Square Peg Stories. (#2)

Welcome to Friyay, and welcome to our second Square Peg Story. (Look for this feature twice a month on Fridays.)

yay

Today, you’re going to meet Lauren. I’ve known this lovely beacon of light for several years now and have always been impressed by her positivity, her smile, her talent, and her fashion sense, among other things. Everyone needs a Lauren in their life. Meet her below.

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Tell me how you feel you stand out from the norm.
LL3What is the norm?! LOL I ask myself that all the time. I will say I never felt I stood out from the norm because I don’t even feel normal.  As a black girl growing up in the Bronx, you automatically get labeled as this rough, tough heartless person before you even open your mouth or people get to know you. I have the same feelings/insecurities as any woman no matter where she’s from.  I keep things bottled up and the slightest thing (like my coat pocket getting stuck on the doorknob) can send me into a crying fit like a baby. I was always told I was sensitive and it always stuck to me as a negative trait, something not normal. However, being sensitive is actually a normal thing. It means I feel things deeply and have a strong desire to bring happiness to the ones who I love and not have them feel pain. So I stand out by being true to who I am as a sensitive, full of emotion type of woman with her own sense of style that fits her outspoken shy personality.  It took an artist like Kelis to really help me see that standing out from the norm as a black woman was super cool and dope. To this day I still embrace that feeling!

What’s a time you took your own path and chose the road not traveled?
Okay so this is going to sound funny but what I can think of is a situation when I was much younger.  My sense of style was always different than my sisters or anyone for that matter (so I thought). I showed them an outfit and my eldest sister said, “I mean, I LL2wouldn’t wear it but if you like it, then so be it.”  My mom said I looked dejected because I really wanted it and was on my way to put it back but she said, “Lauren, you love it! It doesn’t matter what other people think.  This is you, mixing patterns and colors that don’t go together.  Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about what you like and want”.  LET ME TELL YOU HOW PROLIFIC THAT WAS TO ME!!!  That spoke to me in so many ways that it stuck with me to this day.  Many of my friends now will say “Somehow what you have on Lauren doesn’t make sense to me , but it makes perfectly good sense on you!” or they see something and say, “That is so you, Lauren. I see you rocking this!”  I have changed the narrative of feeling dejected into feeling inspired. I don’t necessarily take a road not traveled but I do travel that road in a way that I like and makes me happy.
What would you tell your 15 year old self?
OH 15yr old Lauren……first let me give you hug.  Your life is going to get much worse before it can get better and that will be a lesson that will help you during your tough times as an adult.  You are beautiful, you are unique and not everyone will love it or like you but YOU will be proud of who you are.  Don’t let rejection bring you down.  People reject what they are not ready for in their life and my dear WHOA! what you have to offer in love, friendship, talent and heart will shake even the tallest mountain!  Your presence will be felt in a room and your smile, your smile will be the one thing that makes lions purrrr. Make sure to always smile bright wherever you go, whomever you’re around and whatever you are doing. It will make others feel special and loved.  Don’t let anyone tell you you are too strong; you have been through soooo much that others would’ve broke under the pressure and your endurance under this pressure has produced a beautiful rare pearl.  Wear it proudly but allow your heart to be loved. You are worthy of that although no one has ever shown you it.  Men will come and go but you stay true to yourself and one day SOMEONE will appreciate your beautiful rough pearl self.  Love you always even when you don’t!!
LL1
Who are you?
I am Outspoken Shyness!! I am outspoken when I need to be but oh so shy at the same time.  I speak my mind but hide it behind a blushing smile LOL.  I am a lover of all things dance. I love to dance in supermarkets, in the streets, it just doesn’t matter where! I love to travel. I love, no, I am in love with all things Italian. I tell people I am Italian at times. I have a song for every situation in life, even if it’s not my situation and I will sing it for you lol. I am a woman who would love to be in love but until that happens, I will photograph the love I feel in my heart. I am an ambivert at heart.  I overthink everything and already know what you will say after reading this because I thought of it while I was typing all of this.  I am a city girl with a country heart and a love for the outdoors.  That’s who I am.  Lauren Layne…Just 2 LLs.
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Full of life and sincerity, no? Thank you, Lauren! Your kind words to your own self are reminders that, as women, we are our first fans, advocates, and true loves. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I take the following from your responses:  People reject what they are not ready for in their life and my dear WHOA! what you have to offer in love, friendship, talent and heart will shake even the tallest mountain! Please follow Lauren on the ‘Gram: @Just2LLs
Keep telling your own stories, dear reader, and share them if you can.

