Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. – Les Brown

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

I dunno if you noticed but if you scroll down and look on the right side of this page, you will see a list of black-owned businesses that I support. I add to this list from time to time based on my own experiences and from recommendations of others who have patronized these businesses and want to spread the word. So feel free to click, click, click.

And if you are in Atlanta and interested in starting or growing your business, please check out this event. The Women’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable features a panel of successful business owners who will tell us about their journey and answer questions from the audience. It’s always a very worthwhile event, so come on out!

Women's Entrepreneur Roundtable

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Till Debt Do Us Part

Till Debt Do Us Part

If you’re available and in Atlanta this Saturday, come out to my chapter’s economic security workshop about money and relationships. It is free and open to anyone who wants to attend (whether single, engaged, married, etc.).

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For more information about this and other community events, please like us on Facebook!

And I’ll be back soon posting. I have lots of updates to share. 🙂

My son could be Trayvon Martin.

My son could be Trayvon Martin.

It’s 2:15 AM and I’m still up just thinking about all the implications of the Zimmerman verdict. I watched the trial waiting for some major points to be made: Trayvon Martin had the right to be in a public place without being stalked, he had the right to stand his ground and fight back, and he had the right to get home safely.

Of course, all I can think about is how scary it is to have brought my precious son into a world where the Voting Rights Act can be gutted in the 21st century with the logic that it’s no longer needed because it has worked (never mind that it has worked THIS very year). I’ve brought him into a world where when a man shoots an unarmed teen, the murdered teen has to stand trial, not the shooter. I’ve brought him into a world where the family dynamics of the murdered teen is a key part of the story (just imagine if he was raised by a single mother like me). I’ve brought him into a world where although I don’t immediately leave a movie theater when a weird looking white person comes in for fear that he will shoot the place up, it is considered acceptable testimony to listen to a woman talk about how she was robbed by a black boy, even though that particularly black boy had nothing to do with the case. I’ve brought him into a world where wearing a hoodie in the rain is suspicious. I’ve brought him into a world where even as the unemployment rate continues to decrease, the unemployment rate of blacks continues to increase. I’ve brought him into a world where you can go to jail for firing a warning shot when someone who admits to abusing you is approaching you and threatening you, but not for murdering an unarmed boy who wanted some Skittles and tea.

I pray that I can instill in my son a strong sense of self worth. And I pray that others will respect his worth. I pray that my child will not be seen as a stereotype, but as the bearer of light he is. I don’t even know how to approach preparing him for a life in this world. Do I make sure he wear galoshes and a plastic poncho any time it’s raining? Do I drive him around the corner no matter what? Do I stock my pantry with snacks for a lifetime? Do I tell him to defend himself or to run or to just take whatever is thrown at him JUST in case he’s murdered and he needs to be clearly the victim? Of course, there is NO way for me to adequately prepare him in a place where people are justified in jumping to irrational conclusions.

So, Friday, as I was thinking about the possibilities the verdict could bring, I tweeted this:

So what are we going to do after today? Regardless of the verdict? My issue with marching is that I don’t always see forward movement after the fact.

Can we commit to joining a mentor group and giving back to our kids?

Can we agree to start writing and calling our legislators and staying vigilant about new laws that adversely affect our communities?

And I added these tonight:

Can we agree to start/continue educating ourselves about local and state politics and voting accordingly?

Can we agree to start focusing on building up our communities and knowing our neighbors so we can look out for each other? We are obviously all we got.

Can we stop making excuses for grown people who choose to not contribute to our children and start holding each other to higher standards?

Can we begin to invest in our own businesses and communities and watch where we circulate our dollars?

We can’t afford to be two day/two week warriors. We have to protect our kids through civic involvement and community engagement.

Now is the time to rediscover our own worth and wield the economic power we all know we have but don’t use.

I guess I’ll try to sleep now. But I’m sure it won’t be as restful as I need it to be. Another sad day in America. It’s becoming a norm. What’s next, people?

