Archive | August 2013

Brandi’s GOLDEN rules! ;-)

I’m 30!

I’m looking forward to seeing how my life unfolds in this next decade.

I’ve done amazing things in my twenties: climbed a waterfall in Jamaica, served on a national board of directors of a wonderful organization, charted a new life in a new city, discovered news passions, became a published writer etc.

I’ve also experienced some not so great things, but I don’t want to kill this vibe so I won’t focus on that. I will say that I’m thankful for everything that has happened because it taught me something about myself and about life in general. As I head into this new chapter of my life, I’m more self-aware and comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been. I hear it only gets better!

I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve learned over the years. It’s certainly not in chronological order nor is it an exhaustive list. I hope you enjoy and can relate to a few of my GOLDEN rules:

1. There’s hard work and then there’s heart work. Take inventory of your heart and your motives to make sure you’re on the right track. Both are needed to truly be successful and maintain that success.

2. Being happy for others doesn’t take away from your blessings.

3. It’s not important to always be right: peace is better than pride.

4. Find your voice and speak up.  Advocating for yourself = POWERFUL

5. You teach others how to treat you based on what you allow and/or won’t allow them to say or do to you.

6. Forgive. It’s not for the other person—it’s for you.

7. Don’t date ‘potential.” That sets you up for disappointment every time.

9. If you did settle and have dated “potential,” then forgive yourself and move on from that situation because you know what you DON’T want.

10. Love is an action verb.

11. You don’t need to respond to everything. Choose wisely.

12. Keep God first in everything you do.

13. Life is about choices. Think about the choices you make and take responsibility for them.

14. Do your best, pray, and God will do the rest.

15. It’s just nice to be nice. Be a blessing to one person every day.

16. If you’re not pursuing your purpose then you’re not truly living.

17. If somebody doesn’t want to be in your life then let him/her GO.

18. Be honest with your friends but please say it in love. It’s not always what you say, but it’s how you say it that truly makes a difference.

19. Don’t look crazy in the eye. Stole that from my friend JM. It’s so true!

20. Find your personal style and embrace it. Express yourself!

21. Take time to reflect on the obstacles that you’ve overcome in life. It keeps you humble.

22. Pay it forward. Somebody was there to help you so make sure you’re doing your part in helping others advance.

23. Be on your grown man or grown woman and just own up to it (whatever “it” is). You said it, apologize for it, talk about it and move on with life.

24. Sometimes singing and dancing in front of the mirror is very necessary.

25. Respect your body—don’t just give it away to anybody. Sex is too deep for all that!

26. If somebody tells you that they don’t have time for you, then remove yourself from that situation A.S.A.P. That’s an excuse because people make time for those things that are important to them.

27. Go to therapy. Make it a part of your annual check ups. It’s good to check in on your mental health.

28. Be fearless. The worst that can happen is nothing.

29. When a women’s fed up / it ain’t nothing you can do about it—thanks Kells! LOL.  The real #29 is that there are more types of love than romantic love. That’s just one type of love, but there is also familial love as well as friendships. Don’t concentrate solely on building romantic relationships that you forgot about other relationships. Invest in ALL your relationships.

30. Love yourself and enjoy the life you’ve been given. I wished for so long that I had another person’s life. But the truth is that the grass is not always greener and other people have problems too. We all do! You only get one life so make the most of it—even during the difficult times.

What are some of your golden rules?


Are you happy?

“Are you happy?”

That’s a loaded question—one that my father has been asking me (bless his heart!) since I moved back to Chicago. I guess my introverted nature presents as unhappiness. Maybe he thinks I’m unhappy because I left Washington, D.C. to be with him. Maybe he thinks I am lonely or bored.

I began to ponder what it truly means to be happy. What is happiness? Is there a universal concept of happiness? What does it look like? Our culture is obsessed with being happy. We search high and low in hot pursuit of this elusive “happiness.” I love the Crunk Feminist Collective’s analysis of the privileged nature of happiness and happy endings:

“In our capitalist culture we learn that happiness means owning material things, having material worth, being in a traditional relationship, and feeling like you are worth something. It seems like we are always working towards happiness as the reward for hard work, patience, and endurance (sometimes suffering).  We never think about how happiness is a commodity that is bought and sold to us if we are gullible enough to think it can be contained and owned and held for longer than the moments we achieve it.  Companies offer us happiness in a bottle if you can afford it.  If you don’t have the money then you have to settle for hand-me-down happiness, whatever is left over after the well runs dry.  Some folk go broke trying to get to happy”

After reading that, I can’t think the same way about happiness. I can no longer buy into the hype. Instead, I focus on challenging myself, pursuing my purpose with my God-given talents and counting my blessings among other things.

So when my father asks me if I’m happy, I say no. I’m not happy…I’m content. I’m no Bible scholar, but I always refer to what Paul says about being content:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. —Philippians 4:11-12 

Like Paul, I’m learning to be content whatever the circumstances. That doesn’t mean I don’t strive for excellence, but it does mean maintaining a good attitude despite what is going on in my life. Sometimes it’s about enduring through the painful moments, but still finding the strength to face another day. And other times it’s about celebrating what I like to call the “small victories” in life.

 Life is unpredictable, but it’s also short. I don’t want to spend it in pursuit of a fleeting and deceptive emotion as happiness. I want to live the life that I’ve been given and make the best of it.