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!!

img_4787

 

Fall is for Linvilla Orchards

So I love Fall.  I love going to Linvilla Orchards.  We do this yearly.  I have a blast and so does the kids.  So this year was no different.  If you aren’t familiar with Linvilla check it out here.

We had a blast from the food to the apple slinging, it gets better yearly.  What I am most excited about was watching me and the kids’ growth over the years.  For instance when we first went my oldest was about 2 and my son wasn’t even walking.  Now they can participate in all of the events.  My youngest who is the pro at apple slinging was in my belly a few years ago and loves to run around playing. Linvilla has something for everyone.  If you love country fall foods, they have it.  If you like hay rides, they have it.  It is an all year round treat for the entire family.

So of courses let me give you our highlights.  I love corn. But nothing is better than corn than corn on the cob hot with piping hot butter drizzled on it.  They have corn down to a science and literally is the first stop on the trip.  Oh and the seasoning station, has everything you can think of for a messy good time.

corn

corntoi

The kids didn’t want any parts of corn.  So they opted for funnel cake instead and cotton candy, duh!

funnelcake.JPG

Nothing to do but to sit for a bit than let them run all of that energy out.  We let them play on everything.  You pay a dollar a ticket but the adults are free.  PSA, if you have more than one parent or a friend, designate one person to take a few pictures at the beginning and then focus back on the kids.  I see too many parents either taking pictures or just on their phone.  Your kids can still be injured or lost because you’re taking a parent time out. Linvilla has the kids within a fence but its super easy for kids to wander out if you’re not looking.  So keep an eye out and be vigilant.  The kids took advantage of us not saying no.  Kids need room to run so for me I enjoyed letting them be free.  Super grateful for having my husband come because the age ranges allowed the kids to play with their age of kids without worry that a bigger kid will over power my 3-year-old.  It allowed us to conquer and divide.  I definitely think having a group of parents and kids will allow a better time.  Not to mention not everyone wants to do the same things at the same time.  You can have some do face painting, while others are playing, etc.

They also have pony and train rides for a fee too as well as a petting zoo station.

The kids enjoy asking for things and getting them.  Always try to have cash to spend.  They do have ATMs but they are usually a bank no one has and I am on team save money.  You don’t have to pay to get in or for parking but the amount of money you will spend inside quickly covers it.  So be prepared.  We always get a pumpkin so we can either carve or paint them later at the pumpkin patch.  Linvilla has pumpkins of all sizes and even some black and white pumpkins too.

The highlight of the kids day outside of the hay ride, is apple slinging.  They also have corn and straw mazes, and a pumpkin toss.  The kids being able for $5.00 a barrel sling apples onto targets is always a great time.  The recommended age is over 5 but with our 3-year-old we just had to assist her.  If you don’t want to assist your little ones, avoid this area as they aren’t going to be content watching others sling them.

sling

sling29

IMG-4700

I love being in Linvilla.  It is very crowded.  Everyone pushing up against one another but not in a bad way.  I have never seen an incident take place there because of the crowds and I have been going there since 2012.  It is a true family oriented spot with everyone just enjoying themselves. I love the apple cider.  They make it themselves so if you are an apple cider connoisseur you will love it.  Also never leave without trying an apple cider donut.  These things are super addictive.  I made sure I ONLY bought one to eat because if you buy any more than that, it’s not going to make it home and that’s a promise.  And of course a candy or a caramel covered apple too.  My kids snuck theirs and almos them done before we got home.  You can imagine our home being an immediate candy fest.  I was never so happy for bedtime.

appleciderdonuts

So if you like fun, family, and a little outdoors mixed in with Fall activities then Linvilla is your spot.  I hope you enjoyed my little glimpse into our yearly indulgence.  If you can make it out, make it a priority. They even have a friendly hayride to the witches house for apple cider and a marshmallow roast.

