Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#31WriteNow Blog Challenge- Toya

Hello All,

Sooooo we've been a little inconsistent with the blog posts lately. We know this. And I can sit here and say "well life happens" but truthfully, I will speak for myself and say that I know I can be a bit more disciplined.  But between two jobs, my new workout regimen and sleep.. *Bernie Mac voice* "My body is weary!"  However if there are a few things I've learned from working out lately, they are this: it's important to set goals and if you really want, you can make time for important things.

We won't talk about how there's laundry all over my room right now though and how I need to be making time for that. Carrying on...

So we are going to join the awesome Awesomely Luvvie on her 31 Day Write Now Blog Challenge. That's right. Tia and I will be writing a blog a day each. We are about to let y'all have it! Watch out there now!   Here are our list of topics we will address:

From Twiddlemedee

Day 31 will be a recap of the challenge.  I'm letting you know right now that Day 1 is going to be a doozy for both of us.  Lord help.  For more on Awesomely Luvvie's #31WriteNow Blog Challenge, check out her blog here.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Apparently, boobs are the new video thing - Tia

I can not even begin to explain why it's been so long since I've blogged. (work, the Trayvon verdict, birthday) So I won't bother. Just know that I'm back now.


I'm fairly conservative. But I'm no prude. However, I'm wholly uninterested in looking at another woman's naked breasts. I have my own. I've had them since I was 11. I know what they look like. For the most part they all pretty much look the same. If you've seen one pair you've seen them all. And frankly, I don't see the appeal. (I think guys are just obsessed with breasts because they don't have any.) They're sacks of fat, that sometimes make your shirts fit weird and are used to feed babies. Personally, I don't think women should get boobs until they have a child. It would level the playing field and eliminate a lot of hassles. (Anyone who's bigger than a D cup knows what I'm talking about when I say "hassle.") In this "no boobs until kids" scenario if you chose not to breastfeed you would immediately become flat chested again after giving birth. I'm telling you, flat-chestedness for all would solve so many problems.


I say all of that to say boobs appear to be having the best summer ever.  I feel like every time I turn around some woman's nekkid breasts are being paraded across the TV or interwebs. But this post isn't just about random boobs. It's about the boobs all over the Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake videos.

The first time I saw both of their respective videos I thought the same thing, "What the hell does all of this nudity have to do with the song?" I'm honestly so confused by the presence of the boobs in both of their songs. Robin's video I almost get. The song is very cheeky. So I guess I can almost sort of follow the logic behind the nudity. I think...I'm not sure...Never mind...Nope...I don't get it.

The thing about "Blurred Lines" is the song is not any better with the boobies. If you watch the clean version and then the unrated version, the bresticles literally add NOTHING to the song. In fact, if I'm being honest, the clean version is better. Why? Because I don't have to spend 4 1/2 minutes wondering what these naked chicks have to do with the song. In the clean version I can just watch the video and enjoy its delightful poppiness.

See for yourself. Tell me the clean version isn't better than the unrated version.
(By the way, I shouldn't have to tell you that this entire post is NSFW. So don't watch this at work. This post is probably already blocked by your job. I've used the words: breasts, boobs, naked, etc. If those aren't work red flags then I don't know what is.)

And then there's Justin Timberlake's "Tunnel Vision." Is he serious with that mess? That video wins the prize for the most useless addition of breasts of ALL TIME!!!

The first time I heard "Tunnel Vision" I imagined the video going a completely different way. (Yes, I immediately think of video treatments the first time I hear songs I like.) He and Timberland could have done so much more with the video. But instead they shoot 7 minutes of naked chicks dancing moving in smoke. The boobs are utterly unnecessary. And dear readers, it takes a lot of talent to render life giving breasts pointless. But that is was JT did. Congrats Justin. Your video sucks.

