Being a conscious sophisticate means not neglecting all the things that make you, you.  This means exploring and even sometimes challenging beliefs that are tightly wound around our hearts.

Whether one calls themselves religious and not spiritual or spiritual and not religious; we all have a connection with something outside of ourselves that we can’t exactly explain or give a definitive identity to.

For me, growing up and into early adulthood I often struggled with if I was doing enough to get into heaven.  The basis, or foundation should I say of my relationship with God was mostly motivated and maintained by fear.  The extent of my knowledge of him was do everything right or you’re going to hell.  I could never pray enough; I could never read enough scriptures.  Being happy and enjoying life meant I was doing something wrong.  Sometimes these messages were implicitly sent by being told you can’t wear certain nail colors, or not to attend school dances, or even attending high school football games are not permitted. Granted many of these things have changed since I was a young girl; but the impression was made and was not so easy to undo.  This could easily lead to one subscribing to the notion, righteousness means misery.  I later in life found myself creating issues (mostly in my head) to ensure I wasn’t too happy.

It’s not until I went away to grad school these irrational beliefs were challenged.  Would I really go to hell for listening to and enjoying secular music?  If I went days without praying would I really be cut off from God?  Eventually I learned that much of what I thought about God contradicted the character the bible describes.  I got tired of walking on egg shells around myself.  Not allowing myself to explore this so called relationship with God I’d claimed to have.

 

Many of the attitudes I had toward sex were deeply rooted in my Christian upbringing.  In a way sex and sexuality was demonized.  Fornication seemed to be the only topic focused on.  I wanted no parts of the discussion of sex.  For I feared becoming too curious and bringing some sort of condemnation on myself for even thinking about it a second too long.

July 2009 I log on to La Salle University’s course registration Portal to sign up for my first semester of grad school.  As I glance over the required courses for the program I immediately begin freaking out as I see that Human Sexuality is not only required for the completion of the program but a prerequisite for a future course that would also be required.  I panicked and immediately called my mother.  There was nothing I could do.  I would have to get through this course to finish the program.

The first night of the course had finally come and I had no idea what to expect.  I can remember experiencing a sense of guilt and feeling like nothing good would come of this course.  Some say God has a sense of humor; and that seemed to be true in this instance as the course was being taught by a Catholic deacon.  Oh the irony!

By the end of the course I was a little traumatized; but had a sense of freedom.  I saw an erect penis for the first time and the world didn’t come caving in.  The Lord didn’t come down on a white horse with horns blaring coming to bring damnation to my soul.  It was as if any attitudes I had toward or about sex and sexuality were challenged which in turn caused me to challenge my beliefs of my own spirituality.  My little mind and world that I had created had to be shaken to its foundation for me to begin seeing the true character of the God I claimed to believe in and live for.  The thing I feared the most bought me the most freedom in my spiritual walk.

So many times preaching fire and brimstone is used as a way to fear people into a relationship with God.  How effective is this really?  How deep can this type of relationship be?  Who really benefits from this type of relationship?  Shouldn’t religion be merely a way to maintain one’s spirituality rather than a means to try to control one’s behavior or even their will?freedom-to-fly

workplace     Have you ever had to have a tough conversation with your leadership at your place of work?  These types of conversations can often be uncomfortable or awkward but very much necessary.  Often times as women we find it difficult to stand up for ourselves in the work place when it comes to talking salary, promotion, or reporting an “overly friendly” coworker or boss to HR.  Difficult conversations can cause one to feel they are putting themselves on the chopping block or making themselves a target for unfair treatment  Whether we like it or not ladies there comes a time when these conversations must be had.  Here are some ways to maintain your sophisticate demeanor while having uncomfortable conversations at work.

