Operating In Offense

So today I was reminded of what it looks like to operate in offense. Operating in offense is when you are so offended by someone or something that you can’t hear what others are saying to you. You are snippy, rude, loud and angry. Not one thing is heard from that moment. You aren’t willing to see someone else because you have taken the focus off of the issue and made it about self.  This is a self-righteous stance. There is nothing that will be gained walking in offense.  The world is really walking in offense. A lot of it is real and some of it comes from a deep seeded place that needs to be healed.

Now I wasn’t the person operating in offense today but I was able to see the old me through the eyes of the other person’s offense. Like many who have attempted to speak to me in moments of rage, anger, etc. in the past,  I saw what its like talking to a wounded person. You can’t heal that situation or person until you deal with their pain. Period. I don’t care how many cute quotes, speeches, etc. you give, they aren’t going to listen. I think about some of my past hurt prior to counseling and I seen how extremely closed off I was. Not willing to hear a person because all I kept focusing on  was myself.  Today I was hit with that same reality. I was humbled and blessed to see that for one I had real growth. The old me would have dipped into offense and gave folks a run for their money. My mouth is for sure a sword. I know this about me and with that mindset I do all I can to check myself first before handing out a 2 piece!  I listened to them and saw them for their pain and gifted them grace.  Isn’t it funny how you will confront yourself in another form down the line?

light black and white portrait canon

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I gave the person the grace that wasn’t extended to me. This is probably the part that I struggle with the most. Not giving of grace, because my life is a grace walk, but knowing that lack of maturity didn’t allow or wont allow people to see my past issues as simply me walking in offense. My ability to see myself works wonders for me NOW.  My biggest challenge is feeling like I have to apologize a thousand times and do emotional backflips for folks to see growth. I have now come or am coming to peace with the notion that after you take a step back some folks won’t see you for your growth because they never wanted to see you grow in the first place. They saw the offense and used it to get off their chest what they had in them the whole time.  As I watched the situation unfold this morning and while I stayed calm I just said let me gift this grace. Let me not get offended at their offense. Let me let time, maturity, and step back. It will be fixed eventually. We all have to check ourselves and walk without sometimes getting the apology that we think we need or want. I couldn’t get through to the person this morning.  I probably wont for some time. I can’t do anything past their offense. That is a hard pill to swallow but such is life.  Eventually I pray they have their moment like I had to have mine. Hurt people or offended people can’t operate with your best interest in mind until they deal with their issues.  It doesn’t matter how old or young, how smart, etc. We all have a responsibility to do our daily work and check ourselves.

My message for anyone  who is  walking in offense, you will not grow and heal until you deal with you. I could give you a virtual high-five over your offense. You could be like YASSSS SIS I was right to be offended. I did that to and justified my responses, but the truth is that the offense was there to help you grow. It wasn’t so you could prove anything. It was there to make you whole. Once you tap into that you really will have deep seeded change.

 

I know this sounds super deep on Wednesday when you were just grateful for simply surviving your week but it is a necessary nugget. Sometime you are fighting a person and its like punching air. You are attempting to get through to someone who isn’t ready to receive because they cant get past their offense or even their general disdain of you to keep it real. This is across ALL relationships. Even romantic ones. If you and your boo is always up in arms its because instead of hearing you are defending your offense. You are coming to the table of communication with your guard up so high nothing is reaching past this imaginary wall of offense. That’s what happened today. (FYI I am not talking about my husband) That wall was so high it would have taken Olympic size strides to overpower it.

Today was interesting to say the least especially since it’s not even noon but remember when you head is on right, your at peace in your life, its not just so you can be in a peace bubble.  You will see you and either be grateful for change or have to say ouch and be the change. To the person I encountered today that was and is walking in offense, I pray that you have your moment of inner clarity. I wish you the best as my peace remains!

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Monday Motivation: Mario Kart Life

Today is a day like any day to make the best out of our situations. Let’s not front and act as if everyone woke up with their affairs in order. You might have gotten up this morning with stress on your heart and feeling overwhelmed. I sympathize with you. I want you to know that no matter what’s going on in your life, mind, or heart we have to press through. There may not be someone to come and save you but don’t have to let your situation overtake you.

I know you’re saying that it may be easy for me to say but it’s not. Most days lately have been pure crazy. If I could touch on the things you would be like wow. I know that life happens to all of us. I know that even with crazy life circumstances, what will pull me through is resetting myself daily. It’s going to take me being in charge of what I entertain in my mind and who I allow around me. Your thoughts matter. It’s the first line of defense in how you continue in your day. If all you speak is negativity and worry that’s all you look to see. Even in bad situations I’m like what’s the lesson and where is the good that can come out of this. I know I’ve been in worst situations and I know some how I’ve come out. That’s the reassurance that motivates me to wake up and intentionally push.