Extra Hints to get through with kids

  1. Wear pants-the hay can be itchy so if you’re allergic to hay obviously avoid it.  We also bring blankets to lay down
  2. For asthma adults/kids, bring your inhaler, the air is different because it’s not city air.  We always have to use the inhaler before and after,
  3. Bring a first aid kit that can fit in a bag. Kids seem to graviate to scrapes and to avoid having to find a station, bring your own.
  4. Have enough money and space your time out-kids will ask for everything to do at the same time.
  5. Plan to be there for at least 2 hours and even then you may not get through it all
  6. Be patient as some lines are longer than others
  7. They have a market to purchase frest fruit, etc
  8. You can pick your own apples at this time too
  9. If your little one can walk but may get tired, bring a fold up stroller.  Also keep in mind you can’t take a stroller on the hay ride, but you can park it in a designated area but never leave valuables in it, it’s family oriented but like my momma would say, everybody ain’t saved.
  10. Have fun!

Sunday Message: Get What You Need 

So it’s no secret that I don’t always make it to church. I would love to be there every week and do make an effort, but life happens and sometimes we miss the mark. Today I was able to get into the building. Today was the 100 year celebration of the church and school. It was a lot of people today.  Standing room only type of crowd.

What I noticed most was this woman to my left who inspite of what everyone else was doing was tapping in for what she needed. Growing up I was always taught that if you can’t hear from the preacher, then maybe the choir will move you. If the choir won’t move you then maybe a greeting or hug will. I’ve been that woman in church today where life is going on but with tears streaming down my face I needed something more.  I don’t pretend to know what that woman was praying, crying, or seeking for what I do know is I get it.

In the world of wants there will come a time where you will have a need.  We all have had those times. You are no longer worried about the things that don’t matter as your mind and heart is bogged down that you shift your thoughts to only what you need. While you are in this mindset, you could care less who’s talking and why, who don’t like you or agree with you-you just have a need. Life has a way of humbling everyone to this place.  Like that woman, you get quiet, and the issues of your heart start to overflow.

Learn to tap into what you need more often. We are taught to be not be selfish but you will have to learn to have selfish moments. This is why women and mothers struggle with the balance of giving and pulling back. The struggle of the word no is important. Doing more for others who need to do for themselves, being a support to someone when you need support, giving your last and never being able to receive in your time of need are all examples of times when we have to learn to not always give in but find what we actually need.

Today you need a nap-take it. Today you need a break-take it. You need a bill paid and no money in sight but you can shift some things around and be a better steward of your finances. You need companionship but you really need to find out who you are, what you need and that will guide what you want. 

Like that woman who tuned the service out; tune out negative vibes, negative folks, even negativity that you bring to the table and focus!! This is why self-care and self-love is super important. Practicing this daily helps for when life knocks you down. You’re better equipped to be able to tap into your needs. When you’re off balance you have to be reminded of what’s important than if you had actually only focusing on the necessary things in life. 

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.

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!! 

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!!

Fall Frenzy 

So today’s weather was amazing. The sun was shinning and to put it lightly it was hella hot. So other than watching my son’s soccer game, the Storr family headed to the Fall Fest.  


Fall Fest has turned into a yearly indulgence. This year the whole family attended as I have been known to take the kids and have a great time.  My husband is not a fan of outdoor events. I used to get super upset but nope I will pack the kids and continue with my plans. He came along and from the looks of it he may have had a good time.  There are a lot of activities for the whole family. From oversized games such as Connect Four, to Chess to singing for the kids and of course Fall favorites such as Fall beer flavors and all the comfort food you can have.  I elected to make a Whole Foods stop before attending to cut down on eating too many comfort foods. Plus I wanted to see how low the prices had actually dropped there.  I know you know Whole Foods has merged with Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised.  

However there is always room for a little beer and I made sure I had at least one and I enjoyed the hell out of it. My goal was to just get out, enjoy the weather, and spend some time with my family and the goal definitely achieved. 


As Fall approaches it’s going to be important and find free events in your city to attend. This event was free besides the food and drinks. For me all it cost was less than 30 for a full day of fun. Well worth it if you ask me. 

Enjoy all of the Fall activities you can!!