Author Archives: Janice Fuller-Roberts

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift, March 23, 2019

The moment you stop looking elsewhere for love, acceptance, and validation is exactly the moment when you’ll find those things within yourself. Learn to love yourself as deeply and as fervently as you love those around you (especially the ones who don’t even deserve you). Trust me. When you begin to believe in your own beauty and brilliance, you won’t have any time for the naysayers or the negativity they bring.  You’ll be too busy basking in the warmth of your own light and truly living your best life! #SophiasSundayUplift #SundayUplift #SelfLove #Love #Acceptance #Validation #BelieveInYou

~Sophia Ned-James (Art is “Teenie Weenie Afro” by Melanoidlnk)

 

 

 

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift, March 17, 2019

You can surrender to love without surrendering your entire self.
A truly loving relationship won’t swallow you whole.
Real love won’t make you disappear or tear you down.
Remember, a well-tended garden allows the daffodil to bloom without diminishing the beauty of the tulip.
~Sophia Ned-James (Artistic Image is “Black Beauty” by Selene Regener Photography)

#SophiasSundayUplift #UpliftWOC #UpliftBlackWomen #WomensHistoryMonth2019 #HappySunday

 

Single and Happy, Except on Valentine’s Day? ASK JANICE

I totally understand why single people dread Valentine’s Day. I get it, I do. But, as I like to remind myself, it’s not as though you aren’t single on February 13th or 15th, too. So why is it so hard being single on February 14th?

Just because greeting card companies, jewelers, florists, and chocolatiers have convinced us it’s a “holiday” for romantic love? So they can pressure us into wasting our hard-earned cash on cards and flowers that’ll end up in the garbage in a couple days? Or on jewelry we can’t afford and fancy chocolate we’re supposed to be avoiding if we want to stick to our New Year’s resolution to lose weight? The resolution that’s barely a month and a half old?

If Valentine’s Day is just the commercialized tool designed to bust our waistlines and break our wallets to enrich the corporations who prey on our need for inclusion that we say it is, then why do so many single people still dread February 14th like it’s different from any other day?

I’ll tell you why.

It’s because no matter how independently, successfully, and happily single you are during the rest of the year, you’ve been programmed by our commercialized cultural to believe that being uncoupled on Valentine’s Day is like being a second-class citizen. You’ve been brainwashed, that’s why!

Think about it. In the midst of all the sappy, over-the-top advertising promoting happy coupledom as the preferred status, marketing towards singles is framed as a second-rate, consolation prize. It’s like someone is out there saying, “We know you’d rather have romantic love and celebrate like the rest of us, but since you’re single, you can’t. Poor you! Here’s an article on ways to make you feel better for being a loser and not having a Valentine’s Day date.”

Right now you can go to Google and start typing “S-I-N-G-L”, and before you even get to the last letter, you’ll see “Single on Valentine’s Day”, or “How to Survive Valentine’s Day Single”. If you click on any one of these, what will follow is a comprehensive, yet sad, list of articles, blog posts, think pieces, and videos all striving to console us poor, miserably single people for being (gasp!) ALONE!

I know what I’m talking about, y’all. I’ve written those same types of pieces myself for this very blog.  

And we buy right into it, don’t we? We actually believe the hype and get all sad, when the reality is, we’re perfectly fine being single on any other day of the year! How crazy is that?

Now, I know that some of us really are lonely and legitimately looking for a real romantic relationship with someone. And yes, we do feel sad and lonely on days other than Valentine’s Day, no matter how brave a face we put on. I know this. I’ve been there.

But not all uncoupled people are sad and lonely. In fact, most of us are out here living out best lives without romantic love. We love being uncoupled and embrace our independence … except on February 14th! Because that’s when we’re programmed to think of singlehood as a bad thing.

We gotta stop this, y’all. We gotta stop letting this ONE day get to us like that. I say, from now on, we ignore the usual signals and marketing efforts to make us feel bad on Valentine’s Day. Let the happy couples celebrate their love to their hearts’ content. They don’t have to bother us.

Instead of us singles feeling disappointed or unloved, let us embrace our singleness on the 14th as stridently as we do on the 13th or 15th or any other day! Let us go about our normal, daily routines, secure in the knowledge that even though we don’t have romantic love in our lives at this time, we’re still lovable, valuable, and worthy!

I realize that I just turned this whole piece into a rallying cry for embracing singlehood on Valentine’s Day, which actually feeds into the whole system that I’m railing against. But that’s ok, though. Y’all know what I mean.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Girlfriends: The Power of Friendships Between Black Women: ASK JANICE

 

Given the pervasiveness of rape culture, misogyny, and especially misogynoir, I’ve come to believe that we women need more safe spaces that are just for us. Let’s face it, sometimes, regardless of our relationship or marital status (or even because of it), “we’re all we got”!

So we need each other to keep us sane, keep us grounded and more often than not, keep us from catching a case! The powerful energy that a good group of women friends produces can be transformative. I know this firsthand because I’m blessed with the most amazing and supportive girlfriend village, ever!

That’s why I decided to celebrate the power of close friendships between Black women. Socially and culturally, our society seems to be at a crossroads between progress and regression. On the one hand, the rise of the #metoo movement has caused a dramatic shift in how we view the treatment of women, especially in the workplace. On the other hand, the fact that R. Kelly is still a free man with a musical career is just one example of how entrenched rape culture is in our society. It also illustrates a general lack of regard for Black girls and women.

There is still so much to do for women, especially Black women, to attain equal status. Being at the intersection of racism and sexism leaves us especially vulnerable in a world where the powers-that-be (namely white men) have dug in their heels to maintain their power. And the reality is, we don’t have a lot of support out there.

Sure, there are some allies in our fight, but non-Black women tend to focus on issues that center them rather than us; and Black men tend to center their activism around racial issues alone, without any regard for the Black women in their ranks. This has been true since the 19th century, in both the early feminist movement and the early Civil Rights movement. And not much has changed, despite the Black woman’s tireless efforts on behalf of both gender and racial equality.

So today, I celebrate the power of friendships between Black women. I do so for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because there’s no way I could have made it this far without my girlfriends.

Full disclosure: I adore men, and my village is filled with them.  I’ve never bought into the notion that men and women can’t be friends. I have several close male friends who mean the world to me. Most of them are married with families, now. So of course the dynamics of those relationships have changed. But the friendships are still true and strong. And I wouldn’t trade any of them for all the riches in the world.

But I can’t imagine my life without my girls. I have friends I’ve known since before we lost our baby teeth, wore bras, had our first periods or experienced our first kisses. Girls I went to grade school, high school and college with are still my closest “homies”. And I’ve even made some very dear friends as an adult.

These women are my rocks, my beacons of light during my life’s storms. They’re my comfort when I’m down and the first ones I call when I’m happy. They’ve seen me through every failed relationship and heartbreak. They’ve been by my side for every victory and triumph.

My close friends propped me up when I’ve faltered and lifted me when I’ve fallen. They prayed for me when I lacked the faith to pray for myself. My girlfriends have celebrated my greatest moments with me, like the birth of my son. And when I lost most of my immediate family in the span of just a few years, my girls were the ones who literally held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own.

When I’m in a hole of despair, I have friends who will climb right in there with me, wrap their arms around me and hold me. Then, when they know I’m ready, they’ll gently help me find my way home.

My girls don’t judge me for my quirks and oddness. They get that I’m more than a little nuts. My many mistakes haven’t driven them away yet, and they continue to put up with my insane misadventures. For some reason that I just can’t fathom, they love me despite all my faults.

Sure, we’ve had our fights. We’ve fought over stupid stuff like lipstick and who’s going to bring the ice to the next party. We’ve bickered. We’ve bitched. And we’ve gone months and even years without speaking. But the reunions were always joyous and somehow, despite the time and/or distance between us, we managed to pick up right where we left off.

None of this comes easy, though. Like any relationship, friendships between women take work. We have to be willing to deal with each other’s crap. If one friend is always late, you have to swallow those snarky remarks when she finally gets there, because you know you love her anyway. And if you know your other friend is going to spend over an hour complaining about a guy she should’ve dumped three years ago, you listen anyway. After all, she’s done the same for you.

It’s also important that we accept each other where we are, which isn’t always easy. As our lives change, so do our relationships with each other. We’re always growing and changing, and our friendships have to follow suit.

We have to be understanding when one of us needs space, and present when one of us needs comfort. We have to listen when we really want to talk, and hold our tongues when we want to say “I told you so”. And at the core of these and any successful relationships, is mutual respect.

Not every friendship is the same. You know what I mean. You have those friends to whom you can turn for career or financial advice and they’ll never steer you wrong. Then there are the “good time” girls who turn every outing into an adventure. You never know where you’ll end up by the end of the night, but you know you’ll have fun getting there.

Of course there are the friends with whom you can talk for hours about anything, happily picking apart any manner of subjects, no matter how trivial. And there are the sounding boards, the ones you bounce ideas off or just generally bitch to. They’re always willing to listen, to let you spill your guts.

And there are the girlfriends who will always tell you the truth, even when it hurts. They’re the “straight shooter” friends and everyone needs at least one. Who else will stop you from leaving the house looking a hot mess? She’ll take one look at you, and lovingly but firmly tell you that you need to completely re-think your outfit or hairstyle or shoes.

I don’t know where I’d be without my spiritual guides, always ready with the perfect Bible verse for any situation. They remind you to keep God first, which is probably why you’ve made it as far as you have. And they will pray for you even when you don’t think you deserve it.

Oh, and we can’t forget the friend with whom you can share every dirty little secret. You already have a pact with her that if you die first, she must immediately empty your “secret” drawer and erase your browser history before telling anyone the bad news. Phew! I’m so glad I have me one of these! And she knows I’d do the same for her!

And of course, no group of friends is complete without that ride-or-die friend. She’s the one who’s got your back no matter what. If you call her upset and ready to crack some heads, her only question is “Your car or mine?” She’s always on your side, even when you’re dead wrong. She’s the A.C. to your O.J., willing to drive the white Bronco as you run from the police.

I know girlfriends can never replace a spouse or a life partner. They’re not supposed to.  But they can enhance your life is so many beautiful ways.

Yes, I love my family deeply. But God chose my family for me. I chose my friends, and they chose me. That makes our bond truly remarkable. It’s a bond of choice. We’re here for each other because we want to be. And I wouldn’t be anywhere else!

Pictures from Pixabay, onyxtruth.com, and financialjuneteenth.com