Off Days

I know we all have them.  The moments when things don’t line up just right.  The laundry you thought you had gotten out of the dryer is still in there, wet because you forgot to turn it on.  The days when you feed your kids and pour juice into someone’s bowl instead of milk.  Off days are crazy.  I feel like it takes 2 on days to compensate the one-off day you may experience.  However even in the off days you can look back laugh and thank goodness that you have your wits about you.

Off days are there to throw us to be honest.  They help you figure something that you may need to change especially if you are the A type personality such as myself.  It humbles you and lets you know you good but you could be greater.  Sometimes off days make you rest because I have had off days so bad that I say you know what, that’s it let me stop and take a break.  On those days I find myself just looking around trying to not be upset and quickly gathering my thoughts.

So if you are experiencing one of those days or will experience one of those days, try to take it in stride.  Try to allow some time to not be as frustrated.  Whatever is not done can wait.  Even for the type of person like myself who thrives on being on point, just know things will get done and things will pan out and you are going to be okay.

Image result for stress

We stress out over a lot of things and I get it.  But eliminate the pressure and stress you place on yourself and take things one at a time that you can.  You will have enough grace to get through.  Take a deep breath and you will get through!

 

Advertisements

Women History Month: Everyday….We Stand Strong

Women aren’t to be celebrated only during the month of March.  They should be celebrated everyday.  We are the giver of life.  We hold things down.  We are strong. We are beautiful and complex. We are love in its best form here on Earth.  For that you don’t limit such celebrations to only one month.

Ladies celebrate yourselves daily.  I have been saying this and I mean no matter what degrees you have and what accolades you get, if you do not take care of yourself you are no good to anyone around you.  You will wear yourself thin operating from an empty cup.  Keep your wits about you. Say no to things when you can’t add another thing to your long to-do list.  You are not a yes woman.  It’s okay to let a few text messages go unanswered.  It’s okay to let a few calls and emails wait.  You are doing yourself a disservice if you feel you have to be ON all the time.  Take a bubble bath, take a 10 minute break, whatever you need practice some level of self-care daily. Yes there will be times when money is tight.  I haven’t always been able to sit at an expensive spa but I sure now how to turn a trip to the Dollar Store, Wal-Mart or Target and turn my entire bathroom into a spa for one while my kids slept to recharge.  I have had times when I turned into my own beautician and did what I had to do.  There are hard times.  Sometimes when your world feels like it’s crashing it gets difficult to look within.  However if you don’t everything around you will attempt to take you over. Say yes to you.

Image result for strong women

Go after that degree that you have been putting off. It’s okay for you to be well-rounded. Will it be easy?  Absolutely not.  We get so excited when we read stories of women who are seasoned and still going after their educational goals.  Yes you could be the oldest in the room, but your degree will hang just like the young 20 something.  Go after it! Will it be hard as you strive towards that new career?  Possibly.  Imagine going to interview after interview only to be told no.  You invested, exerted time and energy only to feel like every door you touch is closing. Keep on going!

What about the woman who doesn’t want to have children?  The pressure for women to be life givers is crazy.  There are some women happy and content single or married not to have children.  What about the women who in our stories for this month lost a baby at 20 weeks.  I need you to understand that is devastating because at this point you are well showing, you have told people and on top of that you know the sex of the baby.  People are hurting all around us.  We are women have the power to really affect change in ourselves and our communities that goes past a #metoo movement.  We can make things easier for the women around us by what we accept, give our voices to, or stand up for.  Be wise.

Image result for strong women

You are strong. You are beautiful.  You are confident and a force to be reckoned with! Celebrate yourselves and all that you have done in your life.  The good.  The bad. The ugly. The failures. The insecure moments.  The embarrassing moments.  The moments of regret. The moments you felt inadequate.  All of your messy moments. All of you for all of you and all of those crazy moments are going to push you to your best moments if you are open to it!

 

Women’s Month, Year of the Woman: Stephanie S!

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.

