Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Couple Highlights: Jennifer & Aedian Baker (Star)

Jennifer and Aedian Baker (Star)
from Durham, North Carolina

How long have you been together?  Both: We have been together for 5 years and we were married on March 6, 2012.  

How did you get together/meet? Jennifer: I knew Star's ex-girlfriend because we used to work together and we shared a due date. After our babies were born 2 days apart, we continued to make plans to have play dates. In December of the same year, I had a family tragedy and Star came out of hiding to send me a message on Facebook. We discovered that we loved each other's writing and so we shared our stories. I let Star read my online journal and that's how our friendship started. 

Star: I was with my ex-girlfriend for 5 years but I was miserable. Too much had happened between us and I was staying with her out of comfort and presumed obligation. I had promised her that I would always be there for her and I felt very strongly about keeping my promise. After Jennifer and I connected through our journals, my intentions were to hook her up with my ex-girlfriend's little brother.

I think one day there was a picture posted on Facebook that she didn't mean for me to see. I told her about the picture and somehow we got to talking about her curiosity with my lifestyle. From there (blushing) a threesome was arranged between me, Jennifer and my ex-girlfriend.  Even though I was determined to make Jennifer mine from the moment I saw that picture, a polyamorous relationship developed and we three stayed together for 2 years. After a bunch of drama and a year of homelessness, Jennifer and I wanted to be together exclusively.

What did the journals reveal about her that peaked your interest? Jennifer: I got to see what made her tick. A lot of her journal was her thoughts and feelings and I got to see her hidden qualities. I got to see her hidden vulnerability. Star’s exterior persona is stud but internally she is soft and vulnerable like a cuddly bear. I liked the two sides and I liked how they molded together. She exuded male-dominant energy but with soft curves that reminded me that she's all woman. Star: Her journal revealed that she didn’t't really get taught much about the world. It revealed that she felt broken in areas of her life that she didn't have to be. I saw some things that would keep her from her true potential. 

How did the journals transform your relationship? Star: When we met, we were just homies and the sex thing was just us being young. But sharing our journals gave us a foundation for a friendship. The journals helped us communicate the hard things that we couldn’t say out loud. Jenn is a brilliant writer.

Star, how did acknowledging your male and female energy make you feel? Gay. When I met Jenn I was in transition from all of the rules. I found myself veering from being hard core to being my natural self. How would you classify yourself now? I don’t know. I don’t follow rules anymore. At 27, I am coming into my own and rules no longer work for me. At 25 I was a“touch me not” stud but that didn’t work for me and that didn’t work in our relationship. I had to learn to be vulnerable which was hard for me to do. Jenn is very supportive of the change. 

What was the initial attraction?  Jennifer: Star had a way with words like no other. She put pictures in my head and sent my imagination into total overdrive. I found myself craving her conversations and replaying our stories over and over again. She ignited feelings in me that I thought I had long put away.  Feelings that made me question why I ever tried to hide those feelings in the first place. 

Jenn, tell me more about those feelings: I had already experimented sexually with women and loving a woman felt right. With boys, I always felt that something was missing. With Star, all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and I felt at peace. 

Star: Jenn’s heart is as deep as the ocean and she trusted me. If I had to put a word to it, I would have to say that I felt honored to be given that level of trust. Even with me telling her that I was only human and that I messed up too, she trusted me. I got to know Jenn as both fragile and strong.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship? Both: We both agree that friendship is key. We don't always communicate well and our love languages are different but our friendship is on a rock-solid foundation. We rely on friendship because even in the longest relationships, you can't always be a couple.

What makes your friendship so special? Star: She is my homie and we play a lot. We can sit all day, we can wrestle and we can tickle each other’s feet. She’s fun. Jennifer: I can tell her anything. I can tell her a bad thing and she will just ask “how do you feel about that”. Star is very accepting. 

What do you mean by “you can’t always be a couple”? Star: We don’t always like each other in a romantic way. Jenn and I have at least two weeks per month where we can’t stand each other but we love chocolate so there’s something to bond over. LOL

How do deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship? Jennifer: We write. Our word is our bond, and if we put it on paper, then we always have a reminder of the promises we made. We have very demanding responsibilities to our families and communities, and sometimes spoken words get lost in the wind. When we take the time to write each other, it shows that the other is important and it forces us to really choose our words carefully. 

You mention family demands. I know that you both have children. How do you manage the relationship with your ex-partners so that you can co-parent the children? Star: Jailynne doesn’t have her father.  My girls, Katori and Kynnedi Noelle, call me Daddi.JJ's father finally came around and now he stays around and provides. But even though he has earned our respect, I am still the provider, protector and disciplinarian for all of my kids. My baby’s mother feels that Jenn stole me so she has been a problem. Jennifer: Since I am a baby momma, I know “baby momma” tricks. I will not let her use the children as pawns. I am learning to just ignore her because Star loves those kids. All of our kids get along too because they grew up together. They know each other as brother/sister.  

How have your families supported your relationship? Star:  My family has always been very supportive. Jennifer’s mother did everything in her power to hurt us. Her mother put a lot of bad ideas in the kids’ head. For example, her mother told the kids that if I hit them, tell a white person at school and they would get to live with her. Jennifer: With Star’s help, I have gotten stronger and bolder. I wrote my mom a letter and told her that her relationship with the kids was damaging them. However, she never got the letter. Star encouraged me to speak with her and we are better now. 

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Star: Jennifer came from a religious background.  I grew up in the Baptist church but had given up on religion and God by age 6. When I started coming around Jenn, there was conflict with her mom and her church pastor. When she left the church, it was almost like a piece of her left. That made me reevaluate how much I needed God in my life. I've only been back in church for a year but Jennifer supports me and answers my questions. Others tend to misconstrue my words.

Star, what made you give up on religion so early in life? My intuition; I knew that they were full of it. Their teachings didn’t match up with their actions. I was having sex with girls since the 3rd grade and I didn’t know it was a word for it but it felt right. Also, my pastor was preaching about the same sins that I saw going on in the church.

