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I have a special place in my heart for single women. I can’t stand the stigma that has been placed on us that there must be something wrong with you if you haven’t had a ring put on it by a certain age. Not so. Some take longer to find love than others, some take longer to get prepared for marriage, some of us don’t even want to be married. So when I ran across this blog, I just had to share. Enjoy!

It’s Okay to Be Single By Joya Smith

A friend of mine recently sent an article with the title “What People Don’t Tell You About Freezing Your Eggs.”  After 3 long blinks and mentally slamming my head into my keyboard at work, I asked myself,  “Should I be thinking about this?”

The thoughts and emotions that flooded in all before I even clicked open the link, reminded me that there are millions of anxious women having feelings just like this. Feeling as though the dream of a loving marriage and family could end up being just…a dream.  This fear of never finding true love, or having the kids they’ve always wanted is very real for many women.  As I thought more intently about this fear that I didn’t necessarily share, I recognized that it isn’t purely natural, but there are outside influences that make singleness, for women in particular, dreadful.

American society plays a major role in how us gals view our unwedded lives.  There are thousands of movies on love and romance, finding that special someone, or being “lucky” enough for them to find you. The strong emphasis on being “chosen” makes it oddly taboo to discuss being single, as a woman, especially to do so fondly.  It’s a topic that isn’t as welcomed in girl chats as it is in guy groups, and because this status isn’t affirmed as much in women, ladies everywhere are urged to feel the way popular culture tells us to feel about it: miserable.  It is often this urge that causes women to remain in relationships much longer than they should, or to rush from relationship to relationship without much or any time for reflection and healing in between.

Then there are those that are actually in relationships, married or with child.  Perhaps without even trying, many of them use language that elevates those titles over others.  How many captions have you read from a new wife or mom that go something like “I’m finally complete” or “Now I know what true love is” or ‘Motherhood gave me purpose”? And it’s not just women who do this.  I’ve seen some damaging statements from men also, that are along the lines of  “You become a man when you become a father.”  How might that man or woman with reproductive issues feel when reading these?  If he’s never been able to help produce a child, or if she’s just had her 9th miscarriage, is he or she any less of a man or woman?  Of course not.

There’s also this stigma that if you’re of a certain age and single, that something must be wrong with you. I’ve heard so many conversations over the years where a woman who seemingly has a lot to offer is picked apart once it’s known that she’s single.  Comments like, “She must be crazy,” or “I wonder what she does to run men off” are prevalent in these discussions.  What a flawed, but common way of thinking.  In case anyone reading this doesn’t know, there are women out here that are literally choosing.  Women who could jump the broom at the snap of their fingers but would rather wait until she finds the one her very soul adores, or focus on her own wholeness, instead of rushing to keep up with the world’s timeline.  Go figure.

I have a somewhat unique perspective, having been on both sides of this pendulum.  I’ve been engaged before, and have experienced “wedding culture” with nearly everyone around me treating this experience like it’s the best one that will ever happen to me, when in actuality, ending that particular engagement was!  Since being on the other side, I’ve found and am still finding, such freedom and joy in truly discovering me, my interests, my goals, my heart’s deepest desires, without the influence of another person. It saddens me to hear women discuss their singleness like it’s a curse or a punishment – it is neither.  If treated well, it is an incredible time of self-discovery and refinement.

I asked my mother a couple years ago, what was the hardest part of marriage to her, and her response has stuck with me ever since.  “I didn’t realize how much ‘me-time’ I’d have to give up,” she said. “Once I got married, all the time outside of work was shared with your father in some way.  Even if I did things by myself, like going to the grocery store, it’d still have something to do with him because now I have to think about what he wants in there.  Then the kids came, and I completely forgot what ‘me-time’ was.”  Now, my parents have been happily married for 38 years (TODAY actually), so it’s safe to say my mom wasn’t lamenting, but just highlighting a very real point.  In case I wasn’t catching on, she ended with “Enjoy this time alone, ‘cause once it’s gone, it’s truly gone.”  That advice didn’t make me shun marriage, but it did give me a new appreciation for my singleness, knowing that this incredible time to be selfish is precious too.

I wish I could change the narrative of what singleness for women in particular should look and feel like.  It shouldn’t be a sad, dreaded experience, but an invigorating and empowering one.  It should be a time of growing and learning from the inside out.  And it doesn’t have to be riddled with any of the various “phases” that people suggest women should experience in their singleness. Along with wholeness, you can be completely liberated without the intimate company of another person.

