This past weekend I surprised my best friend with things I thought would be helpful in encouraging her on her journey as a massage therapist. While she was away on training for two weeks I planned, schemed and organized a shelf in her apartment filled with things meant to show her that I support the work she is doing as a mother and as a  bomb ass massage therapist. Her appreciation for the gesture got me to thinking about the way we “invest” into our loved ones and their ventures.

 

Speaking life into your entrepreneur can be the difference between them giving up or pushing through. Understand that value and know that it costs you nothing to do it.

 

Bankrupt Support

We’re always talking about how we should invest in black businesses but are so slow to actually invest in those closest to us attempting to make their dreams a reality. Let’s Talk about it!

 

For the purpose of this article lets define an entrepreneur in my context:

“local entrepreneur”: Someone in your personal or social circle, including social media,  who have started a traditional business, podcasts, blog, or brand for self, service or products geared toward a passion, monetary achievement, or recognition.

 

In the last few months, several people reached out to me who wanted to learn more about blogging. I was happy to oblige but it was important for me to point out a very hurtful truth; sometimes those closest to you are the last to support. Preparing them for this reality ensures that they don’t get discouraged down the line and give up on their blogging venture. However, the lack of support is true in other aspects as well. Many entrepreneurs I’ve come into contact with said that they found it difficult to garner the support of their immediate circle. This is a problem I wrote about when I first started blogging in Where are Your “Day Ones” on Day Two?.

Strangers shouldn’t see the value in the entrepreneurs in our circle before we do. We should be the first to ask questions, share content and provide insight in an effort to invest in the people we love. So, why don’t we? One reason why could be constantly underestimating what we have to offer or invest. We mistake investing in others with monetary abilities when investment actually takes on many forms. Time, words of encouragement, shoutouts/references, and adding to their vision are all great ways to invest in the entrepreneurs in your life.

 

An Assortment of Investments

Investing in your surroundings doesn’t really take as much as you might think. Sometimes I randomly go on a rampage attempting to invest time, encouragement, and insight into those who are brave enough to try something as an entrepreneur.

 

Investing time.

Take the time to actually learn about their business/venture. This will come in handy when you are around others who need the service they provide. My bestie asked if she could give me a massage so I could review her skills for her (spoken like a true professional). She trusted that my honest review would help her improve and/or sustain some things. Not only was I able to give a stellar review ’cause sista got the kinks out my neck;

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but I was also able to refer others to her based on my personal experience with her service. Familiarizing yourself with their product/services is also important so when possible buy it/use it/read it/listen to it. The best reference is a thorough, honest one.

 

Investing words of encouragement.

There will be times when your “local entrepreneur” gets overwhelmed, anxious, or just plain burnt out. Speaking life into your entrepreneur can be the difference between them giving up or pushing through. Understand that value and know that it costs you nothing to do it. Randomly and sporadically speak words of encouragement over your local entrepreneur.

 

Investing attention and vision.

As a creative mind, I often find myself seeing the possibility of improvements in other people’s vision/business. I use to hate it. Who did I think I was trying to mentally improve someone else’s business when I don’t even know how to fix my own. Yet, it’s when I share my outside ideas with those who asked that they were able to reach levels they hadn’t even seen. If you have a gift for providing wonderful insight that propels the ideas of others forward; use it. Invest your insight. Only when solicited though. Never freely offer your opinion without first feeling out the situation and/or asking first.

 

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Shoutouts/References

I have like 5 Instagram followers. 2 actively interact with me (I’m joking and yet, so serious). I do believe in utilizing social media as an advertising avenue. In the past two months, I have found ways to improve my own image and promote the Let’s Build brand, but once I started writing this topic I realized that there are so many wonderful entrepreneurs in my online circle that I haven’t invested in.

This week Let’s Build will be sharing entrepreneurs to practice exactly what it preaches. Shoutouts and references help to build up businesses by allowing the cycle to continue. When you give an awesome reference and get at least one person to try and they love it; then that person loves it and gives a reference to someone else and on and on like Erykah Badu.

 

Pay it Forward

Honestly, doing these things are part of a healthy, loving connection with those in your life. But they should especially be a part of interactions within your circle. Investing yourself in small ways into what the entrepreneur in your life finds important communicates that you truly support them. Investing in the ones you love will only circle back to you. Paying it forward means knowing that one day you will need these same investments deposited into your spirit; hopefully, you’ll have someone there ready to cut that check. Everything little thing needs nutrients to grow; so nurture the energy of that “local entrepreneur” and watch them grow like wildflowers.

