… By Whatever Means Necessary

Announcement: F*$k Donald Trump! His mis-calculated actions and lack of compassion, coupled with his ignorance and narcissism are not just deplorable, but also diabolical. I can’t wait until American citizens rise up in aggressive opposition of his heartless policies, cold leadership, and show the world our efforts to be the example that we set out to be.

Viva Obama! …. 1f620

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Deep Breath) Ok friends, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me focus on the real reason for this post:

 

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After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (sidenote: I’m still not convinced that Anthony committed suicide and highly suspect foul play, however, I will consider the possibility for the sake of this post) sent the world into shock, the general response was: “You just never know what people are going through”. This is true. You never know what someone else is dealing with, or the state of their mental and emotional health. Unless you’ve had in-depth conversations with that person, one should be slow to judge and not assume anything.

 
But another major lesson as a result of all this is: “Just because you have money does not mean you are happy.” I think this was the realization that shocked people the most. It’s one thing to understand that you never know what someone else is dealing with. However, the general consensus is that whatever you are dealing with in your personal life can be easily resolved with an increase of funds. For the majority of people, their problems are money-related, and they would love to have a fraction of the earnings of these celebrities if it would mean lessening the weight of their financial burdens.
For the majority of people, the thought was: “Why in God’s name would you kill yourself when you have SO MUCH!

 

 

They had everything: booming careers, beautiful homes, fancy cars, designer clothes, the freedom to travel, access to any and everything, and loads of cash. For the majority of people, it simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because we have been conditioned to believe that money equals happiness. Despite the countless suicides of various celebrities, their drug problems, and the public display of mental/emotional breakdowns that can come with fame, the public still believes that money is the key. However, it was something about the deaths of these two people, especially Anthony Bourdain, that seemed to strike a deeper cord with people. Reality was hitting hard. The nation was beginning to see the error of their thinking.

 

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Money is nice, but ultimately it will not give you the peace and the joy you deserve. I think what really gives peace and joy is knowing that you are loved and living out your purpose. This love includes a certain level of self-care that should be made a priority in everyone’s life. It is vital to take care of self. Maybe that means seeing a therapist, going on vacations, being with friends, going to church, engaging in your favorite hobbies, etc. We all must do what we can to keep ourselves full. Operating through this world can easily drain you and you must find a way to re-boot.

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I started thinking about how I implement self-care. One of the things I do, besides engage in favorite activities with close friends, is pray and meditate. I may not meditate on a strict schedule everyday, but I do make time during the week to get quiet and connect with myself. I also listen to music as a way to elevate my energy. Working out has become an important part of my self-care also. I’m not always excited about working out, but I can always feel a physical improvement afterwards. My body just feels better after a good workout. Keeping this blog is an additional part of my self-care. Having a platform such as this to express oneself, regardless of how many people read it, is always a great thing.

 
But the last big thing that I do for self-care is turn off the news. I know that it is important to stay informed, and I do stay abreast of the important events that have taken place. However, I’ve noticed that, especially during these past two years, my energy gets low after watching the news. Especially being African American and hearing report after horrifying report about another unarmed black person getting shot — R.I.P. Antwon Rose — or harassed by cops, and the growing outcry of bigots and racists who insist on “taking the country back” ; my emotional, and mental health must be protected. So I turn the news off. I realize that I have to keep myself full not just for me, but for the young people I teach and motivate. I refuse to pour fear and hopelessness into them. The world supplies them with enough of that. The responsibility I feel for my students can come with pressure but it also demands that I take care of myself so that I can be the best for them. This sense of responsibility has been a great incentive for me to maintain my health.

 
I urge you: Maintain your health friends. The world appears to be getting louder, and the need for introspection is getting greater. You must not allow the world to drown out your inner voice. Take a moment to get quiet and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for. Self-care is one of the pieces of armor you will need to maintain your sense of self in an ever changing world. Keep your peace …

… by whatever means necessary. 

 

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Dirty-Thirty Blues

 

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Sooo, I entered a new decade and turned thirty this year.

