21×21: 21 Things Men Should Know By 21

Tie a necktie: Be it for a job interview, wedding, or a funeral; inevitably, at some point in your life you will have to do it. So learn now.

Wash clothes: Nobody likes funky clothes, especially the people who have to smell them!

Clean your house: I’m not talking about that quick and easy, tidy up clean. I’m talking about scrubbing toilets, dusting and polishing, preparing fresh linens, kind of clean. You’ve got to learn how to get down in the bedroom, kitchen and the bathroom.

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Balance an account: Despite the reality of vanishing checkbooks, check writing is still a good skill to have, and certainly learning to balance an account is essential. You always need to know your income and expenses.

Replace a light bulb: As long as they go out, they will need replacing.

Iron clothes: Contrary to what Beyoncé says, is not cool to just wake up like that. Although you may not have to iron, learning how to is valuable. There’s a system for shirts, pants and jeans.

Learn to pray: Being a man is hard, learning to pray makes it less hard.


Learn to pray….


Shop for clothes: Knowing the actual size of your waist, shoe, chest, and neck, and knowing how to buy clothes that fit is just what cool men do. Oversized suits, shirt collars and scrunchie waist jeans isn’t the look. If you have to tighten your belt more 3 loops, something’s not right.

Say please and thank you: Common, or should I say, uncommon courtesy will never expire. Sometimes it can open doors a strong hand can’t.

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Shake a hand: Please don’t be one of those guys who gives the limp noodle handshake or the Incredible Hulk grip.

Buy groceries: Sooner or later, you’ll have move past cardboard pizzas, frozen meals, soda and potato chips. The fresh produce section is your friend, and so is the natural herbs and spices section.

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Cook a meal: Thank God my moms and pops taught me how to cook. Every man needs at least one signature dish that doesn’t involve ingredients that read, “instant”, “quick” or “ready in minutes” on the box.

Use a screwdriver, hammer and saw: I’m not talking about transforming you into Harold the Handyman, but there are some basic jobs these tools can handle if you plan on living on earth any longer.

Change a tire: Imagine it’s 30 degrees, you get a flat tire, and you don’t have AAA or roadside assistance. Now imagine it’s you and your lady and you don’t know how to change a tire or put on the spare. I’ve seen able-bodied men send their lady in the cold to do it, and that’s cold, very cold.

Jump a battery: Trust me, it’s a vital skill to learn. Also, make sure get a good pair of jumper cables or a battery charger for your trunk.

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Wash your butt: Let me help you out. The following are not cool: biting your nails, having excessively long or dirty nails, uncombed or unbrushed hair,  unkept facial hair, smelly breath and BO. Here’s what’s cool…the opposite of all of the above.

Ask for help: Humility is not weakness, it’s reserved strength. In this life we all help, and the sooner we learn to recognize it, the better.

Sign an autograph: Whether it’s on a contract, business agreement or permission slip, every man needs to know to sign his name.

Visit the doctor: Real men visit the doctor… regularly. Your health isn’t about you, it’s about the ones around you. The better and healthier you are, the better and healthier they are. This includes mental and spiritual health as well.

Unclog a toilet or drain: Sometimes things suck, sometimes they don’t. The latter is when this skill comes in handy.

Get in touch with God: We all need Him. If your appliance breaks down you return it to the manufacturer, shouldn’t you do the same with your life?

 

 

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Writer’s Block: 6 Steps to Cultivate Creativity

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For years, I used to think writer’s block was an inevitable, insurmountable obstacle I had no power to overcome. I thought creativity flowed from inspiration, and inspiration was summoned by the art gods in some sort of esoteric, supernatural ritual. Years later, and I’ve come to realize inspiration is for amateurs and there are very simple ways to harness creativity. Here are a few:

Creativity isn’t captured, it’s cultivated. Change your mind about how creativity is developed. Imagine if you were a comic book artist that had to produce a fresh strip of comics weekly for a paycheck. What would you do if you were fresh out of ideas? More than likely, you do what you had to do to find some. A lot of people have been led to believe being creative is a mystical, deeply spiritual process that requires divine intervention. In reality, it’s more about developing good habits and refining work. The first step is changing your paradigm  to recognize it’s an intentional process in which the artist is expected to participate.

