“When you LOOK good, you FEEL good and when you feel good you DO GOOD!” – author unknown
Today, I wasn’t feeling it. My hair isn’t done up to my regular standards; it’s just not up to par. I didn’t get any of my laundry done over the weekend because I was super busy, so I have NOTHING to wear to work this week. I’m low on cash and forgot to bring my lunch to work today, so I’m starving. On top of that, I haven’t been eating right lately so my body feels TOTALLY OFF and my stank attitude is showing through because I just don’t do well when I’m sleepy OR hungry. I’m off balance.
Luckily, I’ve figured out a few things that work for me when I’m having these “off days”. My day started off a bit rocky, by the middle of the day, I have acquired a genuine smile on my face. Thanks to a few intentional acts on my part, and kind words of affirmation from a few of my co-workers, I can say I’ve truly been able to elevate my day. It may not solve all of my problems, but these 5 Tips to Look AMAZING saved me.
Tip #1: Put On A Dress
This may sound simple or ridiculous, but the only CLEAN thing I found in my closet to wear was a short zebra print/flower dress that fell just above my knees. It’s an old thing. I’ve had it for the last four years but what I’ve always loved about it is how it accentuated my curves and how the shortness of the dress brought attention to my nice legs and toned calves. I’m also forced to wear high heels anytime I wear this dress because sandals or tennis shoes just throw it off, but this is a plus as the shortness of the dress only brings attention to my otherwise unnoticeable legs and toned calves. It helps me embrace my femininity. This is a win for me.
Tip #2: A Pump or Two of Perfume
Co-worker 1: “Ohhh, You smell so good! Delicious.”
I LOVE when someone compliments me on my scent. I’ve paid special attention to this small detail, ever since that one time I interviewed singer John Legend and he said, “A man doesn’t want a woman to smell bland…” But beyond it being appealing to men, putting on your favorite perfume can subliminally help you. When a sweet or pleasant scent permeates the atmosphere around you, it helps your mood. If nothing else, it may attract a compliment from someone you pass in the hallway at work. And a compliment on your scent can never hurt!
Tip #3: Wear A Smile
Co-worker 2: “Look at you , you look like sunshine.”
I ALWAYS get the best response from people when I enter an atmosphere, wearing a smile. Even if I’m truly sulking on the inside, I try not to show it on the outside or to those who I come in contact in my day. Just smile. Think of something that makes you happy or something that you are thankful for, or looking forward to. Let the good thoughts take over your day and soon, the fake smile will have become real to you. Try and smile.
Tip #4: Walk High / Strut with Confidence
Co-worker 1: “What’s up boss lady.”
“They can tell by the way I walk, I aint from ‘round here.”
I loved this quote from Martin Lawrence in the movie Life. No matter how you feel on a particular day, let your body language and even your walk, tell a different story. When you walk confidently to and from, you can send a signal that you are a.) lost, confused, beaten down by whatever is happening in your day OR you can affirm and declare with your walk that b.) I am more than a conqueror and I will not be stopped! Whether I’m walking from my office to a meeting or from the break room to the bathroom, I STRUT like I’m the queen of Zemunda! BOLDY and CONFIDENTLY! I walk like I have places to go and people to see and in doing so, others respond to me passing in the hallway accordingly. “What’s up boss lady.”
Tip #5: Put on Your ‘Face’
Co-worker 5: “You looking all fresh, I see you!”
I can’t tell you how many times I felt like s*&#! Heading in to work on a Monday morning. It takes a lot of energy to get up at6am to get my FOUR year old ready for school, after being out late on a Sunday night. On a bad day, he can be whiny, uncooperative and downright defiant, which always has me spending more time getting him ready (persuading him to “work with Mommy”) and in the end, I have less time to get myself ready. He’s drained me and putting on makeup is the last thing I feel like doing. But taking a few minutes to at least put on foundation, powder and a bold lipstick seems to do the trick for me! When I’m feeling like I can’t do the full face thing, even just a touch of blush on my cheeks, with a nice lipstick or lip gloss and making sure my eyebrows are touched up proves to do justice for me. This was evidenced when I heard a co-worker say, “You looking all fresh!” (Boy, my co-workers just don’t know how much their comments, observations and compliments mean to a girl when I think I’m having the WORST day ever!)
Check out this quick way to apply make up on the go!
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Today, is my son’s fathers birthday.
For the past week or so, I have been brainstorming over what I should get him as a present. I had already purchased two of the best “Happy Birthday Dad” Hallmark cards I could find; they would’ve been fancy, creative and custom made greeting cards had I not procrastinated and acted on my plan weeks in advance, as I had in the past. But since I hadn’t gotten ahead of it, two cards from Walmart, signed “from his son” would have to suffice.
