Women Empowering Women

I was going through some blogs and happened to come across this speech that Gabrielle Union gave at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood’s Luncheon earlier this year. It really spoke to me so I figured I would share. Hope you enjoy!

“We live in a town that rewards pretending. I had been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor. I stayed when I should have run. I was quiet when I should have spoken up. I turned a blind eye to injustice instead of having the courage to stand up for what’s right. I used to shrink in the presence of other dope beautiful women. I used to revel in gossip and rumors, and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt whose shine diminished my own.

It’s easy to pretend ‘to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them. We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rapid on our watch. Real fearless and fierce women complement other women and we recognize and embrace that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.

So many of us in this room are sisters. We don’t always get to see each other and its good to see you here today. Women who we’ve laughed with, cried with, and struggled with, thank you for not turning your back on me, thank you for not tap dancing on my misery, even when I wasn’t always returning the favor.”

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“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord.

I was inspired to start blogging by a former teacher at Battlefield. I never had her as a teacher when I was in high school.. honestly, I doubt she even knows who I am. I, too, didn’t know much about her…I just knew she was married to another teacher at Battlefield. I remember thinking how cute they were as a couple. They just looked like the kind of couple that gets married and has the perfect wedding and make perfect beautiful babies and move into a beautiful house with the white picket fence.  Eventually, they both left Battlefield and I never heard about them again.

That all changed a little over a year ago. Their family had just lost almost everything in a house fire and many of my former classmates were trying to help raise money for them. Through their posts, I happened to stumble upon her blog and ever since then, I’ve just kept reading. Her blog is called “Walking Barefoot” and its all about what she calls her “mess”. She writes about her vulnerabilities and weaknesses and all of the things that she considers her shortcomings.. and I so admire her for that. I admire her for the fact that she is willing to put it all out there and showcase her faults. I think so often we all try to pretend that we live this nice, perfect, fairy tale life when none of us are perfect. Every “perfect” family and person has their own “mess” and instead of sharing that with each other we build up these walls because we are so afraid of what people’s reactions will be when they find out that we might actually be human.

When I started this blog, I started it with every intention of trying to follow in her footsteps.. I wanted to put myself out there more and show people the side of me that I usually keep to my close friends… or most often, just myself. I wanted to let people see the issues I deal with so that if they are dealing with those issues, they could know they’re not alone. I honestly must’ve been drunk or something because I clearly could not have been in the right frame of mind. I’m the kind of girl that keeps 99% of my feelings inside. I am so afraid of showing people emotions because in my mind, that’s giving them some power that they could potentially use against me…or worse, they might not like the real KK that exists under there that has a whole bunch of “messiness” inside… so instead I started writing about my goals & things I’m learning about myself… which isn’t a bad thing or “wrong”.. but it is definitely me avoiding the uncomfortable.

So today I’m going to do something new… I’m going to take very, VERY small baby steps because you have to start somewhere, right? I’m going to tell you that really, this week has been a really rough week for me and that I’ve been very unhappy and very emotional… I’ve been dealing with a lot of internal struggles and although the only one I’m ready to talk to  is God, I really could use some positive vibes right about now. (So that being said, please no calls or texts or comments… I don’t mean that to be mean, I just know it’ll push me back into my “shell” however, prayers & positive thoughts are much appreciated :)… I said baby steps, right?).

It’s ironic because last week I was talking to my dad and joking about how sometimes I feel like if I stay in Richmond, I will be single for the rest of my life. Even though I was COMPLETELY kidding (well, maybe not completely) my dad told me I should go read the posting he had just put on his Facebook. That night, once I got home, I clicked the link but got distracted and never read it… Tonight, 11 days later, I was cleaning up my internet tabs and happened to see it so I finally decided to read it.

The post was talking about Jeremiah 29:11 which states “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” It said that most people read the verse and take it out of context. We read it and think that God is saying if we follow him, he will give us a life full of prosperity and wealth when really what that verse is saying is that he will never abandon us… even though sometimes we may not feel like he’s there. As I read the post I just found it so amazing that a post my dad had told me to read 11 days ago for a completely different reason could speak the words that I so desperately needed to hear after the past few days.

God, you are so amazing and I thank you for never abandoning me.

It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor

A couple of weeks ago the Women’s Network at work hosted an event called “Envision Your Best Year”. The Women’s Network hosts many events each year and sadly, I never jump at the opportunity to attend. It wasn’t until my manager sent out a note asking if anyone wanted to join her that I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did because it made me realize a few things that I want to improve about myself & my life.