-Don’t be afraid to take ownership

Before we go any further it’s important that this step is digested and followed through as best you can.  It can be easy to point fingers and highlight what others have done to cause us to be upset and ineffective in the workplace.  However a great deal of the outcome we judge as undesirable may be in direct relation to our own behavior. it’s important that we first understand how valuable feedback loops can be.  In short, a feedback loop is when data (your behavior/action) is put in a system (work space) and the outcome (impression left on leadership/action taken by leadership) lets you know or gives you feedback on the quality of the data given.  As much as we hate to admit it some of the problems we encounter at work are direct responses to our own behavior and attitudes .  Be sure you are not a contributor to making the workplace a challenging place to be productive .  Consider your attitude, influence on morale, how you handle challenges, and yes even your performance.  In many cases ownership is the name of the game.

-Always respect protocol

Imagine getting called in to an impromptu meeting by a superior at work based on hearsay from a coworker.  Wouldn’t it be better if you heard the grievance from your coworker first.  Often times people underestimate how smoothly a conversation can go when a person is approached with respect and when genuine concern is being shown.  Exhaust each level in your organization before shooting straight for the top with your issue.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them the opportunity to fix the problem.  This will also give you what I like to call a “paper trail” which shows you respect the chain of command and you are committed to exhausting all avenues at every level.

-Be intentional with what you have to say.

Assuming you have taken the step to confront the powers that be from the bottom up.  You have taken an introspective look to ensure you have done all you can to be apart of the solution it may be time to have the tough conversation you’ve been avoiding.  If it comes to this it is very important that you stand flat footed and intentional with what you have to say.  Being firm with your point in no way challenges your femininity but rather demonstrates strength.  It sends the message that you respect the other’s position and authority but you too have an opinion and understand your value.  Being intentional with your word means that you mean what you say, and say what you mean.  This is not a time to give a version of how you feel but being direct about how you feel while maintaining professionalism and decorum.

I’ve been in tough situations where I’ve wrestled with myself about speaking up when it came to bringing issues to leadership.  Fearing I would be black balled or a dubbed a trouble maker I was hesitant to have necessary conversations.  In the end, by following the above points I found I was well received, my concerns were heard clearly and the discussion allowed me to respectfully communicate my expectations moving forward in my organization/department.  The highest compliment I received was that while my concerns were legitimate I presented them in a way that was professional.  Of course I could have been emotional and my demeanor uncouth; but I could not take the chance in tarnishing my brand.  Your brand is all you have, be sure you are intentional and conscious about maintaining a clean image.  People don’t have to like what you say; and chances are most won’t when difficult topics are discussed.  You can not be held accountable for how your message is received; but you are responsible for how your message is sent.  Be conscious, be aware, be intentional.

sexual revolution

As a millennial sometimes feeling like I was born in the wrong era, there is often a liberal attitude that I find disturbing.  In particular the attitudes and behaviors toward sex and sexuality that are held and displayed by today’s generation makes me wonder where we as a people are headed when it comes to modesty and discretion.  It seems these days our tanks are running low on these 2 things.  Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with embracing one’s femininity and celebrating our continued journey to liberation and equality.  However the children coming up now have few examples to follow.  No one seems interested in demonstrating how and when to express femininity so that self respect is maintained and so they may be taken seriously in a male dominated world.  In order to understand where we’re going we should understand how we arrived to where we are on this issue.

 

A WOMAN SCORNED

About 50 or 60 years ago (not that long ago) society began to see gender roles come in to question and even challenged.  We began seeing women that were in unhealthy abusive relationships, tired of a male dominated society which resulted in marginalization, and objectification  want to be free from these ideals or mores.  These women were well within their rights to have these feelings and to desire  more balanced expectations.  However many of the attitudes toward sexuality were rooted in anger and displayed in aggression.  In turn we found more women using their  bodies to do what they wanted, with whom they wanted, when they wanted. Traditional ways of thinking about modesty (such as saving one’s self for one man and waiting until marriage) received a TKO.  Anything that so much as mimicked or suggested sexual suppression was greatly rejected.

