Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “She’s trippin! She hasn’t written aaaaaaall week.” Well, I know I am.  I’m coming. Just waiting for the inspiration to hit me.  You know the saying — “write because you have something to say, not because you want to say something.”  But I feel an urge coming on, so hang tight. 🙂

Until then, here’s a very awesome quote.  Happy Friday, all!

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing… kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day. And I believe in miracles.

-Audrey Hepburn

36 Things for the Single Ladies

36 Things for the Single Ladies

Today, I read this post, which was a result of a blogger stumbling across this list.  Every leader should know how to be a good follower, right?  Well, I’m following suit and sharing what I’ve done in this list (by bold type). To all you single gals (and guys) out there, how much of this list have you conquered?  **I think it’s important to note that at some point, you have to consciously enjoy/bask in/take advantage of being single.  Time and place for everything. Don’t look back one day and wish you had seen the benefits of being single.**  Now that that is said, do you think anything is missing from this list?

36 Things Every Single Girl Must Do Before She Settles Down

**To Build Your Confidence**

1. Go to a movie alone. [I am a movie fanatic. I’ll probably always do this from time to time!]

2. Lift weights. [Now ask me when the last time I lifted weights was, and you may think I need to unbold this one.]

3. Try surfing, water-skiing, or some activity you don’t already know how to do. Could be riding a bicycle. [Wouldn’t everyone logically be able to bold this one? I mean, the first time you did any activity, you didn’t know what you were doing yet, right?]

4. Take out the trash, set a mousetrap, do your taxes, build a bookcase. [I’m good on the mousetrap…]

5. Live alone, or at least move apartments in NYC without the help of family.

6. Train for (and finish) a huge physical test like a half-marathon. [Does playing coed softball count?]

7. Go to a scary doctor’s appointment by yourself. [I’ve done this, and it was because I was too proud to ask someone to come with me and hold my hand.  Luckily, one of my friends had the graciousness to surprise me and be there when I got back to the lobby leaking tears.  I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing this just for the sake of it.  There’s nothing wrong with single folk asking their friends or family for support.]

8. Quit your job.

9. Fly to a foreign country by yourself. [I wasn’t by myself technically, but I was with a group of people I didn’t know, so I’m counting this one.]

10. Learn to stand up for yourself.

**To Be Able to Look Back and Say “I Had Fun”**

11. Witness something once-in-a-lifetime, like Jokulsarlon, a lake next to a melting glacier in Iceland. [errr… I mean, I don’t really remember so I’ll go with no?]

12. Revel in being able to watch all the TV you want.

13. Get drunk during the day, just because you can. Attend Santacon, the convention for santas, or similar. [I’ve never gotten drunk in the daytime, but how ladylike is that? I’ve had drinks during the day, though.]

14. Go on a date with someone who actually makes you nervous. [:)]

15. Go out with an older man who takes you somewhere nice and makes you feel like a million bucks.

16. Go out with a guy who makes you laugh ‘til it hurts.

**To Get Perspective**

17. Be a good wingwoman. It’s not always about you.

18. Chill with your widowed and single grandma. She knows “alone”! [Since my grandfather passed last year, this one isn’t so lighthearted for me as it comes across in the wording.  Don’t know how I feel about this one, but yes, I’ve spent quality time with her since then.]

19. Volunteer. [Y’all know I do plenty of this.  But lemme tell you why I think giving your time to someone who needs it is a huge one.  It’s good for you and your soul, and it’s good practice in sacrifice (which I hear is, in moderation, necessary for healthy, long-lasting relationship).]

**To Make You Appreciate the Next Guy**

20. Do at least one Valentine’s Day alone. […I mean, ok. I can’t say this was necessarily on purpose, but I’m pretty comfortable with giving myself, my family, and my friends love on Love Day.]

21. Attend a wedding (or 15) alone.

22. Date the creeps. You’ll really value the nice guys afterward. [This was not by choice though. Again, wouldn’t recommend anyone do this on purpose… C’mon now.]

**To Make You Feel Sexy and Attractive**

23. Buy yourself some flowers.

24. Invest in a LBD (little black dress) and some sexy stilettos.

25. Sit at a bar by yourself and drink a martini. Cool. [I have a sneaking suspicion that I have done this. But since I can’t recall a specific time, I’ll leave it.]

26. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.

**To Make the Most of Your Free Time**

27. Finish all your schooling if you can. [I’m bolding this, not because I’m “finished” but because I already have 4 degrees so if I decided I were done, who would question me? I’m not convinced I’m done though. I absolutely love learning.]

