She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Successfully Plan Time with Your Girlfriends When You've Got Shit to Do

Spending time with your friends is an integral part of living a well-rounded life. With all the racial and violent mess going on, it makes me feel extremely battle fatigued. My good friends give me peace in an uncertain world. Busy schedules, family obligations, work and the time needed to decompress from it all, make scheduling (and keeping) girlfriend dates difficult. So here are some tips for staying committed to your friends, when you got so much shit to do.

Make the damn plans. This is the first suggestion, because hell, it's the obvious one. But if it were easy, you wouldn't be reading this. Instead of thing about making plans, or constantly saying "yeah girl, we need to get together", actually make the plans. In fact, when you run into that girlfriend you haven't hung out with in a while or receive the holiday or birthday text, just make the plans then. Pivot from, "yes, we should" to "what's your schedule like next week?" Lock in a date and time then. The likelihood of you going on with your day and making the plans is slim, if not, you would have already hung out with the person. S go ahead and put something on the calendar.

Plan activities on weekdays. We tend to plan dates on the weekends, but the problem is we also schedule everything else on the weekends as well- laundry, working out grocery shopping romantic dates, everything. If you have kids, forget about it. Your weekend is shot! So why not plan to meet up with your girl after work? Meet at a convenient location for both parties. If one, or both of you, work in your city's business district, where there tends to be bars and restaurants, why commute one extra day during the weekend to a place you already spend at least five days of each week anyway?

Don't just meet for food and drinks. Pick an activity you both will enjoy and something you really want to do. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. That art exhibit you've been wanting to see? Go...with you girl! It's easy to get in the habit of eating and drinking for every get-together, but there are cheaper and healthier ways to spend time. How many of us are trying to eat healthier? And how many of us let all that healthy stuff fall by the waist-side when we get around our friends? I know I am guilty of it. So think of things to do that involve pulling away from the table or bar. In fact, go to an exercise class together or take a long walk or jog. It's simple and cheap.

Phone calls count. Call your girlfriends! Actually pick up the phone and call your friends. This is not the same as hanging out in person obviously, but we spend so much time texting and e-mailing that we avoid calling each other. I know I am dating myself, but I remember marathon phone conversations that lasted and lasted, sometimes to the wee hours of the morning. These days, I am an early bird, who is more likely to call you before 8am, but I enjoy catching up with my friends and hearing their voices and real, audible laughter, not just seeing a typed 'LOL'. This is especially helpful for long distance girlfriends. I have had 3 hour-long conversations that consisted of laughter, cursing, gossip, crying and prayer. Talk to your friends. That's the best tenet of friendship- the stimulating conversation.

Entertain at home. This could have definitely been included with No. 3, but I think this is so important it is a stand-alone tip. When you are a woman of a certain age (I like saying that, because, really what does it mean?), i.e. a grown woman, your home, whether it be an apartment, house, owned, rented, leased, sub-leased, whatever, should be your personal sanctuary. To me, part of creating a sanctuary for yourself, is having a living space that is inviting to others. Not all others, but the select few you enjoy having around. This does not mean you have to have a fully furnished home, or that you have to live lavishly. What this means is you should have the essentials for entertaining:  at least 4 wine glasses, a large serving bowl (they are just useful as hell), ice on hand at all times and music. It is always good to keep one adult beverage stocked as part of your cocktail started kit or in case of emergencies. If your cabinets are dry, let your guests know so they can bring something. Put music on, or a good show and just chill. Some of my best times are just me at one of friends' home hanging out, no agenda, no plans. Utilize your (their) home. Note:  this means your home needs to always be, not necessarily "company ready", but good friends ready. It doesn't have to be spotless, but comfortable for you and them. You shouldn't have to clean your entire house every time your girl comes over.

Stop being a flake! This the last time and it's just important as No. 1. Stop making, then breaking plans. It's annoying and no one benefits from it. Reduce arbitrarily saying, "year, what are you doing next week?", then never following up next week. Your friends have their own lives and don't need you jerking their time around. They may have moved some plans around for you and to cancel it because of some random shit or ridiculous reason, (or because you're being lazy) is not cool. Also, if you don't want to meet or do not have the time, make that clear, or stop making empty promises and plans.