 

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

If you live alone like me and still have dress-up time during this quarantine (I happily put on makeup and shed the sweats for my weekly worship Zoom meetings and virtual ministry), selfies become a bit tiresome. Because all you largely do is selfie, quarantine or no.

Alas: I have a solution, dear Singleton. You probably know this stuff already, but sharing is caring. 

  1. Get you a tripod. There are awesome options on Amazon. I got this one and love it immensely. It’s basically a selfie stick and a tripod in one. Best thing is you can either landscape or portrait the photos/videos. (Yes, I just turned those nouns into verbs.) The one I purchased also came with a Bluetooth remote, so you can snap away from wherever you like in your home. Just pair it up with your camera/smartphone.
  2. Set up the tripod/phone accordingly.
  3. Photo. shoot.

I did this last Thursday before my Zoom worship meeting and let me tell you. I loved it. And can I just say, as you will see below: patterns mean nothing when you’re at home and no one can see your bottom half. *wink* Check out my slideshow below.

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I got that dazzling blouse from Amazon (are you shopping from Amazon yet? Because: amazing) and the skirt from my beloved Ross. The lipstick I’m wearing is a matte shade from Wet and Wild that I picked up during my Walmart essential item shopping trip last week. 

In all seriousness: as a woman who loves dressing up and looking her best for herself, on a completely self-blooming level, the beginning of the lockdown wasn’t easy. Even with my weekly meetings, I felt like a total lump. Add my baby-steps fitness schedule and yeah, I was down and out. But in time, and in trying to seek the brighter side, these little things–photoshoots, dressing up for no reason, which I prescribe, as well–have made a difference. Do whatever you need to do to feel better, to smile brighter, and to not feel like a lump. 

Tell me what you’ve been doing to creatively enhance your virtual life in the comments. Bon Monday. 

Square Peg Stories. (#1)

Welcome to a brand new feature on TSP.

yaass

By now, I’m sure you’ve captured the following about this little corner of the Internets:

  1. Women’s empowerment means the world to me.
  2. Every woman has a journey and a story, and I’m significantly interested in both.
  3. It’s not just about me.

All that said, we have a new feature here on TSP: sharing the inspiring/empowering/personal journeys of other women. I’m blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of women/sister friends whose individual paths in life can be mirrors of inspiration for others, and it’s my privilege to share these with you. Today, we’re sharing the first Square Peg Story. Meet Tiara.

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Tell me how you feel you stand out from the norm.
Is it weird that I don’t think I stand out from the norm? There was a time that I felt that I did, but in a negative way. I always felt that I was the only one with body and self esteem issues, the only one with mommy and daddy issues. I thought that I was the only one who felt I was undeserving of happiness and love because I just wasn’t good enough. It was a very lonely feeling. However, once I started sharing my story and opening up to people I realized that I was not alone. There are so many other people, or women out there that deal with the same things I do.  That’s why I say I’m not that different.

What’s a time you took your own path and chose the road not traveled?Tiara2
Hmmm. I think for me that was probably when I decided to pack up and move to Charlotte, NC. It was a year after I graduated from college. I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to go. The odd thing about it was that moving there would be the first time I was going somewhere with no family and no contacts. I just–I was looking for a reason to believe in myself, and to believe that I could thrive and survive on my own. I knew what I wanted for myself and I was starting to refocus on my life spiritually. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get that spiritual growth if I stayed where I was. So despite the concerns of those closest to me, I made the leap. It was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I met amazing people, accomplished some spiritual goals, including getting baptized. It was great!

What would you tell your 15 year old self?
A LOT! Lol. I’d tell my 15 year old self to be vulnerable. There were times that I was told i was a cry baby and punished for crying so I learned to hide my feelings. Which has made expressing my feelings a challenge now that I am an adult. I’d also tell myself that it is okay to make mistakes, just don’t let them define you. Don’t be afraid to fail. The way people, family, parents and friends treat you is not a reflection of you, it’s them that need to do or be better. Ignore the negative voices around you. Never change your heart. Give the best of yourself and your love to YOU FIRST, then pour into others!

Who are you?
Wow! Good question. I’m still learning how to answer that. I shock myself every day.Tiara1 But I guess I’d say that I’m a person that loves love even though it hasn’t always been kind to me. I’m a hopeless romantic. Sometimes too hopeless. Lol. I’m a dancer, and a music junkie. I’m an over thinker, and a perfectionist. I’m a person that loves to laugh until I cry. I’m an introvert, a writer. A blogger, and now I am a self love junkie!

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Thank you, Tiara! Your willingness to share your journey is a breath of fresh air. TSP wishes you well on your continuing journey, and I take the following from your transparent responses: Give the best of yourself and your love to YOU FIRST, then pour into others! Please follow Tiara at her lovely blog here.

Keep telling your own stories, dear reader, and share them if you can.

because it’s Wednesday.

This is certainly unprecedented.

newedition

We greet Wednesday with not just one person, but five of them. (Well, still one, but we’ll talk about that in a second.)

Let me tell you how I discovered New Edition. Back in the 80s, the kids in school would sing, over and over again, “sunny days…” But they would stop there. And I would wonder what they were singing. Eventually I found out. They were singing the lyrics to “Can You Stand the Rain?” Days later, one evening, I finally heard the song on the old stereo in the room I shared with my sister. I stood there, happily frozen, listening, my ears swooning. As Ralph sang, “And I need somebody who will stand by me, through the good times and bad times, she will always, always be right there…” I declared that I was that girl. I could be that girl. It didn’t matter that I was 10 years old. It just didn’t matter. An NE 4 Lifer was born.

A Ralph Tresvant 4 Lifer was also born that day. (Second from the left in the photo above.) Every girl had their favorite. He was mine. He was and still is my 10 year-old girl crush. Still swooning in 2018. I told my mother that I would marry him, by the way, and I think she’s still rooting for that to happen.

The guys, to this day, make me smile. They just do. Their music, the fact that through everything, they’re still singing and dancing…ahhhhhhhhhh

Let’s end here, shall we?

 

Blogvember #18: About your Author. (Friday Taunts)

Been a while since you resurrected this feature, huh?
Well, I wanted to give you a break since you’re always so pleased when we do it.

By now, though: don’t your readers enough about you?
Nah, we haven’t even touched the tip of that iceberg.

Fine, fine. What’s going on with you? Are you eating tons of beef and wearing cowboy hats yet?
Perish the thought. I’ve yet to even see a cowboy hat.

Really?
A lot of people are transplants like me. And the natives I’ve met seem quite content to go hatless.

Interesting. What else is new? You still eating like it’s going out of style?
That was way harsh, Tai.

Sorry. But remember that you’ve accessed the meaner part of your personality when we have these silly conversations. You basically asked for it.
True.

Anyway, how is your eating and exercising and all that?
Much better. I’ve resumed my regular fitness schedule, left all the donut shops behind—we’re doing well.

Good. What else is new, pussycat?
You’re effective at pretending like you actually care.

I learned from the best.
Nothing else is new. My fro is handling the new environment better than I expected.

Oh, yeah?
Indeed. You know how temperamental she is. But I’ve been really moisturizing and babying her, so we’ll see. Next year will be a full-fledged summer here so she may implode.