Jennifer: I grew up in churches thinking that God hated homosexuality and that caused me to suppress my natural feelings toward girls. The last church I attended made me quit all of my ministries because I was pregnant out of wedlock. I knew that the God I wanted to serve wouldn't punish me for my mistakes, but I couldn't find a church that taught that same principle. 

It was after almost a year of coming up with excuses that we finally walked into a church together. We found Imani MCC and the first thing the greeter said was “welcome home”. Imani has become our church home and it is an accepting church. They don’t try to hide their stories and we just fit in. Now I see God continuing to bless us in more ways than one. Our relationship with each other is getting stronger and we have added a support system.  .

Couples need support systems because relationships are not always easy. What do you feel is the value of a support system? Star: It is invaluable. At first, it was only me and Jenn and that really wore on our relationship. Initially we didn’t let people in but we figured out that we needed people. When I can’t get through to her, I send Jenn to her best friend’s house and she comes home a brand-new person. As girls, we get emotional but our friends are always there to check us and to listen to us. After we talk to them we say “ok, you are right”. Jennifer: I agree; it is invaluable. You need someone to talk to about your relationship. It’s good to have people who believe in you and also believe in your union. 

What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Star: We're both over here giggling about this question and I hate to ruin the rainbow picture for y'all. Of course, when we were new to each other, we couldn't be alone without jumping on each other. I remember one day we were
supposed to be packing up the apartment in preparation to move. Needless to say, absolutely nothing got packed that day. Sex with her...I swear I think I just reached puberty (lol). But now we have so many other responsibilities that sadly sex and sensuality has taken a backseat in our relationship.

Jennifer: Every day we hit the floor running, regardless if we want to or not. Some days we make plans to be intimate but the closest we get is falling asleep at the same time. The way that sex and sensuality were so important to us years ago, I never thought we would be the couple that would have to fight for intimate time with each other. But since we know it is an issue, we are looking for ways to change it. If you have any tips or tricks, we'd love to hear them.

What do you most admire about her? Star: Jenn is a lot stronger than she thinks. Jennifer: Star gives me space to spread my wings. Sometimes I am all over the place but she never stunts my growth. I can talk to her about all of quirks and she accepts them.  I love the fact that everything she touches grows, including me. Star: I admire our differences. Things that I don’t know she teaches me. That has never happened before. It is just something about Jenn that makes me want to grow up.

If you could thank her for 1 thing. What would that one thing be? Jennifer: I would thank her for showing me the world. I use to be very naïve and believe in fairy tales. Also, I want thank her for giving me time to stop and smell the roses and play in the rain. Star: I would thank Jenn for loving me. Her love has helped me spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically; it has helped everything.

What advice would you give to other couples?  Star: Let's see....take the time to be your mate's friend. That's essential. Don't be afraid or ashamed to be vulnerable. Vulnerability has threatened to make or break so many relationships. And lastly, have your past but start each new mate with a clean slate. Be able to say, I've been hurt this way in the past but you're not them. 
Jennifer: Know yourself. Know what sets you off, what makes you happy and what your limits are. Be willing to compromise, and understand that compromising doesn't mean selling yourself short. Get to know each other, really know each other. Get to know each other’s dreams, hopes, ambitions, fears, likes, families, etc. Take your time and enjoy the ride!

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself? Star: What hasn't it taught me? It has taught me patience, understanding, sensuality, sexuality and spirituality. It has taught me that true love wasn't copyrighted by Disney.  Jennifer: It has taught me that I need to work on patience and not to take myself so seriously. Laughter is an amazing medicine. 

What 1 word describes/characterizes your relationship and why? Star: Poetic. My relationship with Jenn is like a sonnet that will never be finished. Jennifer: Magical. Star is like my fairy God mother. Things are just better with her. Chocolate is sweeter and the sun shines brighter. She’s the silver lining for everything.

(Interviewed by SharRon Jamison)
We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and happiness.

Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison 

We will see you at the 2014 Create Love Conference on March 8, 2014: More Info

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SAVE THE DATE: Create Love Conference 3/8/14

WOW! We cannot believe that it's already time to gear up for the second annual Create Love Conference.  The first conference was absolutely amazing! There were 100 women who love women there networking, growing, and loving TOGETHER.  This conference is for singles, couples, or poly's. We exceeded our expectations and plan to do so again in 2014.

Register EARLY (by December 15, 2014) pay only $79 and have your name entered into a raffle for a free hotel stay to used during the conference or at a later date. REGISTER HERE

  • The workshops we have in store for you are packed with essential relationship information:
    TOUCHY TOPICS-The 7 main topics that derail relationships and RAISING THE EROTIC CONSCIOUSNESS-Exploring Love Through Sensuality, Sexuality and Intimacy. We will also have some fun performances, games and an awesome.
  • Meet new women for friendship and camaraderie. Become a part of the Create Love family!
  • Experience the dynamic Marketplace.  We will have vendors with a myriad of products, goods and services to enjoy. 
  •  An opportunity to network and enjoy a fun, informative and beautiful day with like-minded women.

PRESS RELEASE: Create Love for Women Who Love Women launched in September 2012 with an explosion of excitement in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community. It was founded by long-standing community advocates, Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison. This powerhouse duo came together as counselor and minister to offer a platform for women who love women to build, sustain and celebrate healthy relationships. Create Love garnered a momentum that has sky rocketed in popularity with more than 60,000 hits to their website, nearly 2300 women in a private Facebook group and numerous radio interviews under their belt. And they show no sign of slowing down now.

