Posts tagged ‘Black. White’

What Works for Me

Seen on Twitter:

I want a relationship that works, or I don’t want one at all. The alternative is much too painful.

 A tiny Tweet, yet it speaks volumes. I’m pretty sure most of us not only concur, we can relate. It’s a simple concept; after all, who doesn’t want a relationship that works? Unfortunately, problems creep into our relationships because oftentimes we hold different ideas regarding what “works.”  A happy medium can be hard to achieve if one party in the relationship doesn’t understand that the best way to receive is to give. Having a relationship that “works” also doesn’t mean that we get to have our way at our partner’s expense. The goal of any compromise should be win-win, not win at all costs.

I’ve also found out the hard way that developing a relationship that works isn’t achieved simply because each person defined their boundaries and limitations, or established must-haves. It also isn’t achieved because we drew lines in the sand regarding those behaviors and situations we designated as deal breakers. For instance, what if one person decides (for whatever reason) to totally disregard everything you both spent time and energy to carefully create? It’s like using “time out” as a disciplinary tactic in child rearing: What happens if your kid decides he won’t go in time out?

Time out? Make me . . . .

I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to have a relationship that works, both persons have to be what they want in the relationship. Here’s a primer:

  • Be honest. That means be truthful – not only in what you say, but in who you are. My personal philosophy for entering a relationship is “what you see is what you get.” No pretending, no sugarcoating – I am who I am and it is what it is. I do this to assure you that you’re not meeting Dr. Jekyll, only to have Mr. Hyde show up later.
  • Be smart. In this instance, I’m not saying you have to be a Rhodes Scholar (though having a brain – and knowing how to use it – really helps. Just being honest). Being smart also means that even though you recognize and accept you imperfections, you’re smart enough to not use them as excuses for dumb behavior.
  • Be a team player. Even though that expression is tired and worn, the concept isn’t. Team players have enough sense to know what to do to get along with someone, namely, me. You + Me = Team Us. That means we both do what it takes to sink the basket, score the touchdown, make the goal, make the birdie or an eagle, roll a strike, and land a 20 pound bass. A striped one.
  • Be a lover. Wait, I’m not talking about that kind of lover  . . . (well, on second thought, I am; it’s just that I’m not talking about that right now. This page is rated PG-13, and I have to keep it on the level that my Mother can read it. Stop trying to confuse me. Ahem. Cough).
  • Be a lover. Be willing to love me the way I want to be loved. Please speak my love language,  because I promise I’ll speak yours. There’s no need to complain about our differences; instead, let’s make it a point to celebrate them. You being from Mars and me hailing from Venus is a good thing.     
  • Be fair. Don’t take my kindness for weakness, or try to use it to your advantage. I don’t know how to give less than 100%, so when I’m in, I’m in. Don’t allow me to keep giving 100% when you know you intend to only give 30%, or when you know my 100% is no longer what you want.                                                                                   Insert —–>Just man up and tell me<—— here.
  • Be a promise keeper. I cannot stress this one enough. If this seems like a no brainer, then let me introduce you to the scores of people who have found themselves on the receiving end of broken promises (sadly, ASwirlGirl would be included in that score). One of the best ways you can ensure you keep your promises is to be very judicious in making them. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed, strong armed, cajoled, or otherwise persuaded into making promises, and in like manner, don’t use these tactics to extract them. If you happen to learn that you will have to break a promise you made, then be big enough to say so. Articulate. Communicate. Talk, for goodness sakes.  In other words, Just man up and tell me.  Trust me, any disappointment you think I will feel will certainly be offset by your honesty.  

I’ve taken a lighthearted approach to this relationship business, but I dare not overlook the seriousness of the portion of the statement that said “the alternative is much too painful.” Yes. Being lied to is painful. Trying to deal with someone who refuses to push himself creatively or intellectually is painful.  Sustaining a relationship with someone who believes there is an “I” in TEAM is painful. Enduring willful, deliberate acts of unfairness is painful. Recovering from the hurt stemming from broken promises with no reason why IS. PAINFUL.   

I believe life is meant to be shared with family and friends. Being in a relationship with a special someone as you make life’s journey is even better. Most of us want to be with someone who agrees on, lives up to, and shares in the physical, spiritual, and emotional investment required for the journey. Someone who knows and understands that we each need to be that person to the best of our ability. Someone who doesn’t expect us to get it right every time yet appreciates the fact that we’re going to try. Someone who will give what they want to get. That’s what works for me.     


Join in the fray: Tell me, what “works” for you?   