It’s a fairly common misconception that romantic relationships are the only ones that grow you.  I’m thankful for the friends around me, male and female, who push me and make me a better human.  Don’t take those opportunities to be sharpened by platonic relationships for granted.  You can learn compromise, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness, TRUE LOVE, and much more from ya own homies, and I’m learning more everyday.  And if you plan to be in a relationship or married someday, it’s a good idea to work on these qualities with your friends, your family, your coworkers etc., because they won’t magically appear when you’re boo’d up.

Society encourages women in particular, to justify our significance based on marriage and children.  We’ve been influenced to feel that singleness is a lesser position, and our greatest hope should be that we’re one day chosen by someone else. Call me a rebel, but I just can’t surrender to that way of thinking about such a sweet time in life!  We don’t have to play by those rules. Romantic love is one of the MANY things, to be enjoyed in this life, and so is singleness.  Singleness should be treasured and spent well.  (See my blog on Alone Time.  Introverts love my writings lol).

I hesitated to post this blog because I didn’t want it to be perceived wrongly or for my intentions to be misread.  I LOVE love, and I deeply value marriage and family.  But I desperately want women [people] to know they can and should be whole without either.  Romantic love is a desire of my heart, but an even greater desire of mine is to have a life where if it never happens for me again, if I never birth children of my own, or any other of my many hopes, that I am happy, whole and complete; trusting the God who knew my end from the beginning.  I strive for the apostle Paul’s level of fulfillment in being content (satisfied) in whatever state I’m in (Phil.4:11), and I hope the same for you.  And if we are not first whole ourselves, we’ll never be the wives or mothers we were (possibly) meant to be anyway.

So,

To the woman who’s single and hating it…

To the woman who was engaged, but her relationship ended in heartbreak…

To the woman who’s been married before, and afraid to try again…

To the woman who’s never even had a boyfriend…

To the woman who feels she’ll never love again like she did before…

To the woman who’s holding out hope that her twin flame still exists…

To the woman who’s patiently waiting on that man to decide he’s ready…

To the woman who’s not so patiently waiting for him to decide…

To the woman who believes she’s aged out of the window of possibility…

To the woman who’s letting God write her love story…

To the woman who feels her past makes her unworthy of love…

To the woman who secretly loathes holidays, because she’s tired of answering why she’s not married yet

To the woman who wants love, but not bad enough to settle for just anybody

To all of us, and every scenario in between, live your best single life!

Find more great words by Joya Smith on her blog at www.joyasmith.com

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Valeisha Butterfield Jones speaks during the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis Annual Tribute Luncheon

Thursday, April 26th I attended the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis Annual Tribute Luncheon. The guest speaker was Valeisha Butterfield Jones. I wasn’t familiar with her before this but I must say that I am thoroughly impressed. She is the Global Head of Women & Black Community Engagement for Google and the co-founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Valeisha had nearly two decades of experience driving social responsibility campaigns and community engagement programs for non-profit organizations. In 2009, she was appointed to serve in the administration of former President Barak Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for International Trade. As the National Youth Vote Director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, she helped to deliver one of the highest youth voter turnouts in American history.

I must say that a thoroughly enjoyed Valeisha’s speech. She made sure every woman in that place understood that we each have “the juice”. I even stuck around afterward for a private reception chat she gave before leaving town. Here are some of the key points she made while chatting with FedEx Diversity & Inclusion Advisor Janas l. Jackson.

  1. Don’t ever dim your light. It’s important that you are acknowledged and associated with your work. I am unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman. I enter every space with that. That takes courage. Too often, we don’t recognize the true value we bring is our diversity. I have to be myself. Ask the questions. Challenge the status quo and do not become intimidated. Build your professional brand in a way that instills savvy.
  1. We not only have to empower the next generation but ourselves. If we don’t do it who will? Get on the ground and meet the people who do the work, and if needed, become their voice. I made it a priority to meet all 1,500 African Americans in the company (Google). In doing so, I was able to humanize the data. I also became the voice of young people who didn’t have a seat at the table.

 

  1. If you want to affect change build relationships. Then use the data to challenge the status quo. (In corporate America) You don’t get what you want going in with guns blazing. The key to success is building relationships and then leveraging those. Use your juice.
  1. Go for the moonshot! Moonshot is a Google term that means shoot for the moon. If we land somewhere among the stars then we did a good job.
  1. Have fun! Life is short. I will go to a party and hang off the chandelier as long as I know no cameras are around. Then I’ll walk back into Google on Monday like, How are you doing? Now, let’s talk about this bottom line.