The founders of Create Love state, “It takes a village to support a successful relationship and we want Create Love to be that village. This is more than a vision it is a movement to redefine the way we build healthy, loving relationships.” Create Love offers an informative blog with virtually 100 articles to date, covering topics from learning how to fight fair, spirituality, finances, sensuality and sexuality. There are also numerous interviews with couples who are creating love and modeling relationships, for us and by us. There is even a highlight on happy singles, showing that you don’t have to be in a relationship to celebrate love. Jamison and Evans say, “Create Love is for any woman, single or partnered, who wants to be empowered in this love movement.” Imani and SharRon are proud to announce that their blog came in second place for Creative Loafing’s Best of Atlanta 2013. What an exciting accomplishment in less than one year!

Create Love for Women Who Love Women also offers workshops, panel discussions and the annual Create Love conference. The first conference, held in February 2013, had an amazing turnout with nearly 100 women in attendance. They are anticipating doubling that number at the second annual conference to be held on March 8, 2014, at the Decatur Marriott. The conference will include workshops presented by Imani and SharRon, performances, interactive exercises and a dynamic marketplace. Create Love for Women Who Love Women has proven itself as a force in our community. They are looking forward to continued growth and expansion in their mission to empower women and sustain healthy relationships. Stay tuned because Create Love is, indeed, on the rise.

Create Love For Women Who Love Women
P.O. Box 5389
Atlanta, GA 31107

BECOME A SPONSOR OR VENDOR FOR CREATE LOVE. Expose your products and services to hundreds of women through our marketing efforts and the day of the conference. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What Are You Waiting For?

Do you know how to wait?  When one of my mentors posed that question, I really didn’t know what to say. I never thought there was a “right” way to wait. I knew that waiting involved being patient, persistent and persevering but I never thought there was a “correct” way to do it. Based on what my grandmother taught me, waiting meant sitting down, shutting up and staying put. That was it! There was nothing more to it.  And since I was rewarded with candy when I “waited” how she told me to wait, I assumed that I had the “waiting thing” down pat. To me, I was a “waiting” expert.

But life has taught me that waiting is not a passive activity.  Actually, waiting requires energy, intention, strength and self-control; it requires effort. If you don’t believe me, just think about the times in your life when you were forced to wait. After a few minutes or months, depending on what you were waiting on or waiting for, you became restless, frustrated and anxious. And, it didn’t matter how forbearing you were either. After a certain amount of time, waiting became almost unbearable; it became a test in endurance.

Even though the mere thought of waiting irritates most of us, waiting is an unavoidable inconvenience that life requires of all us. Like it or not, waiting is something that we all must do and all must endure because even though it is hard for some of us to admit - we are NOT in control. Even as you read this article, you are waiting on something or someone, right?
Since we all are waiting, even though we may not be enjoying it, I wanted to offer some tips to make our “waiting times” productive, profitable and powerful. Yes, good things do come to those that wait.  It took me almost 50 years to learn that lesson, but I now understand the value of sitting down, shutting up and staying put. So, how do you wait?

The first way to get the most out of your waiting time is to PONDER.  Since you have time on your hands or since you are between jobs, lovers or appointments, PONDER. Think about your life and identify gaps in your happiness, gaps in your satisfaction, gaps in your development, gaps in your education, gaps in your fulfillment and the gaps in your healing? Are you where you want to be or where you need to be to live the life you desire? If not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are opportunities for me to practice more gratitude, love, compassion and understanding?
  • Where are the inconsistencies in my life?  Do my behaviors, attitudes, friendships and speech reflect and represent my values?
  • How am I fulfilling and pursing my own development, destiny, dreams and desires?
  • What areas and/or what people in my life are no longer serving, sustaining, supporting or satisfying me? Since I am the boss of me, why haven’t I made changes?
  • Am I living the spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual or financial life that I desire? If I am not, why? What are my roadblocks?
  • After I strip away my positions, possessions, degrees or titles, who am I? And, do I like me?

If you are blessed to have a partner, waiting provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on your relationship. Couples are usually willing to examine their relationship when their unions are threatened or in trouble, but why not daydream about ways to more effectively love your spouse in a way that fulfills her? Since you have some time, why not list all of the wonderful qualities that you admire about her? Many times we take our partners for granted and we become desensitized to the very talents, gifts and abilities that once captivated us. During your waiting period, ponder these questions?

  • What changes in my behavior would help me be a better partner?
  • What can I do to speak my partner’s love language consistently and fluently?
  • What areas can we strengthen and deepen our connection? Do we need a relationship tune-up?
  • What can I do and be to stay attractive to my partner?
  • What areas or topics are difficult for us to manage? Why? What can I do to decrease the difficulty or increase our ability to manage the area/topic?
  • Have I let myself go in any area? If so, why and how can I address it?
Waiting without texting, talking, tweeting and tumblring (not sure if that is a word) provides an opportunity for you to spend time and talk to a person who deserves your attention -YOU!  If you already have a practice of talking to yourself or with a trusted friend, how about journaling about/for you. YES, write about/for YOU!!! Remember, nobody should know more about you than you do.  So spend time communing with you – the you that only you know and the you that you have yet to discover. While you wait, ponder and wonder. While you are waiting, do you, boo!  You are worth it.

The second way to get the most out of your waiting time is to PREPARE.  We all know what preparation means, but do we all really know how to do it? Sometimes I am not so sure because preparation requires us to plan, fix, arrange, organize and get ready for what we want to do, to be, to experience, to have and to share. It requires action, effort, change, reflection and renewal. Preparation is work.

Having a healthy relationship takes preparation. Many of the single women featured for the “Happy Single Highlights” column frequently mention the importance of getting ready for love.  I appreciate how they explain and express the value of healing, developing, learning, enjoying, forgiving and loving themselves in the meantime and in-between times. They use their waiting times to learn more about their emotional triggers and to discover more about what makes them tick. They are waiting, and at the same time, working and celebrating themselves. They are pondering and preparing purposefully for their own success.