Some mornings especially in this holiday season I can feel grieve and sadness around me. So I do what I need to do for me to push out of it. Prayer is how I start, music and speaking to my children is also how I push through. Sometimes journaling. Whatever you need, grab it while your situations work themselves out. Take care of you while life happens. The worst thing you can do is fall apart and while life is happening to you. The stress of life is going to be there. Losing your mind or losing yourself is not worth it.

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Take Monday by the horns and have a great day on purpose. You ever play Mario Kart?  In the game all kinds of objects are being thrown. The objective is to dodge the objectives and keep going. Sometimes life is like that. I think about that when I am driving in Philly and trying to avoid the potholes. Life is like that sometimes. You have everything being thrown to you at one time only to find that some you miss and others you don’t. The objective is to keep going and win. It didn’t say it would be easy. It didn’t say it would work out, life is about not quitting. Usually regardless of skill set, resources, and help the person who wins in life is the one who doesn’t give up. They are the ones that push through.  How about you?

For the Love of Friends

I am blessed in friendship. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you can be authentic and secure all while having amazing people behind you who support you and love you and love on you.

Friends who are family

It’s true that you can’t pick your family. With friends, you are in charge of who you allow in your life. With that being said I have an amazing pool of friends. From childhood to college and beyond, friends are the fuel of life. This weekend I was able to spend time with my college loves. In August of 1999 I entered into Penn State super unsure of myself. I had gotten my college roommate assignment and on it was a name super similar to mine. Her name is Toi. I had never seen anyone with that spelling outside of me. I initially thought I had scored a single room. On move in day I saw a girl who looked similar to me and was warm and inviting. We met and were inseparable.

A few days later I met Krystle and Marques. They were apart of my scholarship program. Krystle came off super shy. We know now that’s just her secret weapon. Once friends with Krystle you realize how much of a gem she is. She graced us with her love. Krystle is one of the most level-headed women I’ve met to date. I’m still trying to get her to adopt me (inside joke). Marques was funny. He came up to me and Toi once he heard our names was similar and made a joke about it. His wit got him in but his loyalty kept him in even when he and I who dated in college would break up each week! Over the course of time we quickly formed a group and over the course of 4 or a little over some for others in the group we were a mini family. We dined together, traveled together, got in “trouble” with another and went through hard times together. Although a beautiful fellowship of individuals, we had growing pains together. We were there for each other and still continue to be there during the rough times. And almost 20 years from meeting, we found ourselves back together.

We were able to catch up, talk smack, remember the good and the bad times. It was everything and more that we needed. I know for a fact that they made my college experience that much better and I am super grateful for being able to be a call away from them. I know that as we continue on our journey of life that we remain as strong as ever. I’m super grateful for their loyalty as they have stuck by me when they shouldn’t have. I have nothing but love for our Pennypacker crew and honorary member! P Phi P forever! #peacoatmafia #Pennstatestrong #Weare

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:

Women’s Month, Year of the Woman: Erica M!

