Image  —  Posted: June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Birth of a Nation

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Current Events, Race Matters

imageRacism is like that crazy uncle who lives on the top floor of the house and his family brings him dinner on a tray and leaves it on the floor and then knocks and runs back downstairs. That uncle is up there doing what crazy uncles do, and the family pretends he doesn’t exist, and the family NEVER acknowledges “unc” in public cuz everybody knows crazy uncle is alive and well and crazy.

Remaining oblivious on purpose is awkward but it quickly becomes normal. Until one day someone IMPORTANT decides they “NEED TO LOOK INTO” the fact that someone is harboring a crazy uncle on their premises.

Yeah, sometimes racism is like that. Some folks try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

When the video of the University of Oklahoma frat KKK kids sang their little new millennia Birth Of a Nation team spirit song, America got outraged. A lot of Black people did the slow blink. The collective national white shock and anger about overt racist issues often over-shadows the voicing of  the everyday slights and injustices that people of color live with on a constant basis. When a black person complains, its “pulling the race card.”

It’s a good, and interesting thing to see the outrage of white America when racist events are publicized. I know they wonder why our reactions vary from wild fury to indifference. I bet they’re dying to ask their one black friend who they only see at work:

“Hey how come Black people aren’t more angry about this fraternity thing?!?!?”

“Well, white people, you gotta understand we’re STILL furious from two incidences ago and Ferguson still stings and Trayvon’s not yet a distant memory and there’s Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, he was only 12 you know. We’re trying to decide if it’s safer keep our children off the streets and lock our sons in the basement till they’re about 40. We’re processing ANOTHER teen just recently being gunned down by police and we’re trying not to do a weekly body count because that’s just too frightening.  We still think about how Marissa Alexander was jailed for three years for trying to stand her ground, which we heard was a law in Florida. What’s that you say? She was finally released? The ish shouldn’t have happened in the first place.  So forgive us if we’re not throwing furniture and as shocked as you are because some privileged fraternity children do what we know people do when they think no one’s going to find out. This is the racism WE know exists that YOU try to pretend is a thing of the past. WE ARE ANGRY, but not surprised.”

The Ferguson Report was finally released and national outrage erupted because someone decided to finally “LOOK INTO” the rampant racism that people of color knew was there all along. We shall see what steps are taken to rectify the situation there. It’s fascinating how often issues like these are not considered “valid” until the situation is “studied” and then recognized by non-blacks.

I’d really like an explanation about this so-called post racial color blind nation that idealists like to pretend exists?  What the hell does post racial mean anyway, and when was the birth date? Was it November 4th 2008 A.O. (after Obama)? How about November 6th, 2012 A.O.II (second election) cuz that REALLY upset a lot of folks who couldn’t believe a brother got voted in again.

This crap is exhausting.



imageOne valuable stop on the road to professional development is being coached by a good mentor.

If you’re sitting at work and the thing that’s looming in the back of your mind is “I wish I could get better at  ______, this is the perfect time to look for a mentor.

If you just finished your annual review with your manager (these can be stressful) and she/he advises you to improve or develop your ______ skills to get ready for promotion (or because that skill has slipped), it’s also a good time to consider mentoring. Your job may depend on it.

Many years ago in a former life, I was a Human Resources Rep and I still enjoy mentoring/coaching, consulting on professional development, and career planning so I thought I’d share a little info on the topic.


Choose your mentor wisely.

Traits to look for:

Someone who’s encouraging not condescending.

Patient but willing to challenge you.

Willing to empower you but not baby you (that’s what your friends are for).

Someone who can balance their critiques with both positive and negative feedback, without

nit-picking and criticism.

Someone who can help you target and develop self confidence, not someone who allows you to dwell on your insecurities.

The man or woman whose presentation style is awesome and always commands the room and holds everyone’s interest. The person in your work group with many years experience. Someone at your place of work who is in the position you eventually hope to be promoted to. The Director or CEO who’s confidence you admire. Your own manager, instructor, or even your pastor are also good places to start. Identify the skill set that attracts your interest and go from there. It’s perfectly OK to seek out multiple mentors.

Potential mentors are any and everywhere. The first hurdle is being brave enough to approach them. Please don’t spend time entertaining the thought that they may not want to help you, or they’re too busy. The person you’ve identified has probably been in your shoes and may have also been mentored sometime early in their career and wants to pay it forward. If the first person you approach says no, identify someone else.  Yes they always seem super busy, that’s why this next section is helpful.


If your company has a formal mentoring system by all means look into it. The “pro”is that a system is already in place and the program will have structure. This can also be a “con” because too much structure may feel restrictive. Consider more than one mentor at a time (formal and informal)  then you get the best of both worlds. Keep in mind that the majority of your sessions may be by phone.

