New Music Friday: Cardi-B x Be Careful

Cardi-B released her most recent single “Be Careful” and many consider it to be a musical warning shot at her cheating fiance.

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I don’t know the ins and outs of Cardi’s relationship, but what I hear in this song is a pain all too familiar. One that my friends be they Ph.D. or No-D, middle class or no cash, a pain that Black women everywhere can empathize with:

Heartbreak, embarrassment, and frustration(s).

Cardi’s song is an ode to the ways in which Black women continue to uplift and support Black men only for our love, labor, and affection to be abused in favor of women who “don’t even know your [his] middle name”. Whether this is based on her own experiences or not, the story she’s telling is one many of us have had to and may continue to have to deal with.

It’s gone hurt me to hate you, but loving you’s worse… – Cardi

I would almost never tell a woman to leave a man because if she leaves and misses him, it’s on me; and if she stays and he continues to hurt her, she knows I don’t think he’s deserving. But my advice in the larger scheme of things is this:

Stop chasing these men, sis.

Men who are unwilling to abide by the commitments they sought are not worth an early grave, gray hair, and weight gain (among other stress indicators) you may have to endure. You should NEVER have to ask a man to be careful with you–he should already want to be careful… Especially if you’re the reason “he acting out now he got an audience”.

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In a world where women have more opportunities than ever in their careers and along the lines of financial independence, it is perfectly reasonable to be more selective in your love life. It is also okay to want companionship and support of a partner. But we as women must not come to internalize our worth as tied to a man. Your value is not tied to a man who loves you, a man’s love for you, and how much you’re willing to withstand public and private humiliation. By virtue of your Black womanhood, you are worthy.

You.

Are.

Worthy.

I appreciate the vulnerability and honesty Cardi put into this song. It’s also a pain I’ve come to work through more recent than I care to admit… But you deserve better. She deserves better. WE deserve better.

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Check it out Cardi’s latest song on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music!

The Insightful Client: Getting the Most out of Therapy

One of the best things about engaging in therapy for yourself is having a trusting relationship with a person that can hold the mirror up for you, to help you see things that  are emotionally eclipsed in your own awareness.

However, if you’re a client like me, you probably already have a list of things prepared to talk to your counselor about before you enter the room. You’ve thought about the things that went well, the things that didn’t, and all sorts of feelings/happenings that occurred since your last session. This list of “things” may serve several purposes, like helping you to optimize your time (and MONEY!) in session, to follow through on homework assigned by your counselor, or it may serve as a coping mechanism, to alleviate some of the generalized anxiety that you may experience related counseling.

 Insight, or a feeling of heightened personal awareness, is usually achieved through thoughtful, probing questions and vulnerable dialogue with your partner-in-healing. Achieving insight during and/or after your session can be liberating, challenging, and/or just plain hard (and sometimes, it feels like all of these at the same time). While the process of gaining insight is extremely powerful in therapy, for folks who are already(somewhat) insightful prior to beginning the therapeutic process, counseling may feel a little different.

For example, insightful clients may already know why they do/feel/speak/react in certain ways, which can be half of the battle in session (and afterwards). If you find yourself in this space, PLEASE know that you are NOT alone. I have found that (in my own healing) and in doing healing work with others, that folks who are insightful prior to counseling sometimes talk themselves out of going, because they feel that they don’t really need it. “If I already know how/why I feel/act this way, why am I here? What else is there to gain?”

Well, for all of my insightful clients, here are some tips from one client (and counselor) to another:

1. Check-ins are healthy.

One of the biggest myths that keeps people (particularly Black women who are used to self-sacrificing) from seeking therapeutic services is feeling that, “nothing is really wrong. Someone who really needs this space should have it”. Well, just think about purchasing your dream vehicle. If you have a really good mechanic, they’ll probably tell you to bring your (dream) car in at specified time periods throughout the year, so that they can check your car for any minor issues before they become bigger concerns. Hear me loud and clear, sis: Your mental wellness is so much more valuable than any vehicle. Please know that you DO NOT have to be in crisis or experiencing present-trauma in order to get your healing.

2.  Be open to other interpretations.

If you are already insightful, you probably have a clear understanding of your motivations, emotions, reactions, etc. However, your counselor may have a different (i.e., challenging, alternative) perspective and/or interpretation. Try to remain open to your counselor’s insights, as it is their job to help you heal yourself.