28. Throw yourself into something time-consuming, like learning a foreign language. You may not have time to do this again until you retire and the kids are off to college. [I could write a whole blog post about all the time-consuming stuff I’ve delved into. Anything that’s worth doing probably isn’t all that quick, right?]

**To Make Yourself a Better Partner in the Future**

29. Make a list of all your faults. [I’d like to refer to them as my areas for improvement. I also listed my assets. Focus on positivity.]

30. Learn to cook well. [And bake too.]

31. Get some hobbies. Something’s gotta keep you occupied—plus it’ll make you seem interesting. [Reading, playing softball, going to the movies, crocheting, blogging, etc.]

32. Let your married friends edit your online dating profile. [If I had an online dating profile, I’d probably do this.]

33. Get your finances in order. [This isn’t a concrete thing. They’ve been in order before. Headed back in that direction now.]

**To Appreciate Being Single**

34. Babysit someone’s baby for an hour. [Hey, I have 2 nieces and 7 nephews, so…]

35. Help a friend through her divorce or a bad break-up.

36. Host a girls-only night. I think some coupled-up women forget how much we need each other. [I’ve done girls-only nights, days, trips–who doesn’t like hanging with the homies?]

**Things not on this list but on Nada Dee’s list**

37. Road-trip alone. I think this is a true test of how comfy you are with yourself.  I’ve taken myself places just because I wanted to be unencumbered by anyone else’s schedules, timelines, and desires.  Great way to sort out thoughts too.

38. Maintain a roster. I know several people who believe that once they meet someone, they must devote all their time and attention to that person, even before any semblance of a conversation about exclusivity occurs.  To each her own, but as my mom told me as a youngin learning the dating ropes, until you’re married, you’re single.  So without established boundaries, I never assumed that I should behave like I’m in a committed relationship.  Have some fun, meet new people, enjoy getting to know them, and really make an educated decision about who you want to pursue something deeper with.

39. Create a vision board. Where are you going in life? What do you want? Can you really merge your life with someone else’s if you don’t really know the value of yours? Sit down, write down all your dreams and short-term and long-term goals, then make it plain by creating a board that you can hang up and look at regularly, reminding you of what you need to be working on to achieve your heart’s desires.

40. Romance yourself. I dunno what your idea of romance is, but whatever it is, do it for yourself.  Go get a massage, make yourself bubble baths, light candles during a self-prepared dinner, sleep in something that makes you feel good about yourself, etc.

What else should singles do before they settle down?  Any other ideas?

Hometown Hero: Lorenda Cheeks

Hometown Hero: Lorenda Cheeks

When I met Lorenda back in 2003 or 2004, her positivity was obvious and even contagious.  She’s from my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, a graduate of my alma mater, Tougaloo College, and a sorority sister from my initiation chapter, Gamma Omicron, the premiere undergraduate chapter of MS of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Lorenda’s contributions to the youth of Jackson are outstanding.  She is currently the principal of Oak Forest Elementary School, a Girl Scouts troop leader, and the founder of “It’s Hip to Be Fit,” a health and fitness program for girls.  Lorenda was recently named Jackson’s Community Champion for 2010.  She is now vying for General Mills’ Feeding Dream National Community Champion, which would result in $10,000 for Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi.

Please follow the links in this post to read more about Lorenda, then please go vote for her everyday until Oct. 31!

You can win a Kindle too!

You can win a Kindle too!

As I excitedly wait for my Kindle to be delivered, I am happy to share the news that @faydra_deon will be hosting another Kindle giveaway next month!  This time the winner will be picked based on who writes the best short story!  So think about what you want to write, and enter!  Never know, you could be the next winner!!

The Plight of Our Black Boys -> The Plight of Us All

The Plight of Our Black Boys -> The Plight of Us All

I discovered this report published by the Schott Foundation today, and my heart is heavy.  Just take a look at some of these stats.

  • Nationwide, in 2008, white male students graduated at a rate of 78%, while black male students graduated at a rate of 47%.
  • The gap has widened–in 2006, white male students graduated at a rate of 75%, which means there was a 3% increase over the two year span.  Black male students graduated at a rate of 47%–no change.
  • The ten lowest performing states (including the district) for black males are: GA (where I live – 43% graduation rate), AL (42%), IN (42%), DC (41%), OH (41%), NE (40%), LA (39%), SC (39%), FL (37%) , and NY (25%).
    • Side note: 25%?!?! 25%, New York? Whoa!!!  The graduation rate for white males was 68%!  That’s a 43% gap!