You can make your request in person, if it’s someone you see frequently, or you can send them an email. Let them know you’d like to chat briefly to ask them a FEW questions about their skills, their development path, or for tips on how you can improve your _____ skill. The more specific and organized your request, the better your chances of getting an appointment.


Let them know you’ve identified a few key areas for development.

Be specific in your questions and avoid vague statements like “tell me about your career.” A potential mentor is more likely to take you under their wing if you don’t pepper them with too many questions at that first session.

Try instead:

“What were three to four key factors to your success in ____ position?”

How did you develop your ____ skill?

How do you maintain and enhance your _____ skill?

Have you ever had a mentor, if so, how did you find them?

Would you be willing to mentor me, I’d like to enhance/develop my ______ skills?

If your first contact goes well, ask if you can check back periodically and agree on a schedule.

I’ve been blessed to have had some excellent mentors throughout my career. I still remember the manager who regretfully and honestly admitted that her department head was NEVER going to allow her to promote me. She was so supportive when I told her I wanted and needed to transfer to a different division. The four women in the Human Resources Department welcomed me with open arms and their collective mentoring and encouragement are still valuable to me over 35 years later.

The ironic twist to the story is that as I advanced in my career receiving multiple promotions in the Human Resources department, I had authority to direct the hiring and management decisions of the department head who had refused to promote me in my previous position. Many times she had to come to see me (in my private office with a window wall looking out on a scenic pond, much better than her crowded windowless space) “Shannyn do you have a minute to talk?”  How about that? Lol.


Good luck!




Posted: January 13, 2015 in Current Events, General Interest, Race Matters


This is an open request – PLEASE GO SEE SELMA.

I know you have reasons why you might not go.image

To all those who lament “why do we have to keep telling these depressing stories?” I feel you. But as long as there are those who don’t know their history, or who prefer to learn their history from fictitious movies told by those who re-write history for their own commercial gain, new movies still need to get made. If you went to see D’jango, then you really need to have yourself in a seat watching Selma.

To those who can’t go to see these kinds of movies because they’re so raw, sometimes brutal, and often disturbing, I’m feeling you too. But as hard as those scenes are to watch, those are just actors, imagine how painful it was to actually experience it. So put on a couple of pair of “extra strength big girl panties” or “man up.” Knowledge is power, inspiration, and fuels appreciation for all that has preceded us.

Many say “I don’t want to see it cuz it’ll just make me mad.” I’m SO feeling you too, but you know what? You’re probably already mad about something racial; you might as well learn more of your history, so you can get that anger more focused and specific. Yes I agree with you, PLENTY of events have happened lately to be absolutely furious about.

Selma is a movie that elevates the usual civil rights movie to a higher level, including the important contributions of John Lewis, and the inclusion of the participation of Bayard Rustin.

I was six years old when the four little girls were killed in the 16th Street church bombing in Birmingham Alabama. Children are like sponges, absorbing much more than they can comprehend, I knew Alabama was way “Down South,” but I still felt scared when I watched reports of the bombing on the news, and saw the pictures in Life and Ebony magazines.  I remember seeing voting booths (which used to be enormous and had an actual curtain for privacy) at my elementary school; I thought everyone got to vote. I thought it really sucked that the people “Down South” couldn’t vote. Watching Selma yesterday brought back many memories.

If I can’t convince you, perhaps listening to Director Ava Duvernay’s interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross will help. Mz Duvernay is THE FIRST black woman EVER nominated for best director by the Golden Globes, no she didn’t win, but her skills are superlative.

Or maybe reading an excerpt from Malcom X’s last speech on February 14, 1965, here in Detroit at Ford Auditorium will help convince you.

 …Every time you pick up your newspaper, you see where one of these things has written into it that I’m advocating violence. I have never advocated any violence… I saw in the paper where they — on the television where they took this Black woman down in Selma, Alabama, and knocked her right down on the ground, dragging her down the street. You saw it, you’re trying to pretend like you didn’t see it ’cause you knew you should’ve done something about it and didn’t. It showed the sheriff and his henchmen throwing this Black woman on the ground — on the ground.

And Negro men standing around doing nothing about it saying, “Well, let’s overcome them with our capacity to love.” What kind of phrase is that? “Overcome them with our capacity to love.” And then it disgraces the rest of us, because all over the world the picture is splashed showing a Black woman a with some white brutes, with their knees on her holding her down, and full-grown Black men standing around watching it. Why, you are lucky they let you stay on earth, much less stay in the country.

When I saw it I dispatched a wire to Rockwell; Rockwell was one of the agitators down there, Rockwell, this [George] Lincoln Rockwell [leader of the American Nazi Party].

