In this economy people are willing to do a lot of things they normally wouldn’t do to make ends meet. Some people look for creative ways to make money. Some people look for enterprising ways to make money. Some of those things may even be considered morally wrong. Some people even stoop to doing things that are illegal. Some people are predatory and offer “options” to people and take advantage of their need to make more money. A person’s individual boundaries are their own to live with and so are the ramifications of their choices. My boundaries are firmly set. Regardless of how much I need money, there are just certain things I’m unwilling to do. I will not rob an old lady of her social security benefits. I will not attempt a Nigerian bank scam (why do they even continue to try?) and I will not take my clothes off for men I don’t know. I have the tendency think about my future goals and aspirations and how doing certain things can deter those goals and aspirations. That allows me to keep a reasonably cool head even in the face of stupidity.
The last boundary I previously mentioned, is the subject of this blog. This week, I received a message from a man on Facebook asking me if I’d be interested in burlesque dancing with a blues shows in a downtown Detroit bar. Instantly, I was offended. I didn’t know this man from Adam. He wasn’t a Facebook friend, an acquaintance or anyone that I’d had any interaction with at all. He obviously didn’t know anything about me. I replied to him, “Nothing on my Facebook profile, or website says I’m a burlesque dancer, a stripper or exotic dance, so why would you ask me that?” That question was actually rhetorical. I already knew that he assumed I would “strip” for money because of whatever his misogynistic ideas are related to women, along with the stereotypical belief that an attractive woman doesn’t have any brains. He also believed that women in general are willing to take our clothes off for money because times are hard. Therefore, anything he said, would definitely not surprise me.
His response was “I apologize if that sounded rude. Burlesque is classy entertainment. I thought you were affiliated with modeling or some form of entertainment”. To me that was hilarious. Here’s why. Of course asking a woman you don’t know to take her clothes off for men she doesn’t know is RUDE, I don’t care if it’s burlesque or ballet. Secondly, being ‘affiliated with modeling or some form of entertainment’ doesn’t mean getting naked for men you don’t know. We don’t all have to resort to that and many of us don’t. I told him that what I found “rude” was that for some reason he assumed that the entertainment I’m involved in relates to taking my clothes off at a bar. Obviously this small minded man thought that in order for a woman to be involved in modeling or entertainment, she must either be naked or nearly naked, in order to be considered a “model” or “entertainer”. Last I checked serious models and entertainers don’t have “I will take my clothes off in a bar” on their resume.
I told my boyfriend about this exchange. His first response when I told him the man’s initial words to me was “Uh, oh. He picked the wrong one”. What my boyfriend knows is this; I’m not that caliber of woman and I don’t accept men saying offensive and disrespectful things to me, simply because they think they can. I don’t believe what a woman is wearing defines her character or her worth. It’s that woman’s actions that matter most. Therefore, if a woman isn’t behaving like a hooker, you can’t call her a hooker because you think she’s dressed like one. It might be Halloween or a bad fashion choice, not a profession that she’s exhibiting in her attire. The truth is, as women, it doesn’t matter what we wear or don’t. There’s always some idiot who thinks women are only good for what’s between our legs because that’s the limitation of their braincells. Yes, there are pictures of me that are sexy and sensual related to the marketing of “The Goodie Bag“, but I could have been completely covered up from head to toe in a berka and that man would’ve still sent me the same message. Because that is what he thinks women are worth – dancing at bars without clothes for men that they don’t know.
By the way, I also told him had he done his due diligence prior to sending me that message in the first place, he would’ve discovered that I am an entrepreneur, publisher and author and the picture he was looking at was related to “The Goodie Bag” and nothing more. But that would’ve been too much like right. I think he knows I’m the wrong one. Maybe he learned his lesson. Maybe not. I do know he won’t be sending me anymore messages. After all, he wouldn’t have sent that message to Oprah and gotten away with it. There are a lot of women who would’ve been offended that probably never would’ve responded to him at all. So I spoke up for them. And there are probably some women who gleefully signed up to burlesque dance for him when he messaged them. They will probably make $250. In this economy he can’t afford to pay a woman thousands of dollars to take her clothes off. And he knows that some women don’t have the boundaries I have. That’s what makes him a predator; lurking and waiting for someone to become desperate.