In the long run there is not much discrimination against superior talent.
 – Carter G. Woodson

Practice capturing the moment. As a college sophomore I was blessed to be part of a group of writers that helped me shape my ideas about writing and creativity. When we got to the subject of writer’s block, the idea of capturing the moment was introduced. This simply means, as a writer you have to discipline yourself to write things down. If you keep a small notebook and make a habit of writing ideas, thoughts, and inspirations you will increase your creativity by a million, bazillion percent. Don’t miss the moment. Inspirational moments are like snowflakes; there are many, but no two are alike. A musician friend once told me he makes a habit of going to bed empty, meaning every night before his head hits the pillow he records all of this ideas.
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: Carter G. Woodson once said, “In the long run there is not much discrimination against superior talent.” Many incredibly talented people have average ability coupled with above-average work ethic and discipline. As a writer, one way to expand your creative perimeter is to write often. The more more ideas you write, the more ideas you have, and the more ideas you refine, the more you have to choose from. Some will be great, some will be good, and others will be average. The overall goal is to have catalogs of work that display your creativity, versatility, and development process.

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Make writing a priority: Have you ever thought, “I know I should write, but I just don’t feel like it?” Of course you don’t, that’s why you have to force yourself. Instead of suffering from writer’s block, schedule a writing block (a chunk of time to create) and guard it like a mama pitbull over her pups. Turn off the phone, TV, YouTube, laptop (if you’re not using it to create), or anything else that could be a distraction. No meetings, movies, or answering crisis phone calls! Treat your writing block as if it’s your job. A job for which you are the CEO!  

Connect with a community of writers: As an African proverb states, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go further, take others with you.” Everything we know we learned from someone, and sometimes these people are right in front of us. Try searching sites like Meetup.com to locate writing groups you can collaborate with. You can also find people that can challenge your ideas and develop writing accountability groups.

“Remember, sometimes art is a fruit that most benefits the partakers, not the producers.”

 

Don’t be afraid to fail: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash is another person’s treasure, so don’t trash your treasures. Remember, sometimes art is a fruit that most benefits the partakers, not the producers. Don’t be afraid to be as innovative as your mind can imagine! Have fun the process and create fiercely. Try the Bruce Lee approach, “Let no limits be your limit and no boundary be your boundary.

There is no magic formula to becoming a great writer or developing creative ideas. It’s as simple as this: the more you practice correctly, the better you become. Sometimes the hardest thing about finishing a project is just getting started. I hope these tips help you on your journey to becoming more creative and unblocking writer’s block.

Brother to Sister: Seven Tips to the Single Woman

1. Singapore_Road_Signs_-_Warning_Sign_-_Danger.svgBelieve What You See: When you see who or what a person is, please, please, please believe it. I beseech you therefore sisteren, do not try to rationalize, over-spiritualize or trivialize what is right in front of you. Whomever you’re getting acquainted with will be the person you are with: the good, bad, and indifferent. What a man says is what he believes. What a man does is what he values. If you see incredible aspects of a Godly man you can envision yourself with long-term, great! Likewise, if you see legitimate warning signs, believe them!

2. You’re Not Marrying The Man You Want; You’re Marrying The Man You’re With: I talk with so many women who suffer from Mother Theresa Syndrome, MTS for short. They try to fix, repair, and mold a man, believing he will magically become amazing and they will live happily ever after. Believing the best for someone doesn’t mean living oblivious to reality. Sometimes you can have a great guy, but he’s not your great guy. Trusting the in the Lord’s prevailing purpose will enable you to develop an open-palm philosophy: you’re open to receive and open to have it taken away.

“Believing the best for someone doesn’t mean living oblivious to reality.”

3. Pray For Him: Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes God will use prayer to give us wisdom about the decisions we need to make. Don’t pray your man will change for your sake; pray he will change for God’s sake.

4. Don’t Try To Change Him: I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it, inevitably some women will still try to do it. I have a friend who really wants the man she’s with to become more spiritually mature. He doesn’t initiate his spiritual development so she often sends him Christian articles, bible verses and other materials to read. This is a NO NO! When a man senses someone is trying to change him, he will do one of two things: rebel or recluse. Neither is good. Whomever or whatever your man wants to be has to first start with him.

“If a person hasn’t shown significant change for a consistent amount of time, he or she will likely repeat the past.”

5. Get Some Counsel: You wouldn’t get in a car and drive to a place you’ve never been without directions would you? Why would you do so with your future? I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have anyone I can trust”, or “I’m not that close to many people.” Well, find someone, some books, workshops, or something to guide you. Just like driving in a car, ultimately, you are responsible for where you end. Ignorance doesn’t alleviate responsibility or nullify the consequences of bad decisions.  
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6. Past Performance Predicts Future Behavior: If you’re looking to hire someone, you ask for a resume. They show an employer what skills a candidate already possesses, not the ones he aspires to possess. Employers don’t hire based on aspiration; it’s based on experience. A dating relationship is like an interview, and each person should assess their candidate’s resume. This is why open and truthful communication is vital. I don’t advocate casting judgement based on past mistakes, however if a person hasn’t shown significant change for a consistent amount of time, he or she will likely repeat the past.

“A good man, with good guidance will ensure he initiates communication…”


7. Keep Your Eyes On The Road, But Don’t Drive The Car: There’s a balance between having good communication about the relationship and trying to forcefully steer its direction. It’s perfectly ok to question or initiate conversations about the status of a relationship. A good man, with good guidance will ensure he initiates communication about the relationship, as well as progressively steer it towards healthy development. However, sometimes women find themselves with a man that falls asleep at the wheel. Consequently, the relationship falls into a “pending verification” phase while the man gets himself together. You’re not obligated to stay in the car while he joy rides, but before you get out, it’s very appropriate to question- with elegance and wisdom-where the two of you are going. If he’s serious about moving forward he will step up. If he’s not, he won’t. In this event, consider yourself blessed. Sometimes the hardest lessons produce the biggest blessings.

Brother to Brother: 10 Types of Women You Shouldn’t Date

In one of my recent posts, I gave women ten types of men to avoid, and although lots of women enjoyed the insight, the brothers felt left out. So, what about all the good brothers out there? The ones who love God, have common sense, are hard-working, and have a vision? Where do they find love? Although it’s arguable who has it worse, the fact is, for some men it’s very difficult to find a lady who is attractive, spiritual, (but not spooky), and isn’t loco.  As you’re in pursuit, watch out for these of women.

Thirsty Thelma: She’s always looking for man, and will do whatever it takes to get anyone that somewhat resembles a man. Her self-worth is predicated on her relationship status, and unfortunately this makes her vulnerable to scrubs, thugs, and bedbugs. Her Facebook status affirms her. Not God, her uniqueness or creativity. Not even the man she’s with. It’s simply the satisfaction of knowing she has a man.

Freaky Felicia: Self-explanatory right? She’s the kind of  vixen open more than your local Walmart. She’s open for business for anyone…and I mean anyone. You don’t know where she’s been, or with whom she’s been with. Bye Felicia.

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Sleeping Sasha: She’s the main character in a story that’s all about her rescue from the perils of singlehood.  She’s stuck in a Disney movie, waiting for her handsome prince to ride in on a stallion, take her hand, and whisk her away to an enchanted land where love lives forever. A woman waiting on a man to become who she is destined to be is a woman out of touch with reality. These women will put unrealistic expectations on men and often play the victim instead of living victoriously.

Kangaroo Katie: She jumps in and out of relationships. Every time you see her she has a new man. She changes men like handbags. Usually, these types of women have issues they may or may not be aware of, and are looking for someone else to help fix. Sometimes they will superimpose unrealistic standards NO MAN is able to meet. They can search for minuscule, insignificant reasons to break up, and it’s on to the next one. She may even try to “build-a-boo”, by having two, three or five men on the side, each embodying a characteristic she desires.

Holy Heather: Ever met someone so spiritual they were out of touch with reality? Well fellas, this is Heather. She’s disconnected from the universe and masks genuine emotions, desires, and ideas-the ones God gives us-with spirituality. She is the, “Jesus is my boyfriend”, and “I’m just waiting on the Lord” kind of woman. She doesn’t know where she wants to go, what kind of man she’s looking for, or what qualities make her unique because, “The Lord ain’t revealed it yet.” She’s a bystander in life, and in relationships.