And the wire said in essence that this is to warn him that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist ‘Black Muslim’ movement. And that if Rockwell’s presence in Alabama causes harm to come to Dr. King or any other Black person in Alabama who’s doing nothing other than trying to enjoy their rights, then Rockwell and his Ku Klux Klan friends would be met with maximum retaliation from those of us who are not handcuffed by this nonviolent philosophy. And I haven’t heard from Rockwell since.”

Malcolm never got the opportunity to honor his pledge of protection, he was killed one week after that speech.

I’m so geeked to drum up support for Selma, I pledge to go again with anybody who needs a movie hostess. Last year I was so excited about Fruitvale Station I saw it four times. I saw The Butler three times, and 12 Years a Slave twice. Then I wrote a post begging people to support all three.

Hollywood’s usual lame excuse for lack of funding and support of good black movies is that Black audiences don’t always go to see them. Please help prove them wrong. If you wait for it to come to cable and plan to catch it On Demand, you’re not buying a ticket and that’s one less body in a seat at the theater.

Mz Davis Gets Her Turn

Posted: September 29, 2014 in General Interest
Photo: Ruven Afanador, LA Times

Photo: Ruven Afanador, LA Times

Viola Davis is finally getting her turn to shine. Her starring role in the new show “How to Get Away With Murder.” The show follows “Scandal” on Thursday nights. At 49, with two Tony awards and an Academy Award nomination, she should not have to keep earning acceptance. Fortunately, when Queen Shonda Rhimes has anything to do with your future, you have officially been anointed and are practically guaranteed success.

Hollywood loves Viola. But they usually stuff her into the stereotypical image they like best. Lots of shapeless down trodden polyester housekeeper clothes, $12.99 church lady wigs, and not many opportunities to smile. She’s usually in a movie to serve and make life better for other people.

When she finally broke wide at the 2012 Oscars wearing that bright green Vera Wang gown, and rocking her natural hair, smiling a mile wide, I jumped off the couch and clapped out loud. Yes sister Davis!!!! She looked so flawless  as if to say “look Hollywood, who’s The Help Now?!?!?!?!”

She’s been typecast as the single struggling Mom so many times she could play that role in her sleep. Variations on that are the “struggling friend” with no personal life of her own, and the “miserable teacher.”

Unfortunately the brainless white New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley made the mistake of describing her as being less than classically beautiful. What???!?!? The article was immediately denounced by just about everyone. Lady Davis was NOT having it and her response on “The View” was swift.  (Excerpt From Essence Magazine)

“I’m glad that Shonda Rhimes saw me and said “Why not?” That’s what makes her a visionary. That’s what makes her iconic. I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement [less classically beautiful] my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman, you heard it from the womb. And “classically not beautiful” is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now … it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you.”

BOOM, No other words necessary. Truth! No she’s not ugly, and yes she’s way past being tired of the media and society thinking that and expecting her to just roll over and take it.

It’s ridiculous how woman of color are the only culture that have to lobby for our looks, and for the right to experience and express the full range of our emotions without being slapped with that worn out label, THE ANGRY BLACK WOMAN. It sounds like a threat even more scary than unleashing the Kracken.

Enough about that. Let’s get to her show. I watched it and liked what I saw. Here are the reasons I’ll watch next week:

Her acting. Sly, steely, over the top. Sexy, sneaky, ruthless, bossy, brilliant. Of course she’s strong, but Black woman are so automatically assigned that responsibility that I kinda didn’t want to include that.

The form-fitting clothes on that hot 49-year-old body. Yes to the costume designers! That tapered, smoother than butter red leather blazer, that green trench, yes to all of that. Thank God they’re dressing her in colors other than black, brown, or grey. Viola is all dangerous curves and in most movies, she’s always in shapeless sacks. It’s kinda weird, like Hollywood can’t imagine her in a role looking glamorous? Her face is made up to perfection, and she’s looking her age instead of the underdone late 50’s look we’ve seen in most of her movies. She looks well rested. She’s usually made up to look so exhausted. The woman is only 49 but she always looked like a grandma in her movies, I think Hollywood is afraid of her hotness. TV, fortunately for us is not. She’s dressed to stand out, not blend in. She’s commandingly fierce. Queen Shonda the hit maker is letting Viola bring the sexy. Finally, someone knows what do with this gift of an actress.

Side note, she was on Jimmy Kimmel rocking a black leather dress, giggling and cracking jokes about her dependence on Spanx, loving Costco and other everyday Viola tidbits, giving us relaxed Viola.

She’s showing a broader range of acting skills. Viola can arrange and melt her face into an image of despair, hurt, and sorrow so well that Hollywood makes her use that as her “go-to” expression. Television is letting her bring the PRETTY and the Fierce.

