Blessings for Obedience

Deuteronomy 28:1-6

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands, I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock-the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading through will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out…”

Blessings. I believe I am living in a great season, one that I don’t even deserve. It all began in January. I booked my trip to Europe and 2-months later I was traveling to the very cities and countries I’ve only dreamed of seeing. I was living in my dream and my very purpose thanks to God. He allowed me to see the world, he allowed me to experience European culture. He allowed me to LIVE. You can read more about my travels on travelbyky.com

By April, a week after I returned from my trip, he blessed me with a bonus and raise at my company. I wasn’t expecting both. It was a Tuesday when this happened and I headed straight to Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Prayer Meeting. I’ve been going faithfully ever since.

In August, after attending my friend’s wedding I was so sick of my love life or lack thereof. Fake men, fake relationships, nothing authentic. I yearned for something real. I connected with Joe and sparks flew; we’ve been together for about 3-months now. Yes, we have our ups and downs. Yes, my biggest issue with him is that he needs to be more invested in God but he’s a great person. He’s thoughtful, we want the same things out of life that I want and I enjoy being with him. I pray for his salvation and rebirth. There was a reason God put him in my life and I hope that my faith can have a strong influence on him.

Yet, things still were not feeling complete for me. Work was draining. I was sick of people talking to me any kind of way. Sick of the routine and non-growth in my position. Until one day everything changed. They let my boss go and suddenly, I had to step up and get her job done. It was a big deal and a huge game-changer for me. Suddenly, I had a purpose and believed I could do anything. Nothing was impossible with God. He answered prayers I never knew I was praying for. He proved himself faithful. He’s my protector, my provider, my father, he loves me. He knows me. He wants the best for me.

I’ve been obedient to him but I can always stand to be more obedient. Jesus has proved himself so faithful to me this year. Looking forward to the blessings of 2015.

Night Cap With Jeff Koons

Honestly, I only wanted to go to the Koons exhibit to get an amazing picture in front of Balloon Dog. I’ve only heard of Jeff Koons work once in my life while researching Asian culture. I have to admit, I might be the “superficial American’ Koons is poking fun at through his art. This exhibit was not as deep as Kara Walker and Balloon Dog was not remotely as deep as Mammy Sphinx, but I was still very intrigued because I love avant-garde art. I pre-purchased my ticket to avoid waiting on the long line and invited two friends to experience this “Cult-of-Koons” also known as Retrospective at the Whitney Museum.

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We started on the top floor and worked our way down. The first exhibit we visited was called Antiquity which showcased artwork from the ancient world infused with 1950’s pinups girls. We eventually made our way to Popeye and Hulk Elvis before discovering the “nirvana” of the exhibit also known as Balloon Dog and the Playdough structure. I was intrigued by his artwork but to be honest I didn’t understand it. What was the deeper meaning behind his sculptures?

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We proceeded to The inflatables, Gazing Ball, and Banality. I enjoyed these exhibits the least. For one,  I am not a fan of readymade art. I understand the sexual undertones of the inflatables but it lacked substance. Equilibrium was pretty cool; how he got the basketball to stay afloat in that water was beyond me. Luxury and Degradation was funny. All hail to the Hennessy piece.

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Overall, I enjoyed a great night out with my girls. There is something so cool about going to a museum at 1AM. I felt so Sex in the City when Carrie was dating Aleksandr Petrovsky. We eventually found out the Retrospective was in a sense mocking and/or highlighting the tangible things that we value so much in our culture including sex, athletes, celebrities, alcohol, and play dough among others. Twas a night to remember.

The Importance of a Weekend Trip

So often we look across the world to experience history and culture and we never think to look in our own backyard. This past weekend I decided to visit my friend Brittany in Philadelphia. We spent the first-night having careless fun which included fish tacos at a Mexican restaurant and Korean Karaoke. The following day I felt a little under the weather, so we got a bunch of snacks from the grocery store and watched Law & Order Criminal Intent all day. Finally, she convinced my sick self to get up and catch a movie which we did and it was awesome. Luckily for me, I got a double deal. We went to see the movie on the UPENN campus and I got to experience life as a Penn ivy leaguer, well sort of. That night, Britt made delish spaghetti and I called it a night unusually early.