June 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM 9 comments

Love Never Fails

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)

The prayers, words of encouragement, and affirmations have been pouring in, and I just want to take a moment to say “Thank you!” I am in the throes of this difficult exam but I am determined to stay the course. Passing this exam is the last major hurdle before moving on into the steps for preparing and writing my dissertation – I’ve come too far and through too much to stop now!

I was just whispering a brief prayer of thanksgiving for the love I am blessed to have in my life, and then the song Tell Him by Colbie Caillat popped on in my iPod. This song was written by Lauryn Hill and for those of you who don’t know; it is a take on a passage in the Bible from 1 Corinthians 13, which is also known as “The Love Chapter.”

A portion of the passage is provided above, but here are some highlights from Lauryn’s song:

Let me be patient let me be kind
Make me unselfish without being blind
Though I may suffer I’ll envy it not
And endure what comes . . .

Now I may have faith to make mountains fall
But if I lack love then I am nothin’ at all
I can give away everything I possess
But am without love then I have no happiness
I know I’m imperfect
and not without sin
But now that I’m older all childish things end

I’ll never be jealous
And I won’t be too proud
Cause love is not boastful
And love is not loud

Now I may have wisdom and knowledge on Earth
But if I speak wrong then what is it worth?

To me, so much of what 1 Corinthians 13 says speaks to relationships.  Of course when we think of “relationship” we often think of our S/O, and it certainly applies. But this passage (and song) is so much broader than that – it speaks to our relationships with people: how we interact with them and how we treat them. This love thing is a two-way street, and everyone in the equation is tasked with the responsibility of making sure they love each other right. And you know what? That “rightness” means not focusing so much on what you do to me and how you love me, but how I love YOU.

Focusing on how I love you gives me the ability to first realize and recognize my imperfections, and that I need love and tolerance just as much as you do. Next, focusing on how I love you enables me to do what the passage says: Be patient, be kind; not boastful or proud. It helps me to not dishonor or mistreat someone – and if I am mistreated, to not keep a record of the wrong that has been done to me, but to forgive and let it go. It helps me to always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere.

In other words, it helps my love to never fail.

When SM and I made the big decision to date exclusively with the intent of marriage, we both had to take a long, hard look at the potential impact our relationship might project on our family and friends. Yes, the decision was ours to make, but we had to be realistic and decide if we cared enough to continue loving each other in spite of any obstacles we faced. I remember telling SM that the only person who could change the way I felt about him – was him. When I love, I love. Period. The end. (And yes, he made the same affirmation to me).

I believe if more couples approach their relationship armed with a “my love will never fail” mentality, they would be able to withstand any storm life sends their way.

[Sidebar: Ahhh . . . so much for my not engaging in any “heavy thinking!”]


Here are three versions of the song for you to enjoy!      


(Watch for a glimpse of Michelle-O in this one!)



Join in the fray:

Who/what is your “unfailing love?”

May 26, 2011 at 3:53 PM 2 comments

The Hair Thing (Part 2)

So in my last blog I discussed the cultural differences in men’s preferences in sporting facial hair. In American Men and Identity: Contemporary African-American and Latino Style López-Gydosh and Hancock (2009) stress the importance of hair, beards, and mustaches to men in both African American and Latino cultures. SM was willing to grow a mustache and beard to let me see what he looked like (GOR-GEOUS!!!!). He didn’t mind growing it, but beards and mustaches are not conducive to his professional environment. Even though I totally understood, I was a little bummed that he’d have to cut his beard at a moment’s notice.

Once I began investigating and recognizing the intrinsic influence culture wields on an individual’s thinking and preferences, I better understood why I thought a man’s facial hair made him more desirable or even sexy. Lesson learned. SM and I are now more attuned to what we call “culturalisms.” We’re having fun learning even more about each other (and ourselves) as we discover and identify the culturalisms that influence our thinking.

So, on to the million-dollar question:

What does SM think of my hair???

Well, fortunately for SM (and me) I have no facial hair!

[Sidebar: I am FDLOL! Come on, you should have known that was coming! Corny? Of course!]

For those readers who may be unaware, natural hair is undergoing a renaissance among Black women. A Black woman’s hair is considered “natural” when she adds no chemicals to change the texture. In other words, she leaves it the way it grows out of her scalp  – be it fine, thick, kinky, coiled, curly, dense – you name it. Generally speaking, White women use a “perm” to make their straight hair curly. Conversely, Black women use a “perm” to make their curly or kinky hair straight.

