The Climb

I was supposed to share all of my insight on a new year last month on my birthday.

Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet, so instead I’ll share some insight I got by way of a dream last week. I’ll do the best I can to explain it, and let your imagination do the rest.

Imagine that one day, you’re walking and somehow fall into a hole. It’s not a terribly deep hole, and after examination, you realize you’re okay. A little shaken up, but good. You start to examine a way out and realize it’s a little tough. Your arms aren’t super strong. Your footing’s a little shaky, and there’s no ladder. Who do you call?

 

Well, while you were on this walk, there were plenty of people around that saw you fall into the hole. They may have even called down to see if you were okay, but assuming that you’ll get out like you normally do, went on with their business. You’re still in the hole. You might get a call every now and then that feels like this:

Them: “Hey, how are you?”

You: “Still in the hole, but I could use–“

Them: *proceeds to discuss their own issues*

You could geotag yourself in the hole. Check in on Facebook with the location as “The Hole. Yes. Still.” You’re signaling and signaling and time passes. You’re still in the hole. People seem to care about your predicament on a surface level, but that care hasn’t prompted anyone to toss down a rope, or at least check in to see what you need. Frustrating, right?

Well, as I see it, the last year has been me in that hole. I’ve experienced some of my lowest lows with only the company of myself to get through. I’ve tapped into a level of resilience I was pretty sure I’ve had all along, but it’s been getting worked out. I’ve always been a rather sensitive/intuitive person, but being exposed in the hole has taken me to another level of awareness of not just myself, but the world around me. What fascinates me about these hole experiences is the way that we treat people who are down  there.

If you possess or can provide relief to a situation for a person, why do we offer platitudes and prayer? I’m not saying that either or both do not have merit on their own or combined, but if I see someone hungry and I can buy them a sandwich, I’m going to give them that sandwich along with the encouraging words.  Sometimes, I feel that we overlook our own power to make a difference in someone’s life because we’re looking for grander opportunities to serve. What if those little experiences help us to be better equipped to handle the bigger ones, though? What if you’re overlooking the person in the hole for someone in a tree, and all they both need is a ladder?

The hole experience has been eye opening for me in many ways. It’s given me an unique way of looking at others and their situations. It’s challenged me in how I view people, challenges, and myself. And while I’m not quite out of the hole, I can see myself getting stronger. Doing some push-ups to get my arm strength up. Whether I get that rope tossed or not, I’m climbing out of this thing.

Besides, from this point of view, the only way to look is up, and that’s just where I plan to go from here.

Wishing you the best as you climb,

Thankful Thursdays- Just Because.

(Note: Many of you won’t see this until Friday, but I definitely wrote this Thursday night.)

With all of the writing I do here, people could say that they know quite a bit about me. However, one side that I don’t share as often on here is my spiritual one. I actually blog some of my thoughts and perceptions from that journey in a separate space, and leave the shenanigans, random musings, and pop culture here. One practice I’ve really been trying to get into more is being more aware of the people and things I appreciate. During my reflection times, I try to keep track of things I’m thankful for overall, that day, and sometimes that minute. These things range from the mundane and shallow to the serious, life-altering issues. For me, it’s an exercise in awareness of self, awareness of others, and awareness of life. Perhaps Thankful Thursdays will become a more frequent feature as I just strive to… think better. 

I even made a logo!
So, today, I’m thankful for the following: 
  • Another day not promised that I was given. 
  • Countless opportunities to do things for others. 
  • My dad getting to celebrate his 50th birthday this week-it’s not been the best 50 for him, but he’s gotten there. 
  • This mild, underwhelming winter- I’ve not had to wade in knee-deep snow just to get to the bus stop, and I’m not complaining about it. 
  • Friends and family who check on me, especially when I’m not taking care of myself. I’m learning to better help others, I’ve got to be a better me.
  • Those knowing glances from people that say so much, that additional words aren’t necessary. 
  • Those creepy geese in my park backyard being gone. For now. 
  • The ability to write where my verbal skills escape me. Seriously- I can be in the middle of a conversation, and all of a sudden, my mind goes blank. What follows is usually something completely asinine, like “duh- oranges are subservient?” I’m glad my writing helps in that. 
  • Hugs, when I can get them. I am quite selective of who I let in that space, but sometimes, you just need a hug at the end of the day. 
  • Videos of babies, puppies, or babies and puppies on YouTube, because they brighten the days of everyone within a 15 foot radius of me. 
  • The ability to hide everything (and everyone) that annoys me on facebook, including that scrolling side-ticker. 
  • Connecting with people from the most unlikely of sources, including Twitter. They make all of my out-of-town experiences that much more… everything.
  • Music and chicken. No further comment. 
What kind of things are you thankful for? I don’t mind if you’re shallow or deep- share all of your happies. 
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Confessions of an Awkward Black Girl

Hey, there.

If any of you are my friends on facebook (sidenote- I should get one of those fan pages, eh?), you know that I have been raving for MONTHS about the webseries, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. If the name alone doesn’t catch your fancy as it did for me, allow me to give you a brief overview of the series. The protagonist, J (played by writer/director Issa Rae) is awkward, black, and a woman, so we get to see how she navigates those three unchangeable aspects in everyday life. She shares that internal dialogue that we often have when faced with situations that, to the average person, are nothing, but to the awkward person, it becomes the BIGGEST THING EVER. A perfect example is the protocol for running into someone repeatedly at stop signs, highlighted in the very first episode, shown below.

With that said, this series is EVERYTHING. Being a black woman, it’s hard to find a series out that wants to accurately depict us as something other than basketball jumpoffs or Atlanta socialites. Some of us love quirky too- heck, some of us ARE quirky! Sure, there are shows out there that feature black people, like that one guy on The Office…

Yay-diversity!

… or that one lady from Parks and Recreation that isn’t Rashida Jones, who is Black but they probably never mention it , who I can only call ‘mmm-hmmm,’ because that’s all she seems to say…

Mmm-hmm (Note: she actually does say more than this)

…but there isn’t a show that features a girl that looks like me as the main character, engaging in normal activities outside of auditioning for the next Immature video, and that sucked, until TMOABG (word to acronyms) came on the scene. In honor of the show, I decided to embrace my own brand of awkward, and highlight some features in my daily life that I can’t help because of it:

  • Meeting New People– I’ll be honest: I suck at this. Because I’m an observer by nature, I tend to be on the tail end of meeting folks, in order to avoid the crowds and get to know you on my own terms. Plus, when there’s so many people and things to do, I get a bit flustered, and start to wonder about silly things, like where my hands need to be at any given moment. Uh, pause. Plus, my perception is a mofo, so even before our firs encounter, I may be able to pick up on your entire being in a way that will scare you and I both. Not in a creepy way, but I’m just usually spot on with my first impressions.
  • Conversation Style– Admittedly, I have a bit of a short attention span, yet it gets better with the more things I’m involved in. I actually prefer talking on the phone more than in person, and don’t care much for texting, except with folks I know won’t respond with k’s and o’s. That said, if engaged with you one on one and my eyes start darting, don’t take it personally. Rest assured I’m still paying attention, and listening well. I just need to figure out where my hands go. Pause. 
  • Facial Expressions- My face tells everything I’m thinking, intended or not. If I know and trust you really well, I can even have a full conversation with you based on these expressions. Even if I’m not expressing myself with words, which I admittedly suck at, my faces will usually be your clue as to whether I’m really into your story about *insert whatever you’re talmbowt,* or if I’m replaying an episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple in my head, and mad that the kid can’t put together the Shrine of the Silver Monkey (seriously- it’s three pieces: butt, middle, and jam the head. WHY DO THEY TREAT THIS LIKE PHYSICS?!).
  • Interaction with Babies– My past, present, and future is Nanny McBeez. With that in mind, people think I this magical infant guru who can speak in soothing tones to their wee ones and they gleefuly comply. More often than not, this is not the case. I despise baby talk, so I speak to infants like they know what hedge funds are. When soothing them, I urge them to think about their lives and their choices. When they decide to make messes, I give them a Powerpoint presentation on the effects of littering. I suppose my unwavering patience is what eventually wins me over with the pre-walker set.
  • Inability to Take Compliments- This is, by far, the most awkward thing I do. Every time I get complimented on something, my brain processes it as “you’re messed up somewhere- and it’s BAD!”  which leads me to downplay the compliment the complimenter was trying to compliment me on in the first place. *takes breath* Still with me? The conversation that follows is usually what cements my place in the awkward hall of fame. For example: 
    • Nice person- Hey, I like your eye makeup. 
    • My Internal Monologue- You didn’t pluck your eyebrows- YOU LOOK LIKE DRAKE IN THE FACE! 
    • Me (out loud): Uh… thank… you? I mean… I don’t do this too often, so I was sure I left the house with my certificate from Tammy Faye’s School of Messed Up About the Face-Ness For Colored Girls Who Considered Wet and Wild When MAC was Too Expensive.
    • Nice Person: Uhhhhrrrrmm… Nebmind. *runs away*

Because, as always, I’m working on being a work in progress, I am now aware that my state of awkwardness begins in my head, where all of this wacky stuff takes place. Then again, as the famous knitter Albus Dumbledore once said, “Of course it is happening inside your head… but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” With acknowledgment comes acceptance, and with acceptance comes… t-shirts.

Series creator, Issa Rae, with the phrase of my life. Get them here.

If you want to watch more episodes beyond the first, you can find them at the website, or on YouTube. Follow on facebook or twitter if you have it, too.

Sharing time! How awkward do you allow yourself to be, in the company of yourself and/or others? 

Hoping none of my clients call CPS on me,
Beez

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Summer Showdown: Tips To Keep Your Cookouts Hassle-Free

Dust Those Tables Off.

We never thought it would come, but sign of the season are ringing out: The (scary) park geese have returned, squirrels are trying to jack me for my ice cream, sunsets are happening AFTER Wheel of Fortune, and spontaneous car wash parties to Will Smith’s “Summertime” are prevalent. Summer is near, friends! With that said, I know hemlines are elevating as people find more and more reason to be outside. One of the most popular outdoor getaways during the season include the cookout. Memorial Day (in the US) is coming up, and because I care, I have compiled a list of tips to help your summer cookouts go a little bit easier:

The invite- Make sure to give people notice when planning an outdoor grillfest. Summer is also the season for impromptu road trips and getaways, and the last thing you need is to show up all dressed up for a party: population 1. Decide if you’re going to host, or if you’ll provide an arena and the basics, leaving guests and well wishers room to bring a dish.

Accepting- If someone has been hospitable enough to invite you to their shindig- a prompt response is not only a suggestion, but a requirement. Not to mention, if you plan on bringing your plus one (or two, or twenty), you should double check with the host to make sure that’s cool- don’t bring all of those folks if the host didn’t get enough hot dogs at Sam’s Club! That’s just rude. Also, if invited to someone’s home, bring something- a side dish (desserts and snacks count), a ‘thank you’ gift for the host, a smile and a helping hand… anything helps.

The setup/service- Personally, this is the area where I have the most issues with, mostly due to disorganization and an act I call ‘hovering’- After you’ve served yourself, you continue to hover in the general direction of the food service area, blocking other people’s way to the goods. Please, please, PLEASE don’t do this! Between that and sitting at the same table(s) where food is being served, nothing gives me the heebie jeebies more in an outdoor service station situation. For your convenience, I made up this diagram designed as an aerial view of your serving space (below; click to enlarge)to help your service line flow a little easier. The key is sticking items and their complements alike; ain’t no reason the hot dog buns need to be on the next to the desserts if the hot dogs are 15 serving trays before.

Food etiquette- If you read my Thanksgiving post, you’d know I don’t advocate you trying out new things on unsuspecting crowds. Just because Sandra Lee made a Kwanzaa cake with corn nuts and Cool-Whip doesn’t mean you can (or SHOULD) even think about trying1. Make something easy, and try to label your dish in some way if it isn’t easily identifiable. If you’re going through the line and don’t know what something is, don’t poke and prod and say, “What IS that?” in a loud voice to no one in particular. It comes off as super rude and insensitive. If you’re not sure about something, just take a small serving, find the person who made it, and politely ask them what’s in it if you have allergy or similar concerns. Speaking of small servings, keep in mind (especially if you’re among the first in the line for your first round of many) how many people are behind you, and even those yet to arrive. With that said, don’t pile your plate like you haven’t eaten all day, even if it is true. Save some for others! That goes for you, too, you serial “make a to-go plate for home first, then make a for-now eating plate” makers. Just cut that out entirely.

The fun- Bring stuff! Bring your volleyballs, basketballs, or if you’re like me and sporting goods randomly end up hitting you in the face… the badminton rackets and shuttlecocks *stifles laughter*2. Bring your board games and your card games3. The goal is fun, and don’t let the rain be a deterrent; just have a backup plan just in case. If you don’t have suggestions of making things happen, you have no right to complain about the quality of entertainment. Your bad. *shrug*

Disassembling- Try and be a bit helpful in the cleanup, and not just run off after you’re all tired and sweaty from whatever calorie burning activities you’re engaged in. This is usually the time when your host(s) are playing “Match the leftovers/dishes” to the owners, and the longer you take gloating about your high school volleyball skills before that thing happened to your knee, the longer it will be before your host can call it a night. Ideally, you would have kept an eye on whatever you brought (WITHOUT hovering the serving table), and known what was left. If you have leftovers, make arrangements for them- are they going to your house, someone else’s house, or the trash? If you’ve brought a dish, do you want it back? This is even true for the disposable ones (It’s a recession, and folks are trying to be green with ev.uh.ree.thang.). Help out with some of the cleanup- empty ice from coolers, put the fire(s) out, and make sure the kids are still visible. Offer thank-yous, swap recipes, and promise to do it all again!