One has to wonder what the thought process was behind both videos. Both Robin and Justin have largely female fanbases. So what did they hope to accomplish by putting naked women in their videos? Surely they didn't think that these videos would endear them to their female fans? Were they both trying to win over more male fans? Were they tired of having mostly ladies screaming at their shows? Did they want to do the fellas a solid? I don't know. And at this point I don't care. I don't have to watch the videos to hear the songs. So the nekkid chichis are free to flash and gyrate on Youtube/Vevo for all eternity. I'll just stick with the cds/MP3s.

Oh and one final thought:  It's interesting that the unrated version of Robin's video is not available on Youtube but Justin's is. I read that initially Justin's video was banned because it violated the nudity policy on Youtube. But later the same day it was released it was found to have "artistic" merit and was added back to the site. Two things: 1. How the hell is 7 minutes of slow dancing naked women in smoke "artistic"? Call me crazy, but to me it seems like porn. At least the chicks were kind of bouncing around and having fun in Robin's video. The fun vibe made it feel less porn-ish...well not really. But the slow gyrating in Justin's video feels very "back of the video store, you need to show I.D. to get in here." 2. I wonder if Robin were a bigger star would his video have been banned? I'm just saying. JT is on tour with Jay Z and has a big tour of his own coming up in the fall. (Side Note: The Jay Z/JT show was EPIC. It was better than Beyonce's show...Yep... I said that.) JT has another album coming out this autumn. I'm sure when the bigwigs behind the machine that is Justin Timberlake heard that his video was banned there were some angry calls made and emails sent to get that video back on Youtube. I mean, what makes JT's video more artistic that Robin's? Someone explain it to me. I'll wait...

Monday, July 22, 2013

When My Homies Call: What Tia Has Taught Me About Friendship

So this week is Tia's birthday (TURN UP! Sorry...) and it has caused me to be a bit reflective on our friendship.When I think of all of the stories I could tell about our friendship, it's difficult to find one that doesn't a) incriminate anyone and b) would fall flat on whoever read it because chances are you just had to be there. But if I had to pick one story that was indicative of how good a friend Tia has been to me, I think the following nails it.

Does anyone remember that summer when gas prices were as high as a giraffe's booty (that is one of Tia's favorite sayings by the way)?  I mean, it was HIGH. Anyway, our local radio station ran a contest where they gave out clues for the location of a gas station that was selling gas for I think 10 cents a gallon (may have been 25 cents). Rarely can I make it up out of the bed early for any good reason but I was pretty broke at that time and I knew I needed to be in that number. So I set my alarm clock and sat close to the radio to hear the clues as to where the gas station would be. Once I figured it out, I drove down there in the middle of August with no air condition and less than a quarter tank of gas. It wasn't too long before I found out that I was not the only genius that figured out where the gas station was because there was a long, LONG line of cars waiting for gas.

Y'all. It was hot. HOT. Not only was it hot out there but I hadn't eaten that morning. Anyone that knows me for real for real knows that I do not function well AT ALL when I need to eat. My attention span is nil and I can kind of get in a panic. And get in a panic I did when I drove up to the tent where they had Krispy Kreme donuts only to find out that they had ran out.

Me: But...they said there would be donuts!
Krispy Kreme Man: I know. I'm sorry, we ran out.

See? Panic.

When I thought about the situation as a whole, it then occurred to me that I had pretty much done the dumbest thing I had done in a really long time. First, I went out there with almost no gas. Secondly, I went out there on the hottest day of the year with no air condition and no gas. Thirdly, I went out there on the hottest day of the year with no air condition, no gas and no food.  "Oh my gosh this is not going to end well" I thought. They are going to find me waiting in this car like Miss Sophia in jail.

"Sat in that line.  I sat in that line til I about rotted to death..."

(If I've said it once, I've said it a million times.  The Color Purple is always relevant. Always.)

So of course I called Tia, the only person that I would not be embarrassed enough to tell that I did something so dumb.  Tia is one of the least judgmental people I know. I could do something really dumb and most of the time she will find a way to make it seem like either I didn't know better or that I just made an honest mistake.  I say most of the time because real friends will put you in check when you really need it and she definitely has. Because I was delirious, I don't quite remember what I said besides "this is pretty much the dumbest thing I have ever done in my lifetime."  I remember panicking thinking what if they ran out of gas before I got there and I was just stuck. I talked to her as the line moved slowly along and she offered to bring me something to eat. I had no idea how she was going to find me in that long line of cars but of course I said sure. 

