On Grace, Transparency, and the Fear of Keeping it Too Real

On Grace, Transparency, and the Fear of Keeping it Too Real

For some time now,  the Lord has really been convicting me about the need to be more transparent and honest with my story. I’ve been feeling the tug, and I’ve been shrugging it off, but one of my first steps to finally responding to God’s request was creating this blog. As much as I love to write, and as much as I enjoy “keeping it real”, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a lot more private (those who follow me on Facebook are probably like “girl, bye!” lol) . But in all seriousness, I reveal what I’m comfortable with revealing. My romantic life, and other very personal stuff, you will not find on social media, because……Nah. That’s mine. All mine.

When I felt God compelling me to be more open and honest about my Christian walk, I wasn’t really feeling it. To be quite frank, I know there are certain people who are itching to find out my business to use it against me, and my patience for the gossip and news carrying is at an all. time. low. I kept telling God, “This transparency stuff sounds good in theory, but chill, you’re setting me up for drama, and I just don’t have time for it.” And you know God gathered me up real good. He made it abundantly clear that He did not give me the ability and passion to write just because He thought it’d be cute. This ability, this gift, if you will,  isn’t just for my own catharsis; it serves a purpose bigger than me. God basically said, “Ashlee, get over yourself.”

Starting this blog revealed to me just how fearful I am of transparency. It’s something I’m constantly saying the church needs more of, but here I am, in true hypocrite style, perpetuating the very thing I critique most about the church.

The other day my friend shared this post on Facebook. And it made me question and challenge my fear of transparency.

Questioning and being honest about the root of my fear of transparency  has been extremely telling, and has also proven to be the first step to overcoming it. What am I so afraid of? Is it really the judgment of others? Is it really the fear of people gossiping and carrying news about me? Or… am I really just fearful of letting people see and know just how imperfect I am? Am I fearful that once my “stuff” is out there, that will instantly put me in a position to not be in any position to judge? Why do I want to be in the “position” to judge? Am I fearful that once I confirm that yes, I am spiritually fallible, I’ll forever be forced to reckon with the real me, in private and in public ? Answering those questions honestly made me realize that I am also part of the problem I so badly want to see resolved in the church.

If I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be transparent, I need to be transparent myself. And that means I need to work out whatever it is that’s not freeing me to be as transparent as I want other Christians to be. God has been humbling me, and showing me that It’s easy to offer critique (even when it feels hard because you feel the burden of holding folks accountable)…but it takes courage to be the one to say, “I needed this” or “I am in need of this, what can I do to address this lack?” “This is wrong, what can I do to help resolve this problem?” When I critique the church, when I am attempting to hold it accountable, I cannot forget that I am very much a part of it, so I must challenge, question and critique myself.

I am grateful that God has provided safe spaces for me to be transparent, honest and candid with other young Christians. But it is unfortunate that those spaces are few and far between, and it’s even more unfortunate that I’m afraid to share those spaces with other Christians who may benefit from them, out of fear of the space no longer feeling safe with them there.

I am praying for the day when I, and other Christians can stop trying to out-Christian one another, so we can gain strength and grow from one another’s experiences, mistakes, and victories. I am praying for the day when we stop criticizing and judging someone’s struggle to make ourselves feel less guilty about our own. I am praying for the day that we realize we are not our mistakes, and once God delivers us from something, we don’t have to carry the weight of it anymore. We all have struggled. We all have fallen short in some way, and we’re all still struggling or working on something. All that really matters is that we are trying to overcome, and the truth is, we’d be more successful trying to overcome together than we’d be trying to overcome “safely”. If sharing my story costs me my “good girl” image, but encourages another sister or brother, and helps them realize they’re not alone in their struggles, then so be it. I’m not a girl anymore anyways (lol) so who cares about that label? I’m grown. I’m a woman. A grown woman who’s still growing in her faith, and who’s very imperfect, but loves the Lord with all her heart, with all her soul and with all her mind. I’ve counted the cost, and souls are much more valuable to me than maintaining an image of a person I already know I’m not.

 

By: A. Wisdom
Twitter: @ashleewisdom
Previously posted on: http://www.GrowingIntoWisdom.squarespace.com
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Having Trouble At Work?

 

Having trouble at work? So was I.

I started at this company 2.5 years ago, when I was on the heels of a divorce and I moved 30 min. away from my core group of people. I took this job in transportation, an industry I had no experience in. Needless to say, my 1st year was miserable. People questioned me, my skills, and even my writing abilities – as a journalist, I was insulted. I had a horrible review. I had never felt so unfavored in any position.

Every day I imagined myself getting a new job and boastfully slamming a resignation letter on my boss’s desk, but that never happened. Every opportunity that was offered to me fell through for some reason – budget, resources, timing etc. So I ended up staying in this position because I needed the money.

I changed my prayers from finding a new job to changing my circumstances at my current job. I asked the people in my Bible study group to pray for me and with me. Slowly, but surely, things started to turn around.

My biggest critics were taken off my projects, and my attitude about my job started to change. I found reasons to be grateful for my job, and I started working on the things people criticized me for. My next review was amazing. It was a complete turnaround from the first one. As things got better, I continued praying. I didn’t want to go backwards.

In October, I had the unique opportunity to take a position in NYC doing exactly what I wanted to do – public relations, and I really had an opportunity to shine. To my disappointment, the assignment ended abruptly, and I feared going back to my regular assignments and having to work with the naysayers again.

I just knew my “winning” streak had ended a couple weeks ago, when I was working on a report that took me twice as long as I anticipated. When the project manager called me, I just knew he was going to let me have it, but instead he told me I did a “phenomenal” job.

I called my boss to let her know that someone actually used the word “phenomenal” on a report I worked on. To my surprise, again, she told me that she had good news too – my promotion!

I’m still growing, but prayer works and God’s grace is real. I hope this helps someone.

Stacy.

*Previously Posted on Proccessingpain.com *
Twitter:
@StacyGrahamHunt Ig:@stacyreports
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LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

Have you ever received some news that catches you by surprise? You’re caught off guard and many thoughts begin to fly through your head. Then you pause. Everything goes silent and you feel numb. You slowly begin to hear the raindrops falling outside. You snap out of it and now you’re back to focusing on your thoughts… You begin to unscramble them. With the news that you just received there are a lot of emotions and thoughts that you’re trying to process. The final thought becomes, “wow, today can be anyone’s last day on earth.”

Today I heard the news that a gentleman that I met last year passed away. All I could think of was “wow, I knew him;, He’s young, joyful, humble, genuine, motivated, successful and positive.” He had this amazing energy that you immediately felt while in his presence. He was the type of person that I personally love the most; the ones that you can have deep, intellectual conversations with. He was the type of person that instills motivation in you. He was the type of person that provided a friendship that instilled personal growth.

 

I could not fathom what I had heard, so I proceeded to check his Facebook page. To my dismay, it was true. In complete shock and confusion I started reading some of the comments on his page. Many people were sharing many of the same positive things I mentioned above. Some were sharing memories and pictures, anything that could make this reality feel real. Overall I knew that everyone felt like they were blessed to have shared the same space with him. I began to think about how I felt about him. How the positive comments that I shared above, I never conveyed to him. (Because what it might have been awkward?) How I had ideas I wanted to ask him about and never did. How I was intrigued by his life and would have loved to learn more. Many things that if I knew this day would come, I would HAVE ACTED on.

 

The following thoughts flashed through my head as I continued to think about life in general…  We have positive comments to say to one another, but we don’t. How we become angry with one another and easily toss friendships away. How holding grudges towards one another does not serve us a purpose but rather hinders us. How being in an unhappy environment is pointless; choose to walk away. How we let excuses comfort us. How we build walls in fear of being hurt. How we try to avoid love so things don’t get “complicated”. How we seek validation from others instead of trusting the most important person, ourselves. How we dismiss our intuition. How we let ourselves drown in friendships/behaviors that will not benefit our lives. How we forget to believe in ourselves. How we spend more time working on other individuals rather than ourselves. How we put others first at the cost of our own health. How sometimes we have to cut ties even in the most difficult situations. How we forget that we are STRONG! How comfort keeps us from seeking more in life. How we limit ourselves due to fear of something “not working out.” How we “save something for later” to avoid the task…. I could go on and on! You get where I am going with this. It’s so sad that an event such as a DEATH can instantly alter how you think and feel for a few moments. Depending on how close you are to the individual or how deep your relationship was, the impact may last longer. After the life altering event occurs and the “awakening” moment passes, we tend to forget the impact of this loss. After we are told about a loss, most of us think, “Wow, life is unexpected. Anything can happen to anyone. I should tell these people I love them. I should ignore the bullshit and focus on myself. That’s it I’m making changes.” We proceed to go about life with a different mindset. But then life itself happens. You know, it’s the moment when you snap out of this “mindset.” This usually happens after a mishap situation where we become frustrated with life and are reminded that life isn’t always this happy place and things do not always go as planned. So then we resort back to comfort. Shit gets back to normal and we get back to our regular everyday life. We move on and forget about the way of life we WANTED to follow after hearing about a loss and saying, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.”

 

Not quite sure if anyone is STILL reading this post. If you are, thank you. The Kayla before hearing this news would have tried VALIDATING this essay with my best friend. I would have asked, “does this make sense, do you see grammar errors, who even cares about reading this, why am I ever sharing this, it’s too long, right?” This Kayla says screw what others think, this is my page, this is my platform to say what I CHOOSE to SAY, how I choose to FEEL and what I choose to SHARE! I believe that I decided to share these random thoughts for a few reasons. One is that this allowed me to vent in a healthy way about what I am feeling after hearing this news. Another reason is that it feels good to share ideas and meet others that might think/feel like I do. Lastly, I am tired of not living up to my highest potential KNOWING that I am CAPABLE of it. I would love it if my peers would join me in striving to achieve personal/spiritual growth at a different level. The type of change where you look back 12 months and say, “wow, that’s where I was, look where I am, look how I’m doing, I could never have imagined being here now.” That type of change. Sometimes when we think of huge change people imagine large projects such as starting a business or making a huge investment. No, everyone’s idea of success /happiness is different. It’s all about making changes that will in the end benefit you! It’s about beginning. It’s about having the final outcome in mind BUT focusing on the present. The image of that final outcome may always change. Always remember to take steps or you’ll go nowhere…. Next time I think of something that I want to do, I know that fear will try to creep in to convince me otherwise. But my response will be, “Why, not?” We all have the POWER to CREATE our OWN HAPPINESS. Now, it’s up to you to decide how and when.

 

K. Cortes M.S.W
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Your Infant Doesn’t Give a Sh!t About the NBA Finals… But Your Toddler Might (and some other cool history stuff)

VSoP! What’s up people?! It’s Doug again, the guy who used to be a parent of a stationary cute kid, but is now the parent of a mobile, independent cute kid. And it’s that GLORIOUS time of year again: The NBA Finals! Now I know that this year’s playoffs haven’t been as entertaining as year’s past, but who cares. It’s still the greatest sports series in the world and we’re all watching, so we will deal with it.

Anyway, you loyal VSOP readers might or might not remember from last year, that I had some problems during last year’s finals. My son was a mess, so naturally I wasn’t looking forward to this year’s finals as heavily as I did last year, but again, it’s still the finals and I shall be watching. This year the Finals started on Thursday, June 2nd. I happened to be down in the Big Easy on Thursday June 2nd. A friend was getting married and my wife and I decided to accept his invitation to watch his nuptials in person. With us? Our son, my parents, her brother and his girlfriend. JACKPOT! So many hands, so much help!

Well the wedding was on Friday, so Thursday we had all day to do everything and nothing. I would like for everyone reading to understand that all day Thursday felt like Christmas Eve. I knew goodness was happening at 8pm CST and I just had to get through the day to get to my NBA Finals presents. Luckily, on vacation, time goes by a bit (a lot) quicker than sitting at the work desk all day.

We started out the day at The Court of Two Sisters. Apparently this is a New Orleans staple. I highly suggest it. I ate way too much and enjoyed every forkful. And like every other place in the French Quarter, there was live music. Music and food and food and music; I kinda love New Orleans. Our next adventure was to drive about 50 minutes away to Evergreen Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana. Evergreen is a sugarcane plantation, and it is the most intact plantation complex in the south. It has 22 original slave cabins and 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Basically there were a bunch of slaves and racists on the plantation. It was where they filmed Django Unchained, Roots, and scenes from King Bey’s Lemonade. We walked through the (small) big house (seriously, it was 3 rooms wide and one room back), we saw the kitchen (hot at HELL), we learned about the whistle walk (those racist fuqs who owned slaves made them whistle while they walked the food from the kitchen to the big house to make sure they didn’t eat bit of it), we learned a bit about the Creole culture, we learned about the story of the plantation. I think the tour guide meant well, but he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with just how difficult the slaves had it. Still a great and chilling experience. After the plantation tour, we took a left out of the gates (which for me sent a chill up my spine thinking about the fact that my ancestors couldn’t do the same) and headed to the Whitney plantation. We went on a whim, but it was an excellent decision. We missed the last tour, but we spoke to two great and knowledgeable tour guides who answered all our unanswered and half-ass answered questions that the last plantation couldn’t. I will be going back down to New Orleans and taking the real tour of Whitney Plantation. You all should too. The history of slavery, no matter how disgraceful, is important. It’s the beginning of Black American history. That’s what I have to say about that.

Anyway, after the history lesson, we made our way back to New Orleans and headed to Mannings, which is Archie, Peyton, and Eli’s restaurant. I’m sure the other Manning’s have their hand in it too, but the quarterbacks who played in the NFL are who are important here. Mannings has a legit theater in the back of the bar, with leather seats that you can reserve. It has an outdoor projection screen. It has more TVs per square foot than Buffalo Wild Wings. It has an arcade basketball hoop to shoot at for a dollar. It has pictures of Peyton and Eli everywhere. It’s dope!

Okay, 7:25 we make it to the restaurant. Its packed – dammit! I put our name on the list for 6 and a half and we find a place in the bar area to sit down and watch the pre-game. The wait is supposed to be 30 minutes, but it ends up being 25. We’re ready to be seated right after John Legend slayed the national anthem. BTW, he has been the best part of the Final’s so far, but you ain’t hear that from me. We sit down and I’m getting nervous. Why? They sat my son’s high chair right next to me, like he ain’t a terror with the Finals on. But whatever, big boy pants are on, let’s do this Reece!

7:58 – “AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH” Reece

7:59 – “AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Reece as he drops his toy.

8:00 – Orders taken, tip off soon. The whole place is buzzing. Greg Monroe came in with a buffet style selection of women to take up the theater in the bar. My son shuts up and looks. *daps*

Tip-off time – Reece is quiet. He’s watching. He’s attentive. He’s clapping. He’s cheering for both teams and all 3 refs. He’s paying attention and smiling and laughing. THIS IS HAPPENING!

The joy that was in me for the rest of the game until it started to suck was incredible. I forgot how bad the game was because my son was loving it. He was eating his food (kinda… half of it ended up on the floor. I think as a parent of a toddler, it’s a requirement to tip well), he was attentive, he wasn’t acting up, he didn’t cry, he was the perfect loud in a bar baby ever.

Cavs lost. They’ll probably lose the series. The Warriors are super sayins. Draymond’s breath is bad (c’mon, you know it is). My son loves basketball.

My toddler gives a shit about the NBA Finals, and my GOD that makes me happy!

 

By: D. Rubenstein
Twitter:@wildmanjones
AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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WE ARE DONALD TRUMP

WE ARE DONALD TRUMP

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a-more-perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA….???

Donald Trump graced Connecticut with his presence and I decided for myself not to watch on television. I chose to see what the devil and his minions looks like up close and personal. Yes, I was there in the audience to hear him say absolutely nothing. I was in line with the protesters staring into the eyes of a population of Connecticut that I never saw before. At this rally, I witnessed and observed the looks in the eyes of the Trump Followers. I know what they mean when they say “Make America Great Again”. Take me to their leader.

Are you all awake yet? Is this still a laughing matter? Or are we upset that this country continues to reap what we sow? Now that I asked a bunch of questions that you probably have contemplated a few times the past couple months, how do you feel about the answer that you came up with? Matter fact, forget your answer because it doesn’t really matter when the truth remains as an open wound that we have been asked to place Mickey Mouse band-aids to cover the laceration.  

Now I am not going to pretend or act like I am an expert in analyzing political tactics or infrastructure. However, I have been a registered voter since the Bush/Kerry Election and have been an advocate of fulfilling my civic duty as an United States citizen, who has been afforded the right to cast my vote for the leader of the free world. Needless to say, I never thought that I would live to see the day that this country would allow an African American man to win the presidency. BUT IT HAPPENED; and President Obama asked for one thing from the people and that one thing was to CHANGE. Ironically, over the past eight years, my political awareness has increased. I am a father now, a husband and community leader that advocates for the progression of African Americans. With that being said, my understanding of politics has to shift. I hold myself accountable for the future of the next generation. Being mindful of whom we allow we elect in the seats of political power is the beginning of that accountability.

Now that I’ve done my best to provide a soft introduction to an extremely controversial subject matter, let me be frank; No More Mr. Nice Guy. The fact that DONALD TRUMP is the front-runner in this presidential election shouldn’t surprise anyone. Our great Constitution had to be rewritten just to amend the basic rights for everyone regardless of race, skin color, ethnicity or religion; and yet it still began with WE THE PEOPLE. Well, who are these PEOPLE? The United States of America was built on the backs of bondage, blood, sweat and tears. Where an institution of racism scribed it’s way into laws, legislation and into the hearts of the wealthy majority. Patrick Henry declared give me Liberty or Death. An old Negro spiritual songs before I am a slave I’d be buried in my grave. To understand that part of American History directly reinforces why people shouldn’t be surprised at the fact that there is a sleeping GIANT that has been waiting to emerge in this country.

We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.” Malcolm X

Donald Trump is having success because whether we like to admit it or not, his actions and tactics represent the likes of so many individuals. Who is a presidential candidate without voters and followers? This is what happens when a man who has the color, capital and connections to be able to be controversial. Watch me prove this theory.  Let’s Play A Game… Ready? Let’s pretend President Obama is getting ready to run for president of the United States of America and his opening speech goes something like this. I want to make America Great. Let’s get rid of the Jewish and Italian immigrants that are buying up all the property and establishing businesses. Let’s stop allowing foreigners to move into this country and opening up businesses in African American communities. George Bush was an idiot that did nothing for this country for the past 8 years because nobody in Washington knows what they are doing. Let’s also give him an angry approach to how he wants to focus primarily on African American issues, racism, injustice and breaking down racial political barriers. If you are having a hard time smelling what I am cooking, simply replace Obama’s campaign with Trump’s campaign and you tell me if Obama would be leading anything anywhere? We all know the answer to this question and we all know why.

When I watch Trump go on national television and say some of the things that he says, I can almost appreciate it in a weird sarcastic way. Simply because I prefer to know what the devil himself looks like than to be bitten by a snake in the grass. Politicians are great at securing votes. Their primary focus is to win elections and win the trust of the people. We all know how elections and campaigns are won and filled with so many empty action items to feed the emotions of the people. Well there is a lot of HUNGRY IGNORANT RACIST out there dying to be fed and they have a mouth piece in Donald Trump. When I turn on the television, social media, listen to music, read blogs, read memes , view certain comments on twitter/facebook, hell even while playing video games online, there is one consistent problem that I cannot escape. RACISM IS EVERYWHERE. I get called a nigger everyday while playing Call of Duty online on my Xbox. You would think by 2016 where everyone is so liberal, free spirited and every class of people are climbing the ladder to fight for equality that we would have dealt with race relations along time ago. Quite frankly this is not the case. The country that we live in his filled with a lot of Hatred and Evil stemming from racism. From mass incarceration, to gun violence/mass shootings, thriving KKK rallies, and random acts of terrorism. So is it ironic and silly to contemplate the fact that an entertainer could possibly be the face of a country that is driven by trending, controversial entertainment? These are the people we empower to program the hearts and minds of our young people.

We live in a society where everyone wants to be and has to practice political correctness. Why should we expect our president to have some sort of filter when they are speaking when we as people want the right to exercise our first amendment right? We have no problem hiring analyst, journalist and giving celebrities, entertainers, athletes and others a platform to say what they want whenever they want and we are all supposed to be free of judgment right? So why do we expect anything different from the leader that is supposed to represent the people. Truth of the matter is whether you all want to hear or accept this or not, there are a lot of racist, prejudice and socially ignorant people that feel they have to watch what they say because of fear of having a public opinion. I remember feeling like Obama really never really spoke out on certain issues, not because he didn’t want to but because he couldn’t. He played it safe and read the prompter like a good president. We all had moments where we really wanted Obama to unbutton his color and speak emotionally and “keep it real.”  Ask yourself this, do you feel comfortable speaking up and out about topics that can be extremely sensitive to public opinion?  

So while we are upset that Trump is leading the Republican Party, please understand one thing; we ARE DONALD TRUMP. The hypocrisy, racism and tyranny that corrupt this system are a direct reflection of the racist political infrastructure that still disgustingly exists. Let the record show that I am in no way endorsing Trump nor would I ever vote for Donald Trump to be my president, but I do appreciate his non political correctness and affording me the awareness to know EXACTLY what I will be getting myself into should he become president. Until we address white privilege, race relations, and we answer the call to CHANGE the wheels on the bus will continue to go round and round. So do yourself a favor and stop acting so surprised that Donald Trump could possibly be the next President of the United States like the Terminator didn’t win an election.

“If we expect the leader of the free world (that is supposed to represent the thoughts, minds and hearts of the people) to conduct himself with dignity, class and respect then the people have to CHANGE so our Leader reflects who we are.”  -MR NICE GUY

 

By Mr. NiceGuy
Twitter: MrNiceGuyVSOP
IG: Trev.s.op
AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Love Triangles : The Truth Behind Cheating Part I

Okay, picture this:

A popular couple named Mary and John are in a long-term, committed relationship. To onlookers, it seems that Mary and John are happy. Friends and associates often witness public displays of affection from each partner, banter, and innocent flirting. Occasionally, Mary and John will even declare their love for one another on social media for the world to bear witness. So needless to say, it is obvious that these two individuals are in a monogamous relationship. In fact, those friends within the social circle idealize their union. That said, the fact remains that what is shown publicly is not always a true representation of what happens behind closed doors. What if I told you that despite the illusion of this great relationship, that a number of problems occur in Mary and John’s relationship? What if the reality was that John has been cheating with a woman we will call Jessica–a sexual relationship that predates Mary and John as a couple?And not surprisingly, Mary is unaware of Jessica’s identity….but oddly enough, she knows that her boo is unfaithful and may have had several affairs outside the relationship. To make matters more interesting, Jessica is very much aware that John is in a relationship, but continues on as his secret lover. Well John, Mary, and Jessica are members in love triangle.

Now, if you had a reaction of disgust towards Jessica in her role within this affair, you more than likely share the reaction of mainstream society. After all, the mistress, for one reason or another, is typically the one deemed most accountable in situations like the one described above. And more often than not, we relate with Mary, label John a “2 timing jerk,” and refer to Jessica as a “home wrecker,” or a “hoe.” And let’s face it, John is usually forgiven and given a clean slate, even after repeated offenses. Meanwhile, the”other girl’s” image is tarnished and she is devalued by both men and women alike. Being that this is a controversial topic, the voice of the “side chick” often goes unheard, in fear that she will be shamed and judged for her lack of self control. An experience far too taboo to address, leaving the mistress silenced from expressing her viewpoints and conveniently protecting the cheater’s reputation.

Love triangles are known as interactions between three individuals within a relationship system, by which each member carries out a pattern of behaviors that create an unhealthy relationship cycle. Love triangles can serve a few functions. In most systems, it is used to alleviate stress within a primary love relationship. The 3rd person in this case is used as a distraction to provide temporary relief from relationship conflicts. In other cases, the unfaithful partner may pull in a 3rd person when feeling insecure in the primary relationship (i.e.: suspicions that their partner may be cheating and therefore he or she must beat partner to the punch). The security provided by the 3rd person may also compensate for some voids within the primary love relationship. In this dynamic, the unfaithful partner may place the 3rd person on reserve as an alternate love interest (just in case the main partner breaks up with him/her). Some cheaters tend to also gain a sense of power and control through cheating. Cheating, for these people, provides a feeling of empowerment– it allows the cheater to make up for relationship failures by feeling successful in other areas of his/her life. However, simply put, cheating can be viewed as a red flag for low self esteem; a need to be desired by others as a means of gaining approval. Those individuals who cheat, even in secure relationships, utilize cheating as a way to build self-confidence. The acceptance provided by the 3rd person tells the cheater that he/she is wanted. In all, for the cheater, admiration seeking becomes addictive; a hunger that is never fully satisfied.

Now given the details of this “love” pattern, we can now ask the obvious question. Why, would a “side piece”, continue “creeping?” Here are some answers. Jessica similarly to Mary, has a co-dependent personality. A co-dependent in any unhealthy relationship, will place lower priority on his/her personal needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of the dependent. In fact, co-dependents indirectly encourage cheaters to continue cheating! Prioritizing the needs of others and neglecting the self is not at all uncommon in co-dependent individuals. But what the co-dependent may not be aware of is how his/her “selfless” acts empower a person who may likely crave control, and who has become masterful at the art of manipulation. Other factors to consider are what makes the co-dependent more prone to this personality trait. Arguably, one may consider nature vs nurture; the idea that personality is formed by environmental or biological causes. In short, one develops co-dependency via their social environment (home, school, media, etc). Those individuals who have been exposed to domestic abuse, not exclusive to physical abuse, but also including mental and emotional abuse, are most vulnerable. Although, some may say that co-dependence is just natural in some personalities. Co-dependency also plays a major role in self-esteem and self-worth, as the overly selfless often learn from their environments that they are undeserving, and therefore unworthy of healthy love relationships. This trait is found at the root of all obsessive lovers and explains why co-dependents stay in love triangles. So basically, co-dependents remain as a side piece because their main objective is to keep their ‘lover’ happy by any means, perhaps in hopes that they will at some point become the main lover. This thinking is sometimes driven by manipulations of the cheater, who may give the co-dependent false hope for a future. In terms of morality however, the co-dependent becomes  ‘numb’ after having been involved in cheating cycles for so long.

To conclude, love triangles are clearly very unhealthy. They hinder growth in love relationships and cause considerable emotional damage. And cheating problems seen in love triangles are far more complicated than uncontrollable lust–they are driven by complex emotional, behavioral, and social issues.

 In the follow-up blogs, we will take a further look at the profiles of the cheater and the main partner.

Disclaimer: The statements outlined in this blog do not define all situations seen in cheating dynamics, but rather discusses a basic overview on the principles of infidelity, and factors that may contribute to such relationship systems. Furthermore, the character names used in this blog are fictional. Any connection to real life events or actual persons is purely coincidental.

By: Saylor C Brook

Disclaimer: The statements outlined in this blog do not define all situations seen in cheating dynamics, but rather discusses a basic overview on the principles of infidelity, and factors that may contribute to such relationship systems. Furthermore, the character names used in this blog are fictional. Any connection to real life events or actual persons is purely coincidental. 

You Fit The Description

 

It was a sunny day during Memorial Day weekend on the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now anyone that can relate to that time of year will instantly connect to the annual Black Bike Weekend that takes place down there. Thousands of people in one tourist area gather to show off their wheels, motorcycles and for other things to make your head turn.” I was with a group of my friends  taking a moment to unwind from our professional careers, congregated on a corner enjoying the view of beautiful women and perfect weather. It was all perfect, did not have to worry about writing reports or code switching, just a carefree atmosphere to allow my imagination to run. All was well until, I was approached by two police officers. Dressed in a long t-shirt, fitted hat, basketball shorts, Jordan sneakers and a gaudy chain I know I did not look like I was a college educated man (but what does that matter).

“Let me see your hands, and line up against the wall,” the officer shouted. In my militant but educated tone of voice, I responded to the officer asking him what the problem was. The officer began to explain that a call came in reporting that a group of black males that fit our description were soliciting narcotics in front of their store and demanded that we be removed. Now my first inclination was that there was no way I could allow this officer to search me, I did nothing and I had nothing on me that would compromise my future. However; I  still complied due to the possibilities of what could happen if I resisted. Visibly taken aback  by the accusations, the officer stated stoically “this is routine don’t make a fuss”. I immediately felt violated, infuriated and powerless all in the same moment. How can these two officers identify us accurately when everyone out there dressed very similar and fit that stereotypical description? I thought I said this in my head but somehow I blurted it out to the officers. The group of friends I was with began to argue with the police officers in my defense from a distance and refused  to keep quiet about the situation. By the grace of God, we were not shot, killed or arrested.

Let’s examine this issue more in depth. Social media has created more of a public outcry to address how police officers are conducting themselves when countless acts of injustice continue to arise. How many more black males will be gunned down in these streets by officers of the law before these issues receive the national justice that it deserves? Interesting question, however, I am not here to shed light on that question.

 

Stop Being Naïve

It’s no secret that there are still racist white males walking around with badges. Ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are everywhere and will forever be an issue in this world. There are wolves out there hunting in packs and they are looking for the perfect target. Who is the perfect target?

 

Who Fits the Description

We tend to flirt with the line of freedom of choice. How a person dresses, whether that individual wants to admit it or not, influences a person’s perception. Some people will even say “who am I to judge?” but subconsciously we all judge. Our common sense tells us when going to an interview to wear interview attire (one would hope most of us do). People at church always say, “come as you are,” but the majority of its attendees wear their Sunday’s best. When playing sports you put on certain clothing, equipment, and accessories to go along with your uniform. The same holds true when we are out in public. Police officers are targeting individuals that fit a certain description. Now whether or not media and other outlets provide that description for them is a post that will come at a later date. The way one dresses does not give a police officer the right to racially profile anyone, HOWEVER a shirt and tie rarely results in a police officer accusing a person of a crime. Again, to suggest that black males “dressed appropriately” are not profiled would be naive along of irresponsible of us to say. However; there is a quote that suggests that if you argue with a fool because from a distance you cannot identify who’s who. So do not perpetuate the stereotype.  Be intentional in your identity leave no room for mistaken identity or perceived intentions; don’t appear to be a threat.

 

Create Value for our Own Life

How do we expect authorities to value the human life when African American males are killing each other in record setting numbers? People will argue that the police should be held to a different accountability, because they are sworn to protect and serve. Well I don’t fully agree with that because as human beings it’s never okay to murder anyone whether you are a police officer or a civilian. As a black man in America it’s difficult to wage war against the police when there is war in my own community and most victims are not written in the obituary section of the newspaper because of the actions of police officers. There is value in the belief that police officers should be taught more preventative measures  instead of reactionary.

 

Comply With the Officer

We need to educate our children and adolescents how to interact with the police. We need to understand their boundaries as police officers by understanding the law. In addition, the way we communicate, whether verbally or physically can dictate the actions of the officer.  It is never ok to sass, resist, assault or threaten a police officer because you will lose that battle 100% of the time. Yes, you need to know your rights and what can/cannot be done; however all of that goes out the “window” if your are resisting.

 

Social Media

Learn the facts of a case, instead of believing  everything you see on social media. We all see a lot of videos of occurrences, shootings and other negative perceptions of what we think happened. Before we draw a conclusion of said occurrences, ask yourself if you were a police officer how do you think you would handle situations and circumstances that arise in your community. Would you trust every person that you pull over? Would you be comfortable observing someone reaching for something in a dark alley when you are only trying to question them?
Now I know there is someone that is reading this that is saying that “this sounds compromising” and that’s fine. However, I am simply a man that has a family and I believe love conquers all. I will never advocate for hate of any kind and profiling. In the same thought, all cops cannot be made out to be the bad person; it is just as wrong as being profiled for simply being a black male. Being a police officer is a job that many of us do not understand. People put their lives on the line daily. Just like everything that is meant for good in this world, the devil has infiltrated many police organizations.

I Don’t Need A Mentor

The most common mistake that young professionals make upon entering a workforce is assuming that the knowledge that they acquire in school both (both in and out of the classroom) is enough to deem them successful in their first job. From the growing number of degree holding professionals seeking employment and the limited number of jobs, we know that this is not true. There are many factors outside of the dichotomous experience of college (academic & practical) that determine your success as a young professional, some that you might have control of and some you may not even be aware of.

