TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT



Have you ever taken advice from someone and instantly regretted it? Or have you ever asked for advice and not liked the answer you were given. Not because it was something you didn't want to hear, but just because it was bad advice--period?


As Phorbe Queens, it is important for us to seek council from others. Although we are Queens we are still imperfect and we don't know everything. It's important to learn from those who are a few steps ahead of us on the path we're on to learn which turns we should take and which detours we should avoid. However, it's also important to understand three basic rules for seeking advice:


1.People give advice based on their experiances in life.

2. Advice should be sought on a case by case basis from multiple different sources.

3. Sometimes we don't need to seek advice, but to just trust ourselves.



1. People Give Advice Based on their Experiences in Life

Back in September 2016, I took some really bad advice from a really good friend and it flipped my world upside down. To understand the full story, let's go back. I grew up homeless for the first 17 years of my life with my mother and younger brother LeLand. I stopped being homeless when I was accepted to Chapman University and moved into the dorms on August 24, 2010. My mother and brother continued to live homeless. Over the next three years, I would live my best life at Chapman and even study abroad, twice, in Sydney, Australia and Milan, Italy. During this time, my brother would begin to feel the effects of being homeless with our mother alone. He got into trouble and was sentenced to light community service and parole.

During the Summer of 2014, after years of thinking about it and hearing close friends and mentors plead with me to do so, I decided to take on the role of legal guardian of my brother and filed a petition for Guardianship; with his help.

I knew it wasn't going to be easy but I could have never guessed it would be so hard. The struggle was LeLand was a teenager. Teenagers want all the fun and glory of being an adult without the real struggle of taking ownership for themselves and their actions. I was "ignored", whenever I called to see why he's two hours past his curfew. I "never listen to him", when I refused to take his excuses. And, I was a "bitch" when I took away his phone as punishment. Enter my mother. In my ear, I am constantly reminded, to this day, that she is still homeless and it is my fault, because I conspired with the forces that be against her. In LeLand's ear, she is homeless because he left her and now, she can't get welfare money and "Jasmine is the devil, I know she brainwashed you into leaving me". Whenever LeLand got upset about a rule I set for him, he would run to her and she would feed his anger. Vice versa. So, one day out of pure frustration, I took my good friend's advice and decide to lay some tough love on LeLand. This friend is one of the strongest people I know. She is extremely smart and is a Queen in her own right just based on the things she has survived and overcome in her life. This Queen is also a single mother. Who better to take advice from right? This Queen is one of those mothers who lays down the law and takes no BS from her child. As a result, her child is a well mannered, incredibly gifted human being who is adding substance to our society.

My friend told me it was time to get tough with LeLand and lay down the law. So, I told him, "if you want to continue to act like this, you are no longer welcome in my house". I instantly regretted the words and wanted to take them back right away, however, a half hour later LeLand showed up at my door step with a friend saying that he was moving out. That was a Sunday morning. By the next day, Monday morning, there was a child protective services case against me. By Thursday evening, I had met with the CPS agent and the case was closed. By Friday, I had learned that my mom filed a petition to end my guardianship. Thus, beginning a six month long legal battle.

It turns out, the mother of LeLand's friend, let's call her Becky, called CPS because she just couldn't understand why anyone would "kick a child out of their home". Upon hearing what had happened, my mom jumped on the bash Jasmine train and met with Becky, ended up bamboozling her way into the Becky's house for a week and amped Becky up to help her put together a case against me. My mom didn't have a case and ended up dropping it based on advice from her lawyer. When she did this, the judge overseeing the case laid into both my mom and LeLand. To my mom, he said, your daughter stepped in when you failed, now she's in the awkward position of raising your son when she's barely legal herself. To LeLand, he said, your sister doesn't deserve your disrespect and nasty attitude. She gave up her life to help you and support you so that you may succeed in this life. Then he turned to me and he said, "Am I right? Or, am I right?"

Until then, I thought it all just came with the job of being a guardian. I thought it was necessary for me to be knocked down in order to help LeLand succeed. I felt bad for even thinking about myself. LeLand was always number 1, always the priority. I couldn't help but just cry in response because little did he know, that judge had just lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. Moving forward, I stepped away from my mother all together and when I did have to be around her, for LeLand's sake, I set strict boundaries on how she could treat LeLand and I. LeLand was still a teenager so I created an allowance system and posted the "Johnson Family Rules" all over out apartment. There's nothing more compelling to teenagers than money and so things got better.

The advice my friend gave me wasn't bad. It was just advice that was better suited for her: a single mother who is straight gangsta and takes no prisoners with a completely different family dynamic. My situation was different from hers, completely different, and thus needed to be treated with more finesse. In the end, I learned how to manage both the situation with my mom and LeLand in a way that suited me best.



Photo courtesy of womenofhr.com

2. Advice should be sought on a case by case basis from multiple different sources.

Over the years, I have been lucky to come across women who went above and beyond the call of duty to love me, support me, and uplift me in times of a crisis. I walk tall everyday knowing there are ten beautiful, strong, and intelligent women behind me everyday rooting me on. I call them my angels, my moms, my village. These women are high school teachers, college professors, coaches, musicians, models, retired, five years older than me and fifty years older than me. They are all from different walks of life. So they all have different advice and different ways they would handle situations.

