Topic Thursdays

Thanks For Reading My Mixtape

I’m a course of miracles with this shit
Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists
Therein lies the piece of God

-Hov “Drug Dealers Anonymous”

This song was one of my most played according to Spotify. It was the first time Hov got in his bag in a long time. Wordsmiths never fall off, they just pause to get new material. Aside from that particular song, I spent a lot of time exposing myself to a lot of new artists this year. Yo, Alabama Shakes and Brittany Howard are flames!!!! Anyway, while I was going through some of my older posts, I realized how much music has influenced my writing this year.

One of my writing goals in 2016 was to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to overcome insecurities about if my skills were strong enough for major publications. I wanted to tap into the other things that excite me. In a nutshell, I wanted to detach from devoting so much focus as a personal blogger.

There’s a level of commitment in writing that makes it unbelievably difficult. It’s like going to the gym. When you want to get in shape, you set a goal, develop a routine, and stay consistent.

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3 hours before a deadline

The space between good writing and great writing is pretty huge, especially in specific genres. However, I compare it to the gym because your efforts determining how high and far you can go. When you start to see results, the euphoria is an ego-boost. You want to keep going. You want to add weights or up your reps. You push yourself because you know what you’re capable of. And even if you plateau, your body never really forgets how to get back in gear.

That’s exactly what my process has been with writing this year. I’d spend 2-4 hours writing something. Over-analyzing sentence structure, carefully selecting words, and being deliberate in executing the often jumbled thoughts in my head. Then once it got put out for consumption, I’d obsessively check comment sections and likes and reads – whatever metrics were available. I’d want to top that. I’d want to try to surpass the own bar I set. Sometimes, I was successful.

So here is some of my work that you might have missed.

Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Exposes America’s Selective Memory On Race

What If The Black Community Really Did Want Revenge Against America

The Dangerous Lies We Have To Stop Telling Boys About Sex

I Bought My Own Place and Now I Can’t Afford To Date

For Pro Sports Leagues, Addressing Mental Illness Crucial

Here’s The Thing About Happiness

My Father Couldn’t Hug Me and I Refuse To Repeat History

 

 

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Photo Post #11: Getting Out Of My Head

This summer has seemed particularly long. I’ve been working a lot and haven’t had much time for anything else. It’s paying off though because I recently came into a job promotion that was unexpected. As a contracted opportunity, it’d put a few extra thousand dollars in my pocket. The problem is agreeing to it would inevitably pull me away from the career that’s always been my passion.

Earlier this year, my mind was made up professionally. After my trip to IMG, future plans were clear and financially, everything was starting to align as well. With my second job, I was able to save the money needed to pour into my passion. But when my contract was up and the review went well, what was supposed to be a short-term gig turned into a viable career option.

With any decision that involves money, I weighed all possible outcomes. Along with some personal things that happened within the same week, I was emotionally drained. It was as if divine intervention had taken control since my boy hit me up with dates for a group trip that had been on the table all summer. Given what I was going through, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

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The Outer Banks in North Carolina reminds of certain parts of the Hamptons, except much more affordable. My boy’s family has owned a house there for about 30 years and recently did a ton of renovations on it. The house and the neighborhood was pretty amazing! What I appreciated was how normal it felt. Even though it’s a vacation home and the beach was literally in the backyard, everything about it felt like being at home. I didn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable. That helped immensely with the anxiety I was already smothered by

What was funny is I’d gone to Vermont with this same group back in February. I’d had a conversation about career plans then because I’d recently graduated. When the same person asked for an update, it was nice to have good news to share. It wasn’t about impressing anyone. It was solely about having confidence and peace in the direction I was moving in.

Sometimes, getting out of the house is exactly what you need to re-focus your thoughts.

 

You Break Curses By Not Being Afraid Of The Scars

It’s taken a few days to digest Beyonce’s latest opus. I’m still processing the nuances of the visuals for Lemonade and the album. I watched the visual a few times. I gave the album a fifth listen last night. I’ve heard it enough to have favorite songs. I don’t think I’ve sat with the movie enough to catch all of the details. Thankfully, a lot of journalists have already analyzed and deconstructed both.

So I’m not exactly going to do that.

What I can take away from this album and its accompanying visual is that Beyonce has shed the last bits of perfection that she spent a great deal of her career and life living in. Save for a few songs, she’s talking about what happens to a woman after the honeymoon stage. How does a woman replenish herself when the well has run dry?

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Now Is The Time To Overcome What’s Holding You Back

The first four months of 2016 have been busy. Some of the recent changes have been abrupt; forcing me to change gears almost overnight. Other changes have been more a slow burn. I’m currently doing a devotional that is focused on the calling – hearing it, knowing what it means, and how to live a Jesus-centered life.

Doing the devotional has given me some details to look for in my prayers and in my daily actions. I decided to dive a little deeper into what it means to have God call you to do something. We often see God’s purpose for our lives as singular. Although, our anointing has the power to affect those around us now and the people we’ll meet along the way.

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3 Things To Pray About When You’re Single

Part of my commitment to growing in faith is spending more time in fellowship. The church I go to does a monthly service that’s dedicated to young Christians. The pastor has covered great topics from employment to getting your finances right to most recently dealing with temptation.

January’s topic focused on relationships. More importantly, the pastor’s message was about the dangers of not having a plan for your relationship. His scripture text was about Samson and Delilah.

When I read up on the man Samson really was, I can see some parts of me in him. Samson is the type of guy that relies on his own devices when it comes to women. He follows his emotions because that’s what rules him. He makes the same mistakes repeatedly because in truth he has no idea what love really is.

You have to trust that God will place you in the right time and place to meet who He has prepared you to be with.

We’re all guilty of bad patterns when it comes to relationships. We pursue situations that are not godly because they make us feel good. We become so enamored by physical attachment that our ability to discern is rendered useless. The other problem is a lot of times we don’t even know why we’re dating.

Any relationship that’s built on false pretenses or opposing agendas is doomed to fail.

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On Stepping Up For Black Women

My ex-girlfriend and I used to have these discussions where she’d share her frustrations and experience navigating corporate America. As a black man, her perspective was valuable to me. I was also able to understand the pressures black women feel but rarely talk about. For generations, we’ve propped black women up as pious pillars of strength. We don’t talk as loudly about their daily encounters so their voices get lost in the noise because of patriarchy.

And yes, black men — no matter how often the police stop and frisk us, no matter how much we get overlooked for that promotion, no matter how oppressed we feel day in and day out — we have a level of privilege. That biologically-assigned benefit will never be afforded to women. Whether it’s obvious or not, we flex that privilege as often and as harsh as we can; at the expense of our most dedicated advocates.

Black women are often the most silenced victims when it comes to domestic abuse.

Black women are statistically the most silenced victims when it comes to domestic abuse.

 

 

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It’s Okay To Be Single

The cuffing season conversation came up while I was in the barbershop last weekend. The conversation involved into dating in DC and some generalities around the mad dash to lock someone down for the fall and winter months. An interesting tidbit that came up was the fact that being single in DC, especially this time of year, is favorable for men.

People take this serious

People take this serious

Listening to the guys affirmed to me that cuffing season sounds like more of a headache than the ROI. There always seems to be too many variables. I’m sure if you asked around within your own circle, you’d find a few September-March ‘situationships’ that turned into weddings and babies. There’s nothing wrong with having a strong ‘fall back and chill’ game though. Being single isn’t a title you should run away from. I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss the perks that come with having someone that you’re all in on. However, I’m using this period in my life to work on being a better me so that I can be a better boyfriend whenever it happens.

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