Wednesday, December 4, 2013



~ a prime number, meaning that it only has 2 positive divisors, 1 and itself
~ an odd number, meaning that it can't be evenly divided by 2
~ the year of life I'm celebrating today!

Consistent with the last few years, this one was chock full of major change.

Let's recap 36:
So there were some milestones and significant events
Then there were some more personal milestones, too.
I'm not a big birthday person.  I mean, I'm grateful for another year, but I don't need big celebrations and declarations. Unlike years 35 and 36, this year I'm excited, but it's a simmering, calm excitement.  I've decided that I want to live 37 a new and fearless way. I keep asking myself, "Girl, what would your life look like if you stopped being so damn afraid all of the time?" Being afraid is tiring - afraid of saying/doing the wrong thing, afraid of what my students and colleagues think of me, afraid of the feedback I'll get when I submit articles, blah, blah, blah. Whew! Enough.

My husband and I had a long talk about fearlessness the other night, and I tried to think back to the last time I felt like I was totally fearless.  I was probably 10 - excelling academically, busy being the head of all kinds of little organizations, always trying to make my voice heard.  Lately I've been trying to figure out when I strayed.  This world can be hard, and somewhere along the way I lost my fearlessness. I have a girlfriend who's motto is "F@ck perfection." I think mine is going to be "F@ck fear." So in the spirit of f@cking fear, here are my hopes for 37:

May I continue to become more of myself. May I continue down the path of learning to say no.  May I continue to cut all of the unnecessary apologies. May I be a better wife. May I continue to deepen my friendships and make space for new ones. May I become a better teacher, and strictly enforce my due dates.  May I grow in wisdom and knowledge, keep on dodging gray hairs, and get carded occasionally to give my self-esteem a boost. And may I do all of this while realizing that a force so much greater than me is orchestrating it all.  This life is divinely inspired; may I remember this when I feel fear creeping in. After all, He didn't give us the spirit of fear. 

Y'all, 37 is about to be a big one. I'm bout to get it! Don't know what exactly "it" is yet, but I'm on a mission to find out. I believe God is about to get loose all over my life.  I mean, look at 36. He loves to show out! I'm about to make my inner-10-year-old proud as I grow in fearlessness.

"Don't buh-lee me, jes' watch." ~ Trinidad James

Until next time . . . I'll be grooving to my (and Hov's) birthday song, December 4th.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Walking in Purpose: Ameena Matthews ROCKS!

I had the pleasure of watching Black Girls Rock after a busy day on Monday.  I always enjoy the show, and I'm always impressed by how well put-together and entertaining it is.  This year did not disappoint. While I enjoy the performances, I LOVE to watch the acceptance speeches.  This year they honored a personal hero of mine, Marian Wright Edelman, and other amazing women such as Queen Latifah, Misty Copeland, and Venus Williams.  However, my absolute favorite acceptance speech for the evening was from Ameena Matthews.

Just lovely.  Picture borrowed from here

I've watched her acceptance speech at least five times, and my wonderful husband found it online so I could watch it whenever the spirit moves me.

Ameena is a community activist who has dedicated herself to minimizing violence in Chicago. I was first made aware of Ameena's amazing dedication and commitment to her work via the documentary The Interrupters.  Check it out if you haven't seen it.  Then, I was completely smitten with this sister when I saw her on the Colbert Report.

I told my husband that she's got "it," meaning, not only does she do commendable work, but she has a winning personality.  She's charismatic. She draws people in.

I found so much inspiration in her acceptance speech.  Check it out for yourself:

I love to witness people walking in their purpose, and purpose is all over Ameena.  You can feel that she is convicted by her purpose.  Her gratitude was palpable.  I had a few big takeaways from her brief acceptance speech.

1. Be comfortable in your own skin and always know who you are.  Ameena began by greeting the audience with "As-salamu alaykum" and acknowledging that she may not look like what is "mainstream."  My favorite part of the speech, "Come on, Look at this gold tooth and this scarf!" Ameena was being raised up on a national stage for being just who she is.  It's just enough, and it's just RIGHT!

2. Honor your elders.  She knows that Marian Wright Edelman is EVERYTHING!

3. You have to see yourself where you want to go.  She reminded her daughter that they used to watch the show and said that they would get there one day.  They spoke that thing into existence! She is Sojurner! She is Harriet! She IS Ameena Matthews!

4. Know that your life's work divinely inspired.  I know that Ameena's is.  She acknowledged it, and you could feel it.  I was watching like, "Is this Musliminah about to start shouting?!?!" Ha! Go in, Sister Ameena! Let the spirit move you!

