Take a Stand by Taking a Knee

How can we have a national anthem in a divided country?

By now you have probably heard that Fox Sports will no longer be airing footage of the national anthem before NFL games. But I ask you, who won?

If baseball players in the postseason start protesting, will this trend continue? And by not airing the national anthem are you respecting the protest or staying out of the politics? For so long, I have heard (white) people speak of the power of peaceful protest, and I cannot remember a time when I didn’t immediately think of Rosa Parks, Selma, and now, kneeling during the National Anthem. Why is this any different?

Why are these players not allowed to protest in the most powerful way they have? The Star Spangled Banner is played before every single sporting event in America. Every single player, coach, and fan is expected to stand, remove their caps, place their hands over their hearts, face the flag, and sing along. However, what if you don’t believe what you are singing? Why should you do it anyway simply because that is what is expected of you? What if you start thinking about 1814 America? What if while you are singing, you remember that the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t final until 1863 and you picture ancestors you never met sweating in the fields mid-verse? Would you keep singing? I didn’t, that day.

Yes, you read that correctly, it happened to me and I stopped singing and instead started reflecting on what the song meant. This happened years ago, this happened before Black Lives Matter; before police shootings were at the forefront of the news. People did not just start feeling like this in response to police shootings. People finally got sick of watching it happen. I am a black woman in America, and I understand that I am far more privileged than black men in America. And yet, I still do not have all of the luxuries of a white woman or a white man. There is a racial and gender hierarchy in this country that needs to be broken, and it is about more than watching innocent black men get gunned down.

I hope that you have seen comparisons of news headlines when a black man commits a crime versus a white man. I won’t get into that now, its outside the scope of this post. But you should take some time to look into it. You should educate yourself on the disparity in treatment that exists in this country. Each and every day I am thankful for what I have, and it is simply because I have lived to another die. I haven’t been sacrificed by anybody else’s hands, I haven’t been stopped at work or at home from chasing my dreams. I have been given an opportunity to carry on. I was given an opportunity many black men were not given. I cannot kneel or link arms on television once a week, but a professional sport dominated by black men (70%, HuffingtonPost, 2016), please do not try to silence them. This country has done enough of that over the past 250 years.

Companions and Confidantes

I recently returned from a mentally exhausting workshop where I met many people who have made an impact on me. I heard many amazing things which will feature in upcoming posts, but I wanted to start with kindred spirits. I wanted to start here because the past couple of weeks have been really difficult for me to interact with others in response to the hurricanes, the ruling for the police officer in a St. Louis area shooting, and other events. I have felt increasingly like we are polarizing ourselves rather than banding together, which I believe is why hearing this term “kindred spirits” sparked something in me.

By definition, a kindred spirit is a person whose interests or attitudes are similar to one’s own. It sounds so simple when you put it like that, but the reality is that it is extremely difficult to find people who think and act like you. It can be difficult to find somebody whose hobbies match your own, never mind their beliefs. What I believe is the truly important part of this is that as adults, we have been shaped by our environment and our experiences. Somebody who has never experienced a tragedy is less likely to have empathy in a terrible situation. Somebody who has never been a minority is less likely to understand how deep feelings can get in an unlawful situation. Somebody who has never been abroad ha a more difficult time understanding international relations. However, that doesn’t mean that being apart from those groups means that you cannotunderstand.

It is helpful if your experiences are similar, but it is not necessary. What is necessary is having an ally who understands what it means for life to be challenging, without pretending to have lived it. It can be a very difficult thing, but it is a possible thing. I was kind of called to action to find my kindred spirit(s) that day, and I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about my relationships. I thought about my close friends from every stage of my life, how we got there, and how we stayed friends. None of them lived my life, but in order for us to meet, somewhere along the line our environment and choices brought us together, so that is already more than half the battle. I thought about one of my friends whom we have always teetered very near being close, but never quite got over the edge. That person is a white male who grew up in a white neighborhood and went to a predominantly white institution, and still understands what it is like to be me better than a lot of other people I know. And that almost makes me feel guilty.