Perhaps a protective style, then?
Look at you, giving advice!

I read enough about this stuff on here; might as well join in. Speaking of cowboys—
We were not discussing cowboys.

We talked about their hats, so yes, we were discussing them. Have you met anyone yet? You know…wink, wink…
Oh, Lord.

What? We’re all thinking it.
No, I haven’t.

No one?
No one. Unless Idris has decided to start dressing like John Wayne.

Oh, Lord.
Now you know what it feels like.

Switching reels: are you writing?
I am! Finishing up stories and starting new ones. All at the same time, of course, because this is how I do.

When is the third book coming?
I’m really shooting for early 2017.

Yeah?
Yeah.

Care to wager on that?
That’s my cue.

Come back! I want to taunt you!

try: Artists Series #1

If you’re an artist (writing, painting, singing, sculpting, dance, figuring out Math equations which, to me, is a true art form), perhaps, like me, your main medium is often influenced by another art form. For example, if you draw, you may love dance as a source of inspiration. As a writer, I find myself inspired by a long list of other art forms, most of them visual: the performing arts, fine arts, etc. I can look at a painting and fly off the artistic rails, so to speak, my creative drive climbing to giddy levels. (Or not. I haven’t written creatively in a while, save for this blog. And it’s why I have this blog. More on that later.) Anyway, the latter thesis statement is an introduction to a new feature here at TSP. Quite simply, I’ll be sharing things that inspire me. From paintings to photography to dance routines to music, I’d love to feature the works that have moved/inspired me in the past and in the now. You like? Cool, huh? First up: a music video.

I will say that music videos stopped being relevant to me when people started throwing dollar bills in the air and all the flashing lights took away from the wonder of the medium. I mean, come on. My first music video experience was watching a skinny guy in high-water leather pants stepping on a ground that lit up as he walked. Who or what could compare after that? (He also solved a potential gang war and walked on the moon. You know who I’m talking about.) These days, the videos I tend to watch are on YouTube and are of artists that I personally enjoy.

Several years ago, I discovered a music video called “Try” by Nelly Furtado. You guys. The video is just rich with story. I relate to story. No surprise there. When I first watched it, I was writing in my mind. It was that compelling. And when you combine Nelly’s lyrics to the visuals (that plaintive we are we are we are in love near the end of the song/video and the images that match continue to take my breath away), it’s hands down one of my favorite things to watch. And why am I drawn to it so significantly? Ultimately, the video reminds me of the primary topic I revisit time and again in my fiction, in my poetry, what I’m drawn to in life: the emotional connection between people. Whether that connection is strong or fraying, it’s the topic what I ultimately go back to.

Enjoy. In the comments, tell me whatever you like: if you enjoyed Nelly’s video, what inspires you, whether you also swooned when that skinny guy lit up every surface he touched. 

Dressing Room Diaries #1: Stripes and Dots.

Sometimes I go to the store and I try things on. If you know anything about This Square Peg, you’ll know that doing that, especially during cold weather or when I’m bloated, hurts me. But baby steps. Anywho, sometimes I buy said outfits, sometimes I don’t. I almost always take pics of what I try on, though, so I can send them to my friends/fashion gurus to occasionally get their thoughts and/or to marvel at my growing baby muscles. (See here for proof that they are indeed growing.) And then the blogging epiphany came: this should be a feature on TSP. And so welcome to Dressing Room Diaries, where we look at what I try on in dressing rooms and discuss why or why not I purchased what I wore. Sometimes we’ll talk about pesky people who try to push open my dressing room door because it doesn’t dawn on them that someone is inside. Good times ahead.

This interesting dress immediately caught my eye while I was in Ross a few days ago. I’m sure you can guess why: the contrasting prints. I’m certainly not a stickler for keeping prints in the same family, for one thing, so I was definitely intrigued by it. It would also be a new look for me, being that although I’m not a prints stickler, I still haven’t ventured into the contrasting print world, either. After looking and examining and studying, I decided to buy it. A few days later, however, I returned the dress. Ultimately, I decided to go with something else. Of course, I could have kept this in my closet, but hey: I wanted my money back. Ha.

