This week we are going to talk about drains. What are drains? Drains are people in your life who deprive you of your strength and vitality. They have the unique ability to suck all of the life out of a room, and they are overly critical or negative. In short… drains are our friends whom somehow feel like an emotional ball and chain, and let’s be real… we all know people like this! Oftentimes, we are torn between how to be supportive of these individuals; and how to stay true to ourselves. I think that we can all agree that you shouldn’t have to rip yourself into pieces to keep others whole.
I’ll admit it; I am a drain magnet. Perhaps its because of my laidback personality. Maybe it’s because I like to feel needed. Whatever the case, chronic complainers and those whom can’t take NO as an answer- are drawn to me like a moth to a flame. Ironically It wasn’t until a relationship with a close friend hit rock bottom that I realized just how unhealthy these relationship are. Thus I am offering a few pointers on how to interact with drains; and should you chose to… relieve yourself of the burden of these relationships all together.
First things first! All relationships have a value. Thus, it is important that you determine how valuable your relationship with the individual in question is. Keep in mind that drains are everywhere. They aren’t just the people that we meet in the workplace, or on social outings. Sometimes our Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and siblings are the ones always in need of money, favors, or praise. Some of us are married to drains who refuse to accept responsibilty, are argumentative, and constatly blame others for their problems. However, More often that not- the toxic people in our lives are friends or associates, so we are going to go with that 🙂 .
If you’ve decided that your friendship has value and you’d like to try and save it, the first thing that I’d advise you to do is to have a CONVERSATION. Let your friend know how STRESSED and PRESSURED you feel. Tell him or her, that BALANCE is important, and that sometimes you’d like to take a minute to APPRECIATE the GOOD in the world. Give your pal a GRATTITUDE CHALLENGE (Facebook style) in which they have to point out one thing a day that they are thankful for. Play on the challenge! Whenever your buddy turns into Debbie Downer remind her of all the things that are right in life.
If that doesn’t work, start spending less time with the individual. Keep in mind that its rude and insensitive to cut ties completely (Miss Congeniality does’t support rude and insensitive behavior). A gradual decline in the amount of time that you spend with the drain can do wonders for your mental and emotional health. During this time try to surround yourself with less demanding friends but… check in on the drain from time to time.
Its worth mentioning that learning to say “NO” and setting BOUNDARIES can greatly improve your relationship with drains. Being able to say NO is extremely important because it can: (1) Ensure that someone elses priorities do not become yours. (2) Prevent you from becoming frustrated and stressed out. (3) Allow you time to take care of yourself. When saying NO, you must be both firm and direct. Never make excuses, or over explain yourself. Believe it or not… YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO SAY NO!!!
If all else fails, try taking a break from the relationship. By now you’ve learned that no matter what you do, how much you give, or how often you give it… your friend will never be SATISFIED. Thus it’s time to move on. As previously mentioned, cutting ties altogether is difficult but sometimes it is necessary. In this case, my only advice is to tell the drain why you’re taking a hiatus from the relationship. The only thing worse than a friend who is draining is one whom is DISINGENUOUS. Do not just drop out of the picture; you could cause the already struggling drain to spiral into depression or bitterness.
As we go through life, there are many decisions to be made. One of the most important choices we have is whether or not to be HAPPY. If you choose HAPPINESS, you must be willing to let go of ANY and EVERYTHING that stands in the way of your WELL-BEING. Unfortunately this may mean trading friends who are constantly making withdrawals from your positivity bank, for those whom are like-minded and enthusatic. Do not over analyze your choices, or doubt the decisions that you make. It is okay to protect yourself from people who often have a way of sucking us into their DRAMA and NEGATIVITY. You have chosen to live out your best life… stand your ground; allow your light to shine as bright as a diamond <3.
Be a Faucet not a Drain ❤
Hampton University’s Homecoming Weekend has officially concluded and one thing that everyone in attendance can agree on is that the weekend itself was epic!!! As usual there were no shortage of events planned to occupy hip Hamptonians. From gala’s, cabarets, bazaars, Stepshows, parades, and concerts, there was something for everybody.
