Friday, April 22, 2016

My Prince Story

 Growing into womanhood, I loved me some Prince! Like most young women, I had a crush on one of the Jacksons and then the Sylvers, but when Prince came on the scene, it was love at first sight. He was the bad boy of my day, but in a different way.  Prince blurred the lines and pushed past pre-imposed boundaries. Prince embraced his masculine and feminine self and flaunted it. He was gender fluid before we even knew what it was. He was super sexy and spiritual at the same time. His creative genius was evident in music that defied categorization. A little bit pop, a little bit soul, a little bit rock and roll--and beyond.

During the Purple Rain period, I was a Prince-loving fool! His concert at the Rosemont Herizon sold out before I could get tickets. When I heard on the radio that another show was being added, I was determined to be in the place. So, my niece and I hatched a plan. We decided to camp out at the venue so we’d be in line when the tickets went on sale. Even though we were grown and working, my mother still wanted to know our whereabouts. I don't know what lie we told to leave the house at 2:00 am, but we managed to get out. 

We went by a friend's house and gently knocked on the window and told her to come outside. When she got in the car, we told her the plan. She laughed, said we were crazy, but went along for the ride. When we arrived there were about 50 people ahead of us. We set up our chairs and blankets and got our place in line. Though it was an Indian summer October, it was still cool at night.  And we settled in for one of the greatest experiences of my life! Somebody was selling snacks and hot chocolate. We met people who had camped out before, and they gave us pointers. We sang songs. We played games. And when the box office opened, we bought our tickets. I went into the bathroom of the Rosemont, cleaned up and changed my clothes for work. When the concert rolled around, I had purple everything including purple panties! I even put a purple streak in my hair. And I am not a huge fan of concerts. There are very few people I like to see perform live. 

I’m happy that I got to see Prince live in my lifetime.  It was a great concert experience despite the fact the Rosemont was a huge space and it was hard to see Prince on the stage. This was before they had the concerts broadcast on the big screens. I remember going to the movies to see Purple Rain, and they had over-sold the theater. We were late and ended up sitting on the stairs, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to be in the presence of his Royal Highness. I look back and laugh at my obsession with Prince and all things purple. I still love purple.

Even after my obsession waned,  I still liked him as an artist. And I always like what he stood for. Prince was unapologetically Prince. He was a musical genius who dared to be different and did. He didn’t follow trends, he was a trendsetter. He gave us permission to just go crazy. And even though Prince was risque, he ironically reminds me of a time of innocence, purity and simplicity. It was a great time to be young and unencumbered. 

As I reflect on the legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson, my biggest take away is: Be You! Everyone else is taken. Prince lived that; he was one of a kind. His physical presence will be missed, but his energy and his spirit will reign always and forever in the purple places of our hearts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Triangle Has Three Sides

Most women I know hate side chicks, jump-offs, mistresses and whatever other names we call women who date men who are already in relationships. These home wreckers shoulder the blame for the drama and sometimes demise of the relationship. And while I think, women who willingly enter into situations with men who say up front that they are in committed relationships (married or otherwise); I don’t think it’s solely her fault. There is plenty of blame to go around. If my geometry skills serve me right, a triangle has three sides. And a love triangle requires three equal participants.  So, while most of us are always side eyeing the side chick, there are two other sides to the triangle who don’t deserve to be let off the hook—the cheating man and his significant other. A jump-off enters into a relationship by invitation.

Years ago, I worked with a married woman. She and her husband had one child together. He had five other children. This is the story of two of those children. The husband cheated on his wife, and his mistress became pregnant. She had the baby.  She wanted to break up his marriage, so one day she dropped the baby off at his house and left. I don’t know if the wife knew about her husband’s outside child before the baby arrived. His wife took care of the baby until the woman came back and got her baby. The husband and wife stayed married. But that’s not the end of the story. He continued seeing the other woman and having (I assume) unprotected sex with her. I guess he didn’t learn the first time around. The woman got pregnant again and did the same thing—dropped the baby off at his house. The wife did the same thing—she took care of the baby until the mother returned.

The people I worked with applauded this woman for taking care of her husband’s outside children. She was a living saint. Even though I was a young woman at the time, the whole situation felt wrong to me which is probably why it stays with me all of these years later. Here was a man cheating on his wife and he got caught in the worst way! He had not one but two children by the same woman, and his wife had to face his infidelity every day that, that those children were in her house. I do admire her for not holding the children responsible for the circumstances of their birth, but she was a bigger woman than I think I would have been.

Even if the wife forgave her husband the first time, I don’t understand why she stayed married to him the second time! And the side chick, I don’t know why she continued trying to “take” him from his wife when it was clear that he wasn’t going to leave his wife for her, and the wife wasn’t going to leave her husband. The husband and wife stayed married until the wife passed.  I don’t know what became of the other woman and the children. I’ve always been fascinated by all the blame being laid at the feet of the other woman. What responsibility does a man have to be faithful to the woman he claims as His or is he claiming?