3. Share your insights and OWN them.

Don’t be afraid to tell your counselor what you think/feel/know is going on with you. For Black women, a huge piece of this is being able to name, define, and own our own experiences, without someone else (i.e., society, co-workers, supervisors, professors) telling us how we should feel, think, speak, or react.  Remember, YOU are the expert of your own experience and NO ONE can take that away from you.

4. Validation and affirmation are meaningful goals.

Sometimes, we just want somebody to talk with, hear our stories, and validate us. There is nothing at all wrong with wanting/needing to feel affirmed in your thoughts, feelings, and/or experiences. Don’t deny yourself the right to personal affirmation, sis. If you feel that you need/want to talk to someone (and have the access/means to do so), do it. You are so worth it!

Are you the insightful client? Have you experienced any of the challenges that I shared here? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

When Life Happens…

At the start of my doctoral journey, one of my professors had a real, raw, and relevant conversation with my cohort. It started with her simply saying “Life Happens” and she paused, looked at us and repeated, “Life Happens”.  She talked about her stories of seeing divorces, deaths, sickness, job shifts, etc. happening to students on this journey and she finished it by saying “how you handle it and what you decide to do with it up to you”.  We heard her but I’m not sure we were truly listening; that is until once of our “family” (cohort) members told us that her mother passed unexpectedly.

What I’m about to post couldn’t be made up if I tried but this is what happened to my “family”.

At the start of our second year our first “family” member lost her mom and after the first year of losing so many cohort members, we had grew close. We thought about her and if she would push through or step away since a few weeks went by and we didn’t see her. Finally, she came in and we had cards and flowers for her and welcomed hugs.  When this happened a lot of us thought how would we push through. Then another “family” member lost his father and his mother within months of each other. Again support was ready for him if he came back, and you know what? He did. Then I got a call that my father was sick and they were there and celebrated when he beat it.  But then my father got hit again and this time it was terminal, I had no clue how I would go through the year holding the weight of losing my father and focus on school. My parents are retired teachers so they were very clear that my focus should be on my education and they had each other, so I stayed and traveled home often on the weekends. When my father passed I lost motivation because I was brave for a year and now I was deflated. I put on a good face and smiled and pushed through but when I went home I was lonely, sad, and I felt like my heart got ripped out of my chest. So life happened… to all of us so how did we handle it?

  1. As a cohort, we grew close and called ourselves “The Family” and that’s what we were. When life happened we were there for each other whether it was a phone call, text, cards, flowers, or even office visits. Having that sense of family reminded us that what we did was greater than a moment in “life”.

 

  1. Communicating with professors was key to ensure they understood what was going on and to make sure you were able to make updates missed. At my institution, you can contact the division of student affairs and they can also send a notice out to the professors.

 

  1. Remembering why you started has a different meaning when life happens because you truly question it. For me I didn’t want to finish because of the thought of not having my Daddy there and how bittersweet it will be, I wasn’t ready to face it so I avoided writing. What snapped me back is I found my Daddy’s bucket list and seeing me get my doctorate was on there.
  2. Seek counseling if needed and if your institution offers sessions (some have the first few sessions free) take advantage of it. For me, I subscribed to a 365 daily affirmations that really helped me through my first year dealing with my Daddy not being there and provided me with journaling that in turn became an awesome tribute to his life and so much more.

Again life happens and although it may not look like our story, it will show up in some way. If it’s happened to you on this Doctoral Journey or period, leave a comment below with advice on how to persist through.

“I Expect You to do Well”: Diary of a High-Achieving Black Girl

After writing extensively for three weeks, waiting off and on for written results for another three weeks, and then anxiously counting down the days until the oral defense of my preliminary exams…it happened. I was FINALLY a Doctoral Candidate! It was by far the happiest moment that I have experienced since getting the call with my acceptance into my PhD program two years ago.

The process was generally nerve-wrecking and anxiety-producing, but I was determined to conquer my nerves and reach this next major milestone in my doctoral journey. I had been #ChasingCandidacy for what seemed like forever. I had set a strict schedule since January, accounting for 10 hour+ writing days, a full-time academic load, anxiety-induced heart palpitations with every submission to my committee, the mounting frustrations when I couldn’t get my words just right, and the day-to-day reminders to myself that this process wouldn’t last forever.

