Being Mary Jane

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How ‘Being Kara’ Reminds Us that Motherhood is a Game of Survival

Every parent damages his or her child in one-way or another. Even the most successful and well-meaning parents do something to their children that will undoubtedly follow them from childhood into adulthood and possibly a welcoming seat on the therapist’s sofa.

The theme of the latest episode of Being Mary Jane was motherhood and survival. The episode, titled, “Being Kara” shows the character Kara attempting to juggle a budding relationship, an entitled Mary Jane, an annoying ex-husband, a demanding career, and two children, one of whom may have a learning disability. We see Kara struggle to be “every woman” and attempt to bring her best self to every aspect of her life, but she soon realizes that shit is just way too trill.

As a full-time employee, mommy and wife with too much gall and too few psychotropic medications to call it quits on the whole blogger-freelance writer shenanigans, I saw glimpses of my life being played out on television. Kara’s feelings of failure, regret, anxiety and trepidation are shared. Her near breakdown after burning brownies and failing to join the ranks of “together moms” who seemingly care perfectly for their perfect children and bake Pinterest-perfect goods for the school bake sale is simply Thursday ‘round these parts. Only none of my friends bake, leaving me to walk the dirty linoleum floors of the nearest 24-hour Wal-Mart searching for the least sugary cupcakes that can be pawned off as homemade. No one is fooled, but I feel like a better mom for having gone through all of the effort. 

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As I struggle more and more with how I parent, my ability to be a decent role model, and how, without being too abrasive, to teach my daughter valuable life lessons, I wonder what will be the definitive effed up thing(s) I will do or say to eventually be the cause of my daughter’s a) recurring therapy appointment, b) the muse behind her award-winning art, c) the reason my future son-in-law will hate me or d) all of the above.

Being Kara means being a headstrong mommy and an “every woman” who hasn’t quite learned that every hat worn doesn’t complement her outfit. Being a parent means accepting that you will likely be the subject of more than a few of your child’s journal entries. Being Kara, being a parent, being a mother means being a survivor. I survive by unashamedly taking moments for myself.  Kara survives by climaxing and managing her anxiety with prescribed anti-depressants.  We survive. 

So Kara, from one mother to another, you are understood.

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Signs You’re Involved in a One-Sided Friendship

The epidemic of one-sided friendships didn’t begin with Girlfriends’ Joan and Toni or Being Mary Jane‘s MJ and Lisa.  If ongoing celebrity Twitter beefs and chart topping songs, “Loyal” and “No New Friends,” are any indication of the state of friendship and the constant balancing act it takes to keep them afloat, then the epidemic of one-sided friendships deserves a hashtag and a spring cleaning, fall season be damned.

Even with the demands of life—especially as adulthood and parenthood have the tendency to seize a great amount of our time—those demands shouldn’t be built-in excuses to suck as a friend.

Because I’m a bit dramatic and have a penchant for remembering great quotes, I like to reference friendship to that of oxygen. Lauryn Hill was quoted in a glossy whose name I can’t recall, stating that people are like oxygen. From my experience friends—the real kind—are like oxygen; much needed to survive.

Friendship, while very subjective, is at its core reciprocal. Although #ByeFelecia has become a hashtag-turned-television series, we who know the ’90s hit movie Friday to be a modern classic, realize the reason Felecia was so often dismissed is because she came around only to receive, never to give.

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So in an effort to begin early spring cleaning, use this list created by Rise by Design Coaching as a litmus test to gauge if it’s time for you to say “bye Felecia” to a few of your friends.  You may even discover that you’re the Felecia amongst your friends. 

