Thank you to the wonderful women who answered the call to be interviewed. It takes a lot to open up about who you are. You are who you are and this process can be a little intimidating. Thank you to all of my volunteers. As women we all have unique situations that vary but collectively we go through much of the same things. Not just for this month or for the #METOO movement, let’s all bond as one.
I want to highlight a few things. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, things on social media can look grande and be filled with so much smoke screen. Yes that is how life rolls. However keep in mind that everyone tries to put their best foot forward. This is why the age of filters is so amazing. You get to hide behind real life scars and traumas.
The pic used in this blog if I uncovered it was great. We were having the best ice-cream at one of my favorite spots. Everyone is all smiling and seemingly happy. We look like the model family. If I told you that I could still feel the pain of that day, would you believe me? That was a hard day. It was a few years ago and we were set to go to the African-American museum. We were ready to go and our plans got diverted. Why they got diverted I won’t speak on but I will speak to the nuggets that can be learned from that picture.
In it you see my husband all smiles. He was under extreme amounts of stress trying to do the best he can. I was depressed and I believe if I had gone back to work it was short-lived due to the fact that my youngest was nursing and wouldn’t take to a bottle and I had to take her to work with me. That worked for a while until it was time to put her in daycare and then I had to stop working again because again she wouldn’t take to anyone but me and still no bottle, no cup, just me.
Here is what I know now AFTER that storm of life and what I wish someone had told me:
You are stressed out but a lot of your stress is coming from within. You haven’t quite found your space, your voice, or what you want. Maybe its the feelings of not quite making your mark in this world. Maybe its the time that you had to take off due to taking care of your kids and the guilt that you feel losing the independence of a working woman. You are fighting those around you but reality is the fight is in you. Use that negative energy not to worry about what others will think, but to know what you want. Should you leave your husband because it was so rocky? No! Leaving isn’t the answer. The answer isn’t in your husband. He will never make you happy. Happy wife, happy life is a bunch of bologna. You have to be a happy person, and work from that happiness. You will have many more moments when you are ready to throw the towel in. Don’t stay for the sake of the kids. They can’t heal you. How about you deal with some of the let downs you face. Get out and get a hobby. Get out and get some fresh air. Know that as a mom you are at your best when you take some time to practice self-care. The kids will thrive better with you even if you had to walk alone. Take a mental time out. Take a deep breath. Do your hair, get dressed, put on a little make up because its going to be okay. You don’t have to look a mess while you figure out your messed up life. Your life is blessed you just have to use this time to rebuild. Don’t worry down the line you figure it out. Down the line you don’t have to wait for your husband to go with you all the time. If you like it go do it on your own. It doesn’t make you less married to do a few things on your own. He isn’t and never was your source for everything stop giving him that power. He didn’t ask for it. He was attracted to your hustle and your ability to keep it moving. He saw that hunger in you, you got this!
Sincerely a stronger Toi
Lesson one: Happiness is YOUR job. Not of your spouse or anything that you own. Happy people don’t have it all they just know how to keep moving and make the best of their situations.
Lesson two: self-care is a daily thing. It is not okay to have meltdowns if you’re not going to use the meltdowns to get better. What have you done today that made you feel amazing? You should be doing all you can to make it feel like its your birthday everyday. No one will celebrate you like you.
Lesson three: Marriage is beautiful when you put in work and your spouse does the same. When that stops the marriage will have a pit stop. You aren’t responsible for him/her you can only do what you want him/her to do. Don’t say that because you have done one thing, this is in ALL areas. No one can receive as much love and listening as you claim you give and treat that person badly. Remember they need from you what THEY need not what you THINK THEY NEED!
Lesson four: dress up everyday. I don’t mean you have to be in heels, but if you want to knock the sloppy look, you have to get up and get dress and be present. Every time you zone out and don’t care you look it. Don’t be mad at another woman who shows up and shows out. You both were supposed to. Don’t say you don’t have the time or money. Admit you didn’t take the time! You can look fierce on any budget. You can look fierce in pajamas if you want to.