That sounded good, but being the over the top aka “extra-mom” that I am, I couldn’t resist asking myself, “But what ELSE should I do?” I have to admit that in the last three years since we had my son, I always made it a point to send thoughtful sentiments to his Dad. Creative expressions to show him that we were on his team and thinking of him, even though we are miles and miles away. “You got your baby daddy WHAT?” I would hear my male friends who are also dads, say when I summoned their thoughts on my gifts. “My kids mom would NEVER do that for me!” They would say in surprised and borderline envious tones. “Wish you were MY baby mama.”
Previously, I had sent specially engraved silver pieces, wallets and money holders with his initials, printed out monies (homemade on my computer) adorned with his photo as if he were the King of Zemunda. Personalized “old man” socks and other thoughtful gifts, purchased or crafted by us. But this year, I was at a loss for ideas. Or perhaps, it’s that I’m at a loss for concern. You see, I believe what I noticed this year is the sincere and genuine energy that I have given over these past years, towards my child’s father. My efforts from the start had been intentional, with the purpose of bond-building; to show thoughtfulness and to encourage reciprocity. But on this 4th year of “intentional relationship building” towards my sons father, I have to admit that my mind is just flat out tired. Maybe this attrition and my lackluster birthday efforts can be attributed to my own personal life, transitioning as an entrepreneur or the recent loss of my grandmother. I am mentally and physically tired. And for the first time since I’ve been in this “co-parenting” situation, I allowed myself to be okay with not being so “giving”.
Today, I told myself, “Girl stop being so extra…it’s alright if the best damn gift he received this year, did not come from YOU.” It’s okay, even WITHOUT a monetary gift, he values your thoughtfulness, how cool you are and how easy you make the awkward reality of co-parenting from a distance. And it is OKAY, that you didn’t put his birthday cards in the mail until YESTERDAY and he probably won’t receive them until the end of the week. Hell, he probably won’t even check the darn mail until next week anyway! It’s okay. LIFE is Oh-kay!
You’re doing an awesome job as a friend, parent and mom. Carry on.
Love to all the moms, from Sky! Happy Cinco DE’MAMA!!
Follow Sky Houston @sky_houston
I got pissed. Just like that I went from 0 to 100 real quick. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining bright and after a wonderful church service as we were driving home to get lunch, I looked in my rear view mirror and said to my son, “hey, before we go to the park, let’s call daddy!” Trying my best to inspire excitement at the thought of speaking to his part-time dad, I smiled and exerted happy eyes and the best happy voice I could. “I don’t want to call daddy” said my three year old. Without questioning him on why, I turned my smile upside down into a frown at his statement and said, “we must call daddy as often as possible son, and remember what I said last time about actually talking when he gets on the phone, like a big boy!” I said this with sternness. On the last phone call to his father (and plenty of other calls) I had noticed that my son always acted out of character- pretending like he was a mute or didn’t have words, changing on emotions – seemingly sad or mad when just moments before we were laughing and singing. I attributed the stark difference in his attitude and actions to the fact that well, he simply doesn’t see his father often enough and at age three, he just doesn’t know how to feel about it. Now, some other philosopher may beg to differ or say that a three year old doesn’t have that capacity to think that deeply but I can only go off of my first hand observations. The older my son seems to get, the more aware he is of his lack of connection with his dad.
I jumped into panick mode seeing my son become visibly distraught each time I prodded him with “let’s call daddy”. After all, my one desire since his birth was for the two to have an undeniable relationship. It saddened me that the happy go lucky coming of age toddler actually loathed phone interaction with his dad, which made me wonder, now that he’s a little older, how would he take to being sent off to be with his dad one-on-one? It had been 6 months since he last spent real quality time with his dad and at three years old, he hasn’t spent time with him in his fathers atmosphere (away from mommies house) in this state. Yes, he spent time there as a “baby” and yes his dad could come to our place for a day or so to visit. Now that he has his own mind and can orchestrate thoughts and sentences, he can travel to his father’s city to a) be around his older brothers and b) to see how his father naturally responds and engages in his own environment. I’m always thinking of the small nuances that my son could observe and learn of his father by watching day to day interactions would be helpful to how he views his father and could build lasting impressions that could potentially sustain his connection to his father when they are many miles away.
So the other wise sleeping fire in me FLARED up when I suggested the two take on an impromptu visit over spring break and the idea was shot down.
The two – the son and his father- had been on the phone a good few minutes dialoguing back and forth on the kids experience at church that morning and other topics. The conversation had been going pretty well up until the dad began reprimanding the son on being obedient throughout the week – a conversation that he and I had shared earlier in the week. As they were face timing, I observed the look on the son’s face as his fathers voice became stern, reminding him that he would get in trouble if he did not listen. I appreciated the reminder, as my son had been getting out of hand lately, but his timing was dead awful.
The episode his father was speaking of took place days prior in which my son lashed out into an uncontrollable toddler fit. Again, this was days ago, hence it was the furthest thing from my three years olds mind. This was the first time the two had spoken this week. So my son was oblivious to why dad was getting on him. Immediately his body language and facial expressions changed. He was ready to get off the phone. His eyes immediately went down. “Do you hear me son” his dad said. The son was quiet. “Do you hear me!” His dad asked again. “Yes ma’am.” He said to his father. “I’m not a ma’am, I’m a sir.” His father corrected him. I allowed their exchange to finish before I reared my face on the FaceTime. I usually never show my face. I leave it as an interaction between the two. Only on occasion will my voice from back chime in with information when it’s needed like when his father asks for clarity on something and my son doesn’t have the answer.
Sensing my sons uncomfortability, and noting his earlier reaction to my suggestion to call his father, it came to me that maybe this was why he didn’t like calling his father. It seemed that each time he was on the phone, there was a disciplining moment, his father attempting to portray authority, but there was not often enough an “off-set” moment. What I mean by that is traditionally, a father is in the household or physically available full time by being in proximity. The fact that my son lives states away from his dad and only engages him part time from a distance (voice over the phone or FaceTime) it could seem that my son sees his father in a potentially negative or passive light. I didn’t like the thought that came to me as I replayed my sons response, “I don’t want to call daddy.” With the the look now on his face as he was reprimanded. It dawned on me: “he doesn’t have enough positive reinforcement – physical or emotional interactions with his father.” Not only that, he can’t reach out and touch or hug his father later on after an argument like he does mommy, so no, most times he isn’t happy to “call” daddy.
My mind immediately went to a previous note that I had give. His father, “he really needs to see you soon.” I had just texted that to his father a week prior so hence today’s suggestion popped up in response to my mommy intuition: lHey what are you doing this week for spring break?” I asked. I had been meaning to ask him a week or so prior to this point but never got around to coordinating it. But what the heck I figured. “Do you have plans this week, Monday – Friday?” I asked.
I got Cedrick this week he said, why what’s up?” He answered. I was thinking maybe I could bring the little one up there for a few days. I said. ” I got Ced and have to take him out of town with me in a few days because his moms out of town. I mean this is last minute.”
My sons father travels regularly so that was nothing new, and having his first born son Ced with him was nothing new either, in fact they live in the same city and he has him often – even picks him up from school regularly. I could agree that this “thought to fly his youngest son to see him” during spring break was last minute but yet I was pissed at his response. I was pissed at the undertone that my son would be an inconvenience because he had his other son for a few days and that he has to take him out of town with him. Bullshit I’m feeling. This was a bullshitish reply, point blank period. Whatever went thru his mind when he said it, it was the wrong thing to say, in my mind. “That’s fine, I know it’s last minute, we’ll just plan it better for another time.” I responded. Unsure if it was the irritated look that took over my face or my rushed tone to get him off the phone now that had him double thinking. “Well u can go ahead and bring him if you have time.” He said. It was too late, my temperature had already been spiked. “Nope, that’s ok. I responded. We’ll go somewhere else.”
With SXSW here in Texas, friends and family were asking for us to come down to spend time.
“What do you mean y’all will just go somewhere else. His father asked. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll better plan and bring him another time. I have to go. I said, “Tell your dad bye son.”
It sucks being a single mom having to coordinate with a long-distance part time dad. Was I wrong to get upset at the undertones of his reply? Maybe. But it’s an everyday struggle to balance communication, schedules and the emotional well being of a child. My prayer is that we all get better by and by. SXSW- Austin, TX here we come!
Question for other mommy’s: What would you have done? How would you have responded? Let Sky know your thoughts! @firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever gone to get a pedicure and forgot your flip flops? Or wanted to take a shower at the gym but there was NO WAY you were going to put your bare feet on the bathroom floor? I recently tried Skindels Foot Protectors and I think I’ve found a solution to my barefoot phobias!
Skindels are kind of like a second skin for your feet! The sole of a shoe but without the shoe! I like to walk barefoot a lot so I tried them out while taking out the trash and to my delight they were awesome! My feet stayed clean and I don’t feel any dirt on them! I also wore them while cleaning the house! I swept the floor and felt no crumbs on the bottom of my feet! As I mentioned before, these are perfect for the gym, walking to your car after a pedi, at the spa or just in and out of the house, especially in the summer! They are simple to use and very adhesive so they don’t come off while you’re walking around! Easy to pack too! In your gym bag, in the car, or in your purse. If you’re really good you can probably even fit it in your back pocket!
The Danger of Strangers
“NO! Put him DOWN!” I yelled at the kind Asian woman. Clearly she didn’t understand my plight nor the hard lessons it takes to raise a young African American boy.