“Never take a learning opportunity away from another student, no matter how smart you THINK you are.” This line from a lecture hall scene? YES Mz Ma’am!

Those fluffy eyelashes. LIFE

That broach on that black dress? YES

The sculpted body on that law enforcement boyfriend brother she got caught creeping with. Then Mz Thing was nervy enough to fake grill her side piece on the witness stand. All in a day’s work.

That scene where she was crying and she asked her strapping, wide-eyed, young student to keep it quiet, while she absent-mindedly stroked his chest. Yes Vi, gratuitous touching of young studly students. Get it in girl. Give him an A.

The way she nonchalantly hands her briefcase over to her assistant without even looking at her, like Amanda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Throw that power around like a baseball at the World Series.

The things that made my brows meet in the middle, then cock to the left:

Must she have a white husband?  Blatant swirling is the new already over-used plot device in a lot of TV shows now. YAWN zzzzzzzzzz. Shonda Rhimes loves diversity, and so do I, but I  hoped for some solidarity on this one, and that her love interest would have been from team brown skin.

The law students, there are so many of them, like a basket of puppies that won’t behave.

In the scene where she stood at the mirror with that beautiful tear stained face, smoky eye makeup still intact, and then adjusted that awful wig hat, the invisible thought bubble over her head was saying “Why do I have to keep letting them put me in these hideous beauty supply store wigs? My natural hair is so fly.”

The wig tho???? Why??? NATURAL HAIR IS NOT THE ENEMY!!!!!!

I hope the show gains a loyal following, Viola Davis deserves all the success she’s worked so hard for, and thank goodness she can finally put down that broom, that mop, and that maid uniform. Hollywood is going to have to find themselves a new housekeeper.


No Justice No Peace Part 3

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Current Events

Updated August 12, 2014

I posted this a little over a year ago. I was angry about the sense of injustice that permeated the United States last summer. There have been multiple shootings and violence against People of Color again this summer. In response, I’m republishing last year’s post, a satire on the Black Codes many of us know and live by/with. We don’t like them, but we know them well. As I said in a previous post, “Black boys are not decoys for target practice.” I offer it  for your consideration.


Originally published July 15, 2013

Official Complexion Behavior Manifesto

Important information for African American People of Color (POC) for surviving successfully while navigating the planet with those who are colorless

cp_i_am_a_man_original_medium(POC) Men

You MAY as often as possible:

Be subservient and obedient including when in the presence of those who have no authority and/or are much younger than you

Be cheerful

Be humble

Be peaceful

Be helpful

Be modest

Be as non threatening as possible even if you’re in a threatening situation

If you’re tall make yourself  small, if you’re small make yourself smaller

Wear non descript clothes, so you’ll be easier to accuse and identify, because you will be perceived as a suspect just because you exist

Present yourself as someone who is there to serve others and make their life easier

Appear as if you don’t have any personal needs

Smile constantly as if you never have any concerns.  Show your teeth A LOT

Act eternally grateful when someone expresses surprise and complements you by saying “You’re so articulate!” Be sure to appear that it’s the nicest compliment you’ve EVER received, and that you’ve never heard that before

Act like you enjoy being stared at, especially if the person has a dismissive or disdainful expression and attitude


Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

Specific for young male (POC) ages 12-25:

Do not:

Walk alone on public streets

Walk in groups of 2 or more

Ride in cars alone

Ride in cars with 2 or more

Put your hands in your pockets

Take your hands out of your pockets

Reach for your cell phone (to the uneducated, all cell phones look like guns)

If your parents live in a “nice” neighborhood:

Walk the streets of that neighborhood

Ride in a car on those neighborhood streets

Be advised you may not EVER be able to get home on neighborhood streets if you leave the house, without experiencing extremely dangerous consequences up to and including death (for which you will be blamed)  It is highly recommended that all young male POC ages 18-25 remain indoors in the center of the home away from windows until protective measures guaranteeing their safety have been developed.  Please be advised that navigating the planet in any public capacity puts YOU AT GRAVE RISK at all times. Please be advised that unfortunately,  protective measures have yet to be fully developed or effectively implemented during the last three centuries. Black boys are not decoys for target practice.

10-african-american-women-backbone-of-boycott-copy(POC) Women

You MAY as often as possible:

Be positive

Be sassy but only in a non combative, entertaining way

Present yourself as someone who is there to serve others and make their life easier

Appear as if you don’t have any personal needs

Find a way to appear incredibly unrealistically strong, yet super passive and non intimidating

Be seen as sexy even if it’s inappropriate to the situation

Be open and accepting to being overtly disrespected and sexualized

Smile constantly as if you never have any concerns. Show your teeth A LOT

Act eternally grateful when someone expresses surprise and complements you by saying “You’re so articulate!” Be sure to appear that it’s the nicest compliment you’ve EVER received, and that you’ve never heard that before

Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

Let anyone and everyone touch your hair, especially if they don’t first ask permission, and be sure to act like you like it

Never ask to touch their hair

Act like you enjoy being stared at, especially if the person has a dismissive or disdainful expression and attitude


Pretend that you don’t know what the words disagree, rebel, or anger mean

For female POC who are mothers:

If you are a mom, be prepared to feel perpetually anxious, helpless, hopeless and hopeful about the safety of your children, particularly if they are young male POC. Be hyper vigilant AT ALL TIMES.  Although this may put your health and your relationship with your children at risk, at least you’ll feel that you’re taking some kind of action. Be so strict that your children can barely breath, hover so close that they can’t move, AS LONG AS THEY ARE SAFE

NO JUSTICE NO PEACERules For Traumatic  Situations All POC:

When faced with injustice of any kind – PEACEFUL, PASSIVE REACTIONS ARE MANDATORY!!!!!

Note: expressing any emotion other than the above will be subject to censorship, will evoke fear and surprise, and will elicit smug “I told you so” reactions.

When reacting to the death of a Person of Color and the possible victimization or criminalization of said deceased person, WAIT UNTIL AN OFFICIAL PERSON OF COLOR REPRESENTATIVE (who is expected to speak for ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR) is interviewed, and they will tell you how you’re supposed to feel, then take immediate steps to feel and act that way

Cultivate a noble persona

Never raise your left eyebrow, clench your jaw or fist, or roll your eyes when you hear the media act surprised as they report that some POC openly expressed anger or even worse, obvious rage at any perceived injustice.

NOTE: Rage is unacceptable

Suspect and accept injustice especially if its obviously of a racial nature.

NEVER point out that perceived injustice is of a racial nature (no matter how obvious)

Whenever injustice and/or anything negative of a racial matter happens, NO MATTER HOW HORRIFIC, expect to be advised to “do something positive” as your reaction

Do not EVER voice emotions that may be perceived as aggressively non compliant, you will be permanently labeled controversial, regardless of the validity of the issue.

The above policies should be posted and kept accessible, all adults must have the above policies committed to memory and followed completely by the age of 18-NO EXCEPTIONS.   Parents are required to incorporate the complete Complexion Behavior Manifesto into your families’ Home Training sessions.   Random Attitude Testing Is Now In effect.

Failure to comply is not an option-your life could depend on this.


Posted: June 15, 2014 in General Interest

young dadMy father used to send me clippings from a column in the New York Times called “Vows.”  It was a weekly column about weddings and love and romance, and how people met cute or reconnected after many years or people who never thought they’d marry. There was usually something quirky about the couple, or their wedding.

He’d go to the big Detroit Main Public Library once a week, carrying a back pack that he’d fill with books.  He meticulously made copies of the articles and mailed them to me, a few times a month. No note, just an envelope stuffed with Xeroxed information, “the keep hope alive” love story packet of the week.

The stories were always interesting, but he sent them so often that I didn’t always have, or make  the time to read them. Man-oh-man getting those thick envelopes used to irk me. I wondered why he did it. I wasn’t always in the mood to read about all those happy couples getting engaged and married. Yay for them. Whatever. Who cares!

He died suddenly at the age of 81, in the late fall of 2003.  I’m so glad I never threw the clippings away. Whenever the mail arrived I’d add the new letter to the growing stack I kept in a big hat box and when he passed I read each one, all five years worth.

I was single then and I’m still single now, divorced for many years. One time we were in the car, the place where we had most of our talks, and I was in a bratty mood and asked my Dad why he sent me the clippings.

Me: Dad why do you send me those Vows things in the mail all the time?

Dad: Do you want me to stop sending them?

He wouldn’t  really explain, lol.  It was obvious he wasn’t gonna share any deep insight into the reason why he kept floating me those letters. Fortunately I told him to continue, and I didn’t nag for a deeper explanation.

Once he was gone I figured it out. If he were alive today I’d tell him that I think he sent them so I could see that people eventually find the right person to love.  I think it was his  indirect way of telling me romance could still happen for me. I’m really glad I kept those letters. Nothing has happened for me yet, but I’ve changed my attitude and I’m happy for people who have found someone to love them, who they can love back. I’m happy about the subject of romantic love (even though it remains a big mystery to me)  whether it happens for me or not. I’d tell him how grateful I am for the subtle message he tried to send me.

I’d tell him that although I’m not any better at dating now than I was 11 years ago when he passed, I’m still trying to improve and I have a much more open mind about it lol. I went through the clippings yesterday, and remembered the care he took in preparing and sending me those letters. It gave me the warm fuzzies.