As a life coach, I can assure you that learning and discovering yourself is not easy work; digging through all of your emotional layers and breaking down your emotional defenses are not simple tasks. Believe me, emotional deconstruction/discovery is delicate, detailed and requires determination because without all 3 you fail to get to the root of your problems/issues/maladaptive behaviors. Without a thorough understanding of your personal history, you fail to see significant connections, identify childhood injuries and expose toxic feelings that shape and/or influence you. Without pondering, you threaten your own ability to adequately prepare yourself for what you desire in life.  So while you are
waiting, prepare yourself for what you want and need.  As the elders use to say: make sure you get the bricks ready for the building.

During your waiting period, ask yourself the following questions about your preparation efforts.
  • While you are waiting for your dream job, what are you doing to prepare yourself to excel at it once you land it? Or, why not create the job yourself?
  • While you are waiting to start school, what are you doing to prepare for your own academic success? 
  • While you are waiting to get over a childhood wound, what are you doing to participate in your own healing process? Have you found a trusted friend, therapist or counselor to walk with you on the road to recovery? Have you read a book, attended a seminar or joined a support group?
  • While you are waiting for a good friend, what are you doing to make sure that you are good friendship material? 
  • While you are waiting for a partner or spouse, what you are doing to prepare yourself to be in a loving, healthy relationship?  Are you improving your listening and empathy skills? Are you improving your communication and collaboration skills? Are learning how to manage conflict, manage anger and negotiate differences?
  • While you are waiting to get out of debt, what you doing to curtail your spending habits and to develop a healthy relationship with money? 
  • While you are waiting to be physically healthy, what are you doing to accomplish that goal? Are you exercising, eating right, taking your medicine, drinking more water and getting more sleep? 
Are you just waiting or are you waiting and working? Remember preparation is required for success and self-preparation can sometimes be the hardest, but the most gratifying, type of preparation. This African proverb says it best: To make preparation does not spoil the trip. Since you want to go on the success and love trip, prepare yourself during your wait times so that your trips can be all you desire them to be.

The third tip to get the most out of your waiting time is to PRACTICE. PRACTICE not with the intention to become perfect because the quest for perfection is a dangerous trap. Also, I do not believe that perfection really exists, but that’s another article.  I believe the goal of practice should be to improve, refine and expand our skills and let’s face it, we all need that!

If I had a few wishes, I would wish that during the wait times that all people would practice forgiveness of self and of others. Forgiveness is difficult and that is why we have to practice it and also make it a practice. When we get better at forgiveness, we can GIVE up the past, not forget the past, FOR a better future. During your wait times, why not practice forgiveness? You deserve it and so does the person who offended you.

I would also wish that we would practice listening with love. If we did, we would learn more about others and about ourselves. I wish that we would practice more empathy. If we did, people would feel and experience more love, healing, connection, vulnerability and honesty. I wish that we would all practice patience, patience with ourselves and with others. If we did, we would not be so judgmental, cantankerous, arrogant and condescending. At least, I wouldn’t.

While you are waiting, practice whatever skill or virtue you need to function in a way that makes you proud of YOU. Practice the skill that will help you advance personally and professionally. Gain some expertise, increase your proficiency and enhance your competency. You have some time, so practice. You are worth it.

The final tip to get the most out of your waiting time is to PRAY. I don’t just advocate prayer because I am minister; I believe in the value of prayer. We may call prayer by different names such as chanting, communing with the ancestors, mediating, sitting with nature, etc.  How we define it and how we perform it is not important. What’s important is that we do it and that we do it consistently.

As I mentioned earlier, waiting requires patience, persistence and discipline.  And let’s be honest; none of those are easy things to do.  We need help! We need divine intervention or divine assistance to support us during difficult delays, gaps and pauses in our lives. We need staying power and that power usually comes from prayer. 

I don’t know about you but prayer and the ability to pray have gotten me through some tough situations. Prayer has calmed me and has reminded me to stay focused despite the vicissitudes of life. It has helped me weather many personal and professional storms and has helped me deal with some significant health issues too. Prayer has given me the perspective and power to PUSH: Pray until something happens.

So while you are waiting on whatever you are waiting on, pray or do whatever you do that invites light and love into your home, life and relationships. Pray for courage and creativity. Pray for discipline and determination. Pray for rest and restoration. Pray for insight and foresight. Pray! We all have to wait so make the waiting time peaceful, purposeful and pressure-free.  Pray!

Waiting is never easy, especially when the wait seems endless. Like Gladys Knight and the Pips sang: you got to make the best of (best of, best of), a bad situation. If you have to wait, don’t just worry; wonder and work. PONDER, PREPARE, PRACTICE and PRAY. I promise you these 4 tips will make your wait easier to endure and will make your life more fulfilling too.

While you're waiting, be sure to register for the 2014 CREATE LOVE Conference. Early bird registration ends soon. Also, if you are interested in being a sponsor or vendor at the conference, please contact me or Imani. We are adding an Author’s Corner in 2014. If you want to promote your book, contact us a.s.a.p. because author spaces are filling up fast.

Blessings as you wait,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Create Love: Lynda and Betty Gates

 Lynda and Betty Gates
from California

How long have you been together?  We’ve been together for twenty-three years and married for 21 years as of September 6, the day after Betty’s birthday.

How did you get together/meet?  Lynda: We met over the Memorial Day Weekend at St. John’s Night club in San Jose. I introduced myself, offered to buy her a drink, which she turned down because one was her limit. That excited me and I struck up a conversation. At the end of the night, I walked her to her car and asked for her phone number. Having no pencil or paper, she repeated it twice. I remembered it and called the next evening and here we are!

What was the initial reaction?  Lynda: For me it was lust. From cross the room I eyed her headlights discreetly from under the bill of my hat. Little did I know then but women with big breast always know when you’re staring at their breast. Anyway, I had been single for a while and was looking to nest. Ms. Betty, with her sexy feminine self had my full attention!

Betty: I saw her across the room. I wasn’t sure if she was a man or woman but I knew she was handsome. And to my amazement, when she approached me she was quite nice. Plus, I liked her big legs.

What would you say is the key to success in your relationship? Betty: I love catering to my wife and she loves being catered too. It’s the little things that I do for her that makes my heart smile with love.

