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Situationships. Love & somethingships.

How to Let Go: Why Your Process Isn't Found in a Self-Help Book

Ashley Johnson

"It took me a year to get over my last heartbreak."

I tweeted this last week and it sat with me. I thought about the ways in which I've let love overcome me and how, after so long, I finally came up for air. Some retweets for aspiration later (along with refusing to journal) has left me with the hard questions. Why so long? Why did I love a man for so long? A man who made it clear that I was not the woman he wanted? Better yet, how did I "do" the healing process?

Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. In love with a man who didn't love me back, I searched for the reasons why I wasn't "good enough". Overwhelmed with guilt from the harmful things I did, I fell into a deep spiral. Through countless hours of sob filled prayers, therapy, art, and self-discovery, I learned to separate my guilt and pain from the reality. That by far was the hardest love experience I've ever had and once I healed, I was confident in my ability to love and lose again. 

But I forgot just how tricky love is. How every man's love won't feel like the next and how every man's hurt won't feel the same. The plot twist with this last love episode was that I lost a lover and a friend. I lost my best friend. That was different and I couldn't wrap my mind around it. No amount of prayer, art, mantras, or journaling could soothe the pain in my chest. No amount of self-care brought my best friend back.

I often reflect on the last year and wonder why my tried and true self-care methods just didn't seem to work. Sometimes I used that as an explanation for why that guy was "the one". Other times I berated myself for my failures. Many times I just felt confused. As the Queen of self-care and recovery, to the point that near strangers reach out to me for comfort and help, I couldn't understand why the process just wasn't working. Why my prayers felt empty. Why my self-help books seemed to blur together. Why art didn't release the pain. Why music didn't provide an escape. Then I realized, my process didn't fit neatly into a box. 

Self-care is one of my guiding life principles but it took this last heartache for me to understand that self-care is not magic. Self-care will not automatically heal me. It will not make me forget about the person that I loved who did not love me back. Self-care can make me whole, but self-care cannot erase. 

Time is the part of the process that I think we often ignore. The fact that time is often the salve to the bandage of self-care. Time is what loosens the knot in your chest when your former lover's name is brought up over coffee. Time is what allows you to be in the room with his new girlfriend and not want to rip your hair out. Time is the part that self-help books tend to forget. Time is what eventually allows you to sleep at night and not fear dawn. Time is what gets us through, what helps the love of years' past fade to a quiet beat. Your process of recovery is not found in a self-help book; it's found in your willingness to succumb to time. 

Date Ideas That Don't Suck: Houston City Love Edition #thereigndates

Victoria Jackson

It’s summer time in the city. Whether you’ve managed to secure a seasonal fling, or you and bae have been at it for years, it’s the perfect time to hit the streets and make some memories. After all, Netflix and Chill is sooo 2016. 

Houston is known for its unique neighborhoods, special blend of cultural diversity, and insane restaurant scene. When planning a flawless date night for you and Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now; get it how you live), take advantage of all the artsy vibes, hot spots, and hole-in-the-wall treasures our beautiful city has to offer. 

Location 1: Discovery Green

Kick off date night in the heart of Downtown Houston at the city’s huge urban park. From famous sculptures and structures like Monument Au Fantome and Synchronicity of Color, to the gorgeous sights of Trees and Gardens at Discovery Green (and plenty other sights in between), you’ll find it to be the ideal location for getting to know that special someone, and their views on art, nature, and life, a little bit better. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a free show at the Anheuser-Busch outdoor concert venue. There’s also a lakeside dining option if you want to grab a light snack while you enjoy the lovely view of the water.

Why I Like It: As a “walks in the park” type of girl, I’m a sucker for scenic views, art displays, and soaking up the sun. Discovery Green is beautiful and quiet, with lots of touring space; just the right atmosphere to spark meaningful conversation, share some laughs, and even partake in a nice handholding session. 

Location 2: Revelry on Richmond

If it didn’t involve food, it didn’t happen. After working up an appetite Downtown, the Revelry on Richmond in Montrose is the perfect place to relax and refuel. Their menu selection includes all of your bar faves, such as nachos, burgers, steaks, and tacos, with a unique twist on each, as well as hand-selected wines (hello, rosé), specialty cocktails (they whip up a mean Moscow mule), and lots of craft beer. If you and bae are sports fans, catch a game on one of the big screens. Or head outside to the spacious patio to start a competition of your own with the bar’s giant Jenga, jumbo Connect Four, or mini-basketball court. Eat, sip, and play in one stop, all for a reasonable price.

Why I Like It: Traditional dinner dates have the potential to be stuffy and awkward, especially if it’s your first time out together. A low-key spot like the Revelry allows you to let loose, dig into some good eats, and play a fun game or two to break the ice.

Location 3: Unwine on Almeda and Café 4212

Just a quick five minute drive from the Revelry, you’ll find Unwine on Almeda, a swanky urban wine bar featuring an excellent selection of vino and a spacious rooftop lounge. Score a comfy corner couch and table on the roof for an intimate feel paired with light jazz and/or R&B vibes. Although it closes at midnight, if you don’t want the night to end there, walk a few steps over to Café 4212. Known as the Museum District’s hidden jewel, you’ll enjoy soulful lite bites, more wine and cocktails, and live music and poetry performances on the patio until 2:00 a.m.

Why I Like It: You can tell a lot about a person from his or her taste in wine, and relaxing on a rooftop on a warm Houston night is nearly unbeatable. Each spot exudes the urban Southern charm of the district and are also both black-owned, which is the ultimate win in my book. So if you want a place to relax, sip, and meaningfully engage, here’s your stop.

From Downtown staples to Montrose hideaways, the possibilities are endless when it comes to designing a lit date around the city. Cheers to an adventure-filled night you won't want to end!

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Why Bryson Tiller is NOT Your King: The Problem With 24-Year-Old Men

Ashley Johnson

Me, every time I see a woman getting scammed by a man who gave her warning signs. 

Me, every time I see a woman getting scammed by a man who gave her warning signs. 

Bryson Tiller recently released his sophomore album, True to Self, and the above is a visual representation of my response to it. I will be the first and last person to tell you that I LOVE me some Bryson. He is the epitome of the black male aesthetic that sends me into a head spin, from his dad hats to his Vans. That, however, doesn't change the fact that his music is a tad bit problematic and enabling. Oooop, I said it. From start to finish, True to Self is a classic attempt of a man's savage ploys to keep a woman (who deserves better) in his life. I say "savage" because the lyrics on most of the tracks embody the man who leaves you hanging onto his words and charm when you known damn well you need to run away fast. 

Bryson Tiller is the problem with 24-year old men and sis, he is NOT your King. 

Me, every time I realize I'm the woman being scammed.

Me, every time I realize I'm the woman being scammed.

Now don't get me wrong; I don't think every 24 year old man is problematic. I actually think that most men age 21-35 are problematic so my read is not biased against age. Yes, there are great men out there. But, for every great man there are two who are bound to cause you distress and heartache. These are the men Bryson effortlessly captures in his lyrics. The men who duck and dodge the "What are we?" question six months in, the ones who want to kick it 24/7 and expect you to be there to clean up the mess, the ones who are still "figuring it out" as they date you and three other women all through college (shots fired, I know). 

We've all been in these (and worse) situations and honestly, they build character. It happens to the best of us and we all know that it prepares us for better. What gets me is when we women are in our mid to late 20s STILL engaging with men who give us ALL of the warning signs. With that being said, a few examples of said warning signs brought to us by True to Self...

Exhibit A: 

No, I can't do what a man should be doing for you/ Trying my best to pull through for you, yeah, yeah/ Listen, few years we been at it, so much static   (“We Both Know," True to Self)

Sometimes your best isn't good enough dawg. Some men will have you hanging onto the "one day" and "I'm trying my best" until your youth has passed you by and you're five plus years into a dead end relationship. While I am no advocate for giving up on a relationship that is receiving energy from two parties, I do push women to pay attention to those static moments. Ask yourself, "Are we growing in this relationship?", "Are we creating a life that I actually want?", "Am I truly happy?." All of that is clearly easier said than done, but I promise holding onto "one day" is a sure fire recipe to stay stuck. 

Exhibit B:

When I look at you, I see someone I don't deserve (“You Got It," True to Self)

Girl when a man tells you that he doesn't "deserve you," run. He's right and he knows something you don't. That is not a cute or endearing statement; he is probably trash and you need to believe him. That's it. No other option. Yes, women of our era are achieving at a rate that often outpaces their black man. No, that doesn't mean you should lower your bar of dating/relationship standards. If a man truly feels like he does not deserve you and he wants that to change, HE WILL GET SOME ENERGY. If that man doesn't have the energy to step up and be a person who deserves you, pack ya bags ma. 

