Monday, August 31, 2009

Are you a great Friend...or a mediocre "Frienemie"?

Before I begin, I want to credit the images used in this post. They're from an outstanding artist named Cidne Wallace. Her artwork, stationary and other products can be purchased online at MBSgifts, It's A Black Thang, or Afrocentric Gifts.

Do you ever wonder kind of friend you are? This is a question I often ask myself, and I take a moment to reevaluate my choices, words, actions, and surroundings probably more often than I should.

For a lot of us, our girlfriends are our family. We love them, look forward to their company, depend on their compassion...and they are an important part of our daily routine.

We we get older, friendships inevitably change. Some attachments grow stronger...others grow apart. Some resentments develop and animosity grows...some appreciations increase and respect grows.

The people we spend our time with at different stages represent our lifestyles, our standards, social preferences, and even our mental state. There are friends you party with, and friends you can cry with and bear your soul. Friends you can laugh with, and friends you can discuss issues with. Sometimes these friends are the same...sometimes various women hold various roles in your life.

It's always great to have other women to turn to, in general. Understandably, you can't be close to EVERYONE, and family and career obligations may not make you accessible all the time. But I do strongly believe that having a close network of at least one or two girlfriends that you can ABSOLUTELY without a doubt trust (with 100% certainty!) and depend on (through thick and thin!) is essential. I also strongly believe that you won't be able to have genuine and sustainable friendships, unless you know how to be a genuine and sustainable friend.

Being a good friend is something we should all work on, just like we work on and develop other skills. The kind of friend we are at 15 should not be the type of friend we evolve into at 35 or 45. There have to be lessons learned, stronger efforts, and concious awareness about how we act, how we are perceived, and how this all affects our relationships with other females.

I believe a good girlfriend should:

1) Allow you to express your thoughts and fears freely and safely at all times.

2) Make herself available to you in your times of need (within reason, or course, and based on urgency).

3) Include you in her life's routine (where comfortable), warmly, regularly, and without hesitation.

4) Be honest with you about everything. No exceptions. Good and bad; with taste.

5) Keep the trust of others, thus keeping your trust as well.

6) Have your best interest in mind at all times; encourage and motivate you to do your best and be your best.

7) Protect you from the others by defending you, and speaking well of you.

8) Be good company, someone you like to be around, even if you're not "doing" anything.

9) Respect your time, opinions, and lifestyle...and respect you enough to tell you when you're messing it all up!

10) Know when to support you, when to give you your space, and when to intervene.

If you could create the perfect girlfriend, what characterstics would she have? Now...what is stopping you from being everything that you wish to see in a friend? It's that simple. In order to have great friends and gain their respect, you have to learn how to be a great friend worthy of respect.

OK, so this isn't anything new. But if we all KNOW the fundamental differences between a good friend and a bad friend....WHY do some females continue to be gossips, unreliable, liars, disrespectful, grudgeful, jealous, or insensitive?


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why I'm Not Mad at Black Men for Dating Outside Their Race

To each his own!

This week I've read a few random Facebook discussions, a feature in Essence Magazine's online newsletter, and listened to a friend praise her own current interracial dating experience, so the topic is on my mind.

Is it even "issue" enough to discuss anymore? "Single black women outnumber single black men"..."Most black men are babydaddys or incarcerated"..."Black women are too difficult"..."That's it! I'm only dating white men from now on!"..."A brother shouldn't bring any woman home that can't use his mama's comb"...if you've heard one comment, you've heard them all.

So what kind of hypocrite would I be to say that interracial dating bothers me, when I have very close female friends of ALL races. ALL who have dated black men at one point in time, if not currently. I'm sure a lot of you fall into the same category. If you can spend countless hours having numerous things in common with your non-black female friends....why can't he?

And where do you draw the line? Dating a white woman isn't OK...but dating an Asian/Indian/Latino woman is? Are there degrees of "black like-ness" that are more acceptable when a black man is dating a non-black woman? If you're bothered by the white woman, you should be bothered by all other variations of non-black as well...right?

It is what is it. No excuses necessary. For whatever reason, not every black man is going to want to date a black woman. Some actually prefer not to. Some do it un-intentionally: things just happen! Can I get mad at that? Nope!

How many times have your heard one of your black female friends proclaim that they are DONE with black men, once and for all? Do you get mad at her for declaring this? Or if one of your black female friends walked into a room with [insert attractive/intelligent non-black male here]...would you shun her?

There are many reasons why the majority of people prefer to date within their race. Cultural preserverance comes to mind. Comfort. Familiarity. Natural attraction. However, having grown up as first-generation Canadians where we have been exposed to every race imaginable from infancy...is it that odd that some people will naturally gravitate towards classmates, co-workers, and neighbours of another race...and that they might actually have a lot in common with them, through common CANADIAN experiences?

You can't help who you fall in love with, and you can't always explain or historically justify what turns you on, or what you are attracted to in a mate. All you can do is mind your business and let people date whoever makes them comfortable for whatever reason. If they do indeed have an identity crisis, self-hatred, or a family complex...that's for them to deal with on their own. No amount of cut-eye or kiss-teeth will change that.

I am not mad at black men for dating outside their race, because everyone has free will, and will deal with their choices/consequences accordingly.

As long as I know I am making the best decisions for ME and my own personal, cultural, and social well being...everyone else can do as they choose! Even the brothers who prefer to date outside of their race.

