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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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.

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!! 

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!!

Light The Night 2017; No One Fights Alone 

Many times we are all asked to donate to a cause. Especially in these last few months where disaster has seemed to take over. About 5 years ago I was presented with a decision to walk for Light the Night and I haven’t stopped since.

My co worker and friend Jen was diagnosed with cancer. This is someone who turned from merely a co worker to close friend and although I had moved from the city I had always known, our friendship didn’t end with distance. I had never really known too many people with cancer but I knew that being there to support her family was on the top of my agenda.  Even though I was almost 2 hours away, I had to do my part. Seeing Jen change physically was a lot. It kept me humble. Her sons are around the same age as my 2 oldest kids. Thinking of what they had endured made me appreciate life more.  I thought about Eric, Jen’s husband and how hard it was to help but at times feel helpless. Any time I saw Jen she smiled. I know she had dark days but she kept moving. It is with her strength that she has survived and kicked cancer’s ass. Simply donating to Light the Night wasn’t and still isn’t enough. When she formed the Lymphomanics years ago I knew I had to be apart and we as a team have been strong ever since.



Light the Night is more than just an organization that wants to raise money to bring awareness but it’s on a mission to find a cure. Jen had at her diagnosis, family and friends supporting her but what about the many others who do not!  I have personally heard some amazing stories of survivors I wouldn’t have even known existed had I not gotten involved.

So again we organized.  We came together and with various others we lit the night. It was an amazing experience. Seeing people from all walks of life set aside their differences. All of us having either been in support or others who had cancer, were a survivor, or were there in memory of someone who had unfortunately lost their fight.


I was glad to see that a lot had changed from last year. One was that the crowd was much bigger. The second is that the amount of sponsors had increased. Lastly the stage was bigger.  The stage being bigger meant we are raising more money and that means that until we have a cure more families are being supported. Seeing the many lanterns lit was truly breath taking as we walked. 



The walk isn’t something too grueling. I believe we cover about 2 miles. However it’s the stories, the energy, and the sense of leaving for just a moment our own lives and coming together that is overwhelmingly beautiful. From the kids to the adults everyone has a great time. 


This year I want to shout out our team member Holly whose husband, Chadd who is kicking cancer’s ass this year. They welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Ellanora who to date is the youngest and newest member of the Lymphomanics.



Every year they end the walk with fireworks. It’s always a special treat to see. It reminds us that we completed the walk, we worked together and no one fights alone.


So the next time someone comes and asks you for a donation, consider helping. It’s not just about the money but it is about helping one another in this thing called life. Until next year!! Love you Jen and the Lymphomanics!!!