Sunday, January 28, 2007

It Keeps You Running- Toya
Tia and I have wondered many times how we have both lived in Nashville and have never run into Michael McDonald. I am sure that this is for good reason. Pretty sure we wouldn't act right.

I KNOW MY CREDIT SCORE!!!! This may not be a big deal to some but the issue of my credit has been a shameful thorn in my side for quite some time now. I have been running from it for years, embarrassed about the amount of debt that I accrued. I have always been ashamed of the fact that in the foolishness of my youth (college years to be exact) I once treated credit cards as free money. If I could go back in time and go back to college, I would've never signed my life away for a measly free water bottle in the student center and gotten that first Visa card.

Debt has been the most vile four letter word in my vocabulary for a good part of my life. With all of the financial responsibility that comes with being an adult out of college (rent, car payments, food,etc.) I never felt that I was able to make due on all of those broken promises I had made. It wasn't until I had a talk with my mentor that I decided to face my monster. She told me that when she started her business, she had some outstanding debt and that I would be wise to take care of any that I had. Up until now, I thought it was okay to act like it didn't exist. The fact that she mentioned this to me so candidly without me even bringing it up first let me know the obvious: it was time to face my demon.

I met up with Tiff, my former road manager at Panera. Tiff is a kick you in the butt and keep it movin kind of person. She shared with me her testimony of how she got her credit together after a huge financial setback and so I figured that if we ran my credit report and found that my score was a 4, I wouldn't be really embarrassed. She had already been there. With my eyes closed and my teeth clenched, I went online and got my score. You know what? It wasn't THAT bad. It wasn't that GOOD either. Let's just say it was at least 100 points more than what I anticipated. "Oh this is workable" she assured me. I felt so liberated. I mean, the truth will literally set you free! I realized that for so long I had been running from something that was not as big as I imagined it was. With a plan in tow, we went and got the last bit of expensive ice cream I will be purchasing for a while as I am on my way to becoming debt free.

Just recently I urged a guy friend of mine to talk with a friend that he trusted about a problem that he was dealing with. He was afraid to because he knows that everybody sees him as a good guy. Struggling with something does not make you a bad person. We all struggle. The way the enemy gets us bound is by having us condemn ourselves to the point that we never air out our junk to get free. Not too long ago, a situation came up that scared the hell out of me and everything in me was like "Tell NO ONE." I immediately got on the phone and called Tia. I said"If there was any doubt in my mind that you are my best friend, this should prove it. I need to tell you something." And she didn't even blink. You have to know who to tell your junk to is all. When we keep things inside that have the potential to be a problem, they can become huge. The last thing I wanted to do was to keep this inside until it became an obvious problem and then have people looking at me like "Okay, how did you get HERE? When did this even start? Why didn't you say something before we had to pick you up from (insert bad place that you would never want to be caught dead at here)?"

I feel confident enough that with the information I now have that I will be well on my way to no longer being ashamed about my debt. I think we would all do a lot better if we weren't ashamed about our struggles and/or if we didn't make others ashamed of their struggles. How freeing would it be if we could just all keep it real with one another? That's when freedom comes. When we are able to show grace and lift one another up and say "Hey, it's sin. We all struggle with sin. What can we do to help you get free?" Just like my debt didn't pile up over night, neither do our struggles disappear overnight. But now that I have brought my "darkness into the light" to someone that can help me, I can stop running.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No One Is to Blame- Toya
I think I entitled another blog this title a while back. It's an old Howard Jones song that I often hear in Kroger. I love Kroger radio!

