Knowing Yourself College Edition

What I know now is no where what I knew in college about myself. In college is where you begin to take the veil off of your eyes to what you learned all your life to what you want to be in life. It’s a line that crosses to merge the two and the journey is a battle!

I left high school and entered Penn State university and this was what I knew at the time: I was a straight A student since 2nd grade, I was a daughter of ministers, and I was goal oriented. That was my identity. I didn’t know I could be Toi and have my past be my identity while learning who I wanted to be. I could date if I wanted to and define what dating meant to me. I could party and still be an amazing student. I could be goal oriented and want to find joy in all things and I didn’t have to choose.

Growing up in a strict household and having everything be about church wasn’t the issue. The issue is my church in particular only preached Hell and marriage as the basis of life. Everything was Hell and being married because marriage was great was the focus. I watched couples who shouldn’t have been married run and get married just cause they wanted to date and dating wasn’t allowed unless it was for the purpose of marriage. Most of those marriages didn’t make it! Truth hurts! You wasn’t allowed to date just because two people had an interest in one another! You couldn’t see where things went. Every date doesn’t end in a proposal! It actually breeds unhealthy dating relationships in other areas!

As a college student my focus was going to college, completing a degree and finding a husband. The reality is I could form my life on my terms and college is where SOME find husbands but the reality is getting my degree was key, finding myself, and enjoying the experience should have been the focus. Now that also means learning how to incorporate my love of God into a balanced life. No one not one preacher at my church taught it. So many of us went to college and struggled. Some dropped out! Some completed and got shunned for breaking away from what we were taught! Some still have resentment for that period of their life.

I struggled without support. I should have been supported into being able to be an adult and make healthy choices instead of thinking even healthy choices were dooming me to Hell. I should have also been encouraged to just be free instead of this pressure of if you are dating and it’s not for marriage than I was doomed. Great respect to those who married young but as an 18 year old passport stamps, girl trips, and fun while maintaining my grades should have been the focus! I choose to try to please everyone and in the end I wasn’t happy!

So freshman year I meet this amazing guy. Rewind, I met amazing guys. I literally messed up relationships because the thought that I could multi date was foreign. Men do it and are applauded. Women do it and they are a hoe. You do know women can date multiple folks and not have sex with them if she doesn’t want to? It exist! Women do it all the time. I lied to my parents about my relationship with my then boyfriend who is now my husband and then covered it and that was one is the most horrible experiences I went through! Shout out to the folks around me who called me out! Grateful for getting through! Grateful for even the friends lost during that heavy transition if I’m honest!!

Why am I talking about this for college students?! Take your time to enjoy your time on campus. Even if you find an amazing person you don’t have to commit to them right off the bat. I love my husband now and then as a boyfriend but I should have allowed myself the opportunity to do whatever I wanted. Our love was intense. College years are different than normal dating time. The connection for me was intense. We were in classes together, we were in the same scholarship program, so we were together alllll the time! When we loved hard it was great and we fought hard too! Instead of being sneaky just be an adult! It’s understandable that you are going to find yourself in situations that your parents aren’t going to approve of. I would be lying if I pretended that wouldn’t happen. No matter what you get into I know you will be okay. You will find a way out! Don’t do anything you as an individual aren’t proud of. Do what you can stand on. If you can’t be proud of a decision don’t do it! Don’t do anything to make someone prouder than you feel looking in a mirror-EVER!

Make every decision on what makes you happy, safe, and fulfilled! Stay on top of your studies! You are there to learn. Don’t start the journey by going into a field that someone else has for you. The biggest lie you can tell is the one that has you lying to yourself! You can’t keep up a lifestyle that only honors those around you! Trust me the heartaches, lost friends and friendships, broken promises, and general dishonor to yourself isn’t worth it. When I think about those beginning years of how in the end I dishonored myself saving my reputation from folks I later found out was doing the same makes me parent my kids differently, live with purpose and makes me grateful I figured it out!! FYI this isn’t about my parents doing something wrong this is about a I needed to do right by me!

For every decision right or wrong I fully own! As a college student I learned how to break out and be okay being who I wanted to be. I learned that I like what I like and daily instead of packaging myself to make others happy I make sure I can live daily with myself! College is more about getting to that aha moment than what your GPA is! But don’t sleep on your studies! The best opportunities come for those who do the work. So do your work literally. Don’t skip a bunch of classes-at least not all the time. You get out what you put into it in every aspect!