One of the first things the keynote talked about was how, in a lifetime, women make about a million less than their male counterparts. Some of the reasons she mentioned are that:

1.  We never “brag” on ourselves.  Rarely do women complete a project or milestone and stop to take a few moments to pat ourselves on the back- we tend to move right into a new project. Even when we do take a minute to recognize our progress, we tend to downplay the accomplishment. Men, on the other hand, are sure to let everyone know.

2. Women never ask for the things they want (for instance raises or promotions). We think that if we deserve a promotion, it will get noticed on its own or that it will make us look greedy to ask for one.

When she mentioned these points, I started to cringe because I know I am definitely guilty of both.

I am definitely my own worst critic and never give myself enough credit. Rarely do I stop in life to celebrate my accomplishments or pat myself on the back. Instead, I’m always looking for the next new thing that I think needs fixing.

I also feel like I had the mindset of “If I’m doing a good job, other people will notice”. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to a friend and she mentioned how in her 10/10s (weekly development meetings with your manager), she would make sure to call out the ways she has improved since her previous 10/10. At first it seemed so odd to me. I felt like calling out accomplishments was “bragging” and that it seemed cocky, when in reality, its important that we recognize progress and take pride in our accomplishments (within reason). I decided to start taking her advice and I feel like it has helped me in many ways.

First, it helps me to keep myself accountable. When I first started full time, I didn’t mind playing a backseat role and was always afraid to speak up. Even though my team is very supportive, I was always afraid of messing up or saying something stupid so I kept quiet. Once I made the decision that I wanted to be able to report back to my manager on my progress, it helped me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I speak up more and make offers to do tasks that I’m not necessarily comfortable with which has not only helped build my confidence, it has helped my team to see me as more of a leader.

Doing this new technique, also shows my manager that I’m listening to the feedback she’s giving me and that I’m making an effort to improve. While I don’t know that I would ever feel comfortable straight up asking for a promotion/raise, it has helped me to be more transparent about what my goals are as well as solicit feedback from her about what she thinks can help me perform at the next level. So far,  it has been very motivating to see the things I can be capable of when I stop holding myself back and is very encouraging to hear from my manager that she sees a difference as well.

Another point that the keynote speaker brought up is that we seldom take the time to assess our life satisfaction. While I actually think I do this fairly regularly, she did help me to realize something new. She made us write down all of our goals for the next 5 years. A lot of mine were things that I have already discussed in previous posts but there were a few were new ones such as “pay off car” and “get promoted”.  She asked what things we realistically thought we could accomplish this year if we had more time… and surprisingly, many  of them seemed reasonable. Next, she had us fill out a spreadsheet that asked how many hours per week we dedicated to different activities (Work,  Friends, Family, TV, Fun, Exercise, Service, etc). It was shocking to me to see how much time I wasted during the day. There are 24 hours in a day- even if I sleep for 8 (which rarely happens) and work for 8, there are still 8 more hours left… When I think about the things I do in those extra hours- I’m embarrassed… Too much of that time is taken up by meaningless activities such as watching Trashy TV or stalking people on social media (dont act like you dont do it too :P). It also showed me how little hours I put into “Service/Volunteer” (zero to be exact) and realized something needed to change… I want to do more meaningful things in my life and not spend half of it watching the Real Housewives of Every City.

Soooooo that being said, I have decided to join more extracurricular activities. Last week I signed up for the “Community Engagement” committee for our African American Network and am hoping to leverage that to get involved with CHOICES. I have also signed up for the “Development” committee for the Women’s Network and the United Way of Greater Richmond’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. Along with signing up for more extracurricular activities, I have decided that I will start to limit the time I watch TV to 1 hour a day. After that one hour, I am going to force myself to find something else to do… whether its call a family member/friend, clean my room, blog, go to bed earlier, etc. I also want to read more so I am trying to read a chapter each night before I go to bed. Currently, I am reading a book called “It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor” which talks about ways in which women hold themselves back from advancing in the corporate world. Ironically enough, I won it at a Women’s Network event back in 2011 when I was interning. (Yes, I’ve had it for two whole years and never cracked it open. After the event a couple weeks ago, I figured it was time :).) I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress as well as celebrate any accomplishments ;).

In the meantime, I challenge you to evaluate how many hours you currently spend per week in each of the categories (Work, Commute, Spouse, Family, Friends, TV, Fun, Service, Exercise, Chores, Self-Care, Sleep, Spiritual Practices, Learning, Other- the hours must add up to 168). How many hours would you ideally like to spend in each of the categories? What are you willing to change to start moving towards your ideal? For those of you that actually take the time to do this, I would love to hear what you learned about yourself…

Until next time…

xx

Struggles of a Black Woman: Hair Journey Recap

So once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived two nappy headed black twins…

Kel, dont kill me.