How do you define catering? It is the little things. I like taking care of her like running her bath, massaging her head, serving her breakfast in bed, etc. I like to do things that make her feel good, and making her feel good makes me feel good.

Lynda: We’re old school with a lot of old school ways. Betty is my cougar but we see things almost eye to eye. I’m an ole’ school butch and I believe in roles.  I am the head of my household, provider, shot caller and the responsible one.  I know my job and I accept my role; I’m in charge. Yet ultimately, I’m a baby who wants to be taken care of so I hooked up with an aggressive femme who is smart enough to get her way while letting me think I’m in charge! When I first met Betty, she was the better part of my mother. She was actually what my stepfather said when he married my mother: a woman determined to have things with or without me.  So I guess it was her ambition that was attractive along with her wit and sexy body!

Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might occur in your relationship? Betty: Some challenges are too hard for me to handle and that’s when Lynda steps up and handles them and vice versa. Sometimes there are things that she doesn’t want to deal with and I step up. We share.

Many couples struggle with sharing?  At first it was a tug-of-war but then I realized how strong she was. I feel blessed to have someone so strong in my life.

Lynda: We both grew up with a strong religious foundation which has helped us build our moral foundation. We believe our union was blessed from the start and that good KARMA has continued to bless us each and every day. We have been through a lot. Betty has buried her father and grandmother and just found out last night about another death in the family. I have buried my grandmother, brother and father. We have taken care of my mother with Alzheimer’s for the last ten years physically and assisted financially for five years prior to that. My honey has opened three restaurants and has gone through four career changes.  I have gone through a few career changes myself. We purchased our first homes together. We’ve raised a few of my nieces and nephews.  We’ve employed and helped a lot of people along the way and despite all the ups and downs we have still survived!

You have been through a lot as a couple?  Many couples are not able to survive some of your challenges. What’s your secret? Lynda:  I listen to the girls on Facebook saying that “I wouldn’t tolerate this or that”, “I won’t take that” and “I won’t do this or that”. I believe that to survive you do whatever it takes. For me, whatever it takes for us to be happy, I will do.

How did you support each other during the career changes? Betty: My “hersband” is a motivator and she motivated me to go back to college and convinced me to get my degree. We motivate each other. You have to motivate each other to have a partnership.  You have to believe that you are in it together and whatever benefits one, benefits both of you.

What role has sensuality played in your relationship?  Betty: After all of these years we still make love because we are still in love with each other. We still look for new tools and ways to keep it exciting. Sometimes when the other is not in the mood, that’s when love and patience comes into play. We are in it; we are in this thing for a lifetime.  Lynda: We are still open-minded and eager to please. We are still curious. As we age, our bodies’ and appetites have change but not our willingness to explore, adventure and experiment.  We continue to be creative.

What advice would you give other couples?  Betty: Be patient with each other. Love each other not only during the good times but the hard times too. When you don’t see eye to eye, give in even when you’re right and especially when you’re wrong.  Lynda: Never enter a relationship saying what you won’t do. Try to do what you can. You don’t always have to be right. Sometimes you have to lose to win. And most importantly, choose your battles wisely. Happy wife, happy life!

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?  Betty: That I’m not perfect. I am nowhere near perfect. I need to accept constructive criticism to be able to grow! I need my wife in my world and I love to be needed.  Lynda: It’s not my wife’s responsibility to make me happy; that’s my job. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I have to work harder at being patient because it no longer comes naturally. I have acquired at temper over the years which I also must learn to control. I have become less tolerant of bullshit these days and I want to learn to age gracefully. And when all else fails, I’ve learn to just be still and you’ll see everything will be okay!

What do you most admire about her? Betty: I admire her ability to let go. She has helped me and taught me how to let things go. All of my life I had a problem with that. I also admire her ability to express herself. I have learned that it is ok to say what you mean because most of my life I hid things. She lets me know it is ok to say what I feel. Lynda: I admire her determination. She is going to finish whatever she starts. If you are not with her, just get out of her way.

If you could thank her for one thing, what would that be? Betty: I would thank her for being in my life and for staying with me. Lynda: I would thank for loving me the way she does; she loves me unconditionally. I would thank her for accepting my terms. For example, she knew that I would be responsible for taking care of my mother.  She accepted that and also helped me take care of my grandmother. I am grateful for that.

What one word describes/characterizes your relationship? Both: Blossoming. As we get older, we are changing with each other. We have changed how we feel, touch and communicate with each other and we continue to grow. We love it!

(Interviewed by SharRon Jamison)

We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and happiness.

Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison 

Who Are You Really Dating? 11 Dysfunctional Dating Personalities

Anyone over 30 on the dating scene is sure to have a plethora of stories to tell. And hopefully the joyful ones outweigh the nightmares. Dating as an evolved, self-aware woman is not for the faint of heart. The willingness to open your heart requires taking a risk. It is a leap of faith into the dating abyss. Some of us come out running and wondering whether or not it was worth the trouble. Well, beloveds, it is most certainly worth the risk in order to find the one. However, you have to be self-aware and lead with a healthy balance of intellect and emotion. This requires you to pay attention to the person in front of you and not the fantasy in your head. Too often this is where women struggle in the quest for romantic bliss. Then when the fog is lifted you are left scrambling for the exit. Save yourself the trouble and pay attention with both your head and your heart.

In my work with individuals and couples I have found several relationship personality types that emerge with consistency. I'd like to offer you some insight on the dysfunctional dating personalities that I've seen in my personal life and on my counseling couch. As you scroll through the list you might see some of your exes, friends, or if you're really being honest – yourself. That is not necessarily problematic unless it is out of balance. For example, if you are going through something it is natural to be a little more clingy and self-centered than you might be otherwise. However, if it is more than a moment in time and is present more often than not, then you might want to consider if this list is calling your name. And if that is the case, don't fret. CREATE LOVE is about growth and loving each other through the progress. Remember, change begins when you seek it.