Lastly, I told him he can’t afford my rates so I’ll gladly burlesque dance for my boyfriend in the privacy of our bedroom. At least I know what I’m getting into and what I’m getting out of it. I also know, it won’t deter my goals, cause me to be posted naked on YouTube or give him anything to sale to the Enquirer when I become the next Queen of All Media. That’s a boundary I can live with – and that is priceless.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. – Bible, Exodus 20:17
This scripture is one that is pivotal when dealing with relationships between men and women. Particularly in a day and age where Black women are made to feel that there aren’t enough available Black men in the world, so to them it’s reasonable to become involved with a married or committed man. And with many Black men feeling that Black women are desperate for a relationship or attention that they would easily fall into the arms of another man hoping for something better than what they have at home, it is becoming common practice in our society to pursue another man’s woman. This scripture is one of the ten commandments and it warns us against being envious of what someone else has, regardless of what it is. However, it amazes me how people feel that it is within their rights to attempt to infiltrate someone else’s relationship because it looks good to them from the outside. People who do this often believe that what someone else has comes easy to that person. They fail to recognize that a good relationship takes work. HARD work; along with commitment, understanding and good communication. None of those elements comes easy, even when you have a really good connection and attraction to someone. As a person you have to make a conscious decision to have a good relationship, then you have to put the necessary actions behind that decision. People looking for an easy relationship often lack the work ethic that it takes to maintain a relationship.
I recently went from being single to committed. During the last four years of being a single woman, I never dated or became involved with a man that had a girlfriend or wife. If I did, I didn’t know it. There are reasons I didn’t date married or committed men. One reason is trust. If a man would cheat on his girlfriend or wife, there’s a huge possibility that he would also cheat on me. Another reason is respect. If a man doesn’t respect his own relationship, he will not respect mine. And the most important reason to me is Karma. I didn’t want to do anything to anyone else, that I wouldn’t want to have happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had numerous opportunities to be the type of woman who messes around with married men. I’ve received “offers” from men to be their “other woman”, but the cost to me was too great. The cost to my morals and values was one that they couldn’t properly compensate me for. They couldn’t afford other woman’s insurance. So I sent them back to their wives and suggested that they make an effort to become better husbands. If any of these men’s wives were to ask me what happened, I would tell them. I don’t owe any loyalty to those men. They were the one’s willing to break their marriage vows, not me. And having had the misfortune of being a married woman (once upon a time) whose husband cheated, I know the pain that betrayal can bring. Every one’s situation is different and every woman doesn’t leave an unfaithful husband, and vice versa. However, the truth, regardless of how painful, is still the truth. I prefer to live with the truth, than to live a lie. You can’t make good decisions in life based on a lie.
The one thing I’m noticing now that I’m in a relationship is how many men I meet want to be “friends”, as if I’m so naive at thirty-six years old that I don’t know what they really mean. That’s an example of coveting your neighbor. They have no idea what it takes to be with me. They have no knowledge to the fact that many, many men have tried, and failed, in the arena with me. They have no idea of my flaws or moods. Sex is easy. Friendship is difficult because people often realize later that they want more or can’t handle more. And a relationship is life-altering. When I was single, if a man approached me with the “friends” line, I knew immediately they wouldn’t be boyfriend or potential husband material for me. They didn’t think I was worthy of commitment. I was dating with the purpose of finding a spouse. When a man says that to me now that I’m in a relationship, I know the same is true and that he really wouldn’t make a good friend at all – platonic or otherwise. And of course, my boyfriend is having similar experiences with women. Women are a mess, too. Sometimes they are worse than men are because they can be more aggressive and relentless. They can’t believe that someone else got the man they wanted, even though they never told him they were interested or had feelings towards him. The same can be said for men. To that I say, oh well, your inability to communicate your feelings are not anyone else’s fault. And even if you had, it doesn’t mean you’d have the same type of relationship with that person.
Everything ain’t for everybody. I say that for a reason. Everyone isn’t compatible, regardless of physical attraction. It is not physical attraction alone that makes a good relationship. So many things factor into having a healthy, trusting relationship with the opposite sex. There are a lot of beautiful women and gorgeous men that are single. Appearances only mask our character for a short time. Eventually the facade comes down and the real person is revealed. In a relationship you have to be able to show your true, authentic self and accept the true and authentic self of your partner. Relationships are not for fickle, superficial people who believe that it doesn’t ever rain. Relationships are for strong, resilient, forgiving people who keep an umbrella on hand.
