MayaAngelouPhenomenalWoman

My Answers to “20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself” from O Magazine’s April 2014 Issue

Do I examine my life enough?

These days (and maybe after my recent 33rd birthday), I definitely have. I’m not a kid anymore so the things I could get away with in my 20s look a little pathetic in my 30s. But I try to be kind to myself and my pathway towards my ultimate goals. I’ve learned that this path isn’t necessarily linear and that’s okay.  I have had such amazing highs and opportunities but also had some soul-crushing lows and missteps. But both have made me the woman I am today. I’m perfect but I “live from the heart . . . seek[ing] to be whole, not perfect”. Thanks, Oprah!

Do I care too much about what people think?

To be honest, I used to be really reoccupied with what people thought of me. In school, I was a definite people pleaser, doing almost anything any adult or friend asked for. But then I realized something in college – doing all those things for others doesn’t always mean that you will get that same treatment in return. In fact, you could be abandoned at key moments in life where you really needed that parent/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. It has happened to me too many times. So I live more for myself and what feeds me emotionally, spiritually, academically, etc. If you happen to like what I like, that’s awesome! If not, no harm, no foul.

Am I with the right person?

In my dating life, I am currently “ridin solo” (thanks, Jason Derulo) because I just haven’t met the right person yet.  I know how that sounds. That sounds cliche but it’s the truth. I have been in relationships more recently a year ago but I was abandoned at a pivotal point in my life where I had no one else. That showed me exactly the kind of person he was and I couldn’t be with someone like that. He has tried to get back in touch with me but I just don’t trust him with my heart anymore.

What’s your deal breaker?

I would say deep ignorance, arrogance, lack of a healthy sense of humor, immaturity and lack of spirituality.

What do I really want to do all day?

I want to write for my favorite magazines like O, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Elle, Essence, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Latina, Shape and more. I want to be a speaker for TED Talks about education, mental health, and media. I want to collaborate in music projects with artists I admire like Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Babyface Edmonds, Quincy Jones, Robin Thicke, Alicia Keys, India Aire, Beyonce, Jay Z, Monica Jasmine, Jennifer Lopez, Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj and perform original music for audiences. I want to cover my favorite national and international concerts as well as local events as press like I did for this year’s Jazz in the Gardens in Miami Gardens, FL.  I want to publish influential books like Dr. Maya Angelou, Candace Bushnell and bell hooks that can change the world. I want to speak at conferences, urging young people to harnest their talents to make the world better. I want to write screenplays and own a production company like Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, and Wendy Williams, creating exciting projects for the masses to consume. I hope that dream is big enough!

How do I want to be remembered?

I think I would want to be remembered like the dearly departed Dr. Maya Angelou is being remembered now – as an educator, orator, poet, media icon, mother, daughter, auntie, mentor, advocate.

Do I say “Yes” enough?

YES! I believe I do more welcoming of opportunities than rejecting of them.

Do I know how to say “No”?

I have learned my limits and when I feel that my time is being wasted, I pull out that “No” real fast!

Am I helpless?

No, not particularly. I wouldn’t choose that specific adjective. Am I sensitive? Yes but I also try to be protective of my heart by limiting the kinds of people I associate with. So the people in my inner circle fill in the gaps that this “helpless” nature creates.

Am I helpful?

More than you will ever know! Actually, ask any one of my former students (many of whom I keep in touch with on Facebook). They are my living testimony with ages ranging from preteen to 30’s (yes, my age). 

What am I afraid of?

I am afraid that our culture will not shift to embrace all people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and mental health status. I am afraid that speaking truth to power may not change policy. But I remain hopeful and optimistic.

Am I paying enough attention to the incredible things around me?

I surely hope I am! I feel like I do especially in my current work environment in Miami Design District. I won’t disclose the name of school but I will say it reminds a great deal of my own high school on Key Biscayne.

Have I accepted my body?