I wish I could say that I was excited about it, but I honestly wasn’t. There were a few reasons for my lack of enthusiasm:

1). I think, generally, in our society, to age and to be a woman is often seen as a bad thing. In Our country, a woman aging is the worst thing that could happen. As a woman ages she depreciates in value — for some. Therefore, as women, we do what we can to “stay young”. We exercise, eat certain health foods, we douse ourselves in make-up, get surgery, buy tons of anti-aging creams and anti-wrinkle creams — we do what we can. And to be honest, I felt that turning thirty was the jumping off point where I would start to depreciate in value, and the things that were once vibrant about me would begin to fade in the eyes of others — myself included.

2). I think I would’ve been more enthusiastic if I felt like I had accomplished certain things before I turned 30. I felt like I was not where I wanted to be professionally and financially, and that was a little disheartening. 

 

I felt myself sinking into an emotional and mental slump as I began to re-play self-critiscm, fear, and disappointment like a record in my brain. I knew that I had to change my self-talk fast before I ended up in tears, buried underneath my comforter. 

“Bethanee, stop. This is crazy!”, is what I told myself.

And it was crazy. I had to remind myself that I do have value and that aging is a privilege. There are plenty of people who did not live long enough to even make it to thirty. Especially to age while being a Black person is a great thing, seeing as how our lives are often tragically and unfairly cut short at the hands of someone else. To simply be Black, healthy and alive is a tremendous feat on its own. I think our society has to re-frame the horror story we have attached to “age” and look at it as part of our personal evolution that is beautiful and exciting. 

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And the beautiful thing is that I get to choose. I get to choose how I am going to perceive my age and aging altogether. I get to choose how I am going to feel about it. And I refuse to feel bad and fearful about getting older. I refuse to feel disheartened by something that is out of my control. Instead, I choose to remain excited for all the good that is to come. I choose to remind myself of my worth and my value and that, if anything, my value will be recognized because overtime I have attained skills and nurtured talents that others will appreciate. I am seasoned and have acquired a certain flavor that I didn’t have before… a flavor that only comes with time.
I choose to love and celebrate my body and my beauty at every stage, even when the rest of the world says that I shouldn’t.

I will celebrate.

I choose to be dope and fly up until my final days. I choose to take care of my body and my mind so that I can live my journey with good energy and vitality. I choose to look at aging as a blessing because there is only one other option — death. I am not ready to die any time soon, so my only other option is to live. And to live means to constantly evolve into another year. 

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In regards to being disappointed that I am not in a “certain place” by now, my response to that is, “Who said that I was supposed to be at a ‘certain place’ and where and what exactly is this place?” I think it’s great to have a vision for your future, but it’s also imperative to be flexible with your timeline. I was reminded that not everything goes according to our very strict and sometimes unrealistic, immature, and unforgiving timelines. I had to ask myself, “Is this timeline something that I wanted and designed, or is this timeline something that society (social media) said I should want and have by now?” I had to make sure that I was charting my course according to what was best for me and not anyone else. You must listen to your inner voice—the Higher Voice of God— and get clear.

Sometimes the things that you want for your future are subject to change as you grow. The things you thought you wanted prior, may not be what you want now. Give yourself the freedom to allow your vision to change and or expand. This is what I had to do. What I wanted in my 20’s is different from what I want now. Time has given me clarity.

 
Adjusting your timeline and your expectations can be challenging considering the societal pressure we all feel to succeed, but it has to be at the right time for me. And sometimes what I thought was the best time for me, was, in fact, not the best time for me. I have to be patient with myself. I am my worst critic at times, and I need to be more complimentary. Instead of being ashamed of what I feel has been a lack of progression, I must stop, look back, and remind myself of what I have accomplished thus far and be proud. I need to have faith that I am being guided wisely and that the work I have put in will pay off. 

 
God doesn’t introduce you to something until it’s your season — until you are ready. I can honestly say that I wasn’t as ready then as I am now. I have acquired more wisdom and knowledge. I have grown in self-awareness. I will forever be a work in progress, but I am better now than I was in my 20’s, and I can proclaim this, knowing it’s 100% true.

I’m simply better now than I was then.
And this is how I will look at aging.
I am wine. Time is on my side. 

