Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sucker for Love

A hopeless romantic, sucker for love, wearing my heart on my sleeve, glutton for punishment, amongst other things would describe my approach to L.O.V.E.

I saw S&TC Friday night and the theme of the move was Love; it’s beautifulness, it's elusiveness (for some), the effort it takes to make it work, and the fact that it's defined as so many different things for so many people. I cried during this movie (I'm a big baby) because there were some moments that just hit home! I left very reflective, kind of melancholy and almost sad...

This morning as I jogged I thought about the state of my love life...or lack thereof with more clarity. Right now I am very single and I really hate the rigors of dating. I am not a serial dater and this is really the first time that I’ve been truly single. I have been meeting a lot of dudes lately but there is absolutely no one that I am interested in getting to know more. I really want to keep things very surface level and have fun and I am meeting people that want the exact opposite. I met one gentleman, "Mr. Syracuse"(older so not surprising) that feels the need to send me 6:00 am “Good Morning” texts in spite of the fact that we have not been on one date yet. We just met and merely shared pleasantires and brief (how old are you, what do you do, you got any kinds, etc) phone conversations. I was supposed to have a date with him on Friday night but I chose to go with my girls to see S&TC instead. He made it clear to me that he was not happy with me even though we had not even made solid plans and I called him well in advance to cancel. He even asked me who I was going to the movie with! Blower....

I admit that I really don't have a mission or “purpose” in dating. I am not looking for a man and I am not looking for casual sex. I am not trying to marry anyone right now if ever. I guess you could say that I'm open to the possibilities.

But I had someone that reminded me of the possibilities, and then he left. So Friday night I was mostly thinking about him and I realize that the way I feel about him is a bit deeper than I care to admit or am prepared to deal with especially since there is nothing I can do with these emotions. So now I am really questioning my intentions in this "friendship" and wondering if I am just playing myself and being a sucker for love once again. I am the way I am and I don't want "fear to change who I am". I just want to be smart and I don't want to be hurt. Sometimes I feel hurt by it all. I feel like when we were dealing with each other, we both took our time/opportunity for granted. I can say that for me, I wish I could reclaim some lost moments and opportunities that I missed out on to spend time with him, be held by him, be kissed and touched by him and to just enjoy him due to fear, playing hard to get, wanting to maintain the upper hand, etc. I am sorry for it. Because I miss him and I'm mad that this love s&*$ keeps slipping through my fingers. When this sort of thing happens, it makes me question myself, messes with my head and self esteem and that's not even like me! I just don't even know what to do anymore. I know that I am a great woman and I just tell myself that as much as possible. I feel like I’ve been here before and this is just a test of my resolve and character.

I wish I could have an honest, open conversation with him about these feelings. But that seems so self serving, foolish and inappropriate to me. At least it would be for me to initiate such a conversation. I was hoping that when I came home from Africa, he would have had that conversation with me without us just moving ahead as "friends" like there was never anything between us. But maybe it's selfish for me to even feel like this. But man I..., F*&% it!

I like the way each woman's love story in S&TC was so different and realistic. I think that I'm most like Carrie (if I have to choose one) in that I am a dreamer when it comes to love, I believe in it, have experienced it (good and bad), and still believe in it. But also like Samantha, there are aspects of being in a commitment that feel so stifling and scary for me. I don't like the single life because I want to get my freak on but rather because I am such a loner and I know that's not cool in a relationship. I think that with the right person this could be cured though. To me Charlotte’s life resembles the America dream or the perfect love story (ending), although she notably (to me) has never had her own identity like the others. She's always been attached to a man and seems to find her value within the context of a relationship, something that I can’t identify with at all. Like, I don't ever remember her having a real career like the others. Miranda, represents that go getter part of me, that I think I would have to lose some of to make a relationship work. Like the part of my job that I love right now is that I travel. Some of my upcoming travel will require me to be gone for weeks at a time and although a bf/gf relationship might fare well with that, would a marriage...with kids? Probably not.

Regardless of how much of a sucker I am for love, I am not jaded at all and I know that I have the right ingredients to make something good work. The one thing that I've learned about love is that to make it work, it takes a level of selflessness that most people don't really understand. You have to constantly think of the other person. To me, it's like loving your child, it's not what they can do for you but rather how you can be a blessing to your partner and I believe they (a good mate) will naturally reciprocate. Those girls in the movie learned this. Selfishness is the root of all evil when it comes to relationships. When you start seeing things from the "what I want" perspective things quickly deteriorate.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back from Paradise

Wow! The Bahamas, what can I say about your gorgeousness? You are truly a sight to behold and a far greater wonder to experience. The only question that I have is why did I wait so long to partake in your splendor?

Okay so basically, I really enjoyed my time in the Bahamas. I know for a fact that this is just a prelude to my many travels to the Caribbean. There are so many islands that are now on my “must visit” list. My soul just lights up in tropical environments and the aftermath of enjoyment can even be noted in my “energy” when I return to the states. I just want to find a way to hold onto this positive energy until I can get away again.