IS SEXUAL LIBERATION REALLY…LIBERATING?

When you think about the implications behind being liberated and free in one’s mind and  body as these women sought to do, we should consider the way in which they raised this awareness.  Are you really demonstrating you are in control of your own body and sexuality because you have “redefined” your virtue by being more liberal in your attitude to ward sexuality.  Nowadays it’s almost a crime for one to say they are waiting until marriage before having sex without being called a “prude” or gay”.  The actions taken by these women to redefine how society viewed sexuality may have been demonstrating that they were still very much bound by their experiences.  Someone who is really liberated may not have to go to such extreme behaviors to exude freedom.  Now sure some things are done in an effort to make a socio political statement.  With that being said we know sometimes extreme measures are taken to raise awareness on issues that are often marginalized.  However maintaining this type of behavior does not necessarily exude liberation.

WHAT DID THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION GIVE US?

The sexual revolution empowered woman to consider that they were more than just wives and mothers.  Many women began pursuing their own endeavors even if it meant spending more time outside of the home.   “Girl power” caused the world to pay attention to the contributions of women and the impact they left on the world thanks to the revolution.  The advancement of women’s liberation through the sexual revolution inadvertently joined forces in the fight with other marginalized groups in society striving for civil rights.

What do you think? Has the sexual revolution helped to advance oppressed groups of people?  Or was the revolution the gateway to an oversexualized society?

 

6 Reasons Your New Year Should Start Now!

Today is the official launch of my blog.  If I were to be honest I was ready to quit before I even got started! I went through all the motions of “no one is going to read it anyway” and “I have nothing to talk about”.  After the kind of year I’ve had I obviously have plenty to talk about.   With that being said I’d like to share with you why your New Year doesn’t have to and shouldn’t wait for midnight Jan. 1.    Here are 6 reasons why my New Year Hardly ever starts on Jan 1.

1.  Too much time leads to 0 productivity.

It’s important (especially for me) that I start projects while they are fresh on my mind; otherwise I will have talked myself out of doing it, gotten discouraged, or will have become downright LAZY.

2.  Your new mindset isn’t time conscious.

Most times my New Year Starts when my perspective on certain aspects of my life have changed due to  circumstances .  Unfortunately, I don’t always get some big epiphany or revelation that sums up my year on December 31st   like the rest of the world.  For me, the aforementioned epiphany may come in June or July.  It would not be wise to wait until the new year to start embracing this.

3.  Don’t fall victim to “New Year, New Me” Statuses

Admit it, we’ve all seen them or written them ourselves.  Waiting for the new year to be a new you unfortunately sets you up to go where the rest of your resolutions go after the first 30 days, into some black abyss where resolutions from the last 20 years are housed.  Choose to be a new you now.  Defy the temptation to begin evolving into this new person in the new year.  Start now.

Please don’t find yourself on the tail end of the New Year New Me meme bandwagon!

4.  Mankind hasn’t always been on a time schedule.

If you remember in Eden, the first man and woman didn’t always operate in a realm of time.  Sometimes the comfort of knowing you have lot of time to get things done can work against you.  Today everything now has an expiration date. That window of inspiration and motivation (to start a new business or lose weight) may only be open for a short time.

5.  You have an opportunity to cheat death.

Okay so you really may not be able to peak into your future and cheat your own death.  However, you can cheat the death of a fresh new idea coming into fruition, or the death of a peaceful home and family life, or the death of peace of mind.  So many things threaten to assassinate our goals and dreams.  Don’t let a day on the calendar dictate when you can start living the life you’ve always wanted.

6.  You put yourself ahead of the game.

Imagine you started your new year today? You would put yourself ahead of the timeline you laid out before the new year.  Starting early also allows for a cushion for any setbacks the new year may bring.  This time next year, you may be much further than you ever imagined.

Consider your journey this year.  How many times has your new year had a chance to begin?