However, after standing in the hallway while my committee deliberated, I finally heard the words, “Congratulations, you PASSED!”. My advisor took pictures of me signing my official documentation for the graduate school, I thanked and hugged my committee, and then we took a group selfie in celebration. And I was over-the-moon. And grateful. And humbled. And relieved. And proud. Proud because I was exhausted and nervous and stressed and anxious…but I was finally a Doctoral Candidate! I persisted and endured and achieved; I could have lived in that moment forever.

Once I gathered my thoughts, I could only think of a few people whom I wanted to call and share my exciting news with, so I made my way down my contact list. I made FaceTime calls that weren’t answered, but I told myself that it was the middle of the day and adults were at work. Though disappointed, I continued calling those closest to me until I finally got an answer: “Good job! I expected you to do well”.

Just because you expect excellence from me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. I know that Queen Beyonce’ changed the game with, I woke up like this, but I worked hard for this. I am inherently brilliant, yes. I am more than capable, yes. AND I worked really, really, hard to accomplish this milestone.

As a high-achieving Black girl, I expect myself to do well. I hold myself to higher standards so that others don’t have to. And because of this, I have to work twice as hard to celebrate myself when something incredible happens. I have to intentionally and consciously remind myself that every accomplishment, whether big or small (to me), belongs to me and is worthy of celebration. The (my) truth is, when the world expects greatness from you, you have to work overtime to appreciate your struggle.

To all those who know and love #highachieving Black girls and women, be mindful of how you respond to our sharing of accomplishments with you. Stop qualifying your well-wishes with your (undue) expectations for our successes. Be proud. Be happy. Be enthusiastic. But please, don’t be dismissive. We EARNED this. Acknowledge that or don’t say anything at all.

Are you a high-achieving Black woman with a similar story? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!

My First Pastors

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It is Lenten season.

To my knowledge this is the first time I have been intentional in this season. I have some friends that are holding me accountable. I have enrolled in an online bible study course with Trinity United Church of Christ. I have been praying for some specific things during this time. One of my friends has created a glorious document of sermons, podcasts, scriptures and songs.

One podcast Theology Live featured Rev. Janae Pitts Murdock. In this podcast, she talked about women in the bible that she finds is influential.  I enjoyed this episode so much. But what really stood out to me was what a comment Rev. Pitts Murdock talked about how women have shaped the church and her experience with God. She said that it was women who were her first pastors.

It struck a chord with me when I thought about how this mirrored my life. In my mind, I think about my grandmother. Her favorite scripture was John 3:16. I knew that very early as a child. The simple gospel: “For God so loved the world…”

It struck a chord with me when I think about my aunt who I can talk to about anything and she can relate it to scripture and stories in the Bible. She one was the one who taught me that the Word was living and breathing and applicable to the past, present and future.

It struck a chord with me when I think about my mother who in her actions she exemplifies John 13:34-35:  34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

So this poem is a tribute to my first pastors: Maxine, Corliss and Crystal. Enjoy.

The pulpit was the kitchen

the living room

the church reception hall

sermons given through plates of southern cooking

and hugs

lessons on living and growing and coming to be

examples of how to love, how to have a relationship with God

that was mine, not theirs

Before my baptism in the church, the immersion began when Nanny taught me

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”

I didn’t just memorize it. I knew it and felt it and believed it.

The foundation began with three women who showed me that the church is more than a building.

The church is people loving and giving.

Before any man in a robe stood before me , the Holy Spirit

already was upon three women in Decatur, Ga.

 

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YAY!!! Celebration!

It’s true: When I’m at my best, I celebrate every possible occasion that I can. People who know me know that I LOVE (all caps) a celebration. I often find ways to do it, even if an occasion doesn’t traditionally call for a celebration. Half birthday? Celebration. Took out the trash, washed dishes, laundered, folded, AND put away my clothes? MAJOR celebration lol. When folks have asked where this habit comes from, I tell them honestly: #IGetItFromMyMama Celebrate- Clapping Roxanne GayMom made (and still makes) a point to make celebration a practice in the lives of people she loves. Returning from summer vacation at Grandma’s? Celebration. Appropriate grades on an exam or report card? Celebration. I think yall get the point.

As an adult, I’ve taken up celebration as a function of my own well being, as a way to express love for others, and as an expression of joy. This world is a lot of things and kind, gentle, and loving aren’t some of those things nearly enough. Celebration is one way I counter/create light in the darkness or unpleasantness of this world. Celebration, for me, is also a spiritual discipline. I adopted this philosophy after reading a book during a previous lenten season.

Celebrate- smiling Viola DavisThere are plenty of reasons why people choose not to celebrate: money, time, energy levels, feeling of no reason to celebrate, etc. I’ve been there over the past year to some extent. In fact, I’m writing this, in part, to remind myself why making/taking time to celebrate is an act of joy and care for myself and those I love.

You may be wondering what celebration might look like in your life. Know that there are lots of ways to celebrate yourself and others. You can make it look/feel/be experienced in a lot of different ways. Here are some ways I’ve employed celebration in my life over time:

  • Celebrated the completion of my first 100 days of my doctoral program with homemade ice cream sandwiches with a couple of close friends.
  • Celebrated my most recent half birthday with a small gathering of friends at the house for dinner, girl talk, and ice cream cake.
  • Celebrated the completion of my doctoral program with a party that my framily planned and paid for.
  • Celebrated a good friend’s birthday by driving 5 hours with another good friend to make sure they didn’t celebrate alone in a new place.

Celebrate- Viola DavisI’m an extrovert, and my celebration my look differently than other folks’. That’s okay. That’s actually great. Everyone shouldn’t be extra like me lol. What I am saying is that regardless of how large or small, the victory or accomplishment, make/take a moment or some amount of time to relish in and celebrate it. You’re worth it. Like, for real for real. If you don’t believe that to be true, get some folks who treat you like you’re worth it until you’re able to believe it for yourself.

Celebrate- appreciate loveProphetess Janelle Monáe says, “To be victorious, you must find glory in the little things.”

#SheAintNevaLied Go ahead: Find glory in the little things. Example: I experienced depression when I literally moved 1000 miles from my family after my most recent graduation. The first day that I didn’t cry after leaving, I celebrated the idea of being able to *consider* being happy here by sharing my good news with my closest friends and treating myself to a favorite meal.

Celebrate- HoorayBe they little, big, small, unrecognizable to other people, our victories are just that: victories. Let that light shine sis. Celebrate yourself and the victories of those you love. Victory and joy look good on you.

 

From #BlackHistoryMonth to #WomensHistoryMonth… It’s Black Women’s History SEASON!

It’s March 1st ya’ll!!!!

And with March 1 comes an end to Black History Month and beginning of Women’s History Month. If you’re like us at Cite A Sista, both of these identities are your own, inextricably tied, and require an intersectional understanding of the world. So as we think about celebrating Black women, we have the luxury of extending that from the shortest month of the year and move into March, one of the longest months we have…

Enter, Black Women’s History Season.

I first heard of this term when talking to Joan, and she explained her sister, Alexsarah Collier, coined the phrase. As the Cite A Sista team, we are always looking for ways to celebrate the intersections of Black womanhood and thanks to Alexsarah’s work on The Womanist Agenda and her creativity, now we can.

Black Women’s History Season is a time to intentionally celebrate Black women for 59-60 days straight. And we want to encourage you to do something for yourself. Buy something for you. Eat something you wouldn’t. Sleep in. Wake up earlier. Stay out late. CENTER YOU for some point this month and tell us what it will be and how so we can circle back and be sure you did it.

Here at Cite A Sista, we spent all of February celebrating famous Black women and history makers for each day of Black History Month. As we look towards March, we hope to highlight the works of everyday Black women in our schools, workspaces, and homes– those who make this world, and by extension Cite A Sista, possible.

Here are two ways #CiteASista can help you to celebrate you this month: 

  1. Amplify you or your project/ work with a post on our site: Email us (Contact@CiteASista.com) to post.

  2. Participate in our daily shoutouts: Shoutout a Black woman in your life on facebook, twitter, or Instagram so that we can repost/ retweet your words.

As for me, I’m celebrating the fact that Nikki Giovvani just facetimed me, so my Black Women’s History Season is COMPLETE! Many thanks to my possibae (potential boyfriend) for making that happen.