We left the Bahamas to return stateside yesterday with a trail of heavy drinking, partying, eating to my taste buds' delight(and my waistline's dismay), and basking in the glory of the sun in our wake. The glow on my face tells it all and I’m not even playing when I said I cut loose in the Bahamas! I normally don't even drink like that, but when alcohol (any libation of your choosing) is in abundance 24 hours a day and it's already been paid for in your all inclusive package, what's a girl to do? I had drinks that I've never even heard of before and will probably never see again. The food was spectacular, the views were awesome and the men...can you say, young, chocolate deliciousness? And they all wanted to flirt and tell you how gorgeous you were every five minutes. It's a wonder my head did not explode all over Paradise Island. But the downfall was that they were all younger (like 20 and 22) and they live in the Bahamas and I in America. Honestly, what can I really do with those odds? One asked me, "so can I give you a reason to come back to the Bahamas"? To which I replied "yes, a first class ticket and a suite at the Hilton without you in it". To that he smiled and responded, "You American girls are so hard to get". I love a man with thick skin because that was rude as hell! Blame it on the alcohol. But we all got a good laugh and he was still fine as well aged wine when it was all said and done.

All in all a good time was had, and we made it back to the “smog, selfishness, and stress", not to mention foolery out of the mouths of dumb a$$ politicians (read Hillary Clinton) of the states in one piece. I actually had a dream a while back that HC made comments eluding to the assassination of Obama, no lie!

Today my boss was trying to find a politically correct way to tell me that I looked like I got a tan. He was so funny asking me questions like:

Boss: “So do you ever get sun burned”?
Me: “No because I use sunscreen”.
Boss: “So do you actually tan”?
Me: “Yes and quite easily might I add”.
Boss: “Yeah because you seem to have gotten a little tan”.

Why didn’t this dude just come out and say “dang girl you got blacker”! I guess that would not have gone over well, huh? Did I mention that my boss is Caucasian? LOL!

Why do people think that darker skinned black folks are immune to the sun? Crazy!

Mr. Man said he didn’t think I got darker… (That’s because you’re not privy to these tan lines playa!) I bought him a small “I was thinking of you while I was away” gift and his response was priceless. It’s so easy to love a man that appreciates the small blessings in life. That is such an attractive quality……

It’s good to be home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Overcoming Pain through Words

I had a conversation today that turned into a pretty deep discussion about some heavy stuff that's happened to me in the past. The way that the conversation transitioned to this deep place was so organic that I was able to express myself freely without reservation. At one point in the conversation, he asked me why we'd never discussed this stuff before and I simply replied that it just never really came up.

He also made some comments that really stuck with me and provoked me to think a little more about when you really know if you are over a deep hurt or if we can ever truly get over something like being physically, verbally or sexually abused? I wonder? He said to me "you speak so calmly about this stuff". I do because I realize that every time I speak on it, whether in its entirety or in part, I become empowered. I release any residual pain through the words that I use to share my story with a trusted friend. Yes, I am also able to speak freely on it because I trust him and I know that he cares.

Human beings are very resilient and we often give ourselves less credit for our strength. I mentioned to him that I never really mourned over the things that happened to me, because I simply did not have the time back then. I had to get on my grind to make it and that was and has remained my focus.

To me what I do with the power I've gained from becoming unafraid to share my pain is what matters now. Am I saying that I should air all my business in the street? NO! But I am saying that I will never again feel ashamed of things that happened to me when I was unable to defend myself or words that were said to me when I was not wise enough to know that the devil is a liar. Other people have always told me "Gem you are so strong" and though I believed them I often focused on my weaknesses instead of really acknowledging my strength.

Weather I am completely healed of the wounds of my past remains to be seen. I admit that I work hard at earning people’s acceptance and love because I was once told that I was “unlovable”. I remind myself daily that I am a gem and all I really need to do is relax and let them recognize it too. I know that I am really hard on myself and I get frustrated easily at my imperfections because I was once told that I would “never be anything”. When the fact is that I am flawed and I will never be perfect but my imperfections give me character and make me beautiful. I no longer need to prove the naysayers wrong because I know who I am and frankly, if they saw all that I’ve become, they’d weep. These are things that I am recognizing and continuing to work on.

I want to share my (past) pain not only to bolster my own strength, but to strengthen others and to be a safe zone for those that are still haunted by their past and finding it difficult to progress because of it.

To me this is the only we reason why we survive the things that don’t "kill us".

Party and bull....

My weekend was off the hook! I can't really put my finger on it but I am just in a wonderful mood to have fun, laugh and live everyday to the fullest...

So Friday I was supposed to go to B-More with Bunz for a private party, but a man got in the way of our plans (on her end) so that was cancelled. Cool, because I was kind of tired from working all day and tutoring my ex's son all evening. I took the opportunity to just "veg out", relax, and watch mindless TV for what is was worth, especially since I am usually catching up on homework on the weekend. Thank God school is over for a few weeks!

On Saturday I went to FLOC and worked with "Nina Simone" again. I had her eating out of the palm of my hand this time. We had a great, highly productive session and the love note that was written to me on the board read: "I am happy that you are here. I love you." I really admire the resilience of children. She did not once mention "Ms. Jasmin" and I was showered with more hugs and kisses.

I did a little shopping. I really don't actually buy clothes that often so I picked up a few accessories and got my camera fixed (for free!!) at Circuit City. I was so happy that I did not have to come out the pocket for a new one. The way that went down was such a blessing!

Sunday, we went to see IRON MAN, loved it!!! It was so good and I know two things:

1. Audi, Verizon cellular, Burger King, and Bentley are about to get paid off the not so subliminal advertising in that movie.
2. We really need to pray for our troops as well as the innocent civilians in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, cause when powerful weapons get in the wrong hands it can mean a lot of innocent lives.