This took a while to get to. I grew up being really skinny and really tall (I wear a Women’s 13 in shoes to this day) which made me feel very uncomfortable around my classmates and friends. I wanted to belong like any other girl and teenager (and be able to borrow clothes from my closest girlfriends). But I couldn’t because I needed larger sizes and most of my friends were much smaller than me. When puberty hit, my butt got bigger (look out J.Lo, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea), my hips got wider, and my thighs got bigger. I had the body of a woman when I was 13 or 14. It was scary because I hadn’t evolved mentally and emotionally into the body I was inhabiting. It also didn’t help that I look like my glamourous and ageless mother. My parents dressed me down in preppy Ralph Lauren attire for years which made me even more strange to other students of color at my middle school. But eventually, I went to a high school that embraced diversity on multiple levels and I began to feel better about myself. The poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Dr. Maya Angelou also gave me a voice and made feel better about my new shape.

Am I strong enough?

Yes, I believe I am. I have already been through so much so far that I know that I can handle practically anything.

Have I forgiven my parents?

Well . . . that’s an ongoing process. Like President Obama has expressed in his memoir Dreams From My Father, I have learned that my parents have done the best they knew how to do. They weren’t perfect but they had perfect intentions. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of executing a perfect plan. So all we can do is accept our loved ones for who they are and pray/hope that they can do the same for us.

Do I want children?

Yes, I do. I am luckily. I am still in a good range to have them but I want my career locked in place first so I can provide for them properly.

Does what I wear reflect who I am?

Yes it does. When I started teaching college in my 20s, my parents begged me to wear the Hillary Clinton pant suits to work. I complied because I understood that I looked like my students so I needed to have a specific uniform that would set me a part. Now I’m a little more flexible. In faculty and business meetings, office attire rules. But when I go to events and parties, I wear a different wardrobe but I still keep my integrity.

What am I missing out on?

To be honest, a steady paycheck! Juggling part-time work can be a little challenging especially when people think that you can do some services for free! Yeah right! Social Media marketing IS a job!! 

Do I let myself fail enough?

In my 20s, I have failed alot and learned a great deal from those failures. Unfortunately, I think we live in a culture that frowns on failure. Failure is bad; therefore, you are terrible. NOT true! But learning and evolving definitely needs to be part of the equation as well.

Why are we here?

In my experience, I believe we are here to help one another. I know, that sounds very Disney Princess but I really believe that. Being a teacher reveals a microcosm of society where character is built and empathy can grow. But it’s up to us to instruct.

"Stevie Wonder" by Dwayne D. Conrad
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Winner’s Circle | NAACP Image Awards | TVONE.TV

Just in case you had something more exciting to do on a Saturday (like go out and have a social life), here is “The Winner’s Circle” for the NAACP Image Awards. But enjoy the gorgeous fashion of the night below.

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OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS, MOTION PICTURE
WINNER! Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Alfre Woodard, “12 Years a Slave”
Naomie Harris, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

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OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR, MOTION PICTURE
WINNER! David Oyelowo, “The Butler”
Cuba Gooding Jr., “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Morris Chestnut, “The Best Man Holiday”
Terrence Howard, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Terrance Howard, “The Best Man Holiday”

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OUTSTANDING ACTRESS, DRAMA
WINNER! Kerry Washington, “Scandal” (ABC)
Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)
Khandi Alexander, “Treme” (HBO)
Nicole Beharie, “Sleepy Hollow” (FOX)
Regina King, “SouthLAnd” (TNT)

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OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
WINNER! “Scandal” (ABC)
*Actress Kerry Washington accepts on behalf of the cast
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)
“The Good Wife” (CBS)
“Treme” (HBO)

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OUTSTANDING TALK SERIES
WINNER! Steve Harvey, “The Steve Harvey Show” (Syndicated)
“Oprah’s Lifeclass” (OWN)
“Oprah’s Next Chapter” (OWN)
“The Arsenio Hall Show” (Syndicated)
“The Queen Latifah Show” (Syndicated)
*Steve Harvey was not in attendance.

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OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
WINNER! “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (BET)
“House of Lies” (Showtime)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“The Game” (BET)
“The Soul Man” (TV Land)

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OUTSTANDING REALITY SERIES
WINNER! “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN)
“Shark Tank” (ABC)
“Sunday Best” (BET)
“The Voice” (NBC)
“Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN)

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OUTSTANDING ACTRESS, MOTION PICTURE
WINNER! Angela Bassett, “Black Navity”
Halle Berry, “The Call”
Jennifer Hudson, “Winnie Mandela”
Kerry Washington, “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples”
Nicole Beharie, “42”
*Angela Bassett was not in attendance.