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The next morning I felt so much better. We got an early start and headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. I ran up the Rocky Balboa stairs like I was the champion himself. I had no idea about the significance of those stairs as it related to the movie. I saw people lined up just to get a picture with the Rocky statue and I eventually put two and two together. We headed straight to the museum and luckily for me my Penn State credentials granted me access to the museum at a discounted student rate.

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The museum was amazing, filled with a lot of antique furniture, portraits of George Washington, and breathtaking artwork. What captivated me the most was the medieval room which was an exhibit filled with military armory from the middle ages. Always assuming that this part of our history was somewhat fictional, it was a pleasant surprise to see the steel army wardrobe of the past on display.IMG_7615

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Outside of the museum was The Oval, which is a seasonal local festival. Brittany and I watched performances and drank apple cider while sitting on a haystack. We enjoyed taking in the amazing sights of this beautiful fall afternoon.

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I felt fulfilled as I headed back to New York. Who knew that the Philadelphia Museum was the first museum in the United States? I didn’t. Not only did I experience the culture, and a lot of history in a short 2-days, but this weekend seemed longer than ever. I was totally ready to head back to work and finally have something great to say when someone asked the quintessential “So how was your weekend?”

Getting To Know Someone…Again

To some people, one of the most annoying things about meeting someone new is the process of getting to know them. I have to admit, I used to feel this way but ever since I met my boyfriend, getting to know him is one of the most pivotal (and fun) times in our relationship. In a sense, we are setting a foundation for the rest of the relationship by dictating our likes and dislikes, standards, and deal-breakers.

I kept my standards high waiting for the moment when my Prince Charming would whisk me off my feet and that kind-of-sort-of happened. He noticed me at a party/concert we both attended and asked if he could put me on his shoulders. I said sure, why not? He picked me up but I landed on his bald head. He asked for a second chance but I told him absolutely not. The whole thing was pretty awkward until he asked for my number and continued on with his night. I did the same.

I thought about him; wondered if he would contact me but didn’t think anything of our exchange. Yes, his approach was like no other. I mean, no one has ever asked me if they could put me on their shoulders which is why he stuck out in my head, but aside from that, I wasn’t interested in getting to know someone new. I was sick of the whole dating scene. I just wanted to be single.

He contacted me a couple of days later and I found out he was a special-education teacher, he received his degree from Boston College, his masters from Pace University and he was from Harlem. Although I was open to meeting someone new, I was not excited about it (in spite of his credentials). He was persistent and after a few weeks of texting, we talked on the phone and sparks flew. Was this the guy I was waiting for my whole life? Our conversation was effortless. We talked for 3-hours and would’ve talked longer if I didn’t have to jump on a conference call. Every day leading up to our first date was filled with great conversation. Everything was new and fresh and we wanted to know everything about one another.

So we came up with 21 questions for each other. We each thought of random questions to ask one another to elicit conversation. Some of his questions dealt with the future he wanted to build with someone, while mine focused on who he was at his core. These questions proved to be helpful conversation starters but that wasn’t something we had issues with anyway. We enjoyed talking to one another and no question or topic was ever off-limits.

In the case of my boyfriend, I don’t mind getting to know him because he’s special and I’m really into him. If I could know everything about his past I would because when you like someone you just want to know everything about their lives.

(Or maybe that’s just me)

Some helpful conversation starters:

  1. Name, Age, Where did you grow up?
  2. What are your views on love?
  3. Do you believe sex before marriage is wrong?
  4. Are you spiritual? What is your religion?
  5. Do you want to get married? When?
  6. What do you fear about commitment?
  7. What do you love about settling down?
  8. Do you drink? Smoke?
  9. Have you ever cheated?
  10. What led to the demise of your past relationship?
  11. What kind of relationship do you have with your parents?
  12. Do you have a lot of friends? Who is your best friend?
  13. Do you have children? Do you want children?
  14. Where do you work? Have you discovered what you always wanted to do?
  15. What are your interests? Passions? hobbies? Typical Friday night for you?
  16. Do you live alone? with family?
  17. Where do you go to school?
  18. How often do you believe date nights should be?
  19. Do you travel? Where have you traveled to?
  20. What would you have done differently in your last relationship?
  21. How important is health and fitness in your life?

