Monday, March 28, 2011

Your Comfort Zone

You know what a "comfort zone" is, don't you? It's where you feel comfortable. Be it a job, an activity, a hairstyle, style of clothing, a relationship....I could go on. You get the idea, a comfort zone is were you feel safe. Sometimes being comfortable can hold you back from developing into your full potential.
In the past 3 years of my life, I have been put in multiple situations where I had to step outside of my comfort zone. First it was financial comfort, I put myself in a position of financial "discomfort", so to speak, in order to advance my career. While in the midst of it, it seemed horrible and unbearable but that one calendar year flew by and now we're back on track...financially, anyway. My teaching position, was total leap of faith. I had NEVER imagined myself as a professor, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and, while it's challenging at times, I actually enjoy teaching. Plus, it provides extra funding for my shoe habit. I gave up my long, sleek, infamous "wrap" hairstyle for a wild, natural bush. My new gig, I didn't have any supervisory experience per se, outside of didactic training, but I stepped out of my comfort zone of being an irresponsible bench technologist and jumped in head first as a manager. Now I'm a BAWSE, as Rick Ross says. On my own intuition, I would have NEVER imagined that I would live in the mansion we purchased back in November 2010. I wasn't so sure we could afford it but, in the end it all worked out and we no live in our dream home because we stepped outside of our comfort things.
Matters concerning money, jobs, and homes are things we deal with frequently. But this past weekend was the culmination of me not only stepping out of my comfort zone but totally stepping into a realm where I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I'm talking about planning a BIG event. Not a little party at my house, we're talking a venue, obtaining zoning permits, liquor licenses, vendors, etc. This event was called "Fashioned for Education" and it was a fundraiser for my high school alumnae association. While planning, I hit plenty of speed bumps and discouraging set backs, but I kept on trudging through. In retrospect, there were many a thing I wish had been different or better, however the overall feedback from attendees was positive. The older alumnae were impressed and the alumnae president is now excited about next year's "Fashioned for Education" fundraiser, confirming her decision to appoint me to the fundraising chair.
In the case of "Fashioned for Education" I learned a lot. I learned about myself, who my REAL friends and supporters are, how selfish people are, how selfLESS people are, etc. All of these life lessons I learned because I stepped outside of my comfort zone.  It was one of THE biggest challenges/risks I've ever taken on in my life. Who knew the fundraising chair that never planned an event a day in her life, could pull together such an elegant event? I, by no means, take all of the credit. I had PLENTY of help and input from people who knew what they were doing, but it was my initiative and creativity. I didn't know I had it in me....but now I do.
Look out world, Fancy is coming for you. I think I'm going to make it my business to do something different and new at least once a year. My series of life events has taught me that NOTHING bad can come from abandoning your comfort zone. You may not be a complete success, but you always learn valuable lessons. A wise man once told me that "Anything worth doing is going to be hard, but if it were easy everyone would be doing it."
Learn something about yourself..step outside of your comfort zone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking Out

We've all experienced it, a woman in your life who gives unsolicited advice. Be it from a mother, aunt, older co-worker, church lady, it comes from a good place but it's still unsolicited. As a younger woman, I would be the giver of unsolicited advice but sometimes it didn't go over so well because I had yet to master the art of candor. Although, my advice was from a good place, it wasn't always received positively. In turn, for some years, I just kept my mouth shut when my opinion was not asked of me.
However, as I've live more and make decisions, I often find myself in a position where my advice or input is sought after. I guess people are watching me and are encouraged by the direction I'm headed in. I was once told that my spiritual gift was the ability to influence others. I was young then but now I understand it and try my best to put my gift to good use. As I mature, I have become that woman who gives unsolicited advice. I haven't gotten any negative feedback, so far. I hope it's because I am mastering the art of candor. LOL! I realized that the givers of unsolicited advice really care about you.
Sometimes an outsider can see something in you that you can't see in yourself. I have benefited from unsolicited advice. I just knew I was built to be a boss but the education coordinator of my last program saw the "teacher" in me. I would have NEVER went into teaching had she not mentioned it. While I don't claim to be the best professor ever, my students flourish on their rotations after being under my instruction. To here good reports about my students is way more fulfilling than any policy or procedure I can put into place as a boss. Having a close friend tell me that it would be ok not to marry a long time boyfriend jogged my brain and got me thinking. Although I never said anything to her about my relationship status, she could see that I was unhappy. I, in turn, eventually broke up with that guy and ended up marrying my soulmate. That one little sentence worth of unsolicited advice got me on the path to happiness.
My mother used to tell me that people who don't care will talk about you, while people who do care will talk to you. If your heart is telling you to talk to someone about something, talk to them. If someone randomly says something to you about yourself, don't take offense, just listen. It could change your life. Afterall, we all live here together. We HAVE to look out for each other.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Mo' Creamy Crack

Women of African decent decide to go "natural" for various different reasons. I can't speak for anyone but The Fancy One herself. Yes, I refer to myself as The Fancy One. Anyway, my mother grew up very conservative, conforming to society while upholding morals taught to her by her family's matriarch.
"Don't cut your hair, men like long hair."
"Have your own before you get married."
"Never spend your last."
"No shacking up, it looks bad."
I could go on. I would not be surprised if my mother was a virgin when she got married at 26. But this advice is sound and most still hold true today.
Anyway, when I mentioned going natural back in 2000/2001 to my mother who came from a long line of cosmetologists, her response was "For what?". And, at 20 years old, I didn't have any legitimate reason other than "I like big hair." So I continued to submit my self to the application of harsh chemicals to my kinky locs for another 10 years. Under my mother's care, my hair grew to be very long and healthy. People always complimented and commented on it. Mainly because black girls didn't have long hair unless it was "good hair", which I did not.