Sunday was also Bunz's birthday so of course she wanted to celebrate. So she and I and some friends from Baltimore along with two other girls and some gentlemen, when to K Street lounge. Off the hook!! The crowd was hype for a Sunday night and such a small a$$ club but it was a good time. Bunz had fun and I laid off the alcohol because I already know that sleep deprivation and hangovers don't mix. Red Bull anyone?

Going out this time really made me realize why I am more of the “bunned up” relationship type instead of a serial dater. There is no worse turn off than to have the same guy try to talk to you and every other lady in your entourage. YUCK! I am so done with the D.C. dating scene, not that I’ve ever really even started, but still. I’d much rather be at home or out with my special little something…

Yeah I missed my baby and I kept thinking that the last time I went to the club and really let loose was with him ...sigh

Oh well. A new week is upon me and the Caribbean is three days away!

Friday, May 16, 2008

On my grind and forbidden fruit

I have not been journaling all week and honestly, I’ve missed it. But after a week of being a “slave” to the straight hair, I’m back in the gym in the evenings…hard! I went to the grocery store, stocked up on my “essentials for getting it tight” items and I’ve been doing pretty well all week. The fact that I’m heading to the Caribbean next week doesn’t hurt the motivation factor either. Why do we (women) do that? I am generally in good shape but man when it’s time to go somewhere or be seen, I puts in overtime. LOL! I am just glad that I'm not as obsessed with being a perfect size 2 as I was this time last year. I would work out twice a day sometimes. I've actually worked out 3 different times in one day. I'm a monster...I'm happy with my body right now, I feel more womanly at a size 4-6. I am only 5'1" but at a size 2 I look a bit like a prepubescent boy and that's not hot. So now it's eating more good food, doing more strength training, doing a variety of cardio exercises and when I run, only running 2-3 miles instead of 4-6..LOL!

I am super excited about getting away (from the USA) again. I live for the vacay…another reason why I must become independently wealthy ASAP!

Operation “stop thinking about Alejandro so much” is pretty much a bust, oh this man, this man.... I guess I'll try harder next week. But how is a girl supposed to forget a man that says stuff like, "...there are many things that I would love to be able to say to you, do for you, and do to you, but now is not the time. Until then, you are an amazing woman".... What do you want to do to me baby? I hope it's the same stuff that you’ve been doing to me every night, in my dreams..(“in my imagination I be all up on you…touch my body…”) Okay that was very naughty and it shows my true colors that I would focus on that part but what can I say…that's just where I'm at right now. He is so fly and sexy and sweet with those soft full lips, that gorgeous smile, nice manly hands...but he’s just my "friend"...Oh the beautifulness of forbidden fruit...sigh

Sunday, May 11, 2008

When you're feeling blue with nothing to do...step into the party life

Saturday night I decided to step out into the DC night life. This is a rarity for me but I had already told my girl "Bunz" earlier in the week that I would chill with her when she came back from NYC and I'm just not the type to fake on anyone. Plus after I analyzed the alternatives, I decided that it would probably be good for me to get out. I actually thought we were just going to grab a bite and get in some much needed "girl talk", but with Bunz, you just never know.

First we hit up Sidelines (sports bar) at the BLVD at Capital Centre, it was cool. We grabbed drinks and the fellas kept them flowing. Later we connected with some friends of Bunz's and headed to H2O. I had actually never been to this club for a "club" night so I was kind of curious. I was pleasantly surprised. The gentlemen that we were with took very good care of us so that probably enhanced the experience.

There were some "famous" folks in the house that were apparently attached to the Kanye West tour which contributed to the off the hook crowd. I danced, drank my sprite and cranberry juice and made the best of the night in spite of the fact that "Alejandro" stayed on my mind the entire night! Darn him for owning my thoughts like that...LOL! (I am going to STOP thinking about him, I swear...starting Monday).

I met a few folks who for various reasons have already been deleted from my phone book! All I'll say is that I really don't care who you're with because I am not the least bit interested in being a groupie whore..

After it was all said and done, the gentlemen paid the tab and we went our separate ways. Bunz and I went out for some late night fare and I let the sun beat me home.

All in all, it was a good night in the party life..


I volunteer with an organization called For Love of Children in Adams Morgan (NW D.C). Due to work and personal obligations I have not been able to commit to the every Saturday morning schedule, but I've made myself available for emergency needs and they called me up on Thursday to come in. The young girl that I usually work with now attends the Tuesday night tutoring sessions so instead of her, I was introduced to a seven year old angel named "Nina-Simone" to tutor.

Nina Simone hated my guts from the moment she laid eyes on me. This was difficult for me because I have never met a child that just flat out did not like me! I was unsure of how I was going to overcome this barrier between Nina Simone and I so that we could proceed with the task at hand (me tutoring her). In any event, we'd managed to get into some work for a while when suddenly she jumped up, went to the dry erase board and began writing a love letter to her former tutor. It read: "Dear Ms. Jazmine, I love you and I miss you". So since we were there to tutor in reading , I asked her to read the ode to Ms. Jazmine aloud to me. Instead, Nina-Simone began sobbing uncontrollably. I was like, OMG! Nina cried and cried until she made me cry. I held her, attempted to validate her feelings and allow her the space she needed to grieve the loss of her beloved Ms. Jazmine. I felt like such an intruder.

Eventually, the crying ceased and she wanted to read her book that she'd selected. She turned her back to me and read for the rest of the session. When it was over she went upstairs to wait on her mom and I stayed downstairs to work on my lesson plan for next Saturday's tutoring session. What can I say? I am a sucker for children and after all, she needs the consistency of one tutor because she clearly does not deal with separation well.

