Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Revelations

The BBW does not make New Year's Resolutions because a life reset is not something that can only happen at the beginning of a calendar year.  A life reset can happen at any time, so why resolve to change on January 1st as opposed to any other significant day in your life, such as a birthday, anniversary, or the last time you drank too much?

In all seriousness, there is value in examining the year as it ends and then looking towards the year ahead to see what you can do differently.  But I call these revelations, not resolutions:

Revelation #1 - I cannot change the people around me, but I can change how I react to their foolishness.  God put me here for a reason, and all I need to do is to figure out how best to thrive.  As somebody once said, bloom where you are planted.  Whether that is at the side of an abandoned road or in the middle of a meadow, bloom. 

Revelation #2 - I can always try to be a better friend.  I am not that busy (I know, right?)...I can call every now and then.  Skip a meeting or two.  Listen.  Empathize.  Initiate plans and actually get to the appointed place ON TIME. 

Revelation #3 - If I believe in myself, I have the power to make things happen.  A friend was in a stage version of "The Wiz" recently, and as you know, TBS airs "The Wizard of Oz" a lot this time of year, so I have had a little time to reflect on the meaning of Dorothy's dilemma.  She got caught up in circumstances beyond her control which then deposited her in an unfamiliar place.  She did not want to stay where she was, so she was advised to seek the help of someone who supposedly had the power to fix her situation.  Along the way, she met a few folks who had issues of their own but after meeting her, they decided to join her in order to make changes in their circumstances as well.  Upon reaching the appointed place and after getting an audience with the One who might change their circumstances, he sent them to deal with an even greater challenge.  Dorothy and her friends faced and conquered that great challenge.  They returned to the One, only to discover that he was just a man with issues hiding behind a grand illusion.  Ultimately, Dorothy discovered that she had the power to change her circumstances.  Thus, I have the power to change my circumstances, I just need to believe...and a pair of ruby slippers.

Revelation #4 - I waste too much time feeling under appreciated, thinking that folks do not recognized my talent and intelligence.  Well, how can they if I keep them hidden?  And if I am honest, people do recognize these attributes in me, which is part of the reason why I am so busy.  I have done a poor job of making these attributes work for me, often at my own expense.  So the next time I feel overworked and underpaid, I need to ask myself if it was my choice to be in that position, or if I allowed someone to hoodwink me.  I work for me; no more freebies!

Revelation #5 - Things will not always go as planned, and I should just take it all in stride.  The person who is putting that barrier in my way might be diverting me to another path that might reveal even better possibilities.  I cannot count the number of times that I have had to reboot and redirect my energies because of someone else's nonsense, but in the end, I gained new skills and insights.  I lost a job this year over some stupidity, but I am not going to trip...I can use what I learned from them to bless my next project.  They simply cleared my schedule to make room for the next adventure in my life.

Revelation #6 - Let it go.  This, I am pretty good about, because I am not a person to hold grudges (but I can always strive to do better).  I am forgiving, and in hindsight, that has kept my burden lighter than most folks I know.  Too many people carry crap around for years that long ago ceased to be worth the effort.  People make mistakes, and sometimes people intentionally do bad things.  Let it go anyway and heal yourself.

To my fellow BBW sisters out there, do what you have to do in order to make it from day to day.  If 2010 sucked, look back, examine why, and make the effort to avoid those same pitfalls in 2011.  If you must draft a list of resolutions, at least make sure that they are inspired by the mistakes and disappointments of the previous year. 

Bloom and believe.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Post-Christmas Gift Guide

Yeah, well I was kinda busy and did not get to post this before Christmas...

Anyhoo, this is not a traditional gift-giving guide, this is a gift-receiving guide.  I know that flies in the spirit of the holidays, but for every BBW I know who spends the majority of her time between December 21 and 31 making sure that everyone else enjoys themselves, the least they can do is put a little thought into what you need.  And while my intention was to post this a few days ago, I actually think it is more timely now since you have already received a bunch of gifts that you: (a) had to specifically ask for; (b) bought yourself during your Christmas shopping; or (c) plan to re-gift. 

Lord knows, the people who live with a BBW need some creative gift ideas as we tend to have just about everything and more.  So here is my list of recommendations; note that there are no specific product endorsements although that can change for next year if folks are willing to give me a few freebies:

1. Spa day - So while receiving a much-needed massage two weeks ago, I thought about how much saner I would be if I could get a little pampering more often.  Sure I could ask the husband to give me a back rub every now and then, but it would not be the same...I am so uptight that I need the services of a professional.  To his credit, the husband knew this when he purchased the spa gift certificate for me (cannot remember why or for what occasion), so in addition to giving the BBW a spa day, you might want to go ahead and schedule it for her as well so that it does not expire.

2. Car detailing - Seriously, because my car serves multiple functions as a mobile dining room, office, clothes closet, and storage unit.  I never have time to wash it, let alone vacuum the inside, and since car cleaning is not how the husband likes to spend his spare time, getting someone else to do it for me would be oh so wonderful.  It would be nice to drive around in a car that did not look like a wreck.

3. Maid Service - No, the BBW will not take offense because she knows how long it has been since her house was really clean.  It was the last time she took the time to clean it herself (and probably the last time you were invited over) but since there is virtually no chance that she'll have another opportunity in the near future, someone else has to take the initiative and make an executive decision on her behalf.  Even if she does get a little upset, she will get over it once she is able to use her dining room table again.

4. Buy the ticket - Yes, buy a ticket to whatever scholarship brunch, luncheon, dinner, tea, gala, auction, etc. that your BBW has been planning for the past few months--you know, the event that keeps her in perpetual meetings so that you can never seem to get together at the spur of the moment.  Buy it because it will be a nice tax write-off, but also because it will make her life a little easier knowing that yours is one less ticket she will have to scramble to sell at the last minute.  No, you do not have to go to the function too (although that would be nice).

5. Girls' Night Out/In - Because every BBW needs to unwind and chill with the girls without worrying about children, significant others, and other BBW drama.  The least busy person in the BBW group (and there is always one) should take responsibility for planning, which can be accomplished by checking in with the busiest member to rule out any potential date conflicts.  Then just circulate the date for approval by all, choose a central meeting location, decide what everyone will wear, and girls' night is on!  If going out, avoid places that involve standing in line for admission.  If staying in, pull out some boardgames and make it a sleepover.  Whatever you decide, make it count since it may be months before you can all get together again.


Always be Prepared

Of all the things that can stress a BBW, the weather is surprisingly not one of those things. That is because changes in the weather can be anticipated: rain expected, carry an umbrella; chance that the temperature may drop later in the day, carry a sweater or jacket. Expecting a blizzard?

Yeah, well that requires a little more effort.

The husband and I went to NYC to visit family for the holidays, and in the ten plus years of making this trip together, it has NEVER snowed (side note, snow has been on the ground upon our arrival, and maybe once we might have left town early to avoid snow).  Nevertheless, the weather reports said that there would be snow, so on the way out of the house, I grabbed my boots thinking that at most, there would be a few inches. And since we knew that there would be a trip to the Staten Island Mall at some point, the husband planned to buy himself another pair of boots.  And that was how we "prepared" for the snow.

Then the snow kept falling and accumulating and then it was Snowpocalypse Now, punctuated by thundersnow.  And by the way, I need to mention that we are city folk with a Camry, which thankfully has  four wheel drive, but still is no match for an unplowed hill in blizzard conditions...

Again, because weather can generally be anticipated, a BBW should not get caught off guard.  Yet, that was not the case with this trip and for the next 36 snowbound hours, I had plenty of time to think of all the things that went wrong on this trip.  Thus, my new BBW project is the Operation Travel Blizzard Preparation Plan (OTBPP).

Today, my first task related to OTBPP was to go to Lowe's where I bought shovels, sand and a few other hardware necessities for both cars.  Addtionally, I plan to pack a blanket, some extra clothes, snacks, water, and other emergency gear so that we will not freeze or starve.  All of this is standard Travel Blizzard Preparation Planning 101...

Next, if I know that I might be snowed in at my destination, then I need to remember to bring something constructive to do that does not require a reliable internet connection. I always lug the laptop along when I travel, and it was great to get some work done offline, but once that novelty wore off, I needed something else to do other than watch bad TV. So I will keep a small bag packed with books, magazines, Scrabble, playing cards, and other distractions so that we don't die from boredom.  Again, standard Travel Blizzard Preparation Planning 102.

And another key element for my OTBPP is to follow my instincts.  The husband, while well-meaning, is often wrong.  So the next time my spidey sense tells me that we need to stop by the grocery store to get extra food, we will stop.  His counter that, "we can just eat the leftovers” will be ignored because by day two, no one wants Christmas leftovers.  And everyone knows that by day two, when the Christmas leftovers are just about gone and there is nothing else to eat except for soup and instant oatmeal, someone is bound to be cranky... 

Come to think of it, the main reason why I under-packed for this trip was because I listened to the husband.  HE said that this would be a short trip; HE said that we would spend most of our time visiting relatives; HE said that at most, it would only be a few inches of snow; and HE argued that we did not need to bring any food because his family would take care of everything (thank goodness I ignored that suggestion or there would have been no leftovers to complain about).  Apparently I am married to Mr. Under-Estimation, the man who assumes that nothing will go wrong and when it inevitably does, has very little to say. 

So the final element of the BBW Operation Travel Blizzard Preparation Plan is NOT TO LISTEN TO THE HUSBAND!

Alright, I’m ready!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And One More Thing...

I had a very BBW Christmas, complete with the obligatory, totally unnecessary family argument...

No need to share what that was all about, but it did put a damper on my holiday spirit, if such a thing ever really existed for me anyway.  A long time ago I gave up on the notion of a perfect holiday, so along with that pipe dream I guess I gave up on some other stuff too (such as sanity).

But then this morning I did something that made up for EVERYTHING--the last minute shopping, the cooking, the gift-wrapping, travel, broken bottle of wine, etc.  I got to watch my baby niece open her presents for the very first time.  The joy of those few hours is beyond words.  And it proves my theory that Christmas really is about children and pets.  Nothing else generates as much good vibrations as a cute kid and/or pet pawing at wrapping paper and getting excited about empty cardboard boxes.

Anyway, my resignation to the fact that there is no perfect Christmas does not mean that I will give up my pursuit of that ideal.  One of these years, I will get my shopping done and my cards will be in the mail before the first night of Kwanzaa.  My house will be completely decorated and ready for visitors who will enjoy sips of home-made coquito while admiring my whimsically decorated tree.  I will serve a fabulous dinner and every guest will be dressed for the occasion (meaning they will all be wearing real shoes and not bedroom slippers).  We will be entertained by our favorite holiday fare and will end the evening with the singing of such holiday classics as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and will remember that there were six geese a-laying in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and not seven.  No one will need to return any gifts and no one will end the night wondering about the need to get together when getting drunk at home alone requires a lot less effort.

Unlikely.  Nevertheless, I am blessed to have the type of made-for TV family drama that keeps the Hallmark channel on the air.  Perfection is a worthy goal, but it is overrated.  Chaos is far more interesting.  Just as positive, feel-good news stories are bad for the ratings (CNN), a good old-fashioned family meltdown means that everyone is guaranteed to show up again next year to see who loses it first.  Christmas is like rubber-necking on the interstate.

Perhaps I can settle for a near-perfect Christmas...I think I'll buy the baby niece a puppy next year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bah Humbug!

(Been waiting to say that officially for days :)

It is not that I really hate Christmas.  But I do not enjoy it because it is literally the worse time of year for busy black women.  The average BBW is busy with church pageants, school plays, recitals, choir concerts, menu planning, gift buying and wrapping, house cleaning, Christmas card addressing, cookie baking, grocery shopping, party planning, and picking out the right outfit for the big family dinner/office party/church social/etc. so that it hides the extra weight gained from all those meals from the mall food court.

No, I really do not hate Christmas, but let's just say that it would be a lot better if there were more of those old Rankin-Bass stop-animation cartoons on when I am up way past midnight performing any of the aforementioned holiday tasks.  Those sappy, crappy Hallmark/Lifetime made for TV movies are just horrible.  And those very special Christmas episodes on old sitcoms are the worst.

In the past few years I gave up on putting up my tree and decorating the outside of my house.  It just seemed to be a waste to go through all of that when I typically leave town for a few days during the holiday.  Upon my return, I would leave the tree up for a few extra days to make up for the days I missed, then there was the year that those extra days turned into February... 

And no, I do not have any strategies for coping with holiday stress except to say just ride it out.  Go ahead and eat an extra cookie, enjoy another chocolate truffle and get another half glass of wine.  I say ignore any advice that suggests you will regret a few minor indulgences, because denying yourself small pleasures is just asking for a major holiday meltdown of some sort.  And the people who offer all that self-righteous advice on restraint are a$$es anyway.  They know nothing about being a BBW.

Because let's be honest, no one feels better after eating raw veggies.  Especially not raw brocolli.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


My intention in starting this blog is to examine (in a humorous way) like-minded women who find themselves chronically over-scheduled. These activities could range from family obligations to work-related projects to the broad “extra-curricular” category. My hope is that other women will discover this blog, and in turn, see a bit of themselves in the absurdity of my life.

The term “Busy Black Woman” was coined by my husband, who first used it as a joke in describing to some friends why I could not join some particular social outing. Paraphrasing his words, “I have no idea which organization this is for or what exactly it is that she is doing, but it is some ‘Busy Black Woman’ stuff." And from that point on, whenever I had a meeting, event or activity that was tied to either my job, sorority, alumnae association, or anything else, it was referred to as Busy Black Woman stuff, or more commonly by the acronym, BBW.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I was hit with a brainstorm…Why not start a blog that attempts to explain my life as a BBW? Why not write it with an eye towards humor since many of the situations I find myself involved in are quite funny? And knowing that I am hardly the only BBW out there, my blog might provide a space for other like-minded women to commiserate and share.

But like many of brainstorms, this one came in the middle of what is the busiest time of year for BBWs—Christmas. Who in their right mind would think to start something like this with so many other competing obligations--gifts to buy, a house to clean, parties to attend, meetings and events to plan, and then the pressures of dealing with family on top of everything!  What the hell am I thinking?

That a BBW just does because that is what is expected of her.  Of course I have too much to do and less time to think about how it will all get done.  And yes, it is insane, but what else is new?  Just when others think there is no possible way to take on another task, a BBW does and keeps all things moving…

I have BIG ideas and dreams for this blog, but for now, I am just writing about my life.  I welcome your comments and feedback and I need followers at Twitter and fans on Facebook!  Things are still under construction here at the moment as I have plans for a logo and a few other bells and whistles, but for now, this is it.

OK, that is all for the moment...welcome to my wild ride!