As a guy in my 40’s, I won’t claim to understand women.  “Women are to be loved, not understood” is what someone once said.  However, I’ve picked up on some things in my time on this planet to at least get a gist of what mature-minded women want.  And that’s a man who does not “feel around in the dark” for lack of a better phrase.  Know where you’re going and how to get there at all times, fellas.

So, I want to help the guys out there, who think they’re ready for a relationship, get a to-do list together.

The first thing that you must do is be worthy of dating!

How often do dudes who are in the middle of some drama-filled ordeal, or unemployed and broke, or just not in the right place mentality, try to holla at a lady?  It doesn’t make any sense.  It’s like packing for a trip overseas without buying a plane ticket.  How are you getting there?

Make sure your house is in order before knocking on someone else’s door, fellas.  You only have one mother, so make sure your life is at a place that doesn’t require you to look for another one.  Be able to take care of yourself and a family before engaging a woman in something serious.

If she’s over 30 years old, call more than you text.

I don’t understand the entire “textationship” that some people enjoy.  Maybe because I value a line of communication that actually conveys emotion and inflection.  I’m not frowning on texting, but there’s a time and place for it, if you ask me.  You can text later in the relationship as the two of you grow.  But I’d avoid overdoing it to start things off.

Let a woman hear your voice and see your face.  Allow her to learn your facial expressions and body language first and that will allow your messages to have personality.  It’s easy to get the wrong impression of someone if you try to learn them via text.  You’ll feel as if you know one another because of the volume of messages, but you’ll find out that you really don’t know each other at all.

Take charge and plan the date.

More times than not, ladies will allow a guy to take the reins and determine where the first date will be.  I am so surprised at how many guys I’ve met who do not know how to effectively plan a date with a woman.

  • If you want to see her on Friday, then let her know on Monday.  Allow her time to make whatever arrangements she may deem necessary from pampering herself or making child care decisions.  It will also make it easier on you if you catch her before she makes plans to do something else.
  • Know where you want to take her.  Let her know where you want to go so she can dress accordingly.  If she doesn’t like the place, then she can always tell you.  And be mindful of anything that may negatively affect your dating plans.  If it’s a holiday weekend and/or a really popular place, then make reservations.  If it’s outdoors, then be mindful of the weather forecast.  Think things through.  Don’t take her to a loud concert or a movie if you are still getting to know each other.  Take her somewhere you two can have a conversation without a lot of noise.
  • Dress the part.  Make sure she’s clear on where she’s going so she can dress accordingly.  Do the same.  Don’t show up at a 5-star restaurant dressed like you’re going to a basketball game.  You’ll have plenty of time to be casual around her, if all goes well.  In the meantime, show her that swag.
  • Be on time.  I don’t think that I even have to get an explanation for that one.
  • Open doors, including car doors.  When you’re on a date, then be a chauffeur.  Chivalry isn’t a luxury.  It should be a way of life.
  • Pay for the meal.  For the new age guys who want to feel things out before committing financially, meet her for coffee first.  But once you decide upon a dinner date, then treat her.  A woman usually spends money on a new outfit, hair, nails, etc., to look good for a date.  Don’t compound her spending with making her pay for her own meal, too.
  • Have a secondary location.  After dinner, the night may still be young.  Have another place in mind where the evening can continue in case you need it.  A nice spot overlooking a body of water, a quiet bar for after-dinner drinks, or something of that sort.

Hopefully, this will help some of you guys looking for something long-term with a special someone.  You have to have a plan for everything you take seriously.


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    Many great musical artists have come and gone in my life, but this one feels different. I enjoyed Luther. I adored Whitney. I was awed by Michael. But none of them delivered art to my senses like Prince.

    Not just music, but fashion, color, acting, and dancing. Prince was a multi-tooled performer and to think that his talents are gone forever is such a shame. This is a man who spent almost 40 years of his life bringing us music that we’ve dance to, nodded our heads to, and definitely made love to. He went from being labeled as a “freak” and “weirdo” in the late 70’s/early 80’s to literally being considered royalty just a decade later.

