Who Says It’s Not Ladylike To Cuss?

“Fuck You!”

One of the most important self-preserving boundary establishing things I learned from my father is that, sometimes it’s necessary to meet people where they are. And some people will not understand you fully until you slap them with a few expletives!

I learned from Daddy that before I am anything, I am a wonderful human being amongst other human beings. Most are wonderful, but I will inevitably bump into some assholes and I need to be just as equipped to handle them as I am to handle the wonderful beings. In order to do that I have to have in my arsenal the tools that are effective against them, too!

You see, I’ve become good friends with some men because I had the balls to cuss them; to push them back – drawing hard fast lines – creating boundaries for how far they can go with me; earning their respect!

I’ve never had a man raise his hand to me (at least not my man – some lil’ bitch-ass I’d never have did once, but never a man of mine). An ex-husband did shove me once and then knowing that I was b-lining to my pistol (bought for me by my Daddy who also taught me to shoot it) he ran out of the house and stayed gone two days hoping I wasn’t still sitting in the “shoot” position. If I were too much of a lady to carry a pistol, I may have gotten my ass whipped that day, and then likely more days!

Being a lady is not about what words you use or don’t use – although most times it’s not necessary to cuss to get your point across, and some points aren’t worth cussing to make. It’s not about the clothes you wear or don’t wear. It’s not about the way you wear your hair, or the lack of hair you have. (High-five India Arie because, “I Am Not My Hair” hit the nail on the head.) Being a lady begins with respect for self and establishing boundaries – reinforcing those boundaries so that they are respected as you seek to live in harmony with others.

There are women who fuck anybody who asks, others who seek to fuck other people’s men – participating in PooNannie phoolery at its best; many are well covered in pink, adorned with ruffles and lace, in stilettos with all the finishing touches (mani/pedi) of a perceived lady and cuss words never part their lips.

There are others who quote bible scriptures as part of their regular conversation and speak death and destruction over those who oppose them, which to me is the epitome of cursing. However these same people will say it’s “ungodly” to cuss.

Don’t tell me that because I will tell you to go fuck yourself or to take a flying fuck at the moon or outright call you a motherfucker, when I deem it appropriate – meeting you where you are –  that I am not a lady. And if you do, then you can kiss my ass!

Sayofuckin’nara!

Here we grow…Grown IS Sexy! ;-)

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All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony

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One Word is Making Your Life Miserable – Pride

If you’re one of those people going around giving life a bad wrap, like “Life is a Bitch,” why don’t you go ahead and tell the truth about it? That perspective is not about life, it’s about you!

No, no, no…I am not calling you a bitch. I wouldn’t do that! (Well, I might but that would be a different post.) But if you have bought into the “if it ain’t one thing it’s another”, “I can’t catch a break”, “Every time I take one step forward I’m knocked two steps back” or “Life is a Bitch” theories , I beg to differ!

Life is a wonderful journey filled with unexpected gems that titillate the senses, pique curiosity and presents endless opportunities!

But P-R-I-D-E…that part of you that blocks you from feeling fully, accepting responsibility, being accountable and growing bountifully…Pride is a Bitch!

Here’s how you begin to change that:

  1. Allow yourself to feel e-v-e-r-y thing. The emotions you’re most afraid of feeling are the ones you need to feel the most.
  2. Be willing to take the ride that accepting responsibilities will send you on. When you own your flaws, wrongs, and dare to embark on the journey of making your NEXT Decision BETTER the entire world seeks to align with you and life begins to deliver wonderful things.
  3. Do what is expected of you – honor those in your space and respect authority. When you do, you’ll find that the world is a much kinder place. You really do, get what you give.
  4. Remain teachable. If you knew it all, your life wouldn’t be a bitch right now…know what I’m saying? Nobody, ever learns it all, neither should we. Life is adventurous because there is so much to learn and do.

Here’s a reality: life is as kind to you as you are to it! Regardless of what shows up – roll with it! And I promise you, life will begin to be kinder. It’s often more about how you perceive what is happening, than what’s really happening. 😉

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All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony

Beyond the Pain is Where You’ll Find Joy

Are you Scarred or Refined by Life’s Challenges?

