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My First Same-Sex Wedding. (Not Really)

I LOVE weddings.  And one of the best weddings I’ve ever attended took place last week in Brooklyn.  The whole evening was a perfect blend of elegance and casualness.  Rose petals strewn about a wooden deck and a Julliard-trained musician bowing her violin as 100 well-dressed guests sat underneath the setting sun, sipping wine and cocktails while the couple exchanged vows.  This was a fun, intimate affair punctuated by the couple’s unmistakable bond.  I was happy and proud to be a part of something this special.

Oh, and one more detail about the wedding:  there was no bride. READ MORE

Have You Seen Her?

I guess it’s a good sign:  I actually miss my wife.

I saw her this morning, briefly.  She looked good.  I probably won’t see her tonight.  I think I’ll see her Friday when we have to fly together, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t seated together on the flight.  That’s been our luck lately when it comes to finding time to spend together.

The past couple of months have taken a toll.  Travel, events, and work schedules have made quality time impossible.  At this point, I would settle for just time … it doesn’t even have to be of the quality variety.  We’ve had one day off together in the past month.  I can’t remember the last time we sat down and had a meal together.  And, our 19-month-old hasn’t quite learned the concept of mommy-daddy time.

It seems strange to be talking about missing a person … when we live in the same damn house!  But, we’ve been ships passing in the night.  Still, it’s better than the alternative:  relishing time away from your spouse.  I’m not glad I haven’t seen her, but I take comfort in the fact that I miss her.

I hope to see her soon.  But if  you see her before I do, tell her she’s missed.

 

Robin Thicke: Relationship Therapist

Pay attention to what Robin Thicke has been saying, not singing.  Forget about the lyrics, the new album, and his recent antics.  Instead, listen to what he’s been saying about his marriage, and what you’ll hear is a man putting on a master class in what not to do if you want to hold on to the person you love.

Here are 4 things he said in recent interviews that are revealing, instructive, and timely for anyone in a relationship: READ MORE

Why The Trip from Central America is Worth the Risk

20,805 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were caught entering the United States illegally in 2013.  1,169 were repatriated.

57,000 unaccompanied children from those same 3 countries have been caught coming across the border so far this year.  1500, at most, have been deported.  Given those odds, it might be worth the trip.

President Obama’s public message that kids won’t be allowed to stay in the U.S. has to this point fallen on deaf Central American ears, and the kids keep arriving daily.  He’s now asking Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border.  But only a tiny fraction of that money would go where it’s desperately needed, the place with the best chance of ending the crisis:  immigration courts. READ MORE

8 Things Happiest People Do Everyday

1) They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.

2) They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have.

3) They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby.

4) They practice optimism when imagining their futures.

5) They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment.

6) They make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit.

7) They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions.

8) Their secret weapon they have is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge.

List via The How of Happiness written by University of California professor Sonja Lyubomirsky.

HELP WANTED: Who the hell is Loutelious?!

I’m frustrated that I can’t answer the simplest of questions: where does my name come from?

On Sunday, for the first time I can remember in my professional career, I revealed in a live broadcast that the “T” and the “J” in my name don’t actually represent anything.

People have guessed over the years that the T is for Thomas, Terry, Tiberious, etc., and that the J is because I’m a junior, named after my dad. The latter is true.  I am named after my dad, but my full name is Loutelious Holmes, Jr.

When my dad was growing up as Loutelious Holmes, the family called him “little T.”  That was his nickname.  To this day, most people call him “T.”  So when I was born as Loutelious Holmes, Jr., the whole family started calling me T. Jr.  No one in my family has every called me Loutelious.  No one.  Not once.

As I got older, I was disappointed that I had a unique name that no one in my family or hometown would call me.  When I got to college, I decided to introduce myself to new people as Loutelious only.  A lot of my boys ended up calling me Lou.

When I started my broadcast career, it was important to use a name that could be easily pronounced.  Still, I wanted to use my full name.  For the first story of my professional career, I signed off as Loutelious Holmes.  My second story, I signed off as Lou Holmes.  The third story, I signed off as T. J. Holmes, and I’ve been T. J. ever since.

After a segment on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show Sunday in which we discussed kid names and my name, a lot of people asked me about my name and its origins.  I couldn’t answer.  I had a long chat with my dad after the segment as well, and he couldn’t answer.  He was named after a great uncle, but other than that, we don’t know where this unique name originates.  At some point, we thought I had some Roman roots, but further research is needed.

So, I’m now on a quest.  At the age of 36, I’m trying to finally figure out who Loutelious really is.

Baby Hair

I can’t relate to the Carters’ fame, their lifestyle, or their money.  Yet today, I feel more connected to Jay Z and Beyonce than ever.

By now, you know that Blue Ivy’s hair has been the subject of much, and at times nasty, public debate.  Though it’s appalling how people have criticized and ridiculed the couple over their child’s hair, that’s not what has garnered my sympathy.  Rather, as the father of an 18-month-old black daughter, my heart goes out to them … because there is nothing you can do with this stuff!

Sure, you can wash, condition, and style her hair all you want.  But after one hour or one nap or one trip to the park, it’s over.

We have fine tooth combs.  We have wide tooth combs.  We have dual tooth combs.  We have brushes.  We have 3 different shampoos.  We have 2 different leave-in conditioners.  We have hair de-tangler.  But we also have a “miracle de-tangler.”  We have something called the “natural curl calmer.”  One brand of products even calls itself the “natural family collection.”  Nothing works.  Pardon me, what I mean is that nothing works for long when you have a toddler!

I always want baby Sabine to look her best.  I work hard to keep her hair in some kind of order when we’re out, almost to the point of compulsion.  That’s just me.  However, when one shoe is missing, she just picked up a knife from the restaurant table, snot is running down her nose, you’re trying to find the off button on the singing Minnie Mouse doll, and the diaper is questionable, how pretty her hair looks is the last thing on your mind!

Let others debate the greater and deeper societal implications of Blue Ivy’s hair.  I see Blue Ivy and simply think, “I feel y’all.”  At the end of the day, it’s a baby.  Babies are supposed to be a bit of a mess.  And that makes them perfect.

Hide Your Wife

In a meeting in 2012, I was startled when someone suggested that Marilee needed to go away.  As part of a PR and promotional strategy, it would be best if I didn’t talk so much about my wife, they explained.  And, if I could show up to a few events without her, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This wasn’t a private one-on-one meeting where an off-the-record opinion was being offered.  It was a planning session that included a whole team of people, and MIA Marilee was an official strategic option.  I was floored.  At the time, I didn’t outwardly react according to how I was feeling.  I was enraged.  I was offended.

That wasn’t the first or last time this type of advice had been offered.  The argument from those making the suggestion is this:  my fan base is made up of a lot of women.  You want to always appeal to them, not turn them off.  “Women need to think you’re available to them,” someone said.  That is incredibly shortsighted and insulting to women.

I was in LA last week, and the suggestion was made again:  hide your wife.

Clearly, I haven’t followed the advice.  Marilee is everywhere.  I talk about her, I write about her, and I show up to plenty public events with her.  She has never been and will never be part of a PR strategy.  She is my life.  It’s impossible and unnatural to cut her out in some way.  I would hope that her presence would make me more appealing to the wider public, not less.  Ironic, isn’t it?  The suggestion that a happily married black couple is not the image I would want to put out there!

However, as I sit here talking to Marilee about this blog, I’m surprised to hear her say:  “I get it, T.J.  They think you have to market the illusion of availability to women.”  Let’s see if she still feels that way when I disinvite her from the public events on our summer schedule.  It’s only a PR strategy, baby.