Suddenly Nina Simone came back downstairs and handed me a note that read: "I love you, you love me, but I do not even know your name". LOL!! I told her my name and she asked me if she could give me a kiss. I happily obliged and Nina-Simone planted one on my cheek then went about her merry way. I guess it's safe to say that I made a new friend.

After that emotionally charged two hours, I headed to Tryst for some of my favorite Chamomile/Lavender tea to calm my darn nerves then headed home.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Soul of a Black Girl

Wow! Where do I begin? I am almost overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions. Tired as heck but I have to get this off my chest...

Today I was forwarded some information from a wonderful friend about a screening happening at the E Street Cinema (downtown, 11th & E right across from ESPN Zone, H&M and the new ZARA!)called "The Souls of Black Girls" as part of the Black Docs 2008: "Through Their Eyes" film festival. Can I just say how happy I am that I was spontaneous and cancelled my hit the gym and go home & crash plans to attend this? I'm giving myself a hand for this one...

Anyway, I will in NO WAY attempt to write a review of this documentary for several reasons:

1. I am not a film critic. I'll leave that up to Egbert and them.
2. I probably would not do it any justice because (see reason #1).
3. That would defeat the purpose of the theme "Through their Eyes".

I will instead share my overall impression of the film and give some honest feedback through my eyes and experience.

In my opinion this piece, written , produced, and edited by Daphne S. Valerius, a Ronald McNair Scholar who graduated from St. Johns University and one BAD A$$ SISTAH (featuring commentary by Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina King, CHUCK freaking D, Michaela Angela Davis, Dr. Lez Edmond, among others and of course young black girls) does an excellent job of articulating and arguing the thesis that "black girls are suffering from a self image disorder". It ventures further to ask the question, "what is the cure for self image disorder"? That's rhetorical of course and could never be answered through one film, one conversation, or summed up with one answer. But it gives food for thought and in some cases, cause for soul searching.

One of the resounding themes and a personal take away for me is that to "cure" the self image disorder in our black girls, we have to be ACCOUNTABLE and HONEST! I can't help but repeat this theme in my head over and over again...It's interesting to me that I was blessed to experience this screening because just the other day I started (but did not finish) a blog post reflecting on where I have progressed from regarding my own self image issues. So since we're being challenged by this piece to be honest, I'll begin with me..

It quickly became evident to me as a young girl growing up, through the lack of real representation in popular media and being called "tar baby", "darkie" "big nose/lips" and other choice names, that mine was not the standard/accepted/esteemed image of beauty. Of course at 6/7 I could not articulate it as such but these experiences framed an image of myself that I struggled with for....Gosh!

As I got older, I often found myself wishing I had "her" skin tone, "that" nose, "those" lips and maybe "my" hair because I had always been told that it was "good" although it belonged to a dark girl...getting even older, I bought and clung to the notion of being "cute for a dark skinned girl" and held onto it for dear life. My codependency on this image became evident when I made the decision to embrace my natural beauty and stop relaxing my hair. I had begun to "find myself" and realized that (for me) the person on the inside was not being accurately depicted on the outside. I wanted to be natural as I felt that it would better tell of the self awareness, consciousness, and self acceptance that I was coming into and the metamorphosis that I was going through. There was just one little problem...I had a Boyfriend who made it very clear to me (on several occasions) that he adored my long "pretty" hair.

So I proceeded to write Boyfriend a 5 page letter (read: dissertation) on why I believed that black women for social, psychological, economical, biological, (oh I got deep) and other reasons should cease and desist with the creamy crack (read: relaxer) and my decision to embrace the natural me. At the time I called it "educating" him, but what I was really doing was preparing him mentally to accept an image of me that I felt would make him not LOVE ME....(so the tears are literally beginning to flow now)....

I thought that my self worth (even as I embraced this "real" me and was quickly becoming the nappy hair ambassador within my circle) was found in my "nice" hair, the hair that I was so happy to have because it was my only redeeming quality as a dark skinned girl. I was unsure of who/what I would be without the "P with the long, pretty hair" reputation. Boyfriend's protests of "but Gem I love you for you", fell on deaf ears, because I was convinced otherwise......

It was only recently that I realized how flawed I was in my thought process at the time.

So tonight as I experienced this film, I thought to myself, "Gem, you've come a long way baby".."But what about your little sisters"? "What about the women in the townships of South Africa that can't hide the grotesque consequences of skin bleaching on their faces, the evidence of their self hatred on display for all the world to see"? "At least you had the luxury of hiding yours".....

See this film, although it (the subject matter) may not be anything enlightening among the "enlightened" set, does provoke a dialogue of honesty, realness, and accountability that is also beginning to translate into ACTION. Our girls now, not only have to contend with the European standard of beauty, they must also fight against the "you must look/dress/act/walk/shake it like a salt shaker/stripper/whore for a man to want or desire you" image..WOW, they/WE got it bad.

I hope more YOUNG girls get to see this film and definitely more men and boys (they were disturbingly absent from the audience). We need to be real and honest, we need to stand accountable for what we're allowing (through media images) to be done to our baby girls who will eventually become the young women, the wives, and the mothers of our future baby girls, who will become the young women........

for more screening dates/info on the film please visit:

The Souls Of Black Girls

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stupid Sir, Hair, and Barking Dogs...

So, what did I tell you?

Stupid Sir: "is there a way...can this be reconsidered"?