I know he’d be proud of the fact that this blog I started turned one year old this month. My goal last year was to have the blog up and running so I could post a Father’s Day tribute. One year and 81 posts later, I’m still blogging.

I’d tell him thanks for everything, and Happy Father’s Day xxoo.

Embracing change can feel like trying to hug a porcupine. It’s scary, can seem impossible to accomplish, and it’s pretty uncomfortable.

So we consciously choose misery, and cuddle up to it instead. Pulling it close like our favorite lover, settling in and getting comfy.

“Hey Shannyn do you wanna shake things up, choose change, and improve your situation? “Nope I’m gonna stay right over here with my Boo misery cuz we got a good relationship going on.

Change is scary. Really scary, and the main obstacle that makes us run away from change, instead of toward it, is fear of the unknown. Resisting change is normal, but refusing to change is detrimental.

True story:
I was diagnosed with severe arthritis of the hip in 2009. I’d had pain all summer and tried denial, hoping it was a muscle pull. By fall I had a rheumatologist and a prescription and I mentally pulled the covers over the reality that I had “old people” problems.

Fast forward one year later. Now I had an orthopedic surgeon and I wanted to try one last remedy. A shot straight in my groin with a needle so long that I was sedated. YIKES! It worked!!!! For only two weeks. The surgeon gently informed me that within the next few months, I would be a candidate for total hip replacement surgery.

My misguided mantra was “as long as I could walk, I could work.” I’m a Sales rep, and we eat persistence and rejection for breakfast, so I just thought I could press forward.

I hid my problem from EVERYONE on my job and I hid it well. Until I couldn’t. My fear was that as an older worker, in a profession where the median age was early to middle 30’s, I didn’t want to appear as if I couldn’t keep up. So I loaded up on meds and tried not to limp. And I continued to choose misery. Knowing that the situation was getting progressively worse. I was right on the border of accepting the need for surgery, when my impatient hip made the decision for me.

For my ten months of denial, and delaying surgery, I was cruelly rewarded with a hip that rebelled and started to dislocate in the middle of the day. I have a job that’s super mobile, I’m literally driving around hopping in and out of the car all day. So I went in to see a customer and when I came out, suddenly I could barely walk. Fear slapped misery around and I got double teamed. The kindness of my customers got me through the rest of the day because oddly I still tried to work, shuffling painfully from place to place until one of my customers ORDERED ME to go back to his private office and call my surgeon IMMEDIATELY, Bellowing “don’t come out until you talk to someone”.

I headed home early, stopping at the grocery store knowing I was in trouble. I actually had to lean on the cart to get around the store, but I irrationally thought I better go shopping before I went home.

I called my sister (who’s part angel) and asked her to please bring me the walker my mom had used for back issues the year before. By 6 that evening reality was creeping in. Me, the lady who had been working since she was sixteen years old, was suddenly not in control, and was dependent on others for almost everything. I couldn’t even drive.

One of the hardest calls I’ve ever made was the one admitting to my manager that I couldn’t walk, and would be off work possibly for the rest of the year. He was so understanding, reminding me that we’re close in age and making me stop apologizing for hiding my problem. My secret was out and now everyone knew it.

A trip to ER and X-rays showed a hip that was dangerously close to coming out of the socket. The covers of reality were finally pulled off, and my surgery was scheduled for the following month. Thirty days, that I anxiously crossed off the calendar like a kid waiting for Christmas.

My friends and family circled around me like a wreath. The biggest reason I’d delayed my surgery was because I couldn’t imagine not being able to take care of myself. I was touched daily by people’s kindness and willingness to help.

My life became a series of MD appointments and pre op preparations. I’d see elderly patients going in doctor’s offices using walkers and they’d give me the nod, these were my people now lol.

I never missed an appointment, friends or family drove me everywhere, calling often to see,what I needed, or coming to get me so I wasn’t stuck in the house. I’d sit and fantasize about standing on my own two feet and simply walking across the room.

I finally had my surgery and had four long hard months of recovery, with physical therapy so grueling I would cry like an angry baby. I finally graduated from a walker to a cane. I took the picture in this post after my first real walk on just my own power. It was only about 3 blocks, and it took me 45 really long minutes. I was elated and exhausted.

If I’d just chosen fear and change instead of misery the scenario would have been different. I could have planned my surgery almost a year before, and would have lived with much less pain. It was a lesson learned the hard way. I also learned that being completely independent is highly over-rated.

