Painting with a Twist; Anxiety Buster! 

So tonight I pushed past my anxiety. Yes I deal with social anxiety at times and it’s annoying but it’s apart of my life for right now. I never went through this in college weird enough but a lot of that had to do with being a freshman and trying to do it all. You know that wild college student that would be on a table that was me.


Fast forward to after college Toi and now at times I find that meeting up with others is a chore. The kind of chore where I back out quickly and because I have kids sometimes it’s real and other times my kids are my get out of jail free card. My husband is the polar opposite. He’s always been super outgoing and still is. It’s crazy when we go to places. It seems that he’s more inclined to be in the front and I’m content with disappearing. So although I am not the wild child that I once was when I was trying to find myself in college, I’m still just as easy-going as I remember and I am finding that instead of allowing my anxiety to get the best of me, I’m pushing past it and getting out. Maybe not the type of college crazy but the essence of who I am is still there.


A bigger issue with getting out was adjusting to motherhood. My first daughter was a preemie and with asthma too. There were more hospital trips than anything. I kept to myself because no one seemed to understand how I balanced working full-time, being at the hospital all night and with literally no sleep pushing through. I learned how to keep my circle tight. Moving to Philadelphia like I’ve blogged about many times was overwhelming. I relied on my husband for everything. I didn’t even drive for the first months even though I had my own car.


Fast forward to my life now I’m pushing through. Losing weight, being a good mom, working full-time, blogging, and meeting new friends. Slowly but surely I’m getting out and enjoying life. Tonight I had the opportunity to meet up at Painting with a Twist with Mocha Moms. Mocha Moms is an organization that is a support for women of color who are mostly stay at home moms. Now you know that I work full-time and there are other moms who work as well. When I first moved to Philadelphia I wanted to join. I was a stay at home mom then but my anxiety kept me from being apart. Tonight I crushed that fear that I had almost 5 years ago.



Tonight’s meet and great while painting and sipping of course was everything. These women are like-minded, warm and I was myself from the beginning and didn’t feel the need to put on airs.  I’ve been in group situations and you find yourself in the back and connect with maybe one another person, but not this group of women.  Plus who can’t have a good time painting and sipping on wine?!

I am truly grateful for not backing out tonight. I’m super happy to have met these great women. As I drove him thinking of the night, a huge smile came on my face. I turned on my adult music, maybe I could let pre mom Toi out every now and again!! Just maybe!! Oh and who won a gift certificate for the next visit to Painting with a Twist?! Oh yeah!!

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Keep it Clean

The last several weeks I have been cleaning.  No I don’t mean just cleaning my natural house either.   I have been cleaning up my social media and what like in entertainment and who I choose to entertain.

I have been slowly pulling away from reality television to start with.  There are series that I watch that I have been deciding not to watch anymore.  That doesn’t mean I have sworn all of it off, but slowly but surely I will get there.  At this point it’s not that entertainment can’t be fun, but it can also be draining.  I am on a new wave as I conclude this year to find other ways of entertaining myself.  To be sure that I don’t, I make sure I don’t record it.  Do you know how much room my DVR has now?  Lots of space for me to record documentaries, movies, or things for my kids and I to watch together as a family.

Another thing I have been doing is cleaning out my social media.  Now let me be honest, I have an impressive block list. This is simply out of respect that my rule is I block in real life than I block in social media and not the other way around.  I do not block on social media just because I am temporarily mad over an issue.  We use the block feature so loosely that it really doesn’t have meaning.  I block after I have come to the decision that I do not want to interact with a person or group of persons in real life.  I am not a social media thug.  So no posting about what is wrong, posting petty memes.  I live in real-time.  So no you do not need to see pictures of my kids, what I am doing, who I am with, etc.  That privilege is lost.  Check out the features you have on your social media.  You can really control who the audience of your page goes to and who you allow to sit under as well.

One last thing about cleaning out my social media is my children.  Social media was developed to bring people together.  My children are the best parts of me.  I have friends and some family all over the world.  I am not going to be able to see them as often as I would like. Allowing them on my social media is a great way for them to see my kids grow.  With that in mind, we have closed up how we post on social media where they are concerned.  We don’t post them in real-time.  We do not allow anything identifying where they live, go to school, etc This prevents as much as we can, from others being able to go online and getting a social print of them.  I am not saying this is super fool-proof because it’s not but it at least allows me to put forth an effort.  Those who need to know the intrigue details know from my husband and I communicating those details.  Another app I use now is BlurPhoto for Apple Phones. (Android Phones Blue Photo) It is used to blur out anything that you don’t want shared.  I use this to block out names, other kids, and anything damaging to my kids’ identity.  Please get the app and use it.  It is free by the way.