Stephanie S., is a mother to two beautiful girls.  Her oldest is actually her niece that she has raised since she was 13 until the age of 18 and her youngest is her biological daughter, she’s 4-years-old.  She’s been with her husband for 16 years and they will be celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary on May 9th.  She’s one of a few in her family to graduate high school and college and have gone onto graduate school.  She still has 3 more classes to go before she graduates. She was laid off in 2015 and found two jobs the following year in 2016, but she’s only working at one of those jobs and couldn’t be more happier.  She is finally in a place that she enjoys where she is currently.
What she would tell her younger self:
The life ahead of you will not be easy, but keep faith in God and trust that He will not give you more than you can handle.  Also, you need to relax more, things will work themselves out in the end. 
Lessons for her daughters:
Nothing in life is truly free.  Be honest, be kind, and the world will be yours. 
Love: Don’t rush into it.  If you truly want to know if your partner is right for you, please don’t be afraid to bring them to meet your father or me. 
Career: don’t settle for comfort.  Find a career that you’re truly passionate about and makes you happy to go to everyday.  In the end, if there’s anything in all three that you feel uncomfortable with, let someone know.  Don’t be afraid to tell anyone.
Our future and where we want to be should be something that we attempt to work at all the time. Nothing is simply going to be handed to us.  I asked where Stephanie sees herself in 5 years:
In a better position at my job.  I love my place of employment, but would like to advance to higher position.
What are the things you have accomplished:
Well, when it comes to personal accomplishments, I’d say, participating in art shows.  I love art and to be able to participate in art shows has been such an honor and a joy to share my own work with others who love art just as much as I do. 
Another personal accomplishment is that I decided to go to grad school to get my Master’s degree.  I haven’t finished my grad schooling yet, but I will soon or at least hope to. 
Career accomplishments, I would say is jumping into a position that no one else wanted and ended up being the best person they had done the job.
I think we tend to hold certain people in high regards.  This #METOO movement has allowed some of the ones we hold high to be seen differently.  No matter who it is, if you have sexually assaulted, harassed or abused another woman regardless of which roles you may have played, how much money you have, even if you are someone’s boss, it’s not okay.
What are your thoughts on the #METOO movement:
To be honest, I didn’t want to believe that some of the things being said about celebrities like Bill Cosby were true, but when you have so many women coming forward, then there must be some truth to the allegations.  It’s great that more women are coming forward and ousting their tormentors/abusers.  Women shouldn’t be afraid to speak out.  Value your self-worth before you value where your career can take you.  I feel my youngest is too young to truly understand what the movement means so I’m unsure of how I plan on using the movement.  The closest thing I can think of to tell my daughter would be, “If you don’t like someone touching you or you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to tell anyone.”
What are the things that Stephanie is looking to accomplish or crush:
The major thing on my heart that I hope to crush is completing my graduate degree.  When I do go back to complete it, I will have to pay for my three classes and I just can’t afford to pay for them right now.  So as soon as I can afford it, then I will complete my degree. 
Lastly what does self-love look like to you:
Accepting myself for who I am.  I am a person who is shy, but is trying to be more vocal when I need to be.  When having a rough day, listening to music every chance I get.  When I’m home, I wait until my daughter is in to bed to sit at my desk and write in my bullet journal or plan things out in my other planners.  And as silly as it sounds, I like to straighten my hair sometimes because it makes me feel good about my looks.  I chose to give up drinking sodas in order to care about my health.  I was drinking sodas to keep my energy levels up especially when I was at work, but I realized that as long as I’m laughing and staying productive at work, my energy is generally high or at a normal level.  Plus, I don’t get headaches anymore.  In place of sodas, I’ve been drinking more water.  Still working on getting to bed at a normal hour, but I will get there in time. 
Stephanie thank you again for participating.  I am sending positive vibes that you will get the funding you need to complete your master’s degree.  Do NOT stop just because you have this hiccup in the road. I hope your daughters know just how smart, how beautiful, how strong you really are.  I hope through your example that others around you will know continue to have purpose and move towards that purpose daily.
Another note if you’re looking for a photographer in central Pennsylvania, take a look at her information:

Everything isn’t What it Seems

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:

Dear Toi,

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.

Shoot Your Shot

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.

Image result for no gif

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?

Image result for stop right there

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.

Image result for shoot your shot

 

Thanksgiving Tips To Get Through

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Take a deep breath.  Folks gon work your nerves. There’s no way around it. Be prepared for it.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Be realistic.  If you chalk it up to be more than what you know it will be, you will be the only one disappointed.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Image result for thanksgiving stress

Save the Drama for your Momma

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.

Image result for i said what i said

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.

Image result for is you finished or nah

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.

Image result for stay over there