Before I launch into my diatribe about the plight of our children, let me highlight some positives in the report:

  • The ten best performing states for black males are: ME (98%), ND (93%), NH (83%), VT (83%), ID (75%), MT (73%), UT (72%), SD (71%), NJ (69%), and IA (63%).
    • Side note: Now, this is good and all,… but I will have to pull the population data for these states to see just how many black male students were there in the first place. :-/
  • Two of the best performing large districts for black males are in GA: Gwinnett County (58%) and Cobb County (51%).

Now, listen, I know that everything in this report can’t be fully analyzed (and please remember that this report provides more than just graduation rates–it also has reading and math test average scores, advanced placement, special education, and discipline data) until they are put in context (I do this every day for a living).  BUT, at the surface, it’s obvious that we have a problem, a serious one.  Here are my initial thoughts in reaction to this report.

:: Coupled with the incarceration rates of our black men, this is certainly alarming.  Our futures are in jeopardy if we can’t reel this on in.  When folks start droning on and on about the plight of the educated black woman, this is the stuff we really need to be focused on–the root of these problems.  If you think black women can’t find suitable mates, then we need to figure how to reverse this–not let it fester and perpetuate.  The black community is at danger when we can’t get our kids through the bare minimum level of schooling.  And we’ve known this, right? But now, here it is staring us in the face through this report. So what we gone do now?

:: Yes, it’s time for my me vs. we soapbox.  So many of the black community’s problems are embedded in the fact that we have become so disjointed from each other.  So many of us go day to day thinking about only ourselves and our short-term happiness.  And while those are certainly valid thoughts, we should also be thinking about our community and our collective long-term happiness.  Yes, the parents are responsible for their kids, but I still believe the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.  We need to be reaching out to those less fortunate than us through mentorship and even advocacy.  Give up a weekend to volunteer with an organization that focuses on our youth.  Skip a couple of coffee breaks and donate that money to charity or your alma mater or to buy a book for a neighbor’s child.  There are so many ways we can get beyond ourselves and redevelop our interconnectivity.  And that’s vital.

:: Black folks aren’t the only ones that should be worried about this.  Listen here–the performance of each and every one of our kids is factored into the overall graduation rate. Guess what–if we can get these rates up, the overall rate will increase as well.  How can we expect to have competitive communities if we aren’t effectively training our future workforce? It’s no wonder (besides other educational factors) that the U.S. has gone from #1 to #12 in college completion rates for young adults in one single generation.  This has a direct impact on how competitive this nation is compared to other countries.  As I’ve said time and time again, what we do for our kids today molds what our society will look like tomorrow.  And guess what–you can support the cost of quality public education today or you can support the cost of programs that support the unemployed and those not even in the labor force tomorrow.  You can run, pulling your kids out of school and putting them in private schools instead of getting involved with the local school board and making your concerns heard through local politics, but trust me, you. cannot. hide.  Uneducated kids grow up to be uneducated or miseducated adults. (Sidenote: I mean, educated kids can grow up to be miseducated as well, but that’s not relevant to today’s post, so moving on…) We cannot continue to be okay with shortchanging our kids.

:: Y’all know I’m not a problem-oriented person. I’m solution-oriented. So what do I want you to do?  I want you to read this report and really think about the repercussions. Tell me how you feel about it in the comments.  Then I want the mentors, tutors, volunteers, philanthropists, and advocates out there to keep doing what you do, and I want the teachers to continue going into those classrooms and busting your patootie everyday even though you are likely underappreciated.  I want you guys out there to continue (or start) reading the news and keeping up with issues like this one that impacts us so adversely.  And I want anyone who is looking for something to do to become a mentor.  You don’t have to be well off to be a mentor. Join Big Sisters/Big Brothers or go through your district to see what opportunities are available or take some interest in someone at your church and be a light in a kid’s life.  Show them that they are cared for and encourage them to be their best.  Just because you can.  It only takes an hour here or there to make a difference.  Do your part.

I won!!

I won!!

Thanks to all of you out there who voted for my essay and spread the word.  I’m getting a Kindle!! I guess it’s time for me to start actually publishing my book reviews, huh?  🙂

I know I’ve been ghost lately. No worries–I’ll be posting up a storm in just a little while.  Until then, make everyday a positive, productive day!