As I matured and began to embrace myself for who I am, I felt like I was ALWAYS fussing with my hair. Pulling it back, fixing the part, combing it, spraying it, etc. I just wanted to "be". As I became more health and spiritually cautious, eating organic, establishing a regular exercise routine, applying principals I've learned in Bible study, I began to question why I was applying chemicals to my hair when I was avoiding putting chemicals in my body. Then I pondered, if God intended for my hair to be long and flowing tendrils, it would grow out of my scalp that way, right?

So, after a discussion with my husband, who has always been that "Lightskinned, long hair" man, I realized that he didn't care if my hair was straight or nappy, as long it was long. He had even noticed that people with locs have longer hair than those with with relaxers. We decided, together, that I would stop with the relaxers. I don't think he realized what a long, expensive journey this would become. I would have to visit the salon weekly, as I used to style my own hair. I would be experimenting the "natural" hair products, which are more expensive than what I had been using with my relaxed hair. The part he questioned the most, cutting the relaxer out as the natural hair grows in.

A year later, my hair is about 6 inches shorter than it was when I started as I've become more agressive with the "trimming" as my natural hair gets longer. BUT I LOVE my nappy, sometimes dry, Frederick Douglass looking bush. I get compliments on it all the time. No more fussing with my hair. I wake, shake, and put a flower in it. I straighten it about every 2 months for a trim. I like it when it's straight but after about 3 days, I yearn for my bush.

What I find interesting is people's response to my bush. People who thought they knew me seem surprised that I now wear a bush. Some are even intimidated. I guess it does take a lot of guts to walk into a corporate office rocking a business suit, pumps, and a bush with a flower in it. From less mature and, I hate to say it but, less educated women, I get the "Your hair is so pretty when it's straight" or "You should wear your hair straight more often". I hate that society has told them that straight hair is prettier than the cottony bush that God intended them to have. Obviously, they don't know that I have always been a free spirit and never really cared about conforming to society's standards. I feel like my bush empowers myself and others. Now most of the black women in my office are growing their relaxers out. I'm so proud of them. I say "Eff yo' straight hair!"

I have many flaws that I could have been insecure about and, I admit, I used to try to hide. As I grew into the woman I am today, I learned to embrace those flaws and when people ask me "What happened to your hands?" or say "You're so skinny." My response, as of late, has been "That's the way God made me."

The moral: Embrace who God intended you to be....nappy hair and all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

....A Year Later

So after a much needed 6 week break from work and all things responsible, I hit the ground running. I passed my exam, so now I am a certified Specialist in Blood Banking, I started teaching Blood Banking to unappreciative, know-it-all adults and traditional college students, and I got a full-time gig. It definitely wasn't my dream job or ideal schedule but the pay was within what I expected after acquiring so many degrees and certifications in my short 29 years of life.
Notice I describe the full-time gig in past tense. Yup! You guessed it, I didn't last long there. After a few run-ins with my insecure, intimidated by younger, smarter, more ambitious employees supervisor, I got the hell outta there in less than a year. I THINK I was there for like 8 months. After a severe confrontation, that resulted in a round table with the company's "Problem Management" department, I didn't do any work for the rest of that day. What did I do? I went job hunting online, found a gig, filled out the application, and got a call the next day to schedule the interview. I went into the interview with no experience, just my dazzling personality and impressive resume. We finished up at 10:30am, they were offering me the job at 2pm, $2k less than my desired salary but I was ready to get away from that hell hole and crazy supervisor. So NOW, I have my dream job with an ideal schedule. Patience is a virtue. I only had to wait 8 months.
Then my doctor husband decided he needed a break. *sigh* It's a never ending cycle. I couldn't get mad though. Residency really wore him out. I don't think I would've been able to work 80-100 hours/week for 3 years straight and still function. So, he took a hiatus while he studied for his $6000 worth of exams he had to take post-residency.
My husband's break from work brought us closer than we EVER were. I mean, we've been together since 2003, but with school and all the other crap we were doing, we were only boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife on the weekends. It was great to have him gain a new appreciation for household chores, running errands, and family time.
And just like that, all good things must come to an end. Plus, we were getting REALLY broke since we had to buy this big, ole, dumb house in the interim of breaks from work. Needless, to say Dr. McLovin started working after a 6 MONTH break. I must really love him, but he deserved it.
Now, we are blessed to both have our dream job and on the path to starting a family. Well, no family just yet. First...we 'bout to ball outta control this year! Yeah, I said. We gonna be irresponsible, buy stuff we don't need, go everywhere, eat out every night. You know, do all the stuff we couldn't do a year ago, all while hollering "Hood rich!" LOL!
I will be chronicling the "Adventures of Fancy and Jizzle" right here. Stay tuned...