It wasn't too long (maybe it was because I think I may have indeed passed out at one time) until I saw Tia walking towards my car with water, some snacks which included my favorite peanut butter crackers. Who does that???? Seriously, there were about 100 cars out there. I don't know where she parked. I don't know how she found my car but she did. By the time I realized it wasn't a mirage, I was pretty overwhelmed. That was the day I knew, THIS is my BEST friend. 

Tia has proven time and time again to be a selfless and sacrificial friend to me and I have learned a lot from her example.  It's one thing to say how you feel about someone but Tia is a doer. She shows love by action and I have always respected that about her. She is reliable to a fault. You never have to ask her twice about something because she really is that dependable. It's so funny to think that when we moved in together years ago that I once thought that there was no way I was going to be more than roommates with this girl. Now I can't imagine the kind of person I would be had I never had met her. 

So to the homiest of homies, happy birthday Tia. You are the epitome of a true friend.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Toya's Thoughts on the Zimmerman Verdict

Tia was in town last night for the Beyonce' concert and I met up with her downtown afterwards. As she walked towards me, she burst into tears. I had a feeling as to why but as I hugged her, I asked her what happened. Brandon who was standing behind her answered, "Just... everything. Everything that is going on." Tia and I both have brothers. If I was a crier (at times like these I wish I was), we probably both would have fallen into the street a complete mess over the Zimmerman trial verdict,

It sucks when expecting the worst out of a situation does not lessen the pain of when the worst happens.

I am going to say something that is not going to be nice or popular and that's fine: there are plenty things in this world I will agree to disagree with. I feel I have my right to believe what I want. I respect others rights to believe what they want. But I am letting you know right now today that the outcome of this Zimmerman trial is by no means something that I will agree to disagree with at all. In fact if you happen to think that justice was ultimately served in this, please unfriend me now on Facebook, Twitter and most definitely in real life. This is non-negotiable. I am okay with it. I just can't have people in my personal space that think that George Zimmerman going free is okay. I am completely incapable. I just...*shakes head* I don't understand what some people don't understand.

Facts are facts. They just are. No one had to have been at the scene of the crime or in the courtroom. Interestingly enough, I have never heard anyone use the "no one was at the scene of the crime" foolishness in regards to the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony cases. Based on the facts alone, it makes absolutely no sense that George Zimmerman is free right now and Michael Vick gets years in prison for dog fighting. The fact that he still gets death threats for that alone shows the value that our society puts on the lives of young black men.

How can anyone say that race is not a factor in this? I find it particularly interesting how I don't hear that race is not a factor from my friends with bi-racial children, especially white parents of bi-racial children. It's because they know better. But it saddens me to think that perhaps one would have to be connected personally to a black child to see that the entire climate of this thing is racial. I don't see how I could really articulate that to someone that can't see that. That won't see that. Let's say two people, one a bible believing Christian and one an atheist, disagree on a matter and the only defense the Christian can come up with is "well the bible says..." That is going to mean nothing to the atheist because the bible does not affect their worldview. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the bible is not practical. I believe it is. What I am saying is that it's hard to live in what is your reality and try to convince someone whose life is governed by a completely different set of rules (and privileges) that, albeit yours, it is indeed a reality. Furthermore, it's not just black people that know that this is about race. I can look at my timeline and see many of my friends of different racial backgrounds that believe that it is. Do you know who else believes it is? The plenty of hateful racists who are overjoyed with this outcome because for them it is and has always been about race hence the hateful video games, websites, shooting range targets, Facebook pages and such that have been made saying that Trayvon Martin deserved to die and that paint George Zimmerman as a hero.