Who are you here with?

The question immediately made me feel like I didn’t belong like I was an outsider of some sort. In a lot of ways I was, however, it was too soon for my outlier complex to get the best of me.

I progressed into the country club, with a group of elitist African Americans who worked for a prestigious billion-dollar corporation. I was surrounded by the best of the best but I was new blood and they could smell it.

I proceeded to the bar, in hopes that a drink would calm my nerves and then to the hors d’oeuvres buffet where I munched on some delicious appetizers before being told to take my place in the dining room.

It felt like everyone was watching me, I wasn’t a part of any of their circles, I wasn’t best friends with their children, I was a guest of a guest, that guest being my dad, talk about three degrees of separation.

As the night went on, I began to loosen up and even received the chance to interview some of the honorees, yet I felt somewhat unworthy. I know I am super blessed to be among such influential people and I know God put me among these groups of people for a reason that is unbeknownst to me.

I ended the night feeling defeated. I didn’t belong, I would probably never have the country club membership and call executives from a billion-dollar company my friends. My heart hurt as I wanted to belong so bad but I felt like an obscure puzzle piece being forced to fit into the wrong puzzle. As far as I was concerned it would never fit.

The Journey To My First Adult Relationship

I’ve been single since I could remember. After my first real relationship crumbled at 18, I’ve never been in a committed relationship since. I’ve been in pseudo relationships, you know, the ones where you’re together, but not really together. I’ve also been in the fill the void relationship, where you’re together but nothing about this union is representative of a real relationship. Before I knew it, I was 25, single, mingling but disappointed with the prospects, celibate and annoyed with my spinsterhood.

Reality hit me after I came back from Europe. I had an amazing experience and wanted nothing more than to talk to someone other than my friends and family about it. I yearned for a male’s voice in my ears; late-night conversations as I reminisced about the food in Venice and the beaches of Spain. I had no one to call because I pushed all-male companionship out of my life in an effort to get closer to God. I began to talk to my fill the void guy, but soon realized he still wasn’t ready for something serious; he got older, but his games were the same.

A few months later, I attended my friend’s wedding in the Bahamas. It was a blast. We had so much fun and I even met a really cute guy, whom I later found out had a girlfriend (bummer), but I thought I liked him so much. Now, using hindsight I question did I really like him or was my infatuation out of pure desperation?

The Bahamas allowed me to reflect on my love life tremendously. While on the trip, I got some free time to call my fill the void guy, but he seemed so preoccupied, like he couldn’t be bothered. I wasn’t offended; I just knew that would be one of the last times we would talk. I watched two of my friends get married and I was so proud of them. They were adults, in an adult relationship and I was still chasing after the emotionally unavailable. I made a pact to myself, to continue down my path of singlehood. I was doing so well; maybe another year sans men would do the trick. Spinsterhood seemed far more gratifying than dealing with men as a whole.

A day after I returned from the Bahamas, I received a text from a guy that I promised a date night before I went on vacation.

Guy: Hey I haven’t heard from you but was wondering if we were still on for dinner tonight?

Shoot, I totally forgot, I thought. I picked up the phone and called him. I was sick of texting him anyway. How would I go on a date with someone and not once chat on the phone? Technology is the enemy.

Me: Hey, OMG, I’m so sorry I forgot about our dinner tonight. I didn’t want to text you so I decided to call you and really reschedule a time that we would both be available.

My pleas of forgiveness ultimately led to us speaking for about 3-hours. The connection was instant. He was unlike any other guy I’ve spoken to in a while. I was so excited. I know I swore off men but he was different. He made reservations for us to have brunch on Saturday and we talked every night leading up to our first date.