It had been a long week. In between work, my side job, school and ministry, the week had just blown past me. With eight or nine loads of clothing piled up in the corner of my room there was no way I was going to spend my entire Saturday doing one load at a time, so I decided to take a trip to the local laundromat. Not only had I been preoccupied with my own work this week I kind of felt guilty for not spending any one on one time with my three-year-old so I figured this would also be a great time for he and I to share. After all I would be at the laundromat no less than three hours and I could knock out two birds with one stone. Spend quality time with my son, engaging him with counting quarters for the machines and teaching him to sort colors. It would be educational plus more practice for dexterity and discipline for him. At age three he had been having a hard time with obeying adults, just wanting a sense of freedom I suppose. His early development teacher assured me that this was natural at this age, as he truly believes he should “run it”. But nevertheless, he would get out of the house for a few hours and I would feel a sense of pride about myself having completed at least one of my tasks for the day with this laundry.
As I loaded each of the eight front face washers, I saw the kid doing his usual game of realigning every roller basket in the place. “Not too far Kenzo, stay where Mommy can see you.” I would remind him every two seconds and do that he felt my eye-watching presence. Every now and again the mystery of seeing a new person and a new face would draw his attention away from his game and away from my surveillance. His latest distraction came to our right, which was an older man, grumpily tending to his soiled items. “Mommy what’s his name? We can’t say hi to him?” Kenzo asked. No, son I do not know his name and NO you can’t say hi. Leave him alone.”
As I gave my directive, my son would simply look and observe the new person for a moment, then continue on with his play. That was only until the next unfamiliar being came around. “Mommy, what’s HER name.” He would ask, expecting me to know all things. Son, remember what I told you about speaking to strangers? Stranger danger, remember? He nodded remembering our previous conversation, that not everyone you meet or see is safe. I thought back to this necessary conversation that we as parents are to have with our children and I wondered to myself, “exactly when is a good time for a toddler to “speak” to a stranger and how do I explain the difference?
are those times when we run into people whom I do know, who may be seeing my son for the first time, and when they speak to him, he rudely turns away. Can I be mad? Surely not. After all, I did tell him never to talk to strangers and to him, they are strangers. Sometimes I believe he’s taking the concept too far, a smart butt.
Nevertheless, here we are at this public place with new people, new faces and he feels FREE. I noticed early on that my kid was a people watcher. He loved to stare and observe their actions, their moves, the varying of heights, shapes and colors of people. Their mannerisms and how they spoke or interacted.
I knew he would be one I would have to watch, to ensure he didn’t go home with a random stranger, allured by the fact that they had children. Anytime there were kids around, an adult was safe in his eyes.
But today we were doing good. After his first two “asks” about the older man, he continued playing his games, running about the not so crowded space. “Stop running son, walk!” I yelled after him. This is not the place to run.” Being about three feet away from him, I started walking in his direction and as as the words “stop running” left my mouth, I saw my son slip mid-stride and hurl to the floor. Startled by the fall, his eyes shot up to me in a frightened glare. I looked down at him and before I could direct the moment, a set of sympathetic arms reached down to gently scoop him up.
“NO! Put him DOWN!” I yelled at the kind Asian woman who was reaching down to rescue my son. The strong tone in my voice must have startled her as she jumped back at the bark of my demand. Clearly she didn’t understand my plight nor the hard lessons it takes to raise a young African American boy. “Get up!” I said to him sternly. “Now walk,
Like I ordered him.”
I did not offer him a hand or assistance up, I merely kept my gaze on him then turned my back to continue in the direction I wanted him to follow.
As I walked away, I thought about the kind Asian woman. What she probably felt was instinctive compassion, harmlessly wanting to help a child who had fallen and potentially bruised herself. What I felt was the same, compassion but more passionately than that I felt the need to use this as a lesson for a young boy who needed to experience falling and not relying on anyone to help him up or to kiss his bruises. He needs to learn early that Mommy won’t always help and that he should not expect strangers to help. It may hurt, and yes he may cry, but if he falls down, He should dust myself off and simply, get up.
In the moment I wanted to offer a smile and thank you to the kind Asian woman for her kindness and explain what had just happened, but there was no time in that moment. I had no time to lose the sternness needed for the principle to be taught effectively. To some it may have appeared as though I was a mean Momma. But in reality, it is because I care and and recognize that it is now that foundations are set for principles and actions to be shaped. That split second incident also made me think more on the kind Asian woman and how some strangers are actually “good” sometimes.They can be kind and only want to help. But for now, it’s too confusing to explain that to my three year. I’ll ensure he has the concepts of 1) Fall and Get back up and 2) Don’t talk to strangers down pact before we add the situational layers next. I will revisit the “When Strangers Are Good” conversation at a later time.