Boss: "is there any way” is a loaded phrase, since I guess there is always a way. I think this horse has left the barn. In any case, my understanding is that everything is pretty much set, so if Gem has any ideas about how to...let’s discuss, but there is no forum right now for continuing to discuss such a move. Gem"?

Me: "None, we've discussed this and will proceed as previously planned"

Stupid Sir: "Understood, thanks"

LOL! Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.. (note to self: never hire an imbecile like this for your business). I'm even up earlier than you in the morning.


Why after 7 years of wearing my hair natural have I not learned that curly hair just does not like to be straight? Why do I waste my time and money? Oh well, at least I got a much needed hair cut..sigh...

There are actually dogs that live next door to me that are allowed to stay outside and bark at 3:00 AM? Where can I find some food poisoning?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sir, Please Don't Test Me

Do you think I went all the way to South Africa to do a job just to have it undermined by the likes of you? There are just too many chiefs in this village and frankly it's getting old.

I am surprised at the tone of my voice (that calm, resolved, but forceful kinda bassy one, scary huh?) when I talked to you today but it calmed your hyper a$$ right on down. Please don't test me sir. In case you missed the memo: The Old Gem Stayed in Africa!

All this drama because you feel the need to "have a say" and "be heard"? We've talked this over and you know my position on why certain decisions were made. And NOW you want to protest, for what?

The funny thing is that what I told you would happen, happened. You sounded like a whiny child crying to daddy because "Gem won't let me play with her ball" in that email too...dummy! And NO, my boss is not going to ask me to change the direction of this project just to please you...he will tell you to defer to me because I am the project manager and you already know my position...and I know you're not bold enough to go to the the boss lady (even though she is the right person) with this nonsense because frankly sir, you like your job and "director" title a bit too much to bark up that tree. But if you did go to her, guess what she would say? "Gem is the project manager, ask her". LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had our talk and I hope I made myself very clear. Please don't let this happen ever again. Thank you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gentlemen, Listen Up

And oh yeah, for all the fellas tuning in, she does skin care for men too. Don't sleep; we got to preserve our sexy too”.

I will take that as an official endorsement of my services and address my gentlemen. As you may know, I am obsessed with great skin and I am planning to take over the world, one, glowing face at a time. I especially have a soft spot in my heart for helping MEN pull it all together in this area. I think I’ve actually found my niche. Please feel free to share the following and pass my info on to those in need of my services.

Gentlemen, gorgeous glowing skin is not just for women and metrosexuls. This is a silly notion and anyone who subscribes to this philosophy is simply not ready and should immediately exit this post….I’ll wait…....................................

For those that remain, it would behoove you to pay attention to the following and because I like you, this one's on me.

1. Every gentleman should own and use a daily skin care regiment. I am not talking about washing your face with the same soap that you wash your body with in the shower or simply splashing your face with water in the morning and I am certainly not talking about cleaning your face with alcohol or any other harsh drying agents. Yes I have seen and heard of this alcohol cleansing ritual more times than I care to admit. Please stop it!

By REGIMENT I mean a daily skin care routine to cleanse, tone and moisturize the outermost layer (epidermis) of your skin. Please note that it is important to use skin care products developed for your skin type. I will help you to identify your skin type.

Cleansing does just that, it cleanses the dirt, oil, and other pollutants from the face. Toning will remove any remaining soap or dirt and will also help to tighten the skin on the face. Lastly, moisturizing will keep a healthy moisture balance on the skin to maintain its natural glow, improve texture and overall good health of the skin. Using a moisturizer with an appropriate level of SPF will protect the skin from UVA/B rays, the leading cause of premature aging and skin cancer. This is non negotiable.

Once you have identified (again I will help) and purchased the proper products you should follow these steps:


• Use your chosen cleaning agent with water to work up a lather on your face and neck. Some cleansers will get "soapier" than others. Do not be alarmed, the important thing here is that you are using what is best for your skin type. While cleaning your skin AVOID the skin around your eyes. Why you may ask? Aside from the obvious painful reasons, the fact is that the skin around the eyes is much thinner and more delicate than that of the rest of your face. As such, it tends to be dry in that area, and AGES (read: wrinkles, lines, and crows feet) faster than the rest of the face. Feel free to gently clean the sleep, cobwebs and eye buggars out with a warm, soap free cloth before or after you cleanse the face. Yeah I know how you look in the morning.

To fight the pull of gravity, wash your face and neck area (that sag prone jaw line) in upward/outward strokes and rinse in the same manner. Trust me, over time it does make a difference. Keep it tight!

Products I like:

Once you are finished rinsing the face, pat with a clean towel. There is no need to completely dry your face because you are not done.


• Next, take your toner of choice (again depending on your skin type) and apply some to a 100% cotton ball. Please purchase your own and don't use up your lady's. I know how you are. Once you have applied the toner to the cotton ball, use upward strokes to remove any remaining dirt, oil and soap residue. You see all that "dirt" still (if not, good job) on your skin? That's remaining dirt, oil and soap residue. Please take care to make sure that your face is clean before proceeding.

Product I like:

• Finally, rub a dime size amount of moisturizer between your hands and apply all over the face and neck in upward stokes. Let's fight gravity and "saggy skin" by any means necessary gentlemen. At this time it is okay to moisturize around the eyes but please proceed gently, no tugging or pulling on the skin around your eyes. It is best to use the "ring" finger of either hand to pat whenever you are handling the delicate area around your eyes. We will focus more on the eye area in a minute.

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2. In addition to the daily cleaning routine, included in every gentleman's skin care routine should be an exfoliation method of choice and eye cream. I can hear the protests already, but please hear me out.

