What Do Women REALLY Want?

I used to think what women wanted was simple.  Men just weren’t smart enough to figure it out.  Then I found myself at one too many happy hours trying to break down this complicated concoction of a dream man that my friends and I created.

He’s not too tall but not Jermaine Dupri short.  He’s in shape but not one of those Chyna type body builders.  He’s a man’s man but can express himself.  He reads the Wall Street Journal but can drop a few Biggie lines when appropriate.  He trusts me but will shake me every now and then to remind me that I’m his woman.  Simple right? Hell to the no.

I’m giving myself a headache.  I can’t keep up with my own recipe for the perfect man.

That’s why I stopped trying to paint the image of the guy I created in my head. The idea of him is like writing a thesis with no focus.  It’s all over the place.  And the more time I’ve focused on it, the more time I’ve wasted on the BS process of picking a life mate.  It’s like being a college scout and visiting players hoping to find the one player that can give you the biggest bang for your buck.

And who am I kidding?  Scouting isn’t as fun as it used to be. Thanks to this microwave, instant access and gratification lifestyle, it’s actually, well…rather time consuming.  I mean, am I the only one who gets tired of repeating my favorite things, my biography, my my my? And then the he, he, he.  Only to conclude with, we’re not really compatible.

So I thought, as a woman – I am cursed.  I was born and groomed into believing in this fairytale vision of a man.

But then something happened.  Beyonce opened her blazer, rubbed her belly and as the camera panned to Jay-Z, the world witnessed a brotha cheesing at the sight of his woman.  His wife.  The future mother of his child.  And then he saluted her.

You may read this and think I’m crazy.  I’ve overdosed on the Jayonce juice.  But I haven’t.  It was at that moment that I realized this.  I don’t want Jay-Z nor am I asking for a man of Jay’s wealth, status etc.

I just want a man who treats me the way he wants me to treat him.  And if he respects himself, then he will expect me to treat him like a king.  Then he will expect me to cheese at his presence.  To salute him in public and in private because we know the work we put into our love and what we get in return.  To take pride in the thought of carrying his child.  And most importantly, that despite the pressures of life, that we’ll commit to doing things on our time.

So to me, that is what women really want.  Or at this least one does.

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love.  For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visit www.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
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Bitches With Bags

How are you today?  When was the last time you seriously asked yourself that?  Keep that thought in mind—I’m coming back to it.

I got home from work Friday and sat in my car for a second. I grabbed my purse, laptop bag; workout bag and both cell phones. I refused to make two trips back to the car and chose to carry everything at once.  I struggled.  It became even more difficult when I insisted on answering an email on my Blackberry while opening the door.  Once I stepped in, I flung my load onto the couch and exhaled a sigh of relief.  I turned my IPOD on and the first song that played was Erykah Badu’s Bag Lady.  It tripped me out for a second.

I lay down on the couch and closed my eyes.  I began thinking about me and my bags.  Bags full of Issues.  Some of them don’t even belong to me.  Some of them, I didn’t ask for.  They were left on my doorstep.  They were someone else’s and I chose to carry them for them.  They were now all of my bags.  And to make matters worse, the heavy load from the bags was wearing me down and turning me into a bitch.  A bitch with a mean bag collection.

Maybe it has something to do with my folks robbing me of a gang of money or my cousin being murdered or the reality that no matter how hard I work, I can’t save my family from themselves, I can’t fly my friends around the world popping bottles and I can’t make the man I love speak or even understand my language to save my life.  Maybe it was one or all of those issues turning me into a bitch.  Stress. Lack of sleep.  Life.

I used to tell myself that I would never let life beat me down.  That I would never let situations alter who I was as a person.  I thought that, despite the trials and tribulations that surrounded me, I would still be able to maintain the positive vibe and energy that I make a conscience effort to embody everyday.

Negative.  “One day, all them bags gon’ get in your way.”  And the next thing you know, you’re a woman with an attitude problem who has a serious lack of patience and a small tolerance for BS.  And if you don’t catch it in time, you’ll find yourself on the same path to Bitchville.

And to make matters worse, the older we get and the more money we make, the prettier the bags become; you go from Coach to Gucci and soon realize that a bag is a bag is a bag.  No matter how well we clean up, on the inside, we’re still carrying that same ol’ baggage.  It causes us to struggle even more.  What’s a bigger fight or struggle than the one you have with yourself?

Reality Check.  Intervention.  That’s what I told myself Friday on that couch. I needed to humble myself before God did.  No matter what happened to me, it is not an excuse to bitch my way through life.  It’s only a reason to check in on myself and make sure I’m OK and to figure out what it takes to keep me going as whole as I can.  I owe me and those who believe in me that much.