 

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A good friend tells you about their engagement, and after the screaming finally wanes and the tears dry she/he asks you to be a part of their celebration of love. OF COURSE you say yes but there are a few things you should consider before you hit them with a hasty “I DO!”

 

Can Your Schedule Take Another Hit?

DOWN GOES FRAZIER!

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I admit, I’m not the busiest person in the world. However, taking on extra commitments like being in a wedding, outside of permanent ones, like work can put any person in a tight spot. Here’s why, when you say yes you’re not just agreeing to show up the day of the wedding, dressed in Oscar nominee attire, ready to get drunk and dance the night away to their love. No.

You’re saying YES, I will find the time to go help select dresses. Yes, I will go get fitted and measured. Yes, I will be there for that bachelorette/bachelor party, and yes, I will be at the rehearsals. And because schedules change on their end as well as yours you can often find it difficult to keep all those commitments. This puts you in at a disadvantage as you don’t want to inadvertently tell them, by not participating, that they’re fittings, parties, and rehearsals aren’t important, when the truth is that they’re just simply incompatible with your schedule.

 

Can You Finance Their Joy?

Weddings are BIG BUSINESS and the Bride/Groom aren’t the only ones footing the full cost of their union. Just ask anyone who’s been in a bridal party lately what they spent on paying for their dress/tux, shoes, hair and celebrating the end of their loved one’s single life with an epic night (Okay….that night is definitely worth it, penis shaped cake anyone?!)

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These are the financial aspects you should consider especially if you’re working with a budget with virtually no breathing room. The cost of something like being in a wedding is definitely not a usual category on your budget spreadsheet but the money has to come from somewhere.

 

 

Re-Gifiting

Do I still need to get them a gift or am I the gift? I know what you’re thinking…Come On Let’s Build, don’t be that cheap. But I honestly don’t have a choice in the matter, between a squeezed schedule and an unforgiving budget, I maxed out on my limit for this wedding one dress and two fittings ago. Because, ya know, life and gas. It is however a fair question. If I had considered all of these things before, I could’ve possibly saved money to get a really nice I’M HAPPY YOU GUYS FOUND LOVE IN A HOPELESS PLACE gift. But alas, as I rush to stand up with the beautiful bride after work on a Saturday afternoon, I think my being present IS the only present they will receive. It’s practically the only one I can afford.

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How to Say “I Don’t”

Okay, first…definitely don’t say it like that. It is okay to still feel honored and happy for your friend as you tell them that you would much rather be a part of their celebration as a part of the audience and not as a part of the main cast. You can mention that because of your schedule and budget that you wouldn’t be able to partake in the festivities in a joyous way without being stressed BUT you will be able to show up the day of, ready to catch bouquets, make bad toasts and share in the love! (Mention bringing a really awesome wedding gift too!) Your friend will understand and you could save yourself the unnecessary mental/financial hassles distracting you from such a beautiful moment.

 

Hey Builders! In light of wedding season, tell me about your experiences being in a friend’s/relative’s wedding. Comment below and Let’s Talk!

#LetsBuild

 

Like a family, my group of friends are dysfunctional AF. Yet, the very different personalities, unique to each individual friend, seem to fit like a puzzle together. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, not all of us are ballin’ out of control, have our life figured out and are taking group pictures around the world with hashtag #SquadGoals.

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Okay, that was one time. Let’s get back the point shall we?

 

Friendship Application Requirements

I love seeing women with arms outstretched, one leg bent, taking stunning photos in the clearest water you’ve ever laid eyes on. One undoubtedly is a money-making entrepreneur, there’s at least two with a master’s degree, and of course the token friend that is a “free spirit” READ: Still figuring her shit out. And while this is sometimes a true representation of powerful women sharing wonderful friendships, sometimes I wonder if it’s becoming a requirement to be the generic definition of “successful” in order to exclaim #SquadGoals.  Beyond that Sunrise filter edited at 10% brightness, is there really a deeper sisterhood or is it all being staged to show off shiny ideas of success?

Could you still use that hashtag after taking a photo of you and your group of friends having a deep discussion about financial issues. Hypothetically of course, please don’t post your bestie on Instagram with her mascara smeared with #RealTears #FinancialTalkswithBestie #OnlyGodCanJudge.