Over time the top (epidermal) layer of the skin gets rough, dry and flaky, especially during the harsh winter months. Dead skin cells on this top layer can actually prevent your skin from reaping the full benefits of what you do in the steps above. So gentlemen, we are going to exfoliate your skin with an exfoliation method of choice two or three times a week. You can do this exfoliation process at night, complete your normal cleaning routine (above), go to sleep and wake up to a soft touchable face that will rival any baby's behind.

When exfoliating, please take care to scrub (not too rough) in upward/outward strokes, avoid the delicate eye area and rinse off in the same manner. You may have to rinse and repeat the rinse before you get all of it off. Exfoliating the skin reveals fresh, younger looking skin. See, it’s not just for girls.

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3. Eye cream is key to preserving your sexy gentlemen. Until now, I have not known a man personally or professionally that does not have an issue with using eye cream. I usually would not even mention it, but I believe that you gentlemen are ready. As stated above, the skin around the eyes is special and should be regarded as such. You need extra moisture to prolong cracking, wrinkling, and crow’s feet around the eyes. When we look into those dreamy eyes gentlemen, we want to see the twinkle in them, not the wrinkles around them. Please employ the ring finger tap application method for this special area. The last thing you want to do is tug at or be too rough with the skin in this area as that can lead to premature aging. You will age, just don’t do it before your time.

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More words of wisdom:

1. Consistency is key. It’s been said that it takes three weeks to form a habit. Give it at least a month, stay committed and you will certainly reap the benefits. Once you get it down, your daily routine should not be more than 5 minutes.
2. It is recommended that you follow your skin care routine twice a day, but if this is too much for you in the beginning, please promise me that you will cleanse, tone, and moisturize at night before going to bed. Don’t take all the smog, dirt, grime and pollution on your face to bed with you. If you do, at least have enough decency to not be all in your lady’s face that night. More than likely, she took care of her skin before she went to bed.
3. Eye cream can be used morning and night. Don't be ashamed to use it.
4. The moisturizer that you use during the day MUST contain an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or higher. Unless you are a serious outdoors man (read: Lance Armstrong, outdoors biker), or planning to be outdoors for a prolonged amount of time, there is no need to go higher than an SPF 25.
5. Don’t over use products. It’s not going to make them work any better or faster in terms of results, but it will go faster in terms of that wallet.
6. Because you have oily skin does not mean you should find ways to dry it out. Using drying products (rubbing alcohol anyone?) will cause the sebaceous glands of the skin to work overtime and produce even more oil! Also, oily skin tends to age slower (how nice) and there is a difference between oiliness and a healthy glow.
7. Don't be afraid to experiment with different products until you find ones for your skin type that you like. And even after that, it's okay to switch things up once in a while to keep your skin guessing. I have Clinique Skin Supplies for Men up here is because they are tried and true but there is a ton of stuff out there. I will help you sort it out.
8. When in doubt, ask the expert. The doctor is in and I make house calls. You know how to reach me.

Other grooming tips for gentlemen:

1. Do explore after shower body sprays, colognes and such that compliment your unique body chemistry. Axe and Bod is not for everyone.
2. Do trim the hair under your arms. You don’t have to rock a baldy like us ladies but there is really nothing attractive about a man in a tank (read: wife beater) with a jungle protruding from under his arms.
3. Do trim the hair you know where, too. I’m not going to get graphic in case your children are reading this behind your back.
4. Do allow your lady to hook you up down there. Most of us would not mind for many reasons. It’s a labor of love, TRUST ME!
5. Do take a bath instead of a shower every now and then to pamper the rest of your body. There's nothing wrong with a man with soft skin all over.
6. Don’t obsess with aging. The fact is that you will age and look older (no wolf tickets being sold here) BUT
7. Do grow older gracefully by preserving your sexy.

More tips on the way…..Stay Fine Gentlemen


Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Love....

1. A man with full juicy lips that knows how to use them.
2. Fresh strawberries dipped in sugar free chocolate pudding, so decadent yet low in calories!
3. My big bodacious Afro and the stares that I receive when I rock it..people are so funny.
4. Exfoliating, I just love the the look and feel of soft, glowing skin, head to toe..
5. Makeup-and I am not afraid to use it! But I love gorgeous bare skin even more!
6. The idea of being in love..Yes I am finally ready to admit it (that wasn't so bad)
7. K.I.S.S.I.N.G. I used to think that I didn't because my ex didn't but I love to kiss! Especially a man with full juicy lips...
8. To hear the voices of my little nieces and nephews back in Ghana. They speak such proper English with the cutest accent. "I love you Uhntie Gem", they say
9. My eyebrows...even when they are bushy, wild and "need waxing"..
10. A man that is not afraid to wear color.
11. Clothing, jewelry, etc inspired by certain African cultures, but I hate being labeled "Afrocentric". What will they call me when I step on the scene the next day rocking bone straight hair and Tiffany jewelry?
12. Learning and academia but I HATE homework/busy work..just give me a project please. I am working on this...but procrastination is a disease and I need a cure!!
13. The idea of moving out of suburban Pretty Girl county and into a more city atmosphere...or just somewhere different..I've got to go!!!
14. My body, flaws and all....

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tapping into my creativity to become financially independent

I recently had the great fortune of traveling to the Continent of Africa, specifically the countries of Ghana and South Africa. My experience was phenomenal and while I was there, especially in Ghana, I had something of an epiphany.

Poverty or lack breeds and fosters creativity.