If I’m certain about anything, it’s that we cannot change the past.  You cannot go back and make your parents give you a better childhood; you cannot bring a loved one back to life, you cannot stop a past of molestation, abuse or violence, you cannot stop your first love from breaking your heart, you cannot stop your husband or wife from cheating, you cannot change what happened yesterday—but you can forgive it. It’s a good time to heal.

How are you today?  When was the last time you seriously asked yourself that? Do you find yourself missing who you used to be—a more forgiven, trusting, loving, open, carefree person?  Have you allowed things to alter who and what you are?

We all have.  Not allowing circumstances to shape and define who we are is much easier said than done, but its something that we at least have to try.  Clearing our hearts and minds is a gateway to a healthier life; mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and beyond.

You have so much to be grateful for.  Look around you, people are losing everything that they worked for.

A little optimism and hope, laughter and prayer can go a long way.  Be patient with your life; God is not done with you yet. Don’t stunt your own growth. Help Him, help you.

It’s never too late to start over and if you’re moving into a new you, it’s ok to leave some old bags at the old house.  Drop those things off and embrace the load that is being lifted off of your shoulders—it’s something to sigh about!

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love.  For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visit www.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on: Twitter and Facebook


Love Is Blind, Open Your Eyes

Last week I received the unfortunate news that my pregnant 25-year-old cousin and her four-year-old daughter had been murdered.  While the police were tight-lipped about their suspicions, my family had already come to the unfortunate conclusion that her boyfriend was involved.

A ton of thoughts ran through my mind when I got the news.  I thought about all of the memories I had of her.   I thought about the last time I saw her and how I decided not to stop and catch up because I was running late for a meeting.  I thought about the 2-year-old daughter that will live the rest of her life vicariously through third party stories and pictures of her mother.  I thought about her daughter who died beside her and her unborn twins.  I thought, that despite the news report, one time I would click refresh on my computer and a breaking story would read it wasn’t true at all.  But it never happened.

This week, I traveled to the Essence Music Festival for work and thought keeping busy would keep me going until the funeral.  It worked.  But then Kanye West performed his Hey Mama tribute and I felt myself breaking down inside.

I began thinking about the reality of my cousin’s death and the fact that she had been trying to leave her boyfriend and because he didn’t want that, he brutally took four lives.  I thought about my friends and how they’ve had splits that have come with idle threats and maybe a shove or two here and there.  I thought about the conversation I had with my mom and how she cried while telling me that she couldn’t stop worrying about my safety and my own relationships.

I thought about telling my mother that I’d be OK.  But I couldn’t lie.  No matter how cautious I am; there are no certainties in life.  I can’t promise my mother anything except I won’t forget the realities of life and that no one is immune to anything.

Maybe some people have signs and ignore them, and despite how jacked up this world is, maybe we give people too much credit.  Someone used to say, “Don’t put anything past anyone.”  I hate to live like that, but I don’t want my mother burying me before my time and I don’t want my friend’s parents burying them and I don’t want your friends and family burying you.

My cousin, Alicia Avery, didn’t deserve what happened to her but I pray that her story, and stories like her’s will wake some of us up from this fantasy world that we live in.  Love is blind, open your eyes.

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love.  For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visit www.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on: Twitter and Facebook


Could You Marry An Ex-Bisexual?

Over the weekend I caught the premiere of a D.C. based talk radio show (Trending with EZ WOL1450).  The show, featuring a diverse panel, discussed the topic Sexual Fluidity and all things Gay, Lesbian and Bisexuality.

One of the panelists commented that the increase in bisexuality could be attributed to an increase in people’s comfort with trying new things and exploring all of their options, which include both men and women.

I thought back to a conversation that I had with some colleagues a few years ago.  I posed this question to them, could you marry a bisexual person? Or even, someone who once experimented with the same sex?

It was interesting to discover that the majority of them, ages ranging from 24 – 48, preferred not to marry someone who once tried anything same sex related.  I wasn’t shocked that the women felt like that. Most women I know say they prefer a “man’s man” and most of them don’t consider a bisexual man to come close to that ideal.  I was, however, shocked that the guys preferred their women straight. How many times do we hear about the male fantasy of girl-on-girl or threesome action?

Surprisingly both the men and women felt that marrying someone with interest (or previous interest) in both men and women presented two issues; 1) it created a conflict with their religious beliefs and/or 2) it unconsciously created a competition with two genders; opposite and same sex.

So where do you stand?  Does it matter that your significant other may have explored their same sex before you?  Should they be honest with you about whether they did or not?