During my last Spring Break before graduation, my mother forced her way into my dorm room and attacked me in front of LeLand and in front of a Pizza Hut delivery guy. She was trying to get to LeLand. I would let LeLand stay with me from time to time to have a break from being homeless. I am the Queen of snoring and never kept a roommate long, so I always had an extra bed for LeLand when he needed it.

On this day, my mom wanted to take LeLand a few days early to go to a new shelter. Here LeLand was relaxing and enjoying his break from the struggle. We were binge-watching Modern Family at the time. It didn't make sense for her to pull him away when he needed this time to rest and heal. Plus, LeLand didn't want to go. We told her to come back on the agreed upon day. However, she was determined to take LeLand then. So she continued to knock and bang on my door. We ignored her.

I had just ordered pizza before she arrived though and when the pizza man arrived, I had to answer the door. I cracked the door open with my foot and she shoved it open the rest of the way and started attacking me. I fought back, at first, in self-defense and then all the years of verbal and mental abuse took over. Instead of just pushing her off of me, I started punching her to get her away. When she saw that I was fighting back, she grew even more angry, shoved me onto my bed and started trashing my dorm room. She picked up a jar of salsa and threw it into my microwave completely shattering both the glass on the microwave door and the jar. She picked up my phone and threw it against the wall. She tried to throw my computer, she left the place a wreck. At some point, even the pizza was flown out of the dorm room and to the ground below (I was on the second floor). This entire time, LeLand was standing in the corner and the Pizza Hut guy was in the open doorway.

My mom left yelling and screaming dragging LeLand behind her. I signed the check for the Pizza Hut guy so he could leave and closed my door. 10 minutes later Campus police and the real police showed up. They told me that my mom called the police and said that I had attacked her and because of this I was being charged with battery and assault. However, this was not the first incident where my mom was aggressive on campus. She had actually been escorted off of campus twice before and so campus police spoke on my behalf and stopped the officers from hand cuffing me and taking me to jail. Instead, they wrote me a citation that listed a court date of when I was to stand trial.

To build a case, I set up a lunch date with all of my angels to tell them what happened and to ask them if they would stand with me. Every woman I spoke to during that time said yes they would stand with me and all, but one, of them cursed my mother for her behavior. That one angel had a different view.

She said: "When you went off to college, you broke free from her control and thus you became part of the world she thinks is trying to bring her down. That hurt her. When you kept the door closed in her face with both you AND LeLand on the other side she saw the last bit of her control slipping away. For a brief moment, she saw both of her children keeping her away from what she wanted and that broke her."

This wasn't an excuse for my mom's behavior. But great insight into why she did what she did. Everyone else just bashed my mom. She has mental issues you need to stay away from her. She is trying to tear you down Jasmine. What is wrong with her? She doesn't want to see you succeed. And although these things may be true, no daughter wants to hear them said about their mother and it left me confused.

When this angel told me this, it gave me a different perspective a new way to look at the situation and a new outlook for future situations. However, in this situation only she could provide me with that insight.

Moving forward I know that I cannot speak to just any of my mentors for anything. I know that there are specific people to go to when I am need of advice on something they can specifically help me with. I know to go to Lisa when I need career or spiritual advice. I know to go to Krystle when I just want someone to listen. I know to go to Cindy to get the hard, honest to God truth, and I know to go to Susan when I just want to have a pity party and wallow in my struggles.

If you're blessed to have support from multiple areas in your life, it's important to recognize how those specific people support you and what situations it would be best to seek their advice in. Your school counselor is most likely not the best person to talk to about your relationship problems. Seek advice from the right person for the current problem.

The day after the incident, a sergeant from campus police knocked on my door. I was still in a state of shocked and hadn't done anything to clean my dorm room up. He asked me a couple of questions about what happened and who all was here. Months later, I was actually informed that he had went to Pizza Hut and spoke with the delivery guy who had witnessed the whole thing. When I showed up for court, I was told my case had been dropped because the prosecution saw no reason to pursue the case any further.


Photo courtesy of oprah.com

3.Sometimes we don't need to seek advice, but just trust ourselves.

I learned this lesson in brainstorming and creating the Phorbe brand. I would ask my different mentors and others in my life what they thought of this or that and whenever they responded I would say: "But no, this one is obviously better. Look at how much more cleaner it is then this one." Or I would find myself feeling defensive of their views on things. "Umm, no this is how it's going to be because it fits the brand perfect. I want all the Queens in the world to feel special and this will help with that." After awhile, I just stopped asking for advice because I realized I at this point in time, I had a plan...a vision and only I could bring it together.

Queens, follow your intuition. Most of the time when we ask for advice on different choices or steps we want to take in life we already know which one we want to choose but are seeking validation for that choice. If you ever feel like you should defend a choice when the person you asked for advice chooses the opposite, you know you are seeking validation. You don't need anyone's validation. Only you know why you were truly put on this earth. Only you see that vision in your head and only you can make it a reality. That may mean stepping outside of the box or doing something crazy creative and if so, do it still. You have to be willing to do the things that sound crazy or scary to others in order to reach your goals. It's all apart of the process.


It's taken me years to finally come to grip with these rules and concepts. I am still working on them. Hopefully by sharing my experiences with each of these rules, you will be motivated to start your own journey of learning to take advice, even my advice, with a grain of salt and apply what you do choose to use to your life accordingly.


It's a beautiful day to conquer to world. So go forth and slay!

-Queen Maree

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON APRIL 23, 2018