First rule to relationships – You attract who and what you are. Two fickle, superficial people who are delusional in a relationship are doomed to fail. One fickle, superficial person in a relationship is a headache to their partner. However, two people with the same understanding of what it takes to maintain a relationship will be more successful, come rain or shine.
The next time you approach someone who tells you they are married or in a relationship consider the possibility that they have flaws and issues that you may not be capable of handling. The person they are with is their choice and their choice has nothing to do with your desires or lust. Respect their relationship. I went to a Tyler Perry play once and his character Madea said, “People always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But when they get over there, they find out their neighbor was using ChemLawn and the water bill is high as hell”.
This weekend is a big weekend for me. I’ll be having a book signing for “The Goodie Bag; The Erotic Fiction Collection” at the First Fridays After Work Affair on Friday, March 4, 2011at Ambiance Lounge, 211 W Congress, Downton Detroit, from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm. I’ll also be presenting my business to the public at the I’m Every Woman Expo on Saturday, March 5, 2011at the Silver Garden Event Center, 24350 Southfield Road, Southfield, MI from 10 am to 3 pm. Needless to say, I’m a little nervous. I’ve been getting ready; from hair to clothes, to making sure I have my brochures, books, and information together. Of course Murphy’s Law is coming into play. Anything that can go wrong, will. But I’m working through it. These last few weeks have been full of “tests” and I’m determined to pass them all.
Super Son was recently accepted to attend Clark Atlanta University in the Fall. He’s been blessed tremendously since he didn’t work the plan I set out for him. He still has three other colleges we hope to hear from before he makes a final decision – which is based solely on who is offering the most scholarships to him for his attendance. However, he hasn’t been as proactive as I would have liked for him to be when it comes to getting ready for college. It’s been stressful on me because I trusted him to get ready for this transition in his life. I thought he’d be looking forward to it. I might have been wrong. But his options are few. He won’t have the opportunities that I had because my path is my own, and his is his own. At the same time, I do expect great things from him, because he is Super Son. And to whom much is given, much is required. I expect him to do his due diligence and prepare himself for his future. He can’t expect Super Mom to always be there to instruct him or remind him of his responsibilities. After all, to be fair, I have additional responsibilities that I will have to maintain long after he has left for college.
So last night, I spent quite a bit of time explaining to Super Son why he should’ve gotten ready last summer, like I told him to. I also showed him how he has inflated the stress in his life by not being proactive and doing what was asked of him several months ago. As I was doing this, I was going over his acceptance package and his financial aid with him. I don’t know how much the Fed will expect me to contribute towards his education yet, but I do know that I will need to sale a whole lot of books to pay my share of the $18K per year college tuition at Clark Atlanta University… or any other school that may accept him between now and May.
The plan was changed. Now we have to adapt to a new plan. We have to get ready…again.
It could be a lot worse. Super Son has never been a problem child, he’s never spent a minute in handcuffs or used drugs. He isn’t chasing girls more than he’s doing homework and his teachers don’t seem to have a problem with him. I think he’s realizing how important it is for him to get ready ahead of time, instead of waiting until the last minute, hoping that by osmosis things will go his way. I think he got a reality check.
While I was preaching to him, I still had my own “to do list” to complete for this weekend. This weekend isn’t all I have to get ready for. I have another expo in Chicago at the end of March, and another expo in April in Metro Detroit. I have to get my finances together because I need my marketing materials ordered and reordered, my hotel room reserved, additional books printed, hair appointments made, clothes selected and I have to inform as many people as possible of my upcoming appearances.
How do I manage it all? It’s not easy. But I was built for this. So, I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, while I put the work in.
For to whom much is given, much is required.
It’s time to get ready.
One definition of evolution is a pattern caused by movement. Another is the gradual development of something into a more complex or better form. There are many stages to evolution for an individual. Some people evolve slowly and consistently, others have spurts of evolution. Evolution can take place in our minds, our hearts, our bodies, our finances, our careers, and our relationships. We are ever-changing as people. How you accept and adapt to those changes make the difference in the quality of your life.