I am not going to argue that on the grounds of self defense that it was proven that George Zimmerman did not defend himself. The anger and outrage and hurt is about the fact, the FACT, that had he never gotten out of the car after being told not to, then he would not have had to practice self defense at all and an unarmed child would not be dead. How does one NOT go to jail for that? If it's not about race, then look at the recent case of Marissa Alexander; a black woman in Jacksonville, FL (what is wrong with Florida???) who fired a warning shot in self defense against her abusive husband and is now facing 20 years for attempted murder. How is she not covered under the Stand Your Ground law? This woman fired a warning shot in self defense against a man that she had a protective order against because he had beaten her before. He was a proven threat. Trayvon Martin was not. Even if you can still sit there and say that this is not about race, how can anyone look at these two cases and deny how incredibly screwed up our justice system is?

Another reason that I know this is about race, and this is not going to be a very popular statement either, is that I know at times I have prejudged some black men by the way they look. If I am the only black woman who will admit this publicly then so be it but I know I am not the only one. And for this reason after I heard the verdict I wanted to run out into the middle of the street and hug every single black man I saw. I wanted to cry and kiss them on the cheek and tell them that I am so sorry. I am so so so very sorry. Because again in regards to a person's reality that you may not completely ever understand, the message that this verdict sends out to black men everywhere serves as not shock like it may for so many of us. It serves as just another reminder that their lives aren't seen as valuable. Well not unless you play ball really well or can sing, or do what makes others see you as a non-threatening Negro. But even so at the end of the day, the reality is that black men are marked men from birth so I am not seeing it for me bearing any sympathy whatsoever for George Zimmerman who will now get a taste of the same thing. I just don't have it in me at all.

Our justice system has just told this man and others that think like him that what he did was 100% right. You think this doesn't serve as some sort of go ahead?

Our justice system has just told millions and millions of kids that what happened to Trayvon Martin is 100% right. How can any child feel safe?

This goes so much deeper than self defense and I wish people would really really consider that before they try to get legally technical. Legal technicalities are incapable of having any regard for the value of human life.

So what do we do now? I have no quick solutions. There are no quick ones. I will say that as black people we need to love each other more. We need to watch how we talk to and about each other. I remember reading how singer Miguel said that black people are some of the most judgmental people in the world when it comes to our own. He was absolutely right. I was watching Wattstax the other day thinking "What happened? Look how beautiful this is!" They've said that this is a generation that sits idly by while things happen and many have wondered why there haven't been many protests or rallies. I don't want to march. I don't want to rally. I want change. While change involves everyone, I truly believe that it has to start with us as a people and I dare say it starts with our men. In a world that constantly screams the opposite, it has to start with them because they are valuable, strong, amazing, beautiful and capable leaders whose time has come to stand up. I pray that we seek God's wisdom for how to make things better. I pray that we, (me first because I really need it today) can learn forgiveness and can move past hurt to see things through the eyes of love. We can't point fingers. We just need change.

"How cool would it be to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night?" -Jermaine Paul

Friday, July 12, 2013

New Music: Justin Timberlake "Take Back the Night"- Toya

This dude is killin' the game right now.

Does anyone remember how much I used to dislike Justin Timberlake? I mean, it was harsh. Never in a million years did I think I would be giving this man so much of my money in one year. But sure enough I bought 20/20 the week it came out, I'm seeing him when he comes to Nashville, and well...I'll be buying this when it comes out as well. What can I say? Good music is good music and let bygones be bygones. Check out his just released track from the upcoming sequel to his multi-platinum (and sure to be award winning) album 20/20, "Take Back the Night".

Thursday, July 11, 2013

War of My Life- Toya

"War of My Life" is a song by John Mayer whose songs have often articulated how I feel about life much better than I can on most days.

*Note- Before I get into this, please know that things are slowly and very surely getting better. I would not write about this right now if they weren't.  I write this because quite often I have found that some of our readers go through the same things that we do. One thing I have found out about depression from some closest around me is that more people silently go through it than we can ever know.  This is why I am sharing what is happening; to show that breakthrough is possible. 