    I feel so sorry for the Millennials who can’t seem to wrap their brain around what a musical genius truly is.  And to think some of them were probably conceived to Prince’s music.  SMH.  My definition of “greatness” doesn’t line up with theirs at all.  Greatness is not the number of Twitter followers you have.  Greatness is not the kind of car you drive.  Greatness is not being heard on the radio every 20 minutes.

    • Greatness is walking into a room and seeing people forget their own names.  
    • Greatness is leaving a lineage of other performer’s music behind you (Sheila E., Sheena Easton, Morris Day & The Time, Wendy & Lisa, Apollonia, Vanity, Tevin Campbell, Jesse Johnson, and more).  
    • Greatness is being offered an opportunity to complete an entire movie soundtrack (“Batman”).  Not one song, but the entire soundtrack album!  
    • Greatness is having a sketch comedy show like Saturday Night Live dedicate their show to you.  A comedy show celebrating a musician?  Where they do that at?  
    • Greatness is being recognized by a color or a symbol.

    I have a cousin who is from Minnesota and has encountered Prince on several occasions.  I haven’t spoken to him since Prince’s death, but he has a ton of stories to share about him.  Just like me, my cousin listens to music “from the inside-out.”  It’s difficult to explain, but it’s essentially focusing on the accompanying instruments first and working your way to the more dominant instruments like the bass or drums later.  It’s making an attempt to “hear a song within a song” is the best way that I can put it.

    Prince was a master of giving you that little extra that a lot of people would rarely notice no matter how many times they’d hear a particular song of his.  I have such an appreciation for what he did and it’s a shame that it ended last Thursday.

    I’m not one to mourn celebrities like I mourn people I actually know personally.  I just don’t get attached like that to people that I’ve never met.  However, I do miss the talent when it is taken from us.  We don’t have a lot of musicians left.  We don’t have too many music artists who are so talented that other A-List celebrities stutter when trying to speak to them.

    Prince was a one-of-a-kind entertainer and his talents will be missed dearly.  A friend of mine posted this lyric on Facebook that very much describes how so many people felt last week.  It comes from the Parade album which was the soundtrack to the movie, “Under the Cherry Moon.”

    Sometimes it snows in April 
    Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad 
    Sometimes I wish life was never ending, 
    And all good things, they say, never last

    Truer words have never been spoken, Prince.

    There are so many bad things going on in the black community and some changes need to be made. That includes education, jobs, crime, and more. However, something that definitely needs to change is the dynamic between black men and black women.

    We as black people have gotten so out of hand that we don’t think that a relationship is normal unless it’s combative. How crazy is that?  We think that loud, brash females are “strong” and that disrespectful, aloof males are “hard.”

    We’re confused.

    Black baby mamas and daddies try to get leverage on one another (at the expense of the child).  Black men and women always want to say what the other gender is doing wrong without ever evaluating themselves.

    We sometimes have no interest in doing what’s right, but more interest in doing what feels right. It doesn’t matter if it sets a bad example for our kids or not. It doesn’t matter if it could affect our job status.  It doesn’t even matter if it contradicts something in the Bible that we’ve read. If we feel it then we do it. It’s completely counterproductive and stupid to think like this.

    The dynamic between black men and black women is atrocious and has been for decades now. Every new interaction between a black man and black woman is potentially a bad experience. A black man’s approach to a black woman can get sideways pretty quick and those who have been around it know that I speak the truth.

    Some black guys treat every woman the same way.  They make no attempts on trying to distinguish a corporate woman from a THOT.  Ladies are all just lips, hips, and finger tips to these guys.  They step to them all the same disrespectful way and ruin her day with immature foolishness.

    These guys make it very difficult for a man with good intentions to even get her attention.  She gets so many disrespectful Facebook inbox messages and so many “Say, Slim?” remarks at the gas station that things of that nature make her assume that the next guy, who may be nice, will be as “thirsty” as the last guy that approached.

    On the flip side, some black women tend to think that just by being a black man that you have to accept certain qualities about her.  Some feel that you must allow and account for her less than pleasant and negative reactions to different things simply because “it’s what black women do.”  As if not putting up with stereotypical black woman qualities, that have made reality TV billions, somehow make you less of a man.  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.  You’re proud of being an a-hole?  Really?  SMH.  Act like a lady and maybe someone out there will treat you like one.

    So, much has to change in the black communities, but the relationship between the black man and black woman may be the most important one. Once that’s solved then everything else will start to fall in place. But it can only happen if both sides treat each other with respect and that task should start with the men.

    I know that a lot of guys are frowning and mentally throwing shade on the post because you expect women to do everything first, but there’s a reason why I say that:  Black women have never stopped loving black men.  Despite our differences, the frustration from some women is the fact that they still love us, yet we don’t reciprocate the love.  We’ve abandoned her in a storm (it doesn’t matter the reason) and she’s waiting in the rain for us to come back.  It’s up to us as men, to get our women out of the storm.

    The very essence of a man is that you take the lead! That doesn’t mean in some things, but in all things. That includes extending an olive branch to our sistas to reclaim the relationships that we once had back in my parent’s generation.

    Love, honor, respect, and and most importantly, protect her and she will love you in return with an undying passion.  Her uplifting words will give you the confidence to take on and defeat any of life’s obstacles.

    “The Volunteer” follows Jenna Steele, a woman whose mother died on hospice. She was compelled to give back, so she donated to a local hospice, however that was not enough for her. Jenna decided to volunteer and this is where her emotional journey begins.

    If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to volunteer for hospice, this novel will take behind the scenes and give you an inside peek into the real world of hospice volunteering.

    Not only will you discover the highs and lows of a volunteer but also the often unseen world of the managers who supervise them.

    You will not be able to put this book down!

    Get your copy on Amazon here!

    Crystal Hickerson was born in Queens, NY growing up in New York City as well as Tennessee in her teenage years. She has written and published four novels, “The Magician,” “Street Corners,” “Wanted,” and her last novel “The Volunteer.”

    Crystal has worked in the hospice field for over 15 years. She started as a grief counselor before moving into volunteer management. Being witness to the wonderful awe inspiring work that volunteers do, inspired her to write her novel, “The Volunteer.”

    Crystal Hickerson holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in criminal justice. She has over 10 years experience in speaking and training.

    Is marriage before having children officially a thing of the past?

    I won’t make this a cultural or race thing, although it’s very difficult not to do so.  After all, it is Black History Month, so I want my black brothers and sisters to understand how extremely important this is to us.

    Of course, my intent is not to offend anyone, but I’m pretty sure that some will be offended.  So let me say in advance that I am not picking on a group people.  I’m just sharing my life’s experiences like I normally do on this blog.  I’ve seen some evidence of co-parenting working well.  The father and mother are in different households and they share custody.  For some, it works.  However, for many, it doesn’t.

    Sometimes the reasons for a mom and dad to not be together is completely understandable.  Maybe one of them is abusive to the other physically or emotionally.  Maybe one of them doesn’t understand the concept of loyalty and commitment.  Whatever the reason, not everyone is meant to be a married couple.

    For kids’ sakes, it would be nice for people to realize this before they bring a child into this world, but to sum it up in society’s terms: “things happen.”

    But it really doesn’t matter how or why “things happen” after everything is said and done.  We all wish that we could change or rearrange certain aspects about our past.  The problem that I have with the whole “Team Single Parent” thing is that I rarely see never married parents promoting the traditional order towards being a family:

    Couple + Marriage = Family.

    I realize that not everyone believes in my traditional marriage formula or that it’s some sort of cure-all.  Some people divorce.  Some couples are cool with co-habitation.  But the aforementioned formula was the traditional route to having a family 50 years ago.  I don’t see single parents stressing marriage to their children and here’s my two cents to why that’s the case: to do so could be considered admitting failure.

