Sunday, March 26, 2006

Toya's Menstrual Musings

Sorry fellas...
The older you get, the more your menstrual cycles change. There are certain things that aren't as bad every month as they used to be. I remember being on my period in high school and lying across the desk in Trig class, wishing someone would come along and cut off the lower half of my body and keep it on ice for the next five days. I don't have cramps nearly that bad anymore. However, now I have different types of cramps. Cause that's what women need: a variety of cramps. Honestly, Eve, what were you thinking?

Today, my head feels too heavy for my body, I have nausea and cramps that feel as if small children are playing Tug of War with my Fallopian tubes. I left church early today because I was just entirely too dizzy to focus on anything and did not want to have to deal with the Nashville after-church traffic that ensues every Sunday. It's bad enough that my road rage on a good day is enough to make one wonder if I attend church at all.

So since I have slept more than enough today and am too queasy to be vertical, I was excited that I can finally take the time to blog some things. So with Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun" in the back ground (genius), here I go:

Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman
I share a lot of personal things on this blog and what I am about to share may be the most personal yet.

I am 31 years old and I can honestly say that I feel very awkward referring to myself as a woman. I think this may be because when I think of a woman, there is a a certain type of standard, both physical and mental, that I don't feel I meet. I am not saying that I am not a lady. I've been a lady since I was about 14 years old. But when I think of a woman, there is an image that comes to mind that to me looks nothing like me.

Most people are shocked by my age. I am shocked by my age. When people try to guess my age they usually guess somewhere between 22-25. My brother and I were talking about my struggles with body image and me not feeling womanly and he said "When you are 50, you are going to appreciate the fact that you look about 30". That may be so. But right now, at 31, I sometimes wish that I looked my age.

At 5'2, I am fairly small. I don't look anywhere close to what I actually weigh and for the most part, I do not fit the description of what sistas are "supposed" to look like. I am not very curvy or busty and to top it off, well I am not exactly "bootylicious" either. Being as though the media has depicted that a black woman's worth rest mostly in the size and roundness of her derriere, it's always been very hard for me to accept the way I was created. For instance, Tia and I were watching the new Busta Rhymes video and I loved the video until they had a woman with one of the biggest behinds I have ever seen slithering with her back turned to the camera. I looked at Tia and said "Who says 'You know what's missing from this video? A woman with a big ass. Who can we call?'" To have this constantly thrown in your face that being shaped a certain way is the standard for what the real black woman looks like is hard to live with at times if you don't meet that standard. I don't care how many compliments I get for being a "cute girl" or "adorable" or "precious". These are names that are often used to describe puppies, not women. These are names I often hear describing me.

It's not just my physical attributes that make me uneasy in referring to myself as a woman. There are some mental ones too. There are times when I want to take off my shoes and run as fast as I can in the church parking lot. There are times when I want to climb things. There are times that I have heard Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" in the mall and have wanted to tip toe pass the security cameras like a ballerina. There are times when I have actually done so. When most comfortable, there are times when I sit Indian style be it at my desk at work or in a restaurant, after taking off my high fashioned boots to reveal my tacky taste in white gym socks. There are times when I am walking down the street and I stop to swing on the light posts in broad daylight. There are times when my excitement about the fact that they bring out Easter candy right after Valentine's Day can rival any 8 year old's. There are times when I love these things about myself because it means I am feeling free to be me. However, there are times when I am ashamed of these things about myself because they ARE me. Sometimes, I wonder when I am going to grow up. Sometimes, I wonder if I even can.

The reality is beauty is in the eye of the GREAT beholder, God. God did not "jip" me. God's perception of beauty differs greatly from man's. Where I look in the mirror and say "Ugh" God looks at it and says "It is good". Now more than ever, I realize that not looking my age and sometimes not acting my age is all a part of God's great plan to be a role model to a younger generation. If I was actually the age I looked, I would not be mature enough for the responsibilities that He has recently given me. So for that, I praise God. I do feel at times that some older women look at me and think "Does SHE know how old she is?" but I do know for a fact that the freedom I feel to just be myself has set others free to do so as well whether they be younger or older than I am.

Recently, I was ministered to by an amazingly Godly, beautiful and profoundly wise woman. She sat with me and challenged me to love myself. Now at first, that didn't sound difficult because I thought I was crazy about myself. But in listening I found that I truly was not loving and accepting myself as God would want me to. She pointed out that in the bible, it instructs us to "Love our neighbor as ourselves". As women, we look at this backwards. We think by loving others while neglecting ourselves is the way to live. It is not. The love that God has put inside of us is for us FIRST. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Sounds downright blasphemous and contradictory and selfish at first doesn't it? But it's true. The reason why so many of us stay feeling lonely, the reason why so many of us are spent, the reason why we ache so much to be adored by a man, the reason why so many of us give 100% to relationships that render no reciprocity is because we are not loving ourselves first. I am willing to bet that there are hundreds of women in leadership that suffer great depression and have even considered suicide because they pour so much into others without ever allowing any of that love they pour out to be for themselves first.