One last thing, do not let anyone on your social media you don’t want on there.  You get tired of seeing their post than delete them. Don’t want them to know you deleted them then limit their access to you and your access to them.  Anything that makes you upset over social media can be tweaked in a way to keep your sanity.  There is an over indulgence in what we look at, what we take in, who we take in, etc  You have always had the power.  Clean it up and create places of peace.  All of those groups you are in, get out of them.  I was in a several marriage groups and they were places of nothing but contention and arguing and trying to show what you know.  I got to the point where I don’t need support for my marriage outside of the actual marriage.  In real life I wouldn’t consort with such a large group of people so why do it now.  Having a person or a few folks you can confide is one thing, but opening up Pandora’s box is unhealthy.

Trust me this will help you weed out real life friendships too.  As you change you don’t engage as much in real life to those things that are no longer serving your bottom line-get there!  Again as I always say this is what works for me  There is something that works for you but we all can use a little back up from social media and the headache that we not social media bring into our own lives.

Also on your phone too, you can mute group messages,.  Those messages will be there when you decide to unmute them.  I refuse to be a prisoner to my phone, social media, and anything else that do not matter in the long run.  This is coming from someone who loves social media.  Step back, try it out for a little while, I promise you its super fulfilling.

Support

Happy Monday to you.  I’ve been missing in action and I stated that I would be. I’ll give all of the updates from my trip later this week. However I am back and back in the blog flow. I wanted to talk about this Monday is about support.

Support is the act of being there for a person. Support is supposed to be unconditional. If you have the right people in your life that show love without question it is an amazing feeling. Everyone in their own way wants to feel supported. Keep in mind that support in numbers may be super small. Support isn’t about a number but about quality of the support received.  

For me support looks different now that I have changed my perspective of what I thought it was supposed to look like. It’s no surprise that when I moved from my family, I wanted support to mimic what I had left.  Now on the real the man power of people I had readily available was scarce however I had to get to the point of learning that I could accomplish anything on my own. I felt after I learned that lesson slowly but surely my support system shifted.

I am not interested in people who just want to be a spectator in my life. The world can do that from a safe distance.  However to give someone a front row seat in my life who didn’t earn it makes no sense. I had to learn that through break ups with people, getting hurt, and disputes. I had to get to the point of realizing those who support you don’t mimic that negative behavior. So now although my circle is super small it’s occupied by the right people who have been tried and true and that I give the same level of support in return.  I couldn’t be a bad friend and expect to get superior friendship in return. Also with family yes they are supposed to be there no matter what but that’s not always the case either. Sometimes you have to love family from a far as well. I feel too with family you can’t take people for granted.  Treat people well. I can say that I haven’t treated people well, in return have lost friendships and relationships with family. If you have ever found yourself in this situation the best way is to change. You may not get the relationships back but if you treat others right you can find others to replace what you lost. A lost isn’t truly a lost unless you don’t learn from the situation. 

So to the group of folks who feel like there isn’t anyone in your corner, don’t wallow in what you don’t have. Do for you and in time those who are supposed to be there will be. Be honest about your mistakes. Learn from them and focus on what you need to do. I honestly know that the way life is set up if you try to drink water, workout, get healthy, be kick assed in your relationships, find your passion, and try to be your best version of yourself you won’t have time to do the extra things that don’t produce greatness. Stop wasting your time and energy into the things that will not get you to your next level.  People are always talking about a glow up but won’t grow up and be their best selves. 

Support real people. Be there like you want those to support you. Admit where you fall short. Be okay with making amends for where amends need to be made. Drink water, eat right, raise good kids, be a blessing instead of a headache and you will continue to grow!  

Ask Toi: Your blogs are overwhelming with too much positivity, are you like this daily?!

Yes and no. I am human. I have bad days and good days. I can be up emotionally up and ready to take on the world one minute and having to be put on the prayer list to get out of the bed the next. 

Positivity is overwhelming when you only focus on the low moment. I have so many goals that I’m working on that even in the busy days I get extremely overwhelmed myself. My husband is probably the only one who sees my lowest moments. They can be small to severe. He’s a trooper. We’ve been together and as a team he knows what to say to snap me back. I also push to be positive. The world has enough negativity that I try not to add more to it. 

I also have expressed that I’ve suffered from depression. I have been in my past on medication during post partum and I’ve gone to professional counseling. I was taught the tools to come out of a negative jam. Also honesty is the best policy. See the way my life is set up I don’t have time to wallow.  But I get how you would be overwhelmed. You are looking through the lens of your own life and try to measure. Don’t do that. We have different paths. You have no idea what things I’ve been through to get to where I am. Never compare what you think you see. I’ve learned this the hard way. You will be super disappointed if you do. 

This is why I blog. So you can change the lens and direct it from the inside out and not the other way around. Try writing what it is about your life that you don’t like. Put it on paper than write what your grateful for. Then make a plan for each thing that you are struggling with and then work your plan. In doing this alone you won’t have time to focus on others. People including me will be in your rearview mirrow instead of in front of your windshield. Change your perspective!!! 

It’s a good thing to be overwhelming positive if I could describe what my life was like years ago, it might scare you!! 

What are you Grateful for?

The only time we talk about gratefulness is around Thanksgiving.  You hear everyone repeat what they are grateful for.  If you come from a big family as I do, by the time Aunt Sally speaks her gratefulness you’re almost tapped out.  Do you know the power of speaking what you are grateful for out loud?  It refocuses what you have and less on what you don’t.  It will renew your mind to go after what you don’t have without negativity.  It will allow others around you to get good vibes as well.  When you see grateful people they seem to smile more. There lives may be in shambles but they know that trouble don’t last always.  They seem perkier.  They seem almost too unreal.  The reason they seem unreal is because the world is full of life suckers and negative vibes.  Choose to be the light in a dark world. Sometimes a simple smile can do it for someone. I watched my kids energy in a simple Snapchat video and it reminded me to slow down and relax.  Or when I see my daughter accomplish a goal she thought she couldn’t its gratefulness that makes me stop and reflect.  I look and see the Vegas devastation and some of the stories of heroism or the stories of how a man lost his wife but he was grateful for her smile everyday.  Can you say the same?  Will someone look back at the time you were here and say, they were genuine and loved life?  If not you can change it.  Life sucks no doubt, but if you change the lens you will be able to conquer anything thrown.

So I’ll start it out for you, what are you grateful for?

I am grateful:

  1. My life
  2. My health
  3. My husband
  4. My kids
  5. My job
  6. Good credit
  7. No debt
  8. Ability to love
  9. Ability to receive love
  10. This day
  11. My friends
  12. For my grandparents still being alive
  13. For my nieces
  14. My siblings and siblings in love
  15. My parents
  16. For working my marriage
  17. For good food in my home
  18. For the ability to have gas in my car
  19. For healing
  20. For a sound mind
  21. Loving love
  22. Being quirky
  23. For loving to celebrate daily days
  24. Being an organized person
  25. For being creative

The list can go on for pages and pages, what are you grateful for?  Speak it and sit back and enjoy the blessings that God gave you as you speak it and list it.  It changes you when you learn to live from a grateful heart.  Be grateful!

I Need My Legs Back; Black Girls Run

So today was the day. I completed a 5k with the Black Girls Run organization. So what is Black Girls Run anyway?

Well it’s an organization that was founded in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha. The premise is to encourage African-American woman to live a healthy lifestyle. They wanted to be able to combat obesity that plagues the African-American community most.  It is open for all but it definitely encourages African-American women to make health and fitness a priority. There are many chapters all over and membership is free. To find out more about Black Girls Run click on the link and get active. 


This weekend was their Sweat with your Sole conference and 5/10k race and brunch. This also included New York best seller author, Luvvie Ajayi as the keynote speaker. Women from all over came together in the pursuit of fellowship, fitness and fun. 


So Black Girls Run is an organization that made sense to me. I have to admit before finding them by chance on Twitter, I had no idea that they existed. I of course am on a challenge to get healthy and I am finding I gravitate towards those who share in that same interest. Let’s be real for a second, outside of when I was in track and field since junior high school, I haven’t found a group of runners to connect with. It’s not shade it’s fact. Running is and has always been my heart. It was how I stayed slim and trim in college. My freshman dormitory was behind the gym and I found myself there often. When I graduated college I would run here and there but then dropped off the running map as I had my oldest daughter. Like I’ve said before my youngest is 3 what I had on my body was beyond baby weight. It was laziness, lack of commitment, and over eating.