    How many never married parents want to tell their child to get married before having children only to get the response, “Why didn’t you do it?”

    Who wants to have to answer that question?  Not many people like teaching life lessons when they are the case study.  Even though the lesson could make the child’s life easier/better in the long run, most never married parents would rather not look bad in front of their kids.

    Which is a reason why never married parenting is celebrated by so many people today.  Instead of saying, “Don’t make the mistake that I did,” we hear people saying “I’ve got this.”  It’s why we hear some people proudly boast, “my baby doesn’t want for nothing.” 

    That may be true.  But because of that “I can do it myself attitude,” their children, more times than not, will grow up and do the same thing.  And that’s one of the reasons I now know more never married parents than I do married ones.

    A lot more.

    Black parents need to teach their kids not just how to survive, but how to thrive.

    I come across a lot of Facebook videos over the course of a day, but one recent clip I came across really stuck with me.  It was a video of three black men sitting around a tree discussing why black people have difficulties succeeding.

    To hear them break down the plight of my race seemed basic.  How can our problems seem so simple, yet take such a Herculean effort to attempt to correct?  One guy in particular spoke so many truths that I couldn’t keep up.  It made me wonder why we don’t seem to be able to have the success that other races have.  Whites had a head start, so I won’t compare blacks to them.  But Asians, Indians, Middle Eastern, and other races are arriving to this country after us and are transitioning quite well in some cases.

    Why is it that black people appear to be stuck in the mud?

    Then I heard it in the video.  The mention of the word “wealth.”  So many of us black people have spent most of our adult lives wanting to be “rich” because no one taught us how to focus on being “wealthy.”  There’s a difference.  We need to teach our kids how to leave something behind other than a burial debt owed to the funeral home.

    Is it the YOLO life style that keeps us focused on today and not tomorrow?  To a certain extent, it is, but there’s more to it than that.  Black families just simply need to focus and teach.  That’s all.  It’s that simple, but we just won’t do it.  Some of us would rather be seen in public than heard by our children.  Think about that.  So many black people would rather spend their time entertaining themselves than raising their children.

    How do we fix it?  In my opinion, it starts with the men.  We’re the key to all of it.  It’s not to say that women don’t contribute, because they do in a mighty way.  But black men are the starting points to the success of black people.  We need to teach our sons how to handle their business.  We need to teach them that there’s a time and a place for everything!  You can have fun like a baller and still be a financially stable child of God in the process.

    But it takes FOCUS!

    Keep your eye on the prize!  Don’t let a pair of $200 shoes cause you to ignore your power bill.  Don’t let a disagreement with the mother of your kid prevent you from being a father to your child.  Don’t let something as trendy as tattoos affect your earning potential in the workplace.  Focus!

    Black people spend more money on fashion and entertainment than probably any other race, but what do we have to show for it?  When you die, what will you leave your children?  Nikes?  Bottles of Ciroc?  What?

    You deal with life just like you deal with emergencies: make sure that your loved ones are safe first and then take care of yourself.

    • Make sure that you have life insurance and plenty of it.  A lot of millionaires came up on what their parents left them in life insurance policies. 
    • Make an effort to own property if given the opportunity to invest.  It’s one of the best legacies that you can ever leave your child. 
    • Lastly, and it’s probably the most important: make sure you condition your child’s mind to do the same for their children.

    The difference between black culture and other cultures is that we don’t always prepare our kids properly.  Black parents need to teach their kids not just how to survive, but how to thrive.  We get so caught up in day-to-day, check-to-check things that we fail to teach our kids that they can do better than what we did.  We owe it to them to give them a little boost when possible.  Leave them with something to build upon so they can leave that and more for their children.

    Don’t send your kids into the world without a weapon.  Arm them with knowledge and opportunity by focusing on their futures.  Only then will your job as a parent be complete.