1) THE CLING-ON: The Cling-On latches on very quickly. She has a desire to be around you all the time. Within the first couple of days of meeting you she is calling you her baby. She is booed-up before she even knows much about you. She really doesn't have a sense of needing space. Where you are is where she wants to be. With minimal reciprocity from you, she is attached. She is needy even to the point of neglecting her own priorities. Her sense of validation comes from being connected to you. She texts and calls you more than usual and feels abandoned if you are not doing the same. She can't get enough of you and has a need for attention that is a black hole you can never really fill to satisfaction.

2) THE RUNNER/CHASER: The Runner/Chaser is thrilled about the pursuit. She wines and dines and/or seduces you well. She talks of wanting to be in a relationship and believes the words as they leave her mouth. She hopes that you might be the one. She is courting you and excited by the chase. If you are playing hard to get, she is more determined than ever. However, as soon as you turn and say, "yes", she heads for the hills! She is thrilled by the chase but landing is way too scary, or makes her feel too vulnerable and uncomfortable. She is afraid of deep connection for one reason or another. Maybe she got her heartbroken before, or maybe she doesn't trust anyone to fully love her. Whatever the case may be, you must be very cautious because she will keep you in a loop of distancing and pursuing that can be mind numbing. You look the most attractive to her on your way out of the door. It is you who will have to decide to finally get off of the merry-go-round.

3) THE FIXER: The Fixer suffers from "save a sister syndrome". She has a profound need to be needed. She is all about resolving whatever problems you show up with. Now, this may sound appealing at first and may have the appearance of altruism. But beware that the fixer's need to be needed has more to do with her own emptiness than anything else. She often feels resentful at the fact that no one gives like she gives. Fixers can be martyrs and perceive themselves as the great sacrificer. She feels a misguided sense of gratification by being able to "save" you...Even if you didn't ask. Many times it is really herself that she is trying to save. Your dependence on her feeds her self worth, despite the fact that she will probably complain about giving and never getting.  The truth is that she is not as open to receiving as she might think.

4) THE SECRET KEEPER: The Secret Keeper never really fully reveals herself to you. This is not to say that she is a liar. To the contrary, integrity is probably one of her values. To her, omitting is not the same as lying. No one ever has all of the pieces. Vulnerability is not her strong suit. However, she may very well require it of you. She is a master at keeping things close to the chest. She may be charismatic enough that you won't even know how little you actually know about her. You may be dating her for six months or more before you find out things that others would consider basic information. And if you stumble upon her secrets before she is ready to reveal them she may feel invaded. The only person she wholly trusts is herself. She may have been deeply betrayed in her past and won't take the risk of further violation easily. Rest assured if you are dating the Secret Keeper, mutual disclosure is not on the menu. Breaking down her wall of armor is a job for a superhero.

5) THE COLLECTOR: The collector is just what it sounds like. She collects women like others might have a hobby. It is not about possessing women, but rather an unclear vision of what she truly wants. Therefore when you inquire about her dating life you will find various types of women. She might even say "I don't have a type" with pride. Her relationships are in a string of serial monogamy. She goes from one to the other with ease. At the heart of her issue may be a fear of intimacy or just an unrealistic expectation of relationships.  She is, what I call, a surface-dweller because she doesn't put in the effort to go too deep. She is not very comfortable unless she is in a relationship, but doesn't have a real sense of how to commit for the long haul.

6) THE SUCCESS SEEKER: The Success Seeker craves a certain lifestyle and/or attention. She hasn't quite figured out how to garner it for herself, so she is attracted to strong, powerful and successful women. Now, "I ain't saying she's a gold digger, but she ain't messing with no broke..." -LOL. She would never perceive herself as using these women. Instead she sees herself as seeking someone who is equally yoked. The problem is that on her end she only shows up with potential. The Success Seeker loves life in the limelight and wears is it well. At times, her jealousy will peek out and come across as insecurity. You will have to watch your bank account closely if you are dating the Success Seeker. It is not so much that she wants to use you, it is really that she wants to be you.

7) THE PAYMASTER: The Paymaster is strongly identified with her ability to handle your stuff. While she doesn't think of herself as buying love, that is exactly what it amounts to. Not only will she pay for dates, gifts and trips, she will also take care of your bills. She is probably well accomplished professionally and has acquired a wide range of toys to show for it. She will court you at some whole other level. Sounds wonderful, right? Wrong! See the Paymaster is overly identified with her money and her professional self. She believes that it costs to be the boss. So on the other end of her giving is indeed an expectation. The expectation may not be spoken, or she may not even know what it is herself. Yet have no doubt that if you don't fulfill it she will make you pay. Remember when your mother told you that nothing in life is free? Well, if you are dating the Paymaster you will soon discover mother was right!

8) THE DRAMA QUEEN: The Drama Queen is in need of a stage so that she can stop acting out in her life. Her life is filled with one crisis after another. You will probably be in awe at how she experiences one issue after another. Of course, she will swear that it is not about anything she is doing. Life seems to be happening to her instead of her having a handle on living fully. Chaos seems to find her like a magnet and drama puts her at center stage, where she truly loves to be. She is probably creative and talented and lured you in with her right-brain prowess. Initially, dating her is exciting and passionate. She is willing to do anything once but can be impulsive. You will enjoy the show momentarily, but you will soon be looking for at the curtain to be pulled. Enjoy it while you can because in the end she may very well wear you out.

9) THE PLEASER: The Pleaser is driven by fulfilling your needs. If you are taking her to the movies and dare to ask what she wants to see, she will be quick to respond "whatever you want to see". And that will pretty much be her stock response for most things. Your happiness is paramount, even to the sacrifice of her own needs. Her own needs disappear and she is driven by a yours. Her sense of self is lost in her desire to please. It is not that she is devoid of needs, but your disapproval is too great of a risk for her to make too many requests. She has probably had a long history of people-pleasing to the extent that it feels normal. She is not as comfortable receiving pleasure as she is giving it to you. This may be appealing to some, but you are never really getting a full person to love.