With that being said, I declare right now, Sunday March 26, 2006 at 6:27 pm, I AM A WOMAN. Whether my hair is in afro puffs (I won't be doing that past the age of 33, I promise), whether I am in a band t-shirt and low rise jeans, and whether I hit 32 and still don't feel like I have yet to make it on the other side of puberty, I am a woman. I don't care if I have to wake up every morning to India Arie's "Video", Erykah Badu's "Clever" or Chaka's "I"m Every Woman" to reiterate what I am sure cannot simply be achieved by a declaration but by an every day process, I will here on out boldly say that I am a woman. We aren't changing the name of the website though. It's paid for.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Back Then They Didn't Want Me...

Now I'm Hot, They're All On Me

Dear Bandwagon Jumpers,

Tia and I (Toya) would like to ask you all a question: Where were yall when Terrence Howard was on Sparks, huh? Where were yall when Patrick Dempsey was riding that teen machine in the 80's with movies like "Can't Buy Me Love", "Loverboy" and "Happy Together" huh? Oh but now, somebody got a hit series and yall wanna holler? Now a brother got an Academy award nod and yall all of the sudden got time for him?

Patrick, you've been my baby since the last scene in "Can't Buy Me Love" when you were riding the lawnmower with the cowboy hat on. It's been you and me for a long time. I was tryin' to hip them to you but noooooo. And Terrence, Tia's been vouchin' for you since she saw you playing guitar behind your head in The Best Man. Sure you played Jackie in The Jacksons: An American Dream but hey, you gotta eat too. So if you and Patrick are lookin' for some ride or die chicks, look no further. We've BEEN down.

As for the rest of yall... RECOGNIZE.

God Bless,
Tia and Toya

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This One's For The Electric Youth
I'll Be Loving You Only In My Dreams
Step By Step Out Of The Blue
Shake Your Love Valentine Girl
by tia

I read this and a million NKOTB/Debbie Gibson hybrid titles popped into my head. I have too much time on my hands

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

American Idol Recap-Toya

It is getting harder and harder to keep up with this blog but we are going to do our best. It is 11 o'clock and I have so much I want to write about but I just don't have the time. However, we have got to get the ball rolling on the Final 12.

I'll be very honest and say that I am a little leary about writing about American Idol now that I am officially a signed artist (shudder). It occurred to me yesterday (and this almost made me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth like an insane person) that people may very well start writing things about me and my group. That scares me to death. I know the kind of things I say and there is not one artist in the world that EVERYONE likes. Well, maybe except Stevie Wonder, tonight's featured artist on American Idol. Let's get started:


Those that know me might be surprised to find out that I really am not impressed by Ace to be honest. I mean he's pretty and all but he aint no Constantine (*sigh). I really paid him no mind until he shocked the mess out of me last week and fooled around and sang Michael Jackson's "Butterflies". His falsetto is ill. Couple his falsetto with his pretty boy looks and you would think that he would pick a classic ballad out of Stevie Wonder's catalog and sail right through to next week. Instead, he went and made the biggest song choice mistake in history behind Tamyra Gray's choice of Patti Labelle's "New Attitude", "Do I Do". I walked out half way I was so mad. Did they only have 12 songs to choose from? If so then that would explain a lot, including why Kevin (Chicken Little) sang "Part Time Lover" (I'll get to that). Why in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD would he not pick a ballad from STEVIE WONDER? ANY ballad? Uptempos are not his strength and this is the final 12. Being pretty might get you through the final 24 but it's do or die now. I hope he makes better choices in the weeks to come.


You know what? Not even I am that mean so all I will say is this: I am really sad, PISSED actually, that Gideon and Sway missed the chance to sing with Stevie Wonder and Bucky who has never listened to Stevie Wonder let alone is not a fan of his got the honor of getting to do so. Good for him, though. I mean, I'm not mad at him. I'm mad at America. That's all. Good for Bucky, good for Bucky. I don't see him making it past this week though, honestly.


What's funny about Elliott is that he really reminds me of some of the guys that have tried to holla at me in Nashville (minus the bling). That one guy in the spot that you somehow just know they hang with a lot of brothas? THAT guy. And then, he goes up on open mic/karaoke and belts out some Donny/Al Green/ Brian McKnight and then you are like "Hey, um, I was just playin hard to get. So you work at UPS, huh? Tell me about that. That sounds real interesting."