Life Reflections. Be Ye Transformed.

When I look at my life’s hardest emotional moments they were also the most transforming times. It wasn’t the decisions that led me to circumstances that had the most gratifying impacts, it was the decisions to move beyond them. The most emotionally challenging times were also the most emotionally developing times. Here’s a snapshot of my transformational reflection.

Be Ye Transformed…

Life beyond moving from the comforts of home, NOLA with family to another city, only knowing one person more than 20 years ago as a young woman in search of  “more” for myself.

Life beyond, not the marriage, but the divorce was the most transforming (marrying is easy, so is staying in a marriage rather than mustering the courage to leave).

Life beyond health challenges that threatened psychological balance and quality of life.

Life beyond, leaving organized religion after 30 years and graduating from ministerial school in a mega church where I’d served for over a decade. Yep, I’m a church boycotting Minister.

Life beyond, divorcing again and moving cross-country away from everything and everybody I knew to intentionally shed everything I thought I knew in order to view life with no preconceived notions.

Life beyond stigmas and labels others wanted to define me as, that I refused to be limited by.

Life beyond, Hurricane Katrina because it happened, it didn’t happen TO me. Not just for losing all my stuff, but all the more challenging as director of public relations for the city of New Orleans with an inside view watching a wreck about to happen but with no authority to stop it.

Life beyond, businesses that didn’t turn profits. (Notice that I didn’t call them failures.)

Life beyond, accepting the betrayal of those who were supposed to love and support me.

Life beyond…

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind; what you THINK you know, how you THOUGHT things would be and be ever willing to grow when it’s uncomfortable, trusting that Source ‘got’ you – that’s faith in action! Trusting that Source is smarter than you are; that if it is, it’s supposed to be.

Today, I have a low tolerance for misery. It’s a decision. You could make it too. Join me. Life beyond pain and fear is where the real joy of living is, but you’ll only know that if you’ll Courage UP. Dare to embrace the adventurous journey just waiting to breath life back into you.

When I reflect over my life on the things that’s brought me the most joy they were preceded by things that brought me the most pain and/or a really scary situation.

Life begins when you’ll dare move, beyond. Grow with me…Grown IS Sexy! 😉

Feel free to leave a comment on some of your “Life Beyond” and transforming experiences. Go ahead, I’m listening! Help others to move beyond the pain. ;-)

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All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony

Divorce Is Not An Option

I believe that most people enter marriage without any thoughts of divorce. For many people, especially first-timers, it’s a dream realized; a mission accomplished. But for those of us who have been there we know that it’s just the beginning. The beginning of a journey that by its very nature is riddled with trials and complexities; joy and happiness are not by-products of marriage, but they can be the results of a decision each party makes demonstrated through respect for each other and intentional cultivation. And even then, the best intentions are no contest for life’s inevitable curve balls.

“Divorce is not an option.”

Divorce: The Only Option

To some, this declaration is a sign of commitment to the relationship, to others it’s more spiritual – a promise to God. I’ve declared it for both reasons at different times, and my experience is that it was a bondage mentality because sometimes divorce is the only option!

The best approach to any situation is with a flexible mind and pliable heart; fluid to adapt and balance your personal peace as the people, situations and circumstances change around you.

Marriage: A Series of Challenges
Whatever beliefs you enter marriage with, they will be tested. Whatever you believe about your mate will be tested. Whatever plans you make will be tested.

These challenges are all a part of the process of marriage, which inevitably alters your mentality about your marriage (mate). Nobody knows what their marriage will be until they’re in it, and I believe that everybody who’s ever been married has had, at least one, ‘what (the hell) have I done’ moment or ‘who (the hell) have I married’ moment.

If both parties enter the marriage with eyes wide opened, equipped and ready to ride the tides it can be an adventurous joyous journey that binds you all the more because you’re each, intent on learning more about each other and becoming skillful at uniting against issues rather than be divided because of them. Most individuals don’t know how to do that, so division usually prevails.

And after your mentality has been altered, one too many times…like, seeing unsavory things in your mate that you didn’t know was there, patterns emerging, friction looming, etc. (this list could be endless) and you’ve been divided enough that the personal affects in the marriage are not good for you as an individual, divorce has to be an option!