You can follow Valeisha Butterfield Jones on Twitter or learn more about her at www.valeisha.org.

Jae Henderson is an author, PR consultant and the founder of the singles empowerment group Happy & Single. Learn more about her at www.jaehendersonauthor.com

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This is my first time participating in the political process by working on a campaign. For years I avoided it like the plague because I believed that politics was a necessary evil. There has been so much corruption over the years and the revelation of back door deals that don’t benefit the masses but I’m pleased to say I have changed my view….to a certain extent. Just like in life there are good people and bad people, good politicians and bad politicians, people who want to serve the people and people who want to serve themselves. It’s up to us as citizens to do our homework and try our best to vote for those who care about our community and the people in it. Here are a few nuggets I’ve picked up along the way as I’ve participated in politics here in Shelby County, Tennessee.

  1. It Can Be A Dirty Game

I was quite surprised that the political machine isn’t above offering candidates incentives to drop out of the race. Things like at job that pays over $100,000 a year or their support if they run for another office later may be placed on the table for consideration. SHAME! I think everyone has the right to run and just because someone running isn’t the party’s candidate of choice doesn’t mean they should have a seat. Just don’t vote for him or her. Trying to control voter choices through manipulation and bribery is just wrong to me.

  1. There Are Such Things A Paid Endorsements

There are several people who make quite a bit of money putting out endorsement ballots and other literature during election time. That’s a nice hustle!  You may have received one or two in the mail. I was surprised to learn that the criteria for being on those ballots is a check. Not to say that the people listed aren’t qualified for the office but dang! If you look closely, most of them have been doing public service for years and are quite qualified. However, why did I believe that the people putting those things together did their homework and only listed the best candidate for each race based on experience and qualifications? You live and you learn. Now, Not all listings require a fee from candidates but quite a few do. My advice is do your own homework, people! Take the time to find out about the candidates that aren’t listed and then make an informed decision. Otherwise, you’re just being lazy and that’s exactly what they’re counting on.

  1. Campaigning Is Expensive

I’m sure you’re wondering why #1 matters. Why does a candidate need political party support? Well, campaigning cost tens of thousands of dollars or more. Those yard signs, leaflets, push cards, posters, t-shirts and commercials all come with a price. Most media outlets jack up their price during election time simply because they can. People want the exposure so they will pay the increased prices. The more endorsements you have the more donations you will probably receive to buy everything the candidate needs to let everyone know they are running for office.

  1. Politics, Politicians and the Media Are Necessary

There is no way that I as a concerned citizen can attend every meeting and every hearing about things that concern me and others. If I tried to do so in order to stay informed about local, state and national politics it would bankrupt me. Therefore, we need concerned people in office who are going to pay attention to the issues being presented and make moves based on what’s important to their constituents. But we’ve go to put the right people in office. The media helps us to hold them accountable by reporting on their activities.

  1. Too Many People Don’t Vote

Help me understand why an individual would take the time to register to vote and then doesn’t do so. The only excuse I’m willing to accept is severe illness or death. I hear so many complaints about Shelby County…poverty, lack of a living wage, a poor education system, potholes, blight, poor air quality, excessive government spending, unfair distribution of government contracts, PILOTs that should have never been granted, etc. Don’t you know that our local politicians have the power to do something about this? If you don’t like the current leadership CHANGE IT WITH YOUR VOTE. Stop whining and get your behind to the polls. If you truly care, show it. We have a mayor, commissioners, judges and more being elected and the primary elections help determine who gets invited to the big general election dance. Those are powerful seats and there are people who have the audacity to say they don’t need to vote. What’s wrong wit chu!!!

Tennessee has the lowest voter turnout in the country. We’ve got to do better Shelby County.

My last words are…Go VOTE like Obama is running for office again. Hate him or love him that race got people to the polls in droves. I’d like to see it again for this primary election. Early Voting is now – through April 26 and Election Day is May 1. Get to the polls and take your friends and family with you.

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I have a special place in my heart for single women. I can’t stand the stigma that has been placed on us that there must be something wrong with you if you haven’t had a ring put on it by a certain age. Not so. Some take longer to find love than others, some take longer to get prepared for marriage, some of us don’t even want to be married. So when I ran across this blog, I just had to share. Enjoy!

It’s Okay to Be Single By Joya Smith

A friend of mine recently sent an article with the title “What People Don’t Tell You About Freezing Your Eggs.”  After 3 long blinks and mentally slamming my head into my keyboard at work, I asked myself,  “Should I be thinking about this?”

The thoughts and emotions that flooded in all before I even clicked open the link, reminded me that there are millions of anxious women having feelings just like this. Feeling as though the dream of a loving marriage and family could end up being just…a dream.  This fear of never finding true love, or having the kids they’ve always wanted is very real for many women.  As I thought more intently about this fear that I didn’t necessarily share, I recognized that it isn’t purely natural, but there are outside influences that make singleness, for women in particular, dreadful.

American society plays a major role in how us gals view our unwedded lives.  There are thousands of movies on love and romance, finding that special someone, or being “lucky” enough for them to find you. The strong emphasis on being “chosen” makes it oddly taboo to discuss being single, as a woman, especially to do so fondly.  It’s a topic that isn’t as welcomed in girl chats as it is in guy groups, and because this status isn’t affirmed as much in women, ladies everywhere are urged to feel the way popular culture tells us to feel about it: miserable.  It is often this urge that causes women to remain in relationships much longer than they should, or to rush from relationship to relationship without much or any time for reflection and healing in between.

Then there are those that are actually in relationships, married or with child.  Perhaps without even trying, many of them use language that elevates those titles over others.  How many captions have you read from a new wife or mom that go something like “I’m finally complete” or “Now I know what true love is” or ‘Motherhood gave me purpose”? And it’s not just women who do this.  I’ve seen some damaging statements from men also, that are along the lines of  “You become a man when you become a father.”  How might that man or woman with reproductive issues feel when reading these?  If he’s never been able to help produce a child, or if she’s just had her 9th miscarriage, is he or she any less of a man or woman?  Of course not.

There’s also this stigma that if you’re of a certain age and single, that something must be wrong with you. I’ve heard so many conversations over the years where a woman who seemingly has a lot to offer is picked apart once it’s known that she’s single.  Comments like, “She must be crazy,” or “I wonder what she does to run men off” are prevalent in these discussions.  What a flawed, but common way of thinking.  In case anyone reading this doesn’t know, there are women out here that are literally choosing.  Women who could jump the broom at the snap of their fingers but would rather wait until she finds the one her very soul adores, or focus on her own wholeness, instead of rushing to keep up with the world’s timeline.  Go figure.

I have a somewhat unique perspective, having been on both sides of this pendulum.  I’ve been engaged before, and have experienced “wedding culture” with nearly everyone around me treating this experience like it’s the best one that will ever happen to me, when in actuality, ending that particular engagement was!  Since being on the other side, I’ve found and am still finding, such freedom and joy in truly discovering me, my interests, my goals, my heart’s deepest desires, without the influence of another person. It saddens me to hear women discuss their singleness like it’s a curse or a punishment – it is neither.  If treated well, it is an incredible time of self-discovery and refinement.

I asked my mother a couple years ago, what was the hardest part of marriage to her, and her response has stuck with me ever since.  “I didn’t realize how much ‘me-time’ I’d have to give up,” she said. “Once I got married, all the time outside of work was shared with your father in some way.  Even if I did things by myself, like going to the grocery store, it’d still have something to do with him because now I have to think about what he wants in there.  Then the kids came, and I completely forgot what ‘me-time’ was.”  Now, my parents have been happily married for 38 years (TODAY actually), so it’s safe to say my mom wasn’t lamenting, but just highlighting a very real point.  In case I wasn’t catching on, she ended with “Enjoy this time alone, ‘cause once it’s gone, it’s truly gone.”  That advice didn’t make me shun marriage, but it did give me a new appreciation for my singleness, knowing that this incredible time to be selfish is precious too.

I wish I could change the narrative of what singleness for women in particular should look and feel like.  It shouldn’t be a sad, dreaded experience, but an invigorating and empowering one.  It should be a time of growing and learning from the inside out.  And it doesn’t have to be riddled with any of the various “phases” that people suggest women should experience in their singleness. Along with wholeness, you can be completely liberated without the intimate company of another person.

It’s a fairly common misconception that romantic relationships are the only ones that grow you.  I’m thankful for the friends around me, male and female, who push me and make me a better human.  Don’t take those opportunities to be sharpened by platonic relationships for granted.  You can learn compromise, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness, TRUE LOVE, and much more from ya own homies, and I’m learning more everyday.  And if you plan to be in a relationship or married someday, it’s a good idea to work on these qualities with your friends, your family, your coworkers etc., because they won’t magically appear when you’re boo’d up.