10) THE SEX MASTER: The Sex Master borders on being a sex addict. In some cases, she may very well have a sex addiction. She is driven by the thrill of seduction. She may ooze sensuality in everything she does. While you are talking to her she is imagining kissing your lips. She feels fulfilled by making love to you and she may be extremely good at what she does. She has honed her technique because you will never be able to say she didn't know what she was doing. But like any addict, the thrill is never as good as you build it up to be. And after she has had you the way she wanted her interests starts to wane. As bad as you might feel about this, she probably feels even worse. She is trying to find love through sex and is consistently disappointed that she never does. She may even stay in an unfulfilled relationship simply because the sex is good. It is a futile battle for her and for you.

11) THE STORYTELLER: The Storyteller is living in a 24-7 fantasy.  She will have phenomenal tales of things that she has done with no concrete evidence of any of it. She may keep you at a distance from her family and long term friends for fear that they will bust the bubble.  The details will start to be misaligned if you are paying close attention.  In short she is a liar. She lies about her job, experiences and anything else that will mask her deep seeded low self-esteem. She dislikes who she is so much that it is more rewarding to make a up a story in which she is the lead.  She may rationalize these stories by saying that she tells people what they want to hear.  She may even have a hard time telling fact from fiction herself because she has been telling the lie for so long. Too bad she doesn't use her powers for good because she'd probably have a best seller on her hands.  Unfortunately, that won't be any consolation for your feelings of betrayal once your blinders have been removed.

Once you have gone through the whole list, I encourage you to read it again. Sometimes it takes a second look to recognize yourself, exes, or your current sweetie. Remember that while you might see some of these characteristics in many people, it is really more about a consistent pattern of behavior. If you do not recognize yourself in this cast of characters it may mean that you have evolved toward better balance. Whether you see yourself in this list or someone whom you are dating, the remedy is still the same; Do your personal work to help you see clearer and choose more wisely.  The goal is to select a mate from an empowered place of fulfillment versus a place of emotional "woundedness". 

We manifest people in our lives because they reflect some facet of where we are in that moment. For example, if you have a pattern of attracting The Runner you might want to consider your own intimacy issues. It is easier to blame the other person for not giving you what you want. However the real work is in facing why you are consistently choosing that experience. This is not about judgment because judgment breeds shame. It is about being courageous enough to tell the truth. It is about gathering the information needed to be empowered with choice. You are where you are for a reason.  Embrace that fact with compassion and get the lesson that the Universe is trying to offer you.

Wherever you are in your dating journey, I wish you great success on your quest to find love. You are worthy of all the bliss you can stand. My hope is that you release the idea of falling in love in exchange for the power of CREATING love.

Nya Akoma,

Imani Evans, MA
Office: 404.368.8827
MORE ARTICLES: Forgiving the Unforgivable; I SEE YOU-Learning to be Vulnerable for LOVE; ARE YOU READY FOR LOVE- Facing The Fear of Intimacy

Join us for this wonderful upcoming workshop on successful lesbian dating!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Create Love: Reflections from the First Year of Marriage

Wendy Smith and Anita Haugabrook 
from Atlanta, Georgia 

Your wedding day was so beautiful. When you look back on your ceremony, what comes to mind? Wendy: When I think of our wedding day, I think about how blessed we are and how many people love and believe in us. We had a destination wedding because we wanted people to attend who really loved and cared about us. It was beautiful and I felt blessed. Anita: When I think of our wedding day, I think of Wendy at the top of the stairs, as she ascended I was floored; Wendy was beautiful. She was stunning.

Everybody was crying at your wedding. I know what my tears meant. What did yours mean? Anita: My tears were tears of joy. I felt joy that I was able to find and marry my soul mate. Some of my tears were also tears of fear. I realized that Wendy was my responsibility and I was responsible for every part of her well-being. When I took her hand, I felt “I got you”. My commitment was to be her caretaker. Wendy: I felt overwhelmed. At that moment, I felt all of the love she had for me and that feeling completely engulfed me. I felt “here is my soul mate” and it was overwhelming. I also had tears when my sister (Erica) gave me away.

It was interesting. I felt your emotions and my spirit was leaping. I didn’t know what to do with that emotion so tears flowed freely. It was difficult to compose myself to perform your ceremony because the love was so palpable. I felt something at your wedding that I never felt before in my life. It was powerful. Thank you for that moment.

How has being married changed your relationship? Wendy: Being married has made us closer and stronger. We were already close but the commitment of marriage made it more solid. We stood in front of everyone and made a commitment. Anita: It made our relationship deeper. Before we got married, I knew I loved her. But after we got married, it took my love for her to another level. Before I loved her but it changed my desire to wholeheartedly respect and value her.

I love that you both celebrate each other. Most couples struggle with celebration. Why do you feel celebration is important? Anita: Celebration is necessary and Wendy deserves to be celebrated. As my wife, she deserves it privately and publicly. She takes care of me and I have never had someone take care and love me the way that Wendy does. Wendy: Celebration is another word for praise. I praise her so she knows that I not only love her, but I also admire her. She has so many qualities that I desire for myself. When you praise your partner, you are building her up. You are reassuring and reinforcing that you love her. I praise her because I love her and because she is mine. It doesn’t matter if we are at home or by ourselves; I tell her how much I love her.

You come from very different backgrounds. How did you learn to bridge the culture and experience gaps?
Wendy: Keeping God as the center definitely helps with that. We also communicate. I used to struggle with people understanding me. I was raised by my Dad and I didn't have that nurturing thing. I felt that people didn’t “get” me. Anita said “I don’t get you, but I want to get you”. That was important to me because I never felt that before. Anita listens and tries to understand. She may not be able to totally relate, but she tries. That’s important. Anita: We have learned to agree to disagree. Also, I have learned to put myself in her shoes. That helps me sense what she feels. It all starts with listening.