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Insecure Ida: Every person deals with insecurities, idiosyncrasies and issues, but Ida is unreasonably insecure. She frequently speaks and behaves in ways to seek attention or affirmation. Initially, it can be cute or attractive to think you’re genuinely needed by her, but it’s fool’s gold. Trying to love an insecure person is like trying to cut down a redwood with a razor blade. You will never say enough, do enough, or be enough to give her what she needs: real self-love that comes from above.

Wonder Woman Wanda: It’s her way or the highway. She runs a strict dictatorship, and being with her is a privilege, or so she thinks. She makes the rules, the money, and tells subjects lucky enough to be under her rule what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. She feels the need to be in control and refuses to relinquish her Queendom. Frequently, people like this are deeply insecure and feel the need to overcompensate in areas where they may feel out of control. It’s a means of security. With her, “don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.”

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Krazy Keisha:  Just like Krazy Kevin, she gets hotter than the pavement in Arizona. She screams, cries, manipulates, and is emotionally unstable. One minute everything is fine, and the next, it’s like a scene out of, The Exorcist. She can also get physically violent, and best believe will slash tires and bust the windows out your car.

Cash-in Candace: I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold-digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke… well, you know the song. If she’s overly-concerned about cheddar, then your life will not be better.  It’s all about the money… dollar, dollar bill y’all.  Her concept of manhood and womanhood may be rooted in false and erroneous ideologies that she will inevitably project on you.

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Heartbroken Haley: Sometimes she walks in circles.  She’s been broken so many times she has built walls taller than Jericho and you ain’t getting through brother. She may have an emotional and spiritual  deficit that may require professional counseling. She’s the younger sister of Wonder Woman Wanda, and without a real intervention, will grow up to be just like her.

It’s tempting to be Billy Graham and go on a crusade to try save a woman from herself, but trust me, you cannot do it. When hurting people hurt people, and are in need of healing, the first step is to recognize the problem. The next is getting the appropriate help. After God made the first woman, that job became obsolete. We cannot make ourselves a wife; we must allow Him to present her to us. This means, like Eve, God makes her. He never told us to fall in love, he told us to walk in it, and sometimes walking in love means knowing what paths to avoid.

 

Brother to Sister: 10 Types of Men You Shouldn’t Date

All my single ladies… all my single ladies… now put your hands up… and pray! Yes, pray. That’s exactly what you need to do if you’re looking for a good man in today’s times. We are living in a hypersexual, pseudo-romantic and superficial society that continually narrates the old and fictitious tale of guy meets girl, the two fall in love, then they live happily ever after. Well, it’s just not true; it’s possible, just not highly probable. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good man and I want to help you as you’re waiting on Mr. Right or looking for him. I want to help you spot the NOTs so you don’t waste time trying to warm a fire that was never meant to burn. Here are several types of men you need to avoid:

 

Casanova Carl He treats his women like Lays Potato Chips: he can’t have just one. The most important thing you need to know about Carl is stay away. Although he may not sleep around with many women, he likes his “friends” a little too much and doesn’t know how to appropriately detach. He craves feminine attention and affirmation and may not know how to relate to men. He may be  good to hang out with, but keep him in the friend zone.

Krazy Kevin: Here’s Kevin! Run! Get out the way! This is the, “I called you 10 times in one hour because I can’t live without you.” The, “I went looking for you because you were gone more than 30 minutes” kind of brother. He’s unpredictable, controlling, overly critical, sensitive and abnormally attached. He can be verbally and physically abusive. He is literally crazy. A couple of red flags: (1) He tries to get too close way too soon, (2) He show signs of aggressive pursuit too early without knowing anything about you, (3) He is a ticking time bomb. Anything can set him off.  He has so many issues you could fill two landfills and still have more room. These relationships are highly flammable and have a high propensity to turn dangerous. Please stay away.