The reality is that, things aren’t always as they appear or they are exactly as they appear but change; sometimes too drastically to bear. In that case, one needs to know that there’s life after divorce. Sometimes just acknowledging that divorce may have to be a possibility could be enough to avoid it, but resisting it as a possibility will not dissolve marital issues.

So yes, “Divorce is not an option” WILL keep you married, but it won’t make you happy.

Marriages don’t end because of one person and their issues. Nobody is ever completely innocent – I don’t care what you’ve heard.

As my mind was transforming toward the end of both marriages, I came to two different realities with the same conclusions: I was not married to the contracts nor to God, but to men. Men that, in the end I declared, “if I knew then what I know now I never would have said, ‘I Do’”!

Lessons Learned Never Cost Too Much!
If divorce is not an option when you’re not happy AND things may not change than you’ve committed to a life of misery. Well, misery has repercussions that all involve misery and you’re the only one responsible for your happiness.

Every marriage, like everything else is filled with teachable moments – mostly, about ourselves. If you were really a student and learned, even if those experiences’ tuition was high, they were all valuable and in my opinion, never wasted – time, sweat neither money nor tears.

I believe it’s smart to recognize when a marriage has run its course and to keep it moving. You shouldn’t be shackled by a belief, nor should anybody be shackled to you.

I can’t even imagine still being married to either of those men (I’m not saying anything against them. This is about me) and if I’d remained in either of those marriages, I would not have evolved and grown to attract the people and experiences I have since them. Today, I have no regrets…not for saying I do, neither for changing my mind.

The only thing that’s not optional for me in life is my happiness, and I am the only one responsible for that! I’ve been divorced now for over a decade and often look back at those lives with bewilderment. My personal development producing the ability to lead self with independent thought and confidence now is a peaceful space. I SO, couldn’t do that then.

GREATEST LESSON: To really love somebody is demonstrated through absolute acceptance. If there’s anything, at all, that you’ve not embraced and try to change about him/her – I can assure you that divorce doesn’t have to be an option in your mind, it will be inevitable in your life. People can only live under those conditions, but, so long.

We’re Growin’ UP…Grown IS Sexy! 😉

And hey, I’m listening…tell me what you think – leave a comment.

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All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony

Don’t Let the Ted Williams Story be a Set Up for a Let Down

Ted, You're Looking Good!

One can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy for Ted Williams and his seemingly miraculous journey from homeless to hopeful. But unless a life transformation support system is put in place to secure his success he will soon be helpless, and possibly homeless, again.

It’s hard to find anybody who hasn’t been affected by addiction. Addicts and their family and friends know that it’s a BEAST! The combination of drugs, years of homelessness (especially after knowing a level of success), the added shame, isolation and criminal activity inevitably means a turbulent and long mental, emotional and physiological road ahead for Williams.

A Media and Marketing Ploy
Second chances are great, but let’s be real: These “miracles” of raining job opportunities and employment contracts for Ted Williams are not the end of his trials, but rather the beginning. His sudden access to income poses as much threat as they do potential, so failing to treat his situation holistically is nothing short of a set up for him and his family for even more, greater disappointment.

From Whence Ted Came

A real commitment to Ted Williams would include a life transformation support system that will teach him how to thrive in his new life. Anything other than that is a media ploy of good will that will only benefit its marketers.

(Since posting this blog much has happened with Ted. Here’s a time line of sorts – a journalists account of the media’s “inability to resist the rags to riches to rehab storyline”)

Mommy Cares, but Skeptical
As she should be after 20 plus years of promises and disappointments, “Mommy” (it’s what 54 year old Ted calls his mother) has more proof that Ted won’t make it than she does that he will. From all public accounts she seems to be set in her beliefs and ways.  Like all Mommies, Ms. Julia’s got her own issues. Sure, Mommy wants better for him. But she’s probably not capable of playing a supportive role, at least in the beginning, in Ted’s transformative journey toward stability.

