25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

I saw the link to an article written by Ashley Wilhite on a friend of mine’s Facebook page.  I thought it was interesting and decided to give it a read.  Always one for self-reflection I thought that it would be good to give myself a decent look in the mirror and some decent analysis.  I think everyone should copy and paste the list and look to see where they stand as well.  Thanks Erin for the inspiration.

 

1. What am I most proud of this year? 

Cydney turning two.

What I’ve turned this blog into.  Readership in over ninety countries, an article in a major publication, being in a documentary, a scholarship, and getting paid to write.

2. How can I become a better father? 

Making more time for myself.  It’ll make me more patient.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?

Career-wise.  Tired of hustling.  I need that steady paycheck every two weeks to really make some things happen.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

Everywhere.  I’m incredibly hard on myself.

5. Am I passionate about my career?

Yes.  I’m kinda in a transition here; but writing has been something that has always been a part of who I am since I was seven.  Being a father and music are my heart so yes.  I’m excited about where things will be going within the next year.

6. What lessons have I learned?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to not fear being hurt.  People fear failure because it hurts.  I’ve believed this for a while, but I’ve made this a lifestyle in 2013.

It’s not about the money you spend doing things for others; it’s all about the time taken and the thoughts that went into what you do for them.

7. What did I my finances look like?

Broke Phi Broke. But yet I find a way to keep my bills paid and do the things that I want to do.

8. How did I spend my free time? 

What’s free time?  I’ll spend a little time in my studio working on music pretending I’m putting a project together.  When I get a chance to have a night off I like to spend time with a certain friend of mine.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?

I’ve lost about 25lbs in 2013.  Mind and soul have been in quite a bit of turmoil but I’ve kept peace by knowing that this season is about unrest and preparation for what’s next.

10. How have I been open-minded?

Very.  

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?

Depends.  When it comes to writing: in the morning.  Musically, in a group setting and at night.  I do my best writing in all capacities whenever things are either going great or when things are up in the air and I need to write them out.

12. What projects have I completed?

None.  Started an album that sounds decent but I get to it when I have inspiration.  I’ve spent most of the year preparing and setting up projects for 2014.

13. How have I procrastinated?

One of my biggest demons.  I thrive in organized confusion.  I’d be much more efficient if I did better managing my time.  Structure in general would be good.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?

Coming up with a schedule and sticking to it.  I make time for everything and anyone I want to so for the most part I get everything done that I want.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?

Not being open and telling people what I really want them to know, how I really feel, or what I need from them.  

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?

It takes me a long time to ask for help.  As a cynical person I just assume people will say no and try to do everything myself.  In my personal life there was a time that I felt like I didn’t measure up to someone I was dating based on the kinds of people they dated before me.  Then I said “Fuck them and fuck that; I’m great.”  Moments of self-doubt usually lead to me being reminded that I’m awesome and an abundance of confidence.  Sometimes it’s needed.

17. When have I felt the most alive?

My birthday, November 22.  Telling someone I loved them…that works every time I do it.  It’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?

I’m not in the business of teaching others to respect me.  I carry myself in a manner that deserves respect.  If someone doesn’t want to comply then it’ll change quickly.  

19. How can I improve my relationships?

Being more honest.  I bite my tongue a lot.  I usually don’t say how I feel.  I’ll hold it all inside to avoid conflict and it seeps out in other ways.

Communication is not my strong point.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?

Yes.  I’m unfair to one friend quite a bit.  Being cynical and based on our dynamic I think they’re quick to serve me bullshit.  I’m very unfair to them.  But it’s because I think the world of them.

21. Who do I need to forgive?

Not sure.  I’m pretty good about being forgiving and forgetting.

22. Where is it time to let go?

Good question.  Most of the people that are in my circle are good people.  I did a lot of letting go in 2011 and 2012.  2013 was quite lean.

23. What old habits would I like to release?

A lot.  One I will not talk about on here.  How I deal with stress needs to be overhauled in 2014.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

Working out on a consistent basis.  Being proficient in Spanish again. Cydney potty training and reading before the spring. 

