You Were the One (A Poem)

Yes, I placed enough hopes on you to

Fill a bottomless basket.

You were the one.

A best friend that she could protect and

Confess her secrets to in the

Backyard, by the garden that doesn’t exist yet.

It was you that would even us out

When we go out for birthday dinners.

It was not fair to place all of that pressure on you.

You were right to be unsure of this world.

I cried because of the plans I’d made that cannot come true.

You had other ideas and I don’t doubt that they are better.

The thing now is we miss you and

Who you would have been.

I loved you before you were you.

I loved the thought that turned into

You.

You never looked at me, red from tears with

Your arms wiggling, stretching out for me like your sister did but

I think I dreamed that I kissed your forehead just like I did hers

That first time we met.

I already loved you even though I’d never seen your face.

You will always be more than scientific terms to me.

You are everything.

You are the white clouds when I take a walk,

The dew on my skin after a hot shower, and the

Sun light on my face when I stand under the kitchen window.

You are mine and God’s and maybe

We will meet another time.

Until then, I will carry and release you at the same time.

I will say thanks for you like I do for Grace and Mercy.

I will rejoice each morning for breath and you.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (ESV)

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (ESV)

Jodeci and the Courage of the Comeback

I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams or start something new. I don’t think that there are any restrictions except for the ones we put on ourselves. We often are the only one standing in the way of us making a change. It’s always tough to stretch your neck out there unsure if you will succeed, but I imagine it’s even harder for a band like Jodeci who experienced enormous success during the early 90s’ New Jack Swing movement only to fade into near obscurity due to disbandment and drug/alcohol addiction. Imagine all the pressure and naysayers after coming back on the scene 20 years later! I’m a huge Jodeci fan and I give them major kudos for getting back in the saddle knowing that the music scene has changed so much since they left. I mean, you don’t even need to really know how to sing to have a hit record these days. I’m sure they know that their true fans will eat up whatever they put out there if it’s quality. I can barely remember the last time I bought an entire album, but they might make me hit up iTunes for this one. Let their comeback motivate you that no matter the obstacles and demons you have faced or still face, it’s never too late for a comeback!

Check out the video of their second single, “Every Moment.” This video is a bit dramatic just like their classic ones. I can dig it 😉

Also be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Bloglovin’. Keep it poppin’ folks.

Disadvantages Are Really Advantages…Or Nah

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“Leaders don’t fit in.”- A quote from my hubby, not the book, but it works!

So I’d only read about thirty-something pages of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell before I had to return it to the library because someone else had it on hold. However, the short amount that I read really made me pause and think. I felt the need to discuss the little tidbits I picked up with you anyway. Here are three points that really made me go “hmmmm.”

1. We have to rethink what an advantage and disadvantage really are.

I think this is probably one of the main points of the book (but who knows since I didn’t quite make it to page 40…smh). Here’s a quote that really struck me.

“We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser” (Gladwell 25).

The easiest example of how this is true can be drawn from that one time all of us copied a friend’s homework assignment in college. Yes, we may have got a decent grade on the assignment instead of an “F,” but if we never went back to learn the info covered in that assignment, we were S.O.L. when the final exam rolled around. It may have been an advantage to copy the assignment at first, but it was not helpful to copy instead of putting in the work to learn the material and do the assignment when the Final came calling.

Gladwell’s point has importance that goes beyond simple situations like cheating on an assignment, but it makes us realize that we have to change the way we view bad things that happen to us or situations that don’t go as planned. Instead of seeing the job that wasn’t offered to us as a disadvantage, we have to choose not to passively play the victim and figure out how one door closing in our face can help us open a different door. That different door may be the better one for us anyway. For me, this point means to see things from different angles instead of assuming that a setback means defeat.

2. Play to your strengths instead of giving up because of your weaknesses.

This idea was illustrated by Gladwell writing about the Redwood City girls’ basketball team. The team was full of underdogs and misfits, including the coach who was one of the girls’ father who had never played basketball before coaching the girls. The girls were not the typical basketball players. They were not tall and super athletic. They were not skilled at handling the ball or making long-range shots. They were horrible at offense. Instead of throwing in the towel because of everything the girls and their coach lacked, the coach called in more knowledgeable trainers than himself, listened to advice from more experienced players and coaches, and chose to focus on the girls’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. The coach knew that he couldn’t win the game playing it the conventional way. He chose to focus on defense and lay-ups. He had to push the girls to get in better shape than any of their opponents so that they could play much harder.

I love this point because I personally tend to focus way too much on what has not worked in my life or what I’m not good at instead of focusing on my strengths. All of us have things that we do better than other people. No one quite has the total package that we have to offer. Not being good at certain things should only makes us use the things that we are good at even more. I think all of us can take notes here and play up our strengths so that our weaknesses are barely noticeable anymore.

3. It’s not always about talent, but about how hard you press.

When I was in elementary school, I had kind of a rep for being one of the smartest kids in the class. You can imagine that my world collapsed when I went to one of the best high schools as well as “the Harvard of Christian colleges” and realized that I wasn’t nearly as smart or IT as I thought I was. I kind of fell into a funk and stopped trying as hard as I used to because silly me didn’t realize brains don’t mean much of anything if you don’t put it in the work.

Gladwell uses the story of the underdog girls’ basketball team to point out that it’s not about how much talent you have (at least not all the time). Rather, it’s about how hard you work. In the book, he talks about how the girls’ basketball team had to press their opposing teams on defense for the full-length of the court. They couldn’t just press their side of the court. They had to press the entire court without stopping for the whole game. It was grueling, but it worked. Sometimes when you don’t have the sheer talent that others seem to be born with, you just have to work your ass off (pardon the French) more than those who are smarter or more qualified than you.

What do you positively optimistic and powerful ladies think of Gladwell’s ideas? Will you give the book a read? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Also, I’ve just joined Bloglovin so be sure to follow me on there! And as always, keep it poppin’ 😉

Strong and Sensitive

Happy Saturday to all my positively optimistic and powerful people! I hope you all are doing well. It’s been kind of an icky week for Little L and me. We’ve both been a little under the weather in one way or another. Yet, things have gotten much better. To brighten things up, her Dad brought home some Chinese food Friday. Besides having possibly the best egg roll with shrimp that I’ve ever had, I was also pleased by the message in one of the fortune cookies. I had been a bit in my feelings at times this week so this particular message moved me.

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Usually, the words “strong” and “sensitive” tend to oppose one another. At least that was true for me growing up. I grew up un a home with an alcoholic parent and like most two-parent homes where one parent has an addiction, the other parent was often in denial about that addiction. I would even say that the other parent enabled the addiction. This is not a post to bash or blame anyone, but I believe that there is freedom and peace when we are real with ourselves. So many of us, myself included at times, go through life without calling a spade a spade or taking responsibility for our own actions and the actions we allow from others.

So, all of that to say that I remember crying about certain family situations and being told to “be stronger.” I was always made to think that being sensitive was a negative thing that had to be corrected. Being strong meant not showing emotion or letting stressful situations affect you. Now that I’m a bit wiser, I’ve learned to embrace those things about myself that others told me were weaknesses. I’ve realized that like Mr. Fortune Cookie says, it is possible to be strong and sensitive. I feel sensitive enough to feel compassion and hurt, but strong enough to withstand those emotions and carry on. There is strength in being emotional when we do not become paralyzed by it. So thank you Mr. Fortune Cookie for being right. I am strong and sensitive.

101 Things in 1001 Days Update (February 2015)

Seeing her in the raincoat was just too much cuteness

First trip to the Chicago Children’s Museum: Seeing Little L in the raincoat was just too much cuteness.

Extra! Extra! Read all about this hot ish. So I am proud to announce that I have another update on my 101 in 1001 challenge even though I really just started the challenge not too long ago. (Click on these links if you need a refresher on the list and also check out the 101 in 1001 category on the sidebar on the right of the home page for posts about it.) Here are the items that I feel comfortable checking off:

22. Become a member of a church

On February 8th, I joined a church for the second time in my life. The story leading up to this deserves a post (or book) of its own. However, I will say that I don’t have the typical church girl story by any means. I started going to church on my own as a teenager after being invited by a friend (who I later fell out with), became “super-Christian” in a sense, went to a very Christian college, then got to the point where I didn’t think I would ever call myself a “Christian” again (still prefer saying a person of faith lest I be a hypocrite) never mind actually belong to a church again. But, I do believe God has a great sense of humor, especially when we try to put our foot down.

82. Seriously research starting a food pantry at New Exodus Baptist Church

The church membership update brings me to the next one regarding starting a food pantry at that very same church. Part of the reason I decided to join a church community is for the opportunity to outreach. I finally took an evening to research starting a food pantry at my husband’s family church only to realize that there is a ministry doing what we envisioned and more right around the corner called Shepherd’s Hope. So it would actually make more sense to link up with them or direct people to utilize their services rather than doing the exact same thing from scratch. This research did lead to other ideas for possibly making an impact so there should be more info on that later.

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In the Treehouse Trails exhibit with her new friend. *Please excuse my big ole finger in the corner lol*

78. Take Little L to a children’s museum

My last update is somewhat unrelated to the others, but we got around to taking Little L to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. I think we all were a bit tired by the end, but it was worth it because we had a ball. She was able to put on a raincoat for the first time and play in the WaterWays exhibit, where we splashed each other with water and played with the always popular Mr. Rubber Ducky as well as toy boats. Another fav for her was the Treehouse Trails exhibit where she played kitchen in the log cabin and made a new friend. It was so refreshing to find something age-appropriate for her to do outside of the house that we hope to take her back sooner rather than later.

That’s all the poppin’ updates I have for now on my 101 in 1001 challenge. What’s been up with you folks? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

HVD! And 3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Marriage

Happy Valentine’s Day from the PBWB!

First off, I’m sorry about lacking in the number of posts this week. You know how Monica was having “Just One of Dem Days” in the 90s? (see video below) I think I’ve been having one of dem weeks. But, I know being the positively optimistic and powerful woman that I strive to be that I have to push through it. One of my biggest weaknesses is seeing things through, so I need you all to hold me accountable on seeing the PBWB through. The love and feedback from the blog have been great, but I think that I tend to give up on things before they have a chance to fail. I can’t be afraid of failure anymore. The only failure is not trying and giving up without a good fight.

With it being Valentine’s Day and all, I figured I should reflect on love and relationships a bit. I just want to share three major lessons that my short, 2 years of marriage have taught me about life.

1) Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on being able to push through all those yucky feelings of anxiety, fear, and doubt to see my goals become a reality. Likewise, there’s a lot of muck to get through in the journey of marriage. Nothing about marriage is easy. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and trust that another person wishes the best for you. It’s not easy to set your own wants aside for the sake of the family’s needs. It’s not easy to have the courage to be led when every part of you wants to lead. All of this have taught me that every goal that I have will require a trade-off. I can’t have a successful blog if I don’t put it in the time to write even when I would rather waste time surfing gossip websites.

2) I can only be my best self if I deal with my baggage.
Anyone in a serious relationship, or maybe not so serious, knows when previous baggage is ruining their relationship. For me, I had to do a lot of soul-searching on how my perceptions about men, myself, and marriage were affected by what I saw growing up. I had to stop ignoring the pain of my past and confront it. I realized that by only rejecting it without dissecting it, I was unconsciously perpetuating certain attitudes and behaviors without even thinking about it. I had to pull the baggage out, unpack it, save anything worth saving, and throw out the rest. The same is true in my personal development journey. I got to a point when I had to stop and reflect on negative opinions that came in my head and ask myself where they came from. I had to understand where all those self-defeating hang-ups came from in order to truly reject them and start believing that I can really do anything that I set my mind to and work hard at. IMG_1609

3) Everything has a season.
I don’t say this as a cop out from taking action. Sometimes, you gotta make stuff happen, but I do feel like as Ecclesiastes 3 says

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭1-2‬ ESV)

Like life, marriage has its seasons. Most couples repeat the vows “for better or for worse, through sickness and in health” because marriage will have its seasons. We are still at the start of the journey, but we’ve already had highs and lows. I see this concept of seasons clearly in my personal life. I’ve had times when I felt accomplished and times when I felt disappointed in the course of my life. Right now, I strongly feel is a time to “plant” so that I can “pluck up what is planted” when the time comes. It is a time to invest in my daughter’s early development so that I can say, “Look at the confident and secure daughter I have helped raise.” It is a season to invest my time and heart into my writing in the hopes that one day this effort will help put coins in my coffer. This season requires hard work without the reward. This season is about preparation so that when the harvest comes, I will be content with what is produced. My efforts now will determine my sense of accomplishment later.

Can you all think of any other life lessons that you’ve learned from current or past relationships? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Hugs and kisses 😘,
PBWB

The Positively Optimistic and Powerful Shahidah

Welcome you lovely guys and gals to the very first Positively Optimistic and Powerful Woman feature. Today’s popped woman is the very warm, smart, and beautiful Shahidah Ali of the Properly Improper blog. If you haven’t checked out her blog already, I’m sure the glimpse of this woman that you get from her interview today will make you want to follow her with the utmost quickness. She has one of my favorite blogs and she’s also been one of my biggest fellow blogger supporters as I get my feet wet in the blogging world and I’m forever grateful. I’m blessed to have her as the very first P.O.P. Woman on the Popped Black Woman Blog. Please check out her interview below:

The Lovely Ms. Ali

The Lovely Ms. Ali

Popped Black Woman Blog: Thank you for taking the time to connect with the Popped Black Woman Blog Community Shahidah! Let’s open up with you telling us what you are passionate about. I’ve always liked that question better than “what do you do?”

Shahidah Ali: I am passionate about empowering women especially women who are in the position to do their life ‘over’

PBWB: That’s awesome. When did you become positively optimistic and powerful yourself?

SA: Hmmm, I don’t know if I would describe myself as positively optimistic or powerful. I know that I have a certain strength and I do admire that about myself. I try to live with optimism because it is too hard not to. I’m too lazy to be negative all the time. I truly believe life is simple but we overcomplicate it. I want to be happy and I want to believe that things will work out so its how I choose to be.

PBWB: I certainly strive to do the same. What particular challenges have you overcome?

SA: I think right now I’m in the middle or maybe the beginning of my biggest challenge. For the past eleven years I’ve been reasonably successful. Divorced and raised three children on my own, provided them their own home and stability. I’m very proud of those accomplishments, the proof is in their happy laughs and constructive contribution to society, but as much as I did for them I didn’t do things for myself. I used them as an excuse to not pursue my goals of stepping out on faith. It is easy to go to work everyday for someone else, to be a part of a team etc…but for me the hardest thing is striking out on my own. Doing what I have dreamed I’d be doing all my life. If I still have this dream then shouldn’t I try to live it. Right now that is my challenge and I think it is my biggest…setting myself up to live the life I want. To go to bed at night feeling truly accomplished.

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Shahidah describes this pic as “my daughter and me right before I entered the world of grandmotherhood via my oldest son”

PBWB: It certainly is hard to step out on faith and pursue our true passions. We certainly wish you all the best on your journey. Give us an idea of where you would like to be in the next 5-10 years.

SA: In less than a year I want to be doing work I love. I am currently working on a business plan that is in its very early stages, still figuring out the mission statement. I also plan that in less than five years I will be an established well-paid author and book publisher. There was a time I wanted to be famous but I don’t need that I just need to be satisfied and proud of my work and also be able to survive off of it.

PBWB: Very nice. What would then be your ultimate goals?

SA: To do work that makes me proud. To support others in their goals. To be the anchor for my children. To be stronger than I am today.

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Properly Improper Blog: https://improperri.wordpress.com/

PBWB: Those are all great goals. To get a bit more general, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing young women and women today?

SA: I think women are in a unique position, especially black women. There are more women entrepreneurs, more college graduates and in general very successful women in the world. I think the biggest challenge for women is not letting society dictate who and what we should be. Its sad to see women we admire and love to see suffering from insecurities thrust on us by society…a male dominated society. I believe we can get and achieve external goals if we just try but the biggest challenge is facing and dealing with the internal blocks we set up for ourselves-self-acceptance, fear, and desire to the women we see on television etc…

PBWB: Please tell us what woman past or present do you look up to the most? Why?

SA: I often say I am a lover of women but I’m not a lesbian. Women are phenomenal…I am always in awe of the things we can do and what we can overcome. I feel very privileged to be a woman, as flawed as I am. There are so many women I admire and look up too but for this I’m going to with my daughter, Mia. What I love most about her is she lives without fear. She says she wants to do something and she sets it in motion and does it. She has been my best cheerleader in talking me into going after my dreams. I hope she never lets the world talk her into a place of not living the way she wants to live…


What Shahidah enjoys doing in her free time:

Oh I hate to admit this but in my free time I love being a grandma. I have one grandchild Autumn is 4mos and one I call my bonus grandchild Darius is three. I love taking them places, baking, making them things, spoiling them. Its so different having grandchildren because you are not in charge of raising them but you can give them so much.

What Shahidah wish she knew when she was twenty…

That being safe is not always the best option.

Shahidah’s Favorite Book Right Now:

Alice Walker’s first book, The Third Life of Copeland Grange

What she’s saying about it?

The characters are ugly but there is redemption and change.



Many infinite thanks to Shahidah for stopping by the PBWB to share a bit of herself with us. We will take all the wisdom and insight she has shared with us on our own journeys. For even more Shahidah Ali, connect with her on her blog Properly Improper and tweet her on Twitter @sali1368 where she says,
“I am still amazed by Twitter. I wake up at 5am and people I follow are already knee deep in conversations…that can’t be a good thing, can it?” That sounds like a great thing to us. Let’s keep those positively optimistic and powerful convos going. Share any comments regarding the interview below or on our Facebook page. Stay poppin’ folks 😉