As young professionals we come into our new industries believing that we have been equipped with all the tools that it takes to become an effective professional because of what we learned in school. What we do not realize is that we have been taught to use so many different tools to make us successful in the field that we may not necessarily know how to appropriately use or master any one becoming as the saying goes a “jack of all trades but a master of none”. The tools that we have acquired through the education process are usually surface level and in a hypothetical setting so the experience has some value but not as rich as a professional who is immersed into the work. Over the span of  four to seven years of higher education (undergraduate and graduate) learning we are introduced to concepts and theories but there are many experiences that are outside the world of academia that can only be taught through experience. Although, internships, co-ops, practicums and fieldwork serve as great additions to the classroom experience there is still something to be said about a full-time professional who has experienced the full gamut of the position and field that you are in.

So how does one fully gain advantage in such a tough economic climate? Simple, mentorship! Well maybe not simple but it is definitely easier than struggling or being stuck in your entry level  or current position. It is said that young professionals who have mentors are more likely to succeed in their industry as opposed to those who do not. Realistically, that kind of makes sense, right? Think of mentorship as professional parenting. The role of most parents is to make sure that their children have a guided but not restricted experience throughout life. The parent serves as a resource for the child to tap into when they face dilemmas or difficult decision making situations. The ideal parent allows their child to make mistakes but still advises and shields them from the dangers of the world. In event that the child’s parents does not have the answers or advice that the child needs the parent may tap into a larger resource which is the familiar structure (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins) to find the appropriate answers. Think of mentorship the same way! Having a mentor allows you to not only get one on one advice and guidance but it grants you the opportunity to tap into your mentors professional network so that you can have your questions answered or be advised in the right direction.

Even though its ideal to have a mentor, the whole process of acquiring one can be very intimidating. We’ve made a “how-to” list which, will serve as a guide as you begin to seek a suitable mentor:

1. Identifying a desirable mentor
2. Approaching your possible mentor
3. Create a plan with your mentor
4. Scheduling frequent meetings
5. Asking for new challenges/ways to grow

Be on the look out as we begin to break down each component of our list to fully equip you in your quest for mentorship. Share your thoughts on the benefits of having a mentor or your personal stories highlighting your personal journey in receiving mentorship in your professional lives.

Now there’s only one question #AreYouVSOP?

 

ADAM WHERE ARE THOU

[So He looked down from high as He waited for Adam to appear, so they could continue with their daily fellowship, praise and worship. But Adam never showed up. He sat waiting patiently, marveling at all of His creations, thinking to Himself and saying, “I can’t wait to show him my latest creation for him to rule and have dominion over.” However, Adam never showed up. The wind blew across the ocean and the sun smiled at the earth. As He laid on a pillow of clouds, whistling at the blue sky, He rested patiently waiting for Adam. But Adam never showed up. After basking in His heavenly ambiance for a spell, He arose and stepped down from on high and went foresting through the garden, looking for Adam as He called out, “Adam oh Adam, where art thou??” The crickets responded, the birds continued chirping, the bees flew around pollinating, and the waterfalls continued to trickle down, landing in the pond, completing the harmonic symphony of the garden. Yet still, Adam was nowhere to be found. An uneasy emptiness in the midst of His spirit began to churn as treason flowed through the core of His love for Adam’s presence and adornment. He could feel the disturbance of betrayal, heartbreak and fear as Adam suddenly appeared. Naked and terribly afraid, he spoke, “Here I am. I know that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. But I only took my eyes off of you for a few seconds Lord and…well, now I’m confused and lost. Father, where am I?”]

A man is born, he is raised, he is called, he reaps what he sows and then he dies. Each stage of a male’s life cannot be escaped; it is just how life is meant to be. Somehow, one would think that these killings of black men are not meant to be; but yet, they are happening. So what about the process are we missing? Let’s examine the supposed process:

1. A MANCHILD is born ready to learn and absorb every aspect his culture has to offer him. His sponge like mind forces him take in information, whether it is deemed good or bad. From the moment his eyes are opened, to his first steps, the child is looking to be lead and emulate what he sees. When you came into the house drunk and swearing, he processed that. While nodding your head as you listened to that song with the explicit lyrics, he watched and nodded too. When you thought he wasn’t watching, he took mental notes, waiting for one day to do what he saw, making daddy proud. What happens when daddy is not there and the environment raises a child? Growing up in inner city communities, a lot of our children fail to understand the consequences of their decisions. All they know is what they see. Most young black males marvel at the luxuries money can provide while being driven by the need to obtain fast cash by any means. They sit back in admiration while studying the males that have the money to obtain fresh “kicks”, nice clothes, jewelry, nice “whips”, and of course, attract the opposite sex. Drug dealers, pimps, criminals and their surrounding peers are making money as their adolescent hunger increases, which ultimately lead them to feast in the devil’s kitchen. These are the men that are directly influencing and raising our children from a distance. Our children need men of honor raising and leading them so that when they grow old they will not stray. Adam where art thou?