25. How can I be kind to myself?

Treat myself every once in a while.  Hire babysitters.

I have quite a few things to accomplish in 2014.  This year has been primarily about preparation.  2014 will be as well but differently.  I will be in a different place next December.

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Pretty Dope Cydney Quotables

Brushing hair:
“I’m brushing with the little comb. Ahh, yeah. That’s the spot!”

“The dog is sick. She needs medicine to be healthy.”

“I turned on the light so our room could have legular dark.”

“Cydney, did you make stinky in your pants?
Yes I made it myself!”

“It’s wintering!!!”

Me: Cydney, Santa just sent you this letter saying that you may be on the naughty list.
Cydney: That’s hilarious.

“Cydney Claus is coming!”

Cydney wanted to do something and I said no:
*sobbing* “Princess Man you’ve ruined my life!”

Looks down at shirt. Points at it:
“It says I ❤ mommy!”
…I was floored because she can’t read yet but she knew the shirt said this.

You Can’t Move Forward Looking Backwards

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I was first introduced to Lecrae in 2010.  I was managing a gospel rap group based out of Charleston, SC.  They would drive the five hours to Atlanta once a month and we would have marathon studio sessions at my apartment for two days straight where I would produce and record their debut project and rehearse for upcoming performances.  The during the first session, Dyquan, the youngest one in the group had been telling me about this guy named Lecrae and his company Reach Records.  I did my research and while he rapped about Jesus, he’d done so in a way that I’d never heard before.  It wasn’t corny and it wasn’t preachy.  It was real world music that anyone who wanted to listen to something positive could take away from his words.  Since then, I’d begun to see his reach and influence grow a lot.  He wasn’t just the Christian rapper, he was someone that everyone was reaching out to.  BET Awards, all of the main hip-hop blog site, secular artists and producers as well.  When I was trying to stay in Atlanta I even applied for a position at his record company.

This morning I had writer’s block.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this morning.  Scrolling through Facebook, I saw that Lecrae had posted the words that I put up at the beginning of this essay.  It resonated with me.  The first thing I thought about was myself.  For the most part, I only think about the last few years of my life to reassess where I am currently at in my life-kind of like a benchmark; or to write about it to you folks who’ve been reading my stories.  I do get asked about everything that happens a lot.  I’m happy to tell my story because I think there is a lot of learn about perseverance and I feel that it can serve as a testimony of sorts-inspiration.  That’s really it.  I don’t dwell about it.  If anything, there are parts of me that still feels like I’m stuck in the past because some of my circumstances resemble where I was beforehand.  However, I have been doing just about all that I can to continue to move forward.  It’s what I want the most.  I love Timile but I want that to just be a footnote in my life.  She lives through Cydney.  I tell Cydney about her because that’s her mother.  On the days when I feel stuck I remind myself of this: In order to lead Israel in the desert for forty years, Moses first wandered the desert on his own for forty years having to abandon everything he knew.  It sucks but the thought does give me peace knowing that this is only a season.

What I have noticed about people is that most of our irrational fears phobias that keep us from moving forward isn’t the fear of the unknown.  Well, maybe it is; but the paralyzing phobia of the unknown comes from the fear of being hurt in the past.  People don’t want to fail.  They don’t want to feel the way that they’ve felt before and will sacrifice their own potential happiness or what has been ordained to them in the form of a blessing because of this.  I have done that before.  I try my best to not do so as much.  I told a friend the other day who still doesn’t believe that I am a shy person that my boldness comes from bucking my fear of failure.  What do I or we have to lose?  If we’ve been hurt before then we are familiar with it.  It can’t hurt as bad the second go-round.  We’ve accepted that before trying and if we’ve hit what was rock-bottom before there is nowhere to go but up.

In my professional career I have nothing to lose but to keep trying.  If I get rejected, or fired.  It’s happened before.  When it comes to trying again in love, what do I have to lose?  While possible, it is highly improbable that what happened with Timile will happen again.  Have I been hurt since?  A little bit; but my thought process makes it much easier to move on.

We get in our own ways.  It’s almost stupefying when one is told a story by a friend or peer in which we can see that they have been given damn near the promised land and all people have to do is walk into it to receive their blessings.  However, they will just stand there and look at it and even walk away from it because they think that the image in front of them is everything they want but they fear that it is in fact a mirage.

Let go.  I can’t be everything I want to or need to be for Cydney being who I was before.  I couldn’t be the best person I need to be for a new companion thinking about Timile.  I can’t give the best for a new job or career doing or thinking about my old one.  Many times if the same things keep happening over and over again, it’s you (yep you!).  You’re being tested to see if you will handle circumstances differently.  Not only that, but you will be literally be reenacting the same circumstances because you keep bringing your past into your present and ultimately alter your future.

Sure, hold onto some of your hurts and pains from the past.  But don’t do so in an effort to keep a conscious reminder of how you don’t want to feel again.  Do so to be able to help someone later by telling them your story of triumph in the midst of adversity.

Better

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You would think that based on my musical posts I listen to the same artists over and over again.  Actually, that isn’t true.  I just happened to be listening to these kind of posts (While Chinx Drugz’s “I’ma Coke Boy Remix does help me write some of these loving posts about being a parent it doesn’t really work when talking about parenting). Anywho, ‘Better’ is a song by The Foreign Exchange: former Little Brother emcee-turned-singer Phonte and Dutch producer Nickolay off of their fourth album ‘Love in Flying Colors.’ I liked the project quite a bit.  On this particular song, Phonte croons about how life and the woman that he is currently married to makes everything better.  The title sums it up quite nicely.  

After two verses and the chorus, Phonte says “Hol’ up” and begins his only rap verse at 2:10 into the song.  As I have mentioned I think that he is an incredible lyricist.  Dare I say the best to come out of the south in the last ten years.  Being reflective, he talks about his past with other women, and how he’d thought that a lasting love just wasn’t for him.  On the eighth bar he says something that when I first heard it made me freeze in thought: “Could you believe to be a man is to be a servant.”

Realest. Statement. Ever.

I can’t think of a better way to describe what manhood really is.  Sunday night I’d received a phone call that wasn’t necessarily the cherry on top to a great day.  My manhood was questioned by a family member.  I’m good for looking out for everyone the best that I can with little regard to myself and to be told that I don’t was insulting.  However, I knew what it was.  I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything.  I knew that they were upset, scared, and this was their way to vent.  I wound up being the one taking the heat for circumstances and people and things that I cannot control.  It happens a lot.  I’m usually the one that gets vented to like this.  Sometimes it’ll just be about the situation at hand and sometimes it won’t be.  Nonetheless, when this family member vents like this I sit there and take it; it’s the least I could do.  Obviously they need to get something off of their chest and in times like this where they need to be emotional; I’m the only person with the ability to be able to take it.  Swallowing my pride and being there: servitude just like that person has done all of my life.  The next day I explained what I thought when cooler heads prevailed and it was all good.

After that conversation, I needed to vent to someone.  I called a good friend of mine.  I told them that I was mad and in a very nonchalant tone explained how I felt.  I’m not one to open up; but I felt the urge to do so to this person.  We know each other pretty well but we’re still learning each other.  Some people become fast friends and some you ease into things.  I’ve told this person repeatedly I don’t get mad and that while having this conversation “This is my mad voice” which is actually quite stoic.  With that said I was explaining to this person that as a parent and with all I’d been through in the last few years I don’t really do much more than give to others and/or do much for myself.  

I had been dating someone for a few months that was more or less like a relationship than anything else.  When I’d be around her, her money was no good.  I’d constantly tell her to put that shit away whether she’s paying for plumbs from a vendor, dry cleaning, or whatever.  She’d resist me doing this as she’d want to do it herself.  If I felt like it, I’d treat her with something nice like a bag she wanted or if I saw something I thought she’d like or whatever.  Her response was always that she hated me in a jokingly tone because of said hesitance.  Because it our dynamic was that of a relationship I let her in on the secret about real men: it’s all about giving without expecting anything in return.  Whether she liked it or not, I was going to continue to act in this fashion because I wanted to.  I said that if I was going to be around I’m going to be this way so get used to it because I’m not faltering from this.  It wouldn’t just be through gifts and money, but time.  She and I were both pretty busy people, so since I couldn’t see her like that the best thing I could do is give time.  She’d be up working until 5 AM, I’ll be right there to help out until it gets done.  Don’t worry about whether I have to get up, work, write, take care of Cydney or whatever…I’ll handle my stuff.