One day a few months ago I was talking to my husband about how I needed to branch out and socialize more. However with that I didn’t just want to have any old friendships. I found a way to fuse both. Keeping me accountable in my everyday life and stepping out of my comfort zone. If you have been following me you know that I’ve been pushing myself out of the I can’t mentality. It hasn’t been easy but its definitely worth it.

For the last two months on my own I have been training for this 5k. This means pushing myself to the gym to do cardio and weights. This mean denying over indulgence of any one thing. Working hard and seeing what my body can do. I am happy to admit that it showed me that I can finish in 39 minutes and 17 seconds!! Won’t he do it?! Now let me just say I had no time goal. To be honest I only had a finish mentality and don’t embarrass myself or my family.


Last night I did a cancer walk that was in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I then got up at 4am and traveled back to Philly to complete this race. Shout out to my parents who made sure I was up and ready to hit the road. Some asked me why? One it’s about making a commitment. It was about not making an excuse once I saw that the two events were close together. It was also about not letting any form of anxiety have me back out. So I did both events back to back. 

Was I scared to race? No. Nervous yes but not scared. When I ran out and cleared the first half of the race I was feeling good. However to finish it seemed as if the finish line was so far away that I wouldn’t make it. I kept going. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles.  However as I finished I wanted to shout. I wanted to Tootsie Roll if my legs would have cooperated. But I was proud as hell.  They played Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow at the beginning of the race and by chance my own playlist played it again as I ended.  No better feeling in the world.  



It didn’t matter that my legs feel like mush. It mattered to me that I set a goal and achieved it. It mattered that my kids were able to know that when I say I’m going to do something that I follow through.  As a mom I am able to keep myself up and show them how to keep health as a priority.  I definitely plan to be active with the Philadelphia chapter. I plan to keep this going. I do have another 5k in November. So I will continue to train and in the end I’ll keep myself lifetime fine in the process. Sounds like a win to me!!

How to Ace Your Job Review

So you got the job, now what?  It’s time to for your yearly review.  Cue in the celebratory music and toss some confetti.  You made it through and its now time to ace the review.

There are a few things you need to do before the review to ace it:

  1. One never get too comfortable.  You know how you dressed when you first got the job verses after you been in your position let’s say 6 months after, cut it out.  Always dress to impress.  I do not care if you have been at your job for years.  Dress accordingly.  How you present yourself matters.
  2. Be on time. Have a track record of being on time. Life happens to all of us but trust and believe if you have a track record of being the “late one” it will come up.  Get to work on time.  Remember what you prayed for when you were in the faith line, get there, be on time, and work.
  3. Know your job and do it well.  You can’t ace your review when you haven’t been doing your actual job.  If you find in the midst of your job that there are areas where you aren’t doing your best, ask for help immediately and before your review.  The amount of people who fluff off inconsistencies makes no sense.  You do realize that your boss knows it and sees it. If training isn’t available then get yourself some.  There should be a wealth of friends that you can call on that can assist you in getting a few areas on point.  If not, get new friends. Either way your employer will appreciate the effort.
  4. Come to your review with areas that can be improved whether it be for yourself or for the company.  Make sure it’s not a list of complaints only. This is called taking an initiative.  Take it.  Coming with suggestions even if it is secretly complaints will look better than just having complaints.
  5. Be on time for your review if not early especially if you are meeting in an area of your office or your boss’s office.  Do not be late.
  6. Watch your tone and your language.  You should be authentic but keep it mind it’s a job.  I am a direct person but in certain arenas knowing the climate of your company matters.

During your review please bring a pen and a pad to write down notes.  One of the most irritating things you can do is come to your review unprepared.  This will come off badly.  Smile, and look your boss in their eyes.  Communication starts as soon as the meeting starts. If you find there is an area of improvement, take the criticism graciously.  Do not try to over explain.  Just note it and improve.  If you disagree, wait until its your turn to speak without cutting off your boss. If they have you write your comments down on your review sheet then do so.  Make sure especially if you are asked to write anything to check your emotions before you write.  You do not want to come off in a negative tone.

If you know that going into your review there are some areas that you KNOW you didn’t do well, think of ways to spin it.  Reviews are like mini interviews and you should always treat it as such.

Lastly ask questions, ask if there is anything that you can do to improve even if you are a model employee.  Never get comfortable in your position that you aren’t looking for ways to do better.

Congrats you have made it through another year!!