If you’re returning to campus return and start the process of what makes you-you! Don’t show up on campus for your parents, your church, your community more than you show up for yourself! Not one person is getting your grades and they definitely won’t help wipe shame off your soul when you live on their terms. Not one!

To my parents who send your kids with the do as I say do cause I’m paying for it: you will get a better child, a better person; when you support your child where they are. If you want to not “waste” your money invest in your adult child where they feel like they will thrive. Support them in mistakes. If your child has to lie to you it isn’t just because they are a liar it too may mean you aren’t fostering an environment conducive to having an open engaged communication!

To my husband who at the time was my boyfriend-you stuck by my side and didn’t hold it against me when I couldn’t be authentic! You loved me during that time and hadn’t we not married now I would have still had nothing but the most upmost love and respect for you!

To my parents: the life you gave me protected me for a point of life. As much as I could easily blame you for my inauthentic ways life showed me that I would be faced with more inauthentic areas that belonged to me and only me. I would love to go back and stand up for myself. The only thing I regret was not doing it sooner. I love that you gave me a great foundation and for that I will always honor that!

To my Penn State friends who stood by my side you are amazing! I definitely know we have made each other life friends! The love we experienced life together! If it hadn’t pressed through together we wouldn’t be as close as we are now!

My parents birthed me and gave me the foundation I still have in many ways. Penn State refined me. Life polished me and now as a parent I get to redo little mes!!

Go back to college or step into college and take the journey for what it is. You will fail in many ways and you will succeed in a lot of them. As you continue the journey get grounded. Make new friends. Find ways to travel. Take that internship! Study Abroad! Go to that party! Date that guy/girl just because! Smile and take the lumps because it all will mold you into a dynamic person!

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Amp up your Self Care

This weekend I found myself caught between love and self care. I celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary so all the lovey and dovey feelings came flooding in. But I also needed to reorganize and bolster my self care.

I needed to increase it and with all that is going on in the world it’s super necessary to feed our souls often. I find that it’s imaginable to think that we can exist only merely being an extension to others. We have to show ourselves more grace, understanding and love that others pull from us. It’s like being on a plane and making sure that everyone else on the plane has oxygen but depleting our own. This is self sabotage. You can be booked and busy but still need rest and recharging! It’s not selfish to bolster self care back into your soul.

Defeated

Sometimes we feel defeated because we have forgotten we need to renew our reasons why! Why do you want to pursue your goal? What does it mean to you? How much work are you prepated to do? How hard is your drive? These are the things that must be thought about and re-evaluated daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly!

Re-alignment

What can you do to take some pressure off of yourself? Can you collaborate with someone else? Ask for help? Prioritize? Take a break? Make a to do list? Whatever you need to do; do it today! You have to be one with yourself to get things done. An organized mindset and working environment can help!

Burnout

Burnout is real! You can blow a fuse without the right amount of energy flowing in your life. Moderation in all things will help create balance! Learning to drink and eat and have a spiritual connection will be key to creating balance! We all need balance! We need structure! If you go hard for a few weeks solid schedule some mental time off. It may not mean take a day off but it could mean schedule some rest stops! You could schedule a nap, an hour of quiet, reading a good book, a massage, an appointment in your favorite spot, or time to just watch something you enjoy! Whatever is is you need it!

You will burnout trying to take on the world especially if you don’t fill your cup up of those things that make you smile. Even if you have someone in your life having things that you like that that doesn’t require your significant other’s participating is better!

Sunday Message: In the Middle of Tears

Crying is a release. It cleanses us from the inside out. It doesn’t mean that after the tears are shed that it changes our circumstances! It does mean we have a temporary relief. Some of my best moves have come from tears.

Life is hard! It comes with ups and downs. I used to view crying as a sign of weakness. That’s not the case! Tears for me personally means I’m hurting and I’m overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed for many especially if no sign of comfort is nearby is what makes people stay in the feeling of hopelessness! It’s a terrible feeling. I’ve felt that sense of not having hope. It’s scary and often times it feels lonely. I would be lying if I acted as if the tears were inspirational all the time. They don’t feel like it!

I’m grateful for the times I’ve been able to cry and let it out and in addition to that dried my face and faced my shortcomings, failures, or humiliation! That isn’t weak at all that takes strength! It takes strength to say I’ve messed up and I’m not measuring up! You don’t know what and how others will view you! That is scary! But I am a witness you can look at the bottom and see the top even in darkness. In darkness if have had to ask God to turn on my night vision! That’s why when you are riding in life in light to build yourself up for those dark days! They are coming!! We also experience it!