The Conclusion

After I wrote the last two blogs I called my mother to tell her how mad I was at what my friend said about women being too independent (let’s call him “Jaden”). The tricky thing about mothers is that they will initially agree with you like they are your girlfriends whether you are right or wrong but then the mother side will kick in and they'll turn on you. “Oh, well he’s an idiot.” My mom sided at first. “That doesn’t even make any sense.” “I KNOW!!!!” I replied, going off on another tirade for about a good 5 minutes. Not too long after she called me back and suggested that I call Jaden to talk things over. Now to me, there was no reason to talk anything over because in my mind I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at what he said. My mother, knowing her child, knew better. “You are mad at him. I know you. You will get around him and won’t even talk to him.” And this is the truth. The fact of the matter is, I know that if we didn’t clear the air, every time I saw him he would represent every guy that has made the “your too independent” assumption and I would take my frustration with this subject out on him by either being mean or avoiding him altogether. I am quite aware that this is petty, thank you very much. “What if this was Tia and you had a disagreement? You would talk it out wouldn’t you? You shouldn’t treat him any differently because of your pride.” Also, painfully true. I remember waking Tia out of her sleep one time cause I was mad at her. I wanted to talk it out immediately. “And Toy, the bible says that if you have an offense against your brother…” Aww boooooo! Now she wants to bring THE WORD into this????? That’s the trump card right there. So after talking to Tia who acknowledged that while it sucked it was true, I decided to call Jaden.

I think the hard thing about bringing up conflict with men is because sometimes women don’t want to seem like they care or are being too emotional. Often the truth is that they DO care and will most likely seem a tad too emotional in comparison to a man’s reaction, which is usually “What? You were mad about that?” which in deed was Jaden’s reaction when I called him the next day. I realized shortly before I called him that I was actually worried that perhaps what Jaden said could’ve been even slightly true. What frightened me was that if it was true and I couldn’t see it, then I couldn’t fix it. I have been touting the Single and Loving It banner for so long that perhaps I was giving off some sort of vibe that was unbeknownst to me but obvious to everyone else. You really don’t know unless you ask, so ask I did. That’s the good thing about having guy friends. The ones that really care about you will tell you the truth.

Jaden and I met for lunch at my favorite wing joint and as we sat down, I didn’t feel nearly as defensive as I thought I would. I just wanted to know the truth. I started off by saying that I was upset with him and I wanted him to explain in detail just what he meant.
He started off by pretty much saying what he said that night but it started with “some women”. So when he finished and I realized that I didn’t disagree that some women were indeed that way, I asked if any of what he said applied to me. “No, I don’t think you are like that at all, Toya.” “Then what is the problem? I’m approachable, I’m nice to everyone, what is it?” “I think your problem could be that with girls like you that are really pretty and outgoing that guys think that you must be already taken.”


Now let’s get something straight, I’m not Beyonce’ or anything. To me, I am that approachable kinda cute. Harmless, even. So I don’t really understand what the big deal is. But then again I don’t know how it is to be a guy and I don’t remotely think like a man. Rejection sucks on so many levels, I can’t imagine the kind of pressure that comes from having to be the one to pursue. So I decided to take the compliment and be at ease. We enjoyed the rest of our lunch and at the end I thanked Jaden for his honesty.

After doing some more thinking, I decided that I really don’t have too much to complain about because just like my mother knows her child well enough to challenge her daughter on something that she was not even trying to hear, God knows His child well enough to know that she has no desire to be involved in a bunch of relationships and is terrified of commitment. My dad and I talked about this one day and he said above all else what he prays for me is that when it comes to my mate that he will be patient. It is going to take one special, patient and secure man. If you have been reading this blog enough you will agree that I am a TRIP. So instead of complaining and blaming men for my singleness (which will only make you feel miserable and hopeless), I now opt to praise God for His protection and pray that the first time I fall in love will be my last.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"The Fact Is (I Need You)"- Toya
Hey Jill Scott's coming out with a Collaborations record in between studio albums. I can't wait for her new stuff.


After last night's tirade, I woke up with this question "What could a guy ACTUALLY do for me?". Honestly, besides the obvious answer, it took me a while to come up with an answer.

I started to remember last Thursday when I was working a Stellars Award event. Our friend Grant who works in the industry asked Tia and I to assist with a benefit concert he was throwing. My job was to be a talent escort (which basically takes an artist from here to there on time) for Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore. For those of you that don't know, Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore are married and have had very successful solo R&B careers but are now performing love songs and gospel songs together. It was a real treat to see them interact with each other.