Kel, dont kill me.

Haha jk. (but seriously…)

The first time I got my hair relaxed, I was 8 years old. Kelly & I were going to be flower girls in our aunt’s wedding and had planned to have our hair pressed. The week of the wedding, we found it it was supposed to rain on the big day so instead of pressing our hair like we had originally planned, we got relaxers instead. (I WISH I had a picture that showed how long our hair was… It was beautiful… and full…. and straight- we were in awe!) I remember we kept flipping our hair back and forth because we were shocked that it could actually move haha. We were so excited to have “white girl” hair, we thought we could take care of it the same way… Needless to say, the length and the healthiness quickly deteriorated.

The Summer of 2011, is probably when it got the worst.

Summer of 2011- at the Fair

Summer of 2011- at the Fair

Summer 2011- Girls Night at Coastal Flats

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July 2011- On the way to Kathrina's baby shower

July 2011- On the way to Kathrina’s baby shower

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Father’s day 2011- My hair was so weak that when I would take my sunglasses off my head, pieces of hair would come off with it.

I was at the salon getting a relaxer and for some reason I decided to touch my hair. When I did, I noticed that hair was coming out in my hand. I freaked out but never said anything to the stylist… I was hoping I was seeing things. Soon she called me over to start washing out the relaxer. When she started washing it out, I guess she noticed the same thing because she asked me if I had been taking any new medications because my hair was falling out in the sink… I seriously almost died. The whole time all I could think was that I had some terminal disease that was causing my hair to fall out. As soon as I got in the car, I called my mom and told her what had happened. She told me that if it was a health issue, the hair would be falling out from the root, not the ends, and that my hair must have been over processed. I called the hair dresser and told her what my mom said so recommended I do protein treatments. I started doing them but the reality was no amount of protein could save that hair.

In September, I went to a different stylist, the one my sister was using at the time. I had her cut my hair as short as it could make it where it would still look decent.

September 2011- The day I cut my hair & a week before I started putting in full weaves.

September 2011- The day I cut my hair & a week before I started putting in full weaves.

While I was sitting in the chair, she mentioned that I should braid my hair up to give it a break but there was no way I was going to let that happen. (There are some girls that can rock the braids… I’m just not one of them). We decided that a  full weave would be the way to go.. A week later I was at her house and she was hooking me up! From September 2011 to now, I had been rocking the remy hair.

sep2011


nov2012

jan2013

 I loved it. It was low maintenance, you could get it whatever length you wanted, you could go swimming and not come out with an afro- it was awesome. The only problem is… its not cheap. Eventually I got tired of dropping $400-$500 every 3 months to get new hair put in.  I decided it was time to come back to reality and go back to my hair. I started researching natural vs relaxed hair to see which one I thought would be a better fit for me. (Natural is nice because you’re not putting chemicals on your hair so you can use heat more often… plus you get the versatility of wearing it curly or straight. Relaxed is nice because its easier to manage but the downside is you have to be extra careful with it if you want it to reamin healthy). For weeks I kept going back and forth… it wasn’t until last December when I was getting my old extensions taken that I realized there was no way in HELL I could be natural. Not only was it so much hair to take care of, just brushing it was a NIGHTMARE. (I swear I needed 80 advil after she was done brushing through it).

Since I made up my mind on going back to the “creamy crack”, I started focusing on learning how to maintain healthy relaxed hair. I reached out to my friend Jessica to see what she did as well as  started researching hair blogs and YouTube to see what worked for other people. Jessica gave me her regimen & turned me on to this girl, UloveMegz… I was instantly hooked. I literally spent 7 hours on her blog and YouTube Channel. I started taking pictures and writing everything down trying to prepare myself for what to do once “D-Day” came. (I literally felt like a pregnant mom, awaiting her soon to be born baby… anxious to see what it would look like hahaha). Once I made my hair appointment, I started buying everything so that I would be ready to go…. except I went a little overboard…

$300 later....

$300 later…. I swear I have enough hair products to last me a year.

Anywho, I finally got my hair done yesterday and here is the final result :).


newhair1

newhair_back

Diptic

I was a little sad that she had to cut some off but overall I’m happy! I think I’m most shocked that all of that hair is hair that has grown since September 2011… gives me hope! Now its time to start following my new hair regimen (i’ll upload it tomorrow). It is going to take a lot of work but I’m excited to see how it goes :)!

xx