These past few months have emotionally been the hardest of my life. In comparison to the tragedies we hear of everyday, it seems very silly to say that. However, how many of us know that while your troubles may seem small in comparison to someone else's, they are YOUR troubles inside of YOUR head and that makes them very real? Anyway, it's not entirely been due to the bad things have happened to me. It's partly because of what has NOT happened to me; Being almost 40 and not being clear on where my life is going and wanting to do so many things but feeling as if my hands were tied from doing them. Working two jobs and feeling as if I have not made a dent in recovering from being laid off a few years ago. Not being able to help my family during what has been a very hard time in all of our lives. And my tragedy of a love life? Look, don't even start. I am not exactly sure when the downward spiral began but before I knew it I was fighting off panic attacks at work and crying in my car before heading out to my second job. My temper and patience became extremely short to the point that I had to pull over one time because my anger was so out of control due to lunchtime traffic. Much like babies who cry when it's past their nap time, I have been just completely emotionally and physically exhausted by consistent blows to my self esteem. Some terrible things have happened that have sent me past the point of being upset anymore. I had gotten to the place where I would just cry from being tired. I have had moments where I really started to think about what I would have to do to be committed. Not because I thought I was entirely going insane but because I just wanted to lie down for five days and not be bothered! I was just done, completely done, with everything all the way around and being at that place with depression is a very scary place to be. 

It's scary because with extroverts like me, you can turn it on and off. Because we draw our energy from being around people, when we are around others, we are okay. But how we are away from people is a completely different story.   Privately, we can become very self destructive.  This is why we need to be careful about how we treat people.  I don't care what someone's life looks like on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and the like.  The truth is that a lot of people are going through some hellish things that most don't even have a clue about. For me, it soon got to the point that when people asked me how I was doing, I couldn't even say I was fine anymore. I would just say "I am taking it one day at a time." because really that's all I could do. Sometimes it was as much as an hour at a time. I just stopped lying to people altogether because I knew I needed help. 

Things started to change when I had my first weekend off of work in months and was able to finally get some rest.  It was during that time that I made a few decisions. One was to stop pursuing a bunch of stuff. Just stop already. Get well first. I was working on a lot of different things and was initially scared of looking like a quitter in front of people but for my peace of mind, I had to let everything go and that included everyone's opinions of me. I then prayed for two things: 1) "God, please give me the help that I need"  and 2) "Whatever you want me to do with my life, you have to bring it to me. Please don't wait for me to decide because I simply can't. I'm exhausted. You choose. I'm open to whatever you want me to do." Immediately after I prayed that I began to have more peace than I have had all year and am finally in a place to make wiser decisions. One of those decisions has been that I would only allow myself to focus on these things: my holistic health, my relationship with God, and my small business when I felt that I could mentally bring myself back to it. There has been so much freedom in that. Three things and that's it. If what I am confronted with does not fall under those three things then it's a no. THAT feels good. I think if anyone were to ask me right now what it is that I want to do with my life, my answer would be to get and to stay well. It's just that simple.  I really don't want to be back to that place ever again.

One of the things that I have been challenged on is my eating habits. Emotional eating is such a crazy and addictive cycle.  Being busy and lack of planning, along with emotional eating due to the level of stress and anxiety I've gone through lately began to take a toll on my body and because of that my weight has shot up about fifteen pounds this year.  In a conversation about my depression, someone asked if I was eating right and the answer was not hardly.  Interestingly enough, the weight gain has been the one thing I actually wasn't depressed about. I was willing to give myself some grace because I thought that I couldn't possibly take care of my physical well being until I took care of my emotional and mental health so that's what I set out to do.  In doing so, I actually found out that one way to take care of my emotional and mental health was to take charge of my physical health.   What you eat (or don't eat) can have a very negative impact on your emotional well being. Hmm. I've tried to get healthy and in shape for a lot of reasons before: birthdays, New Year's resolutions, vacations, etc. But never until now how have I attempted to get in shape simply for my peace of mind.  

I am happy to say that I am on my way to being in shape both mentally and physically and it could not have come at a better time. Here's to a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Thanks for letting me share, guys.