Lesson five: get the hell out. You can not live your best life cooped up in the house. Get you a few dollars and go to a bookstore and have a ball, find some Groupons and live! Do more action than talking. No one cares that you talk about a dream, the doers are finding ways to make the dreams a reality.
Lesson six: for my moms, there is no such thing as a perfect mom. You don’t have to mirror everything you were taught. You are in control of what you want motherhood to be. Even if you grew up in the worst conditions, the dreams you wanted your childhood to be can be made with your own kids. Be solid for yourself and them not perfect. Dance around the kitchen while making dinner. Make folding into a game. Be there for your kids and most importantly be there for yourself! They are watching you!
Lesson seven: be okay to lose. Take a chance on life and yourself. If you fail it won’t be in not making the mark, it will be in not taking the chance to make the mark.
Well let’s have a little talk about going after what you want. The other day I was leaving the gym and a man approached me and asked to take me to dinner. I politely declined. I didn’t need to make a scene. I told him no and didn’t put any effort to it. Did he know I was married yes. Is that disrespectful yes if I would have said yes certainly. The issue is that like he said so many married woman act single and miserable he had to shoot his shot. I know friends who would have made a scene. They would have gotten all extra and for what? I am a beautiful woman who has been shining on the inside so it’s showing up on my outside. It’s not the job of an outsider to keep my marriage its my own responsibility. So he shoot his shot and I politely declined and walked off. Simple. No drama. Just a no and walk away. FYI if that man hadn’t accepted the no then escalate. There is nothing in the marriage bible that says if a man approaches me that I must act like a circus animal because my ring will defend men from approaching. The ring is a first set of back up but it’s up to me to love my husband and take my vows serious enough to back a man up and give him no chance. Your ring is mostly as a reminder for you to never let anything break the circle of love between you and your mate. That is a free nugget. Too many times women get offended that a man had the nerve to approach you like that man owes you or your husband a thing. He doesn’t. You do, remember that? No different than a woman with your husband. If we remembered that then maybe we would put a few unfaithful men and women out instead of dealing with just the outsider alone. But that’s a blog for a different day.
In other areas of our life we have to shoot that shot. We have to be willing to go after things that we want. I am doing that more often. I am moving forward and not being afraid to say no or hear no. NO will not kill you. It will only break you if you allow it. I have been told no so many times that I just keep it moving. No can hurt. If you are really after something and it doesn’t seem to move at all, it will hurt. But no breaks those who allow it. In life you have to be strong. You can show emotions but never let anything make you quit. Fail while pursuing. So for the many areas of your life that is dying for you to shoot your shot, do it. Do not back down for any reason at all. Shoot that shot and make no apologies.
So what are you looking to shoot your shot? Is it in pursuit of your education? Go after it. Keep applying. Lock in financial aid. Do it!
Is it in a new job? Hey do it. The worst you will hear is a no. Always ask when you hear a no what you can do better the next time, in due time it will pay off. I have a friend I think it took 5 years to get into a position but they are in it. No will build you. No will make you who you were meant to be.
Is it in love? Then make yourself marketable. What are you doing for yourself that would attract this dreamy guy you want? Are you what you claim you want? You want an honest man, but won’t pay your bills thus making you a person who can’t be trusted in their finances. You want a lovable man, but will not show love. Everytime someone approaches if they can get past your mean demeanor you chew their head off. You want someone who is willing to travel but you have no passport or no passport stamps. How does that work again?
Shooting your shot, takes courage, work, and dedication. If you won’t dedicate yourself to yourself then you can’t expect anything else to attract to you either.