So if you’re in a dark time right now-I understand! It’s not a great place but remember the time before this? Guess what? You come out! I know you see no way out but it’s coming! A way out is always near even if it seems out of reach! I pray night vision in your darkest time! Grace is there to carry you! This is why the whole cancel culture doesn’t make sense! Be mad at what a person has done but the same grace that covers me in my mess is the same grace that covers others! You can lose everything and be at the bottom but with work, forgiveness, and love you can shine. You might shine with humility or different support but you can still shine!

Happy Sunday! Make it your best!!

Week 6: Storr Summer Adventures

It seems as if Summer is definitely in full swing. We are about half way in so making the most of these next couple of weeks will matter! Week 6’s total was $75.06.

Monday

Since we were still coming down from the Hershey Park trip we decided to keep it easy and go to the park! We had a great time! The kids were able to play and I was able to get much needed down time!

Tuesday

It was AMC $5 movie so that meant we definitely went to see The Lion King! We enjoyed it overall! I am an avid member of the Beyhive but I’m glad Beyonce didn’t have a lot of speaking parts! She can sing but her acting..

Noelle immediately wasn’t here for the realness of the animals. We definitely saw the original quite a few times in preparation starting in the Winter. She immediately yells out: “something is definitely wrong with this movie!” The songs I wasn’t a full fan of-spoiler alert “Be Prepared” will have you upset!!! Overall we went to a different theatre and let’s say without airing the location I will NOT be back to see any movie there! Super glad that we saw an evening movie so my husband could join us! FYI we went to a 8pm movie and got out late and there were lines of families to see the 1030 and beyond shows! Definitely have to chalk that up to it being Summer-at least I hope! Total for 4 tickets 20-I didn’t include my husband since he’s not apart of the Summer fun on the regular! He took care of his own ticket!

Wednesday

We decided to use our FREE yes free passes for the Kids Bowling series! I sign up for this yearly! It gives kids 2 games a week and shoe rental is the only thing that you pay for! So 2 games and 3 shoe rentals was $12! However we did rent the dino bowling helper for Noelle so that was 22 full total! We had lunch before we left and brought waters and juice for the ride up. I did allow them an ice-cream treat at Sonic! Sonic total was $12.12!

Thursday

I was asked to speak at the TCP media literacy camp in Lancaster PA! Lancaster is my hometown! We got up extra early and packed the car with juices and snacks! I could have brought my kids to the camp if needbe but I figured it would be too young for them and they enjoyed the morning with my cousin Mark!

I really enjoyed talking to the children about my blog, how I started, my goals for the future as well as the pitfalls of social media!

We also spent the afternoon at my grandparents house! The kids rode their scooters for hours and my grandparents of course fed them and gave them snacks while the kids taught them new songs!

Friday

We spent Friday relaxing and watching movies! It was well deserved as we didn’t get back from Lancaster until 9pm!

This week we will go to Barnes and Nobles to obtain theie Summer book reward as well as the library! My youngest and middle child already finished their mandatory book reports for school! They are still reading 4-5 books a week! The oldest is just about done with her report and continues to read for leisure!

2019 2nd Street Festival Preview

Nothing is better in the Summer than an amazing street festival. It brings everyone together for music, food, drinks, and entertainment! If all of that and more sounds like more your lines of fun, don’t miss the 2nd Street Fest THIS Sunday August 4th in Northern Liberties!

I attended the preview and let me be the first to say that the food and drinks are a hit! Oh and if our crowd of reviewers had this much fun on a Monday I can only imagine the amount of fun you will have on Sunday Funday! The Street Fest is rain or shine but it looks like we will have more shine than rain come Sunday so lather up in some sun block, grab your shades, and some comfy shoes and have a ball!

El Camino Real

We tried several dishes that will be available this Sunday! If you love tater tots than you will be smiling from ear to ear! I felt like a big kid! Also make sure you visit El Camino Real they have inside and outside seating and the staff are super engaging! Try them at the Street Fest than come back for a sit down meal!

Nacho Libre

This tater tot is full of flavor! It has queso sauce, lettuce, jalapeno, and crema! Even with the queso it doesn’t take away from the crunch of a great tater tots! These easy to carry will have you come back for more!

Walker Texas Ranger

These tots come with a big punch of flavor! Served with jalapeno, onion, queso, and pulled pork! I mean it’s like a street fest faborire!

Pina-Rita

Drinks are super important! Finding ones that are super refreshing as well as amazing won’t be hard! The Pina-Rita has tequila, triple Sec, lemon, like, and pineapple puree! It’s an amazing blend and the taste is exactly what you will need to make any heat bearable! During the 2nd Street Fest you will be able to have your drinks served inside of fresh pineapple!

Peach Bourbon Zombie

This is a great mix of rum, passion fruit puree, grenadine, and lemon-lime! It has the perfect amount of sweetness and it’s refreshingly cool!

Urban Village

I was first introduced to them by way of the Piazza Pod Park! I’ve had their amazing beer so I know on Sunday if there is a beer drinker amongst you they will not be disappointed! Urban Village will be offering these following options:

Don’t be fooled the sweet corn definitely adds amazing flavor! The garlic is definitely an added bonus. Served in a convenient container-you will be able to enjoy with one hand and have a beer in the other!

The peach jalapeno sauce is what turns an ordinary corned beef sandwich into next level! If you’re like me and wonder if the bread gets soggy the answer is no! The sandwich withstood the test but didn’t slack on the juicyness!

I’ve never had a chubbie! However I will be back for more! Anything deep fried is always a great idea for a festival and Urban Village came with the goods! This is a must! From first bite to last is like a bite in Heaven!

Who doesn’t love an amazing French fry?! I definitely do and these easy to grab and eat fries paired with the manchego cheese are like an upgraded fry experience! No lie save room!

What says Summer like watermelon? Watermelon is one of the fruits that is found in plenty during the Summer. Watermelon has the ability to quench the tbirsr but paired with your favorite alcohol it pops even more!

Words that come to mind when this drink-light, refreshing and just enough watermelon not to be overwhelming! This is your go to for someone who may not be the big beer drinker but wants to have that hint of beer!

Add that spicy ring of goodness and this drink will be ideal for some who likes a hint of spice and sweet! Served cold will keep you coming back!

You are reading it right! It’s the 2nd Street Fest beer! It has an amazing citrus taste that keeps you cool and indulges your taste buds to euphoria!

Jerry’s Bar

From the door I loved the way this bar was set up! Jerry’s Bar is also known to have an amazing brunch on Saturday and Sundays! Here is what you can expect at the 2nd Street Fest!

This hamburger patty has that homemade taste and flare accompanied with farm fresh cheddar pickle, and caramelized onions; it’s a must try! This is like a walking barbeque! The bread is also what makes it taste that much better!

This is a bourbon watermelon smash! I loved it! I actually had two they were that good! It had more of the watermelon flavor and mixed to perfection! I could taste a little of the watermelon texture and I enjoyed that part!

Cantina Dos Segundos

They had me at tacos! Tacos might be my favorite second food to eat! They make me happy! Holding onto them and eating them makes me dance! If you love pulled pork you will fall over in flavor of the pulled pork tacos! Bursting in flavor and taste these tacos will make you wonder why you hadn’t visited Cantina earlier!

Keeping with the watermelon theme (not all vendors will be watermelon flavored) these margaritas were a smash!! How could you not like tacos and margaritas on a Sunday?! I could eat tacos daily!

The highlight was the sweet corn! I’ve from Lancaster and living here in Philadelphia not many can provide a fresh corn that is great all except Cantina Dos Segundas! I started out with one and tip toed back for another piece! My picture doesn’t even do it justice!

Heritage

I want to go back and hear more music and enjoy an amazing evening! Until then I’ll catch them at the 2nd Street Fest! We tried the Makers Mark Mule. Makers Mark is already a favorite in my home and the mule wasn’t a disappointment! You can check my Instagram for the amazing sounds!! I loved how engaging the staff was! From the door to the bar to the band everyone was extremely amazing and that sets the bar high!. Thank you Heritage Philly!

North Bowl

I loved walking into their gates! I also loved the outdoor bar as well! Anything outdoors with drinks is what we all look forward to when Summer comes! North Bowl didn’t disappoint! We were all having an amazing time and then bam-tacos appeared! You already know how I feel about tacos and thus my happy dance appeared! I really should get it on camera!

They were phenomenal! Fish tacos with flavor is all anyone can ask! Also the margaritas were a hit! Our bartender was amazing as well! If you ever get a chance to go to North Bowl do so! If you want to bowl great but if not sit outside at outside bar and enjoy your night. You can even play Cornhole! Fenced in greatness with amazing tacos and margaritas you are in for a treat come Sunday!

If that isn’t enough look at these tater tots:

Our last stop of the evening goes to:

Standard Tap

There’s nothing standard here! It’s spacious with seating upstairs as well! They also are known for farm fresh food. I love that and will frequent back to try dinner!

For Sunday try their Smoked Tofu Cuban! It’s made with Tofu, Swiss, dill pickles, cilantro, and mustard on ciabatta bread! If you haven’t guessed it I have an issue with wet bread! I don’t like it. So I always check the bread and do my personal wet bread test it double passed! It’s crunch from the first bite alone was amazing! The Swiss although I don’t eat cheese was just enough of a hint to add flavor but not take over the sandwich! This Smoked Tofu Cuban gets my thumbs up!

Now let’s get to the drinks:

They have a wide selection that will make your Sunday Funday even better! You can take your pick at the 2nd Street Fest! I enjoyed the watermelon punch! If you love a light fresh taste this is your go to! The cucumber, watermelon, lemonade and gin is the perfect Summer drink!

So you will have options! There’s expected to be over 200 vendors, crafts, entertainment including stilt walkers, live bands and DJs at the 11th annual 2nd Street Fest! Oh the Fest is free and you pay as you eat and drink! It’s going to be super big and amazing fun! Grab your family and friends and expect greatness! All of the vendors are working overtime to bring you the goods and the preview revealed you have nothing to worry! Bring the smiles and they got the covered on the rest!

Monday Motivation: Time to Move

Oh I hate moving! Hate is such a strong word but I loathe moving. The packing of it all and the stress makes me feel like I should have stayed where I was. The value of new living space isn’t seen in the midst of the move! That is the same in life. It’s more comfortable to stay put but moving is there is more value is key.

How many times have we known it was time to move on but didn’t! In love or life comfort will have you stuck as well as miserable. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable enough to move but some of us is stubborn. Instead of taking the cue to move we will stay even more stagnant. We will drain our pool of support in the disdain but won’t make enough moves that is necessary. Then we holler that we aren’t getting enough support! It’s either the ones around you; you need to move from or you are the one that needs to move on! Stop pressuring folks to make you great and be it!

Moving requires a plan. It requires that you do some work. When I moved us from one home to the other I didn’t just wake up and say let’s do this. I choose to take off of work and move in the day while the kids were in school. I planned my moves so I can have the least amount of stress but that didn’t eliminate all of it. I didn’t charge those around me to pick up slack that was my responsibility not before, during, or after the move!

Value in moving is key. Even if you are downgrading there is value. Between making things easily within your budget or having better opportunities; there is value. What about moving as part of our health! It’s necessary and the value is there but we do the I’ll start…. You know it doesn’t happen! So then you have the audacity to get mad at the weight. You welcomed the weight on with your lifestyle so how can it be the weight’s fault? How can it be the raggedy boyfriend/girlfriend’s fault that YOU won’t let them go? YOU have to eliminate the drama. They are fine that’s why they are staying around-you are the benefit.

So where do you need to move this Monday? What responsibility do you need to take? What value do you need to look past the comfort of staying. At least if you’re going to complain at least complain towards a solution. If not you’re losing time, money and opportunities for free just to keep a comfort that’s robbing you of potential! Let’s move this Monday!

He said….she said

Day 2 of the 7 parts of this wedding anniversary celebration! So today’s question is what is your pet peeve of each other? Now would I ask this question? Simple-everyone has them of their significant other! You can love each other to no end but to tell yourself you don’t have a pet peeve of your mate is lying to yourself. Pet peeves change over the years and some things remain constant. When you’re in love they don’t stop the love between you!

He said…

Your (Toi) tat.

For my readers I have my initials on my left upper back! I got this about 25 years old. Either way:

My issue is why would someone would take a needle to their skin and continue the process. You can get a key chain or t-shirt if you want to advertise something! I don’t care where they are I just dislike them. If it wasn’t that I loved you it would be a deal breaker for another woman I would have married! When I saw it on you (Toi) I was disgusted and annoyed cause you acted as if I wouldn’t notice it. I still haven’t gotten past it but it’s on you and I love you!

She said…

My husband’s lateness. I knew he was super late when I dated him 20 years ago. It’s like he’s late for sometimes just to do it. I mean if an invitation says 3 you better tell him 2! My family is military and I was taught punctuality matters. Early is on time and on time is late. He argues that he was late for the first date but he was. I don’t get it even now I can get me and the kids ready and he still be behind! I just focus on me and the kids and leave it as it is! When we were dating it would irritate me but I didn’t speak up. I doubt it would have changed but since married he knows how I feel about it!

Tomorrow is day 3 and we will dig deeper! I want to send the clear message about the real work it takes! Obviously the blogs only give a small look but I’ve always been honest with people about jumping into marriage based upon super happy feelings!