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OUTSTANDING ACTOR, MOTION PICTURE
WINNER! Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Chadwick Boseman, “42”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”
Idris Elba, “Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom”
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”

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OUSTANDING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
WINNER! Kevin Hart, “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (BET)
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (FOX)
Cedric The Entertainer, “The Soul Man” (TV Land)
Don Cheadle, “The House of Lies” (Showtime)
Dule Hill, “Psych” (USA Network)

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OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
WINNER! Brandy Norwood, “The Game” (BET)
Anna Deavere Smith, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
Rashida Jones, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family” (ABC)

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OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE, MINI-SERIES or DRAMATIC SPECIAL
WINNER! “Being Mary Jane” (BET)
“Betty & Coretta” (Lifetime)
“CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story” (VH1)
“Luther” (BBC America)
“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” (HBO)

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OUTSTANDING ACTOR, TELEVISION MOVIE, MINI-SERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
WINNER! Idris Elba, “Luther” (BBC America)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Dancing on the Edge” (STARZ)
Danny Glover, “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest (HBO)
Malik Yoba, “Betty & Coretta” (Lifetime)
Omari Hardwick, “Being Mary Jane (BET)

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OUTSTANDING ACTRESS, TELEVISION MOVIE, MINI-SERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
WINNER! Gabrielle Union, “Being Mary Janes” (BET)
Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX Networks)
Angela Bassett, “Betty & Coretta” (Lifetime)
Gabourey Sidibe, “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX Networks)
KeKe Palmer, “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” (Lifetime)

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ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
WINNER! Kevin Hart

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OUTSTANDING MOTION PICTURE
WINNER! “12 Years A Slave”
“Fruitvale Station”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“The Best Man Holiday”

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Laurean D. Robinson, MA

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#ThrowbackThursday #TBT – Top 30 Things You Should Know About This Blogger

So I realized something about this amazing blog and equally extraordinary audience – if you are new to my blog, you probably don’t a great deal about me. And I further realized that my life has been a testimony to chapters of extraordinarily interesting and fascinating life experiences (yes, I just got a little wordy but it’s for a point). Here is an ironic list numbering 30 items that offer some more insight into who I am as a person, more than just an educator.

#30:I love Christmas music during the holidays!


#29:I love Eggnog! No one in my fam likes it but I get it every year! Then I know it’s Xmas!
#28:I have a special reverence for The Nutcracker – I was a toy soldier and rat (not in the same production) in my dance school’s production when I was a kid. Yes, I was a ballet dancer and I still miss it!

#27: When I got into DC, a strange feeling comes over. I feel this sense of pride and awe being in the region where major decisions in our country are made. And I am THAT CLOSE to meeting the Obamas! Hey, it could happen!

#26: I am so proud of my younger brother! He is my rock (even if he doesn’t know it and gets on my nerves sometimes)!

#25: I hate the smell of chitterlings! When I was younger, my parents would love to cook it on the stove and the entire house had its disgusting smell. To this day, I will never eat a bite of it!

#24: I learned how to type so fast from the Mavis Beacon computer program. When I graduated from middle school, my dad put me on this schedule to work on the program every day, almost all summer. To this day, I rarely have to look down at the keys (really just for the numbers because I don’t use them as much as letters).

#23: I used to be really jealous of my brother when we were little. When he was a toddler and my mom was filming him with the video camera, when she wasn’t looking, I would knock him down softly. LOL! But eventually, I got over it.

Me and My Bro

#22: In middle school, I used to like this boy but he wouldn’t be honest if he liked me or some other girl. He called me up at home and I got so tired of his crap that I played the chorus in Janet Jackson’s song “If” and hung up the phone. Look it up, kiddies. Boy, did I have some guts as a kid!

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#21: My cousin let me ride with him on his motorcycle when I was a teenager. We went REALLY fast! It was so much fun but my mom was so afraid for me. I couldn’t stop laughing!

#20: My mother has an obsession for all things Ralph Lauren, especially when she was pregnant with me. She named me after her favorite designer and perfume.

#19: I am the oldest sibling in my immediate family. My younger brother was my roommate.

#18: Initially, I attended college in hopes of being a doctor. I took an internship in HS with an orthopedic surgeon and fell in love with the practice. But once I started taking the required math and science courses (and started failing those classes even with all help in the world), I quickly switched to English.

