.  Although she’s been gone for 4 1/2 years, it still feels like yesterday.  Three, the “reading” is NOWHERE near DC.  And if you know me you know how I feel about driving too far out of the Beltway. Four, it’s also a grip.  And since I’ve planning for graduation (and my upcoming trip), my disposable income is almost spent.  Maybe one day I’ll be in a space where I can do it; but that day is not today.

After Southern Mom died and definitely after I started graduate school, I no longer kept my rotation.  Who knows why… but I am happy to say that that feeling has finally left!  I am currently speaking with/talking to two guys (with a possible third) and it’s a great feeling!  I started seeing a therapist a few months back (whom I love) and she definitely encouraged me to have fun and not take everything so seriously (I’m still working on that). So far, I have no complaints.  We’ll see what ends up happening.

Now that I’m done with school, you may be asking what’s next.  Honestly, I don’t know.  I can tell you what’s NOT next-a PhD.  Though most of my friends have hinted (loudly) that I should continue on, I’m good (for now).  I did say that I would re-assess my life in 10 years to see where I am and I may reconsider.  The first week after my classes were over I did feel that I should be reading a book or writing a paper but that feeling is starting to subside.  I have decided to be more social, so I’m going out more and traveling more.   I have two trips planned at the end of the month, one trip planned for June (although it’s for work), July, and October/November!  And some fun things in the DMV are sprinkled in for good measure!  I may even start updating the What’s Happening page again! We’ll see!

In any event, I hope you have appreciated my little life update.  I should probably start keeping up with pop culture and news for real so I can go back to having topics to discuss!

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

2018 Has Been a Year

It has been almost a year since I’ve blogged.  I’ve stopped, well slowed down, for a number of reasons.  One, my job.  I’ve had this job for 4 years, and I love it.  And apparently I’ve been doing a great job, because my supervisor keeps adding on and giving me more responsibility each year.  -_- Second, I’m in graduate school.  The extra time I had is now consumed by reading and writing papers.  Thankfully, I only have one more year to go. Woo-hoo!  Come on May 2019!  Third, I’m also an advisor for my sorority at a local university.  I love it.  It’s a lot of work, but I love my younger sorors and helping them do the work of and learn all about our beloved sisterhood.

Also, 2018 has seen me take my 2nd international trip!  Once my Internship for the summer was complete, I took a 5 day cruise with some friends.  I had a ball!  It was a great trip, I got a tan, and I brought back some alcohol! 🙂

2018 also had the appearance of an old beau.  Someone I dated many moons ago (before Southern Mom passed) reached out, said he was going to be on the East Coast and said that he wanted to see me.  We hung out one weekend, and aside from one minor spat, everything went well.  But now I am regretting that decision.  Just when I think things may start working out in my love life, that’s when sh*t hits the fan, and then I decide that I’m never going to find someone because all the men I meet are jerks.  Or something to that effect.

In any event, I’m in the part of the cycle where I’m over men.  I think I should just stop doing this to myself. Especially since I have so many positive things going on in my life right now.  And honestly, I feel great about everything in my life, except I am not satisfied with being single.  Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely rather be single that be in a toxic relationship; however, it can’t be that hard to find someone that wants what I want and wants me and I want him.  But apparently it is because here I am.

In any event, I’m back at the point where I’m focusing on me.  Which is sort of ironic since about this time last year I was in this same place.  Ah well, such is life.

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

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.