Don't believe me?

Exhibit A

Handmade tapestry from South Africa, this piece alone took 4 months to make and was done by one woman. These women generally live in Townships and this is their sole source of income.

Handmade Jewelry

Need I say more?

It is absolutely incredible the beauty and brilliance of the mind as evidenced in the thousands, upon thousands of artwork, carpentry, woodwork, services, and skills, found in Africa. What "brought it home" for me though is that the common denominator of the people that are producing most of these things are among the poorest of their respective populations. These brothers and sisters do not have cozy jobs that they MARC/Metro into or drive in to work at each day. Instead, they are making their own way. Unfortunately for most, it's a forced entrepreneurship in that this is the only means to getting food on the table and a roof over their head, and I use the word "roof" very loosely here...

From talking to locals, I discovered that employment by others is a rare opportunity in both of these countries, especially in Ghana, so it's basically every man, woman, and child for himself. This is interesting and it would be easy for one to look at the negativity in this fact. But that won't fly in this blog.

I believe that there is something, actually several things that can be learned from this.

1. All human beings have the mental capacity to create a self sufficient way of life.

The capacity is there, it's just suppressed in most of us because we have too many other opportunities presented to us that don't challenge us to think and create outside of the box. We get comfortable and complacent with simply working within the parameters/confides of someone else's creativity.

2. Our personal values will be fulfilled through self sufficiency.

I know that this is a pretty strong statement, but I am theorizing this based on what I gleaned from observing and talking to people in these countries. In Ghana, and probably in many developing (BTW, I abhor the term "third world country") countries, maintaining the family unit is the bottom line. People hold their familial ties very closely and the extended family concept is widely accepted and embraced. As a matter of fact, it's often very difficult to distinguish between blood relatives and "friends of the family". With that said, what better way to be able to make your family responsibilities your number one priority and be able to respond to your family's needs accordingly, than to be a business owner? I mean is that not one of the number one reasons why people here in the states go into business for themselves? We want to make our own hours and be our own boss with the belief that this will allow the flexibility required to respond to the most important things in our life. I don't believe that this is in the forefront of the minds of the entrepreneurs that I am referring to in Ghana or South Africa, because most of them don't really have another apparent option. But it's interesting to me that being an entrepreneur does allow them to uphold their familial values, is it not? Or is this value a bi product of the situation? That's up for debate, but it's worth pointing out nonetheless.

3. Being thrust into the "right" situation, human beings will tap into their entrepreneurial ability.

Yeah I know, I'm reaching with this one...but please allow me to elaborate.

Here in the US most of us (I'm talking about X, Y generations, especially) are taught to go to school, get a degree, get a job and bring home a check..albeit signed by someone else. So from childhood, we begin to neglect the idea of working for ourselves (with exceptions of course). Slowly but surely, that creative brilliance within us begins to fade and as we climb the corporate ladder, begin acquiring some "things" and getting comfortable with our lifestyles, that creative side sort of just checks out. We get downright lazy with OURSELVES. Oh but let us lose our job and our mind gets busy with a plan to get back on top. Unfortunately that plan usually includes getting another job, or getting a second job if our issue is that the first one is not enough to make ends meet. Thus, the cycle continues.

I will use myself as an example. Several years ago, I was three years into home ownership and things were getting tight for me. I made less money than I do in my current job, so I got a part-time job. I had actually held two jobs for a while before and up until the time I purchased my home. But once I moved in and got settled, I quit the second job and decided to go back to school. Now I had a tuition bill to pay along with the mortgage and other bills. Desiring to be debt free, I refused to take a loan; so I got another second job as a makeup consultant with Clinique Cosmetics at Macy's. I fell in love with doing make-up and I was brilliant at it! I had never been one to wear a lot of make-up but I grew up learning the importance of skin care so I already had a passion for that. I was drawn to Clinique because they emphasized skin care, and working in a department store allowed me to get exposure to Lancome, Chanel, Estee Lauder, and other make up brands. I developed a good client base and was hired on several occasions to do weddings, proms, and other events on the side. My years of working with the designer Betsey Johnson also taught me some styling tips that I was able to share with some clients and earn their trust in that regard as well. So here I was, thrust into this great opportunity and not even realizing or taking full advantage of it. All I could focus on was that I needed the money just to get by for a minute until I got a better paying full time gig, which I did and then I would quit, which I did; shortly after starting at my current job. BUT what if I had kept that side hustle and worked it on my terms? Where would it have taken me? Would I be totally self sufficient financially by now? Now I understand that being a make up artist to the stars, or a fashion stylist is a lofty dream that many have and don't achieve...but so what? I am good at this...for real. I actually did the make up for one of my new co worker's wedding. I even have photos that I just found in my email today, which along with a conversation with a friend, inspired me to blog this.

Getting ready at the house

That is actually makeup and not ashiness on the back of my hand, thank you!

Touching up at the church before photos

I have a passion for skin care and make-up and people have even told me that this is my "calling". I don't necessarily wear a flawless face of make up each day or even obsess over having my eyebrows perfectly waxed and plucked at all times because's just not that serious to me. But I try to maintain impeccable skin and I have gotten several people I know on good skin care regiments. I have also been known to do a bathroom make over on female colleagues going to the club or impromptu dates..LOL...because at one point (when I was honing my craft) I almost always carried a small make up kit with me.

I am saying all that to say...where would I be if had continued along this path? I have some other ideas that when I analyze them, all relate to this past experience, heck I even took classes and got a darn make up license...for what? Just to say I have it?