Why am I like that?  Well, that’s how I was raised.  My father was and is the kind of person that breaks his neck in servitude no matter what it costs him.  He finds his ways of taking care of himself later.  I grew up in the church around men who would do the same thing.  I went to Morehouse College where the idea of servant leadership is literally ingrained into as what manhood is.  It’s how I live.  Sure I only slept 2.5 hours today and I have lots to do and come 6 PM every time I sit down to do something there will be a “Chad” or “Uncle Chad” or “Princess Man” or some variation of something or someone calling for me…But that’s my role.  I’ll take care of me later.

MommyNoire: Helping My Daughter Find Someone As Good As Her Dad

MommyNoire: Helping My Daughter Find Someone As Good As Her Dad

I’ve delved into this a little bit here on my blog.  Here’s an article I wrote for MommyNoire’s DaddySpeaks page based on a recent interaction I had.

A Good Friend

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At the mall yesterday looking at herself in the mirror imitating her friend.

While we all wait until January 1st to turn over a new leaf I have decided that I would like to get a head start.  If I start on my New Year’s resolutions in December then come January 1, they’ll be close to if not already habits.  One of these habits would be actually opening up and letting those I love know; giving them their roses while they’re here.  You never know how much doing so just might lift their spirits up and when you tell them could have been having the worst day.

I’ve referred to Cydney’s friend here many times on the blog.  We met about eight months ago through some mutual friends.  We were introduced and I told them that they looked familiar as if we’d met before.  We went to college together and I said “I thought so.”  Finding out that they’d graduated in 2008 I asked if they knew Timile.  They said the name sounds familiar; but the answer was the “Let me not be rude plus I can’t hear you that well because it’s loud in here.”  Shortly after the whole crew was leaving and I showed them a picture.  They said “Oh!” Looked down at Cydney who was with me, and realized who the little girl was that was following me around.  They picked Cydney up, began to well up, and walked off with her.  They had a little moment in which the person explained that they in fact knew Timile very well and was devastated when they found out she’d passed away.  In that moment when they and Cydney walked off it seemed that the two of them connected.  Cydney is friendly with just about everyone; but she never lets someone pick her up and talk to her the way this person did.  I knew they needed to be friends.

Since then, they’ve become really close.  I’ve let them hang out quite a bit.  Once when I had a job interview they watched her for the afternoon.  It’s to the point now that every time we get on the train or I break out Cydney’s stroller she thinks that she’s going to go and hang out with her bestest friend as she’d say.  Other than my nephew, that is Cydney’s best friend.  She talks about this person all of the time and gives great details about what she and her friend are going to do the next time she sees them.  Many of Cydney’s interests and things that she holds nearly and dearly to her are because she’s learned them from this friend; as if they’re her connection to them when they aren’t together.  They have their own little handshakes and games they play that make her happy.  Cydney isn’t one to dole out the feel goods and be affectionate with people other than me or maybe my mother; but she always wants to give this one hugs and they even receive kisses on the cheek.

I told my friend all of this yesterday and that I appreciate the time and effort that they put into Cydney.  She really looks up to them. A lot of my friends say that Cydney is their girl or their BFF, but they don’t actually mean it.  They do mean it in the sense that they really like Cydney, and she’s a cool girl; but this person has really invested into Cydney.  That’s something special.  I made sure Cydney got them something special for Christmas as well because Cydney bugged me and told me that I had to.  While my friend knows this because I’ve told them verbally and Cydney has said to them she loves them as well, in the public forum I wanted to acknowledge them and let all of you know as well about Cydney’s friend.  My friend.  Thank You.