This Year the theme is the Year of the Woman.  This is not a theme that I made up but is the theme of Woman’s Month all around the world.  We have celebrity women who are speaking up and this is so awesome to have.  Now I feel like I need to give the voice of the everyday woman.  The single mother trying to make ends meet, the married woman trying to balance it all, the career woman trying to make it up the ladder without having to drop her panties along the way, and all of the women in between. Women are beautiful and strong beings.  Like Beyoncé says, we have the kids and get back to business.  Women can do it all, have it all, and this year and beyond are looking out for the next generation so our daughters and granddaughters don’t have to say #METOO!
In addition to that we have to showcase regular women because we have a voice and power too.  We are women who have been married, some divorce, some single, some moms who are all making their marks in this world.  They are giving back to their communities, keeping families together, raising families with and sometimes on their own, completing college, making their and other people around them better.
Erica M.is the oldest of 3 siblings, a single mom of two daughters ages 16 and 13, raising their 19-year-old sister which she considers her my own (oh yes the headaches :).  She currently works for a financial institution going on 23 years and attends college a few months shy of earning her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in hospitality. Erica is a social bean and loves to spend time with family, friends and herself. Yes she enjoys time with herself including scheduling days off to do some of the things she enjoys.
Some times as we get wiser we often think back on the times of our younger days.  We wonder what lessons could we go back and tell our younger selves.  I asked Erica what her lesson would be to a young Erica back in her day:
I would tell my younger self not to rush through life, marriage and family. All these things will come in perfect timing. Enjoy your childhood go play in the park instead of worrying why your parents are fighting. Enjoy being a teenager and do teenager things like hang out with your friends, focus in school and don’t worry about adult things and in your young adult years explore and venture out don’t worry about putting your life on hold for others. 
Being a mom myself I often ask myself during times when I am with them what lessons I want them to get.  My daughters are young so of course I try to keep it in perspective but I asked Erica what she wanted her daughters to know in life, love and career.
Life – It flies by very quickly and has many stages so take hold of the present and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.
Love – Don’t rush, force or look for it because it can lead to failure. Love is natural and will happen when you least expect it. 
Career – Let your heart and passion lead you to career of choice not money. Go hard to be the best in that field regardless of what it is.  
So what has Erica accomplished so far:
  • Purchased her home at the age of 19
  • When back to school during a separation with my then husband
  • Bouncing back from having to file for bankruptcy
  • Having the means to support my daughters alone
  • Working for the same company for 23 years and I am only 40 years old
  • Instilling in my daughters the meaning of faith
  • Working my way up to a Co-lead for a team at church
  • Stayed focused on my weight loss. About a little over a year ago I was a size 24 (extremely tight) and now I am wearing a 18 -20.
First of all congrats on all of your accomplishments Erica! Let me just add from this list, there was failure. You have had to made bad credit decisions to have to file for bankruptcy but…..she now owns a home.  She now can financially support her girls on her own. Did you catch that?  Sometimes we fail but if we KEEP on going, we will come out of top.  So if you are a woman who is struggling with any failed relationship, bad credit or anything that you DEEM negative, the only way it stays that way is if you allow it.  Kudos to you Erica!!
 Even with all of the great accomplishments that Erica has already done, I wanted to know where she sees herself in 5 years:
This is always a difficult question to answer because our vision changes over time but as of right now. I want to see myself in 5 years living for me and not others, in a position of choice with work and not must, and enjoying life with my girls, family, friends and maybe with a new-found love.
Now the #METOO movement is something that didn’t start on the internet.  It started from women getting tired of being sexually abused, harassed or assaulted.  The Internet made it easier for women to band together.  Women have been seen as accessories in times past.  This is why often times they are not believed or if they are to be believed they are seen as the one who agitated their aggressor.  I do NOT want myself or other women and God help me, my daughters to have to say METOO!
I asked Erica what the #METOO movement meant to her:
 The Me Too movement is a great organization that helps those that were or are being sexually assault or harassed. They provide support, ways to speak up and remind you that you are not alone. Finally and hopefully people can start feeling more comfortable in speaking up because they are not alone. I plan on using this movement to reassure my daughters that if they are ever made to feel uncomfortable to please speak up. It is not their fault of someone else’s actions.  
Finally I wanted to know about what the future holds for Erica:
Things that are on my heart that I look forward to crushing is
  • Continue losing weight and getting fit for myself. There are things that I want to do but have weight restrictions. I don’t want to be restricted of nothing I want to do.
  • Work on my bucket list which would lead to enjoying my life
  • Be in a position in my career were there is still passion and have it not be just work
  • Utilizing my event planning skills to plan family trips as family time is so important to me
 Anyone who has been reading my blogs knows I am a huge pusher of self-care.  I want everyone especially my ladies to work from a full cup instead of this notion that they must work until there’s no working in them left.  To keep giving from empty cups and stop caring of what others think about them taking time for themselves.  So Erica, what do you do for self-care:
  • I read a lot of inspirational books such as a Woman’s daily prayer, Too blessed to be stressed, and a moment for your soul. There are many days that I feel down and out, wondering why me, or when will my prince charming come. These books remind me of my purpose now and to remain focus on today.
  • I have a journal that I am writing to my future self. In the book I write things that I want to do but afraid to do, mistakes I did today that may affect tomorrow or areas that I want to change that will benefit the future me, Honestly it helps me stay focus on doing things for me today because I don’t want to let down the future me.
  • I try to exercise daily and make conscious decisions when eating because the more weight I lose the more I feel good about myself.

Thank you to Erica for pushing through when life knocked you down many times, raising your daughters with respect and love, and making sure that while you are there for others that you keep yourself your priority.  Good luck on your continued blessed journey!

 

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Ask Toi: Have You Ever dated outside of your race?

Yes I have and it was so super brief not many people knew.  I wasn’t trying to hide him either.  I have zero problems with dating outside of my race if the vibes are right. I have never been one to discriminate against it. All of my life I have made it clear I like cream in my coffee.  I just never tasted enough cream in my coffee to make any waves. I understand some people’s issues with it and that’s their issue. So it was in college after the breakup of my college sweetheart aka my current husband.  I did not go out seeking him either.  He was white.  He was in one of my core classes.  He had a lot of the qualities I liked, tall, funny, beautiful spirit and good-looking.  He had been giving me the sexy eyes for a minute and I denied him since I was in a relationship.  He saw me in class with a hoody on looking all kinds of depressed and tor up.  Yes tor up and sad.  He swooped in with the what’s the matter talk and our conversation shifted since I was back on the market.  We hung out, we studied but it never went any further because into our second official date, he stated he couldn’t date me because he was afraid of what his parents would think.  He asked me to date him privately and that wasn’t then nor has that ever been my thing. So I let him go.  I was upset but knew I had dodged a bullet.

I might have been able to go the distance in my mind with the college guy had he been open. But I have always been any one I dated cup of tea and I wasn’t about to turn down my melanin to suppress his dad’s preferences.  So there you have it.  Yes I dated outside of my race extremely briefly but I did it.

What are you Grateful for?

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

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

I am grateful:

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

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