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Community Property: HBCU Homecoming Edition

First of all, there is nothing in the world like the HBCU experience. If you haven’t experienced it first-hand, do you really exist?

The HBCU experience consists of long lines in financial aid, trying to make it to the cafe before it closes, counting down the minutes before you bounce when your Instructor is late, waiting for checks to clear on days of away games so you and your teammates will have meal money. It includes lifelong friendships, deep understanding of black pride, black beauty, black excellence, empowerment and Homecomings that are made for Beyoncé documentaries.

Speaking of Beyoncé, her Netflix documentary “Homecoming”, an ode to HBCUs, that debuted this week was absolutely mind-blowing.

The elephant in the room, that was overlooked in all the hype about HBCUs is the possibility that hookups occur at homecoming with people you otherwise had long forgotten about. Homecoming is a chance to flirt a little with an old crush, reignite flames with college beaus, and shoot your shot with others you had absolutely zero chance with 20 years ago.

Homecomings have destroyed some marriages, made some babies, created amazing love stories, and yes, they have caused some fights of grown ass men and women, fighting over some box shaped classmate who thought they were just having fun during Homecoming weekend.

Then, there’s always that one guy on campus that comes back every Homecoming to see how many women he can score and manipulate along the way. The one that has already noticed your weaknesses on social media, has cyber flirted leading up to Homecoming and waits for the right opportunity to make his move. He makes sure his social media image is one that shows him as an amazing catch. He shows you what he wants you to see and doesn’t want you asking too many questions.

You find out that this weak man has plotted on countless classmates over the years while sharing the same sad story over and over about how he’s raising his kids or how he left his wife or, how he makes a lot of money and just wants to be happy. He tells you (and everyone else) the stories of how his service after college led him to the life he has now and he paints himself as the ideal man, worthy of representing at the University’s Male Summit. By now, you realize that you aren’t the only one he’s been exploiting.

But wait, this isn’t exclusive to the trifling men who take advantage of women during Homecoming. Women, we need to have more self respect and understanding of our own worth to not allow ourselves to be played. We have the power to control the situation and decide if we want to toy with his head during Homecoming, have our own fun, or find ourselves being fooled as if we were 18year old freshmen all over again.

Homecoming has changed many lives, for good and bad. When it comes to relationships and hookups, adults have to make adult decisions and decide what toxicity you want to let into your life. Homecoming should be celebrated for the beautiful blackness that it is.  There’s nothing beautiful about drama, mental stress, or headaches that come from a broken man/woman preying on other broken beings.

We may never outgrow HBCU Homecoming shenanigans but we can control our peace once Homecoming is over. Leave the Community Property at graduation. It was never intended to show up post college life.

Peace!

FYI, This isn’t my experience (😉), as I’ve never hooked up with anyone at Homecoming (I don’t usually attend) but the realities exist. Somewhere, there’s a predator, preying on multiple 40 year old women, who has zero intention of ever being serious or respectful. Leave them where they are. You deserve better.

However, knowing me, if anything (or anyone) in this piece sounds familiar, send me a message and perhaps I can help you connect the dots. ✌🏽

 

 

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One (1) Week In Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania- Solo!

* FYI: my hair did it’s own thing this trip. Just ignore it 😩😂

Now that I am back home, I’m finally decompressed and ready to put my itinerary in print and share with others who want to travel to Africa and may not have months or even weeks to do so. After finding a $500 round trip flight to Nairobi, I immediately purchased it and began planning my vacation. I only had a week and thoroughly got the most out of it. If you’ve been following my blog, much of this isn’t new to you. If you just joined in, this is how I recently I spent a week in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania….. Solo!

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Monday: My flight left on a Sunday night for a 3 hour layover in Switzerland. After landing in Nairobi, an hour later than expected, at 8:30pm on Monday, I was immediately picked up by my pre-arranged driver, Gitau, and driven to my Airbnb by Gitau’s brother Peter. My Airbnb was down a long, dark, dirt road that I somehow managed to laugh off and trust Peter to get me there safely. He did and when I arrived, I was greeted by the house manager, Evelyne, and promptly took a bath and prepared for the early day ahead.

Tuesday: I was picked up by my driver at 5am for a Game Drive through Nairobi National Park. It was important to be at the park as early as 6:00 when the doors open to beat the lines and comfortably enter. I had previously paid the fees for my guide so I only had to pay the entry fee into the park. Payment was only accepted by credit card so be sure to have that payment method available. Evelyne had packed me a lunch, coffee and water so, when I got hungry, I had food available to eat and share with my guide. After enjoying a day at the park, I went back to my Airbnb for the rest of the day to rest and enjoy the views. Amazingly, my Airbnb overlooked the park so I was able to witness several of the animals from my own backyard.

 

 

 

Wednesday: I woke up to breakfast prepared by Evelyne: eggs, ham (I think), toast and coffee. I was picked up for previously arranged trips to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center. The elephant orphanage was pretty interesting to hear the multiple stories of how the elephants ended up at the orphanage. It was also lovely to see the many children gathered on field trips. I met another cool solo traveler from Houston but unfortunately failed to get her information to stay in touch. After the orphanage, I went to the Giraffe Center where I was able to pet the giraffes and take wonderful pictures, including a few of me kissing one. Note: the giraffes we petted are the SAME giraffes people pay $700 to stay at Giraffe Manor to pet and take pictures with. I ended my day ordering delivery and feeding the resident bushbaby before heading to bed for an early morning flight to Tanzania.

Thursday: I had an early morning flight to Tanzania (Zanzibar airport) and was able to check into an amazing bungalow in Paje that I found on Expedia. Panorama Oceanview was also listed on Airbnb but, because I had points, I decided to use Expedia and save more money. After getting settled, I immediately changed into my bathing suit and took a stroll on the beach. I found a shop called “Mama Africa” and went in to check out their services. I ended up getting a massage for $20US and some much needed sleep. After my massage, I went back to Panorama and took some pics worthy of Instagram before getting ready for my dinner reservations at the famous The Rock Restaurant. Reservations are required at this place and transportation can be arranged on their website. Everything about The Rock was to my satisfaction and I ended the night on a small boat, being taken to my awaiting ride back to my bungalow.

 

Friday: I was picked up for a tour of Stone Town. Stone Town is full of culture, religion, and history. I spent my day meditating in slave chambers, amazed at fish auctions, and at peace during lunchtime Call to Prayer. After walking the entire city, I shopped at markets and just enjoyed the energy of the people. If you plan to visit Stone Town, be sure to wear or carry something to cover your shoulders (women) as well as wear comfortable shoes. Tanzania is a Muslim country and it is respectful to cover your shoulders when walking through the markets. The narrow, stone roads are also rough on the legs if you’re doing a lot of walking. After returning to my bungalow, I walked the beach again and ended up back at Mama Africa for another massage. I ended my evening and my time in Zanzibar with dinner and drinks at Hotel on The Rock, a cool bar in between Panorama and Mama Africa.

 

Saturday: I had an early flight back to Nairobi where Gitau was waiting to take me to my new Airbnb. This was the coolest Airbnb I’ve ever stayed in, a treehouse! After settling in, I went to lay by the pool, then have lunch at the onsite restaurant. The restaurant was a pretty popular spot so the energy was just what I needed. I had an Airbnb experience planned but the host unfortunately canceled on me. Instead, I decided to call an Uber and head to the Massai Market to do some shopping for family and friends. My day ended with a relaxing bath in the most unique bathtub I’ve ever seen, before falling asleep in the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in.

 

Sunday: For my last day on the Continent, I planned a day of self care. I woke up and went for a walk through the neighborhood so I could take in the fresh air and wave to strangers. I called an Uber to take me to Entim Wellness Sanctuary (https://www.entimsidai.com/)  where I had a day planned of yoga, massage and peace. Unfortunately, yoga was canceled for the day so I received a glass of wine and walked the grounds in search of calm. I found it. I took a few more IG pics and headed in for my massage where I snored uncontrollably and got some really good sleep. After my massage, I decided to have a stretch session so my therapist grabbed some mats and prepared the grounds outside for stretching and rehydration. This was truly a peaceful day. I eventually had dinner and drinks back at the restaurant of my Airbnb, took a bath, and reflected on my amazing vacation.

 

Kenya and Tanzania brought me peace and joy. It brought me calm in the midst of chaos and frustration. While my life has been amazing for some time now, being on this journey, alone, meant the world to my inner peace. While traveling solo may not be for everyone, it’s surely a way to discover “self”. I certainly did that.

Peace!

If you want an alternative to a hotel on your travels, use this link and get $40 off on your first stay: https://www.airbnb.com/c/cherronl?currency=USD

If you need a ride almost anywhere in the world, use this link and start earning free rides: https://www.uber.com/invite/caarx1b3ue

If you’d like the links to either of my Airbnb stays, or my drivers, let me know and I’ll forward them to you.

 

 

 

 

Choosing To Be Saved vs Being a Savior

In many of my travels, I’m sure you have seen me (or my travel friends) taking school supplies, books, or toys.

Well, if you’ve been following my journey to Africa (Nairobi and Tanzania), you may notice that I haven’t done any of that.

You see, this journey was more for me than for anyone else. This journey wasn’t about showing poverty and America’s idea of uncivilized people. America shows us enough of that.

My journey was about healing and educating myself and also showing you that there’s more to Africa than what we have seen on tv.

What I have seen are children running to buses, many carrying heavy books with no backpacks. I’ve seen mothers waiting outside of mansions, hoping to have work for the day. I’ve seen men carrying flashlights, walking to their jobs at 5am.

I’ve seen children playing while sharing bananas, families praying, entrepreneurs hustling, and work ethic that is unmatched back home.

On my visit, I’ve seen pride. Pride of a people that have had so much taken from them. Whether due to colonization or corruption, there’s a certain amount of resiliency that has empowered me to be better and work harder. I owe it to the ancestors to do so.

On my visit to Africa (Nairobi and Tanzania for all those “AFRikA is A CoNTINent” people), I see people that may  be struggling but, I know back home, we are as well. Therefore, we have no right to look down on a place we have taken so much from and still have our own issues of poverty, corruption, disease and violence.

So, while I didn’t travel to Africa to be any kind of savior, I guarantee, she saved me. Nairobi and Tanzania are only a portion of Africa. But, they are Africa… and she is beautiful! She is peaceful. She is genuine. She is love….

Hakuna Matata! Peace!

 

 

The Accountability Conference That Perhaps Should Have Been Called Something Else

My Facebook page and inbox has a life of it’s own. I’m constantly bombarded with stories of everyone’s children, people seeking advice, others who just need to vent. I’m always a listening ear.

I usually take Facebook praises with a grain of salt because half the people who praise me for the transparency of my life are people I either don’t know and don’t half know their intentions. However, there have been many who have reached out to me through the years who I felt were genuinely moved by everything my life has turned out to be, knowing where I started.

A few months back, after taking an inspirational trip home, I was asked about putting together an event in Martinsville, as I had posted of events I was hosting in my current community. I was told “If you ever do anything in Martinsville, be sure to let me know.” So that got my juices flowing and I came up with an amazing concept for a Conference that would be inclusive to all and bring some of the most passionate and inspiring voices back home to a city that deserves so much.

The “It Starts Now! Accountability Conference” was birthed and I worked hard to secure a location, speakers, food, door prizes and a platform that would resonate with everyone in attendance.

It wasn’t long before I realized that not very many people were interested in “Accountability.”

Maybe that particular word was a turn off. Maybe I should have called it a “Jubilee” and marketed it to churches for another event to lift hands in praise but ignore the action it would take afterwards. Or maybe I should have called it an “Empowerment Conference” and created another event where women left with lipstick, posters and excitement but no actual plan that it would take to carry out their visions.

Maybe Martinsville just wasn’t ready for an event with this concept.

Or, maybe I had burned so many bridges through my social media “realness” that so many people just didn’t want to support an event put on by me, regardless of the fact that it had nothing to do with me but everything to do with everyone else living their best lives and reaching all of their potential.

The Accountability Conference would have done just that. Instead, weekly I received messages from people asking me questions like: How many people are registered? Who is coming so far? Can you lower the price more? Can I just come Friday? Do I have to participate in everything?

Accountability for oneself starts with not worrying about what others are doing. It doesn’t put off opportunities because of doubt or uncertainty of others. Accountability has been the most important thing I have learned over the years in order to overcome my failures and be as successful as I have. The friends I wanted to bring were some of the most amazing people who have all been a part of my own personal accountability. I wanted to share this with you. But, you weren’t ready.

Thank you to those of you who showed your interest by registering, entering contests and shared any of the posts. I appreciate you and I promise, you’ll be the first to receive a ticket if I ever choose to do this again.

Peace!

 

A Boy and his Dog

The struggle was real.

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Back when we used to send Christmas cards lol

I don’t remember what friend Chris visited that had a dog but all I know is, he suddenly wanted one. He and his closest friend knew I’d be the one to give in and get a dog. Every day turned into questions of what kind, where we would get one from and whether we could put that into our budget. Of course the answer to the last question was “no” but as his mother, I always figured out a way.

The day we picked up Max was almost his last day. When he was handed off to us, he jumped and I accidentally let go of his leash. Max ran across four lanes of traffic and stopped before second guessing his escape. He looked back at us and navigated his way back to safety. Maybe in that moment, he knew he was destined to be a part of the Lampkins’ family. Maybe in that moment, he saw his future of playing on soccer fields, being chased by Chris and his friends, moving from home to home, spending weekends with his Pup-parents (grandparents), and eventually settling with his pup-parents where his last days would certainly be his best days.

We got Max in 2005. 2005. An abused, abandoned, beautiful companion. Max was half Jack Russell, half Labrador Retriever. He was so fast and so white that Chris and his friend Chase had initially named him “Snowball.”

Instead, Max was a part of the Lampkins’ family for 13 years. 13 years to love something that was bigger than ourselves. A dog that couldn’t talk to us but could force us to talk to each other. A dog that wasn’t aware of the struggle that he was brought into but who ended his life far from a struggle. With his Pup-parents, he had everything. Pillows everywhere, food, attention and time.

The last few months were tough but we were prepared for today. In March, we were told Max only had a few days left. Perhaps in that moment of almost running away that day in 2015, Max realized he had already fought so much that now he wanted to LIVE. That he did. Until his last day when nothing else worked on him.

No more struggle Max, rest our love.

Special thanks to my parents for taking care of Max when our struggle became too much. Thank you for loving him as you do us. Chris and I are forever grateful. ❤️

Peace!

* Like Max, none of us know our last day so LIVE as if you’ll live forever.

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Being a Source of Support, Not Pain: A Young Mother’s Experience

One of the most profound Facebook disagreements I’ve ever had was the time someone posted a story indirectly chastising a young mother for the way she was parenting her child.

I can’t remember the exact details of the post but apparently the child was “out of hand” and the mother wasn’t doing enough to calm them. Or maybe the child dropped their bottle and kept putting it back in their mouth without washing. I can’t remember but I remember the judgment came when the poster insinuated that the reason she couldn’t handle the child was that she was too young to even have one and didn’t know what she was doing.

As a young mother myself, I took great offense to this since the person who posted it was someone deeply religious and involved in the church. Therefore, my first question was whether anything was done to help her or show her a different way to handle her child.

Out of nowhere, a close, religious family member of mine chimed in with a comment about “babies having babies” and that she shouldn’t have what she can’t care for.

My first emotion was one of rage and anger. I wanted to eliminate this family member from any sentiment I had on what family should mean because surely, that wasn’t it.

Her comment was personal. It was directly to me and how she probably felt about my situation all along. I didn’t know where that response came from but I knew that how far I came had everything to do with people like her who never imagined I’d be where I am now.

A few months ago while at a funeral back home I encountered my Sunday School teacher who sought me out to apologize for how she had once treated me when it came to taking care of my son.

I once brought my son to class and she demanded I give him to her because in her words, “you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Nah, I probably didn’t know what I was doing but, if ever there was a time to show me, it was then, in the church.

I put myself in the place of so many others  who may not know what they’re doing. Raising their kid, seeking a new position, or finding your own identity.

Society’s job, the village’s job, is to show someone else how to make it with the tools you have to succeed.

That day in that office, a young mother could have found a mentor or her place in society, in spite of her inabilities to be the “perfect mother” in the eyes of someone else.

Instead, she received judgment and ridicule from someone who also brought me more pain.

That relative. Not holding grudges is a work in progress for me. I’m not there yet.

Be better, do better. When someone needs support, be their support. Not their source of pain.

Peace!

Exhausted

It’s exhausting to focus so much on all the injustices and discrimination my people face every day. It’s exhausting to even think about what has happened to this country by electing a sexist bigot who makes excuses for rapists and racists….

I could go on and on about this stuff daily but truth is, I’m exhausted. 

It’s not my job to explain things to everyone. 

I’m not obligated to debate ANYone about ANYthing. 

I don’t feel the need to help every cause or attend every function.

This shit isn’t healthy. 

You still don’t know which words to use appropriately and you still post fake stories without any thought. So nothing I have done on this platform has changed you. 

Instead, I think I have changed. 

Life is incredibly short. I cringe when I think about the time I’ve wasted being petty and condescending. Some necessary, other times not so much.

I’m not going anywhere. Instead, I just think that it’s time to be a little more productive before life passes me by and I miss it. 

Where is this coming from? Honestly, I found myself getting extremely pissed off with people during Aretha Franklin’s funeral and thinking about life with the subsequent high profile deaths that followed. I realized that judgement, ignorance or being stagnant in our thoughts   keeps us from growing. 

I don’t ever want to be so angry at others that it keeps me from growing. I don’t ever want to look at another person and feel that they are in my way of being the best that I can be because of their judgment. I don’t ever want to worry about “what if?” 

I have come a long way. I don’t take this life for granted. I don’t sugarcoat anything yet, I strive to make an impact in everyone I come in contact with…

So, in order to be the best me, I must do some self evaluation and self care. 

Forgive me for not posting everything that’s happening in the world as I have been accustomed to sharing with you. You are just as capable of doing your own research and studying. You also have a responsibility to do so for yourself. 

If you get nothing else from this rambling post, I hope you understand my emphasis that life is short. Eat the cake, take the trip and love YOURSELF before you put your energy into anyone else. 

Peace! 

Join me on my Facebook page (not my personal page) https://www.facebook.com/CherronRambles/