One thing I will say: I need more contrasting prints in my life. Bold, funky, and different–all good things.

Bienvenue, Dressing Room Diaries…

(p.s.: Maybe you’re wondering about the straightness of my hair? Unlike a friend of mine who panicked that I had returned to the creamy crystal meth/relaxer (not even), you likely guessed that it’s just a flat iron and that I remain a naturalista. You guessed correctly. After a much-needed trim, my stylist blew out my hair and then flat ironed it. Did you also guess that all that straightness disappeared after I worked out yesterday? Another gold star for you. Ah, well. C’est la vie.)

Tell me: do you like trying things on? Or are you a dressing room baby like me?

Before and After.

Happy to let y’all know that I contributed a piece for my good friend AB’s new blog. I also hold the privilege of being the very first contributor for her new baby, which is awesome when you consider how much I love supporting my friends, especially when it comes to writing/blogging.

Check it out here, please. I talk about my once tenuous relationship with “Before and After” photos and their impact on my gaining health/weight loss journey.

And kindly follow her blog, won’t you?

Keep Your Voice Down When Making Declarations of Love: Random Memory #1

Welcome to a new feature on This Square Peg, where I share the random memories that come to me during my morning commute to work! You’re welcome.

There’s always a catalyst to the memories. This particular morning, as I stepped off the train, I saw a young woman who reminded me of a girl that was in my Introduction to Shakespeare class in college. Immediately, I was

you ain't never lied, Wills.
you ain’t never lied, Wills.

transported back: back to those heady days when I was a happy English major and a Math class fugitive, and specifically, when I was head over heels in love with my Shakespeare professor. Regarding the luurrve, can you blame me? Prof E was a true lover of the Bard (as was I, and still am), handsome, funny, and wore glasses. I swooned from day one.

So the Prof would hold these readings once a week, where members of the class would voluntarily meet and read a play–whether Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe or anyone in between, it was a fun way to get to know each other and discuss literary thoughts and conventions outside of class. Needless to say, I signed up as soon as possible. The night of the reading I joined, we were dismissed for a short break. After a pal and I grabbed something to munch on, we were heading back to the reading room. This was when it all happened, when I suddenly got all up in my feels over my professor. I’ll never forget the following conversation.

Me: I think I love him.
Pal: Who?
Me: Professor E, of course. I’m in love with him.
Pal: Oh, Lord.
Me: He’s amazing. He’s so smart. And funny. And cool. And awesome.
Pal: Ok, [Government Name], chill out, though. Keep your voice down.
Me: I can’t! I want to shout it from the rooftops. I love him!
Pal: Seriously, stop talking right now. Don’t say another word. Don’t.
Me (suddenly freezing and turning toward her): He’s behind us, isn’t he?
Pal: Yeah.

Like clockwork, Prof E walked from around us. Of course, to add to the sweet misery of it all, he turned around, grinned at me, and said he’d see us in the room. What happened next:

Me: I’m going to kill myself.
Pal: You’re not going to kill yourself.
Me: Yes, I am. We’re on the 3rd floor, right? I’ll jump right here, from this balcony.
Pal: Get away from that balcony. Look, it’s no big deal. So he knows you love him. He’s probably flattered.
Me: I want to die.
Pal: Later. We need to get back.

(Can I tell you how cool my old friend was back then? She was the senior to my junior, listened to most of my melodrama with the same dry, unruffled, and hilarious reaction, and let me escape the craziness of college days in her dorm room. The best.)

Anyway, as you can imagine, going back to that room took all the strength I could muster. But Prof E never made it awkward. After that day, we continued to have our interesting discussions, in and out of class, as if nothing had happened, as if I hadn’t declared my love for him on the third floor of the Johnson Center. Sigh. I’ll never forget your rimless glasses, Prof E.

This was brought to you by a random memory.