Now go and set up a date with your homegirl! Nourish good friendships, they're important to your well-being, and feed your soul.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Task Complete: How I Pushed Through When All I Wanted to Do Was Walk Away and Crawl Under the Covers

I did it! Yep, I’m done. You know how you sign up for something and quickly realize it is a bad idea? Well this is what happened to me. I was in a women’s service organization for about 4.5 or 5.5 years (I lost count after about month 8th). I decided to take a leadership position, because I thought that would make my experience better than it had been. I was wrong. It made it worse! I was annoyed, frustrated and angry from the onset. But that part of the story isn’t as important as this one- I finished! As of this past Wednesday, June 1st, I finished my task and honored my commitment. The organization’s schedule runs from June to May essentially and so last week marked the end. I had resigned my membership in February. I had a few loose ends to tie up before being completely done. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, I took time out to e-mail the participants of the committee I oversaw and thanked them, collected my year-end survey results, reached out to the head of my council and scheduled a transition meeting with the two women who will be taking over after me. (Yes, it was realized that this should not be a one person job.) When I tell you I felt accomplished, honey, listen!

It was during my very own transition meeting conference call last year, that I knew this was going to be a long assignment. With me working by myself, I only had my friends, both in and outside of the organization to vent to. I spent a lot of time trying to figure things out on my own or to good friends who would instruct me to “not send that letter”. I have had e-mails proofed and heavily edited by friends at work to keep from unleashing my condescending tone to someone I thought deserved it. But I made it. Through all of the many micro-aggressions, the rude comments and the long-ass meetings, I made it. The back and forth e-mails to answer questions I deemed obvious, I made it. I am proud of myself for holding my tongue, when my mind wanted to let loose. I pat myself on the back for staying gracious in the face of constant second-guessing. 

I learned a lot about leadership in this particular role. The title does not make people instantly respect you, it’s your actions and how you handle yourself. Then there are some people who still won’t. But I marched on. When I had low attendance to the events I hosted, I did not take it personally, I just thanked those who showed. I started choosing dates and times that worked best for me, instead of trying to please the entire group at large. I started supporting my own decisions. Even if it meant not showing up to every single meeting I was invited to, in order to show favoritism to my priorities and things I actually enjoyed. I sent out holiday cards instead of pouting. I ended every e-mail with an “Enjoy your day!” or “I hope everyone has a great holiday!”, instead of rolling my eyes. I kept things positive. I responded to requests on time. I apologized for oversights or mistakes, taking full responsibility for things that were by no means a big deal. I helped out when I could. And I made it. I did well. I spent so much time thinking I was in over my head, but the truth is, sometimes that’s what leadership feels like. It is not always easy. It just simply is. I am glad I pushed myself. And most importantly, I finished. I completed the task!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Translation Please: My Love Language

This morning I was talking to one of my girlfriends about an incident that took place yesterday evening that had me upset and annoyed. It involved a man, mixed signals and Shake Shack. Don’t worry, the Shake Shack part was all good; I split some cheese fries and had a Chicken Shack with cheese if you’re curious. The food was better than fine. It was the company I kept that had me calling my girl to recap all the foolishness. In between my cursing and her completely agreeing with me, she asked:  “what’s your ‘love language’? Is it receiving gifts or words of affirmation?” I had taken Gary Chapman’s ‘The 5 Love Languages’ test years ago, but could not remember how I tested. I thought those two sounded good, but honestly did not know. It occurred to me that taking the test again, now that some years have past, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Then I thought back to the conversation I had with my dad even earlier this morning, before the call with my girl. As my phone buzzed in my hand with John Coltrane’s Impressions (his unique ringtone) coming through the speaker, I already knew it was him before seeing Daddy on the screen. “MJ, you sad about Prince hunh?”, to which I sadly replied, “yeah”. “I’m gonna try to find that Chipotle coupon for a free burrito bowl. You want a bowl?” he asked. “Yes.” He said he would call me when he was on his way downtown and that I could “do the order” for him. It occurred to me, that is my love language. My dad speaks my love language. He acknowledged and predicted I would be shook up about Prince and gave me my due respect for crafting a mean burrito bowl. No translation needed.

After posting this I will take the test and see what my “language” is. If you want to test yourself, click here and share your results.