Something to Get Off My Unhairy Chest

Something to Get Off My Unhairy Chest

So I know I’ve been ghost (being a single mother is consuming!) and I know I usually try to only publish positive posts, but I’ve got to share this:

What Is the Definition of Manhood?
What Is the Definition of Manhood?

I already think about this regularly since every now and then, I hear comments or see slick pictures about single mothers being their own reason for their plight. Let’s be clear. Yes, I made a mistake: thinking that the guy I cared for would care for me. But it’s not a woman’s fault if he makes a conscious decision to be a suck ass father, especially if she’s tried to bridge the co-parenting gap. People can say or think what they want about me being a single mom, but I’m slowly but surely learning that the only person I can control is Ranada. And my job is to make sure my son knows he is loved, secure, and taken care of. I sacrifice daily and nightly for him, and if people can’t understand that raising a child alone is not a cup of tea, so the freak what? The only people that matter are the people who care about and love me and my little family and support me, not try to tear me down. Ok, now moving on.  In the words of Beyonce, any questions?

This really hit home this week because the asswipe across the street has threatened me twice in a week. A grown ass “man” who doesn’t even know me bringing his ass outside to scream and curse at a single woman with a 20 lb dog. Am I supposed to respect this person who  is beating on his chest in front of someone who clearly couldn’t take him physically if I had to? But no worries, I’ve reported him to my HOA and I plan on filing a police report later today. It makes no sense that I can’t walk my damn dog without worrying if this lunatic is going to come outside acting crazy. After the first threat, I really was just pissed off. But after the second, I’m kind of alarmed because of stories like this. People are crazy!!!!! And with this guy, I feel like if you really think it’s okay to harass a single woman just because you think she doesn’t have anyone to back her up, YOU SUCK. And you’re not a man. You’re a punk ass bully.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, back to the regularly scheduled positive program. If you’re missing me, please like my Facebook page or follow my Twitter page–I post on there often. Just remember, the black community will NEVER be strong if men don’t cherish and respect women and vice versa. Women weren’t put here to be doormats–we were put here to complement our men and help build our communities up. So if all else fails, use the golden rule. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Happy Thursday!

BTW – the Hindu question in the picture means “Do you have any idea whose son I am?” (disclaimer: according to the internet!)
No Children Allowed

No Children Allowed

Last Sunday, I visited a church in College Park for the first time with a group of friends. I was excited until I tried to enter the sanctuary and was blocked by an usher who said, “We have a nursery.” I replied, “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” She then said, “We have a wonderful staff. I can take you back there.” I replied, “No thank you. He’s staying with me.” She said, “They really don’t like children in the sanctuary. You should consider using our nursery.” To which I said, “I’m not taking him to your nursery. I’m a visitor.” I can only imagine the look on my face at this point, so she finally said “Okay, we can give it a try.” I had my tongue set to say, “You know what… I can just go back home.” So as I sat next to my friends who were looking bewildered because I disappeared for a few minutes due to my detainment, I felt extremely uncomfortable and distracted. Any time Frederick even quietly babbled to his hands, I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was about to be escorted off the premises.

Just when I started feeling less anxious because we had made it through the sermon with no loud noises or crying, we stood up for visitor recognition, and the pastor decided to call me out in front of the entire congregation by telling me they have a nursery, although my baby was very sweet–maybe the sweetest they’ve ever had. Color me embarrassed. Thanks for making sure I absolutely do not feel welcome.

Here’s the thing… I’ve waited this long to take Frederick to church (except when he was a month old and I was still in my hometown surrounded by the church family I grew up with) because I wanted to make sure that we both were ready. Frederick is a wonderful baby who is really only fussy when he’s hungry. So I went to church armed with a couple of bottles, looking for a pew in the back of the sanctuary so that I could get up quickly if he started getting loud unexpectedly. I totally understand how distracting an unruly or upset child can be–I’ve been in front of a couple. But to expect a brand new visitor to leave her four month old with perfect strangers?? Not okay. And to basically make me feel like I’M the one with the problem because I’m not willing to?? Not cool. I’ve been to churches with nurseries–however, I’ve never been to one where the nursery is mandatory. I’m not comfortable with that one bit.