Now, when it comes to a Black woman, wearing your hair natural doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sport an afro. Au contraire! Those same fine, thick, kinky, coiled, curly, dense textures provide us a vast range of hair styles we can wear based on an equally vast range of styling techniques. Braid-outs, twist-outs, knot-outs, puffs, coils, curls, and locs abound – and those are just a FEW of the available styles!

In other words, I can wear my fine, naturally curly, shoulder length hair blown out and flat-ironed one day, and in a curly twist-out the next day. When I asked SM what he liked and even preferred, he said,

“Oh, I like your hair straight, but I really like your hair curly.”

[Sidebar: Yes, he put special emphasis on the “really.”]

SM smirking

SM not only likes the way it looks, more important, he says he likes the way I act and seem to feel when I wear my hair in its natural, curly state. He says that I seem more relaxed and carefree. He says he also notices changes in my clothes, jewelry, and makeup.


According to SM, when I wear my hair curly I also use very minimal makeup (except for bright lipstick) and wear brighter colored clothing coupled with bolder, funkier pieces of jewelry.

“When your hair is curly you have more ‘swag,’” he says. “And I LOVE it!”

[More “swag?” Really????]

I thought about what he said, and came to the conclusion that he’s right. I know I have a more “take me as I am” attitude when I’m in my natural, curly glory. (And it helps that I don’t have to worry about the humidity level or whether it’s raining outside – the more moisture in the air, the curlier I get).  Wearing my hair curly also makes me feel a bit more “Afrocentirc,” if you will, hence the bolder, funkier jewelry and brighter colors. Is this a result of cultural influences? Perhaps. I think mainly it’s more a sense of feeling freer to be myself and express my personality.

I also believe when I say “more Afrocentric” what I really mean is more “me-centric.” Hence, what I learned from the whole Part 1/Part 2 hair thing is that SM and I each enjoy each other’s looks in surprising ways and for different reasons. Ultimately, we support each other in the expression of our cultures and who we are individually, whether we’re mustached or clean-shaven, straight or curly. Our hair thing works in our favor – and that’s what counts.


López-Gydosh, D., & Hancock, J. (2009). American men and identity: Contemporary African-American and Latino style. The Journal of American Culture, 32(1), 16+. Retrieved from Questia database:

Join in the fray:

Curly or straight? Tell me about your hairy situation!

April 8, 2011 at 6:15 PM 2 comments

A Dog’s Life

Hello everybody! Last week MiMi finally mentioned me. I know she did, because I’ve been keeping up. She’s talked about her friend Zee and some guys she went to college with, and she’s talked incessantly about her SM *_*

(When you see me go *_* it means I’m either rolling my eyes or giving you a blank stare).

MiMi talked about all of them, but had yet to mention me. My name is Nibbles, and until SM came along I was probably the most important guy in her life. (Well, other than her Dad. Or her brothers. Or her roommate/godchild, my Uncle Gus). It’s not enough for her to get engaged to SM – no, she has to write about him every week. *_*

Well, since MiMi finally decided to at least mention me, I decided it’s time for me to tell my side of the story. (By the way, her name is A Swirl Girl to you, but she’s MiMi to me. A dog’s gotta have something. Get over it.)

As I said, my name is Nibbles. I’m MiMi’s little Shih Tzu puppy. (I’ll be eight years old in November so technically I’m a dog, but MiMi tells everybody I’m just a “little bitty baby.” I would have a problem with that, but it helps her defend me when I get in trouble with Uncle Gus, or when I’m being deliberately rude and bark at SM. *_*

Here’s a picture of me:

Like I said, I was the light of her life until SM came along. Let me tell you about THAT:

We were at home and life was fine. It was just MiMi, Uncle Gus, and me when all of a sudden I noticed that MiMi was on the phone a whole lot. I mean, a whole lot. A WHOLE LOT. You see, MiMi is in school and she rarely has time to talk a whole lot to anyone other than Nana and Pop and Uncle Gus and her BFF Auntie Jacque and Auntie K and sometimes her friends Karen and Zee, but all of a sudden she was talking to this SM character A WHOLE LOT. I don’t even know when she met him, but suddenly she was talking to him ALL THE TIME – sometimes really late at night when she should have been doing her homework. I really didn’t like it because when they talked he would make her laugh really LOUD – so loud that she would wake me up and scare me! I mean, what guy is THAT funny? I hear that girls really like guys who make them laugh, but really???