The first date was at Poco’s in the Lower Eastside. I was 2-hours late (major traffic into the city) but he was patient and waited for me until I came. He proved to be thoughtful, having a glass of Hennessey straight waiting for me. One of the first things I remember about him was that he grabbed my hand and held on tight until we got to the restaurant. The next date was a few days later at Spice. I believe it was at this time, I realized I had a thing for him. He was charming, thoughtful and looked at me with those piercing eyes as if he could read the insides of my soul. A few more dates ensued which led up to my favorite date at his house on a Saturday night. We ordered Italian take-out and ate in his living room, which he cleaned up for me because I told him I would love to hang out there. After dinner, we looked through an old record collection his mom passed on to him and listened to the sweet sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Boyz II Men. I found myself near tears, as I sat Indian style on his couch. As simple as it might seem, this was all I ever wanted from a relationship: companionship, commonalities, and someone who loved Boyz II Men as much as me.

One night, after our Scandal premiere party, we got into our first spat. He made an assumption that was totally wrong, and I was disappointed in him. Instead of our disagreement escalating, we talked it out like two-adults in an adult relationship. The irony was that we hadn’t talked about being in a relationship as yet. Once again, I was very impressed with his patience, his ability to admit his wrongs and his desire to make sure I was happy. He didn’t want us to go to bed with anything weighing heavy on our hearts. The next day I received the following text from him:

Guy: Should I ask or will you?

Me: Ask what?

Guy: Will you be my girlfriend” I think we have something

Me: Omg, I totally want to be your girlfriend. I was just waiting for you to ask 😉

And just like that, I was off the market. But what does this all really mean? Is it weird that I feel like I lost a small portion of my freedom? Or that I can no longer do what I want to do without consulting someone first? What about the annoying quirks…can I still feel free to vent to my closest friends about this, or do I now have the obligation to protect him and the reputation of our relationship by all costs? To be honest these questions come out of fear. I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes to be a girlfriend. I fear that we will fall apart as fast as we came together. I’ve always feared commitment. I don’t want to love someone so much and watch it crumble to dust a few years later. What if I do end up marrying him, is it insane that I think about marriage already? How will he propose? When will we buy our first home? I fear that I will end up unhappy and stuck like so many other women who walk down the aisle with high hopes and end up in front of a divorce lawyer. I’m afraid of his past; the girls before me that can expose the man he used to be. I am also afraid of him finding out about my own past. I just might be afraid of it all. Yet all my fears are silenced when I’m with him and he makes me feel like I’m the only girl in the world, his gift from God. It’s a good feeling. I guess these are the risks we all take when jumping head first into an adult relationship.

According to Kydee and Nikki: The Big Chop

I helped my friend Nikki big chop and it was epic. The key to the whole process was the mood. She invited me over one Saturday, with the simple text “I am ready.”

I sped over to her apartment in fear that she would back out once again. I am natural myself which is why she depended on my support. Once I arrived, she washed her hair and let it dry some. The mood was totally off. This was becoming more awkward then it was supposed to be. Big chopping is supposed to be fun! Where’s the tunes?

So we turned on the likes of Erykah Badu, India Arie, and D’Angelo, all Neo-soul artists whose music made us proud to be natural-conscious sistas.

I allowed Nikki to take the first snip…snip, snip, snip…this girl was getting too scissor happy and missing the mark of demarcation (the point between the permed hair and the natural hair, where it is suggested you should cut). I abruptly grabbed the scissors from her so I could finish the back. Once it was done she looked in the mirror with such confidence on her face. I will never forget that moment of freedom she had. Her hair was gone; she felt great and looked amazing.

Her first words were “I haven’t seen my natural hair in over 15 years,” then she began taking selfies. Nikki was totally feeling herself and I couldn’t blame her. Becoming natural is one of the most liberating feelings ever. She actually motivated me to trim my hair once I got home. We went out to a local bar to celebrate after.

It was an epic day.

Thank You Kara Walker

July 6, 2014, marked the last day that the Kara Walker “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant” exhibit would be shown to the world. The sugar and molasses structures would be destroyed along with the huge factory that it was displayed in and I am so honored to have received the opportunity to be in the presence of such greatness before it’s demise.

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I gain inspiration from art. It’s sort of a creative outlet for me and for a moment in time, I can try and figure out the depth and thought process that might’ve gone into a certain piece of artwork and/or sculpture. Simultaneously, I love African American history. I love to learn about the resilience of my people. Pride fills my soul as I take in all the sacrifices that my ancestors had to go through so I could live a better life. How could I ever repay them? I often ask myself this very question. All I can honestly do is promise them excellence; Excellence in myself, my work, my commitments, my education, and my life. I am committed to making my ancestors proud and never letting their legacy die.

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I get a sense that Kara might feel the same way. Her installation revitalized the issue of race, slavery, rape, industrialization, westernization, and femininity (along with many other things). She reopened the conversation and exposed the harsh realities of slavery and the free labor of African Americans which built the very foundation of this country; The Mammy Sphinx was a powerful sight to witness. Standing tall, with its Afrocentric features and profound physical assets, I was filled with so much pride in its presence. One of the best moments of this exhibit was listening to the casual conversations among visitors as they discussed the various meanings and purposes behind Subtlety. Some bystanders stood silent, enamored by the sphinx while others just wanted to be pictured with it.

All in all…Thank You Kara. You’ve made history.

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#BringBackOurGirls

Kydee Williams

Education is a luxury that many of us in the States take for granted. Yet, there are men, women, and children all over the world losing their lives and being kidnapped for this very thing. This week I learned that 276 young Nigerian girls were forcefully kidnapped from their boarding schools in the middle of the night and completely vanished without a trace.

Their fate? They would be sold as the wives of militant men (which is a nicer way of saying they’ll become sexual slaves) for as little as $12. The men who kidnapped them are a part of an extremist Muslim group called Boko Haram which can be translated to mean “Western education is a sin.” These girls had hopes and dreams of becoming teachers, doctors, and lawyers and now their fate is unknown. Far too many women on an international scale are denied the right to an education based on their gender. The harsh crimes that they must endure are becoming more prevalent in the news including the gunshot wound that almost took the life of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and the acid that was thrown in the faces of young schoolgirls in Afghanistan.

The Nigerian government is doing very little to find these young women and bring them home, which leaves it up to us to raise awareness about the cause and do something about it.

Despite the lack of news coverage on this issue, I am amazed by the power of social media which is actually where I first learned about this violation. Through the extensive use of photos, hashtags, and protests the issue is gradually coming to the forefront and receiving the national attention we all know it deserves. With the notoriety it’s receiving on social platforms we all should hope that the United Nations and our very own US government will begin to take extreme action. Sometimes, proximity plays a huge role in how we address issues, especially when something is going on far away from us. A lot of people develop the Out of Sight, Out of Mind mentality and we forget about our brothers and sisters abroad who need us to stand up for them.

#BringBackOurGirls is evolving into a life-changing movement that addresses issues that have been ignored for too long. Young women throughout the world want to be able to go to school and become professionals in their community yet they are faced with adversity including abuse and neglect by family and friends. Simultaneously young women are being kidnapped and trafficked into sexual slavery each day.

I believe it’s my duty to bring this issue to the forefront and raise awareness. Let’s start the conversation and #BringBackOurGirls.

20-Something Year Old Grandma’s

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Your friend asks you to hang out and you’re totally down, but when the time comes your bed feels more comfortable than usual, so you wait as if staying in bed will exude a mystical power that will convince your friend not to want to go anywhere…and then the text comes in…

Friend: Girl, I am so tired
You: Me Too, such a long day
Friend: You still want to go
You: It’s up to you…I’m down for whatever
Friend: Maybe we should stay home
You: kk **Jumps out of bed and does the happy dance**

If this exchange sounds familiar and you are only in your twenties then you are a GRANDMA! You might be wondering, what makes me such an expert and it’s because I’m a grandma. I know I am. I’ve always preferred staying home than being out on the streets until the wee hours of the morning. I hate coming in when the sun comes out, it just ruins my sleep patterns. As much as I love fun and social gatherings, being home is just as fun.

See below, some signs of grandma-hood approaching prematurely upon you:

1-Your friend call’s you at 11pm and you’re already sleeping…ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!

2-Your idea of an epic night is staying home and watching movies in bed…bring on the Love Jones!

3-You’re totally over the “club” scene..but remember back in the day when the club was like reaching nirvana? It was just the coolest thing ever.

4-You use words like “Back in the day” (see #3).

5-When you actually do go out, every song that the DJ play’s you have to turn to the friend that is least likely to judge you and ask “Whose song is this?”