While I make it a point to return to my “Home by the Sea” every couple of years for homecoming; attending this year was super important to me because 2016 marked the fifteenth year that I have been a member of my beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. In anticipation of homecoming my line sisters and I have spent the last six months coordinating schedules, organizing trips, and of course… picking out our dope new jackets!!!! Because the 10 of us are scattered around the world ( What’s happening in Japan Jana’e ?!?!), We cherish the moments that we get to spend together. This year we were determined that our “Homecoming turn-up” would be one for the books!
Ironically our weekend started in Suffolk, Virginia. Sherese, Joni, Warren (our Frat brother/what y’all know bout the constitutional bond?), and I meet about a block away from my house at a Kohls. Somehow the three of them forgot that Virginia’s weather is fickle and left home without jackets, or proper shoes (Side-eye). Anyhow, after dropping a GRIP… we were on our way to campus. It may sound crazy, but I swear it doesn’t matter how often I go there; every time I approach the I-64 exit 267 that reads Hampton University, I get a flutter in my belly. I’m not joking… it’s how I know that “I LOVE MY H.I.U!!!”
Campus was jumping! There were people everywhere; young and old, beautiful shades of black beings carrying on the way that only Hamptonians can. There were clothing vendors, makeup artist, and FOOD TRUCKS!!! It was everything that I remember and more. So I stood right there in the center of campus and exhaled… I was indeed home <3. We spent the entire afternoon catching up with undergraduate Sorors and engaging in small talk with former classmates. Oh yeah… there was a lot of picture-taking too, LOL :-).
A few of my favorite photos taken on 10/14/16 at the Homecoming Bazaar
After the Bazaar we split up for a bit. My friend Erika and I hit up Chipotle and H&M, while those who came in from out of town checked in to their hotels and freshened up. At 8pm I was walking into the lobby of Sherese and Joni’s cozy but HOT as HELL hotel room (I mean that in a literal sense)!!!!!! This is where the fun really begun. We spent the next couple of hours going down memory lane, trying on clothes, exchanging makeup advice, and passing around pictures of our little ones. When Una came through the door holding a bottle of Jack.. we were all in!!! Before I go any further let me just explain that Una is, and has always been the life of the party!!! She has a “set fire to the wind” attitude and there is never a dull moment when she is around. With that said… please know that because everyone that I spent the weekend with is a professional in his/her own right, what you are getting is a watered down version of our night. What actually went down… I’ll never tell!!!!
At 11:00pm wearing our “I am” shirts with fitted jeans and faces beat to the GODS … my crew and I rolled into Cove Tavern. Once again, the AMAZING men of Phi Beta Sigma were there to greet us; they even had a round of alcohol waiting as we walked in (Did I mention how much I adore them). Slow sipping my Rum and coke I took stalk of my surroundings. Cove Tavern was indeed a great place to host an event. The wait staff was friendly and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. I counted several stone fire places and I loved both the deco and the view of the surrounding area that the setup afforded.
After a drink or two I was ready to dance! The DJ must have read my mind because no sooner did I put down my drink, did he break into a string of my favorite hits!!! When So For Real’s Candy Rain came on and my Line Sisters and I were all over the floor . We danced until we got thirsty, stopped to get a drink, and then danced some more. In between dancing there was a lot of small talk and catching up. I swear Hampton must also contain the fountain of youth because many people still look the way they did all those years ago when they completed their matriculation at HU! After hours of partying and soaking up the environment at Cove Tavern, we decided to make our way to the next venue. We leisurely walked the two blocks from one bar to another, carrying our heels and wedges in hand and belting out the Lyrics to SWV’s WEAK. I wish that I could tell you the name of the second joint that we went to, but I was definitely tipsy at this point and all that I can remember is smoke machines and Go-Go music!
The second venue was just as lit as the first! The DJ kept the party hype and I definitely saw more of my actual classmates here (Ogre phi Ogre XI). Once again I was all about getting my groove on! I love to dance so as along as the DJ is spinning, everything else is secondary. We concluded the night by heading back to the original club, drinking and partying a bit more, and meeting Iris (the Ace of our line) and her husband Reggie for a quick hug. Iris recently had foot surgery and is using a scooter to get around; she and Reggie also spent much of the day traveling so they declined our invitation to stay and play :-(.