5. Honor your spouse.  Ameena acknowledged that she draws strength from her husband. She said he saw her purpose, and he's a part of it.

6. Make a difference in this world.  Ameena reminded all of us to reach out and pour into the life of a young person.

I just watched it again. I still have chills and goosebumps.  Ameena, you absolutely rock! Keep doing God's work. Keep inspiring us all to do the same.

Until next time . . . I'll be over here rockin' as well!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On This Double Life

Hello all.  Happy Saturday!

Haven't been blogging much, but I'm always thinking about how I'm going to carve out some time to get back to here.  This is my favorite space on the web.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about who I am as I negotiate my identities as a newlywed, professor, spiritual being, and so on.  I started think about the things that make me, me. When I think of who I am, I think about . . .

A business suit paired with a big pair of Fulani hoops.

Love my big ole hoops! They're conversation starters.

Pinning and cooking new quinoa recipes to my Pinterest boards, all while feigning for Shipley's Donuts.

Loving female empowerment, but still wanting my hubby to get my oil changed.

Contemplating buying a sensible sedan or SUV, all while having an affinity for slabs (It's the Houston in me, y'all; I love the creativity!).

Creative, unique, and all their own. There's no place like home.
Working on a journal article, while daydreaming about Monday's Big Freedia concert. Disagree if you'd like, but twerking is an artform.

Thinking about intersectionality and Black feminist thought, while loving bad reality TV.

Calling a housekeeper when things get out of control around the house, while knowing I'm the first generation of women in my family who don't clean houses for a living.

Loving bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, and Lil Kim's Hardcore. 

Knowing long Bible scriptures and every line of UGK's Tell Me Somethin' Good by heart.

Alvin Ailey concerts in February and dropping it like it's hot to Uncle Luke.

They're coming

Solving interesting math problems while reading lots of fashion blogs.

Teaching college courses, and rushing home from class to get to a Pete Rock & CL Smooth concert.

Enjoying academia, but being grounded enough to know that it is a luxury and a blessing to be paid to write about your thoughts.

Extending love and goodwill toward others, but also knowing the power of getting someone together if needed.

Devouring hamachi maki sushi rolls, but still counting down until I can sink my teeth into some good old Frenchy's.

I'm all of these things.  Responsible, yet sometimes frivolous.  Knowing the value of saving a dollar, but sometimes saying "f*ck it" and buying the shoes.  Loving to pour over academic journals, but sometimes saying "to hell with it" and seeing what shenanigans NeNe and the housewives are up to.

Isn't it wonderful learning to love all the parts of you? I almost titled this post "Contradictions," but then I realized that these things aren't.  They only become contradictions when you try to live up to some invisible standard of what is "right" and "appropriate." And now that I think about it, I'm not even sure if "Double Life" is a fair title.  These are all facets of me and my life, and they're all happening simultaneously.  I'm blessed to have such a wide range of experiences and to share my life with so many people from so many different walks of life. All of these experiences make me exactly who I am, and I'm proud of it.

Until next time . . . I'll be bouncing to Big Freedia during my office hours. (I'm joking . . . maybe).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lovin' It!

Gosh I miss blogging on a regular basis.  Folks, I'm earning every dollar of my paycheck at the new gig. Life on the other side of the desk is NO JOKE. Anyway, I'm back today to talk about the things that I am loving at the moment.  First, a little mood music, Lovin' It (so appropriately titled) by Little Brother:

I'm loving:

Gregory Porter's new album Liquid Spirit. Gosh, this guy can write a love song.

My new Stuart Weitzman heels that were a STEAL. Seriously, they were, like 85% off.
Yes! Now I just need somewhere to go! 
Meeting all the new people at my job.  In particular meeting some folks who have asked me to learn more about their work and how I could potentially be a part of it.

Fall weather, despite the torrential rainfall yesterday.  I'm here for tights, boots, and blazers.  Fall fashion is my very favorite.

And while we're on fashion, I'm LOVING that I am re-creating my professional persona.  My husband took me on a mini shopping spree, and lets just say I stepped into the office styling on them today.

All-day dates over the last two weekends with my hubby. I just love that man.
Our "in the car" shot.  I have about a million of these in my phone.
My favorite group of the moment, The Internet.  The soloist, Syd Tha Kid, has an amazing voice. Make your ears happy.

My tenant moving out of my house and leaving it in pretty good condition. Despite painting one bedroom eggplant purple and the other royal blue.

One of my student's mock lesson on probability. She did that! I just like her. She participates all of the time, has great insight, and she's always very thoughtful.

I really like all of my students actually. My undergraduates are getting the organization part of the class together, but they're a great group.

Getting an AMAZING massage this weekend.  My girlfriends surprised me.  If you're ever in the Fairfax, VA area, check out Malee Thai Massage.  One of my girlfriends just texted me to tell me she's still feeling good.

Tyson learning new commands.  He now knows "Stairs," which is his cue to go sit on the 4th or 5th step while we enter the house and get settled. We adopted a doggy genius. And yes, he's still dancing, and yes it still tickles us.

Teaching classes that are fun yet challenging.  I'm learning so much. I can't wait to reteach these two classes in the spring.

My haircut. Yup. Still love it.  It's growing out a bit, but I have plans to keep it cut low.

Life is good. Hard, but good.  I'm stressed out a fair amount of the time, yet I'm blessed beyond measure.

Until next time, share a little about what you're loving at the moment. I'd love to hear.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Moment by Moment: On Encouraging Yourself While Encouraging Others

It was the end of class, and everyone was packing up and heading home.

Student: "Dr. TJ, do you mind if I talk to you for a few moments."

Me: (packing up to head home) "Sure. What's going on?"

Student: "I don't know if I'm cut out for this. Looking over all of the assignments for the semester is making me feel like maybe I shouldn't be doing this."

Wow.  I had had an identical conversation with myself that morning.  Feeling totally consumed by all of the work that was ahead of me - teaching, research, service, homelife, finances, health, etc., I just didn't know if I was prepared to take it all on.  I was feeling inadequate, and in the moment above, so was my student.  So there I was trying to encourage someone who was suffering from the same thing that I was.

So, I took a deep breath and reminded my student of a few things:

  • I wasn't asking my students to take on the whole semester at once.  We were going to tackle the semester week by week, task by task. 
  • They were capable of the work, especially because they were self aware and understood that there was so much to learn.  
  • I wanted them to hang in there for just a semester before they proclaimed that they weren't "cut out" to be a teacher.
  • I asked them to be kind to themselves.  Everything was new, so it was ok not to know things. 
They agreed to take the semester moment-by-moment and not allow personal commitments, issues, and insecurity to talk them out of what they believed they really wanted to do. 

As the student walked away, I realized that while I was talking to them, I was just as much talking to myself.  I believe things happen for a reason, and I know this moment happened because I needed to say these things aloud -- for ME.  The morning prior to this conversation had been tough; I had been having similar feelings as my student.  But I dug deep, pushed through, and had a great class.  

So like my student, I am figuring out how to be kind to myself. I'm new, so I won't have all of the answers.  I'm committed to hanging in there and having a great semester.  I will allow my self-awareness to help me make wise decisions as a professor and researcher. I will take the semester on class-by-class and task-by-task.  I have the syllabus as a roadmap, so no need to spin myself into a panic. 

I will conclude this post with an oldie-but-goodie gospel song: Encourage Yourself. Try it! 

Until next time . . . I'll be prepping for class next week and taking this new endeavor moment by moment. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

They Don't Go Unnoticed

Dear Husband,

I see all of the little things that you've been doing lately.

Being extra gentle with your words

Cooking dinner

Giving me extra words of encouragement

Doing the laundry

Bringing me gas when I'm stranded (It won't happen again!)

Picking up around the house.

And then you walked in today with my very favorite - coffee ice cream with almonds

I know I've said thank you for doing some of these things, and I wonder if you noticed that I noticed the others I may not have verbalized to you.

Well, I did and I'm so grateful to have a wonderful husband like you.

Your kind acts don't go unnoticed.

Thank you for being my soft place to fall.

Until next time . . . I'll be thinking about how much I love my husband.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Meditation

Happy Sunday, folks!

So there's a lot happening over here - personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. Life is changing and moving.  While so many good things are happening, I'm feeling so overwhelmed that I'm afraid I sometimes can't keep up.

I decided to take a few moments away from working to do a little blog reading and came across this meditation on one of my favorite blogs, A Blog about Love. This blog is run by a husband and wife team whose mission, it seems, is to put lots of love, light and good energy into the air. I receive it, and I wanted to pass on a meditation that Mara (the wife) posted the other day.

Happy Sunday!

Until next time . . . I'll be meditating on the words below. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I declare my intention to heal in body, mind & spirit.

I invite assistance from friends and loved ones - past, present & future - to lend me their support and their strength. I request assistance from the invisible forces all around me. And welcome their love and support.

More and more, I understand that my healing will happen in it's own way, and it's own time.

I see myself surrounded by the love and caring of those who have come before me - whose banner I carry now.

I know I am better and better able to accept how I feel - as my inner truth of the moment.