Change is constant, and it’s normal to fear it, but it’s rarely the enemy we think it’ll be.

imageIf you read the blog last year, you may remember that around this time I decided I was gonna try dating again. I shard my half-hearted attempts. Two blind dates, then a crazy guy, then speed dating, you can read more about that here. I didn’t blog about the disastrous semi pseudo quasi sort of almost relationship with the atheist (don’t judge). Then I quietly slunk back into dating retirement where life is peaceful.

So anyway, at the prompting of a recent post I saw on Facebook from someone who’s opinion I trust, Mz Shannyn has decided to try ONLINE DATING. I can’t believe I even typed that. I said I’d never try it. I thought it would feel weird and artificial. Like ordering a man on Ebay.

Hey guess what? That’s exactly what it feels like!!!!! Millions of pictures and constant alerts that someone has looked at your picture and profile. I don’t quite understand the protocol, so I don’t respond to every message.

One guy sent me two complimentary messages and a thumbs up. He was really nice looking, a little older than me and seemed nice, did I mention he was nice looking? I responded to his message. Five minutes later, curious about what the other menu options, widgets, buttons, and tabs were, I clicked favorites. I thought it would send a lil thumbs up, or store his pic in a shopping cart like on Amazon, but NOOOOO. It sent some automatic message to him that said “Did you know you’re my favorite?” YIKES!!!!! I DONT EVEN TALK LIKE THAT!!!!! Then, to my horror, I accidentally clicked some lil star icon, and it sent him ANOTHER message!!!!!! I am mortified. This man probably thinks I’m a love-struck stalker. I never heard back from him.

I talked to one guy on the phone after multiple messaging back and forth. Nice voice, but he talked mostly about himself THE WHOLE TIME, for an hour. I almost fell asleep.

Here are some observations of what I’ve learned after my first week of this experiment:

– When it comes to profile pics most men just seem to just post up any random selfie, 80% of which are in front of a shower curtain in the bathroom.

Some of them look like the following descriptions

– Mr. Dolomite, my future Baby Daddy who looked like a wannabe Dennis Edwards from the Temptations, including the high top conked hair toupee.

– Mr “look at me with my shirt off” regardless of the body attached to that hairy chest.

– Mr. butt naked steroid user, with the six-pack abs. I’m serious, the pic was from the neck, down to almost the nether region of his personal equipment package. I repeat-NAKED!!!!! NEKKID!!!! BIRTHDAY SUITED!!!!!

– Mr. I just got out of prison. No further explanation needed.

– Mr. I look like I like to drive around in the middle of the night in my van with the blacked out windows, and I live in a cabin in the woods with no lights, heat or plumbing.

– Mr. I look just like Eddie Murphy in Bowfinger. Um no thank you.

One guy messaged me that my profile pic was hot. Then continued with “I’m retired so I have plenty of free time to please you.” What?!?!?!?! Really?!?!?!?! Thanks for letting me know.

Here’s something else I’ve observed so far. When filling out their personal description profile, guys will almost always say their height is 6′ or taller, REGARDLESS of the actual truth. 6′ 2″ seems to be the preferred fake height.

Men who take pics with women in the frame don’t quite get it. Who’s the woman, is she his daughter, a co-worker, an ex-wife? Why is she in their profile pic?

Shots with lots of adult children in the pic. Why?!?!? “Hey Shannyn look how many grown kids I’ve got who’ll give us a hard time about dating after divorcing their Mom”

Poorly cropped shots where the other person, usually a woman or a mystery body part is still mostly in the frame.

Grandchildren? Why are they in the pic? Sure they make a man look loving, but sexy and dateable? Not so much, and no, I don’t wanna help you baby sit, while we pretend it’s a date.

Old pics are the worst, one guy posted three pics. The first looked nice. The second was him standing by small a private plane, and the last one was probably the most recent cuz he looked like he could be his OWN 70-year-old daddy.

Cars, with nobody in em, why?????? Kind of a “look what I’ve got kinda thing.”

What I admire about these guys is they keep hope alive. They just go for it. The saying goes, “there’s someone out there in the cosmos for everybody.” These guys just go for it. I wanna be more like that. I need to let the universe know I’m trying to take this seriously.

I’ve made  a solemn vow to myself that I’m trying this thing for at least a month. I’m dragging including you on this journey with me. Maybe the next “Dateland” post will be an awesome success story.

Stay tuned.


Naked and Afraid

Posted: May 5, 2014 in General Interest


imageI was driving on I-94 yesterday,  five minutes from downtown Detroit, when traffic on both sides of the freeway slowed to a stop. A big 18-wheel trucker intentionally stayed in place to block traffic. At first I was annoyed, and then I was shocked because weaving in and out, and running from car to car was a man, obviously distraught, and completely naked. You always hear about stories like this on the news and here we all were with a surreal, slow motion windshield view of a real life drama.