I could tell MiMi liked him a lot because she spent more time talking to him than she did anyone else. She even got this special ring tone for him on her phone so she would immediately know when he was calling! Man, she picked this song that’s just as dorky as I bet he is:


I mean, why not pick a real song, like What’s My Name by Rihanna, Pretty Girl Rock by Keri Hilson, or even Moment 4 Life by that scary Nicki Minaj girl?


Me and Uncle Gus watch BET when MiMi isn’t home, and they play a lot of cool songs and music videos that she probably wouldn’t approve of . . . .

Um, have you met E.L.M.O.?

Anyway, they talked and talked and talked and then the next thing I knew he was coming over!!!! To our house!!! To meet Uncle Gus and take MiMi out!!!!  On a DATE!!!!!


When he got here, I barked and barked and BARKED! He tried to warm up to me and pet me and stuff, but I wasn’t having it. Do you know when he came over for their first date he actually had a bag of gourmet dog treats in his hand???? Most guys would have brought flowers or something, but SM knew how much MiMi loves me so he brought something for me. Man, you would have thought he came with three dozen roses! I could tell he scored a lot of brownie points with that move. I heard MiMi tell Auntie Jacque about it later, and she was telling her that when SM did that it demonstrated how “sensitive” and “in tune with her” he was. *_*

What a sell out! I mean, what guy does that????


MiMi let him open the bag and give me the treats. Man, those treats smelled sooo good . . . . beef and cheese! My favorites! I didn’t want to, but I let him pet me so I could eat some of those treats. And yes, he really was a dork, just like I thought. He kept saying, “Here Buddy! Come on, Buddy!” I wanted to keep barking at him and tell him, “My name is NOT Buddy, my name is NIBBLES!” but I let him make it because the treats were so good.

And did I tell you how he looks? He’s very tall, with this pale skin that’s the same color as some of the people at that place where I go to get my shots or get groomed. He wears nice clothes, I guess, but he sure doesn’t dress as good as my Uncle Gus – my Uncle Gus has style! I would tell you about how SM can’t dress but my Uncle Gus can tell you better than me. Sometimes Uncle Gus makes jokes and teases MiMi about SM’s lack of fashion sense. MiMi just says “fashion isn’t everything” (but she still cracks up laughing)! Sometimes Uncle Gus really gets on a roll making jokes about the way SM dresses and MiMi laughs so hard she can’t breathe. (I think she’s planning to write a blog about it.)

When SM brought her home from their date I decided to bark like I was losing my mind. I didn’t want her to let him kiss her good night so I barked and barked and BARKED. I think I rattled her and I sure ran him off – he was down the steps and on the sidewalk before she could say “Hitch!”

In spite of all that SM still came back the next night. Not only that, he comes back all the time! He keeps bringing me really good treats, takes me out for nice long walks, and even picks up after me when I potty. He seems determined to prove to MiMi that he likes me, and even tries to act like he wants me around. He keeps saying really corny stuff to her like “I love you and I love Nibbles too,” and “Nibbles is ‘our’ dog.”


WHAT. EVER! MiMi was mine first and I’m gonna keep it that way! I’m not gonna roll over (well, I do, but only ‘cause I like having my tummy rubbed). Ahem. I’m not gonna roll over for some no-dressing-pale-face-dorky-smart-guy!

Gourmet treats or not, I’m not gonna accept him!


Watching BET with Uncle Gus has really paid off, because I learned about something called “blocking.” I try to squeeze in between SM and MiMi every time he comes over and they sit on the sofa, and when he starts kissing her you’d better believe I make high-pitched whining noises. That stops them every time, because MiMi just laughs and laughs and laughs and thinks it’s really funny when I do that. I notice that SM doesn’t laugh nearly as hard as MiMi does, so I know it must be working.

I forgot to tell you this: There’s a Bark Park across the street and one time SM walked me over there. I pulled a fast one on him and jerked away from him when we were crossing the street. My plan was to run down the street as fast as I could and shake him up but good. Man, when I jerked away my leash popped out of his hand and I took off running so fast I thought he was gonna faint! It was a great plan . . . except that I almost got hit by a car. That wouldn’t have been good for him, and it definitely wouldn’t have been great for me.



Even though so far all my plots to run SM off haven’t worked, I’m gonna keep planning and plotting and barking. Eventually I’ll figure out how to get rid of him. Man, I was in some high cotton before SM came along, but when he’s around I just live a dog’s life! Can any of you out there help a puppy out?

Join in the fray:

Make a comment and give Nibbles some ideas!

March 4, 2011 at 6:39 PM 4 comments

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