I know that the more I can acknowledge and accept how I feel - without criticism or blame - the more I allow myself to heal.

I am better and better able to be kind, gentle and appreciative toward myself.

I welcome my increasing ability to sense the assistance around me - guiding me back to my own strength, courage, and resourcefulness.

I know my heart will heal with the energy of it's own life force.

More and more, I can see and feel my own beauty, value and worth.

I am better and better able to define myself and value myself independent of the behavior of others.

I see and feel radiant sunlight warming my body - sending comfort and solace deep into my heart.

I salute my ability to survive - and my courage to heal.

I know that when I appreciate my body, respect it, and take good care of it - I allow myself to heal.

I can feel a soft warm healing energy pulsing deep into my heart.

I can feel my heart filled with it's own healing energy.

I know that I am held and cradled and affirmed by the generations that have gone before me.

More and more, I understand that my value has never been defined by the behavior of others.

I know that torn places will repair, and my heart will be made whole.

I will find my center, heal my heart, and reclaim my strength.

I understand that beautiful and wise and worthy people know devastation and loss, just as I have.

I salute the generosity of my true nature.

More and more, I remember that I deserve to give love and receive love.

I am the exquisite result of the combined lifetimes of my ancestors.

I know that even great pain can be a valued teacher.

I will grow compassion, wisdom and kindness from the sorrow of my past.

I know there is a part of me deep inside that is sufficient and whole - and it can never be diminished or demeaned.

I know that beneath the darkness that sometimes overtakes me, there is a place where I am radiant with the beauty of my being.

I look to the time when I will reclaim my strength and express the full range of my gifts.

I know that my heart is large is enough to hold my suffering and strong enough to transform it.

More and more, I can see the beauty all around me, and draw nourishment from it.

I welcome my awareness of the peaceful power within my heart, the seed of my strength, the home of my spirit.

I know that I have things to do, gifts to give, purposes to accomplish.

I know that I am held in the hands of God and am perfectly, utterly safe.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Quotes to Keep You Fighting the Good Fight (Part 2)

Hi all!

I hope everyone had a great, long weekend.  I did! Here's a little little music to kick off my post.  Today's post is all about fighting words, meaning quotes that are meant to encourage us to keep fighting for the things we believe in.  Today's musical selection comes from a favorite group of the Hubs and me, Foreign Exchange.  The song is called Fight for Love.

I've been gone for a minute, but I'm back and I'm ready to blog again! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind, but a good one.  I've met my students, taught a couple of classes, and started to work toward my goals for the year.  I've been enjoying life post-dissertation.

I figured I'd work my way slowly back into the habit of blogging.  I have some posts in my cue that just aren't right, but I'll get them there.  So much has been happening - March on Washington (Hubs and I attended), MTV's Twerkgate, an awful Harriet Tubman spoof video, Syria, etc., and I have opinions about all of these things.  Some of them I'll share; I just want to let my thoughts cook a little while longer.

So instead of kicking off my re-entry to the blogosphere with a heavy post, I'd like to start with sharing some more of my favorite quotes.  Folks seemed to enjoy my quote post a few months ago, and I promised to share more of them, so here we go!  Here are some quotes to keep us fighting the good fight!

On academia, because I need to keep fighting to bring my ideas to the world: 

I pinned (on Pinterest) this the other day, and almost had a Holy Ghost moment! Whew, that set me free! Remember, perfect is the enemy of good.

". . . there's so much extraordinary, fascinating brilliant stuff going on in the academic world that never sees the light of day, that's reserved for this very small select audience, and I think that's a shame. In the process of doing that, do I have to simplify the ideas? Yes, I have to. That's how you bring it to a wider audience -- you have to make some sacrifices along the way." ~ Malcolm Gladwell

"Make it hot enough so they’ll want to taste the soup." ~ former professor, Dr. Hughes

On love & marriage, because love is ABSOLUTELY worth fighting for: 
Sometimes I break. He doesn’t try to put the pieces back together. He helps me find some glue. ~ Unknown

“The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.” ~ Sahaj Kohli 

The finality of marriage isn't about changing the relationship; it's about fulfilling it. Marriage is the ultimate realization of a relationship that constantly grows and evolves with the couple. ~Unknown

"You know, you can be an adult without being married, but you can't be married and not be an adult." ~ Unknown, but I sure wish I knew who said this! 

On wellness, because it's important to fight to be your best spiritually, mentally, and physically:
“Genetics loads the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” – Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD

"You can like the life you're living. You can live the life you like..." ~ Chicago

"We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest." ~ The Prayer of Oscar Romero

Until next time . . . fight for what you believe in!