It was nearly 4am when I pulled into my driveway. Sherese and Joni wanted me to stay with them, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep well if I didn’t go home, so I bit the bullet and made the 45 minute trek back to my side of the water. In doing so I fully expected to get at least 5 hours of sleep. You know that I was mad when my eyes popped open at 8:30am!!! I’m not a very heavy sleeper and once I’m up… I’m up! After a quick conversation with the hubby, we decided to take the boys to the homecoming parade. While it was unplanned, I truly enjoyed being able to spend quality time with the family at Hampton. The boys had a blast at the parade and running around the yard, while my hubby was feeling the wing place that they now have on campus. After dropping off the boys and changing clothes, I headed back to campus for the tailgate and game.
The Fam and I at HU’s Homecoming Parade 2016
Now… I’m not even going to get into all the changes that Hampton has made in regards to homecoming and tailgating. I refuse to do so, because I don’t want to come across as a mad black woman! However… I will say that I am a mad about the $25 that I came out-of-pocket with just to tailgate (did you see what I did there?), LOL. Furthermore, I am irritated at how unorganized the ticket/wristband process was!!! Moving along, the tailgate was everything! Sorors, Frat, food, and fun is what it boils down to. Oh yeah.., and Kitty Milk!!! Listen I’d never heard of the devilishly sweet drink that my young Sorors whipped up for me this weekend. However, after experiencing it… I want more. Kudos to the creators of this drink and XOXO’s for giving it such a cute name ❤
Getting on to campus was a nightmare for those who arrived later, thus I spent a great deal of time waiting for Iris and Monica E to arrive. It was okay because I was thoroughly entertained by my line sister Elena’s adorable children ❤ . There were some amazing vendors at Homecoming, so I occupied the remainder of my time by shopping!!! I was so tempted to buy all of the cute bags, sweaters, and T-shirts being peddled along the streets of the Student Center. Each T-shirt was embroidered with some hipster term like “Melanin on Fleek” or “Black Girl Magic”. There was also some insane sorority paraphernalia so my shopping game was strong! I brought a couple of T-shirts, a sorority pin, and a very nice sweat shirt. Than back to the tailgate I went for a ton of picture-taking, blue juice drinking , and party hopping fun!!!
Hampton University’s Homecoming 2016
By the time the tailgate ended, I was exhausted! It’s a sure sign of the times because back in the day I could party all weekend and not miss a beat. This weekend, I would have given anything to be able to take a nap, LOL. For some, Saturday night concluded with drinks and mingling at “The Kick Back” which was pitched as a fun after the game spot where one could relax and enjoy drinks and good conversation. For others… it ended with a bottle of wine from their private stock, a hot shower, and Pandora radio set to the India.arie station (guess which group I was in).
In true Hampton fashion, one of the biggest events of the Weekend was the 3rd Annual Hamptonians who Brunch event. Everyone who attended spoke of the amazing atmosphere and the delicious Mimosa’s that are always plentiful. I skipped the brunch this year to have an intimate breakfast with some very special Hampton Ladies whom I’ve known from day one at HU <3. Driving home Sunday morning I watched Hampton University fade into the background from my rearview mirror. Once again there was that quick flutter in my belly, only this time it was accompanied by a lump in my throat. The love that I have for HU, for the people and the connections that I have made there is like no other. Hamptonians are movers, shakers, and money makers. They both motivate and inspire me to do more and be better. Until next time, I am just a proud Hamptonian, eagerly awaiting my next visit to my Home by the Sea <3.
While my weekend was full of excitement and I was blessed to spend time with happy and loving people, I cannot even begin to pretend that it was drama free (because you know it wasn’t!). Anytime you attend a homecoming or class reunion, there is bound to be that one person who is angry and bitter with life. They pretend to have it all together but everyone knows that they are unhappy. These people are hung up on some event from the past. The only thing that keeps them going is the hope that someone somewhere will remember their past glory, and still respect them for it! I say this with a great deal of humility and love… MOVE ON!!!! After a brief run in with an unhappy girl, I decided to do two things: (1). Pray for her (I seriously have her name tacked to the prayer wall in my closet), and (2). Prepare a sort list of tips to help people like her move forward in life and find their HAPPY. Wanna see it? Here it goes…
In today’s world we are all moving a mile a minute! There is always someplace to go, and something to see or do. People move so fast that they forget to look up, to connect and to make eye contact. Common Courtesy is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and it annoys me to no end!
I wish that I could point a finger and say that the disconnect is coming from one particular age, group, race, or sex. The fact of the matter is that I have noticed it in all aspects of life! My student who doesn’t even whisper back a “good morning”, after I’ve greeted him at the door (rude). The hipster teen who has her tiny Bluetooth headphones plugged in. She’s jamming but not hearing a thing anyone is saying to her (ruder), or the well dressed professionals whose eyes are glued to their phones while they bump into me on the street or run me off the sidewalk(rudest). I’ve even been punked by senior citizens pushing shopping carts at Wal-Mart (side-eye).
As a woman who has always prided herself on being both classy and tactful… I was sick of the disrespect!!! I have to admit that my first instinct was to go low and give as good as I get. I’m a quick-witted and sharp-tongued girl by nature, so it wouldn’t be a thing for me to blast somebody for rude and unbecoming behavior!!! Than I heard my mother’s voice in my head and decided to stick with the old “treat people the way that you want to be treated” routine. I decided to be over the top with mine. I made it so that no one could miss me! If we were passing on the street, you better believe that I saw you before you saw me. I’d be passing strangers but smiling and waving at them like we shared a family bond. I’d hold the door for everybody; young, old, black, white, woman, or man. I’d ask people how their day was going, and make small talk with any and everybody that I could. I literally never met a stranger!!!
My courtesy soon became contagious! The people around me began to change. The most stubborn students began to flock to me. Their parents praised my consistency and enthusiasm. The strangers that I met on the street became friends, and my sense of self-worth increased. It’s at this point that I realized that the world needs more people who are dedicated to spreading love and kindness. That is why I created Courteously Curt! I realized that oftentimes my little smile, my quick wink, or my “how are you doing” in passing, changed peoples outlook. My quick act of courtesy broke down the daily barriers that we erect! Now I want to start a movement that is led by woman and girls all over the world!!! The goal is to reconnect people; to get them talking and smiling again. Why girls? Easy… because we are bosses and capable of so much (If we lead…they will follow!). So ladies, each day as you prepare to leave you homes for school, work, or play; whither you are putting on lip gloss or leaving fresh-faced to the world, remember to be courteous and kind throughout your day, for you are never fully dressed without a smile <3.
All My Love,
Miss Congeniality 1920
Life is hard; that’s a fact! I wish that it could be different. That everyday could be filled with rainbows and butterflies. I wish that the only tears that we ever shed were tears of joy. However, we know that’s not reality. Over the years I’ve learned that we can either wallow around in the pain, resentment, and self doubt that life can bring; or we can chose to be happy!!!
When I was an undergrad at “The Hampton University”, my sorority sister’s and I use to live by the motto “Keep it Moving”. We’d plan community service activities, study groups, and parties around campus and throughout the community. Everyone would pitch in and play a role in the planning/execution of the event. Occasionally, a Soror was unable to fufill her obligation. Instead of getting pissed off or going off, we would simply say “let’s keep it moving”. Without hesitation, someone would jump in and take over her role, and the show would indeed go on! As I transitioned through life I would often encounter unexpected obstacles in both my professional and personal relationships; my career, and my family life. There were so many times that I wanted to curl up in my bed, ignore the telephone ringing, the knocks at the door, and the endless emails. I wanted to be able to drop the ball and have someone step in and pick up the pieces for me. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that oftentimes instead of someone being there to have my back- there would be people waiting for me to fall!!! I quickly learned that in order to truly be happy, I couldn’t allow the hurt and pain that life can bring to slow me down. I ‘d have to keep moving, and learn to master the art of Bouncing Back!
Today, my mission is to encourage and inspire women of all ages to live there best lives! I want the world to understand that there are two things that truly define us. (1) Your patience when you have nothing; (2)and your attitude when you have everything! So I encourage you to walk through life with me. I’ll share my crazy and sometimes corny adventures with you. I’ll show you how I live my best life, and share some of the brilliant life hacks I’ve discovered!!!! Don’t be fooled… I don’t even pretend to have it all together. I am definitely still working on my masterpiece- but, I am truly happy, and that is what life is all about! There are so many beautiful reason to be happy! So make the most of everyday and keep moving to the end of your own rainbow <3.