Elliott has an incredible voice but I was not bowled over with "Knocks Me Off My Feet" as I thought I would be. I actually liked his rendition of Bryan Adams' "Heaven" that he did last week better. Regardless, he got the best compliment of all from Stevie Wonder hands down. Any artist could just live off of that no matter what criticism they got afterwards. That's like if I made some cupcakes and Betty Crocker said they were the bomb, you could not tell me that I did not make the BEST cupcakes in the free world. Wait, was Betty Crocker a real person or is she like Aunt Jemima? Or Uncle Ben? I digress and I'm sleepy. Let's move on.

Kellie, Lisa and Melissa- Not impressed with any of them tonight. I am not going to rag on Melissa for jacking up the words to "Lately" in front of Stevie Wonder cause well, I would forget my name in front of Stevie Wonder. And even though she jacked the words up on stage, look: I am a DJ, not a singer. I can't even imagine that kind of pressure.


This is our HOMEGIRL right here! First of all she got up there and witnessed to Simon, remember? When she told him that if Jesus can forgive her then she could forgive him too? Incredible! And did anybody else fall off the couch when Ryan Seacrest bent down and took her shoes off for her??? Tia, WHEN ARE WE GETTING TIVO!!!!!???? I think she did a great job on "Don'tcha Worry About A Thing". I am really anxious to see how far she is going to go in the competition.


I'm with Simon, this performance was appalling. Not because he can't sing because he can. He hit some nice ones while singing Part Time Lover. It was just that: He was singing PART TIME LOVER!!!! Again, did they only get to pick from 12 songs? Did they have to draw straws and did he and Ace get the shortest ones?

We are undercover passion on the run
Chasing love up against the sun
We are strangers by day, lovers by night
Knowing it's so wrong, but feeling so right

I better not ever hear these words come out of this child's mouth again, I am so serious. Honestly, it's like hearing Pee Wee Herman sing "Eye of the Tiger".


I can't even begin to say enough about this little girl. She is PHENOMENAL! When she did that Dixie Chicks song for her audition, I was like "End the competition now, for real." "All I Do" is one of my favorite songs by Stevie. It really is in my top 5. Hers was my favorite performance of the night.


First off, this is NOT Jay Leno's brother? No? Can we get a professional opinion on that? We love Taylor cause Taylor is just all about the music for real. I like people that just flat out get ugly with the music cause that's when you know you are SANGIN and this boy SANGS. I knew before he got up there that he was going to do "Livin' for the City" because he knows music. Holy Michael McDonald, Batman!


DO NOT sleep on this girl lest she roll up on you like Kelly Clarkson. She came up tonight with "Until You Come Back to Me". I remember when they were half way through the competition before I even noticed Kelly Clarkson. It was the night that she sang "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)". I didn't even know who she was until then. I have a feeling about this one...

And last but not least, ladies and gentlemen, your next American Idol...


Chris had me when he did Fuel's "Hemorrhage" which to date is my favorite American Idol performance of all time. I completely agreed with Simon (as I often do) that his performance of that song was the only performance done thus far that could stand up in the real world. He is perfect as is.

I knew he was going to sing Higher Ground before he even came up there mostly because the Red Hot Chili Peppers did it. Chris, like Taylor, knows who he is and what he is capable of, thus making wise song choices. He was born for this and I just want this competition to get over so he can put a record out immediately. So yes, Chris is my pic for this year's American Idol.

Now discuss.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Changes I've Been Goin' Through, Part 1-Toya
This is one of my absolute favorite Mary J. Blige songs. I don't have the new record yet. She kinda lost me after Share My World so she is on the "I have to hear 3 singles that I love before I buy it" probationary period. I could not and will not ever be able to tolerate all this "hateration, holleration in this dancery" and I should never be expected to either.

If anyone has noticed, Tia and I have not really written anything for a while outside of pop culture commentary and it is with good reason. I will let Tia speak for herself about her reasons. My reason is because I have debated for weeks whether I was going to bring any of this up. I thought about it long and hard and even contemplated shutting down this blog. Let me interrupt by saying that nothing is wrong with me it's just that I didn't know if I wanted to continue this blog considering the major changes that are going on in my life.