Ms. Julia is who and what she is – for her son’s good or not. She clearly, above all, wants her son to succeed, to make the most of the new opportunities he’s been presented with. And she’s clearly naïve about the intrinsic nature of transformations because her message hasn’t changed – pray. But if natural talent and prayer were enough it would’ve been enough 20 years ago – it was not enough then, and it’s not enough now.

There are many other videos of Ms. Julia’s feelings about Ted. You’ll find them with a quick Google search or at the end of each of these there are links to others.

Have you ever had somebody who served up regular reminders of what a mess you’ve made of your life? Ms. Williams is consumed with the “shame” Ted’s brought on her and their family. She was incapable of just being happy for him; focusing on his being there with her after two decades apart; appreciating that her son is in a better position than she thought was possible for him; and savoring the moment.

Instead, she speaks more of the hurt, pain, shame, and disappointment Ted’s life has brought her than the opportunities for redemption (isn’t that what she’s been praying for?), sustainable living, reconciliation with his children and grandchildren, not to mention the gift to the world he can give again because the man does have a set of pipes that’s soothing to the soul.

Others are not your problem, rather what you BELIEVE about others.

Totally unintentionally, she’d keep him in the past – making it tough to live in the now in order to create a productive future. After all, it’s where she lives – in the past wrongs that she BELIEVES Ted has done to her.

Role of Religion
Her husband (Ted’s father) was a Jehovah’s Witness and Mommy goes to “a nice church” (her words) in Brooklyn. Now depending on what side of the coin you’re on, their prayers have finally worked or their religion is what’s pushed Ted away. All due respect to religions and spiritual beliefs but here’s the thing about redemption and miracles, they need cooperation.  Ted needs some life skills to deal with where he’s been,  what he’s lived and what he BELIEVES about it all in order to successfully navigate where he’s going.

Opportunity is Doomed without Transformation
While many are throwing money at him right now, along with that he needs refining because the moment he embarrasses one of his sponsors, the rug will be pulled and he’ll become the man who was given such tremendous opportunities, but blew it!

What Ted Williams needs is time and space to grow, along with the opportunities. He needs teachers who’ll be friends, too – who will treat him tenderly yet firmly as he develops confidence, discipline, focus and patience. Because voiceover work is about more than speaking; it’s often a game of hurry up, wait and do overs. He’ll need permission to miss it while trying to make it in daily interactions because in the media business, interpersonal and social skills are imperative. He needs to know that it’s okay to be afraid, but not to the point of impeding progress. And he shouldn’t be expected to be an All Star overnight, rather he must be given space to learn – NEXT Decision BETTER, Ted!

Inner City Athletes-Rappers Success Syndrome (ICARSS)
Yeah, I made that up. But the way inner-city kids/young adults who aren’t used to having money and fame screw up opportunities by continuing to operate in all that they know – without any new skills to deal with their new lives – is what we can expect from Ted Williams without a transformation support system. This would include drug counseling and support in recovery, family and relationship therapy, life-skills development, etc., to help in his many transitions.

The list of examples of ICARSS is CRAZY: Lil Wayne, Mike Tyson, Lil Kim, Michael Vick, T.I., Ray Lewis, Mystikal, Ricky Williams, RemyMa, Lawrence Taylor, GucciMane, Michael Irvin, C-Murder, Ray Carruth, Foxy Brown. And the list of self destructive behaviors and collateral damage goes on and on, from jail to broke and every kind of trouble in between, until they learned to effectively live their new lives and acclimate to changing environments.

No, Ted Williams is not a kid – he’s well into his 50s – proof that age has nothing to do with effective living. Everyone has the capacity to learn, as proven by most of the ICARRS examples I just mentioned, but what he needs to learn in order to be considered a success will happen over time, not over night and he WILL have some hiccups and setbacks – many of which are already being set up.

He’s never had an apartment, yet they’ve offered him a house…Set up!

He’s not paid bills yet they’re trusting him to be financially responsible…Set up!

According to him, he hadn’t spoken with his mother in a decade nor seen her in two decades, yet they put them on national television for a “reunion” exposing their vulnerabilities and the dysfunctionality of their relationship…Set up!

He’s not had a relationship with his children, lived on the streets for 20 years, begged to eat, became a repeat felon to support an alcohol and drug addiction and now he’s got thousands of dollars in income being offered, without any new skills to deal with any of it…HUGE Set UP!