It’s here, it’s finally here. The start of the holidays can begin. For all of those that have been dreading this or those who welcome it, it’s time to go into full gear. With that said not everyone will be spending the holidays with the most accepting family or friends. Honestly I would suggest to avoid drama to have a Friendsgiving meal instead of with family if the situation is toxic. Life is too short to be arguing over the dinner table. I would rather family be mad and get over it then to have to spend the holidays overwhelmed, angry, and then have this feeling stick with you for days. This is not that I do not like family gatherings, I do but I am anti stress of any sorts regardless of the occasion. In case you just can’t just not show up to a family gathering and you know there will unavoidable drama here are my tips to get you through:
- Have an exit plan. If you are traveling with others, make a code word. Something that only you and the ones you came in with know. Honor your sanity to know that you don’t have to spend a whole day, if after some time you are ready to roll, then do so. You are grown. Do NOT make up an excuse. Just simply be gracious, thank your host, and then leave. If you have to make an excuse then you haven’t realized how grown you are.
- Take a deep breath. Folks gon work your nerves. There’s no way around it. Be prepared for it.
- Don’t answer everything. Sometimes we talk to much just to prove a point and why? It’s not necessary. You don’t have to be right. There’s peace and letting folks play themselves. It’s amazing the folks every holiday that got a word for YOUR life, but yet ain’t got one for their own. Less is best.
- As long as you’re not on alcoholic tendencies, grab a drink but don’t overdo it. Two people tell the truth and that’s kids and drunk folks. Loose lips sink ships. So do not become so drunk that you allow your drunk muscles to speak for you. This is when things go left and what you should have dealt with sober you try to deal with liquid courage.
- Bring a hostess gift. Do you know the worst thing about the holidays is the part where folks talk about the ones who just come through with a plate but don’t ever bring anything to contribute. Bring something. Even if its momma house and she insist, slide momma a few dollars. Do something.
- Remember that Thanksgiving is one day. Do not fall into the trap in putting more power in the day that you forget what the day is about.
- If things get heated, retreat, leave, walk away. You know you are going to hear the same stories. the same drama, and the same everything, be prepared for it.
- Be realistic. If you chalk it up to be more than what you know it will be, you will be the only one disappointed.
- Have some fun-yes with all of the stress to prepare the perfect meal, be the best host, or just avoid going to jail remember to have a little fun. Play some games, enjoy that beverage, enjoy that piece of pie-enjoy!
- Do not bring anyone to someone else’s house without speaking with them beforehand. No you can’t bring your new flavor of this week to the dinner. We don’t want to meet them. No you can’t just bring a random dude to momma house. See them afterwards. I know people want to bring them a tenderoni to the dinner but unless you clear it with the hoss, meet up for some after Thanksgiving night cap and leave it at that. If you don’t take heed the only tenderoni you gon have is some ricearoni or get hemmed up in a corner. There are rules so know the rules before you go to someone’s house.
- For the single that get the when you getting married question, just be gracious. No matter what you say or do they gon ask. You might as well deal. If you are married and you get the whole, when are you having kids find a way to be gracious instead of mad. If you feel the need to be a little bit more stern than do so but remember stern don’t have to be ignorant unless someone has asked you several times in the same night and won’t respect your no.
- If you are married or dating and you are going over your in-laws or future in-laws, take the cue in how to deal with their family from your mate or boo. Stop overstepping your boundaries. Everybody family ain’t saved and you might get a bite you wasn’t expecting. Attempt to be respectful. If you feel you can’t remove yourself.
I hope you all have a great holiday. It will take a cool down, being focused on what the holiday is about, having a plan of action, and removing yourself from stressful situations to do that. Remember self-care sometimes means saying no, not over doing it, enjoying the moment and controlling your own responses. Have a good one and keep these things in mind.
You ever hear that when you were a kid? Absolutely you have. That was the cry when you wanted someone know from the gate you wasn’t here for their crap. This was before it became popular to say “you tried it” or “boy bye.” A few years ago I got caught in some drama with some family members and decided they or anyone else would never get the chance again to try me.
Now I can admit that my mouth is pretty blunt. I pull no punches. I don’t say to someone behind their back what I won’t say to their face. If I said it, I own it. My mom has raised me on that premise. As much as folks can say what they want about her, they know what you see is what you get. So when you’re a young girl you have to walk real close and not say what you want. However when you become a woman and a real adult, you speak and say what has to be said period. Do you know how many times I was super respectful in school but I would be the one to school a teacher and have my parents back me? I had learned to reserve that go off when it was appropriate. My parents definitely taught me to hold my tongue when I had to but when it was warranted, don’t have them looking crazy but make it a good one.