Krazy Kevin

Wild Wendall: When you see this man please move. NOW! Like, right now! He exhibits unreasonable anger, doesn’t like authority, rules or boundaries. He wants what he wants and when he wants it, including you. Initially, his character deficiencies can be masqueraded by emotional authenticity and admirable drive but buyer beware! Quite often this type of behavior is rooted in insecurity, privilege, and a host of deep fractures. It may also reveal some deeper issues you’re not the person to help fix. I repeat, you’re not the person to help fix. Marriage is a magnifier for who we really are. If he can’t control his habits, sexuality, anger and emotions now it won’t change later.

Passive Paul He doesn’t breathe unless he gets permission first. He waits for you to make the first move for everything. He waits for you to express interest. He doesn’t initiate important conversations, is overly fearful of rejection, and incapable of making decisions and sticking to them. He likes whatever you like and goes wherever you lead. He avoids conflict and seldom steps up, speaks up or stands up.

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Selfie Santiago Simply put, it’s all about him. He spends more time in the mirror than you and everything is about him. His looks, his feelings, his ideas, his dreams, his life! He’s vain and overly focused on appearance: yours and his. Do yourself a favor: take one last picture then crop yourself out.

Brandon the Baby Two words: mama’s boy. Unfortunately, we live in a society where a lot of our boys were raised by single mothers. Historically, this has negatively interrupted our men’s identity development, sense of independence, and unfortunately, you have to deal with it. This guy still lives at home, doesn’t work nor looks for work and still depends on his mama for basic survival. He is a lot like Passive Paul in the sense he doesn’t control his life and waits for others to guide him through it. He will sometimes compare you to his mama and will criticize when you don’t measure up. If you’re not looking to be a mama then leave him alone.

Brandon the Baby

Lukewarm Larry This guy loves his freedom and doesn’t want to be confined to any religion, world doctrine, or anything that requires commitment. He lives by a smorgasbord of religious, philosophical, and self-derived principles. Essentially, he’s confused. Although he may be intellectually astute and a great conversationalist, unfortunately he stands for nothing. Larry might not lead you down a path of wickedness, death, or destruction but equally he cannot lead you to a place of indisputable truth.

Superman Sean This brother has so much on his plate he bought another one just to make room for everything. He’s the ultra-busy, “sorry, I’ve been too busy to call you back” guy.  He has too many things to do. He habitually returns your calls unreasonably late, misses the appointments you and he set, and puts you at the bottom of his to-do list. He’s not ready for a relationship; he’s just looking for another trophy to add to his mantle.

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Blind Bernard: Bernard is visually impaired and has no vision. He is unable to plan long-term and suffers from nearsightedness.  Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t have to present a ten year plan, but he does have to have a clue about life. He doesn’t know, nor has ever thought about his life passions, the legacy he wants to leave, or your future together. He is often vocationally, educationally, and spiritually complacent. He lacks motivation and frequently exhibits a “good enough” attitude. That is to say, regardless of opportunities and how they potentially impact he and his family; he does just enough to get by.  Not too little and not too much: just enough. Buy him some prescription lenses and leave them at his doorstep.

Nathan Nonbeliever: If you and he don’t spiritually agree, then chances are it ain’t meant to be.  Need I say more? I don’t care how fine, strong, funny, charming, spiritual, articulate, good to his mama and granny he is. If he is not wholeheartedly committed to his relationship with Christ you are going to have trouble. This is not to say if you marry him all hell will break loose. This is to say marriage is a sacred covenant between two people for expanding God’s work on earth. Yes, it can be fun and nice to have someone to lay beside, but if you two don’t have a basic reference point for life then there will be trouble. The price tag of settling for less than God’s best can be very, very expensive and sometimes you need the courage to say goodbye.

 

If you find yourself becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by the perceived lack of good men, be patient. In your singleness try investing in the lives of others and learning more about yourself. We unfailingly find ourselves in broken relationships because one or both of us started as broken people looking for someone to fix us. If you’re single keep an eye out for these men. If you’re currently in a relationship with one of these men and you aren’t married, you may want to seriously consider ending it. You don’t want to spend precious years trying to water and nurture something that was never supposed to grow. Stand in courageous faith, trust fiercely and keep hope alive until God brings you someone.     

 

Books I Recommend:

Too Close Too Soon

101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged