Ask Toi: My sister in law invited me to a girl’s night out however once out she didn’t really include me in the activities. Did she invite me to be nice?

It depends on what you mean by not including you. Are you the type that can be in any crowd?  Did you attempt to participate? If you were expecting for your sister in law to be more one on one with you then you had the wrong expectation.

In group events it’s hard for the person hosting to spend time with each guests.  Unless she invited you and left you exclusively all alone it could be that you didn’t know anyone there and felt out of place.  I would talk to her about how you felt it could have been a misunderstanding.  When you go in a group setting expect to meet new people.  Be open to new experiences.  Sometimes our anxiety alone can make us feel alone in a crowd of people.

Unless you have the thought that your sister in law doesn’t like you, I wouldn’t put too much stock into it.  Even if she invited you for the sake of her brother there’s still a sense of wanting to get to know you a little better.  Group settings allow you to be able to open the door of communication where there is none.  In your letter you didn’t state any one thing that was done that would be a red flag of her leaving you alone more than another lady there.  This let’s me think it was more in how you felt. 

However the flip is some in laws can be mean.  Sometimes they want to see how you do in some settings but those situations are extremely rare.  Most times it’s just the navigation in new crowds that catch us off guard.  Not only that I don’t know of a real husband that would allow you to be ambushed.  Your husband would know how his sister really felt about it even if he didn’t express it. 

Now that she made the initial step I would invite her on an intimate outing such as lunch or maybe some one on one shopping to clear the air.  I’m confident that you will find things to be okay between you. 

Good luck getting to know your sister in law!

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Ask Toi: How do you respectfully get people to mind their business?

For my readers let me also give you some more information:

The writer of this question states that they usually come off rude when they take the assertive route.

I guess the real question is how not to come off rude when being assertive, I’ll answer both.

Some people are just nosey.  It doesn’t matter if what’s going on in your life has anything to do with them or not.  Some people just want to be in the know.  Your level of assertiveness depends on the relationship you have with the individual in question.  For instance if you felt your mom or dad was being too pushy there would a way to say hey I know you mean well but I’ll handle it that could save your teeth.  However if you were talking to someone who was an associate, you could handle them differently.

I always say use tact.  Try to give whomever you are talking to the benefit of the doubt.  After you have used tact then I usually escalate the situation from there. If who you are dealing with is family they will think that blood relation gives them the green light to intrude and often times it doesn’t.  Family have to know boundaries and the only way is for you to establish them.  People generally take cues from you. 

If you generally are the type like me that seems to be brutally honest from the gate, remember you can be assertive without being nasty.  When you find yourself being nasty it’s because of your anger that’s inside of you towards the other person.  Something else has taken place before that you didn’t check. You don’t have to unload all of your issues on others.  Be assertive and separate issues.  Deal with what’s in front of you.

If you’re dealing with a repeat offender, that person who doesn’t get the hint no matter what you say or do, then you may have to eliminate communication for a season.  Some people only know what you mean but by your actions.  So speak up but let your actions line up and don’t waiver. 

Try and I say try not to allow the other person’s character flaw make you change who you are.  Often times with a nosey person they are that way because something about them isn’t right.  Think about it they have time to worry about you but something on their end hasn’t been handled.  Know that people like to deflect.  So don’t let them bring you into them. 

I wish you well.  Use tact with your assertiveness and you should be fine.

Ask Toi: How do you maintain a friendship after an argument?

Disagreements are a part of life.  No matter who you argue with it doesn’t have to end a relationship unless both parties want it to.

I love a great debate so when I’m in one especially with people I love and respect it’s important to try not to take things personal.  Having passion about what you want to say is how a good debate is had but you don’t have to hit below the belt to get your point across even with friends.

My suggestion is to take a break if you find that you’re crossing over to hurt someone’s feelings.  Taking a break doesn’t mean you didn’t make a good argument.  It simply means that you need to retreat in order to stay tactful.

Unless you’re on a debate team, then you don’t have to “win” in the first place.  Have some boundaries.  For me my kids are off limits.  It doesn’t matter it’s never okay to speak ill of someone’s children.  Now if you want to debate my parenting skills carry on.  We all do things different but never speak badly about kids.  Even if your boundaries aren’t kids have a boundary.  I always respectfully let someone know that they are crossing my boundary and give them the opportunity to correct it. 

You and your friend’s differences and similarities are what makes your friendships unique.  So instead of worrying about ending a friendship over an argument just focus on how to communicate your issues effectively.  If you and your friend have said something to one another you wish you hadn’t then be woman or man enough to do the right thing.  Apologize and make an effort not to do it again.  If you can’t grow with your friends, are they your real friends to begin with?

Faith Test

Have you ever just had a day where no matter how positive you are it just seems like the world is coming down on you?  One of those moments in time where you ask yourself a thousand times if you need to do things differently.  We all have them.  It’s only when we have one that we allow ourselves to compare to someone else’s walk.

Days are getting harder.  Everytime I turn the news on or log onto my social media sources, times are becoming even worse.  There’s not a day where people’s lives, hearts, and minds are in an uproar.  People are tired of how life is happening around them.  People are tired of death and destruction.  Sad part is its going to get worse before it gets better.  I know and trust me I’m not trying to bring your day down. 

My goal today is that with all the craziness around us we are responsible for ourselves.  I say it so often but we have to be careful what we entertain.  Who we let in our space can cause us to think differently.  Sometimes I have to log off.  So many people speaking doubt, unbelief, and negativity will have you so drained.  I’m real careful of who I speak to especially when I’m in the middle of a difficult situation.  Some people have the best intentions but can indirectly speak some things into you that will have you baffled. 

Today be aware of who is in your space.  If necessary take a break from the negativity.  It’s so necessary to just breath, get clear on what you want and then make an action plan.  You can’t go forward with backward minded people. Be vigilant today over you.  

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SAHM Chronicles

The last time I blogged about stay at home moms and recently I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to navigate this mom life.  Let me tell you I’m speaking from 100% experience.  I know the frustration you feel for this ultimate sacrifice you are making for your family.

Moms have it rough as is.  We are already on the last of the list over our kids.  We are always trying to figure out and anticipate the needs of our family.  The best mom is a mom that takes herself from being last and learns to incorporate some me time. You’re probably rolling your eyes asking how is that possible.  It’s quite possible you just have to be creative.  Most stay at home moms are also on the tightest of budgets. 

The questions isn’t in the how but the why aren’t you getting out.  Listen I’ve been there and used every excuse as to why I couldn’t go somewhere or do something.  The actual reason is simple sometimes we don’t want to put out the energy.  Yes so it’s not our finances it’s our do something is broke.  I used to complain about I didn’t have something to wear, didn’t want to put makeup to go, too tired, etc.  If I be real I didn’t want to but I wanted to complain.

There are so many options to achieve so many things.  As a stay at home mom I’m sure you’re already trying to find bargains for your household.  I know I do.  There are apps like Ibotta that allow you to save on the stuff like groceries that you already buying.  The money you save can begin to save for your me time excursions.  It may be a few pennies here and there but despise the day of small things. 

Sit down on your moment of silence and we do have them.  You’re already online and all the stores you love to shop, become a member or sign up for their mailing lists.  When deals come out get them.  Stop letting the mommy guilt get you.  Also there are some high and low end consignment shops that have some awesome steals.  Have the husband keep the kids, grab a coffee and get to them.

I love spa days.  I can’t say I get them often enough but I love them.  So when I’m in need of one and can’t get to it I may wait for the kids to go down but I’ll turn my bathroom into a get away.  You know normally there’s a way child in the bathroom when you go anyway.  So yes I lock that door and take the longest shower.  I use my most luxurious shower gel and relax.  I use my best lotion not my everyday stuff either.  Then I put on some cute pjs and read or relax until I fall asleep. 

Need some girlfriend time.  Host a night in.  Ask all of your friends to bring a bottle and a non diet friendly dish.  That way you get your girl time, and a snack you don’t have to share with little hands.  It can be done you just have to be creative.  I’m a firm believer that’s life to be lived and even with the responsibility of children I’m not going to be stressed and bored.  Nope break out.

There is something to have a few minutes of peace.  I encourage each and every woman and mom to take 20 minutes of me time.  I don’t care how you get it either.  If it’s listening to your favorite song, taking a walk, getting in bed before your husband to YouTube search, or listen to a podcast.  Sometimes waking up a few minutes before the house to pray/meditate, grab a hot cup of tea or coffee can set your entire day. 

Here are some tips for some practical saving tips:

Beauty and Glam:

Salons have great deals on Mondays-wednesday.  Check your local favorite salons.

Can’t get to a full salon, try places like JC Penny, Sears, etc they have convenient hours for busy moms

On a sho nuff budget, places like Empire have students who can do your hair.  Now I’ve been to these places myself my tip is that you speak up and watch that you’re getting what you asked.  Students need love too and it’s great way to have a more polished look for cheap.

Makeup:

Get your coupons ready.  Department stores have some sales.  Be vigilant on your favorite items

Also places like CVS, Target, and Walmart have sales on beauty products.  You’re mostly likely already there. I use CVS bucks as a way to score beauty finds and free products.  Usually if you buy two you can get $5 CVS bucks for something later.

Ulta, Sephora, etc

Sign up and become members.  You can get points to use for free products.  Plus they have semi annual sales and lots of things are buy one and get one at 50%. 

Clothes

Shop your own closet first.  You would be surprised of the gems you already own.  Don’t be afraid to be adventurous and play with color.  Mix and match pieces.

Sign up for your favorite stores so you will know when there’s a great sale.  Always elect to get key pieces that may be more pricey in the beginning but will last.  These pieces can be paired with low end or trendier pieces.

Consignment shops

You can get some awesome and even vintage pieces for pennies less than the big department stores. 

Accessories

You can get trendy pieces at places like Clare’s , Charming Charlies etc. 

These pieces can add a pop of spunk for an elegant event or just your everyday look.

Groupon, Living Social

These apps can help you buy items for yourself or an outing, or even spa services such as pedicures, manicures, and bikini waxes. 

So as you can see life can be had, but do you want it.  If you have a date with a friend don’t cancel it. The kids will be fine you don’t have to be there for everything.  I’ve had to learn that as well.  Let’s turn that complaint into action and don’t let your mom life take over who you are as a woman the two can co-exist.

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Ask Toi: What do I do about a rocky marriage?

Well if you follow any type of celebrity news this has been a week of celebrity divorces.  However it’s not just celebrities that are having issues but regular couples as well.  Ask anyone who is married and if they are honest they will tell you marriage is work.

If you’re in a rocky marriage it didn’t just happen.  As much as you want to blame your spouse you too have to take some responsibility.  Marriages go through seasons.  Sometimes there will be moments of highs and lows.  What happens is when a wave hit and both spouses aren’t on the same page it creates issues.  Listen I too know what it’s like to be ready to throw in the towel.  We were close many times. 

You need to decide if for better or worse is what you plan on sticking out.  You can’t do it alone.  If you’re spouse isn’t willing I wouldn’t make a quick dash out the door just yet.  You have to be sure you have done all you absolutely could to make it work.  Sometimes we get tired, annoyed, and frustrated so we just say I’m out and make provisions to leave.  This is where you separate the women from the girls from the men from the boys. 

For instance couples back in the day were hit with everything imaginable but they attempted to make it work a lot more than this generation of marriages does.  I know there’s a reader saying why would I encourage someone to stick it out?  Simply because as a married woman myself, it’s my duty to encourage someone to keep their vows.  If not what is the purpose of being married?  Marriage isn’t some fairy tale you can jump in and out of when it suits you.

Now if we are talking about abuse that’s a different story.  Pack it up and leave.  You don’t have to stay and be abused from anyone at any given point. 

Work and fight for your marriage.  If after you have done ALL and I do mean ALL and it’s not working then you decide what you will do.  A little advice, let it be your decision not just what your married friends suggest, single friends, or even this blog.  I’m not here to make you stay or leave.  Don’t use this as a to go ticket.  Take this as a suggestion to get you through this bump in your marriage. 

Marriage can be as good and as bad as the work or lack you put into it.  What have you put into your marriage that makes it enjoyable, lovable, or strong in weak moments?  Again these are things we don’t deposit just when things hit a rough patch.  Make a deposit in your marriage daily.  Do you pray together even in the moments when prayer is the last thing you want to do? What about the times that you encouraged your spouse when they have hardened their heart to hear your voice?  Have you listened and made your presence a safe place without judgement? 

Make your marriage an investment.  Make the man or woman you married a priority.  Always speak kindly about your spouse and be careful of who you speak ill of your spouse.  Let me say that I too strive daily sometimes more than just once a day to keep my thoughts in check.  Sometimes the thoughts we entertain about our spouse is enough to make things difficult.

I wish you happiness even in the bad times.  I pray your marriage gets back on track.  When you and your spouse is on the same page of having a serious talk about where you two are headed that you renew your commitment.  Renewal doesn’t have to be in a fancy ceremony but in your thoughts and your deeds to each other.  Good luck!!

Ask Toi: Is It Okay to Give my Boyfriend an ultimatum to Marriage?

Short answer is no.  You never want to be in a position where you feel you need to give an ultimatum. Although you want to be married to your man approaching it from that direction can back fire.

Listen I get it who wants to just keep existing in a long-term relationship especially when both parties have stated that marriage is on the horizon?!  However the way you approach it makes a huge difference.  For one I would talk to your boyfriend about where his vision and time line for  marriage is.  That way you aren’t giving him an ultimatum you are just getting clear on what he sees versus what you see and want.  Make sure you let him know what your vision is as well.  Your objective is to find out if you two are on the same page.

Once you know you begin to make your own decisions about what you want to do.  When my husband got back together after a break from dating in college and our daughter was born we spoke about marriage.  I told him where I see us and asked him and he told me where he was as well.  However after hearing him I decided that I had my own date in mind in how long I was going to wait. I never shared the date with anyone including my girlfriends.  Happily he proposed to me months before my deadline.

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What I’m saying is no one wants to feel like they are guilted into marriage.  If that man wants to be married he will ask.  My question to you which is the same I asked myself in that limbo is what are you doing to prepare for this next phase?  What are you bringing to the table?  What goals are you working on?  Turn your energy elsewhere.

If you have a date in mind that you’re not willing to go past be vigilant in making your mind up.  You want to be able to make your own decisions and not base it on your boyfriend.  Also understand the date you make and it comes be prepared for it. I don’t want you to think that had I gotten to my date and told my boyfriend I was done that he would have asked for my hand in marriage.  I know him and he would have moved on.  This isn’t a trick that you use like so many women do.

I know plenty of women who say to a man that they have let’s say a year, and then that man proposes I’m not the one who wants to think did he do it only because of a threat.  I know women who did, got what they wanted and are also divorced as their hearts weren’t in it.  Life isn’t like television where men are running in airports etc. trying to get back their lady.  So don’t go into it waiting for those types of results.

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Lastly do you want the marriage or the ring and wedding?  I mean really spend some thought on this.  It’s wedding season and I think women’s hormones go through the roof around this time.  When we have friends that are getting married, etc we sometimes start the whole I want that to be me.  Marriage is work and if you are already contemplating twisted his arm to get to the marriage what will you do with him once you get him?

I’m not at all suggesting that you’re wrong for how you feel.  What I’m saying is be clear within yourself one of the tools you will need even in a marriage is to be your own woman.  You don’t want to start your journey off like this.  Also how do you not know he’s not already planning a proposal.  Don’t work your brain over.  It will happen when it’s supposed to.  Make this about you and not putting pressure on him to do what you want.