Well today before someone could even try to drag me I had to hit them with the save the drama for your momma pose. I am not here for it. I am not the one. I do not want to hear no issues because I have learned that people love to dice up a story and add stuff that ain;t happen and for me, if you gon quote me, quote me right. I had to shut down the young lady and let her know from the gate, that I do not subscribe to banter so if that is what she came for keep it moving. She was mad trying to justify why I should listen but mid sentence I walked away. Just like that no questions asked, no let me go, just simply walked away.
In my mind, I don’t care what you wanted to add, it becomes a choice if I sit there and listen and I definitely knew better. A few years ago I allowed another person to make me mad enough that the anger was so super explosive I had to retreat for an entire day. I had to count up the cost if that foolery was even worth it. It wasn’t. So from that point on I make it my business to live in peace with the 4 other folks aka my immediate family ie, my husband and kids and live our lives without drama. No drama in the home, so none to go out. This has caused a rift with others but it works for me and my household. Outside of getting blamed recently out of association since I had to be explained as to why I was in the last drama fest, I live quite a quiet life.
People are funny that way. They can’t get to you in another way so they tag you with who you associate with. Let’s keep it real, they don’t like the person and it is what it is. They didn’t hear me say, they didn’t see me do anything, but they have to add me in. It’s quite laughable. But I laughed at the little mini altercation this morning as the person was just trying everything to get me upset. My are you done yet face still in tact as she reminded me of a tantrum that a child throws. It was cute but not cute enough for me to attach any emotions to it and give her what she wanted which was attention.
If you ever want to make someone mad, don’t pay them any attention. Don’t subscribe to anything they dish. Do not talk, don’t break bread, do not entertain that. That doesn’t mean from a far you can’t show love but until some things are worked out on both parties it’s a no for me sis. As I watched this tantrum from this wayward adult unfold, I thought bless your heart, you just need some friends, some D, a nap, a drink, a vacation, anything but what you won’t get is a high-five on your mess. She couldn’t do anything but stop talking to herself. I was a mere distance from her, and her hollering had to stop at some point right? Right. Kill folks with a look, ignore them, walk away, but protect your spirit at all cost. Every time something jumps off I remind myself of that promise I made a few years back, folks ain’t worth my time, energy, my bail money, or my life. Focus on what matters, and keep it pushing folks, keep it pushing.
Happy Anniversary! I love this time of the year. It’s like a birthday and Christmas wrapped into one. On a blogiversary I usually rethink what I want to do. I get a vision together and I work with it. I also think about what has taken place in the year during this blog year.
This has been an awesome year. Not just because today is such a high day either. It is a good year because I took steps to make it great. Nothing just happens. I had to put the work into my life in a lot of areas so I can attempt to live my best life daily. With that in mind, I am super grateful for just life itself. Now let me also say life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries. So today I will spill the background tea. A blog about yourself is super sticky. You will get strangers who can resonate with your story. You also get folks who know you, don’t like you and will stir the pot. You will also get people who know of you, don’t know your full story and will contact you and say I had no idea you were dealing with whatever topic. I put me out there because I can do it best and that comes with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or the one thing I get is how do I know if I am putting too much of myself out. I know because I feel like I have to be 100% okay with what I put out and who that will affect. For the most part I only worry about my husband and kids. This is why I limit what pictures I show of my kids. I ask them for their permission too. Respect towards them is important. My husband is my number one fan so his support is incredibly important to me.
What about backlash?
I do not change my blogs to prevent backlash. This is because these are my stories, my experiences and most importantly my page. I think it is clear that the human spirit will draw to those it needs to. I don’t worry about backlash in the form of someone who I don’t or barely deal with having a “word” for me. This is not a cocky attitude it’s just real. I have had family members say to me, you say this and that on your blog but then you are a different with me. The reality with writing is you can focus your words to be nice or not-its called editing. When I am talking I don’t have time to edit. However whether or not I am qualified to speak on me and tell the good, bad and the ugly is not even up for discussion. I like most people have a past. If I don’t vibe well with another person will not determine if I should shut down an entire blog. I am not everyone’s cup of tea and I love my flavor so I will not water it down. This is why self-care and self-love works. I practice this daily so that while I give out I can keep my cup always full.
I am wrong, Admit it, Keep it Pushing
I can admit in my blogs when I am wrong. I do not attempt to paint a cookie cutter picture of my life. My life has ups and downs, fault, and failure like everyone reading this blog has. I do NOT know of a person who doesn’t. I talk about me because I can. Do you know how many people in the last 3 years have reached out to me to say thank you. When I wrote about postpartum, do you think I am the only one who has gone through it? Absolutely not. I told on how I even got so bad I threatened to call the police on my fiance (now husband) because I was so far gone and couldn’t manage my emotions. I talked about the moments in motherhood where I feel like I am missing the mark and the frustration of managing my 3 kids with 3 different personalities and trying to figure out that balance. I have talked about the times I personally wanted to give up on my marriage. I have talked about what its like as a woman in her skin to have those moments where you wake up and see your weight, your face, a mole, or whatever makes you feel less sexy, less confident and how to come out because I went through it and came out on the other side. I can’t tell you about things I haven’t experienced. That’s not real. I know me. I know what’s like to be deemed the perfect child but fail miserably in life. It sucks. It hurts, but if I wait for approval from everyone I would still be failing. Oh ps. to other bloggers, you know that folks gonna talk, I say talk on, because at the end of the day I give no front seats to my life to just anyone especially when it’s not earned.
Dust yourself Girl and Keep Writing
So for me these blogs are the essence of who I am. I make the mark, get knocked down, fall back a few spaces, dust myself off but in the end sink or swim, I’ll make it. Everyone loves the underdog and I feel like the ones who wished that I would just plain old stop are up for one miserable ride. I am Lord’s willing gonna stick this out and see what the end is going to be. For those who I will make amends with because there have been some issues that have come out that I will conquer I will get there. The others, no love lost, I have love but it’s from afar and I make zero apologies for it.
Distance is key
I have noticed the incredible amount of peace that has happened in my life. I try to keep my circles small. Even with distance I find that if something is stirring I don’t even answer it. My family meaning my husband and kids schedules keep me on my toes. I love it. I am venturing out, attending more conferences, so my life is going in a different directions these days. It’s been a long time coming. Like any woman I can be petty, but my life has evolved to the point where I keep it quiet, move in silence, and focus on the people who really matter. I say this because if you stir some old mess, it usually stinks. I have had readers over the years say they keep putting themselves in situations and wonder why they aren’t getting different results. If you learn nothing more today, change how you move and who you are around. That in itself will change your life. We have a zero drama policy in our home. We don’t even have conversations about much that includes drama especially around our kids. We won’t allow drama folks in there. Not one person who has visited us has been one to stir a pot and if they do, we have no issues with asking you to leave. My husband and I started this a few years ago. I wrote about how I got into it with a person and it forever changed me for the better. I will not allow myself to get to the point where I am so mad, I need to curse folk out, go off, or check for gas in my car for a pull up. Yes followers, I am human. I post about change but there was a time when all of that negativity was in me. I choose change. Distance allowed me time to cool off, work on me and make a decision if people need to be involved with me or not. Some I am slowly working to get into the swing with some and others I haven’t written off I just chose to continue in quiet and distance.
I have had some amazing followers let me say. You have been rocking out when I lose my blogging way which happens. I love what I do, but life throws a few curb balls. Last year I had to refuel but I was never gonna give up. I had to find my own passion and it happens and writers block is real. I try not to pull too much from headlines unless I feel extremely passionate so this is why people ask me to recap a show and if I am not feeling it I just won’t. I have been eliminating a lot of reality television by choice so if you see me recap a show its going to be because I really felt the topic was something I truly have knowledge of, it was something I had been through, etc
To my new followers, go through and spend some time on the page. There is a lot for all kinds of topics. There is something for everyone male and female.
I love my Ask Toi questions. I answer these at firstname.lastname@example.org and when I do I keep my follower’s identity closed. There is no reveals around here. People have messy and crazy lives and revealing who they are would be completely wrong. So if you have a question, send them to the ToiTime email and I will try my best to answer them. I always give a more detailed answer to my follower and a condensed version to my followers. The reason is that some details would reveal and I am all for keeping Ask Toi as discreet as possible.
So I will continue in my blogging endeavors. I will continue to be transparent. I will continue to be who I am and make no apologies for who I am. I will continue to push the envelope because I do that off-line as much as I do it online. I try to match my social media life to of my real life. Too many fakes, but there is only one ToiTime. I am unique, I am Latoi. I love all of my ToiTime followers, so cheers to another year! Never be afraid to take a chance on yourself. NO ONE ELSE will, you can and should be able to depend on yourself.
I have been in this mindset of making people wait. Everyone knows what I mean by that. The person or persons in your life that need what they need right this second and think that the sun rises and sets on them. Or a coworker that as soon as you enter the door has to be on extra and won’t give you the courtesy of at least taking off your coat. These are the emotional blood suckers that zap your energy and life because at the end of the day they have no life of their own.
If you allow people to not wait when they don’t have a priority in your life, you will be the one frustrated. I had to put this nugget to use in my own life first. These last few weeks my life has been super busy. I have been going to more events this year than ever before. With that in mind, I am super organized. My kids don’t miss a beat. My husband and I don’t miss it either. In order to get things done, I plan ahead. A large greatness to planning ahead is being prepared and knowing when I can take on more, when to say no, and when to make people wait. A lot of times people live in this McDonald’s now mentality. Everything can’t be instant. Sometimes they want your attention because they are lacking in other places. Sometimes they want your money and ain’t worked for it, or will go above and beyond to get it as hard as they in your face grabbing it from you. Sometimes they feel like “it’s always” been a certain way and when you detach you are the one that is wrong.
Making people wait allows you to think. It cuts you from making rush decisions which happens if you don’t first get in control of your own emotions when dealing with others. If you allow others to tell you how to run your own life, next thing you know, you are the one full of anger and resentment for allowing others power over you. Waiting also allows you to determine what is beneficial and what needs to prioritized or not. So take your time on a few things. It can wait. People can wait. If someone wants to use your resources, they too can wait. You don’t have to stop the world and get it for them at a drop of a dime. Consider, if you were in the same position would the same courtesy be shown? It’s not about tit for tat its about principle of allowing the same people to be takers and you are the one that has to allot for their lives. This isn’t just about money but about emotional, mental, and spiritual robbers that come in and out of your life. Be careful. Learn how to weed them out. Find them and make every effort to put stops and checks in place to guard from this type of behavior.
I use a step in making decisions if I should rush into things or not:
- Is it necessary for basic survival? Ie. living expenses such as utility bills not including cable or phones. Those are nice but fully necessary. If someone wants to borrow money or resources that’s not about keeping basic needs met, the answer is no or make them wait
- Is what the person or person want about fulfilling some long-term emotional baggage? They can wait. The girlfriend who doesn’t have a man so she wants to monopolize your time can wait. You just hung out with her last week, but because she can’t get other friends to bend she needs you to stop what you’re doing. She guilt trips you and you cave, no make her wait. You have other areas of your life to attend to and her need to find fulfillment in you needs to wait or be channelled.
- Are you the only source? Some will come to you because you make it too easy. Like a yes man, you give them what they need and you never check or ask anyone or have anyone else. There’s a reason. It’s not just because they love you so much either. It has more to do with you being the source, them not handling their business correctly, and burning bridges with others.
Be careful. Anything no matter what its is for that makes you mad that you helped, makes you upset to the point where you lose faith in yourself or humanity, is it really worth it? Most likely not. You are in control make others respect you, and if they can’t sometimes a time out is necessary. Do not feel cornered to do for others what they won’t do for themselves.