With these rules, I hope your summer gatherings can be full of light, love, and happy bellies. Happy Memorial Day, too.

Yours in Trying to Figure Out Why These Coals Didn’t Light Again (Eff it, we’re going wood!), 
Beez

1 For video of the offensively infamous Kwanzaa cake experiment, click here. Not for those with weak stomachs.
2 Yes, I know I am a child. *snorts*
3 With cards, be careful. A wary game of spades can mess up friendships, marriages and mortgages. Consider this your warning. Stick to lesser games if you’re not that fancy.

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Turkey Day Survival

Get out the good china; it’s a special occasion!

Turkeys, and cat-naps, and football – oh my! Where did the year go? It seems like just yesterday we were crowded around someone’s television watching the ball drop at Times Square, like we didn’t know it would take 3 hours for it to get all the way down. In a blink, spring, summer and fall passed us by, without even calling the morning after to see if we were okay. November is almost done, and through the icy rain (maybe just here), people are finalizing their Thanksgiving plans. Friends, the holiday season is fast approaching (Shoot, it’s HERE.), and I have been sent with gifts that aren’t gold teeth, frank and beans, and Maury in order to get you in tip-top shape:

1.   Stay in your lane.  Yes, I know it’s nice to try out new recipes every once in a while. I do it quite often myself. Those large family gatherings where mass amount of people are exposed to your science project is not the arena for it, though. If you’re unsure of what to bring to the 50th office potluck this week, stick to what you know. If you tell a friend you’re bringing “Candied Ham Squares with White Chocolate,” those tears are not from excitement;  it’s fear. Bring some sausages in a Crock-Pot with barbeque sauce, or if you’re really fancy, volunteer to bring chips, ice, or plates. Become friends with AllRecipes in your off-time, and subject those people you love (in small batches) to your trials.
2.   Accept your family. Just do it, I said!  When you think of “Thanksgiving,” you think of “family.” When you think of “family,” you shouldn’t be thinking of Olive Garden, because you’ll be gravely disappointed. I turned 25 this week, and it seems that almost instantly, the cries of “when are you getting married/ having kids/ gonna do something with your life besides get all these degrees?” have come like wildfire. Suck it up, come up with concise, stern answers, and grin and bear it. Change the subject if necessary. Compliment Aunt BeBe’s new red ‘do, even though you know it’s a wig. Ignore Uncle Junior’s new girlfriend, even though you went to high school with her. You can’t change them, so you may as well grin and bear it. Just be ready to mediate when the great spades battle of the 3:00 hour come up, and know how to bow out gracefully when it’s time. That brings me to the next point…
3.   Have an exit strategy.  Just because it’s the holiday does NOT mean you have to spend the whole day with the fam.  It took me the longest to realize this evident truth, but c’mon. When you visit home for a limited amount of time, you end up with having to do rounds. Staying 18 hours at TeeTee May’s only cuts into the time you have to stop by all of your friends’ and their moms’  houses to collect a cavalcade of plates. How else are you supposed to sustain yourself through this 4 day weekend? Besides, Thanksgiving evening is the best time to catch a movie, go bowling, or host an impromptu Wii party featuring Michael Jackson: The Experience (oh, that’s just me? Well, you’re invited anyway.).  While everyone’s hopped up on tryptophan, grab your security Gladware, pack up some of that dressing, and tiptoe out like a thief in the night, on the the next house.
4.   Be careful what you post online. The saying is true: “If you tweet it, they will roast.” Wait… that isn’t it? Either way, it’s true. If your dishes make your mom/grandma/significant other  smile and say “Baby it looks good… what is it?” you probably shouldn’t twitpic it to the world. If your variations on certain meals include altering the natural color the dish comes in, keep it in your house and off the tweets. It will be roasted until crispy, and you probably will lose a bit of your #SelfofSteam. Just ask the girl who is known as the creator of #ThatPlate (Note: Zindzi did not make said plate).
With that said, friends, I hope that you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat, drink, and share in old traditions while making new ones. Take the time to recognize the things and people you are thankful for.  I hope your day is as awesome as all of you are. Now pass the peas, like we used to do.
Love and turkey (or tofurkey) shaped sprinkles,
Beez
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Beez Speaks- And For Good Reason

Hey, y’all. I betchu think this post is about me. For once, I’m taking the shine off of my normal mode of shenanigans, catastrophes, and general unfortunate events, in favor of something more awesome.

Today, I would like to bring your attention to something I’ve (finally) found the words to get out. This is a big step for me, mostly because I’m vain and dislike the sound of my voice. I didn’t rehearse this, and kind of spoke as it came from the heart. Then again, this cause is bigger than me. And you. Your mama, and your cousin, too. No Outkast, though. Anyway, I’ll just cut to video, while you marvel at how I kinda look like the avatar in the upper right hand corner:

This is the challenge, wrapped conveniently as my birthday wish: I just want to encourage you all to do something, for someone, as this appropriately-dubbed “giving season” begins. The actions done from this point on could make the biggest difference in someone’s life. One little action could make a tiny tot decide to be a world changer. It could be that little push that helps a person choose life over death. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, and most importantly, empowers others to do the same.

I want to make a way for people to actually share what they’re doing. Short of creating another website (which, given my limited time and resources), I’m not really seeing how. Perhaps a hashtag on Twitter would work, but how long do those stay valid? I’m thinking out loud again… Let me stop and I’ll work the details out as they may. Besides, the idea is to give.

I’ll check in over the next two weeks to share some ideas, and hopefully hear from you about your ideas, actions, and ways you’re changing the world around you.

Go time… is now. Let’s Bee-Giving this season! I think the hashtag has been birthed: #BeeGiving. Nawl, you know what? I’ll keep working on it.

Still Working Out The Kinks (and not just the ones in my hair),

Beez

PS- For the record, you can still send me birthday gifts. I’m versatile. 🙂

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Master Chef? Probably Not.

So…

As I consistently state on here, I am working on being a work in progress. These check-ins I have with myself are absolutely necessary, because there are some things that I do that make absolutely no sense. Like not a lick. Nann. One thing I’ve noticed recently is my ability to create pretty fine dishes on my own, but when faced with the arduous task of making something pre-made, I eff it up beyond recognition.

I think I’d be able to convince you of this fate a bit better with picture examples.

Around the holiday season last year, I made a caramel apple crisp. Found a recipe, made my own modifications, and start to finish, it looked like this:

We dessert. For serious.

Now, if you give me a Pop-Tart to put in the oven (because, I just can’t justify buying a purpose for buying a toaster– FUH’ WHAT?), I get distracted by something shiny and it looks like this:

Dramatization required b/c it was a cookie dough Pop-Tart.

I make chicken dishes all the time, like this roasted one (that Smithers has called “casket sharp) on occasion:

Can I call this the “Paula Deen is my play granny” chicken?

 Or this curry chicken, whose recipe I got from my good buddy Miss Sara:

And even made up a scalloped potatoes dish. Peelt the taters, made a sauce from scratch, and EVERYTHING!

Forget a Helper. I do this.

So tell me why… the other day I was attempting (again) to broil a steak, following a recipe. Seared it on both sides so it could lock in the juices or whatnot, preheated my cookie sheet under the broiler, and transferred it. A few minutes later while washing up (I just can’t pile dishes in the one sink I have, you know), I notice more smoke than I normally see. A few delayed reactions later, I open the oven door, and see this:

Word? 

My first reaction: MY OVEN’S ON FIRE! AND IT’S ‘LECTRIC! I was gonna take a twitpic, but the sensible side of me said “STOOPID… YOU GOTS A FIRE. A FYE-UH!!” Because I’m inherently dumb, I tried blowing inside the oven (with my asthmatic a*s lungs), until I got the bright idea of opening and closing the oven door rapidly to put it out. It worked, and I pulled out the steak, which was seemingly unhurt through it all. Probably shouldn’t have used olive oil. I just reached for the first I could find.  *Rachel Ray shrug*

Later that evening, I spilled my Simply Lemonade w/Raspberry spritzer into our recently cleaned carpet, dropped my steak knife THISCLOSE to a vital toe, and almost fell in the shower. I blame the debbul. Something was trying its hardest to kill my joy. Maybe I just needed some sleep, and to have ordered takeout instead of being CAP’N SAVE A BUCK.

I’ll learn my lesson(s) one day. Soon.

My sprinkles ain’t smoky,
Beez

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