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I’m sure she won’t appreciate that because the truth is we not only put our best foot forward on social media but we inadvertently compete on an individual level and squad level as well.

 

My Squad is Better Than Yours!

When I see a perfectly edited photo of a group of ladies whose poses are just right, hair just right and bathing suits that match, my first thought is usually “Damn they’re gorgeous,” followed by “How did they coordinate all this when me and my squad can’t even coordinate responding to each other in our group chat on Facebook Messenger?”

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Reading the caption only leads to further confusion as I search for a reason besides educational qualifications and high money brackets as to why I should aspire to these particular squad goals. Then my question becomes, are we taking trips because we love one another and need to spend some quality time or is stunting for the gram one of the main objectives for a weekend in the cabins or a cruise to Cuba?

We know that birds of a feather flock but are we selecting and using our friends as an accessory show piece of our own success? Sending the message that your squad is simply the best because you’re composed of homeowners, working wives and master degrees instead of dependable, honest and talented women.

 

Highlights

It’s equally possible to have friends who are “successful” and amazing girlfriends; however, more often than not we don’t really read or see a whole caption dedicated to highlighting these features equally. Money, education, maternal status, marital status, and entrepreneurship are placed in the spotlight while attributes that affect the friendship every day like active listening, prayer, and those random I love you texts are placed on the back burner.  We should surround ourselves with individuals who reflect our ambition, intelligence and experiences but we shouldn’t let a friend(s) lack of those things exclude them from our idea of having successful friends.

 

Unfiltered

When you take away the filter, emojis and Oprah Winfrey quotes, do you have friends that would love and claim you if you were flipping burgers at Burger King? Can you still be a work in progress and still be #SquadGoals with a group of ladies who are a mixture of moms, youthful mistakes, and education like my own? I present these questions as a way that asks us to reflect on changing our view of what success looks like in our group of friends.

Fact: Not every friend is going to have killer abs.

Fact: Not every friend is going to have a big bank account.

Fact: Friends find their own definition of success at their own pace.

Fact: Not every friend will have traditional education.

This is not to down all the squads out there who have all or none of these things. I just want to point out that it’s okay to say you love your group of friends because they understand the real you versus the fact that they are successful in their personal, professional lives.

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The fact that I can snot cry to my best friend, talk trash about politics with my other girlfriends and find laughter through our strained correspondence makes me realize that these are in fact squad goals. Having women who love you past distance, time and availability in our lives feels pretty ducking inspirational to me.

 

 

#SquadGoals

 

What are your thoughts on #SquadGoals and the trend of #Goals in general? Comment below and Let’s Talk!

 

 

Our deal breakers have become like a vast ocean in which we end up drowning ourselves, trying to stay afloat from something we’re convinced is going under at the first sign of distress.

“He did what??!! Oh girl leave his a**!” can be heard in any given living room on a Saturday night while two good friends are filling their glasses to the brim and comforting each other.

When did forgiveness become the other bad “F” word?

 

THE HEN’S DEN

The reputation of forgiveness has been battered from the time women decided they were fed up being passive, docile and submissive to male counterparts who historically didn’t appreciate or reciprocate it. From being financially unstable to full-blown adultery; forgiveness is the last option your friends will advise you of. And to be honest it’s usually the last blimp on your radar in your own mind. For us INDEPENDENT LADIES (and even Man’s Man) forgiveness = settling and that’s a big NO NO.

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Whether it’s relationships, friendships or partnerships we are out before the first “I’m Sorry” settles in the wake of our dust track.
Now, I’m not talking about forgiving someone because you are convinced that there isn’t better out there but true forgiveness when you know you deserve better but will allow the one who hurt to fix it and be better.

 

The Lie

In the beginning there was love…

And then the lie that real love is somehow perfect. Reinforce this logic with television and young adult novels and this is what happens…

I don’t know the exact moment when I became a hopeless romantic; I do know that around age 11 I thought of love as a combination of Disney movies, Nicholas Sparks plots, and enough passion to melt all the candles in any given Catholic Church.

So, it was no surprise that I fell head over heels, love at almost first sight when I was only 15. I stayed that way for another 7 years until I had to make a decision that many young women are faced with.

He cheated.

Do I stay or do I leave?

I left.

One of the hardest and most exhilarating things I had done up until that point in my life. I had made a choice to draw a line in the dirt so to speak and decided that after seeing other women in my life mistreated by men who always expected to be forgiven; I would be different. That I would be stronger.

Stronger I said to myself.

 

Who Hurt You Girl?

For the next few years I told myself that it was a deal breaker to ever take a man back after he cheats just because you love him. To ever settle with someone who wasn’t financially or emotionally my equal was out of the question. I was a militant force in the idea that once a cheater always a cheater; once trust is broken it cannot be rebuilt.

“I gave the last one three chances so that means you get zero because he used it all up.”

Walking away was not the same as forgiving and so I carried that grudge, pain, insecurity and mistrust around with me like a sloppy drunk friend needing a hand up eight flights of stairs.

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Then something changed. I matured. And looked at my own life and the world around me with new eyes.

I saw women I revered forgive “ain’t shit men” for the unthinkable not because they didn’t know who they were without their men but because they had a true understanding of themselves. They knew they could forgive.

And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?

In truth, as hard as walking away was, it was still easier than staying and dealing with the broken trust, plethora of lies and embarrassment. I was battling a stigma that staying meant compliance, that forgiveness meant weakness.

But the more I discover the truth behind every fairy tale we tell ourselves about love; the more I realize that in essence every choice comes from a place of love. Whether it’s love for yourself or the other person.

 

Judgmental AF

Then why is it that we look down on others for forgiving the one they love after an affair? Or after he quits his high paying job to pursue a risky investment?

We can be downright ruthless in this day and age when we discover that a woman has stayed after being stepped out on. Sometimes I get it. Hell I use to be in the streets with my white picket sign right alongside the crowd chanting “Girl Quit! He ain’t Shit! Girl Quit! He Ain’t Shit!”

 

Especially when we have women who think like this…

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Yet, this is quick judgement on our part. Do we ever stop to think about what has happened to develop such a mind-set? Or if the couple has been married for years why do we assume that the woman doesn’t love herself enough just because she’s stayed for her love of him? Goodness forbid a man forgive a woman; we then question how he’s able to stand up without a backbone.

 

Forgiveness is actually for you too Sis

We joke our way through the pain we still feel with memes like…

 

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I had a very real wake up call when my ex passed away. My sisters had married into his family so no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t escape him completely. And he was just fine with that, forcing me to be his friend throughout the years with semi-annual updates and contact.  But he left this earth and I don’t ever think I let him know that he was forgiven because he wasn’t, not really.

So everything I thought I packed away with the walking papers I’d given him years earlier came rushing to the surface. The love, the anger but eventually the forgiveness that took a lost of life to process. My grief was made that much more complicated. We hear the line, forgiveness is not just for the other person but also for you, all the time. We just don’t take it seriously.

Trust me, forgiveness is hard enough without having to process suppressed anger and grief along with it.

 

And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?

“Forgive but don’t Forget”

Forgiveness is more like a process than a one-hitter-quitter. Simply because you don’t forget. Unless you bump your head and those memories go bye-bye then what that person did is forever stuck up there replaying itself at the most inconvenient times.

Today, I forgave my dad about various things from my childhood and it was easy. Tomorrow it could be harder. I look at it as a day by day process. That way you can still honor your own complicated emotions without an expectation that they’re supposed to disappear with “I forgive you.”

Hurt is similar to a stone being thrown into a calm river. You don’t know where those ripples will lead. He quit his job. Now you’re behind on the mortgage and just found out your third child is on the way.

It can be scary to forgive because you’re essentially allowing something that hurt/disappointed you back into your space. I understand. I’m there with you. My space is sacred AF and anything that challenges that balance is likely to be discarded. Just remember that even when walking away, at some point you still need to forgive. Otherwise it will follow you through every friendship, relationship, or partnership in the form of mistrust, suspicion, and invulnerability.

 

Self Reflection

With individuals, especially strong women, it seems that being vulnerable is hard enough but having that vulnerability tested in any way from our partner through infidelity, financial instability, or miscommunication; it’s almost always a deal breaker. We celebrate being bold enough to walk away from “his trifling ass” and condemn those who stay just for love. But an interesting twist seems to be that what makes us strong actually makes us weak.

Our own narrative about being individuals who won’t settle for less often throws out the good along with the bad for the sake of not seeming weak; in our minds and the minds of others. Personally, as of right now, I still have my laundry list of deal breakers but I see the power it has taken to forgive and cultivate a new love out of the bad actions or choices of a loved one. I’m still learning how to do this thing called forgiveness but maybe I should start by being less judgmental of the ones who are already good at it.

I am not an advocate for being a doormat; forgiving the perpetual inconsiderate person or serial cheater but there is some space for consideration to be had. The newfound emotional protective walls that my generation has built leaves little room for moving forward. Forgiving, in itself, can be liberating (or so I’ve heard) Why not try it out?

 

Do you feel forgiveness is not as celebrated as it should be? Or do women still overdo it? What about men? LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! Comment below.

 

#LETSBUILD

FRIENDS!

How many of us have them?

FRIENDS!

Ones you can depend on????

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I guess the real question in that song should be…

How many have you grown apart from?

I’m not talking about those “friends” who are only considered friends because you go to the same school , work at the same place or come from the same town. No. I mean those real friends. The friend you told about kissing a girl that one time. The friend who you took care of when they were shit faced. The one who has so much dirt on you they walk around looking like Pig Pen in his Halloween costume.

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And you will definitely be haunted by that fact now that you’ve grown apart from them.

Now that I think about it I need to get my lawyer to draw up some NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) for my friends STAT!

 

Disclaimer

By now you’ve probably been reading my posts and wondering

WHO THE HELL HURT YOU LADY?!

Rest assured that I not only write from experience but secondary experience i.e. shit my friends have been through. Mostly, I write from somewhere in between.

This is the in between.

Let’s discuss how it feels when you grow apart from someone you were once close to.

 

Best Friend Forever

Solid friendships usually develop during a major milestone in which two people prove they have a strong connection based on experiences and time. Those milestones could be college, working environments, or connecting over the guy who was cheating on you both (no judgement).

College roommate turned bestie.

Coworker turned confidant; connecting over your similar home life issues at work.

Enemy turned friend while eating a tub of rocky road and complaining how he ain’t shit.

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Friendships blossom spontaneously and they give you someone in this world who loves and understands you. That’s why it hurts when you grow apart. A rift turns into the grand canyon until one day you realize that you’ve truly lost your friend because so much time has passed and you don’t even know each other anymore.

 

What Happened?!

I don’t have all the answers on why people grow apart. I do know that people change. We play specific roles in different areas of our life and the lives of other people. So, maybe that person no longer has the traits or characteristics necessary to comfortably fill that role in your life. That “fun” friend may have become more responsible and serious since his girlfriend had the baby. The “understanding” friend may have backed away to tend to their own personal emotional issues. That best friend may have lost herself for a while and then found a new version of herself that doesn’t include you. OUCH.

That one stung.

 

I asked around to see the responses to “What is the hardest part when growing apart from someone you were once close to?” Here’s what I got…

 

“When something happens to you whether it’s amazing or sad and the first person you want to talk to is that person. Then you remember y’all aren’t close anymore.”

Truly being close to someone or calling them a friend means that you include them in the highlights of your life. They’re usually one of the first people who you trust with information or want to share an experience with. You seek their advice or opinion often and cherish feedback that they give you about your life. When you grow apart you lose all of that. More importantly, they lose it as well.

 

“Getting over the memories that like to replay themselves”

How many can relate to that 4 a.m. insomnia fest that brings up every memory, good and bad, about that lost friend or lover. Could it be the grease from that midnight pizza that’s causing this mental regurgitation or the unsettling feeling of never getting closure?

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“Trying not to blame yourself (when it’s not your fault)”

It’s not your fault and sometimes it’s not theirs either. Growing apart is usually a result of growth if there was no rift to act as a catalyst. Growth is a staple of life. Your friend may have just grown in another direction but whose to say that in one of your growth spurts you two won’t reconnect stronger than ever.

 

“It’s like a betrayal to the love you thought you had with that person because it couldn’t stand up against life or time”

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I have this guy bestie who lives on the other side of the country and has traveled the world. We go months without talking. But when we do it’s like no time at all has passed. It’s a very special connection that I hold dear to my heart but the truth is not every friendship is built that way. It can be hurtful once you come to this realization but does that mean the love you had with that person is weaker?

 

Tell me, what’s the hardest part for you when growing apart from someone you were once close to? Comment below and Let’s Talk.

 

#LetsBuild