Society encourages women in particular, to justify our significance based on marriage and children.  We’ve been influenced to feel that singleness is a lesser position, and our greatest hope should be that we’re one day chosen by someone else. Call me a rebel, but I just can’t surrender to that way of thinking about such a sweet time in life!  We don’t have to play by those rules. Romantic love is one of the MANY things, to be enjoyed in this life, and so is singleness.  Singleness should be treasured and spent well.  (See my blog on Alone Time.  Introverts love my writings lol).

I hesitated to post this blog because I didn’t want it to be perceived wrongly or for my intentions to be misread.  I LOVE love, and I deeply value marriage and family.  But I desperately want women [people] to know they can and should be whole without either.  Romantic love is a desire of my heart, but an even greater desire of mine is to have a life where if it never happens for me again, if I never birth children of my own, or any other of my many hopes, that I am happy, whole and complete; trusting the God who knew my end from the beginning.  I strive for the apostle Paul’s level of fulfillment in being content (satisfied) in whatever state I’m in (Phil.4:11), and I hope the same for you.  And if we are not first whole ourselves, we’ll never be the wives or mothers we were (possibly) meant to be anyway.

So,

To the woman who’s single and hating it…

To the woman who was engaged, but her relationship ended in heartbreak…

To the woman who’s been married before, and afraid to try again…

To the woman who’s never even had a boyfriend…

To the woman who feels she’ll never love again like she did before…

To the woman who’s holding out hope that her twin flame still exists…

To the woman who’s patiently waiting on that man to decide he’s ready…

To the woman who’s not so patiently waiting for him to decide…

To the woman who believes she’s aged out of the window of possibility…

To the woman who’s letting God write her love story…

To the woman who feels her past makes her unworthy of love…

To the woman who secretly loathes holidays, because she’s tired of answering why she’s not married yet

To the woman who wants love, but not bad enough to settle for just anybody

To all of us, and every scenario in between, live your best single life!

Find more great words by Joya Smith on her blog at www.joyasmith.com

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Valeisha Butterfield Jones speaks during the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis Annual Tribute Luncheon

Thursday, April 26th I attended the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis Annual Tribute Luncheon. The guest speaker was Valeisha Butterfield Jones. I wasn’t familiar with her before this but I must say that I am thoroughly impressed. She is the Global Head of Women & Black Community Engagement for Google and the co-founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Valeisha had nearly two decades of experience driving social responsibility campaigns and community engagement programs for non-profit organizations. In 2009, she was appointed to serve in the administration of former President Barak Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for International Trade. As the National Youth Vote Director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, she helped to deliver one of the highest youth voter turnouts in American history.

I must say that a thoroughly enjoyed Valeisha’s speech. She made sure every woman in that place understood that we each have “the juice”. I even stuck around afterward for a private reception chat she gave before leaving town. Here are some of the key points she made while chatting with FedEx Diversity & Inclusion Advisor Janas l. Jackson.

  1. Don’t ever dim your light. It’s important that you are acknowledged and associated with your work. I am unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman. I enter every space with that. That takes courage. Too often, we don’t recognize the true value we bring is our diversity. I have to be myself. Ask the questions. Challenge the status quo and do not become intimidated. Build your professional brand in a way that instills savvy.
  1. We not only have to empower the next generation but ourselves. If we don’t do it who will? Get on the ground and meet the people who do the work, and if needed, become their voice. I made it a priority to meet all 1,500 African Americans in the company (Google). In doing so, I was able to humanize the data. I also became the voice of young people who didn’t have a seat at the table.

 

  1. If you want to affect change build relationships. Then use the data to challenge the status quo. (In corporate America) You don’t get what you want going in with guns blazing. The key to success is building relationships and then leveraging those. Use your juice.
  1. Go for the moonshot! Moonshot is a Google term that means shoot for the moon. If we land somewhere among the stars then we did a good job.
  1. Have fun! Life is short. I will go to a party and hang off the chandelier as long as I know no cameras are around. Then I’ll walk back into Google on Monday like, How are you doing? Now, let’s talk about this bottom line.

You can follow Valeisha Butterfield Jones on Twitter or learn more about her at www.valeisha.org.

Jae Henderson is an author, PR consultant and the founder of the singles empowerment group Happy & Single. Learn more about her at www.jaehendersonauthor.com

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