So back to my original thesis if you will, that poverty or lack fosters creativity. When I was in need, I tapped into some of my creativity and it paid off well for me. As soon as I began doing well, I got lazy and I let it go! Period. Should it really take extremes for us to dig deeper and try harder to develop the skills that we have and make them work for us? What is the difference between us (the diaspora in the states) and our brothers and sisters on the continent? In my opinion, it's the opportunity created for us by others. This is a luxury that to me, should purley be regarded as such. We should see the necessity in getting it for us by us. I am not implying that I want to become poor just to get my creative juices flowing (although I have wondered where I would be if I had grown up in Ghana) and I am not at all "looking in the mouth of the gift horse" of opportunity that we enjoy here in the states. But I am proposing and for myself, I am purposing to master my destiny, utilizing the resources that are available to me and the potential that is inside of me. I have my ideas and I have already begun to move forward to making some things happen.

Frankly, my current employer will never pay me enough to become wealthy let alone build an inheritance for my children or provide for my extended family and generations to come, NEVER! There is always a cap and once you reach that ceiling, that's it. You can float there or fly out the door.

I am challenging myself to develop and foster my own creativity and translate it into wealth, in spite of the abundance that I am blessed to enjoy.

What about you?

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Historic Visit?

I read the following article while I was visiting my family in Ghana. It perturbed me to no end. Read it and you might understand why. Why are Africans and people of that diaspora always looking outside ourselves for validation? Especially a lowlife scum like GDUb. Colonization was a bitch I know but I sometimes wonder if our own perception of ourselves don't contribute to our inability to climb out of the belly of oppression...

Ghana Article

Expensive a$$ Shoes!!

Are these worth $595.00?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

You Know, Who the Heck am I Kidding, I want to Kiss You-A Poem

Yeah I want us to be friends but sometimes I question my own intentions.
One moment I want to see you and be near you, the next I need a healthy distance.

When I see you; oh the chemistry, and sparks flying all over the place; that face, that smile....those lips make me want to draw you in...but I can't...then your arms embrace me and I wish I could just stand on my toes and steal a little kiss....okay maybe a big, long, wet, juicy, tongue kiss. I sometimes even hope that it happens by accident (oops, did I say that?) know how much I love your kisses and how my lips react to the softness of yours. You know how much I adore your "grown man" hug but when you do that I imagine my hands going up that chest...caressing your handsome face..into those gorgeous....and then we lip lock...

Okay, see I really need to stop....!

You know I come up with clever reasons to see you, to steal a few moments of your time.
You see how I avoid looking straight into your eyes, fearing what you might find in mine....
You know act like you don't but you see right through me...with those soft brown eyes....

Okay now back to those lips and that sexy curl up into a dimpled smile thing that you do with them only makes me miss...yeah you guessed it...your kiss...Boy you aint right and you really need to stop this, cause I know you do it on purpose too. I got butterflies in my tummy right now just writing this poem about you....umph, umph, umph...

Then I go away and in my mind I press rewind to replay every word of every line of everything that you said to me...even though you never really say too much, you just stare at me and smile a lot and make me feel all nervous then I leave wondering if I said too much...but I love how you listen so intently, like you really have an interest in me and what I have to say...I love that so much

yeah this is all way too much....

I am done kidding myself, plus I already know you aint a now that I've figured out step one (no more denial) I need to work on step two.


When is it too soon to tell someone that you L.O.V.E. them?

How do you know when you actually love someone?

I think that most people, dare I say, especially men, feel like there is some sort of timeline that must be followed when deciding that you love someone and venturing further to actually dropping the "L BOMB" on them. BUT WHY??? I have never understood this...but it seems to be a commonly accepted practice that folks wait a year or six months to tell someone that they "L BOMB" them, even when the bomb begins burning within their heart at two months and is ready to explode at three. Or how about this one, no one wants to be the FIRST one to say the L word. Are people still being this junior high school about their feelings? I guess I can understand the fear of unrequited love or rejection...but still dang....

To me, love is an action word and is best expressed as such, but what if your actions don't speak loudly enough? Can I just go, "you know what peeps, I love you" without breaking some sort of rule (of course I am referring to dating here)? And even within the contex of committed relationships, why do folks reserve the use of the L Word? Some claim it takes the "pizzazz" out of it (the L Bomb) when overly used, so instead they hord it and dangle it over their partners head like some kind of reward for good behavior, a treat for special occasions or for comfort in times of distress...I know that folks would argue that it's some people's "personality" or some are less "emotional" than others, blah, blah bliggity, blah........

When you are just dating, maybe have not even made it "official" yet or things never progress to the "we got titles" stage but you wake up one day and realize, "dang, I LOVES me some such and such, with his/her fine self"...what the heck do you do?

Also, if you were in a relationship with one person and then moved on with someone new a short time after yall's split, is it impossible to honestly love the new peeps? Does he/she have to be a rebound person rather than the real deal? I just need a little help on this one...

My question is three (okay four) fold:

Is it ever too soon to tell someone that you love them?
What if you are not actaully in a relationship with them?
How do you really know that you love them?
What is the best way to go about expressing your feelings?

This is a "special" question:

What if you love someone and are cool with the fact that you will probably never be in a relationship with them, but you still love them and want to see them happy, healthy, succsesful etc...desire to do things to make them feel special, not in hopes of getting anything in return, but just because you really just love thier tail and you know that you don't just love them as a friend, even though yall are just friends and that's totally cool but you still love them a little more than just as a friend?