It almost makes me feel guilty because I feel like I’ve found a person who doesn’t deserve to be my person. I feel like I have found somebody who wasn’t actually meant for me and scooped them up. But, finders keepers and all that jazz. The fact of the matter is that we cannot help who we have common ground with anymore than we can help who we fall in love with. We need to accept the blessings that we get in life, and learn not to question them. We need to shut the cynical side up sometimes such that we can embrace another person as a gift.

Having a true kindred spirit isn’t something that should be approached lightly, but allowing ourselves to open up to find that person is. You want to protect yourself, so pace is important here. However, understanding when something good is in front of you and you need to open up- at your own pace- is something that should occur on a conscious level. We should consciously enter into friendships, we should consciously decide when we have something in common with others that can bring us closer together. We should pay attention to those people who can help us with certain things, not everything. We should know who we can count on in a crisis, who we want to smile and laugh with, and who we want to cry with. I believe that a kindred spirit should be all of those, and that is rare. But we can also strengthen friendships that give us a person to lean on when we need them.

In the past couple of weeks, I feel like we have not been leaning on others. We have been complaining and observing instead of taking action and doing something. Even just opening ourselves up to conversation instead of just venting via word vomit until we have decided that we are better and we can move on is necessary. And who knows what will come up it, but aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice by never opening that door?

Starting an Online Business

Many of you know that I have not one, but two online businesses. The first, is my business as a Beachbody coach. The second, which is the one I will focus on today is on Etsy. I decided to start my Etsy business because I love knitting, and I spend a lot of money on yarn and I love giving my knitting away. Unfortunately, this is not profitable. Furthermore, I wanted a reason to create my own patterns and create them well. In a matter of about a week I went from deciding that starting this business was something I could handle to having all of the necessary requirements completed in order to start selling. I had to learn a lot about what to do in order to legally run a business online, and a lot of it wasn’t fun. But some of it was too.

Getting a DBA (Doing Business As)

The most fun part about starting this business was by far determining a business name. I learned that if I wanted to do business in a name other than my own (yes), I needed to have it registered with the state. This surprised me, and I took to Facebook to ask for some suggestions from my friends. The winner made me do a little happy dance. Mind you, I read the results of the poll while I was out for a jog. I loaded the page while I was stopped at a stop light and when I saw it I was already running again, so I am sure I looked absolutely ridiculous. The second best part about picking this name was the banker’s reaction when I opened my business banking account (more on that later). Name: Given Knit My All. Say it out loud of you don’t get it. If you still don’t appreciate the awesomeness, take a look at my last name. Mind blown. Thank you again, I can never repay you for making such an awesome suggestion.

Opening a business bank account

This was a suggestion that I read in a book and I knew I was going to do it before getting even halfway through the chapter. Before opening this account, I had three checking accounts at three banks. One of those is untaxed income, the other two split the rest of my income. Taxes are difficult with everything separated. The thought of adding business cash flow on top of that was not something that sounded even remotely like a good idea to me, therefore I opened another account. But wait! Doesn’t she already have a business with Beachbody? Yes. However, year-end reporting with Beachbody is easy peasy lemon squeezey. Etsy not so much. This is already proving to be beneficial, and I haven’t even really begun to use it.

Listings and promotions

As of now, I do not have any listings on my page. I already know what my first listing will be, I just need to complete it first. I also have seen a lot of discussion on the Etsy boards as well as in other locations regarding promoting your site on social media. I made a business page on Facebook, but it is currently private and I am not sure whether or not I will use it. I feel like I learned a lot about networking and promoting my business from being part of Team Beachbody, and I make every effort to continue to learn as I move through life.

Bottom line

This business is about having fun doing something that I love. I never want it to become a chore, or something that I cannot keep up with. At the same time, I want to make money because I feel like I have the skills that will help me make money. It would just be disappointing to see items go unsold. I have specific goals for this business, but they’re personal and I really don’t know if they are realistic because I am just starting out. However, I feel confident in myself and what I desire such that I will be able to succeed with this.

Dialogue

If you have any suggestions for me, want to check out my shop, or connect with me on social media, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let me know how you found me if you do wish to connect.

How Mentoring Stole My Heart

How did I begin mentoring?

I did not begin mentoring, or being mentored, by choice. I was a very head strong individual and I thought I knew everything so I wasn’t looking for the help. At some point, somebody said something that finally got through to me. I know who it was, but I don’t know what she said or why that was the time that made it make sense. I do know that I would not change it for the world.

What is the difference between a formal and an informal mentor?

A formal mentor is someone who is assigned to you whereas an informal mentor is a relationship that sort of happens on its own. I have both formal and informal mentors, and I still look to both with related and unrelated things. I feel like I have made a special connection with every mentor that I have had and every mentee that I have had. A friend of mine pointed something out not too long ago, and that was that the word “former” never truly exists in this type of relationship. Once a mentor/mentee, always a mentor mentee.

How do you set up a mentor-mentee relationship?

A mentee can request for somebody to be their mentor very easily. If you find somebody that you think will help guide you in life, you simply need to approach them with the truth. If they have qualities of being a good mentor (willing to give time, good leadership skills, life experience), then this should be no problem at all. At first, it may be difficult to read people. And you may find after a while that you do not get along with the person as well as you thought you might (although, this can come from either direction). That is a-okay too, you just need to follow what you think is right.

Who drives the relationship between mentor and mentee?

The mentor should drive the relationship, however, the mentor does not always drive the relationship. By being the elder, leader, and experienced individual, the mentor should be the one to tell the mentee how things are going to go. I don’t mean bossing someone around- but set the expectations for the frequency of contact. Listen to the mentee and see what he/she needs, but go with your own style to make it work. As mentee, you should make sure that your mentor is there for you whenever you need something. Chances are, it is one mentor per many mentees and they will not always notice when something is awry with you. You must have the courage to speak up when something isn’t right.

Who needs mentors?

Everybody! No matter how old or how young you are, you need a mentor. I began this post by stating that I thought I didn’t. I thought I could figure it all out on my own. However, even when you think about children who have role models, it’s the same thing, but with a much more intimate connection.

What’s in my beach bag? Books of course!

Hello wonderful people! I have a summer goal of one book finished per week. This could be an audiobook, ebook, book, whatever, but I want to finish one every week. I often read more than one book at a time, so I am hoping this is an achievable goal, but we will see.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I have owned this book since it came out. I was a big fan of The Secret Life of Bees and was more impressed than I thought I would be with The Mermaid Chair. However, I have not been able to convince myself to pick up the book and read it. At first, it was the tiny print that scared me. I knew it wouldn’t be a quick read, which her other two were for me. However, I believe that it will be a good summer read and there is no time like the present. Additionally, in June, Kidd’s daughter will be releasing her first novel, so I feel some kind of obligation to support an author that I know I enjoy.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

More and more every day, I am texting my mother about all of the “adulting” that I am doing. I am now 25 years old, I have a car loan, I have a steady income, yada yada yada. At the end of the day though, I have NO clue what I am doing most of the time. So, I am looking forward to this humorous book to guide me a little bit. I haven’t seen a review of how useful the content is- and I would like to keep it that way for now.

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let’s Get Lost is a coming of age novel about five individuals all connected to one person. I actually started the book last night while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, and so far so good. I don’t recall what originally drew me in to this book, but I definitely think it will be both a quick and fun read. The writing level is definitely young adult, and I cannot decide if I feel like the intended reader was male or female, from the description or from having already started the book.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I received Wild as a birthday present over a year ago from a friend who had really enjoyed the book. I am notoriously awful about reading books that I receive as gifts, and this was no exception. I haven’t even tried to start it, and I don’t have a good reason why. I just put it on the bookshelf and always know that it is there, but never pick it up and start reading it. I am excited to read it though, because I have no desire to see the movie (sorry), and because I feel like it isn’t a super hyped up book, but everybody who reads it enjoys it.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Between starting this post and finishing it up, I have actually gotten off the hold list and have the book downloaded to my Kindle, so it is my “up next.” Considering 3/5 books on this list I own… this seems like a good idea. Anyway, I decided to read this book because I do enjoy a good psychological thriller, and because I want to see what all the hype is about. I have heard from more than one reliable source that the audiobook isn’t that great, which is a shame since this is the sort of book I would prefer to listen to on audio. In any case, I’m looking forward to a binge reading session or two to crank this one out.