Red Nails

When I was little my aunts and grandmothers told me that red nails were not for little girls, they were for grown women. I suppose I took red make-up in general to then be synonymous of womanhood. Like once a girl was ready to embrace being a W-O-M-A-N than then she could wear the color red. Maybe its why on days, like today, when I feel whole and womanly I reach for lipstick in the reddest red.

I’ve always thought the sexiest outfits a woman can wear are one of two things: a fitted white tee-shirt and blue jeans, or a knee-length little black dress. Simple. Classic. And in many ways, are not about the outfits themselves at all. On my sassy days, I’d pair the outfit with red lips, as I did today, and feel complete. It wasn’t until today that I realized some of the meaning that might be held in my favorite things.

I’ve made it no secret, my desire for love. I was watching Iyanla, Fix My Life and she was speaking about weight. She said we put it on when we are protecting ourselves from something. Nothing new. But something repetitive as I’d read the sentiment in an instagram post a friend made about women holding weight in our midsections to protect our most precious treasures; our reproductive parts. When I heard Iyanla speak I remembered this and it dawned on me that as I’d just eaten McDonald’s for the 2nd time this week that there was something I needed to hear. Then she said, you are using other people to make you feel good about you…you can’t do that!


I do that. In a lot of ways, in the past it’d been far more destructive more…needy. I can see it now…here. For as much as I don’t write for comments in the comments section or likes on facebook…posting “selfies” and smiling when my number of “double taps” exceeds 30…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good. Damn good. And I think that makes me nervous. Because the taste of it is intoxicating and I can see myself reaching for it as I used to reach for….well many things that weren’t good for me or to me.

I went to a coaching session today and was asked, “And what if you are abandoned? Do you believe in you enough?” I answered that I better. But that word, abandoned. It felt like opening the door on a freezing cold morning. My breath escaped me completely. And in my heart of hearts, really in the core of me…which rests in that midsection I’ve protected so well (haha) I knew I did. Because even when I let go of people, I do so holding on to something else far greater than myself. I may get left, and I may feel lonely…but I am never alone. And I recalled that in the moments when I’m trusting, I never even feel alone. I feel full. And whole. And like a woman. Like a mother.

I can’t wait to have a daughter. To share with her all the power she holds as a woman. The power I, for many years, believed existed solely in my physical being. Red nails, red lips, slim waist and a voluptuous body…my womanhood is not limited to those things. And I have arrived at the place where I can say I love women. I love the company of women, I love being a woman, I believe us to be beautiful, magical, strong, and courageous beings. The things that make us us…well I was, honestly, being dated and chauvanistic. Physical beauty or the elements thereof is not where my womanhood begins and it certainly is not where it ends. It is about creation. Innovation. Listening to intuition and trusting yourself. It is about dancing and movement and connection. It is about sensuality and sexuality braided together with an unshakable knowledge of self. That’s red. That’s womanhood. Or at least what I know of it to date.

On my lips

Losing weight is not nor has it ever been about losing weight. After I finished that last post, I got dressed and went on a run/walk around my neighborhood. I listened to the Belle Brigades and went to explore. Down unexplored streets and finding new views; I was looking for the sting in my lungs.

It was an hour later when I was laying on my floor dripping sweat and meditating when the thought came to me, losing weight is not about losing weight. Then I decided it was time to take some financial advice from Suze Orman and get really honest.

When I moved home from Nashville back in 2008, I was at my heaviest and I weighed 324lbs. May I just pause and in this moment reflect on what it is like for me to admit that out loud and to the entire world? I was 324lbs and so incredibly fragile. I was at the edge and incidentally, the furthest I have ever been to feeling powerful. To write that, to know that people many people will read this and know the dirty ugly truth of my life…feels good. Nothing grows in darkness except mushrooms. So I was 324 and once I moved out on my own, started to eat better, feel better and live better…find my stride in life and in my profession…a profession, might I add, that saved my life I got down to 260. When I look at the photos I don’t see it. I don’t see 60lbs gone, it didn’t feel miraculous or monumental or anything even close to that. It felt like I was 260lbs and needed to be half that. I was still not in a place where I could celebrate or even recognize my victories. I was still numb to my self.

All of that came to me in my shower after the run and after the meditation. You know how to physically do this, you have done this before. You know it and there was still a disconnect and I had the thought again, LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT, NOR HAS IT EVER BEEN ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT. I remembered old episodes of Oprah and old thoughts and reflections about how if I kept making losing weight this huge monumental mountain, and if I approached it with the mindset that it was damn near impossible that I was setting myself up for failure. And yet, I didn’t have an alternative. I didn’t know how else to think about it. I could not, having lived the life I have lived with the experiences I have experienced, reframe my view on losing weight.

Until today.

