May Shopping Haul

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun post. There’s nothing going on pop culture or celebrity wise that  I find particularly interesting so shopping it is! I love the “Sh*t I Bought” series of posts on Jezebel’s The Muse so I decided to do my own for the past month or so.

Disclaimer: I bought a lot of stuff. Don’t judge me! The last time I went on a spree like this was right after I got my law firm job and realized I only had enough workwear to carry me through my first two weeks. Since I quit and went back to school, of course I slashed my discretionary spending. But I got some pretty well paying document review work, along with a surprise influx of cash from an unexpected source. So

I bought this on the spur of the moment while on the way to meet Sunny & Maya at a different store in the shopping center. This is basically the dress equivalent of yoga pants. The fabric is deliciously soft, it’s a modest length, and with the right shoes and a blazer it will pass for summer workwear. The flowiness is also great for that time of the month–you can feel like you’re in pajamas while looking fit for public consumption.H&M

I love a good polka dot tee. I actually already have one but it has half sleeves and no ruffles, and this one was cheap af so why not?

I love dark denim but in Houston, it’s 80 degrees at Christmas and I don’t know what the rest of the year. Dark denim is not your friend in the summer months. I was skeptical about the cropped flare deal, but these actually worked.

Khaki is back (never went out for me personally) and ruffles are majorly in. Unfortunately almost all the ruffles come on tops. With wide shoulders, DD cups and a short neck I know that shirt ruffles are not my friend (believe me Maya, I tried to make fetch happen and failed miserably). But I love that this side ruffle pencil skirt gives me some extra oomph in the hip department!

Victoria Beckham bee blouse I bought this in a 3X so it fits my boobs and is big everywhere else. But this shirt was so me I don’t mind spending another $15 to get it tailored.

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Rebdolls is like Forever 21 but cooler. All their dresses are named after songs/song lyrics, they have cute graphic tees that are cut for women with boobs, and almost everything is under $50. If it’s over $50, just sign up for email alerts because every other month there’s a 20% off sale. Anyway, I realized I don’t really have any going out dresses. I mean, I have dresses that I wear out but they’d really be more comfortable at brunch, church, or a networking event. Nothing in my closet really says “drinks with the girls” or “date night”. This is short with a mostly open back so I think this fits the bill. Bonus: the ruffle part hits below my boobs!

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My only other maxi dress is strappy and sleeveless, so I can only wear it with a strapless bra which I currently don’t own (come on, Lane Bryant semi annual bra sale!). In addition to the sleeves, I love that this one is white, but the print adds enough color that a small stain wouldn’t be immediately visible. I wore this to the Houston leg of Gentleman Jack Real to Reel film series and swished around all night!

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I love oxfords and I don’t have a black pair so, duh. Very comfy and work appropriate, plus they can be worn with pants and dresses. So you know how you jam your feet into your shoes without untying & retying them and the back gets mashed down? Well this shoe is made fore that. Curiously these “convert” to mules but I don’t think I’ll be wearing mine that way.

I love a good bag, but I usually get tired of them quick. This has long term potential though. The camel color is classic and the color blocked cloth strap is very summery.

Family Ties

The best part of my recent trip home was getting a chance to see my family without all the additional pressures of the holiday season. Since I was there for a whole week and hubs didn’t come with me (at first to save money, and then because he couldn’t get the time off work) I got to have some in person heart to heart chats with both my parents, and my semi-prodigal brother as well.

I’ve written about previously, my dad and I have gone through a rollercoaster of conflicts ever since the divorce, but I think we have finally come to a permanent detente. He and my brother…not so much. But in talking to them both I planted some seeds which I hope will bear fruit in the future. Fathers and sons tend to have combative relationships, and the issue here is compounded by the fact that my brother has all of our father’s stubbornness but also, all of our mother’s sensitivity. He was a quiet child, didn’t get into any sports until high school and even then he didn’t play football or basketball but soccer. It’s fair to say our dad just didn’t get him. He felt like my brother needed to toughen up.