2. Look outside your window and these Young Men represent something greater than their harsh reality. They are so proud and organized. They are future successful businessmen working their way up the ranks. Structure is in place; leaders emerge, managers building teams, accountants that handle the banking administration, and workers processing their day-to-day assignments. These individuals have political influence, international connections and respect for the rules and regulations of operations. Instilled with military value and tactics they are prepared to serve and protect their territory. The only problem is, they are gang affiliated and participating in illegal activities, laundering money, distributing drugs, guns and narcotics to their own communities. Creating genocide in the streets that they call home, they have great and powerful minds with the wrong business plan. Possessing excellent sales and marketing strategies, but servicing the wrong product. Proactively increasing their network and connections, but with the wrong leaders and administrations. Traveling from city to city around the world, you would think they were studying abroad. Most importantly, the brotherhood, bond and pride for their organization supersede the love and loyalty they have for their own children, parents and family. So, Adam I ask you again, Adam where art thou? (I don’t get this)

3. Wherever a lustful, deceitful, ratchet and sexually explicit woman is, so will follow the Growing Man of our generation. A man who is in the process of experiencing what it means to be a GROWN MAN, but is not quite there yet. His mind is hazy and filled with uncertainty. It’s so easy to be distracted as a man in life when there are so many avenues; from fulfillment in our career, to the media, female exploitation causes man to fall further away from his true destination. Heavily influenced by provocative photos of video vixens that aspire to make a come up these days, we continue to be deceived by her sexiness. While you are making it rain in the strip club, or surrounding yourself with attention seeking vixens in music videos, you’re empowering the rise of the lust goddess. You pimp her, you throw your shallow animalistic perceptions, disguised as dollar bills at her. You mentally and physically abuse her, enabling and enslaving her as if this lifestyle is acceptable. So she continues to adapt and she raises the next generation of men. She was our gift and you failed at your chance to educate and teach her who she is and why she is so valuable to our existence. She’s lonely and lost without you. Adam where art thou?

4. You replaced the shackles and chains with prison bars, stripes and a number. You are a GROWN MAN that is now considered state property. Your hand is pressed on a glass window as you look at your son or daughter in the eye with your ear pressed to the receiver, to tell them you love them and you are sorry you missed his or her 5th birthday. You promised them that you would be a better person when you returned, but how? Your growth has been stunted; you only know how to be the man you were before you went in. So an overworked, physically tired, heartbroken mother walks in holding her babies, leaves and goes home only to lay with an abusive poor representation of a positive male role model. So you return to your child whom is now growing not knowing how to effectively be a GROWN MAN. Rather than accept the challenge, you return to sit in your cell with your hands on your face, dying in the years with quality father time as it continues to pass by. Why is it that prisons are overpopulated with African American males? They all had the opportunity to make a conscious choice to achieve something that their ancestors sacrificed their lives to have. Instead of hosting graduation parties for college graduates, the whole neighborhood gets together for a cookout and after party when Dope Boy gets out of prison? We always seem to have bail money, but seldom have money for college tuition. GROWN MAN, when will you realize you turned your back on your ordained destination? To be a KING. This was the life you chose; instead, an 8X12 box is your throne. Adam, where art thou?

5. Finally and most importantly, take me to my leader. Where are the ELDERS that we were always told to respect? Who’s ready to stand up in our community to lead a fallen generation to the mountaintop? What happened to the church community and power that was led by men to address issues that impact our communities? The churches have fallen to corruption, greed, political influence and false prophets whose lifestyle contradicts one of a shepherd. All behaviors that have driven away new souls for God. The heart of the community lies within the church, but somehow the church doesn’t exist; just a business with a cross as its logo. Who’s ready to return back to their father and restore our rightful place in the Garden of Eden? We were made to worship Him and bask in the fluorescent breeze of peace and prosperity. But when the church doors open you’re still at home in a drunken state of mind. Adam where art thou?

[Your child is looking out the window waiting for you to come home from work. Your daughter is waiting to feel the true unconditional love from her first male example. Your son is waiting to make you proud and is aspiring to be just like you. Your woman needs her king to lead her into a flourishing prosperous life filled with love, honor, and protection. Your community needs a leader to combat the evil that floods our streets with lies, corruption, and false representation of our true existence. Everything that was promised to us awaits in the distance, while the clouds pass through the sky and the ocean continues to roar. Tears continue to fall from heart broken faces waiting in a distance while God opens his arms gazing into the valley sitting patiently for you to return. But you never showed up. ADAM where are you?]

 

V.S.OP Guide to Suits Pt.1

In this competitive job market the slightest detail may be the difference between landing or losing a job. First impressions leave a lasting impression with that said; presentation is everything! Before you are even allowed to say a word you are being analyzed from the color of your suit to the way it fits. In every setting it is the #OpulentWay to make your presence felt. Whether you’re in the board room or enjoying your time at the local happy hour it is important to always exude class and confidence. Here’s Our official guide on mastering the suit: the styles you need, the fit you want and some tips & tricks on how to put it all together by CHADRAN STYLES. So, Its Just One Question #AreYouVSOP

 

1. Your socks should be long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down.

Socks do way more than just keep your feet warm, they’re a great way to pull your overall look together. Match your socks with your button up or tie, or go fun and funky for a casual look. Go with bold patterns, unique color combinations or festive socks to highlight your personality. Step out of your comfort zone and let your style shine through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Double vents located in the back are both modern & fashionable.

This look is practical and flattering on larger figures, yes big boys are stylish too. So cut those threads and be free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about half an inch.

Think of that inch as your measure of attaining success; you’re that close from being where you want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you’ll risk ruining it.

The material of the jacket will pull, causing your jacket to lose shape. Plus your posture and presence will just scream #Opulence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt.

A lot of men get this one wrong in attempt of being fashion forward. At the end of the day confidence is key in wearing anything; however there’s your way and the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your tie should BARELY reach the waistband of your trousers, or slightly shorter.

Yes, length matters: When standing, the tip of the tie should fall within the button of your trousers. Presentation is everything, and nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a very short or overly long tie. Your presence should say I’ve been here before while your actions scream I’m hungry for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your belt should be fairly thin & the same color as your shoes.

There is major flexibility to this rule. Have fun and play around with belts with texture, patterns and color. Just don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes, or vice versa and you should be fine. Let your creativity shine through, just remember there is a time to be creative and a time to be professional.