If we do not evolve, what is the alternative? What happens to people who do not evolve? We all know someone whose life is stagnant and depressing. They have been saying and doing the same negative, unproductive things for years. Some are in abusive relationships; some have addictions but do not believe in recovery or redemption. Some have extreme financial problems, or are not growing in their careers or improving their personal relationships. They have been unhappy for years. Yet, they don’t make changes in their patterns of behavior or accept changes that occur naturally that can make their lives better. They are constantly complaining about what they don’t have, but they aren’t working towards changing their circumstances. They are waiting for someone else to come along and “rescue” them from themselves. The best evolution is not a forced evolution by others, but one that is initiated by self.
Ted Williams is a recent example of this to a degree. The man has had a tremendous amount of hardship in his lifetime. However, some of it he is personally responsible for. No matter what anyone does for him at this time in his life, he has spent many years of his life not evolving. He has not been the best example of a father or husband. He also has suffered from addiction. He’s been homeless for a number of years and was “discovered” singing while panhandling on a street corner.
Prior to the World learning of Ted Williams, he worked in radio in Columbus, Ohio for a period of time. I’m sure people in and around Columbus, Ohio may remember him and have even wondered what happened to him, not realizing that they were driving past him as he stood on the street. But how much was Ted Williams working to do on his own to change his situation? Why hadn’t his family welcomed him back home if he was clean and sober? Would he still be on that street corner if Doral Chenoweth hadn’t spotted him and pulled out his Flip Cam? These are just a few questions that come to my mind. A lot of people are talented. They work very hard to get to where they want to be and never receive the types of “offers” that Ted Williams has. Why do we celebrate him, more than he celebrates himself? We love an underdog, but isn’t a young man struggling to pay for college on his own, also an underdog?
The reality is this: Until Ted Williams wants to evolve, all of the job opportunities, television interviews, accolades and compliments will not change his life for the better. He could easily regress back into his addiction (allegedly he already has) and go back to panhandling on that same street corner. We can sit in awe of his amazing voice as much as we want to. We can pray for him daily, offer him opportunities, money and support. However, until Ted Williams prays for himself, and becomes self-motivated to change his life for the better, then takes the steps necessary himself, he will soon be forgotten about and be replaced by the next “discovery”. While the young man struggling to pay for college, will graduate and become successful because of his self-determination and the World won’t even notice.
Life is full of changes. I’m excited by all of the opportunities coming my way, but there are some days, like today, when I wish that I had a cloning machine. I’m preparing for a lot of different things all at the same time. To add pressure to the pot, I’m suffering from a cold. I earned the name Super Woman because I’m always multi-tasking and I’m able to do it seamlessly. It’s my dream come true and more than I imagined. However, there are days when I wish there were at least two more exact duplicates of myself whom I could delegate tasks to. Since I’m meticulous in my approach and everything I do must be done to the best of my ability, it’s difficult for me to delegate tasks to others who may not treat my ideas with the same sense of priority. For me everything is a priority – even if it has to be delayed, it never really is. It’s just re-prioritized to another level to be revisited later after something else is completed. That’s the method to my madness.
I’m not alone in my need for a cloning device. There are women like me everywhere who have a ton of things that need to get done and who would also like to have a clone of themselves capable of helping them. They are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, counselors, chauffeurs, coaches, teachers, physiologists, referees and chefs; everyday all day long. Women – we do it all and we do it well. A cloning device would help a lot of us in our day to day lives. Unfortunately, the technology has yet to catch up with the need. Or has it? That’s the beauty of supply and demand. If you build it, they will buy.
I have been blessed to have a tightly knit team of Super friends who are very supporting of my endeavors and they help to keep all of this crazy that is I, in check. But I can’t take advantage of them because they also have their own families, careers, goals, and endeavors that they need to apply their own energy to as well. That is the common thread that explains why they are my Super friends.
On days like this I have to plan, plan, and plan some more to get things done. I call on those who are able, and have to time to do something for me. I barter and negotiate to get things done. I try to remember to eat, squeeze in some meditation and prayer and try to exercise also. I plug into my mp3 player for focus because I can’t work in dead silence. I drink my green or chai tea and take by vitamin B12. I operate on as much sleep as I possibly can get and vow to rest when I’m rich; preferably in the Caribbean. Then when all is said and done I thank God, get up and do it all over again the next day.
Until cloning technology is available, and harmless, I will continue to do what I do; put all of myself into my tasks to turn out a good product/service. I will continue to lose sleep, forget to eat, do too much too often in an effort to do it all. It’s what I do. It is who I am. After all, I am Super Woman and to whom much is given, much is required.
…but a cloning device would really help. ♥