But Dad lived through segregation and went to Georgia State University just two years after it integrated. There were no Black nerds or internet in his day. The world was much harsher. And in the past couple of years I have learned more about how my Dad grew up. That doesn’t absolve him from responsibility but you can’t do what you don’t know. By any objective measure he did far better for us than his parents did for him. There were times I was disappointed, and my feelings were hurt. But nothing he did prevented me from becoming a fully functional adult so what’s the harm in forgiveness?

Without getting bogged down in the details, suffice it to say that he did some things which were just wrong. But parents are people too. It was weighing me down to constantly be reacting to everything he did that I didn’t like. Once I accepted that it had nothing to do with me, I felt so much lighter. My dad got as close as I’ve ever heard him get to apologizing for past mistakes. He even admitted (not explicitly, but reading between the lines) that he was unnecessarily hard on me at times. He also admitted (without naming specific incidents) that he had done things wrong which he wishes he could do differently, but wants to do better for us now.

The current rift between my father and brother is because, on top of all this past baggage, he missed my brother’s engagement party because he had to work. This has happened to all the siblings but more so to my brother. This was especially egregious because it showed a lack of regard for my future sister in law. Of course, my dad had a seemingly reasonable explanation of how he had a client trip that ran over and had to fill in for another driver who called out that day (my dad runs a chauffeur business). But at a point in time, family has to come first and you need to just refund the client and tell them to call an Uber Black. My brother won’t accept anything other than a hat in hand, specific apology which he will probably never get. With any other person I would tell him he’s within his rights to cut the person off but this is our dad. And given the amount of upset my brother is feeling, I know he will one day regret it if they never make up. He’s nowhere near the level of not caring that is required to permanently exile someone from your life.

I just came to a point where I asked myself, do you want to be right or do you want to have peace? I wanted peace. Dad has messed up before and odds are he will do so again. But I have stopped expecting things from him that he can’t give. He loves me, he is proud of me, and if I need financial support I will get it. But his emotional support is often conditional. Fortunately I have my mother, my husband, my siblings and my friends. Those 10 people aren’t a substitute, but they keep me from feeling the lack too keenly. Nobody gets everything they want but I do have everything I need to create a happy life for myself. I’m just praying that my brother will discover he has the same.

Going Home Again

This past week I spent 8 whole days in Atlanta. Since I’m not working full time, I found a cheap set of midweek flights on either end of Memorial Day. When you have the money you don’t have the time and when you have the time you don’t have the money, so I just said screw it.

I came home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation (LOL!) but it was more than worth it. I got to see Maya and Sunny in the same place for the first time since my wedding. Capping off the reunion was Sunny’s high school BFF who didn’t got to GT, but tagged along on many of our college adventures. It. was. AWESOME! I didn’t realize how much I’d missed having my squad, however small. Since G and I are moving to a house in a couple months, we’ll finally have room to host some get togethers and the girls can come through.

I got some quality time with my family as well. I got to help my sister and brother in law with house hunting, play referee between my dad and brother (more on that in another post), have a mother/daughter movie date and see my grandparents. That last was the only dark spot; grandma & grandpa are 84 and 89 and their age is starting to manifest health issues. Grandma was diagnosed with dementia last year and I can tell it’s progressed even since I saw them in December. Grandpa’s mind is sound, but he’s using a walker and recently fell on the way to the mailbox. Not to be morbid, but realistically, I’m not sure how much time they have left so they are my first priority every time I go home. I’m notorious for not taking pictures but I did get one while I was there.

Overall, though, this visit refreshed my spirit. It was nice to escape the grind of part time work, side hustles, and job applications and have some fun. It also made me realize that it’s friends and family that make a place feel like home, and Houston will never be that unless I get proactive about making my own friends here. I’m a homebody by nature and usually content to stay in what I call “the love bubble”. But I’m going to make an effort to curb my introvert ways and do something social at least once a month. At the end of last year I finally made my own friend, Diana. We get along great but nothing is worse than a clingy friend with no life so I need to branch out. I’m reaching out to get active with a Zeta grad chapter again in the fall and actually make an effort this time. I’m pretty awesome and I need to share it with the world!