Exhibit C:

Sometimes I forget/ And sometimes you gotta put me in check (“In Check," True to Self )

I'm a grown woman who will not be checking a grown man. Point, blank, period. This lyric reminds me of those dysfunctional relationships where it's as if you're raising the man to be the partner you deserve. As black women, our only "raising" duty comes when we have little black boys and girls. You should not be checking a grown man who knows right from wrong; it is not your job to raise him. Basic concepts like respect should not be taught by you. I may seem harsh because no one is perfect and we all have to learn, but there needs to be a limit to that. You cut enough slack and next thing you know, you're living out a Jody and Yvette scenario. 

Exhibit D:

Got a girl that don't expect as much from me/ That's why she gets so much love from me/ She just might be the one for me (“Set It Off," True to Self) 

Listen. Have and keep your high expectations. As black women doing the damn thing in every aspect of life, you cannot lower your expectations when it comes to love. That will only hurt you in the long run and we cannot romanticize men who give us "a lot" because we demand little. Now yes, you shouldn't expect a man to spend all of his bread on you, give up his hopes and dreams for you, nor should you expect a man to be perfect. However, you should expect him to show up for you and continually show you why he deserves you (and you should be doing the same for him). Low expectations only lead to disappointment and committed relationships after three years of "Yeah, we kick it." 

Me, when I finally learned to reject these men who try it.

Me, when I finally learned to reject these men who try it.

There you have it, some warning signs. Now there's plenty more to be discussed (I could dissect Exchange until I'm blue in the face), but we can save that for a rainy day. The point is, don't ignore the signs. Stop romanticzing hard relationships. There is something to be said for overcoming life's challenges with your man, but be with a man who doesn't create those challenges. And mostly importantly, remember that Bryson Tiller is not your King. 


Image Source: Giphy, Tumblr, 2DopeBoyz

Summa Summa Summa Time: Date Ideas that don't Suck

Ashley Johnson

Recently, I had a Sunday date in Philly, my current home/city that I'm trying to conquer. This date was brought to me by a local guy and it was simple yet so lit. We started our afternoon out with tacos (that included complimentary margaritas with each order) and then moved to the park. "The Plateau", as I was told, is where Will Smith was rapping about in "Summer Time" ("Back in Philly we be out in the park/A place called the Plateau is where everybody goes").

When I say Belmont Plateau is the epitome of black joy, honey. We parked the car and observed everything from old heads flexing in their old school cars, youngins on dirt bikes, a guy in a very nice camo bucket hat selling barbecue dinners, speaker systems blasting Migos, horses (!), and more or less summer time choosing of potential baes. I was enthralled and that date definitely goes down as a Top 10 in my book.

So that, among other things (including my general tendency to take myself out on dates), got me thinking about all of the lit and cheap summer dates you can go on in your city. Then I got to thinking about the lit and cheap summer dates YOU (yes you 20-something year old woman conquering your local city) can plan for some lucky guy or girl. And with that...The Reign XY's Summer Time Date Guide idea was born. But before we get into some prospects...

Tips for Planning a Fun but Inexpensive Date (No Matter Where You Live):

1. Do some research.

All major cities, and most suburbs, have websites for local tourism and events. Philly's version, has monthly calendars with events in and around the city.

2. Find daily specials/deals.

Without a doubt, there are activities to be found where you don't have to pay full price. Groupon is your friend here and will lead you to victory. Don't be shy about calling your favorite bar/restaurant and inquiring about weekly specials they may offer. One of my favorite brunch spots in Philly does a weekend happy hour deal for half-off drinks during brunch hours. Remember, a closed mouth don't get fed.

3. Be open-minded.

The "perfect" date is a combination of location AND chemistry, chemistry with the other person and/or your environment if you're solo. Just about any spot can provide the foundation for a good date and the point is to just not waste your hard work and energy on a person who isn't decent company and up for a good time. And if you're solo, that also means not taking yourself out on a date when you know you have sixty million deadlines and know for a fact you won't be mentally present. 

And with that, let the summer commence! Stay tuned for Date Ideas that Don't Suck in major cities across the USA. 


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