Fatherless Daughters: 5 Things She Needs Her Father To Know

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My relationship with my father has never been a close one. Even when I was a child he wasn’t around much. I saw him on holidays and I spent most of my summers in Missouri with him, accompanied by my grandmother. I thought I was fine with our relationship because, well, I was a child and when all you’ve ever had is a part-time dad you really don’t know that it’s suppose to be different. When he came around I knew that I could get whatever I wanted as far as material things. I figured that was his way of saying ‘I love you’–eventually I figured out it was his way for making up for not being around much. Even though I didn’t see him on a regular basis I still thought he was a good father. But that was partly because, at the time, I didn’t really know the difference between a good father and a bad one. It wasn’t until I got older that I started noticing things and became aware of the fact that my father could be doing a way better job. He played no part in raising me. He was more like the favorite uncle that you looked forward to seeing during the holidays and at the family reunion. As I got older the relationship got worse—virtually non-existent. He got married when I was in middle school and didn’t bother to tell me. The summer before he got married was the last summer I spent with him. I went several years without having any contact with him and finally got acclimated to not having a father in my life so I mentally blocked him out. It was like he was dead. I’m now in my thirties and since the age of 12 I’ve only spoken with him maybe 3 times.

No matter how old we get, we still need our parents around. We never stop needing our parents. We may pretend to be okay with that absent parent, but if those of us who don’t active an active father (or mother) in our lives, IT HURTS! The feeling of not being wanted, by your parent of all people, is one that cuts deep. If I had to speak for all women who had a father that chose not to be around, I would say there are a few things we need our father to know.

I cried when you didn’t show up.

Children remember everything. Every promise you made, everything you said you were going to do, every place you said you were going to take me…I remember. So when you made a promise to show up for me and you broke that promise it hurt. No matter how many times you broke your promises to me, I never got used to it and it hurt the same every time.

You were the first man to break my heart.                                                                                

I’ve had a few failed relationships and had my heart broken more times than I would have liked. But the first heartbreak I can remember is the one that came from you leaving me behind. Tossing me aside like I didn’t even matter. Did you ever think about me or miss me? I’ve recently been in the same room with you and watched you speak to everyone except me…like I wasn’t even there. Fortunately, I’ve learned that not all men are like you and I am now open to receive love and have children of my own.

I wanted you to choose me first.

Everyone wants to be put first sometimes–to be the first choice. I wanted to know that I was more important than everything else you had going on. Choosing your girlfriend, new wife, or other children that aren’t biologically yours should never happen. I should have never been in second place to anyone or anything.

When you hurt my mom, you hurt me too.

What goes on between parents should really have nothing to do with the child. No matter how well, or not so well, the parents get along, the child should always be priority and that relationship should not determine whether a parent remains in his child’s life. But no child wants to see either of their parents hurt. When I saw my mother visible hurt by the things you did and didn’t do, it affected me. I lost a little more respect for you each time I saw my mother hurt.

For some reason, I still love you.

Whenever someone does something to hurt us, we wish we could instantly turn off our love for them. Unfortunately, for our hearts it doesn’t work that way. I feel like I should have no love for you–I barely know you and you show me no love at all. But because you are my father, I still love you.

Fathers, you are the first EVERYTHING for your daughters. You are the first man she loves and respects. She looks up to you and to her you can do no wrong. She will either admire you for the way you treat her mother, or resent you for causing so much pain. She learns from you how to be treated by a man. That can either have a negative or positive effect on what and who she allows in her life. The relationship, or lack thereof, that you have with her mother shouldn’t affect you being there. She doesn’t want your money or your gifts, she wants your time. She wants you to love her and fight for her and protect her. Don’t be the reason for her tears, be there to wipe her tears.

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Kitta is an Interviewer and Freelance Blogger/Writer from Jackson, TN. She can provide blogging services for your business or product, and event coverage.

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Black and Missing: The Search Stops Here

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Every 40 seconds a child goes missing in the United States. Every 40 seconds…which means every time we blink a child is being snatched. Ever wonder how many of those children are Black or brown? Recently there’s been a spike in missing Black and Latinx children in the Washington, D.C. area. Latinx refers to the gender-inclusive way of referring to people of Latin American descent. The D.C. Police Department tweeted a list of 10 Black and Latinx teenagers that have gone missing in a matter of just a week. Since that initial tweet, 2 of the teens have been found but there are still 8 missing. Besides the tweet by the police department and many retweets, there has been little to no media coverage on this. Would it have been different if all of these teenagers, or even just 3 or 4 of them, were white? Many, including myself, believe so. According to the late reporter Gwen Ifil, the media doesn’t care about missing people of color. They are too caught up in the “missing white woman syndrome”, which means they have a strange fascination with missing white women who are young, pretty, and usually from middle or upper-class families. Many of those that live in the D.C. area, who are signed up for Amber Alerts, said they never received an Amber Alert on any of these children that have been reported missing. But the very moment that a white baby crawls out of his crib in the middle of the night we get an Amber Alert about it and the baby hasn’t even left the house yet. So why isn’t the same precaution and urgency put into finding our children, those that are Black and brown?

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Let’s look at some numbers. Did you know that minority children make up 65% of all non-family abductions, with 42% of that number being Black children? Because there has been a high number of missing cases since January of this year, some believe that it may be related to sex trafficking. It’s said that 79% of human trafficking victims are women and girls. It’s estimated that there are between 12.3 million to 27 million people enslaved in forced or bonded labor, child labor, or sexual servitude at any given time. According to FBI reports, 83% of those victims are U.S. citizens and 42% of those victims are Black. The alarming thing for the African American community is that the majority of people sold for sex in the U.S. are Black and brown children. The scary and heartbreaking thing is that a lot of countries, like Africa, Asia, and Latin America, do not even track missing children.

Let’s look at why children go missing. There are typically two reasons that children go missing: they are either abducted or they run away. With abductions, if it’s a family abduction, it’s usual because the family member (abductor) is trying to force a reconciliation or continue interaction with the left behind parent, punish the parent, or protect the child from a parent who is perceived to molest, abuse or neglect the child. If a child is abducted by a stranger, it is usually for sexual purposes. In 99% of family abductions, the child is returned alive, while there is only a 57% chance the child is returned safely in stranger abductions—40% of victims abducted by strangers are murdered.

These numbers are alarming and the fact that we don’t hear about a lot of the minority kidnappings and missing children is even more reason to be concerned. But perhaps the most heart wrenching piece of information I ran across was the existence of pedophile gangs. A pedophile is a person that is sexually attracted to children, and yes these people have formed their own gangs. Pedophile gangs are rare in the United States, although they do exist, but are very prevalently in the United Kingdom. Once these gangs have kidnapped a child, their members pay $10-$15 each to have sex with the child, after which the child is killed in order to prevent them from saying anything. Members of these gangs usually wear a distinctive piece of jewelry so they can identify each other.

This information should frighten us so that we start playing a more active role in protecting our children. If the police are actively shooting our young Black men every day, we can’t be surprised that authorities aren’t doing more in the way of searching for missing Black and brown children. Social media is a powerful tool and most of us spend all day looking at and posting selfies and other not so important pictures and videos, so why not use it for something productive. Whenever you see a posting about a missing child, share it, even if the child is not from your city or state. The more it’s shared the further it spans and you never know who may have seen something or who may know something. Follow organizations like Black and Missing Foundation that provide information on missing people of color and educate the minority community on personal safety. Get involved in search efforts if you have the opportunity. If there is a local search party in your area, do your part to help. Or if you know a family that is missing a child or family member and they aren’t getting much help from authorities, offer to help in their search efforts, even if it means starting a search party yourself. Parents, talk to your children and pay attention to what’s going on with them. Be mindful of their friends and know where your kids are at all times. Also, pay attention to any little changes that may be taking place with your children and always let them know they have your undivided attention, and don’t be afraid to talk to them about any and everything. If children are feeling neglected, unloved or abused those are often good reasons, for them, to run away.

For more information on missing Black children and ways you can help visit the Black and Missing Foundation. And if you’re in the Baltimore area be sure to sign for the Hope Without Boundaries 5K Walk/Run to benefit the Black and Missing Foundation.

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Kitta is an Interviewer and Freelance Blogger/Writer from Jackson, TN. She can provide blogging services for your business or product, and event coverage.

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Would You Date You?

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Would you date you? Odd question right? When I asked myself that question my initial answer was NO! Because I’m a girl and I like men. But when I dive a little deeper into my psyche I have to really ask myself, “Kitta, would you date you?” If I were a guy and I met me at the grocery store or at a party or while I was out for a Saturday morning run and I’m looking all good in my workout clothes and I asked me out on a date, after getting to know me on the first few dates, would I continue to date me? I talked to one of my former pastors/mentors and I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, I once was a member of a church. Anywho, he asked me the question that everyone always asks when they haven’t talked to you in a while, “How’s your love life? Are you dating?” I’m sorry, my what? Love life…Can I get the definition please? Nope, still don’t comprehend…can you use it in a sentence? Whenever I’m asked that question my answer is the same as it’s been for the last few years, “Boys Suck!” I can’t seem to get the hang of this dating thing. I’m either not interested in the guys that show interest in me or I seem to pick guys that have no interest in me…the guys whose like isn’t mutual, or so it seems. So that leaves me with one question: “Would I date me?” What am I doing or not doing that still has me in this single stage of life?” Okay that was two questions, but…just be quiet and keep reading.

My pastor/mentor asked me several questions that made me think about what guys see when they look at me…the vibe that I give off every time I speak. One question that he asked was, “Have you come to terms with the fact that guys find you intimidating?” That question almost hurt my feelings. Now this isn’t the first time someone told me this but it’s still surprising to me. I’m not sure what I am doing or saying that would intimidate anyone. I mean am I supposed to be a damsel in distress to attract a guy? Do I downplay my personality? I’m not really sure how I’m coming off as intimidating so any observations that you’ve made and would like to share are welcome (constructive criticism only please). He also said, to some, I can come off a little harsh with my words and may seem to not have a sense of humor. GASP! Now that one DID hurt my feelings. Me not have a sense of humor? Is that really how people see me? His words make me sound like a mean, stuck up person who doesn’t know how to laugh and have fun, and I know that’s not me at all. It made me kind of sad to think maybe that’s how people see me and that may be one of the reasons I’m not dating as much as I would like to be. But in my wanting to rejoin the dating world, and failing miserably at it, this conversation made me do a hard self-evaluation and figure out if I would be willing to date me before I expect someone else to want to date me.

As I let this self analysis sink in, I made some mental notes about myself. I’m not approachable, and if I’m not approachable I have very little chance of being asked out. I realize that I have built this wall of protection and I don’t let a lot of people pass, but those who have taken the time to get to know me understand that I’m not as tough as I seem. But I guess I need to at least knock a hole in that wall if I want people to know the real me. I’m buckets of fun to be around, but the only way to know that is to spend some time with me. But I also realize I have to be open to letting people get to know me. I also have a tendency to be very independent ALL THE TIME! I love when someone does something for me that possibly lightens my load a little or makes my day a tad bit brighter…but the way I reject acts of kindness sometimes you’d hardly be able to tell. Even when I’m with my guy friends and they offer to help me down the stairs or carry a bag for me I immediately say, “I got it“, because I’m so accustomed to doing things myself. I fail to realize that they’re doing these things for the mere fact that they’re gentlemen and that’s how they were raised. So, now that I’ve done this critique on myself I can honestly say right now NO I would not date me. Dang! I wouldn’t even date myself…that’s cold! But sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and recognize that there is a reason for everything, including why you’re still single (if you happen to be a single person reading this). We’re all looking for someone who can bring just as much to the table as we ourselves bring. But just what are you bringing to the table? You can’t bring baggage, a negative attitude, trust issues, and insecurities and expect someone to sop it up with a biscuit. For my singles who are wanting to date more or maybe looking for a more serious commitment, I urge you to do a short, honest self-evaluation on yourself. And ask yourself if you would date you. If your answer is no, pinpoint those areas of needed improve and commit today to making a few adjustments. If you keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you’re going to keep getting the same results you’ve always gotten…another weekend alone on the couch watching Netflix. ..or Pornhub (I don’t judge) LOL

Until next time,

~Keep Laughing

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Kitta is an Interviewer and Freelance Blogger/Writer from Jackson, TN. She can provide blogging services for your business or product, and event coverage.

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Open Enrollment Season

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For many of us it’s open enrollment season. Time for us to decide whether we want to keep what we have, drop what we have, need a better plan, or if we need more coverage. You may be getting unwanted notices in your mail, people trying to show you why you should choose their plan over someone else’s. Hell in the past you didn’t need a plan and now all of a sudden, or so it may seem, you think a plan may be best. Before, you couldn’t see the real benefits of having one because you’ve gotten along just fine in life for quite some time. But now, you’re having regrets over bypassing the plan every time it was presented to you. I’m experiencing open enrollment season myself, and no I’m not talking about an insurance plan. The open enrollment season I’m referring to is relationship season. Yep, I’ve finally entered that season and I must say I’m not really sure how I feel about it. The unwanted notices in my mail are the DMs on Instagram and the messages on Facebook of guys trying to entice me with their “plan”.

Do I give in to the need for a better plan, any plan at all? Do I keep the same plan I’ve had for the last 7 years, which was no coverage at all, or do I upgrade to take advantage of a better plan? One that will offer me more security and coverage in the event that something goes awry. Now I know all my independent, ‘I don’t need no man to complete me’ women are yelling, “You don’t need a man to feel secure!” And you’re right, I don’t need a man…I WANT ONE! I’m a big girl that can take care of herself, and has taken care of herself for quite some time now, but it would be nice to have someone to lean on sometimes…someone to share the load with when it gets too heavy or I just get worn out. Sometimes when I come home from work I just need to fall into some D&D. For all of my adults that’s a drink and some d***. I need it to be waiting for me when my foot crosses the threshold. Some of you are probably wondering where this sudden need to toss aside my singleness came from. Well, it may be out of the blue for my readers and my family and friends, but this change has been gradually taking place for a while. For years I’ve boasted about how much I enjoy the single life and not having a desire to get married. I’ve avoided relationships because of my past failure rate and just couldn’t find the energy to put into another relationship that was guaranteed to fail. You may be experiencing this change yourself and wondering if you’ve entered your open enrollment season. Well, let me help you and tell you how I recognized the signs of a shift happening in my life:

  1. I started thinking babies were cute. Not all babies…just the truly cute ones, not the ones who mama and grandmama think they’re cute and no one else. I began to love everything about them…there little noses, the way they smell, their adorable smile. I even started shopping for baby clothes. (your judgment is not welcomed at this time)
  2. I started reposting things on Instagram with #RelationshipGoals. WHAT?! Relationship goals? Who? Where? How Sway? Me, that’s who. I actually started wondering what it would be like to be in a relationship again. It’s been so long I almost forgot how to spell relateshunship.
  3. I created a secret board on Pinterest (did you know you could do that, and you’re the only one that can see it?). It’s filled with wedding stuff…from bridesmaid dresses to sample vows for my future husband.
  4. I started including ‘my future husband’ in conversations about my future plans. “I’ve been trying new recipes trying to improve my cooking skills. You know, so I can cook for my future husband.”
  5. I started sizing up my male friends to see which one of them would make the best candidate for a future husband and father of my kids. They say the best relationships start as friends first. Needless to say they stopped returning my phone calls.
  6. Every time I go into a store, I head straight for the baby section and home goods. I’m taking pictures of baby clothes and sending them to my friends like “Isn’t this cute!” Roaming around in the home section wondering how mine and my future husband’s style will mesh together.             

If you find yourself doing at least 4 out of these 6 things you may have entered your open enrollment season. If you’re like me, you’ve spent too much time running from relationships for fear of being hurt or whatever your hang-up may be. Stop robbing yourselves of having someone in your life that loves you and can hold you down when life tries to uproot you. I know you may have family and friends that love and support you, but we all know there is nothing like that ‘special love’ you receive from that one person that loves you and your dirty draws. If you’re still listing your parents as your emergency contact and you’re over the age of thirty, I think you should take advantage of this open enrollment season. It’s okay to admit that you need extra coverage.

Until next time,

~Keep Laughing

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Kitta is an Interviewer and Freelance Blogger/Writer from Jackson, TN. She can provide blogging services for your business or product and event coverage.

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I’m Coming Out…Of The Friend Zone

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As a single Black woman I can definitely feel the effects of the lack of good, single Black men. It may seem that all the good ones are taken, married, or they don’t meet our, often times, extensive list of qualifications. But many of us, especially women, tend to quickly categorize everyone we meet. There is the potential mate zone, the booty call zone, and the infamous friend zone. Why do we seem to put so many men in the friend zone so quickly and why do we often refuse to rezone them? When your kids are zoned to a particular school and you don’t think they are benefiting from the curriculum or maybe they are just advanced in their learning, beyond what they are getting from that school, you’ll figure out a way to get them in a different school in another zone correct? Because their education and growth is important to you. That’s exactly how we should treat these ‘friend zone’ situations. We often spend and waste so much time looking for love that we don’t see that love exists right under our noses. We may talk to and see our love on a daily or at least regular basis, but we call it friendship. But like the popular 90s R&B group Shai sang, “If I ever fall in love again, I’ll be sure the lady is a friend.” They say the best relationships start out as friends, but do we really live by that creed?

I was listening to online radio one day at work and the crew read a letter written by a woman that had a male friend of over 18 years. During the years he expressed many times that he wanted to be more than friends and finally after 18 years she decided to date him, but now she’s disappointed that he hasn’t made more of a commitment to her. Now for 18 years he watched you date other men, obviously unsuccessful because she’s still single, and after making him wait you want him to jump into a commitment with you? How sway? Is it fair to make him rush when you’ve made him wait for so long? So why do we friend zone people so quickly and why are we so hesitant to go beyond the friend zone? Speaking from personal experience, I never want to assume that every guy that approaches me wants to get with me. So I always consider their approach to just be of a friendly nature or him just being polite or just striking up a friendly conversation. Steve Harvey says that every guy has an agenda and no guy wants to just be your friend. He is always waiting on the right moment to slide in and take that friendship to the next level. I don’t think that’s always true. I have 2 really good guy friends that I trust and are very comfortable with and neither of them have ever tried anything. And recent events prove that we can’t rely on Steve’s advice, and the fact that he’s on his third marriage may prove that he’s not the expert that he has so confidently deemed himself.

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So let’s discuss why and how people get friend zoned and how to climb your way out of the abyss of friend zoneness, if you so choose. Most of us have a list of qualifications for our potential mate, a sometimes very unrealistic list. If the person we meet does not match the items on that list, but they still prove to be a good human and someone you could have fun with, they may immediately get dismissed and thrown into the friend zone basket. Sometimes we have these friendships that have lasted for years, someone you really care about and would be devastated if they left your life so you’re not willing to take the risk of ruining it by attempting a romantic relationship. We also friend zone people out fear of rejection or being hurt. When you are carrying baggage from your past it can be hard to trust, so you put everyone in the friend category to avoid the potential of being let down…again. Other reasons for putting someone in the friend zone is a lack of attraction for someone or simply being incompatible with a person. Or maybe that attraction was there and that person did something disgusting, immoral, or unethical that turns you off. Deciding to start a relationship with anyone is a risk because no one can predict the outcome. And if you decide to move a valuable friendship into relationship territory it can be even more of a risk. First, you need to establish how strong your feelings are and if you feel that your friendship is worth the risk of losing if this relationship doesn’t work or your friend doesn’t feel the same way you do. You can try to establish rules in the beginning like, the friendship won’t change or if it doesn’t work out you’ll work on just being friends again. But let’s face it, that’s a bunch of BULL! It’s damn near impossible to go from being friends, to lovers and seeing each other naked and, if y’all part ways, go back to being just friends. Someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt, things will be said, and people will move on to other relationships. After that, ain’t no mo friendship bih!

Now that you’ve decided that you actually want to use your graveling hook to climb out the friend zone hole, let’s talk about how to actually do that. Depending on how close you are with the individual that you’ve friend zoned, or that has friend zoned you, very few people will know them like you do. That’s your advantage…show them how much you know and understand them. Now don’t do this in a manipulative way, but what better person to have a relationship with than someone who already knows you and all your little funny and disgusting habits. With a stranger, you have to teach and show them who you are and what you like and dislike. When you’ve already established a friendship with someone, the rest should be fairly easy. I’m not saying you won’t experience the same hurdles that all relationships do, but the getting to know each other process shouldn’t be as hard as it would be with a stranger. The most important thing you can do is be patient. It may not be easy for your friend to go from friendship to relationship, especially if they had no idea you had feelings for them beyond friendship. Give them time to process it. If you sincerely care for this person and want to experience a future with them, respect their feelings and their space if they need it.

If you’re trying to get out of the friend zone I hope it works out for you. And if they reject you, F*** em…they weren’t that cute anyway.

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Kitta is an Interviewer and Freelance Blogger/Writer from Jackson, TN. She can provide blogging services for your business or product and event coverage.

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Black Buying Power: The Importance of Supporting Black Businesses

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I have conversations regularly about how we as Black people should support Black businesses. When the option is available, we should always choose to work with a Black business owner, especially if it’s a locally owned small business. Minority business owners seem to suffer from the myth of offering bad service and not providing as good of a quality product as their white competitors. I’ll admit that I have often had that thought in past. I have a friend that always said she never lets an Asian do her manicures and pedicures. She will always find a Black nail tech and support her first. Me, being prejudice and ignorant about the abilities of my own people [Black] would say, “I don’t think anyone can do nails better than Asians.” Please don’t judge me by my ignorance, I’ve since broadened my mind and accepted that we [Blacks] are capable of absolutely any and everything.

When referencing Black owned businesses and entrepreneurs, people tend to make comments like, “Black people don’t know how to conduct business” or “I don’t support Black businesses because they can’t be trusted.” How do you know they don’t know how to conduct business or they can’t trusted if you’ve never given them a chance? So you mean to tell me that every white business owner is trustworthy and conducts business in a proper manner ALL THE TIME? Every last one of them? Nah bruh, I can’t except that. Whenever you hear about a business man embezzling the money of investors or a Ponzi scheme, isn’t it usually a white person? I’m sorry, that’s stereotyping isn’t it? But it’s true. The term ‘Ponzi scheme’ was even named after Charles Ponzi–a swindler, con artist and WHITE man from the early 1920s. So why are Black people seen as sub-standard when it comes to operating a legit business?

Whenever we get bad service from a retailer or restaurant, or any establishment that offers a service, we are quick to submit a complaint to the manager or through the business’ online website. We sometimes say we’ll never go back again, but after a short period of time we usually do go back. Especially if it’s a place that we frequent. Or if this business has multiple locations we’ll usually just visit a different location. Unfortunately, in most cases, Black owned businesses do not have multiple locations to choose from. Especially if it’s a locally owned small business. So let’s say you decide to support a Black entrepreneur and you receive not so favorable service. Instead of voicing your concerns or dissatisfaction, we just never go back; because that’s the kind of service you were expecting to get anyway right? But let’s say you go to Chick-fil-a and you get bad service; you’re more likely to complain and just vow to never visit that particular location again. But you can go to another location on the other side of town and still give your money to chick-fil-a. You can’t likely do that with a Black business because often times there is no other location.

Despite the lack of support, Black businesses are actually thriving. A 2011 survey of business owners conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of Black owned businesses increased by 60.5% between 2002 – 2007. There are multiple reasons we should support Black owned businesses. One is that they usually employ a high number of Black people, thus contributing to the decline of the Black unemployment rate. Those that open businesses in their own communities are helping to supply necessities to those who don’t have the means to venture outside of their neighborhoods and communities. We [Blacks] have a $1.1 Trillion spending power. Supporting more Black businesses contributes to the increase of Black incomes, giving families a chance to properly provide for their children and fund Black education. We should make a conscious effort everyday to buy Black. Even if we have to go out of way to do it. Other races and ethnicities are always going to stick together no matter what, it’s time for us [Blacks] to do the same. If you get bad service, which is most likely to be from an employee of that business, make it a point to talk to the business owner about it, even if you have to return at a later date. They want your business and will surely do what they can to rectify the situation. We should never think that what we are doing to personally contribute to the rise of the Black community is enough. It’s never enough…commit to doing more.

Until next time,

~Keep Laughing

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Kitta is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

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Losing My Religion

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

Judge not lest you be judged. Meaning do not judge unfairly or selfishly. That’s what the bible says right? Yeah, it’s right there in Matthew 7:1…I just read it. So why do so many Christians specialize in being judgmental? For example, on a Saturday outing with my mom and aunt, my aunt asked if she could ask me a question. My reply, “sure, if I can answer honestly.” Before we get into that question, let’s take a little trip down memory lane. I grew up as Baptist the first few years of my life and then as a Jehovah’s Witness from the age of 9 until I was 18. I never really accepted all of their beliefs, always having questions but never speaking my mind. For example, when someone makes a mistake [sins] they are shunned. Forget the fact that everyone sins daily, consciously and unconsciously, because we know bout YOUR sin…because YOUR sin is public knowledge, we’re painting the scarlet letter on your chest until WE think you have redeemed yourself. What happened to ‘come as you are’? Everyone makes mistakes?

Back to my aunt’s curiosity…her question, “Did you not like serving Jehovah?” My response, “I still serve God, why would you ask me that?” She looks me in the eyes and says, “No, I mean Jehovah.” “Wait…you mean the same God you serve?” She says, “People aren’t always referring to Jehovah when they say God.” “Well I’m talking about the SAME God you’re speaking of. The bible calls Him by many names so YES we’re talking about the same God. Did you think I was talking about this ice in my cup. You think I’m worshipping ice sculptures now?” I asked her why she thought I didn’t like serving God. She said because of the activities I partake in and the fact that I have separated myself from that particular religion. “Soooo you mean since I’m out here freestyle sinning, I must have put God on the back burner?” She pretty much said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” Ha…wow. Never mind the fact that she’s being extremely judgmental right now…I’m a SINNER in her eyes.

Am I a bad person because I’m not connected to a church? Why do I need to be affiliated with a church or a religion to prove that I believe in or serve God? People attend church for a number of reasons:

  • They feel the need to be connected to other like-minded people
  • It’s part of their faith
  • To get and stay close to God
  • For spiritual guidance
  • Or because they were brought up that way

For me, it started out because that’s how I was brought up. Living in the house with my grandmother and watching her go to church every time the doors opened, naturally I thought that’s what you were suppose to do. I mean, how else was I going to avoid going to hell? It became a habit, a part of this thing we call life on earth. It then became a means to stay close to God. How could I be close to and have a relationship with God without being in church? As I got older I attended church because that’s what my circle of friends did. I wanted to be around them and if they went to church, I went to church too…monkey see, monkey do.

Once I realized that I didn’t have to be in church to have a relationship with God, which is the most important thing, I actually started focusing on my relationship with Him more. Like me show you what that looks like if that doesn’t make since to you. When I attended church on Sundays and Tuesday, I often waited until then to fall into worship and talk to God. I depended on the preacher to guide me into prayer, to hype me up to give Him praise. Like I couldn’t do it on my own. The preacher had to tell me what I should be grateful for and motivate me to tell Him thank You.

I lost interest in attending church a long time ago. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t bring myself to get up every Sunday morning. I don’t party much so I wasn’t staying out late every Saturday night, so being too sleepy or tired wasn’t the issue. The last time I attended church was Easter…pretty cliché of those non-church going people. You know, the Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day attendees. While I resided in Memphis I was a regular Sunday morning worship, Tuesday night bible study, Thursday night singles ministry member. But I realized that it wasn’t church itself that I was drawn to. It was the company I kept at the church that drew me in. I made some pretty awesome, lifetime connections. If it weren’t for my ministry group, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in attendance on a regular basis. Once I moved back home I searched and searched for the perfect church. I couldn’t find what I had in Memphis and that’s when I realized that my main reason for attending was because of my friends. I struggled to find that same connection. I was looking for friends, like-minded people…not religion. I wasn’t searching for God. I talk to God everyday, not just when I’m at church. It finally hit me that I was losing my religion, thank God. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Until next time Laughers,

~Keep Laughing

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Kitta is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

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The Highs and Lows of Being in Leadership

View More: http://trunettaatwater.pass.us/markittag

Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

According to Forbes.com, leadership is defined as: a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. For me, leadership has many definitions, and comes with many responsibilities. There are many benefits to being in leadership, and sometimes it can really SUCK! From afar, being in a leadership position can look glamorous, some may think it comes with power, prestige, and privilege. Now I’m not here to give you a seminar on how to be a better leader. I’m going to give you a real inside look on what it’s like to be in leadership. I’m going to tell you about the sucky side and some of the things that makes me want to kick a hole in the nearest wall almost everyday.Whether you’re a leader on your job or you’re in organizational leadership, there are highs and lows of holding that position. How do I know anything about leadership? Well, I have 10+ years of organizational leadership and management experience.

I’m a retail manager by day, and blogger by night. I’m proud of my accomplishments in my current job, even though my degree has absolutely nothing to do with my current job. I started out as a sales lead, was promoted to assistant manger and 1 year ago this month was promoted to manager. It’s not my first choice for a job but it pays my bills, offers great benefits, and is helping me fund my future career. I’m grateful for the experiences and lessons I’ve learned…the good and the bad. I’ve also discovered that it takes a strong person to be in a leadership role. The highs can make you feel good about your position while the lows will make you want to run and hide under your desk…forever! Whether it’s in the retail industry, ministry, or organizational, leadership can be very emotionally, mentally, and physically draining.

Let’s talk about those lows first, so we can end on a positive note. 😉

Picture courtesy of LinkedIn.com

(picture courtesy of linkedin.com)

Lows

There is no such thing as working 9 – 5, eight hour days do not exist. I usually arrive to work between 7:30 – 8:00am and don’t make it home until about 6:00pm or 6:30pm everyday. That’s almost 11 hours of work, of which I’m only getting paid for 8. Whenever someone asks what time I get off work and I say 5:00pm, their response is, “Oh so I’ll see you around 7:00pm”, because anyone that knows me knows that I never leave work on time.

Being a leader can often feel like being a babysitter because you are, essentially, responsible for everyone that is under your supervision. I spend 75% of my time reminding my team to essentially do their job. I’m always telling them the same thing over and over again. I have to watch them to make sure they don’t stick their fingers in any sockets or put any foreign objects in their mouths, just like babies. Well, not literally, but you get the picture.

Even when you have a so-called off day, you’re still working. If something goes wrong, or they need help understanding something, the head person in charge is the first person they call. My phone rings almost everyday during a time when I’m not at work, with a question from an employee that is usually not important. Now I do have some that will take the time to figure it out themselves. Then there are those who act as if their heads will explode if they stop and take a minute to think and at least try to figure it out. Nope, call the boss because if no one else knows, the boss has the answer. Who cares if the boss is on vacation, surely he/she doesn’t mind taking a call from work.

Clearly you are the ONLY person that knows how to anything and resolve all issues, because they don’t ask anyone but YOU for help. If you’re the leader, you’re the go-to person for EVERYTHING! From fixing the computer when it freezes to unclogging the toilet, you’re the one person that is expected to know how to do it all…even if you don’t, the expectation is so high you’ll fake it (no pun intended). You are expected to make all the hard decisions.

Leaders are the protector of all things. At the end of the day, you are responsible for everything that does and doesn’t happen. When one of your employees or organization members messes up, a good leader will usually do whatever they can to cover for them. How well they do their job and the knowledge they have about the task at hand is a reflection of your leadership skills. And you often end of taking the blame for whatever mistakes have been made. For example, I had a customer to get upset with me, on my off day, because I didn’t solve her problem as fast as she thought I should. Instead of being upset with my employee that was actually at work, she wanted to submit a complain on me because my employee made a mistake. Never mind that I was helping resolve this issue on my own personal time.

Because you are the HPIC (Head Person In Charge) you are expected to be available at all times. It’s like you are expected to sit on phone and wait for someone to call so you can be of service to them. You sacrifice a lot of your personal time for your career, which may cause you to miss a lot functions and events with your family and friends. You never leave work on time, and unfortunately people get use to you rarely being available because of work.

People like to be rewarded like dogs love getting Scooby snacks. In the past, I’ve held friendly competitions between my employees to motivate them to work harder or achieve a company goal. But lately they actually expect me to reward them for doing what they were hired to do…WORK! One of my employees asked me to buy them cupcakes as a reward for being hard workers. Ummm excuse me?! You want me to reward you for doing what you were expected to always do every time you come to work? No ma’am! That’s crazy! Yes, your hard work will eventually pay off in one way or another. It is a leaders job to keep the morale and everyone’s spirit lifted in the workplace, to motivate and inspire their employees to perform at their best. What they shouldn’t expect is a reward or a pat on the back for simply showing up for work and doing their job.

Now let’s talk about the highs, the benefits of being in leadership. I promised you I’d end on a positive note, so here it is:

Highs

I make more money than everyone and I get to delegate to my team, most of the tasks I don’t want to do. J/K… My 10+ years of leadership experience has taught me many skills that I can use in every area of my life. No matter what career I choose, because this is not my last stop, I can carry all my skills and qualifications with me and apply them to help me do my job better. As stressful as it can be, I enjoy being in leadership. I believe my job puts me in the position to not only motivate my people to do a better job, but it also puts me in a position to uplift and empower them in other areas of their lives. Because all eyes are on me, I can set an example and inspire someone else to do better. Also, being chosen as a leader, and having others allow you to lead them, is an honor. It means that someone, well several people actually, think that you have what it takes to WIN! You have the ability to take that organization or business to the next level. You are seen as an ambitious, determined, trustworthy and dependable person. So to all my leaders out there that are about to run head first into that wall, STOP! Just remember that you’re in that position because people believe in you and your leadership abilities and that should make you feel pretty darn good…until tomorrow at least! 😉

As always…Keep Laughing!

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Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

From The Streets To The Pulpit: Pastor Broderick Connesero

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

I first met Pastor Broderick Connesero in 2007 at the University of Memphis. I was a student who was missing home and feeling a little out-of-place. I didn’t know anyone. I went to class, work, and straight to my room, occasionally making a stop at the library. If my sissy (best friend) wasn’t in town for a weekend visit, I didn’t have a social life. I was desperately searching for something to connect to make this college journey a little easier. That’s when a classmate told me about an on-campus weekly bible study and I decided to check it. On my first visit there weren’t that many people in attendance, and when I saw the pastor leading the group I was a little taken aback. He didn’t fit the bill for a pastor, at least not any I’d seen. He was in street clothes and fit the description of what some would consider a thug. Despite my hesitation, I stayed and found myself attending this bible study every week, and eventually joining the church of which Pastor Connesero was youth pastor. He became one of my mentors and the big brother I never had.

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As a drug dealer, Broderick lived a very prosperous, and what he believed was a good life. While running drugs from California to Memphis, he was able to maintain living quarters in two different states and generated a large amount of money. Life was good, until the city of Memphis experienced a drought–a drug drought that is. A sudden turn of events also left Broderick faced with a big question from God, “What are you going to do with your life?”

Born in Bellflower, California and raised in Compton, Broderick had dreams of being in the entertainment business. Growing tired of the liars in Los Angeles and Hollywood, he made his way to Memphis, TN and enrolled at the University of Memphis. His attempt to be a college student left him financially frustrated and depressed. He soon sought relief in what he was familiar with, selling dope.
Selling drugs between the U of M and an apartment complex located in Whitehaven, Broderick began to experience the life he was accustomed to. Always having money at his disposal, Broderick lived what most would consider a good life. Fortunately for him, and others around him, this good life was short-lived. During the drug drought, mentioned above, he was unable to get drugs in or out of Memphis. Everyone he sent to make drops or pick ups got arrested…Broderick saw 7 of his associates go to jail because of him. Broderick began living off of money he’d already made and stashed away. But he soon saw a break in the drought and was able to finally get a package through. This break came during the holiday season, so his workers were excited about the opportunity to make some money for Christmas.
While in the apartment he worked out of, after the drugs has been broken down and all the work was finished, him and one of his associates sat and had conversation. This associate casually asked to see his gun. Feeling comfortable with this person and not giving it a second thought, Broderick handed his gun over to this man…the man then turned the gun on Broderick. He stripped him of all his clothes, hog tied him, and placed him in the bathtub. When he pulled the trigger the first time, the gun jammed. He pulled the trigger a second time and was again unsuccessful and fled the apartment. For the next 2 months, Broderick was on a mission of revenge. He spent that time looking for the man who tried to kill him with his own gun and looking for anyone he could rob for some money. In a desperate attempt to make some money, Broderick actually took a ‘job for hire’…he was hired to kill someone.
On the day that he was supposed to carry out this mission of murder, his plans were halted. Him and a friend set out, on a rainy day, to follow and kill a man, but ironically the car they were using kept stalling. By the time they caught up with the man, he was surrounded by too many people, and they were unable to complete the job. At that point Broderick began to analyze his life. After helping his sister through a financial crisis, along with his continued lifestyle of partying and blowing money, the man who once had money at this disposal, found himself broke and homeless. He ended up living with a friend, who shared a two bedroom apartment with your boyfriend and their child. On his first night there the friend prepared dinner for all of them. Never really experiencing hard times, Broderick was shocked at the meal they shared that night…a pack of Ramen noodles for each of them and one Tostino’s pizza. Now one grown man could eat all of that by himself, imagine having to split that between four people.
Broderick had reached his lowest point. Crying out to God for help, he began the process of ‘change’. He took a job at an apartment complex where he picked up and shoveled others people’s trash into the trash dispenser. As you can imagine, this was a humbling experience. Even though he was now making an honest living, he became angry and upset at the turn his life had taken. But in this moment of humility and anger he finally started listening to God, attending church and bible study on a regular basis. Six months later he got a job offer that took him out of the trash cans–he became a case specialist for the Department of Human Service. Eventually his walk with God would lead him to New Direction Christian Church, where he became the youth pastor and leader of the college and singles ministry. Almost being killed, taking a job to kill someone and becoming homeless led Broderick to finally realize that God would never let him be happy without Him…he’s been riding with God ever since.
I’m so glad that I looked pass Pastor Connesero exterior and listened to his message at that first bible study. He has a tough exterior but a soft heart when it comes to reaching and helping others. He’s made incredible strides in helping develop the youth in the city of Memphis. It’s heartwarming to see how much his ‘children’ love him…he leaves a permanent positive mark on all of the kids that have the opportunity and pleasure of experiencing his mentoring.  I can honestly say he was instrumental in helping me connect to New Direction and becoming more than just a church member, but a volunteer as well. Broderick is currently a pastor at Living Hope Church-Vollintine Evergreen. He is now happily married, raising three children, and still riding for God, mentoring and touching the lives of the youth all over the city of Memphis.
You find Pastor Connesero on Instagram @Six45 and Facebook.
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As Always…Keep Laughing!

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Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Things My Kids Don’t Need To Know: Father’s Day Edition

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

As people, in general, we make tons of mistakes throughout our lifetime. Those of us that do not have children and are not married tend to be a little more carefree because it’s just us. Those who have kids tend to be a little more careful with their choices because they have little eyes that are watching, and often times mimicking, their every move. And as a part of growing up, we also make many mistakes, mainly because we’re young and learning. Our parents try to tell what is and what’s not a good decision, but usually don’t listen. We think we know what’s best for us and we sometimes can’t rely on what our parents are trying to tell us because we don’t know that they have been there, done that, and they have the Polaroid to prove it. Polaroid because, you know, they’re old (don’t send your parents for me because I called them old). It’s a blessing when we do actually learn from our mistakes and make positive changes in our lives. It sucks when we keep making the same mistakes and never grow from the place of immaturity to mature adult. Well, I talked to a few fathers who have made the transition to mature adult despite the mistakes they’ve made.

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Is That A Gun In Your Backpack?

“I have several things that I regret now that I wouldn’t want my kids to find out. My senior year of high school I was expelled from school for having a gun at school. I brought shame to myself and my family. I don’t think that’s something I would tell my children unless I felt it was beneficial to them. The good news is that I later went to college and graduated.” ~A.J.

I Love Twix

As most good parents do, you teach your kids about right and wrong, including not taking things that don’t belong to you. Well I remember there being a warehouse not too far from where I lived when I was growing up. My friends and I made more than one trip stealing cases of candy bars from their trucks. I’m a fan of Twix so it wasn’t too hard to convince me to do the dirty deed. I knew it was wrong and looking back I can’t believe that I did that. I was always paranoid that my mom would be cleaning my room and find the boxes of candy under my bed…luckily she never did.” ~C.B. (SN: I grew up next door to these young men and I’m a little upset that they never shared any of those goodies they stole. I never knew anything about a candy warehouse. Not that I condone stealing, but they could have thrown a snicker my way.)

Skating Around With ‘Kesha’

“I went to jail trying to sell weed. I got busted at the skating rink when they decided to search us and I had a joint that I had in a little baggy that I actually forgot was in my pocket. As they were throwing me up against the wall my cousin was calling my mom. I was 20 and still living with my mom at the time. She went into my room and found my stash…she threw away a pound and a half of Marijuana. I was so sick, but I would never want my baby girl to know her daddy tried to be a drug dealer.” ~G.B.

A Crackhead Will Steal From Anyone

“When I was younger I once stole money from my girlfriends purse to buy drugs. Now what father would want their kids to know that they were so low at one point that they actually went into a woman’s purse and took her money?”~CH.B.

I Loved The Ladies…Too Much

“This really isn’t a secret to those who have known me for years, but in my single days I was addicted to women…literally. At one point in my life I managed 9 committed/labeled girlfriends at once. And the adrenaline rush of getting caught drove me to desire more. My daughters (and wife) will never know that part of my life, but my girls will learn the difference between lust and love and all the possible angles men can utilize to have relations with them.” ~D.C.

I Love Your Mom…Now

“I would be embarrassed for my son to know how I treated his mom before we got married. When we dated the first time I was not ready for a relationship. I remember once on her birthday, I picked her up, took her through the drive-thru at Long John Silvers and then dropped her off at home. I went to kick it with my boys on her birthday. Our relationship was pretty much over after that. We went our separate ways and pursued relationships with other people. But I’m happy to say that we found our way back to each other and are happily married. So glad God forgive me and so did she. No more Long John Silvers on her birthday.” ~S.K.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers out there. Allow your past mistakes to make you a better parent and try to steer your children in the right direction. And remember no matter how hard you try to prevent your children from going down the wrong path, they will make their own mistakes. Just be there to help them up without judgement. You were once young and probably made some of the same mistakes. And if you’re a father that doesn’t have the greatest relationship with your children, take today to make it right. Someone has to make the first move.

As Always…Keep Laughing!

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Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.