This year was full of changes. What did the changes teach you? Anita: This year has taught me patience and that (patience) is still a work in progress. Many people in my life don’t know that I struggle with patience but I do and am working on that. It has also taught me to hush and listen. One of our friends, Cheryl Wayne, said you should “listen with the intent to understand and not reply”. Before I would listen but would also think about how I was going to respond. I am learning. I have also learned that some small things don’t matter so much. For most of my adult life, I have lived alone and I am very organized. Wendy disrupted my life but I have learned that it ok.  For example, I used to have the dishes in a certain way. But since she does most of the cooking, I don’t worry about the dishes. Sometimes I even have to ask her where things are. Wendy: When we were dating I would change things around to see if she would notice. She always would. lolWendy: I learned that I couldn’t do it without her. The role of a step-parent is a big load and I initially didn’t understand that. Lee has always been “that kid”. I was a Mom and I was used to it. But it was hard watching Anita in her role as a step-parent loving him and loving me. I didn’t realize that she was taking so much on in her heart because I was in so much pain too. It makes me admire her even more. I wouldn’t change anything that we have been through. But I know that I wouldn’t want to do it any of it without her.

What have you learned about each other this year that is surprising? Anita: Nothing about Wendy has surprised me. NOTHING! She has yet to surprise me and she does a lot. I just laugh and say “That’s my chick”.

Wendy: It has surprised me that she can let the little things go. I do little things because I am not as organized and certain things serve as reminders for me. But now if I leave something out to remind me of something, she leaves it there or leaves it alone. Before, she would pick it up and put it away. That she has been able and so willing to adjust has been surprising.

What has your relationship taught you most about you? Wendy: It has taught me that I take full responsibility for her heart. We don’t argue because I am yeller and she gets quiet. But I never say anything to deliberately hurt her. I will never say anything that makes her second guess my love for her. Never! I never will say anything in anger. Anita: I have always taken pride in my independence. I have learned that it feels good to need someone…I need Wendy.

Anita, I love the way you look at Wendy. You can tell you love her and are attracted to her. Describe the attraction? Oh wow….she’s simply stunning. The way she walks in the room and commands attention is amazing. What people see does not even begin to describe her true beauty. She is so much more than the heels, etc. What I love is that she doesn’t even see her beauty and that makes her all the more beautiful! 

Wendy, I always catch you stealing adoring glances at Doc too. Describe your attraction? When we are out, I know how much she loves me. I know how her touch feels, how she holds me and how she kisses me. I say to myself “you have no idea” and that only adds to her sexiness. Doc also has swag. She’s so smart, she loves her family, God is the center of her life, and all of that together makes me love her so much. She still holds me every night; she holds me and doesn’t let go. When I lay on her chest, I feel safe.

Wendy, you told me that there were so many things about Anita to love. What are the things that most warm your spirit? Her faithfulness. She still wakes up every morning and reads her Bible. She loves her family and parents and I admire that about her. Because of her, I am learning things about family that I never knew before. I love that every night she puts water by my bed and every morning makes me coffee. If I am still asleep when she leaves for work, she puts my coffee in the refrigerator for me. That fulfills me in ways that I can’t explain. I wish there was another word for love because what I feel for her is so much more than that.

Anita, you told me that there were so many things about Wendy to love. What are the things that most warm your spirit? I love how Wendy cares and nurtures me. She is the first the person who has ever allowed me to be vulnerable. She cares for my every need. She takes care of me and this household with so much care. She doesn’t look at it like a task. She thinks about my every need and looks out for me. She is invested me and in us. She reminds me of how my mom takes care of my dad.

Wendy: It is truly the love I have for her. I’ve never loved someone like I love her. Somehow God whispers to me when she needs extra of something. Sometimes I know she just needs me to hold her or to lie on my lap. Anita appreciates everything that I do and that makes me want to do more.

What do you most admire about her? Anita: I admire her persistence. For everything that she has been through before and with me, she could have said “I am done”. But she continued to persevere. We call it “ignorant faith”. You can’t stop her. Wendy: I admire that she is steadfast, and I am fascinated by that. If she says that she is going to do something, she does it and she keeps doing it even when it’s hard. Even after working 48 hours, she will come home and still hold me the entire night. Even when she’s mad at me, she still gets me water and holds me while I sleep.

It takes a community to support relationships and you are blessed that you have one. For you, what is the value of having a community support your union? Anita: Accountability. They are as dependent on us to survive as we are dependent on them. When I see them persevere, we know we can too. If they see that we are doing something that is unfair or wrong, they call us on it. Also, there is so much knowledge and wisdom to be gained from other couples. We wanted to surround ourselves with great people so that we could be transparent. Wendy: It is priceless. They will say “girl, you are wrong, now go home and fix it”. Our friends don’t take sides. The village is priceless and it goes back to having a solid foundation. They pour into us and we pour into them. It’s such a blessing to have people who love and invest in you and vice versa.

If you could thank her for 1 thing during your first year of marriage, what would that be? Wendy: I would thank her for her support. There have been so many changes this first year but she has always been supportive of me. She’s my biggest cheerleader and she supports me in whatever I do. I love her for that. This first year was hard but it makes me realize why I fell in love with this amazing women. Anita: Patience. She helps me with my lack of patience in a non-threatening way. That’s one of my issues and she gets that. She calls me on it and walks me through it in a loving way. 

What one word describes/characterizes your union? Anita: True: Our love is true. Our relationship is true. It is true and it is a God-sent. When people see us as an united front, that’s the truth---that’s true. Wendy: God. I think we are part of His perfect plan and His timing. For example, working on her patience. I am at a place where I can help now. God has His Hand on us. Whatever the challenges, we rose above all of them.

You can also find Anita and Wendy at the following links:
Happy Anniversary Anita and Wendy!!!!

(Interviewed by SharRon Jamison)

We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and happiness.

Create Love Founders
Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison