Aging with grace…

I look at my female contemporaries and realize that for the most part, I’m in the minority when it comes to make up. I’m a minimalist; always have been and always will be. While I’ve worn make up in the past; mostly for modeling purposes, I’ve always shied away from it. Eyeliner and mascara are pretty much the extent of my wearing makeup. I wear lip gloss, but rarely does it even have any colour. When I was asked to be a part of the media campaign for Gilda’s Club South Jersey, I was mortified with the amount of makeup the makeup artist applied; all while she’s complimenting how nice my skin is…Go figure! I called my girlfriend to complain and she told me to wipe it off to an amount I was comfortable with; I did. During the shoot, the damn woman decided to reapply…Lord knows she came 1) dangerously close to getting her hand slapped and 2) me opting out of the shoot.

I dress in fashion I deem personally appropriate and have never really prescribed to the dictations of Tommy Gunn or whoever the fashion critic is of the moment. In college, I was called “the Lisa Bonet of Stockton” because my style was a mix of bohemian, eclectic, and whatever mood I was in that day. I liked being me in that regard. To date, my style varies, but I have always leaned toward classic, feminine, and classic styles. I’d have fared well back in the 1920s through 1950s as their fashions were rather tasteful and very stylish.

I look through magazines and see this beauty product to clear your skin, that beauty product to reduce or minimize wrinkles; you name it, it’s out there. How’s a woman to keep up? This one doesn’t! I use a natural soap to wash my face; unscented baby wipes to remove eyeliner and mascara, and an unscented natural moisturizer on my face. Since my hair is natural, I likewise use natural hair products, which have reduced my getting breakouts as a result of the chemicals. Easy is as easy does in my book! I strive to eat well, drink lots of water, and exercise when my lazy ass musters the initiative. I’ve noticed changes in my skin over the years; some of it due to the medicine I no longer take, some due to life, and some due to the aging process; none of which I even overly concern myself with. I’m aging with grace and I accept it for what it is.

Yes, there are days when I look at myself and am not always pleased with what I see, but is anyone visually happy with themselves everyday? I accept that day regardless and move on. There’s more to me than my face and I accept myself with my flaws.

With media and society doing their best to make me feel less confident about myself visually, it actually inspires me to be the more defiant; much like the petulant child I know I can be sometimes. I took a hard road to get where I am where I let others tell me what I should or shouldn’t do to qualify as pretty or beautiful. Though I’ve never truly considered myself beautiful on the outside, I damn sure know I am on the inside and that alone is grace and the real definition of beauty in my book. My looks may not make me Ebony, Essence or the like; cover worthy and I’m truly alright with that. As long as I see myself as such; as long as my man sees me as such; and as long as those who truly know, love, and care for me see me as such, then I’ve got it going on.

I’m 45. I’m 153-155lbs (depending on the day…lol). I’m mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit. I’m whole. I’m secure. I’m able. Most of all I’m happy. All of those things age me with grace and I love it!

That is all!

Stand by your man…? (Conclusion)

Flash back to my time in VA…One of the girls in my squad was sporting an engagement ring that could’ve sunk a modern-day Titanic who seemed very much into her future husband. Well, that was until she met Specialist Jackson. They immediately hit it off; against training standards, and a sexual relationship quickly ensued. In spite of my warnings and those of the company commander, she continued. Well, one day I was checking the dorms to make sure they were clean and everyone was out when I heard the shower running. A quick peek to see who it was and why revealed said young lady with hickeys and other sexually created marks on her body. I advised that she hurry and her response was hysterical tears. She confided that her fiance would be arriving that evening and she didn’t know what she was going to do. It was supposed to be a surprise, but someone in the office messed up and told her. The mix up afforded her time to come up with a way to get out of having sex with him, but it certainly needed to be good enough to justify the marks on her body. I didn’t feel bad for her because she knew better and had been warned, but hard ears makes a soft behind; or in her case; cost her a ring and marriage.

Back to me…If I had a dollar for every married man or man with a girlfriend, I’d have a decent chunk of change sitting tax-free in an offshore account. Yes, infidelity was that serious!

Some were more discreet in their flirting or ways of finding out where my moral compass pointed; however, most were pretty overt and made countless attempts to have me be their side piece. Hell, my ex-husbands father used to make passes at me back in the day before his son and I got together. Makes my skin crawl rethinking it! Let me clarify something as not to be misunderstood because it takes two to tango and trust me when I tell you that there were many married women engaged in various acts of infidelity. I wasn’t surprised per se, but it was funny how they handled their business with a little more finesse and discretion.

I heard men plotting on the new girls that came in on how they’d be their weekend girlfriend or their Annual Training wife. They made offerings of helping them with their training or whatever else they could to sway her into their favour and once they had her, she became shop fodder amongst the men and another notch on their proverbial bedpost. When I was approached, I made it known I’d be no one’s tabloid discussion and there’s nothing they had that I needed to compromise my character for. Oh, trust your girl was “stuck up”, “she must think her p*ssy is lined with gold”, or some other snarky remark. I proudly wore whatever moniker they gave me instead of being anyone’s cum dumpster.

Rank had its privileges because the lower ranking girls thought themselves special for hooking up with the higher ranking enlisted or officers. As I said, it was not limited to men as I saw an E-6 hook up with an E-4 for no other reason than him being cute and having a nice body. Officers and high enlisted alike made promises of special treatment to those who took up with them and their boys were sometimes given preferential assignments for being alibis and such. Olivia Pope would have been proud of how they handled their indiscretions and cover ups…lol…I digress, but they did take esprit de corps to a whole new place!

Being one to never want to be in the lime light and shied away from anything that even remotely stunk of drama, I hated that I knew what I did and found myself being questioned here and there about the (alleged) actions of others even if it was just for curiosity’s sake. It’s sad to recall how many no sooner kissed their kids, spouses, and significant others goodbye and then began kissing their military spouse hello.

Military marriages suffer high rates of divorce primary due to a cheating spouse, which I’ve personally witnessed. I saw a good friend no sooner leave for a 30-day deployment and his wife’s boyfriend keep the bed warm in his absence. Neighbours knew and said nothing; they were probably likewise guilty. It was a gut feeling on his part that caught her in the act. He told her he was leaving for training, packed his stuff and left. He parked around the corner and double backed on foot to the house where he saw an unfamiliar car parked in his driveway. He let himself in through the side door and found his wife and lover on the couch in the act. Talk about coitus interuptus!! Although she was a civilian, she ended up losing the most to include custody of their daughter.

Conversely, there are many spouses who condone infidelity by citing long or extended deployments, recurring training schedules, or some other reason because they’ve grown accustomed to the lifestyle provided by their military spouse. General Sinclair’s wife alluded to such in her statement. Sorry son, I’m not going to make such excuses and there is no amount of lifestyle that will make me think otherwise. I’m not standing by my man and I’m not going to be made light of or become a part of media sensationalism as a result of his actions.

Again, I understand military life, but there is no excuse for the behaviour these and many other have exhibited. A military career is hard-earned and fought hard for and shouldn’t be reduced to something demeaning and seedy to end it. I want to feel bad for either General in some way and maybe if I hadn’t been in the service, I may have a little compassion, but since I’ve been there, I can’t and won’t. I’ve seen how many high-ranking men use and abuse their authority. I’ve seen them manipulate, coerce, cajole, threaten, etc., to get what they want. Sadly, I’ve seen women counter by giving of themselves with hidden agendas; however, any way you slice it, both parties are wrong. In this instance, these men displayed blatant disregard for their marriages, careers, reputations, and whatever else it has cost them. I feel for the spouses; slightly, but I mostly feel for the kids who will have to live and relive this scandal. With today’s technology, there is no undoing what’s published. Personally, I might be inclined to want to change my last name to reduce any known or future associations, but it may never truly remove the human stain. Actions speak louder than words and theirs are the beacons that we will see for all perpetuity.

Stand by your man? Depends on what I’m standing by him for!

That is all!

Stand by your man..?

We’re all familiar with the Petreaus and Sinclair  scandals resulting from their respective infidelities, military code violations, and other pertaining wrong doings, but little has been said from the wives of said men.  This morning I read the following Generals wife speaks out where General Sinclairs wife speaks her peace on what her husband has been accused of.  So I decided as a former military person and spouse to drop my two cents in the bucket.

Prior to my enlistment, I knew a few people who’d been in the military and I’d heard the varied accounts of what happens during the training phases and once you begin your career.  Inappropriate sexual contact and infidelity were drilled into my head as actions that could send your military career into the toilet faster than slipping on a banana peel; however, my observations showed me quite the opposite.  I saw many instances of sexual misconduct taking place between Drill Sergeants and trainees in addition to infidelity amongst trainees.  Peer to peer interactions seemed like benign occurences of which most turned a blind eye to in spite of marital status; however, where I expected to see action being taken for the superior/subordinate interactions, I saw cover ups.  Superiors covered for each other, swore the trainees to secrecy and trainees obliged thinking they’d scored favourable or preferential treatment and status against their peers.  Chemistry and attraction are given and it does take a strong constitution to resist temptation, but when there is so much at stake, I often wondered what was going on in the minds of the superiors.

Fast forward to my own then situation where I found myself attracted to the DS of another platoon.  I fought that ish like it was the sworn enemy and refused to be the one who gets caught out there.  Fight as I might, I later, and reluctantly gave in to nothing more than having a personal conversation with him.  I still swore up and down I was being set up and told him flat-out that if I went down, he was coming with me…We hadn’t done anything inappropriate, but I was taking no chances and wanted it known up front.  The outcome of the conversation remanded us on amicable, but professional terms as I was all about business first and foremost. He was  a laid back , amusing, often rude, but an overall decent guy who’d admitted that he’d never interacted with a trainee prior to me. I was flattered, though not easily swayed by his confession and remained my code of conduct.  Near the end of training, I learned that he was actually telling the truth, which was confirmed when I was on duty one night and the DS’s were talking a little too loudly in a back room; booze will do that,  about their respective escapades.  He was being chided for not pursuing me and that I appeared to be a good catch for more than just a romp.  He didn’t let on that we’d spoken and accepted his chastisement with dignity.

The night before graduation when all the trainees were wondering around getting their year books signed, I went to said DS’s office where we spoke more intimately; though still with some trepidation we eventually kissed.  I was terrified to the umpth degree thinking we’d get caught and all hell would break loose, fortunately, that didn’t happen and I graduated and went off to specialised training school.  I had his number and said I’d call upon getting to Virginia.  Thought still reluctant, I did and we continued to talk via phone and exchange mail of which I included no return address in case it got into the wrong hands; he knew it from when I called.  Unlike some of my peers who thoroughly enjoyed their against the  United Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) relationships and spoke of them freely, but changing names etc; I remained discreet.  I took the UCMJ seriously in spite of my compromising potential relationship. 

Our first meeting was underscored with copious amounts of nervousness on both our parts and while we were in a neutral state, military personnel are easy to detect and we prayed that he wouldn’t run into anyone he might know.  For a 20-year-old, I looked very young and hoped I nevertheless complimented his 27 years old self.  Our relationship lasted the duration of my stay in VA and continued long distance upon my return to NJ.  All told we lasted about a year with frequent flyer miles being racked up by me until he was deployed to Germany.  In spite of his coaxing, I didn’t take the study abroad class which would have landed me in neighbouring France where we could have maintained the relationship with negligible distance, I instead ended it.  The year plus had been good and we did the best we could once he was deployed, but the possibility of  being a military spouse at 21 was a bit too much for me.

Let’s fast forward some more to my home station where I saw infidelity play out like a broadway show, with overt acts of infidelity being disregarded and covered up like an episode of Scandal.

To be continued…

That is all!

So Beautiful…

Once again, music gives me reason for pause. I was listening to Spotify and a song that I’ve always liked came one and I immediately recalled when I first heard it and the chuckle it gave me as the lyrics were quite interesting. Lil Lady was just a tyke at the time, but I remember her smiling; moreso at the melody than the lyrics in their entirety; however, I remember her saying, “you’re so beautiful, but oh so boring…” which are a part of the lyrics.

As I listened to it again today, I thought about the weight of truth the song holds. We’re conditioned to believe that beauty makes one interesting and/or attractive, but truth be told, there are so many attractive people that are just as bland and boring as a sterile white room.

I remember a boy I went to high school with who was rather attractive, athletically built, and well-dressed, but he was not the brightest star in the sky. I hadn’t coined the phrase then that I do know, but he rates as a “Himbo”; the male version of a Bimbo. In my lifes travels, I’ve come across quite a few men who fit into this category and it reconfirms why I established the “10 Minute Rule”. What is that you might ask, well, my lovies, I’m here to tell you.

The “10 Minute Rule” is me to finding a man attractive, size him up, and then he’s got 10 minutes to get and sustain my interest. Fortunately, I’m no longer single, but back in the day and actually, it still holds true just for social interaction that the rule applies. I have a very short attention span with men because all too often their egos confuse them into thinking they’re far more interesting than they really are or some woman allowed him to believe his game could and would work with ALL women. In addition, I want a man to see me as more than just a “pretty face”, so his conversation cannot revolve around my looks or body; especially because I KNOW I’m so much more than that anyway.

As the parent of a rather beautiful chlid, I instilled in her that she is more than the sum of her parts and she’s more than a pretty face. I’ve always taught her that looks may get her in the door, but her brains will keep her there. I’ve further taught her that she’s better off being pretty smart, than pretty dumb; fortnately she took heed and has excelled in life for the combination of both, but she gives more time and attention to being smart.

It’s my hope that we can put more emphasis on things that actually mean something and stop settling for the superficial and topical. I know it’s not going to be an easy task with all the boolshyte messages and images we see and hear in the media, but I can and will remain hopeful.

Here’s the song So Beautiful
I was listening to this conversation
Noticing my daydream stimulated me more
I was crumbling with anticipation
You’d better send me home before I tumble down to the floor

You’re so beautiful but oh so boring
I’m wondering what am I doing here
So beautiful but oh so boring, I’m wondering
If anyone out there really cares
About the curlers in your hair
My little golden baby, where have all your birds flown now?

Something’s glistening in my imagination
Motorvatin’ something close to breaking the law
Wait a mo’ before you take me down to the station
I’ve never known a one who’d make me suicidal before

She was so beautiful but oh so boring
I’m wondering what was I doing there
So beautiful but oh so boring, I’m wondering
If anyone out there really cares
About the colour of your hair
My little golden baby, where have all your birds flown now?

That is all!

How quickly emotions change…

I ws sitting at my desk reading and drinking tea where out of nowhere an image of me hurling said cup of tea in a swift and violent motion.  The following is what came out of me when I tried to make sense of what I’m feeling…

Nothing’s working!
I do not fit
There is no place for me
To call home to go home to
I’m surrounded by people
Familiar faces
Yet I’m alone in this crowd
No sees my eyes; my real emotions
They only see my face
My smile
Not the confusion; not the pain
Not the well of emptiness
Pouring out like a broken faucet
They take; they want
It’s all they do
Nothing’s reciprocal
Nothing to my gain
Explosions are all I see
Vivid, vibrant outburst
That’s the aura around me
I feel what that can’t see
I’m a living cacophony
Yet they see and hear nothing
They’re all blind; captivated by
Their want from me
My touch warm
Against their cold façade
The thick deception of their being
Words said, immediately
Die upon their tongue
As their actions reveal
Their true intent
It’s all pointless; meaningless
No one knows me; my pain
They take, take, take
I’m always losing; nothing gained
I want to belong
I want to fit in somewhere
I’m tired of being on this road
The journey is pointless
The destination unknown
I’m just a lonesome traveller
There’s nowhere to call home
Blu Jewel 16 Nov 12 ©

Immediately after I wrote this, the following songs came on…

Love’s Divine – Seal

Then the rainstorm came, over me
And I felt my spirit break
I had lost all of my, belief you see
And realized my mistake
But time threw a prayer, to me
And all around me became still

I need love, love’s divine
Please forgive me now I see that I’ve been blind
Give me love, love is what I need to help me know my name

Through the rainstorm came sanctuary
And I felt my spirit fly
I had found all of my reality
I realize what it takes

‘Cause I need love, love’s divine
Please forgive me now I see that I’ve been blind
Give me love, love is what I need to help me know my name

Oh I, don’t bend (don’t bend), don’t break (don’t break)
Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake
‘Cause love can help me know my name

Well I try to say there’s nothing wrong
But inside I felt me lying all along
But the message here was plain to see
Believe me

‘Cause I need love, love’s divine
Please forgive me now I see that I’ve been blind
Give me love, love is what I need to help me know my name

Oh I, don’t bend (don’t bend), don’t break (don’t break)
Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake
‘Cause love can help me know my name

Love can help me know my name.

This Too Shall Pass – India.Arie
I achieved so much in life
But I’m an amateur in love
My bank account is doing just fine
But my emotions are bankrupt

My body is nice and strong
But my heart is in a million pieces
When the sun is shining so am I
But when the night falls so does my tears

Sometimes the beatings so loud in my heart
That I can barely tell our voices apart
Sometimes the fear is so loud in my head
That I can barely hear what God says

Then I hear a whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the angel’s whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day one day will be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass

The one that loved me the most
Turned around and hurt me the worse
I’m doing my best to move on
But the pain just keeps singing me songs

My head and my heart are at war
Cause love ain’t happening the way I wanted
Feel like I’m about to break down
Can’t hear the light at the end of the tunnel

So I pray for healing in my heart
To be put back together what is torn apart
And I pray for quiet in my head
That I can hear clearly what God says

Then I hear the whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the Angels whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day will one day be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass

All of sudden I realize
That it only hurts worse to fight it
So I embrace my shadow
And hold on to the morning light

This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
I hear the angels whisper
that trouble don’t have to last always
I hear the angels whisper
Even the day after tomorrow will one day be yesterday.
I hear my angels whisper.
I hear my angels whisper.
This too shall pass.

It never ceases to amaze me how when I’m feeling at my worst how music can come along and lift me up and say all the needed things when no one else could…That truly is Love’s Divine and This Too Shall Pass!

That is all!