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Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”

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Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 

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For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 

 

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A Reputation Scorned

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Ya’ll, I Love Netflix. From binge watching episodes of my favorite shows while eating talenti ice-cream from the container, to catching up on thought-provoking documentaries in the wee hours of the night…Netflix is “bomb”. With that said, I was tuned in to the conversation surrounding comedian Monique and her very public conflict with Netflix regarding the deal they offered her for a comedy special. They presented Monique with a pretty low, insulting deal, and she refused it. In the court of public opinion, everyone has various thoughts on how Monique should’ve handled the situation. Some were on her side while others were not. She was either respected for what she did or heavily criticized — which tends to be how the court of public opinion works. Whether or not you agree with what Monique did is not the focus of this blog post. The focus is, instead, on the importance of one’s reputation.

 

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Monique is a comedy legend with many accolades attached to her name, however, her public beef with members of Hollywood (i.e. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, Lions Gate) has tarnished her image in the public eye and to those who would consider working with her. This slander has impacted her livelihood and has made people think twice about doing business with her. Whether or not her tainted reputation is embedded with truth, I see her fighting against this negative image, but to no real avail — and I feel bad for Monique. Not to mention, simply being black and being a woman can be seen as two strikes against you. Sometimes it can be harder for a woman — especially a black woman — to re-claim her image in the public eye than it would be for a man.

 

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But all of this got me nervous about my own reputation and how others perceive me. I am an author, motivational speaker, a new entrepreneur and, of course, the concept of “branding” has been brought to my attention on a few occasions. In my eyes, your brand is your reputation and I started thinking about how I wanted people to view me. Granted, no matter what one does, everyone will not always have the best opinion of you. This is fine because you can’t please everyone at the risk of losing who you are. However, I started thinking about how a lie, a misunderstanding, or someone simply disliking you can have an impact on your reputation — if you allow it.
I feel like the best way to counter a negative opinion is to operate past it. You can’t always stop unfavorable chatter, but you can continue to showcase yourself in a way that best represents who you are. Eventually, the consistent image that you portray of yourself, coupled with consistent action, will strongly oppose all the non-sense that is said about you until it completely over-shadows the gossip. Your good reputation has to be stronger than the negativity, and only you are in control of that. I have to keep in mind that as I continue down this journey of entrepreneurship and motivation, the best thing I can do to thwart any potential slander is to remain true to who I am and be myself. I believe my inner light is equipped with enough brilliance to chase away any darkness.

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All Counsel is not Good Counsel: My review of “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish

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Like many people, I have come to love and adore Tiffany Haddish. Her authenticity, her simple joy in being herself is what makes her captivating, and it’s why we cheer for her and want her to win. She is real. She is one of us…a reflection of “everyday people”.
As a new fan, I was excited when her book came out and I readily went to Barnes and Noble to purchase my copy. I enjoyed learning about Tiffany’s story and how she ultimately triumphs and overcomes her hardships.
However, there was one part of the book that I found somewhat surprising and troubling. In this segment of her book, Tiffany shares a dialogue that she has with Jada Pinkett-Smith. Jada offers Tiffany advice on how to acclimate to her new fame — it was Jada’s advice that I found surprising and troubling.

Some of the dialogue goes as follows:

 

” When I was in LA, I posted a picture of myself on Instagram in a dress I thought was nice. Jada hit me up on text:

Jada: Get a better dress.

She sent me all these links to these designer dresses, but they’re like $500.

Tiffany: Jada I feel fly in my $85 dress.

Jada: Who made it Tiffany?

Tiffany: Who cares it looks good

…. She gave me three more Givenchys and a wallet…she left the price tags on everything.

Tiffany: Why are you leaving the prices on if you got it free?

Jada: So you know the value of what you’re carrying around. You got to carry yourself like you’re valuable, and you need to have valuable things. When this movie comes out, you’re going to be an A-list person. This is what I was talking about in that text I sent you.

Tiffany: What do you mean? I like my $85 dress.

Jada: Tiffany, you want to wear designer clothes, because people are going to be seeing you, you’re gonna be in the eye of the public and they’re gonna be like, What are you wearing? If you say Chico or Ann Taylor, that’s not going to work. You need to be wearing designers. It sets you apart from everyone else and puts you in a certain class level. If you want to be considered top-notch, you need to wear top-notch things.

Tiffany: But Jada, this stuff costs money. I appreciate your gifts, I really do, but I can’t buy this myself. I have to be smart with my money, and save it. I gotta stack my chips, not spend’em.

Jada: You absolutely should be smart with your money! If it makes you feel safe to stack your chips, and stack’em. Most people in Hollywood don’t do that, that’s smart…I’ll introduce you to some people, but really, all it boils down to using your fame to get the stuff…most places will give it to you for free, or very cheap.

…I definitely have a very rough mentality, a broke person’s mentality…I can’t be living that poor life anymore, I can’t be thinking that way…I want my money to make me money, but what Jada is teaching me is that how you look in Hollywood can often make you money. Opportunities in Hollywood will open up if you are sending the right signals about yourself. Fashion is part of how to send the right messages…By wearing cheap, low-class, knock-off stuff, I’m telling people that they can treat me low-class. That maybe I don’t belong on that higher level. I have to value myself properly.” 

 

I was disappointed after reading all of this. I believe Jada genuinely wanted to help and offer her advice, but I whole-heartedly disagree. Now, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with buying expensive clothing in addition to other items that you want and can afford. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with valuing yourself and knowing your worth. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with change and growing into your best self. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to look nice. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with shedding a “broke” mentality.
However, what you wear does NOT dictate your value. You don’t need a designer label to let the world know you are valuable. This is the mindset that is hurting our society: placing more value on what you can acquire rather than the person you are evolving into. This is why you have kids and people out here stealing and killing each other over meaningless expensive items because they feel like it adds value to them. It’s why you see people on Instagram holding stacks of money to their ear and showcasing expensive watches and cars, etc. thinking that these “top-notch” things somehow validates them. It’s completely backwards.

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Listen, Tiffany wearing an $85 dress never made you less valuable than someone wearing a $2,000 dress. It doesn’t mean that you are not “top notch”. Wearing a “cheap”/affordable dress does not translate as “low class”, unless you carry the mentality that you are somehow inferior. And what message is this sending to people who wear and can only afford “cheap” clothing? It teaches them to correlate their self-worth to their attire, and — although I’m sure that’s not the idea you meant to convey in your book — that is a damaging message for your readers to interpret.

No one even knows how much your clothes are or what designer labels you’re wearing unless you say it, otherwise they would have no idea and they probably wouldn’t even think about it. You command respect not by what you wear, but by how you carry yourself — that is what “high class” means. Similar to “low class”, “high class” is a mentality, it’s not a Givenchy bag, or a dress, it’s you. By respecting yourself, you command that same respect from others, regardless of the clothing brands you sport. YOU control how people will treat you based on your actions and your behavior. And after reading your book, Tiffany, I highly doubt that you would allow anyone to disrespect you or look down on you. You are already “high-class” because you respect yourself and you respect others.

As a comedian, the audience could care less about the designer label you’re wearing. All they care about is whether or not you can make them laugh — they care more about what you have to offer — your skill. Your Givenchy bag won’t save you from bombing on stage. Tiffany, you made it this far without all of that stuff.
F*%k Hollywood and their perceptions. If this past year has taught us nothing, it’s taught us that the Hollywood industry needs a spirit cleanse because it has way too many demons that its needs to be set free from. Don’t place so much weight on the opinions of an industry that has no moral or ethical foundation.

As an L.A. native, the people who I’ve run into that were really wealthy never flossed their diamonds or their cars or their clothing. At first glance, you wouldn’t even assume that they had lots of money. It’s the ones who are bragging about their money and what they wear that are the ones who are trying to impress and fit in — and they usually don’t have the money to keep up their appearances and their life-style. They are fake. They are plastic — man-made, homogenous, and lacking depth.

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Tiffany, you don’t fit in with Hollywood and that’s why we love you. You are better than Hollywood. You remind people — especially celebrities — of who they were before they became jaded and the fame stripped them of their authenticity, and they lost who they were while trying to be someone else — someone they deemed as being better than who they already were. Don’t get lost or fooled by the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. There is nothing wrong with looking good — we all enjoy looking nice and dressing up. However, you can look just as good in an $85 dress, as you would in a $2,000 dress. I would hate for you to lose yourself and become disconnected all in an attempt to fit in with people who don’t truly care about you. Remember that even those with the best intentions may not provide the best counsel, and you still have to pick and choose what advice will serve you best — this blog included. I hope that you continue to grow and evolve into the best version of yourself, but don’t forget who you are.

You’re a star Tiffany, you don’t need a label to remind people of that.
I wish you all the best.

 

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Keep Me Off Your Pedestal

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This blog is in response to a comment that an acquaintance made. I told him that I have made mistakes in my life just like everyone else has. He said, “I don’t see you making any mistakes.”

I am a Motivational Speaker. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pour love and encouragement, along with some personal advice, into the people to whom I speak. However, sometimes people forget that I need that same love and encouragement poured back into me as well. I think the assumption is that as a motivational speaker, I don’t need others to encourage me because I can motivate myself. I think the assumption is that we, as motivators, have everything figured out. Well, I will speak for myself when I say that I do not have everything figured out. If I did, I would be walking on water like Jesus did, but I can barely swim.

 

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The truth is that I am not perfect. Do not make room for me on any pedestal that you have carved out to place me on. As a matter of fact, don’t put anyone on a pedestal; this would be a horrible mistake. I am simply a human being who has decided to accept “the call” to share some life lessons based off of personal experiences. I am not perfect. I am a vessel — an imperfect vessel — allowing my voice and my imperfections to serve as road maps for others. Hopefully, by displaying my journey, I will help someone else along theirs. I am a human being, which means that I am susceptible to all the emotions that human beings experience: joy, doubt, fear, peace, worry, sadness, glee, confusion, anger, etc. And on those days when I am emitting low vibrations, even though I am aware of what tools to use to counter them, I still need love to be poured into me. I need words of affirmation that will dissipate those moments of doubt. Fortunately, I am blessed to have loving, supportive people in my life who are there to lighten my load on days when I feel too weighed down.

As a speaker/teacher, the best moments are when members from the audience come up to me afterwards and share how they related to what I said and how they appreciated the message. It’s the moment when a student comes up to me being extremely vulnerable and boldly exposes all of their insecurities in front of me. They trust that I will be gentle with their wounds, that I will not judge them for how they came to be so emotionally bruised, and that I will be the sounding board of approval and confirmation that they desperately want. Those moments, as overwhelming as they can be sometimes, lets me know that what I said resonated and is relevant to what they are experiencing. It reminds me that I am here to use my gift to continue serving others — that me being honest about my growing pains aides others in understanding that they are not alone and that they can/will move past the stages and into something much better and much brighter.
It’s during these short exchanges that we affirm each other, we pour into each other and lift our vibrations higher.

 


So, no, I have not mastered life just yet, I am still learning. But as I learn, I share. I am operating as a vessel that is allowing God to use my voice and my imperfections to deliver a powerful message of self-love.

 

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Come to a FREE All Women’s Panel discussing Entrepreneurship!

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I have the wonderful opportunity to sit on a panel with these wonderful, creative, business women and share my personal journey of entrepreneurship. The goal of the evening will be to inform and inspire other women who are interested in going into business for themselves. It will also serve as a good networking opportunity!

Please come out! We would love to see you there! It’s free, but don’t forget to RSVP and get your ticket!

For My Fellow Creatives …

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I was on my way to one of my favorite places – The Coffee Bean – to meet with a new co-worker who was rapidly becoming a good friend of mine. My friend’s name is Jimmy — he is a young man with an old soul. I swear after talking to Jimmy, you would think that he has lived a few lives already lol. In addition to working for the same organization as me, Jimmy is a creative and has just developed his own Vlog on Youtube called P.O.C. Today (People of Color Today) which is dedicated to shining light on the various stories and perspectives of people of color in America. He is someone who is using his time to focus on those people who would normally go unrecognized and unheard.

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Jimmy and I start talking and the conversation flows from one thing to the next and soon we start talking about relationships. He tells me that it’s important that he gets into a relationship with someone who understands he doesn’t have a regular 9am – 5pm job, but that he is a creative and that the work he is doing is important to him. Jimmy explains that there are some people out there who question and negatively judge what he does. I can attest to these types of responses considering what I do for a living : writer, speaker, teacher. When you choose an occupation that is “unconventional” it can be difficult for some people to understand. The first question that comes to their mind is, “Well how are you going to make a living doing that?!” It can be especially difficult for creatives to walk through the trenches of other people’s doubt.

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But I reminded Jimmy – and myself — that we are visionaries. As visionaries we can’t allow the thoughts and opinions of others who are not visionaries to weigh us down. Also, we should not become upset or get offended by those comments because they are not the visionaries and it is not their fault that they can’t see what is so clear to us. Those type of people have to see to believe, but creatives see the vision first and then manifest it. Our only role as creatives is to manifest our vision and provide the nay-sayers with what they initially had trouble seeing and believing. As artists we have a very important role in society because, not only do we reflect what’s going on in our communities, but we bring life, culture, enlightenment and beauty to the world. We shape the world. With our music, poetry, dance, paintings, vlogs, cuisine, books, fashion, designs, podcasts, movies, etc. we revive and rejuvenate those who come into contact with our art, and the creative energy and foresight that we have been blessed with has a ripple effect and can serve as a catalyst for positive change.

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So to all my creatives, hold on tight to your vision and do what you can to bring it to life. To deny the expression of the creative energy within you would be to deny a major part of who you are. I’ve met creatives who stopped creating in order to do something more “professionally appropriate” and they were so unhappy and unfulfilled. It would also deny the specific gift that God has given you, and the gift that was given was not for you to conceal but to reveal for the elevation of humanity. Your gift is to be used to serve others. Now get up and go out and let your light shine, bring someone out of the dark.

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Club Good Body

 

Like a lot of people. I enjoy a good work out…a nice blood-pumping, sweat-drenching, funk-inducing workout. My body just feels better afterwards. And I’ve tried different types of workouts: Pole dancing, core-power yoga, beach runs, etc. However, it had been a while since I had been in an actual gym. My friend invited me to go along with her to her gym where I could get a guest pass and utilize the facility for a few days. I really enjoyed it and highly considered joining. But there was another gym closer to where I lived that I wanted to check out first.

This gym – I will refer to it as “Club Good Body” and will decline from providing the real name – is well known in Los Angeles and has multiple gym sites and thousands of members. I had seen employees of this Club at random places with tables, chairs, and a big banner hungrily trying to gain membership by stopping people as they walked in and out of stores. I would always walk past them briskly while shouting out that I was not interested.

But, on this day, I decided to get a guest pass and check it out. So, I walk into “Club Good Body” and tell the young lady at the welcoming desk that I have a guest pass. She tells me to wait while a representative comes to speak with me. Immediately I’m thinking, “Damnit!”. I didn’t feel like sitting in a chair while their representative asked me questions. But I told myself to chill and suck it up, and that it was just part of the process and that it wouldn’t last long.

I was wrong. It did last long…too long..nearly 40 minutes long. My representative — we’ll call him Jose — was a nice guy; however, his inquiries are what led me to never return to that gym. It was an interrogation: He asked me what my address was, What I did for a living, Where my job was located, How long I had worked at my job, What was my purpose in coming to their gym, when was the last time I had been to a gym, why did I leave my last gym, what was my current work-out regime, was I eating healthy…I mean, DAMNIT Jose!! SLoW Your RoLL! I JUST WANT TO WORK OUT! What’s with the interrogation?! I told him I felt like I was filling out a bank loan application instead of a simple gym guest pass, and I asked him why he needed to know and write down all this information.