Signs You Are Involved in a One-Sided Friendship:

  • Your friend is always asking favors of you, but never returns them
  • You initiate contact most, if not all, of the time
  • Your friend invites other friends to share activities instead of you
  • Your friend always has an excuse as to why they can’t get together
  • Your friend rarely calls you back
  • You take the time to reach out and be there for your friend during hard times, but your friend doesn’t do the same for you.
  • Your friend justifies their lack of thoughtfulness & engagement to “I’m just not that good with keeping in touch”.
  • Well wishes, such as for birthdays or holidays, are not reciprocated
  • Your friend doesn’t follow through with what they say they are going to do
  • They only surface when it’s convenient for them
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BMJ Season 3 Episode 3 (Photo: BET)

How Lamar Odom and ‘Being Mary Jane’ Should Have You Considering an Advance Directive

It has been over two weeks since former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom was hospitalized following a reported overdose at a Nevada brothel.

But you knew that already. How could you not? Mainstream media has brought Lamar Odom—man, son, father, two-time NBA champion and 2010-2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year—and his woes closer to us than most second cousins. Talk of his health and what many people have rationalized as the “curse” that befell Odom the moment he said “I do” to one of the members of “America’s First Family,” has made it to our dinner tables, our water cooler conversations and social media space.

Since reports of Odom’s alleged overdose and the grim prognosis that followed, it has been clear that the real focus is not Odom’s health and well-being and his rise, fall, rise, and fall again story that mirrors so many men and women we encounter daily.  Instead, the epicenter has been the affairs of those on the peripheral of his near death experience. Media has focused on Odom’s wife and the rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Odom’s father and his mottled past, and even former teammate Kobe Bryant. The headlines of Odom’s ordeal have been a regular game of “Where’s Waldo,” Kardashian-style.

But this post is not to lament over mainstream media’s lack of compassion. This post is the silver lining of a medical and mental health situation that resulted in the hospitalization of a man who had been separated from his wife when he was declared comatose and unable to make decisions for himself. Recognize Odom’s health crisis as a learning opportunity and the silver lining of a tragedy that could have been worse.

  In my profession there have been countless times where I have witnessed a comatose, brain dead or otherwise medically incompetent patient’s fate be decided by strangers, unwilling medical agents or family members whose judgment was clouded by guilt, selfishness and pain.   Despite Lamar Odom being nearly divorced from Khloe Kardashian, she is still legally his next of kin and medical decision-maker. This situation is not unique to Lamar and Khloe.  In many regards it was almost repeated on the most recent episode of Being Mary Jane when one of the characters committed suicide…because the black community also falls victim to suicide and mental illness. Had that character’s farewell been botched, or had she avoided death only to fall into a coma, her mother—the mother she hadn’t spoken to for years—would have been the person to decide her fortune. This is often the scenario when individuals do not take the time to educate themselves, evaluate and define “quality of life,” and establish medical advance directives.

If you’re at least 18 years of age and capable of reading this post, then you’re of sound mind and able to decide–in advance–the person or persons you wish to enforce your medical wishes in the event you’re ever incapable of doing so on your own volition.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), but today I encourage you to define what quality of life looks and feels like to you. Advanced care planning is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.

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For state specific resources and information on how to complete an advance directive please visit NHDD.org.

Follow Un-Edited on Twitter @Un_Edited for more #TruthNoBackspace

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‘Being Mary Jane’: 10 Lessons I Learned From Season 2

For two seasons, Being Mary Jane has been a guiltless addiction that doesn’t warrant an intervention. Mara Brock Akil’s sensational scripted drama series has upgraded our musical palate with what we consider to be one of the absolute dopest playlists of any television series currently gracing the small screen.   Being Mary Jane has served as the catalyst of some of our best water cooler discussions and Twitter debates, and has even given us some pretty awesome quotes, life lessons and things that make us go “hmm?”

Ahead of the two-hour Season 3 premiere returning to BET on Tuesday, October 20, we present ten lessons from Season 2 that made us either question ourselves and others, reevaluate our choices, or raise a healthy glass of wine toasting to our lives being only half as dysfunctional as Mary Jane’s. Ah, life is good.  And on Tuesday life–scripted life, at least–only gets better.

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Join us on Twitter during the Season 3 premiere of Being Mary Jane as we live-tweet the first episode in between sips of wine and hors d’oeuvres of the moderately cheap and semi-unhealthy variety.

Being Mary Jane  Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on BET beginning October 20  

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