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love. For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visit www.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
Twitter and Facebook


I Hate Cancer

Last week I sat back and realized that it was only two years ago when I’d normally be thinking of what to get my grandfather for his February birthday.  He wasn’t a complicated man.  He liked collecting DVD’s as a safety net for rainy days, loved anything and all things Ravens and even more loved the days when I’d sit next to him on the couch trading Newspapers, sipping Pepsi’s and shooting the breeze.  He adored me and I admired him.  Then one day, he told me over lunch that he was dying from cancer.  I sat back in my chair and felt my throat begin to close.  I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t speak.  I just wanted to put a face to cancer.   How else could I look the imposter in the eyes to express my deep-rooted hate?

Hate is a heavy word. But in all honesty it seems as light as a feather when used to address what has become one of my worst enemies. Even my religious upbringing and diplomatic personality cannot control my urge to scream, “I hate cancer!” Right or wrong, I believe my attitude toward this unwelcomed, unwanted and at all times unwarranted disease is justified.

Maybe that’s my emotions talking.  Maybe it’s a new reality that I’m forced to deal with.  It seems as though with each season the disease called cancer travels further across the globe yet manages to remain so close to home; my home.  And I am powerless because I cannot pinpoint where it’ll lay its head next.  Cancer has no preferences; it isn’t racist, sexist or ageist.

Each time it hits close to home I manage to tune it out, ignoring the threat that this thing called cancer will take another loved one from me.  I convince myself that the Almighty High will extend their days just in time for a world cure.  While I’ve waited, I’ve wasted precious time.  Time I should have been learning about the disease and supporting those I love.  Time I should have been walking to raise funds or running errands for those I love.  That time never seems as valuable until those I love run out of it.

At that very moment, my worst enemy chases me into a corner and forces me to stare it in the eye. It’s as real as my hate, but my hate isn’t stronger than its deadly grasp. According to worldcancercampaign.org, close to 11 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed worldwide and more than seven million people die yearly from the disease.  I know and have lost some of them.

There’s nothing like watching a beautiful woman go bald before her time or a strong man bedridden. Cancer is a game changer. Cancer is a life changing disease.  Cancer is like a weed that even after being uprooted, it manages to grow back and take over the entire garden.  Cancer is disrespectful and unpredictable.  It’s a shady element in the world we know.  And I’ll never trust it.

I won’t be spending this birthday with my grandfather but I have decided what I’ll give him this year.  I’ve decided to honor him and others by walking for cancer.  It’s the least I can do.

Despite its significant presence, cancer will not always have the final word.  It’s up to us to be proactive in detection, active in support and reactive to our losses in a way that produces cures.

Face your fears before they face you.

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love. For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visitwww.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
Twitter and Facebook

Letter to the Other Woman

I hope that this letter finds you in a better place than of the one where we met.  It was an unfortunate discovery that we both shared and loved the same man.  And while he chose me in the end, I didn’t feel victorious.  I felt sorry for you.

As a woman, I wanted to address you for knowingly participating in a relationship with an attached man but I did not.  I addressed him.  As a woman, I was raised to believe that whether you knew or not, my beef was with him.  He allowed the disrespect.  As a woman, I felt sorry for you because you were OK with being the other woman.  Who does that?  Oh, right–you!

I didn’t get it.  I actually thought you were pretty and full of potential.  But from what I’ve heard, you didn’t see that in yourself. 

Needless to say, I didn’t address you.  I let you and him go.  I’ve seen you around and after a few years, it or you don’t even bother me anymore.  Besides a mom or grandmother, I pride myself in being the only woman that a man concerns himself with.  Whatever you and I shared — he was a boy.

Years have passed and while I haven’t had to deal with you since, I’ve seen my friends have their own versions of you.  I don’t get it.  Are there schools where you all attend and graduate with different degrees?  There’s the one that kind of knew but didn’t know, knew but didn’t care and the one that was completely in the dark.

And those of you who knew but didn’t care, have gone to extreme measures to prove that bitch is a lifestyle that everyone represent like you.  Like seriously, are you texting the “wife” to remind her that her man was with you and how stupid she is for not knowing?  Or how about giving her advice on how to keep a man.  Really?

I scratched my head every time one of these stories got back to me.  I had to think of reasons why my friends shouldn’t entertain you or why they shouldn’t give into temptation to slap the life out of you.  Because at that point, it’s bigger than his disrespect, it’s your knowledge of disrespect and continuation of the behavior.  Yall go hard in the paint.  And as much as you deserve an old fashioned azz whipping, you’re not worth it.

What do you guys get out of this?  A couple of steak dinners, some occasional you know what and a pair of hooker boots?  Because often times, you’re not the one he’s parading around in public.