When we’re the main chick, the fiancé, or the wife, we carry a sense of entitlement that this man is ours. And so we wait it out. When we’ve invested time and feelings and had children, we’re not just going to walk away. And by no means am I saying that we shouldn’t fight for our relationships, but I do wonder when is enough, enough? I know that everyone has a different bottom, but do we have to dive head first into the concrete and suffer from life-threatening injuries before we throw in the towel? How many side chick sitationships does a woman have to endure before she decides that it’s not worth it? 

A friend of mine and I argue about this all the time because she thinks that for every woman who says no to a side chick relationship is one less man who cheats. I agree with her to some degree. But I know that there are women who don’t mind being the second place winner. So, for everyone who says no to being a side chick, there is an army of women waiting to take her place. So, where does that leave wives, fiancés and girlfriends? When is a relationship not worth salvaging? How many naked pictures, sexually explicit text messages, STDs or outside babies does a woman have to contend with before she says, I’m out. If he’s a serial cheater, who’s the real side chick? It seems to me that if the wife, fiancé, or girlfriend said no to his cheating, he might just weigh his options before he steps outside of his relationship. If he can always return home, why would he stop cheating? When we want to dog side chicks, we need to remember that a triangle has three sides.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Self Defining Moment

How do you define yourself? Are you a title? A talent? A skill set? Material possessions? Are you self defining, defined by others or a combination of the two? The ways in which we define ourselves has been marinating in my mind recently. I’ve been wondering what happens when we fall outside of the ways in which we are defined.

I recently finished listening to the audio book, The Year of Yes –How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. It’s the story of how an introverted television writer thrust into the limelight decides to say yes to the things that scare her. It’s a good read. In the book, Rhimes references the Wonder Woman pose. I was a fan of Linda Carter as Wonder Woman because she looked like me. She was curvy and had bigger than average breasts. I tuned in every week to watch her work her magic and fight crime. So, I wanted to learn more about this Wonder Woman Pose.

I looked up the Wonder Woman Pose and discovered that in the world of body language, this is a power pose. This led me to a Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Cuddy says that our non verbal cues determine how we think and feel about ourselves. Cuddy says that she identified as smart. As a child she was labeled gifted. Because she was smart, Cuddy set her sights on attending Ivy League University. 

 At 19, Cuddy was in an accident in which she was thrown from a car and experienced severe head trauma. She had to withdraw from school, and was told that she would never finish college. She was devastated. She said that her core identity—being smart had been taken from her. And she had to work really hard to reclaim that part of herself. Though she went to Princeton, she felt like she was an imposter, and that she didn’t belong there. It was not until Cuddy was working at Harvard that she met a student whose thoughts mirrored her own—the student felt like she was an imposter and was not supposed to be at Harvard. It was in that moment that Cuddy, realized that she had not felt that way in a long time. She didn’t fake it until she made it; she faked it until she became it. And that was the advice that Cuddy gave to her student.

I found this talk so relatable in general, but particularly at this phase of my life. I have been an educator for more than 20 years.  I am considered a good teacher. My evaluations have supported this. But being a super teacher is becoming harder. There are pockets of kryptonite everywhere it seems. In the country. In the district. In my school.  Within myself.  This year has been particularly challenging, and I have felt off kilter more days than I’d like to admit. Every teacher has a year(s) that they wish they could erase or do over. This is one of mine. 
So, this year for the first time in a 20+ career as an educator, my evaluation was average—subpar for me, and even though I know that I have not been my best, it was initially hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of being average.  Unlikely, Cuddy, I didn’t have a devastating injury that took away a big piece of my identity, but my identity s as a teacher was injured and it showed. I was rattled; anxious; withdrawn. My body language registered defeat before the evaluator even walked in the classroom.  I didn’t know how to recover at first. I was standing on the edge ready to jump. But I stepped back away from the edge. I looked at how far I had come, and I remembered how many lives I have touched.  

Being a teacher is a huge part of my identity. I recognize that I am a teacher even when I’m not in the classroom. People seek my advice and respect my counsel. It has not been a stellar year of teaching, but it has been a year of learning. And I am a better teacher for having gone through this year.  I am better than average; I’m a damned good teacher! And I’ve got my super hero cape standing in a power pose to prove it.
Have you had a self defining moment? Tell me about it in the comment   section.

Monday, April 4, 2016



Spring is symbolic of renewal and growth.
And it is in this spirit that I happily announce the re-launching of Stephanie’s Epiphanies this month.

I'm back! Yeah!

Over the winter hiatus, I took some needed time to reflect, regroup and re-assess my creative vision, blogging approach, and personal commitment. Thank you for your patience during this process.

I also had an important “epiphany” during this period of reflection.I discovered that there’s truth to the expression: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Time apart enabled me to really recognize, embrace and appreciate how much I enjoy interacting with you, learning from you, laughing with you, sharing thoughts and experiences, keeping you informed, and building a supportive community.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that I value your time, readership, feedback and friendship throughout the years.

Okay…enough of the “sappy” stuff. J

So, what can you expect from the “new and improved” version of Stephanie’s Epiphanies?

Ÿ  Greater consistency--With at least one post per week
Ÿ  Greater diversity--With more guest posts and topic variety
Ÿ  Greater interaction
Ÿ  And more…

Spring has sprung. And I am bursting with new ideas, new energy, and a new direction.
I hope you’ll join me for the journey!

Peace and Blessings,