So here are just a few of the reasons that Frederick will be with me on Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future:

1. I would have to be a nursery worker myself or be very familiar with the nursery staff to leave my baby. It seems there is a new report on the news about abuse or molestation of children every week, and 50% or more of those reports involved someone at a church. Call me paranoid, but I’m not trying to take those chances with my son. Messing with kids can change the course of their entire lives. And messing with my child would change the course of mine–it’d take a whole lot of prayer to keep me from “putting them paws on em” <–#dontjudgeme, I watch reality TV, lol! But seriously, just say no to pervs who pretend to be saintly and trustworthy who prey on little kids.

2. I want my child to see me worshipping at church. He hears me singing my gospel songs all the time: when I’m trying to push through bad days, when I’m grateful for the life I have, or when I’m just making sure I still have the chops since I don’t use my talent very often. He sees me praying from time to time. He sees me reading the Bible for myself (although it’s usually online so he probably won’t actually identify what my physical Bible looks like… hmmm maybe I should pull it out sometimes as he gets older). And I read him Bible stories. I want him to see all of it because I’m his primary example.

3. Frederick needs to learn how to behave in different scenarios, and in church is one of them. He needs to see when it’s inappropriate to talk (how many adults do you know have side convos in the middle of the sermon? Precisely.), that he needs to be able to be still for a time period, and all the other things that come along with being at church or any other program where there are certain expectations. The only way to learn is to practice.

4. I hadn’t thought of it before reading this blog post about church nurseries, but the germs… I know Frederick is exposed to some at his primary childcare facility by virtue of just being around other people, but at least I know the procedures and precautions taken there.

So I’ll be writing a letter per my mom’s advice, and including this passage:

Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. Matthew 19:13-15

Fashion Forwarding

Fashion Forwarding

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a media guest at the Atlanta Swapnista Party, which was cosponsored by Pretty Girls Rock Dresses, a movement I support and has had me way more conscious of being girly girl. The premise behind the event is to take your gently used (or still new–you know some of us still have clothes with the tags on buried in the closet) and swap them out. I mean, why not? You never know what you can find. When you get done with an item, forward it to someone who may love it as much as you once did.

When I walked through the door, I finally met in person the infamously dress-wearing Dearroka. Then. I. Lost. My. Mind. Within 30 minutes, I had completely raided half of the black-owned stores that were vendors set up in this very cute Castleberry Hill space. First, I bought some ultra amazing beaded hoops from Nappy Rutz similar to these.

Then I walked to the next booth and bumped into some old friends that I hadn’t seen in years! What a pleasant rendezvous! (Hope your birthday was fabulous, Leah!!)

Nada Jo, Toya, and Leah

Back to the booth (since these ladies got some goodies, but didn’t quite lose their minds–I think because they knew what to expect and had already set a budget), I found these awesome clutches from Cupcake Diva Handbags. So very cute. I made myself choose though. And y’all know me. As much I love quirky, I love vintage even more, so I chose the 1940s clutch that I can not WAIT to show off.

Y'all I love this one because I'm a Word Feud beast! nadajo.com
1940s goodness, had to have it
The owner's nephew buttering me up... And then I got it. lol

Then, I made my way over to another booth,  Funky Flair Boutique, and was told that everything on the rack was 50% off. What did she tell me that for? I ended up with 3 garments and a pair of earrings from there. Here’s one. I can’t wait to rock this somewhere. Hot mama!

In the dressing room. Hubba hubba.

After that, I headed upstairs because I just couldn’t even tempt myself at any more booths. For a full listing of the vendors, click on the Swapnista flyer at the beginning of this post. LOTS of great stuff. Upstairs, there was a makeup artist and masseuse giving free pamper sessions. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the mimosas. Yum. Who can resist an innocent light libation on a beautiful afternoon? Finally, the moment we were all waiting for–the fashion show and swap session.

Now, I had no idea that WE were the fashion show. Luckily, before I left the house, I thought, “Self, if you’re going to a fashion event, you should make sure you’re fashionable.” Besides, I knew I’d see Dearroka, so I wanted to make sure I had on a dress! Who won the fashion show? You got it! Me! I’ll give part of the credit to that model walk I learned in 10th grade after I finally learned how to wear heels in time to participate in my first pageant. 😉

Since I don't have any full body pics, here are my shoes. I think they're another reason I won.

::update:: Here are more pics from the event!

Guess what I won! A gift package from Carson Bryce Trading Company, another vendor that I wanted to visit but was worried I wouldn’t have any self control. I LOVE my sugar scrub and soap. They smell soooo wonderful.

After that was the actual swap. People were called by the number on their wrist band, and they went upstairs and searched through the racks for clothing and handbags they wanted to take with them. Everyone seemed pretty happy with their selections.

Overall, this was a wonderful daytime spring event. I met new people, found some new businesses to stalk (and add to my Black Entrepreneurs list over there on the right side of the page – yes go look at it!), saw some old friends, spent a little cash, and strutted my stuff on the impromptu catwalk. I highly encourage you to check out the next Swapnista Party! You won’t regret it!

Be You

Be You

This song popped in my head while chatting with a friend today. It’s a song that’s actually a Stevie Wonder classic that I’ve always loved since the first time I heard it watching School Daze when I was a kid.

Butterflies begin from having been another
As a child is born from being in a mother’s womb
But how many times have you wished you were some other
Someone than who you are

Yet who’s to say that if all were uncovered
You will like what you see?
You can only be you as I can only be me

Flowers cannot bloom until it is their season
As we would not be here unless it was our destiny
But how many times have you wished to be in spaces
Time places than what you were

Yet who’s to say with unfamiliar faces
You could anymore be loving you that you’d see?
You can only be me as I can only be me

Now when I was a kid, I may have just liked it because the college queen was being crowned to it and the guy sitting on the steps was just crooning away. But now I like it because it’s something that I really strive to live by. So many of us spend so much time trying to go against the grain of whom we are instead of identifying then leveraging our talents and skills and personality traits to the fullest. We spend lots of time focused on what we (or actually, most ofthe time, others) perceive as flaws, instead of focusing on the essence of ourselves. God made us who we are on purpose. That’s not to say there aren’t things in life we don’t need to work on, but we need to just be. How do you even know what flaws you have if you really don’t know what makes you tick or understand what is really important to you and what’s not. Be who is naturally you. And let me be me.

I think there are several people out there that have issues with the fact that I. Am. Always. Me. I can’t even help it. It’s just not in my make up to even give a thought about being something I’m not. In fact, the couple of times that I’ve consciously tried, usually specifically just to make someone else feel at ease, it was a mega disaster. I know I’m quirky, I know I do based on what I feel, I know I say what’s on my mind, I know I can be hot or cold–which just so you know, is directly related to the fact that I’m either all in or pretty much completely unconcerned and I’m very passionate or nonchalant. I have dabbled in the gray, but it’s not often–usually it’s black and white. I’m okay with that. Why? Because I know it about myself, and I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to utilize the natural characteristics I have.

You know what’s really difficult for me? Dealing with people who won’t be themselves. It’s much much worse than dealing with people who are themselves and I just don’t agree with them or like particular attributes. But the genuine sincerity of just being commands my respect. We’re all different so we won’t always agree or even click, but at least we can have a real conversation. I’ve encountered this in dating because I’ve met a couple of guys who wanted me to direct them into being who I wanted them to be. Well, I can’t. I just want them to be themselves. If you being you + me being me = compatibility, then great! If not, that’s ok. It happens. But who wants to live a life of keeping up a mask to make someone else happy? Does that make you happy? If it does, well, … alrighty. But I know I wouldn’t be happy with someone imposing their ideas of whom I should be onto me, so I can’t do that to anyone else. Not on purpose anyway. Dig it?

I just really think that we really have to look within and appreciate our good qualities and recognize opportunities to drive your own life using those qualities as tools instead of always being worried to death about flaws that may or may not be flaws and letting them inhibit us from our dreams and goals.

Well that’s all I have for you today. 🙂  I’ll be back later. Until then, hopefully, I, while being me, will bump into you being you.