Chante's personality is very similar to mine: gregarious, outgoing and very personable. Kenny is very friendly but shy and in his own words, can be sometimes "dramatic". Chante wants to run in the middle of the crowd and watch her favorite artists sing before it is time for her to go on. Kenny would rather hide out in the green room and get mentally prepared. Chante will tease and poke you even if she has known you all but 5 minutes. Kenny will very politely asks if something is ok in order to not be a problem. While Chante's personality seems to be stronger than Kenny's, I realized that that doesn't make Kenny weaker. He is very strong and a good leader. What does he do for incredibly gorgeous, can have any guy she wants, has her own money, headstrong Chante' Moore? He allows her to be herself.

It is more important than anything in this world when it comes to relationships that I be with someone who allows me to be my complete fool self. Mr. Wrong Guy loves it when I am myself. He is shy but thinks my eccentricity is adorable and often tells me so. He has the right words to say when I am having a bad day. He makes me feel like I can say anything and because of that I do. I don't feel that I am crushing him when I turn into Toya the Spaz who randomly wants to bring up the fact that I have six different lip glosses in my purse. (Ooh, run out right after you read this and buy EVERY single Victoria Secret lip gloss. They are flavored, they are glittery and they are 2 for $10. They are the BEST!). I could talk to him all day long so I guard my heart as much as possible and try to keep communication to a minimum. We both have goals and encourage each other in them. With him, I don't constantly have to think about all that I have to do and how busy I am and about all of the pressures that come with being a strong independent woman trying to pursue her own business. We are nothing alike but I have never been more attracted to someone's personality as I am his and that is dangerous. Our personalities compliment each other: I bring the excitement and he brings the calm. So what can a man give me? He can give me a break.

There are a lot of Right Guys that can learn some things from the Wrong Guys. Wrong Guys aren't afraid to ask the hard questions or any questions for that matter. They will take their time and get to know you. The Wrong Guys aren't lazy, they are patient. The Wrong Guys are dangerous but the Wrong Guys are fun.

Tia just recently had a dream where there were a group of women on an escape mission. Everytime we tried to escape all it took was one guy to catch one of us slippin' and our escape was foiled. I wish that I could explain it in the way she told me. As she was telling me this dream, the message was clear: one wrong guy cannot only screw up your future but can also put a wrench in the destiny of your friends. Case in point, I was constantly let down in my friendships in my early 20's cause I had a string of girlfriends who had unplanned pregnancies. There were so many things that we wanted to do together but all it took was one night and one wrong guy to mess everything up for us all. No matter how sweet the Wrong Guys seem to be, the Wrong Guy can mess it up for me, for Tia, for my clients, for my niece and goddaughter, and for anyone I mentor and who carefully watches my life for an example. It's not just my life at stake.

I don't know if I need a man. What I do know is that God supplies my needs. I do know that if I do indeed need a man, He will show me that I do. Wait, I am definitely over spiritualizing this right now. You know what, let’s be real here: My hormones know that I need a man but my pride makes it impossible for me to admit that I do. Even thinking about admitting that makes my stomach hurt so I'll let Jill Scott say it....

I could be a congresswoman
Or a garbage woman
or Police officer,
or a carpenter
I could be a doctor and a lawyer and a mother and a good girl
God what you've done to me, Kind of lover I could be
I could be a computer analyst, the Queen with the nappy hair raising her fist
Or I could be much more and a myriad of this
Hot as the summer, sweet as the first kiss
And even though I can do all these things
I need you
And even though I can do all these things
We need you
We need you
We need you
Everything You Want- Toya
Where is Vertical Horizon anyway? This is by far one of the best songs ever written. As much as radio wore it out, I never got tired of hearing it.

Before I get into this let me just say that too many people know about this damn blog now. Yes, some of that is our fault. Because of this, I haven't written in a while for fear of what those who know me might say. But why should you, people who have read this blog for years but will never meet us suffer? You shouldn't and neither should we. So let's begin.

I am so spitting fire angry right now that I don't even know what to do with myself; my stomach is turning, I am fighting back tears of anger, and I am three seconds short of having a jump up and down, knees bent, fists clenched toddler temper tantrum. I am not just fit to be tied, I am fit to be put in a straight jacket. I just left a LONG anus message on Tia's voice mail (which cut me off rightfully so) where I was literally yelling from my diaphragm full force while racing toward my exit. I've really, REALLY had it.

I was minding my own business (and that is always when something happens) talking to a friend of mine about how the wrong guys say the absolute right things. There is a guy who I am constantly around who couldnt be more wrong for me than if he was my first cousin and a serial killer. However, oh how he makes me smile and feel so special and appreciated. It is really hard not giving into him and I constantly stay in prayer about it. Unbeknownst to me, a guy friend of of ours comes up out of nowhere, obviously hearing our conversation and says "Sometimes YOU girls(that is how I heard it) make it hard for a guy to approach you ( I am pissed just typing this mess. The WRONG GUY just told me a week ago that I am the most approachable person he has ever met). Some girls just act too independent." He then went on to say that this puts guys off and makes them think that they have nothing to offer girls like us because we act like we don't need anything or anybody. (If this was a movie, I would insert Beyonce's "You Must've Just Lost Your Mind" right here. That is exactly what went through my head while he was talking. Yes, I have a running soundtrack in my mind. I mean, don't you?). Initially, I wanted to scream in his face "I DON"T need anybody" but that would've been out pride and is not remotely the truth. Appalled that he just looked at me with a straight face and said this, I said "I'm sorry but I always thought that guys didn't want a girl that is needy and always has to have constant affirmation. Wouldn't you want someone strong for you? Don't you want someone that can be on your team and can hold it down beside you?" "Well yeah" he answered " I like a girl that has all the ability to lead but will allow me to lead. It has to be a choice.” Well you know how I am hearing this right? I am hearing “That is why we never went out or will go out. Because I can’t do anything for you because you are too strong to let me.” I took this to mean that he doesn't think that I would allow him to lead. If he would actually take the lead to get to know me, he would realize how wrong of an assumption that is. Okay, I may be oversensitive but you can start to get oversensitive when you are just tired of it all. I am not mad at him, I am mad at this way of thinking.

If I really am fine and have everything I want then why am I so hurt by this? My guess is because just when I finally stopped believing that I could never be enough for someone, I have basically been told by someone that I am now too much. What are you supposed to do with that? Dumb down? Become docile and giggle all the time? I have gotten to the point where I can't care anymore. The thought of being in love and having that friendship, that oneness that goes beyond words is incomprehensible for me even though I constantly see it around me. Still I won't settle. I have seen guys pursue and marry strong, independent women. I want no less than that.

That's why I love God. In Hosea, it He says that He will betroth you in faithfulness and righteousness and love. I'm not incomplete because really I am already married (walk with me on this one, it's not as weird as it sounds). I know as single women, we constantly walk around as if we are incomplete and don't belong to anyone but that is not true. I do belong to someone and that someone affirms me, tells me that I am enough. In Psalms, it tells me that He has stooped down to make me great. I am not without security. Sure Jesus is not holding my hand in the park and sending Gerber daisies to my office. But I don't have to change the person that I am, the person that he died for so that I can be, just to be with someone that is too insecure to encourage me to be strong. , God has done too great a work in me for me to suddenly act like I don’t have any sense just to get a man. (Praise you Lord, I am about to shout all over my bedroom).

Any man that doesn't want to step to you because they are afraid that they can't give you anything has problems with himself. Their insecurity is not your problem. Okay, maybe it is your problem cause well, that may just be why so many of us are still single. As for me, if I have to compromise what God has worked so diligently for me to become just to end my season of being single, I have no problem staying this way as long as He wants.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Father, Pastor, Innovator, Martyr

Too often we take for granted everything that Dr King sacrificed so that we can do the mundane day to day things. As I (Tia) sit here first in line for the A group for Southwest a thought hit me. CNN is playing in the background and of course they're doing their obligatory "throw you a bone it's Dr. King day" coverage. I began to think about where I would be if people like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Huey Newton and so many others hadn't fought and DIED for equality. Odds are I wouldn't be sitting here. I wouldn't have the job that I have. I would have the friends that I have. I wouldn't be the person that I am.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying. But I do know this: if it weren't for those who came before me, there would be no me.

Never forget.....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

OH HAPPY DAY....(choir echos) OH HAPPY DAYYYYYY - Tia

The British are coming. The British are COMING!!!!! I found out yesterday that Becks is moving to the US. He will be playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy beginning in August. NOW I understand why I had to move to LA. The only thing that could make this news better is if it was discovered the he and Posh aren't really married and it was all a publicity stunt and that he's madly in love with the idea of marrying a black woman from the south.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Make It Happen- Toya
I was never a fan of Mariah Carey until I heard her house mixes. Then when Butterfly came out (Ghetto Fabulous Mariah) I was hooked. Mimi is my girl.

Until about 15 minutes ago I had not felt like writing for weeks. One of my favorite writers,Shellie Warren, (and I am not name dropping, it is just that she has one of those types of names where her first and last name go together as if they are one) urged me almost a month ago to blog and I told her I just was not moved to yet. It was if I was waiting on something and I didn't quite know what it was until right now: I have been waiting for conflict.

After one of the biggest storms of my life, things have been close to perfect. Weeks back in a blog entitled "Hang On to Your Love" I wrote about how as an artist I was so bitter due to the music industry. I kept remembering being in elementary school, watching Janet's "Control" video. I would daydream that I was on the side of the stage making sure every step was right, the crowd was singing every word, and that if one of the keys fell out of her earring, I was prepared with a replacement. Jam, Lewis, Janet and I were a team in those Control days. I never wanted to be an artist at all. So when I woke up one day and realized that if I continued as an artist, which was mainly a career move on my part to actually walk through what artists go through, by the time it was all said and done I was going to be so angry and so bitter that I would never pursue my dream of being involved on the business side. It was soon after, with the support of the other girls in the group, that I quit the group I was in and was let out of my contract.

To make an insanely long story short, I am finally, FINALLY on my way to being an artist development/media coach which has been my dream since elementary school. I just never quite knew what the title was. I didn't know until one day while talking to a friend of mine about some career choices before she went on tour, I spotted a new magazine that Tia picked up. It was during this time that I was wrestling with whether I could actually make a career out of what I loved to do and have always done since high school and that is coach and counsel artists. I opened the magazine directly to an article on a woman who not only did what I loved to do for a living but did it for about $100-$350 an hour for every major artist imaginable. Her story read similar to mine: like me, she has been involved in so many different parts of the industry before she settled on her career. "This is a job!!!!???" I yelled in disbelief. "This is actually a job???" I showed it to Tia and my friend and they said what all of my friends have said "This is you. This is what you have always done and were made for." Immediately, I emailed this woman my life story and she has been guiding me ever since.

A week ago today I celebrated my 32nd birthday. I was happier that night than I have been in years. I have the greatest friends anyone could ask for, I can finally say that I love living in Nashville, and finally I am on my way to doing the job that I prayed to God for; something I loved so much that I would do it for free. So why was I sitting on the couch tonight watching television, gripped by fear? Because I am afraid to be happy. Because everything I have done this far was for this very second. Because I am not supposed to be afraid but I don't know how to not be afraid. I literally don't know how. January 2nd was the day that I was supposed to be getting together my plan and here it is January 2nd and my leg is shaking. The "As soon as I get done with...I will..." is here. "When" is RIGHT NOW. I could throw up.

I heard a preacher give a sermon one night and the main point of it was "do it afraid." I have to. I literally have no more time and if I don't go towards this I will be fulfilling everything that my report cards said from elementary up to high school: "Does not work to potential". I am actually blessed to know exactly what it is that I want to do, have all of the connections to do it and yet I feel frozen. I feel like I am jumping off of a cliff with my eyes closed. There is no boss, there is no time clock, just me. It's lonely, it's scary but still I have never felt happier or more blessed.

It's 11:45 pm. I have 15 more minutes to do it afraid.