#17: I worked in the Human Resources Department in the University Library when I was a sophomore at UF. I learned a great deal about the inner workings of payroll (like library staff gets really agitated when their checks aren’t correct).

#16: No, I have never been married (and I have no kids) but I would like to be someday.

#15: For a school trip in HS, I went to Europe. The class and I went to Italy (Venice and Verona), Germany and Switzerland. Talk about a great Spring Break!

#14: I am a chronic bibliophile. I’ve read Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady by Steve Harvey, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, My Story by Marilyn Monroe, and so much more. Currently, I am reading the memoir The Legs Are The First To Go by the fabulous Diahann Carroll and I plan on getting the Wendy Williams book collection (last year’s Ask Wendy, Hold Me In Contempt). I also Grimm’s Fairy Tales (you got to know the classics, right?), a lot of Oscar Wilde, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and W.E.B. DuBois on my E-reader application on my laptop!

#13: I love Spoken Word Poetry. I have two locations in Miami that I used to when work wasn’t too hectic. I have yet to find a new place in the DMV area. Any suggestions?

#12: If I had to choose a TV character that was the most like me, I would say either Brenda Lee Johnson from TNT’s The Closer or Kate Reed from USA’s Fairly Legal. Their mix of strength and vulnerability is something I can DEFINITELY identify with.

#11: I met Hill Harper at Yale where he held a luncheon for young people for his book Letters to a Young Brother. He is incredibly nice and well-spoken. My HS students were trying to hook me up with him. How embarrassing (but he did call me “exquisite”)! Not bad for a HS teacher!

#10: I am a closet romantic. I hate to say it but it’s true. I love listening to my fave love songs (mostly from MJJ) to go to sleep to.

#9: I buy at least two new fashion/celebrity gossip magazines every other Friday. I am also a loyal follower of The Young, Black, and Fabulous celebrity blog since 2003 and Wendy Williams since 2005. A lady has to stay current on ALL kinds of news!

#8: I secretly want to be a DJ. I actually tried it out at a friend’s party and I was terrible (but I loved every minute of it!). I have this secret talent of creating the most amazing mixed tapes/playlists for every mood. My iPad and smartphone are full of them. I have been experimenting with the iPad app DJay and already made some mixes with my iTunes music. And I even got to try it out in real life at Scratch DJ Academy in Miami. Thanks, Jamie and Amaris!

#7: My parents raised my brother and me to appreciate the rich history of African-American music and film. We listened to all the Motown greats (The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jackson 5/The Jacksons), Sam Cooke, James Brown, 70’s and 80’s Soul/R&B singers (Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Emotions, The Pointer Sisters, Phyllis Hyman, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson, The Commodores, Lionel Ritchie, Donny Hathaway), and 90’s R&B (Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Anita Baker, Vanessa Williams, Tevin Campbell, Boyz II Men, Usher, TLC, En Vogue). I tend to gravitate to those greats and compare everyone else on the music scene to them – sorry, new artists!

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#6: I was not popular in HS. I was/still am really tall (almost as tall as the teacher), a tomboy (I played volleyball and preferred jeans and Chapstick to dresses and lipstick to wear to class), was a novice writer (I wrote a vampire novel for fun and it became a Freshman sensation) and liked to listening to SKA and rock music (long live, No Doubt, Prince, and Lenny Kravitz!).

#5: After not having an “exit strategy” for graduating college, my parents moved me to CT in hopes that I would go to grad school at Yale. Yale didn’t work out (I worked full-time in a bookstore and in retail for a year instead) but Columbia eventually did. Not bad for a runner-up.

#4: I lived in NYC for two years. While at Columbia, I stayed in Harlem with my great uncle. It was wonderful and I miss it terribly.

#3: I saw the musical The Color Purple two times: once on my own dime in NYC and once when my parents came to NYC. As far as the rest of my family goes, I have become an adopted New Yorker.

#2: As a result of #4, I am a huge fan of Sex and the City. Yes, I have seen the entire set of the series and yes, I own the movie (and I have seen it multiple times). Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with its sequel – Carrie, you married the love of your life! Work stuff out TOGETHER! You don’t need to go OUTSIDE your marriage to feel complete in your marriage! I’m just sayin’.

#1: I have fallen love in with New Orleans three years ago at a conference and hopefully, I will be able to spend my summer there for the Essence Festival that can beef up my resume.

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