Dear Shea Moisture

Y’all messed up.

I’m not going to rehash the whole debacle because other writers have already done it brilliantly and I don’t think I can top that. However, with CEO Rich Dennis’s interview this morning on the Breakfast Club, there is some additional nuance that I want to address.

You can watch the interview below.  If you don’t want to watch the whole video check out minutes  12:00-18:30. There’s some direct back and forth about Mr. Dennis’s reaction to the ad.

Charlamagne (because he’s a pot stirrer) says that Shea Moisture has “built up enough cachet” to be able to have white women in the commercial. This is completely false. Team Natural is totally fine with white women being in your commercials because the additional  money means you will be able to get on the shelves in new markets that, unlike Atlanta, D.C., Houston, or NYC, aren’t so saturated with Black women. HOWEVER. No company will ever build up enough cachet  to stop catering to its core consumer base. That goes double for companies in the Black hair & beauty space, because there are so few brands you can buy at CVS or Target or Wal-Mart that cater to our kinks, curls, coils, and rainbow of brown hues. The problem was not that white women were in the commercial, it was that the commercial featured

At about 18:00 Mr. Dennis says, “You have to rock with us so we can continue to grow.” Actually,  no, we don’t. Politics limits us to two parties, one of which is blatantly racist. So if we want any hope of representation on Capitol Hill, Black people are stuck with voting Democrat because most of their policies don’t actively harm us and some of them even help. But Black women are the top spending demographic on hair and beauty. We enjoy pampering ourselves, we enjoy looking good, and we absolutely can and will support brands which aren’t afraid to cater to us in everything they do. Oyin Handmade, Taliah Waajid, and  Beija Flor Naturals are three alternatives that I will move my dollars to. At the start of my natural journey, I was a broke law student and spending more than $8 on a hair product was just unfathomable–and since Oyin and Beija Flor were both online only at the time, that kept me from being a regular user.  But as a working adult, I can spend a few extra coins where I feel they’re appreciated. I still keep a bottle of Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier. It’s great for midweek detangling, keeping my hair moisturized when get braid extensions, and for easily taking down my cornrows from crochet braids. I love Shea Moisture’s black soap body wash and makeup line, but as far as hair products they’re canceled until further notice.

Bye Felicia!

Time to go solo?

 

I was inspired recently by this post on “Grace vs. Grind“. Being temporarily underemployed (by my own doing, no less!) has given me a lot of time to think about what it is that I want to do. What am I passionate about? What do I enjoy doing for people? What problems do I want to solve? How do I not end up hating my next job?

I’ve been resistant to the idea but I’m starting to think it may be time for me to step out on faith and start my own practice. My law school homie Jaleesa thinks I would be a great solo practitioner and that I don’t give myself enough credit for knowing what I am doing–my fear has always been that I don’t know enough to do it on my own. She’s right that in reality, everybody learns on the job.

Several little things are making me more amenable to the idea. I am part of a local Levo League group, which hosts free networking and professional development events for women every month. Several months ago, I met a woman who was interested in hiring me to teach a mini-session on business law at one of her events. I also had a tax client ask me for my card to do a will for him. No follow up on either of these so far, but it shows that theoretically there is some demand for my services. In addition, I’ve been volunteering with the local bar association. I’m on a committee that provides attorneys for free speaking engagements, which of course is another networking opportunity.

If I’m honest with myself, pretty much everything I hated about my old job related to the fact that I had no control. I didn’t get to decide what cases we took, how much we charged, or how we handled the matter and it was frustrating as hell. While I could go to another law firm and be better paid, I’d still be working crazy hours and have the same lack of control. Work life balance is very important to me and that’s hard to achieve as a lawyer unless you’re willing to go solo. Of course, solo practice is no walk in the park. But whether I’m working 20 hours a week or 60, at least I’m in the driver’s seat and that makes a huge difference to my stress level. It’s one thing to take on a workload that requires 12 hours days and get 100% of the profit from those clients. It’s quite another to be underpaid and chained to your desk until 9:00 p.m. while the partner twiddles his thumbs and goes home at 5:00 p.m. on the dot.

Of course, being a solo practitioner is a lot of work too. It means constantly marketing, and doing everything yourself for however long it takes to make enough profit to hire help. It’s easy to put up a website and download some apps that will help you set up a virtual office. It’s much, much harder to get paying clients in the door. There’s a good reason that most people aren’t business owners–handing over 40+ hours of your time every week for a steady paycheck makes life easier in many ways.

Tax season ends next week and with it, my regular paycheck so for the next however long it takes to get a job offer, I’m on my own. I’ve been applying for a while now, and August will make a full year since I quit. I know I’m not underqualified for the positions I’ve been applying for, so maybe this lack of response is God’s way of giving me an answer…

Common Cents

America, the cheapskate. With this new administration, there’s a lot of talk about balancing the budget, reducing taxes, and that old chestnut–“job creation”.  Part of the problem is that we don’t have people developing skills that are more relevant to the economy than coal mining, but that’s another post for another day. But conservatives love to talk about how policies are helping or hurting small business owners.*

There’s all this talk about job creation and how things like the Affordable Care Act discourage business growth. **The truth is that it takes money to make money. If you can’t afford the expenses for your business–including reasonable employee wages–then you need to reevaluate before you start talking about growth. If you can’t pay your employees, you can’t afford to grow– period! So either you need to reevaluate your business processes to see how you can better handle your workload with what you have, or up your marketing game to get more business in the door.

It’s really unfortunate to me that so many business owners are so cheap. Everyone knows the saying “it takes money to make money”, but few seem to truly understand that. It’s not hard. When you are starting a business, most of your profits should be reinvested as working capital. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pay yourself something to live on. But the first three years are not for you to run out and buy an expensive new car or wardrobe, or lease an expensive office downtown in the hip neighborhood. They are for you to master your branding, network, market yourself, and find out what processes will allow you to scale up from the current skeleton crew operation.

As you all know, I’m a lawyer. As a service professional, an attorney’s or law firm’s reputation is everything because a lot of business comes through word of mouth. Doing a half-assed job on cases you shouldn’t have taken, and missing deadlines because you can’t manage your docket, is bad business and will potentially get you in trouble with the state bar.  Discounting every client who complains about your fee will bite you in the foot. If they are a repeat customer, they’ll expect the same discounted rate. The clients they refer to you will expect a discounted rate. They also won’t take your seriously. In my experience, the clients who get a discounted fee or are on contingency are the most high maintenance, demanding clients. They want to go to trial long after it’s clear they should take a settlement and go home. You waste precious billable hours wrangling them when you could be working on more lucrative cases. All of this for a client who is not substantially contributing to your bottom line.  Many of these things are true for other professionals as well.

So that’s why my interview the other day irked me so much. The firm had a standalone building with a dedicated reception lobby, two conference rooms, four offices and a break room. There was a recent model year BMW parked close by. My interviewer’s shoes looked designer and their shirts and suits looked custom tailored. Yet, they want someone to work for them 7 days a week for a pittance.  See, we millenials peep game. The same Baby Booomers who claim we’re lazy and entitled, told us to know our worth, negotiate everything, and demand respect. Now that the rubber has hit the road, they’ve changed their tune. They want us to do better, just not better than them. And that’s messed up.

 

*Everyone thinks about the Mom & Pop diner when you say small business, but they don’t give a crap. Under tax law you can create an S-Corp, literally “small corporation”, which can’t have more than 100 shareholders. But there are S-Corps which are multi-million dollar  international operations. #TheMoreYouKnow

**The ACA requires that businesses with 50 or more employees provide sponsored health insurance coverage. The cost of this coverage is deductible by the company as a business expense.