When I made the parallel between what power felt like and the sensation of running, something click for me. This is not about losing weight, or getting fit, or any of those pseudonyms we use for looking attractive to the general public. This was about being intimately connected to my power. I need to feel that connection, I need to step into my power and when I saw how to do it, I had to try. I pushed myself to keep going because the longer I went the more I felt it. And the more I wanted to cry. I was walking up hill and sweat was seeping from the bend in my arm, such an uncomfortable place to sweat, and I saw a license plate that said “Just4Jes” and I started to cry. I started to cry because it was an external manifestation of my exact internal feeling…this was about finding myself, and if I see it in that way then it’s not impossible or even daunting, it’s invigorating and inviting and inspiring and freeing and overwhelming in the best way.

It clicked for me today. And in my moment of honesty with myself and with the world, I felt so beautifully connected. It means very little to reveal numbers or even thoughts because I am not those things. I am. And nothing comes after that, nothing that follows that very compete sentence can hold me captive in shame in judgement in persecution in solitude in bondage in loneliness in silence.

I feel nothing but grace and gratitude right now, for daring to chase it, to try. I am emotional and happy and at peace.

…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. –Anaïs Nin

What does it take to LISTEN?

I have said on numerous occasions that God speaks in the way that we listen. Not only that, but the universe will start at a whisper, then speak, the yell, then its a deafening echo ringing in our ears without yield. And even though I say these things, and I know these things, sometimes it still takes me getting life lessons in surround sound before I take action. I have been working at listening at 2, and for lots of things I’ve done well, but with others…

People have been suggesting I write a book or publish my posts as a book for as long as I have shared my blog and to some extent even before that. At first, I said that I didn’t have a books worth of anything to say about any “one” thing. Well…I have over 1,200 posts and if I used my tags like I should, I’d be willing to bet I’m wrong and already proved it. Then I said I didn’t have time.  Then I didn’t have help. Then I said okay! I’ll do it, but then…I didn’t. Twice.

I thought about this curious cycle as I lay in bed itching to write just as I wake, like most mornings, and I sent words of gratitude to a friend who had written to me suggesting I publish. I thought, what is it going to take for you to listen? I asked myself, “are you playing small?”

Naia text me yesterday and spoke of our lives and how they often run parallel even across great distances. She spoke, also, of how she had recently been warned about playing small and laughed when she read it had come up for me on Friday. I thought back to Brene and I wondered what it would feel like to step into my power.  I should say, step fully. Not that having one foot in is celebratory; it has you completely off balance and when you’re halfway in two spaces, you’re not really in either. 

The feeling that comes to mind is that high you get after you just ran on a crisp day. Clear mind, open lungs, a heart racing with excitement…and it occurred to me just this moment that I have never experienced that. Yet, that is what I imagine power to be…isn’t that interesting and telling? I want to be a runner, I want to be a published author…I want to experience the runners high but in order to do that–i have to run. If the high is power then I have to step into it. That was one of those moments where things make sense on a whole new level.

The Colonel always asks, “if not now, when?” And that just felt very deafening. This is me listening.


As I watched our First Lady, Michelle Obama, deliver what is arguably one of the most heartfelt, endearing, and riveting speeches in recent history I started to cry for three reasons.

1…as I attended our SOLES welcome back reception for new and returning students and I mixed and mingled, Dr. Green approached me gently reminding me that we need to meet. I felt that tug in my stomach, the one you got when you were younger and an elder started telling you about life. As true as it all may be, you’re not sure you want their wisdom just yet. I have such anxiety about opening up more.

My head spun as I held conversations with faculty, new and returning students about classes, summer break, and other such small talk. I heard our librarian Dr. Byrd’s voice…she tells me I know everybody and am involved with everything, and I need to be in politics. Again that stomach churn. I have no desire to be in politics, but the though of somehow being able to effect change at such a large (and very public) level makes me panic. I keep hearing Zachary ask “where are you?” I hate attention but I just feel like I am being prepared to handle it. I think know I will be faced with this sooner rather than later.

When I saw Michelle not only command, but engage her attention I was so inspired. This was about her, in all her many roles, being able to connect to us on the most basic human level. More than that, she did so with grace. It was not boastful, nor (and perhaps for me, most importantly) was she in any way apologetic in her strength.

2…Michelle Obama looks like me. Read: I imagine she uses some mixture of oils and lotion to fight dry, ashy skin. She likely wraps her hair at night and ties it in a satin scarf. But its not just the aesthetics…she grew up with parents who worked extremely hard to see that she succeeded. She is an ivy league graduate with a terminal degree who had/has an incredible job. What does it mean to me to be able to see a black woman be accomplished at something other than having an attitude? What does it mean to see a black woman command a room without cursing, yelling, or exposing her body? What does it mean to see a black woman openly love her black husband, and praise her black father for defining himself by the success of his children? What does it mean to see this highly accomplished black woman prioritize her family above all other professional or personal accomplishments?

Which segues into 3…Michelle and Barack are equally yolked. To use a biblical allusion…but can you think of one better? I love than she is an articulate, intelligent, compassionate, and beautiful woman who standing alone is amazing, but her ability to be all that and part of a greater unit is amazing to me. It suggests to me that its possible to be both passionate career woman and nurturing wife and mother. Hard nosed intellectual and compassionate humanitarian, and all the other dichotomies. It tells me that we are not the either ors people suggest we are (stay at home mom type or working mom type) and that some women do it beautifully. It shows me the kind of woman I hope to be.
It also shows me that the kind of man I deserve exists and is seeking a-Me. It is that assurance that I can be my whole self. My true self and still be loved, accepted, sought after and cherished. And I suppose some people will say its an act. Or its media fabrication or that its easy because of the many luxuries afforded to them. I choose to believe the opposite.

So when I cried, it was because here in front of me was a woman who I so admire, telling me through her life that my dream is not only legitimate but attainable. Because here she stood telling a story I connect with of sacrifice, fortitude, and love. I cried because of the embodiment of true grace. Eloquent in delivery, empathic in ethos, it was just everything. That, to me, is worth getting to know myself more. If somewhere in me lies the ability to awaken potential then I want to get to know that part of me.

The fourth reason, then, is because as I watched Michelle I saw my self, and it was a part of me I found so hard to believe in. A part of me that was invalidated and undervalued. A part of me desperately needing voice and affirmation, who is sure of herself and her abilities and who is not ashamed of her vulnerabilities. I was able to see that, me…and I cried at never having seen her beauty and strength before.


I took the stairs today.  Whenever I do, I feel like such a bad ass; I am unsure of how many there are, but there are many and to add insult to injury they are stairs that are also at a steep incline.  So I took the stairs on a day that I would normally take the long way.  See, on days that I have to be at work at 9am, all of the law school students are flooding to class.  There are 20-30 who also take the stairs and I always shy away from them on days like today because I do not want to be the slow one huffing and puffing creeping up the steps.   In my head I always envision a string of people irritated behind me wishing I could hurry up and either get out of the way or get my ass up the steps.

Today, however, I didn’t care.  What changed?  Well last night I watched this Lifeclass with Oprah and TD Jakes where so many wonderful quotes (gems) were dropped that I could barely keep up.  The one I kept closest to me was this, “There is nothing sexier than someone who knows WHO they are, WHERE they’re going, and WHAT they were created to do. People who are on point are attractive!” I heard it and when DAMN RIGHT! in my head because I feel all of those things, not only that I think those things are the reason that people are drawn to me.  I do not say that in a conceited way, I say it because it is true.  People seem to genuinely enjoy being around me and it has really always been that way.

Later on yesterday evening I was watching Bethenny Ever After and Julie, her personal assistant, resigned from her position.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got a phone call in the middle of the show and missed it, but I found myself on Bethenny’s website where I saw in big red bold letters

Apply To Team Bethenny!

I knew that I had to.  Normally I am not a contest enter-er, a celebrity stalker, a website commenter, etc. Because I figure millions of people do it and why would my comment stand out or make any sort of impact? What would I say that hasn’t already been said? This time, however, I knew that at the very least, Bethenny would read my cover letter and review my resume. I knew that something I said, if I said it from my heart, would resonate with her and I knew that I would stand out.  I did not question it for a second.

So today as I climbed the stairs I thought about what it would be like to get a call from Bethenny and have to uproot my life (once again) and move cross country (once again) in order to fulfill a dream.  Jakes said your passion will lead you to your purpose.  My passion, if nothing else, is connecting to people.  The opportunity to be a part of the Skinnygirl team and see first hand what innovative, passion driven leadership looks like would be a dream.  So I put it out there into the universe and if it is meant for me then it is mine.  I smiled at my gumption and took deep breaths as I could hear someone behind me slowing their pace to match my stride upward.

“Do not ask permission from others to do what you were directed to do because their vision may be limited. Do it anyway and they can catch up later.”  I did not wait for My Person to respond to my text about Bethenny, I did not tell anyone else (before now) about my decision and yet I feel so good about it.  As I took short breaths reaching the top of the canyon (oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the stairs hike up the side of a canyon?) I heard my Self say, “You’ve got MOXIE, girl!”  I smiled and headed in the direction of work knowing that even if it was the worst day ever at work I already had two great accomplishments, I took the stairs and I walked confidently in the direction of my dream.  Make that three, I was seen in all my glory and I did not shy away from  the attention.  I was seen.