Jose was trying to make a sale and gain my membership, and was filling out an application for me without me actually saying that I wanted to become a member. But the tactics that were used to make this sale are the same tactics that many people use : Fear and misinformation.
Jose said that he wanted to weigh me and calculate my body fat. His calculations determined that I was “average” for my height and age but that I was not at my “ideal” weight just yet and told me how many pounds I would have to lose. Then he turns his computer screen towards me because apparently “Club Good Body” provides their potential members with a visual of various body types so as to “help” them understand what condition their body is in. So on the screen was a computerized image of a woman. They had 6 or 7 images of this woman next to each other – similar to a scale – starting with the image of the thinner or “ideal” body shape and going all the way up to the image of the “obese” or bigger body shape.

Now, as I had mentioned, Jose said that I was “average”. And you would think “average” meant that I would land in the middle of this visual scale. Wrong. According to them, “average” meant that I was second to last on this visual scale, which placed me right before the “obese” image/category. Did I mention that this visual scale is color coded? And the “average” category has a yellow and red color code and “red”, of course, means that you are in the danger zone.

Needless to say this visual scale was complete bullshit. Not only did I look NOTHING like this “tainted, computerized image of a woman, but I’m NOWHERE near Obese. Thank God I can think for myself and recognize a blatant lie when it’s right in front of my face. But the sad thing is that so many women still have blinders on and cannot see the truth, they can’t see what’s real.

By using this scale, “Club Good Body” feeds off the insecurities of women by serving them a distorted image of a body that #1 is not even real, and that #2 does not mirror their shape accurately.The focus should be on living a healthy life, and not fooling women into believing that “good health” or a “healthy body” comes in just one image. These representatives make women become so fearful that they are not “ideal”, that the women seek the help and the membership of their club. And the color coding only increases this because of the psychological connections we make about colors: Green(ideal) = Good, Yellow (average) =Slow Down/Caution, Red (obese) = Danger/Stop.

Those tricky bastards. I told Jose that his scale was wrong and that this image didn’t reflect my body type at all. I told him that they needed to rethink this part of the interrogation because if I was someone who had a negative self-image, then this visual scale had the potential to sink me lower emotionally and mentally. Jose chuckled bits of nervous laughter, unsure of how to proceed.

On top of that, Jose says, “Also, here at “Club Good Body” we can provide you with a Trainer. The young lady behind me, Meagan, would be your trainer.” Meagan comes over to introduce herself and – not to be rude – but Meagan didn’t appear to be in the best physical condition to give me ANY advice.

And after all this, Jose says, “So which membership plan would you be interested in?” I said, “Jose I came to work-out. I don’t even know if this is where I want to be, because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to get a feel for this place and see whether or not I want to return.”

Jose says, “Oh yea! Of course! Go work-out and we’ll talk when you’re done.” What more did we have to talk about??!! And I had to leave my I.D. with him before I could go work-out, so I had no choice but to stop by his table before I left.

I worked out for 20 minutes before I decide to leave. Didn’t even break a sweat. All the treadmiills were taken, along with the other floor equipment that I wanted, plus I was on a time schedule, and that interrogation left me mentally drained and irritated. I bounced. Jose was surprised to see me return so soon. I told him I was leaving. He tried to get me to stay, but I told him I had run out of time and patience. He asked about the membership and I told him my plan was not to sign-up for membership today, just to utilize my guest pass. Jose could tell I was over it, so he quickly prints my guest pass and tells me to come back tomorrow and give them another try.

I didn’t go back. Instead, I decided to return to my neighborhood runs for now until I find a better gym. At least while running in my neighborhood I am free of distorted images and nagging sales people. I may not have the fancy equipment, but at least with my neighborhood runs I am reminded of what is real. I am real. I am beautiful. And my body is fucking awesome.

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Check Out My Interview with the Great Black Speakers Bureau!

Check out my Interview with the Great Black Speakers Bureau, where I discuss my  passion for motivational speaking and the various topics I speak on. I also discuss my book, Quarter-of-a-Century Life Lessons, and the personal issues that I, along with so many other of my peers, faced which led to me to write the book. If you haven’t ordered your copy, go on Amazon today! And if you have already read the book, please go on Amazon and write a review.

And shout out to Lauren who interviewed me! I enjoyed our conversation.