#TBT, Bible, Blogging, Brooklyn, Career, Christian, Dating, emotional, faith, Family, Fear, Flatbush, Give Back, Growing Up, jesus, jesus christ, Love, Marriage, NYC, prayer, Wedding

You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

bklynjersey

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Brooklyn, Career, Education, Flatbush, Give Back, It takes a village, mentor, Volunteer

Are the teenage attackers in the McDonald’s violent brawl more than their horrible action?

Animals. Thugs. Savages. Worthless space in our society! Lock them all up, do society a favor.

This past week a horde of high school-aged girls viciously attacked another teenage girl in a Brooklyn McDonald’s while customers watched, many laughed and at least one recorded and uploaded the brutal act. The comments above are a sampling of thoughts and feelings posted on the Facebook page of a local news channel in response to the story.

Like many others, my first reaction was horror followed very closely by disgust. However, while reviewing various online comments on this story, I noticed an unfortunate trend that the disgust was directed not at the act, but at the girls themselves. You might wonder about the difference. To me, the names and statements directed at the girls have the power to do more harm than good.

According to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist David Caldwell, “one’s own behavior can be altered by self-fulfilling prophecies. Referring to someone as negative or “bad” in some manner can elicit that same type of behavior, and it can affect the person’s own self-beliefs. If I believe that I am “bad”, I might act that way because I now think that is all I am capable of doing.”

In the ten plus years of working with teenagers who fit the same general profile as these girls, I have seen firsthand the destructive power of internalizing the labels of hoodlum, thug, animal, underachiever and so many more. I have seen that when expectations are set low, a number of the teens without appropriate role models in their lives, will actually seek to prove these expectations right. To the detriment of their well-being, they disregard what is right in order to own the black mark society has set on them. Think of the expression cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

I am not condoning their horrible behavior nor saying anyone else is to blame for their actions, but what I am saying is that we as a society should be careful not to write them off as unreachable and unredeemable. And that happens when we start to believe that they are inherently evil and stop to believe that they can be separated from their evil actions.



McDonald's Violence

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#TBT, Beauty, Blogging, BlogHer, Body Image, Confidence, Criticism, Dating, Empowerment, Flatbush, Growing Up, insecurities, Introvert, Love, NaBloPoMo, NaNoWriMo, NYC, Self confidence, Teenager

Teenage Memory

This #TBT post is from a 2011 post about a memory from my teen years.

misfit

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I was a gangly *no curves to save my life* and dark-skin teen who always had her head buried in a book. Not exactly the Kim Kardashian beauty of teenage boys’ lustful dreams. Their rejection hurt, but what really cut deep was being rejected by boys who should have liked me – black boys. But they didn’t. There was nothing special about me in their eyes. I wasn’t fair, I did not have light eyes and my hair wasn’t especially long. I was JUST black. Nothing exotic in my genes. Greater than the sin of being homely and black, I had no butt to speak of. No junk in my trunk. No “onion” booty: described by Urban Dictionary as a “booty that looks so good, it makes grown man want to cry.”

Those awkward teenage years were exacerbated by the bully who made it his business to torture me. My bully was an overweight and and pitch-dark boy who girls found unattractive and tended to overlook. As author Richard Sennet points out in Respect in a World of Inequality, the condition of “not being seen” had produced in him “a desire to avenge.” And I was the target of his vengeance because he saw in me his most hated feature. Every day he was forced to confront the thing about himself that caused him the most grief – his skin color.

As a teen I didn’t have the foresight to understand that his problem was not with me. I was simply an easy target. His anger was rooted much deeper. His real issue stemmed from generations of black self-hate that was encouraged during times of slavery when the darker slaves were relegated to picking cotton and working in the fields while the lighter ones (those who more closely resembled their European masters – usually as a result of interracial rape) were able to remain in the house as servants and had the opportunity to be educated. Why we play the game of who carried the heaviest burden is beyond me. Slavery is slavery is slavery. But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I internalized his treatment of me and spent years chasing the standard of beauty that I was sure he and others would value. I used skin bleaching creams religiously, seared my hair straight with hot combs and relaxers, and prayed fervently for the type of butt that black boys would appreciate. Imagine being God and listening to those heartfelt prayers.

It wasn’t until years later (hello Black Studies classes in college!) that I had the strength to confront my demons and work through the self-hate. While I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, I’ve often wondered whether my bully had the same chance. I hope so, but who knows. You can’t combat issues you never acknowledge. As they say in AA (or so TV tells me), the first step is admitting you have a problem.

***

What’s a memory from your teenage years?

NaBloPoMo_November

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American, American Dream, Author, Blue collar, Brooklyn, Career, Education, Family, Family Values, Flatbush, Haiti, Haitian, Higher education, Inspiration, Inspire, It takes a village, Labor, Menial work, mentor, NYC, role model, Sacrifice, Self confidence, The Godfather

A Grandfather’s Sacrifice.

Speaking of mentoring, here’s a note I wrote a few years ago on Thank Your Mentor Day in honor of my grandpa – the original mentor in my life. The man I lovingly refer to as #TheHaitianGodfather. 🙂

Who mentored you? Please share your story.

I am a true representation of the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” I was that child and my village consisted of my family, my church, my teachers, and a sprinkling of strangers throughout the years. These individuals were instrumental in providing a foundation for the development of my values and beliefs.

The most important person in said village was (and probably still is) my grandfather – the man who nurtured and mentored me throughout most of my life. My grandfather is a man who “could have been somebody” in the materialistic sense of the statement. He is perceptive, clever with numbers, and annoyingly adept at learning new languages.

However, my grandfather spent most of his adult life working menial jobs and catering to those who are “somebody.” He did so not because he lacked focus or determination, but because he chose to surrender his success for that of his family.

Instead of going to school when he arrived in the U.S. from Haiti in the 70s, he spent decades working to afford to bring his children and extended family members to America for a better life. His desire for higher education was never fulfilled, but his labor paid for countless degrees and full access to the American Dream.

As I watch the state of Haiti today I am especially thankful for my grandfather’s sacrifice and overall guidance.


grandpa raise hand

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