So why do yall keep doing it?  I don’t know, but I wish each of you saw the beauty and potential inside of yourselves.  Someone can and will love you and it doesn’t have to be another woman’s man. You don’t have to like me, but damn have some respect for yourself.

To each his own.  Literally. 

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love. For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visitwww.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
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New Year: Need Hope? Read This

“We spend January 1, walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance this list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman

Here we are in a New Year and while some of us got it, many of us are still looking to get it, get it together and get it right.  I believe that when we dwell on our potential instead of our problems, we increase our chances of getting to the greatness that we expect of and for ourselves.  A lot easier said than done right?  Right.  But to help, I’ve outlined a few steps that might get you to a more positive and purpose-driven life in 2011.

  1. Revisit Your Old Self – Take a trip back to a time when you were in love with yourself and when you were least affected by the realities of life.  Extract that great part of who you were and put that back into whom you are now.
  2. Release Your Regrets – You cannot edit and altar your past so let it go.  The power of forgiveness is so incredible that is has proven to lead to an all-around healthier life.
  3. Relish In Your Good – Despite what you or others believe, I’m willing to bet that you’ve had some good moments and you’ve done some good things.  Stop wasting your life focusing on what you’ve done wrong, pat yourself on the back and push yourself forward.
  4. Reinvent Your Current Self- If Diddy can do it so can you!  Change what people know you for if it’s not what you want to be known for.  If people can’t respect your evolution, then they don’t need to transition with you to the new you.
  5. Realize the New You – When I was a child, I thought as one.  Well you’re not a child anymore and once you accept and realize that you define what you stand for than nothing else matters.
  6. Represent- Whatever happens in 2011, DO YOU and look good/live good doing it!

It’s a New Year, a new day, a new opportunity and chance to start over.  Look back as long as you know the real story is in moving forward.

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love. For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visitwww.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
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Girl Send Him Back Now!

Have you ever thought to yourself—how in the world did I allow myself to date this person?  What exactly was I thinking when I thought this was a good idea? Lord knows I’ve been there.  Lucky for me, not only was I able to get out quickly and unharmed, I can look back now and laugh at some of the foolish decisions I made.

For instance, Yuck-Mouth.  It was a summer night and he was sitting inside his parked car outside of the club.  Fail #1, he waited outside for the “let-out” in his car.  I hate that.com.  Now usually I don’t do this (R.Kelly voice) but I definitely had a few drinks and I social butterflied my way over to his car–not him.  It was a sexy gold drop top Lexus and to be honest I just wanted to take a ride in it.   At the time, I had a two door Eclipse that ran on prayers and prayers alone.  I gave him my number.  Now as I’ve told my friends, it was too dark for me to do a full canvas of the situation so I think that earns me a few sympathy points.  Because thats exactly what I needed when he met me for dinner.

Sigh.  This fool had a mouth full of gold teeth, circa Cash Money Juvenile. Lets just say that for the rest of the night I gave him plenty of eye contact.  The night became even more interesting when he asked me how to pronounce asparagus [uh-spare-a-gus].  We went over it several times only to conclude that he didn’t like it.

He capped the night of with a classic story that all women should hear on a first date.  He drove up on his ex-girlfriend and screamed at her and the guy in her passenger seat because she said she wasn’t dating anyone else.  OMGee!  He had a dead serious face.

I could not get out of that restaurant fast enough!  It was so unreal.  I jumped in my bucket and couldn’t wait to conference my girls.  “Girl, send him back now!” My friends joked.  No mistake that they were wrong for letting me give him my number in the first place but definitely right when they said move on. I know too many people who overlook red flags.

Have you ever heard crazy stories and thought, “why didn’t she send him back a long time ago?” And where are we sending them? Back to where they came from!  I personally believe the sooner you get rid of characters, the less likely you’ll fall for or fall in love with them.

Need more examples of the types you should send back? Here’s what you should look out for during the initial dating phase:

Men– if he doesn’t pay for the first date (at least) send him back.
Women– if she never offers to pay for anything or is already asking you to pay her bills or take her shopping, send her back!

Men- if he can’t wear dress shoes with a suit, send him back quick!
Women- if she won’t shave, has a dirty car (inside is the bigger issue) and has a dirty house (bathroom and kitchen are the bigger issues), send her back!

Men- if he has no ambition (even a promotion at Staples) send him back.  How can he afford a family?
Women- if she has no intention on going anywhere but to the mall with her paycheck,  send her back!

Men & Women: If they don’t want to wear condoms—send them back!

Of course, these are just a few reasons why you should send someone back to where they came from!  I could go on and on—but I won’t!

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love. For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visitwww.ashleycharisma.com.

You can also follow Ashley Charisma on:
Twitter and Facebook