Although I made ICARSS up I’ve seen stranger things in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the bible of psychology – remember where you heard it first.

I want the best for Ted Williams and I hope that those offering him all these wonderful opportunities will collectively commit to him as a project because he’ll need mental and emotional stability – tools to be responsible to and for self and accountable to those paying him. At this point, he’s not even remotely able to handle the pressure of suddenly being depended upon, to be fiscally prudent or to be a real success story.

Praying and hoping for the best is not the same as properly assessing what is and effectively plotting a course that ensures success.

What do you think? Comment below, I’m listening…

And if you enjoyed this post, please share it.

All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony

Holidays Plus Family Are Not Always Happy

Happy Holidays???

Call me the Bubble Burster if you will but I know too many people and have experienced for myself some Unhappy Thanksgivings and Christmases that were anything BUT Merry, not because there’s a lack of love in my family, but because MY FAMILY are not The Cleavers.

So regardless of the holiday when it comes to dealing with family, it’s YOU who needs to change.

I’ll talk about mine for a moment because I ain’t scared of ‘em and they, although not always happy with me for it, KNOW I’ll tell the truth about us – or “my” truth amongst us; it’s liberating for me.

My family is made up of individuals, and like yours, we each have different perspectives of our whole family experience .  Some of us have traveled dicey paths even to the point of wondering HOW we are of the same gene pool, others are educated professionals, others make a decent living working whatever jobs we can get, some don’t and have never worked – know the welfare system well enough to live almost as well as I do, others you might recognize if I mentioned their names, some know the inside of prisons better than their community…you get my point  – we’ve all taken different paths which have led us to living very different lives and different kinds of lifestyles; you name it, we’ve probably got it in our family!

Family Is As Family Does

My beau says that all the time, “Family is as family does.” His way of saying blood does not make one family, consistent loving actions do.  Some of us will fare off far better to adopt this philosophy because the pain of dealing with the blood family members cut deep.

You’re the Problem

For those who don’t have the associated pain of past hurts with family, but are just annoyed by family differences, the problem is likely that you keep expecting that things will be different! The angst about going home is happening within you because you’re hopeful that family members will have changed and THAT’S a problem. If you want to have a better experience WITH them then YOU change.  Ensuring a happier time than you’ve known for the Holidays will start with you. So the question is: what is the one thing that you can SET in your mind to expect It Is What It Is;” that inevitable thing that happens every single time you get around family? You know…the belligerent brother, the controlling sister, the parents – drunken father-in-law or passive mother, the out of control niece… you know the labels you’ve attached to each of ‘em!  Whatever you’ve BEEN doing AIN’T WORKIN’, SO here are some things to consider as you set a more realistic expectation:

  • Decide now, to Live and Let Live because frankly unless they are your children AND under aged, they are NOT YOUR BUSINESS.
  • Decide now to ALLOW what is; to respond differently to the things they do that are different than what you do than you have in the past.
  • Decide now to allow them to be who they are…the same person they are when you are not around. You know very well that it’s what they do all the time; it’s how they live and how things happen when you are not there. You know that they will just return to “normal” – “their” normal – as soon as you leave. As much as you may want different for them, they have as much a right to live their lives as they choose as you do, so decide that you will NOT be fuquitable; you’ll not allow them to ‘tie your panties in a wad’ because as long as you do, they will fuquit you while they – each of them, will go on with their lives as usual, as soon as you leave.
  • Decide now to have a Happy Thanksgiving, in spite of them, with the realization, that you cannot change them, nor their perception of your family experience, moreover, neither should you. You are each entitled to your own perception and interpretations.  It’s your family, not your “project”…none of them!  Each of them is responsible for themselves, as you are for yourself.

Enjoy the Entertainment

So, how should you handle them? You KNOW you have family members who are drama magnets – from the “victim” to the one needing the “spotlight”! If you’re smart you’ll learn to enjoy the entertainment; their lives are so bizarre that you couldn’t make that stuff up, so learn to watch ‘em like a movie; the stranger the stories, the more fascinating.  If you were sitting in a theater watching a movie that kept you on edge, the more captivated you’d be, right?  Learn to watch them the same way.

I’m fascinated by Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Lynn Toller (Divorce Court – a favorite!), and my 15 minute daily fix – Maury!  I see things on these shows that my responsible decisions just won’t create as realities in my life.  Well, I don’t know about YOUR family, but members of mine make decisions that create very similar realities…listen and enjoy in the same manner. You’ll rest better and probably live longer – you’ll, at least, have happier Thanksgivings and Merrier Christmases.  And they’ll like you more too!

Power of Choice

Here’s the reality, the holidays won’t make your life with family any more magical so it’s a setup for disappointment to expect that your Thanksgiving with them is supposed to be any ‘happier’ or that your Christmas should be any “merrier”.  If it does turn out to be pleasantly different, be pleasantly surprised, but for many a more realistic expectation is that sometimes you’ll find that going home for Thanksgiving is to increase your gratitude for the rest of the year, or for Christmas, to prove your ability to love despite rather than because; reminding you from whence you came and, that daily, you get to choose the life you live. NEXT Decision BETTER! 😉

You’re invited to Enter and LIVE in the Grown Zone.

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Racism is a fact, but not my Focus

My father teases that my perspective about the effects that race has on me are so minimal that I could live, comfortably, if my address was:

123 White Sheet Way
Caucasian
City, “KKK” State

He goes on to say that I could walk up my driveway to get the mail as my neighbor, Mr. Wizard, is doing the same and greet him daily with, “How are you today Grandmaster?”

This is not to minimize the harsh experiences that “chocolate” folks (an easier term for me rather than trying to keep up with what’s politically correct these days because I’m bound to offend) before me have had, neither to say that racism is not a fact of life, but just because something is a fact does not mean it has to be my truth.

What good does it do to perpetuate hatred by responding with hate? I’m smarter than that! To me it’s more important to embrace equality than to fight racism. I can’t do both.

Here’s what I know, understand, even appreciate, that “Mr. Wizard’s” beliefs are valid for him – doesn’t mean they are morally right – but he has life lessons and experiences that make them right for him.

It is not my job to change “Mr. Wizard.” What “Mr. Wizard” does is not about me, it’s about Mr. Wizard.

Here’s how I live my truth while honoring the chocolate people who have suffered racism that I’ve never known: I refuse to focus on what Mr. Wizard believes about me because it has the potential to mentally oppress me; to stifle my emotional growth and my financial gain.  Instead, I “allow” (not that he needs my permission) him to do him, which frees me (because I don’t need his permission) to do me.

The fact that I’m enjoying opportunities that those before me could not and steadily paving an even better way for those coming after me, to me, is time better spent.

What’s worked for me (a baby of the 1960, female, professional from the South –  different times and cultures called for different tactics) when I’ve encountered “Mr. Wizards” I’ve taken the driver’s seat; minimizing their mental hiccups by blending in – from speaking standard English, dressing in totally professional gear and yes, even down to how I wore my hair – knowing that by minimizing the turbulence I’d consistently advance, expand my options and eventually be respected more for my character and skills than rejected for anything else.

When “Mr. Wizard” experiences that I am just as competent, articulate, consistent and loyal I don’t have to prove anything; I only need to continue.  I have always been proactive about blending in and determined that if anything about me was to stand out it would only be excellence!

You see, my neighborly “Mr. Wizard” always responded to my “How are you today Grandmaster?” with “I’m doing just fine, How are you today, Exception?”

Now depending on who you are and your perception of the world, that “Exception” could mean, an exception within the black race; one to be distinguished from the rest OR it could simply mean, an “Exception” from the rest, which simply means, the best – exceptional!

I’m never surprised when I’m treated with respect by “Mr. Wizard”.  In fact, it is what I have come to expect from “Mr. Wizard” – if not immediately, eventually.

I am who I am and “Mr. Wizard” does not dictate nor determine that, by whom he is.

Daddy’s point is that it doesn’t matter to me what another person believes about me.  The only thing that matters to me is what I know about me. I live my truths – nobody else’s.

Here we GROW…Grown IS Sexy! ;-)

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