And then I really thought about it at work today. Yes, I got a job and it is at, get this of all places, a CAR REPOSSESSION AGENCY (see the post Yes, He Will if you don't get the irony here). I thought about how there are so many people who I don't know that have written us and have said that they have been encouraged by what we write and our transparency. It's one thing to be transparent on a blog where your face isn't seen. It is however a whole nother thing when you have to be transparent in front of the world, be it on TV, on the radio or on stage and that is what is about to happen in my life for right now because as of about 3 weeks ago I signed a record deal.

(Insert sound of a needle scratching across a record right about here).

If you have been reading this for a while, you may have remember mentioning that I DJed for a former roommate of mine and I honestly did not think that I was going to continue past last year. Then one day I came downstairs and looked at my turntables and realized there was no way that I could sell them. I figured that maybe every now and then I could DJ for some bands around town. Right when I started toying with the idea, I got a call that a label was interested in signing Renee also known as M.O.C. We did a show for the label and then we found that they were interested in signing ALL of us:Renee, Nikki, Beckah (our singer) and me. An all girl hip hop group. An all girl christian hip hop group. I had never been so scared in my entire life.

I was scared because this was not at all a part of my plan. MY plan was to maybe A&R an all female hip hop group or even manage one. Maybe be on the road as a road pastor or road manager for one; not be IN one. Everything was telling me that God had been preparing me for this moment for a very long time and everything in me was telling me that I was not at all worthy of it. I have quite a few friends that have spent their lives working towards getting record deals and here I am, offered one with close to no effort on my part whatsoever. I could write a book about all of the self doubt I have gone through from body image, to guilt; from fear of failure to fear of success; From not wanting my life to change to fear of missing out one of the best opportunities I could have in my life. What it finally came down to was remembering a conversation that I had with a friend of mine named Stephen who is living his dream as front man for one of my favorite bands of all time. Stephen asked me, "If you don't do it and you are 60 years old, will you be pissed that you didn't?" The answer: Heck yeah! I have an opportunity to share an experience with 3 of my closest friends in sharing the love and joy of Jesus Christ to the world through hip hop. It's one thing to have a platform behind this laptop; it's another thing to have a platform that is actually seen by the world.

And I think that God wants to give that to many of us, especially the least likely. I also know that God is doing things in so many of our lives to prepare us for something so beyond what we could ever hope or imagine that if God would tell us even part of it, we would be to scared to breathe let alone move. If God would have told me, "You are going to move from the East Coast where hip hop was born down to (Country)Music City Nashville to be a hip hop artist with a God centered message" I would have never even packed my bags. In what I am as a person, this seems very unlikely but in knowing what God has brought me through, it makes all of the sense in the world.

And because I am not without drama, often self imposed drama, I have had my share of breakdowns and temper tantrums. I got to a point that I just would not talk about it. It just wasn't a reality for me. I was ready for it all to be pulled out from under me. People would come up to me so excitedly and say "Congratulations!" and I would look at them and say "For what?" There would be people that I hadn't seen for a while who would ask what was new and I would just reply "Same old, same old". I just simply would not talk about it outside my very, very close friends and when I did I really didn't talk about it in a positive light. I would not allow myself to enjoy it. I saw this whole thing the same way I often see marriage: I have seen my fair share of marriages (like I have seen my fair share of artists) and I know that most of it is hard work. My sister was under the impression that being signed meant that I was about to be paid and I told her that she needs to stop watching BET and Cribs. When you see new artists videos with all of the jewelry and fancy cars, that junk is rented. Not to mention we all know that 99.99% of the video girls would be no where near those jokers outside of a music video in the first place. But someone pointed out to me that although it is hard work, like marriage, it is to be enjoyed. So now that I have gotten to the point that I have allowed myself to enjoy it, I can talk about it.

So that is the gist. I have A LOT more to write about because I have not journaled at all in my own personal journal about any part of this experience. Like I have said many times before, I am the queen of ignore and deny. The thought of writing about this frightened me because it meant that it was actually happening.

Another reason that I decided to come clean about this is that there are a lot of artists and actors and such with blogs. I am not saying that I am some kind of huge star or anything but I figured if they could do it and not be weirded out by it, I can too.

If I can leave any of you with anything today it is this: You have no idea the great things that God is preparing you for. Through all the heartaches, even through your bad choices and disobedience, God has a plan for your life and it is not some big secret. The plan was already put in place when Jesus came to earth and that is that you would have life more abundantly. I am not saying that everyone will get a record deal. That is not even close to the be all to be all; that is merely a means to an end. What I am saying is that God knows and sees what you are capable of doing and most of the time we don't even see a 1/100th of it inside ourselves. Every day we wake up is a sign that God believes that we can still bring Him glory; that we still have something great to contribute to this world. Think outside of yourselves and allow God's dream to come true through you.