I  was troubled by the fear on his face as he ran up and down and around the highway banging on the hoods of people’s cars. My car crawled slowly past and down the highway, his clothes littered the road. What do we do after something like this? It’s not like you can un-see it. I’d just left church so I said a prayer. I prayed that the man would be unhurt when the police and other authorities finally contained him. I prayed that people would be so stunned by what they saw that no one would whip out a mobile device to record him because he was already a victim of whatever storm raged in his head. I didn’t want him to become the latest virtual punch line. I prayed that he wouldn’t become a visual joke cavalierly recorded, posted and looped on YouTube or Vine, or “liked” on Facebook.

I said a prayer of gratitude that the rudder that steered my brain was steady and true.

Whatever mental crisis had separated this poor man from sanity must have been major. Maybe he was schizophrenic and had a psychotic break, or the vile toxic drug he took caused him harm. Whatever occurred, caused him to rip off his clothes and run from one side of I-94 to the other.

I worked closely around the mentally ill for 17 years. My job took me in and out of psychiatric facilities. I worked in such close proximity that once a patient reached out and I thought he was going to shake my hand, but he licked it instead. They’re perpetually disconnected from reality, and what’s appropriate.

Mentally ill people do the best they can with brains so poorly wired that the line that divides sanity from sickness is sometimes nonexistent. Constantly hearing voices, seeing imaginary threats, or having a brain so unbalanced that it drives you to violence. Their families aren’t trained to deal with them, and frequently run out of patience. They can’t hold jobs, loving relationships are few and far between.

States have steadily defunded mental health services for the past 20 years. Across the United States, cuts reducing financial support by 1.6 billion have occurred since 2009. Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency has absorbed approximately 30 million in cuts since 2008. Jails are ad hoc psych wards, the mentally ill wander the streets in intense conversations with themselves, and emergency rooms and homeless shelters are crowded with people who are rarely stable. Many of the mentally ill are drug addicted, attempting to self medicate. Next time you have a bad day, or one of those days where you feel a little off, remember almost everyday feels like that for the mentally ill.

I repeatedly scanned the news hoping to learn the outcome, of what I saw, but so far I haven’t found anything. Please say a prayer to where ever you direct your spiritual requests for this nameless man .

Thank you.


Posted: April 28, 2014 in Current Events, General Interest

image Here’s the deal:

Who do we grant permission to define and affirm our beauty? Who do we allow the privledge  of determining the opinion of the reflection we see? Is the space in print and digital media so purposely limited when it comes to covering non white beauty, that  journalists of a certain pale hue limit their choice to a very few or just one, and then write about the newly annointed one like dark skinned beauty was just invented? Suddenly popular, desirable, and attention worthy.

This need by the press, to over-hype a single icon is annoying. I’ve been  debating with myself for months on how to share this perspective without it sounding like a rant, a whine, or Lupita hateration. This post is none of those things (okay, maybe a little bit ranty). I’ve been watching the trajectory of Mz Goddess Nyong’o since  I saw “Twelve years a Slave,” and the beginning of awards season. I cheer and wear my “We Love Lupita” team jacket and my pride and admiration for her continues to grow with each new achievement.

I’ve done multiple posts on her. She’s poised, well spoken, humble, yet cosmopolitan. She seems grounded with the ability to stay above the constant attention and not get blinded by the glare of her new found celebrity. I’ve adopted her as my global daughter. Felicidades mija! Lupita gives a voice to girls and women who look like her, who’ve often been relegated  to the outskirts of what’s considered beautiful. Her Essence  and Academy Award speeches were the ultimate truth, and left me twisting a wet hanky, moving me with her raw honesty. She was recently named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Person, and journalists are in full swoon.

As I champion Lupita’s success and the sudden demand and popularity for her visual aesthetic, the frenzy from the media is jarring. Yes, her look is unique when compared to the typical Eurocentric definition of beauty, and perhaps there’s more interest because she’s international, but truthfully, brown women from all corners of the globe have been beautiful for centuries, since before there were mirrors, since forever. Go any place where there are enough Black women and you’ll see a wall of 100% chocolate good looks. All shades, shapes, heights, ages, natural hair, locs, heads shaved, or fluffy kinks, permed, dyed fried, weaved, twisted, and woven.  Full of class and feminine swag. Clothes worn expertly tapered,  because why not show that shape, no matter the size. Stunning, attractive, exquisite, impressive, fine, flawless, pretty, statuesque, petite, eye-catching, adorable, traffic-stopping, brick house, amazon, picturesque, ravishing, fierce, WERKING deep ebony realness. As I celebrate Lupita, I celebrate all the everyday home grown lovelies, whose beauty continues to unfortunately be overlooked, and for whom acceptance is long overdue. All beautiful. PERIOD.