It doesn't make sense to waste time and energy getting mad about this "phenomenon." Take that same energy worrying about how to make yourself a better person, and how to make sure you have your own healthy relationships.

We all have our preferences: dark skin, light skin, thick, thin, foreign, local, Jamaican, Asian...and sometimes we can't even explain why we prefer one "type" to another...it just is what it is.

I know what I like...and I can't expect others to agree with my personal tastes. I think it's only fair that we have the same respect for others.

What emotions do these images evoke from you? Why?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Steve Harvey says: "Standards...Get Some!"

I'm sure one of your girl friends must have told you about this book by now, if you haven't already read it for yourself. Steve Harvey's "Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, And Comittment" is like the new "He's Just Not That Into You." Equally entertaining, and very truthful.

And with any of these relationship "self-help" books, the author is never really telling you something you don't know deep down already. Even if you're happy, secure, and in a wonderful relationship already, I would still recommend that you take the book in. Steve Harvey is a comedian, so the book is funny if nothing else. The truth is refreshing, and he puts his message together in a very light and accepting way.

The 15 chapters are divided into 3 sections: 1) The Mind Set of a Man, 2) Why Men Do What They Do, and 3) The Playbook: How to Win the Game. Here are some of the highlights I found from each section.

THE MIND SET OF A MAN

  • A man needs his woman to have his back, and make him feel appreciated.

  • He needs to have his life in order before he can fully concentrate on fulfilling a woman's needs.

  • If he is "into you," he will not hesitate to show you off.

WHY MEN DO WHAT THEY DO

  • Let him know your "price" upfront: he will let you know if you're worth it, or he'll move on.

  • Either you're a Sports Fish (no rules, self-respect, or guidelines) or you're a Keeper; only you determine what type of woman you are going to be. Keep in mind: determining that you are a keeper is no guarantee that this guy still won't just walk away.

  • If a man is not looking for a serious relationship, no matter how great you are, you can't change his mind.

  • Don't let him get away with disrespecting you!!!! (Sidenote: EVER)

  • Men cheat because they can, and believe they will get away with it. There is always a woman out there willing to cheat with him. (Sidenote: DON'T be that woman either!)
THE PLAYBOOK: HOW TO WIN THE GAME

  • Get some standards; lay our your requirements, and he will decide if he is up for the challenge.

  • Let the man show you what he's made of; figure out how you expect to be pursued and do not settle for less!

  • Get to know his views on family, finances, religion, and how he plans to build his dreams.

  • Avoid being led on a string: don't be afraid to confront him with your needs and expectations.

  • Find out about his short term goals, long term goals, views on relationships, and what he thinks and feels about you...if you don't ask, you may never know.

  • Try to hold out the goods for 90 days...just like a new job, make the brother qualify for those benefits!

  • Play close attention to how he reacts to your problems, how he acts under pressure, how he handles bad news.

  • Make him feel like a man: don't give up your pride, job, education, or dignity...just be a lady.

  • If you expect to get married, let him know this, instead of waiting years...and hoping he will ask.
It's not rocket science, but it is interesting, it is valueable information, and we can all learn from previous mistakes, and false misconceptions. Relationships are hard work--regardless--but it's always nice to hear suggestions presented in a new way.

The one lesson that stood out to me: GET SOME STANDARDS! Respect yourself. This can apply when it comes to relationships, friendships, or even your job. Expect the best for yourself, give your best to others, and realize that you deserve to live and be treated greatly.

No excuses.

The book is wonderful. I recommend that you pick up a copy and read it for yourself. For a quick on-line sample, check out this <<excerpt>> that was shared on Oprah's website.

If you do get a chance to check it out or have already...please share your thoughts/feedback with me!


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Review: "A Rare Groove" by Sophia Shaw

[Fanning face...]

This book is HOT!

Written by Canadian author Sophia Shaw, "A Rare Groove" is a sexy and enticing love story about the vacation romance that sparks between Simone St. Claire and Maxwell Harper. The two meet while attending a wedding in Jamaica, and have an instant connection despite Simone's inevitable return to Atlanta, Georgia, and Maxwell's to Toronto, Ontario.

Without giving the story away, I can safely say that it doesn't disappoint. The drama is juicy, the romance is alluring, and the characters are likeable. Most importantly, the love story is accompanied by a tale of a family trying to reconnect and reestablish relationships after nearly a decade of silence, as well as a dangerous encounter sparked by a high-profile criminal investigation.

Succesful and strong, Simone is a portrait of a confident woman who is faced with the opportunity to be the official girlfriend of a professional athlete, but knows herself enough to not get caught up in the hype of Atlanta's Kevin Johnson. As the heroine of this tale, Simone is sweet, yet convincingly human as she is faced with the dilemna of following her heart and passion, or sticking to a traditional and secure plan when it comes to her future and romance.

The seductive Maxwell Harper makes a great love interest for Simone, possessing all of the physical traits to make any woman weak, yet having enough vulnerability to give his character depth and compassion.

While any romance could easily catch fire while on a tropical vacation, both Simone and Maxwell are surprised at just how strong their connection is, after only knowing one another for a short while. Sophia Shaw's descriptions are vivid, and characters are authentic, travelling through various locations to bring a love story that is raw, very sexy, and sure to entertain!

Can't wait to read her other books!


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...