Any of US Could be Kenneka?

Unless you live under a rock you have heard the story of Kenneka Jenkins, the young lady who was found in a freezer in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Chicago.  This story has had twitter and social media in a frenzy.  She left with a group of friends to attend a party and never came home.  Follow any of the hashtags to follow the story.  Regardless of the distorted facts one fact remained is that she had some extremely horrible “friends” and that she was being brought there to be raped.

Now I have seen the memes floating about how her death and rape has sparked the whole be careful of your friends movement but it makes it seem as if the rapist and murdered of Kenneka deserves a pass?  My thoughts are on what planet?  Just because people are using this story to remind others about their choice of friends that doesn’t mean that the rapists and murder whomever they may be are fine.  The way the information is spilling, the rapists and murders can be her friends.  Everyone in that hotel room should be charged.  Hands down.  I will not dispute that.  It’s not a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Everyone who live streamed it, turned the music to muffle Kenneka’s cries, participated, set it up, and carried it out should be charged.  AND you should STILL watch your friends.

I placed myself in the place of a mother.  I am a mother in real life.  I have two daughters. My oldest child is very lovable and already possesses the thoughts that her friends are great.  However as her mother teaching her right from wrong I am the voice until she has a voice on whom is not for her.  Yes, even at 8 I have had to call out a few of the mean girls.  My daughter goes to private school which means for the most part her classes are small and most of the kids in her class have already been together since Kindergarten.  They hang together in and out of the classroom. If you think that I as a mother am not in her ear telling her, pointing out, and calling out her fake friends you are sadly mistaken.  We ALL have had to deal with those who we thought was real and found it wasn’t remotely true.

I was asked this week have I ever had to deal with fake friends and the answer is HELL YES.  My eyes were opened AFTER something went down.  Whether that was hearing of stories being said tabout me, being left at a party, etc, it has happened.  Or the times I have had a circle of friends who were really friends because we had one mutual friend involved and heard some crap about me that I didn’t tell the group.  These are the very recipes for fake friends.  I do not think Kenneka realized that until her unfortunate death.  I said on my SnapChat and I will say it again, its not just the teenagers we need to worry about it’s the young girls that are my oldest daughters age that already show mean girl attributes.  It’s the grown women who keep stuff going well into their 40s and up. This mean girl mentality can begin at any age.  It doesn’t discriminate so while others are pointing their fingers at Kenneka, remember to re-evaluate your own circle.

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Listen cutting off friends is hard.  It hurts.  It makes your circle smaller.  Here are a few things to watch for:

  1. The “leader” that likes to control off the cards aka the information that is given to the group.  My rule of thumb is that just because we share a mutual friend don’t bring me no news about someone I don’t pick up the phone and call myself.  Do you know how many people talk that let’s pray for her crap and ain’t been in church a month of Sundays.  Stop believing the that’s my sis crap. That same sis is the same one when you get on hard times will give your information to people who don’t even know you.  Rule of thumb even in a group setting, let others tell their own business.  Stop giving in the name of friendship other’s information unless you have permission.
  2. When one or more lie about inviting another but talk about how that one don’t come.  I had that happen recently.  I found out that after all this talking about one “friend” went down the girl wasn’t even invited but the “leader” told everyone they were and then talked bad about them for not coming.  IF they will do it to one they will do it to all
  3. Be still sometimes.  We go to things without asking the right questions.  If you feel something isn’t right, trust what you say and have your own mind.

These are the lessons that even at 8 I have had to share with my daughter.  These will NOT solve fake friends problems but it will open eyes.  We believe anything.  Just because you know someone for a long time don’t always mean they have your best interest in heart. Also to my men you play a HUGE part in some of this.  For the men who use women as bait, stop.  Start having conversations with your son and other young men about respect. Too many women trying to protect each other but not having men stand and rally behind them to do the same.  Sorry your fragile egos can’t take a no but remember at some point, this could have been your daughter, mother, cousin, etc. Keneeka is all of us and I have the deepest sympathy for that mother and family.  I pray that the ones who did this, will come forward and take responsibility soon.  R.I.P Kenneka Jenkins!!

Ask Toi: Is it Right that my Boyfriend of 3 years Family Didn’t Invite me to His Birthday Dinner?

Yes this is wrong.  You are not a random girl that he has been dating.  3 years is more than enough time for them to have included you in a birthday dinner.  I would talk with your boyfriend as he knows his family more than you would as to the snub.  Was it assumed you would be there therefore no formal invite took place?  When I was dating my husband they just told me where it was going to be since I was a fixture in his life it wasn’t a discussion of if but when.

How is the relationship with the family?  What underlying issues are happening that you are aware of?  Sometimes we not there is salt in a wound and if given an oppportunity would snub them just the same.  If that is the case and you want to be included than you have to sit down and have a talk with whomever is the matriarch or patriarch of the family and iron out some differences.  However if your boyfriend has any sense than he has already spoken on your behalf. My personal rule is to always allow the person whose family it is to talk it out at first.  I am hoping it was just an assumption.  How did you hear about the party?  This is key too.  If his mom told you but sent no formal invite by mail then its safe to say you just need to go and celebrate your man.  Is it a surprise? Then speak again to whomever is throwing the party and go from there.  Sometimes taking the first step in communication will be beneficial.

My Weight Loss Journey

So Happy Valentine’s Day. Today is February 14th.  I am super excited among all the candy and treats that will be thrown around today to talk about my weight loss journey. I didn’t signal this out on purpose.  I am currently down another size in my clothes and who wouldn’t be excited about that?

After having my 3rd baby almost 3 years ago in the beginning from just birth and breast-feeding I lost over 60 pounds in about less than 6 weeks. No lie.  I went into my pre-pregnant clothes almost immediately.  A larger part of that was being in the hospital post birth for complications that occurred the day I was released to go home.  I will talk more about that this week as we get closer to my daughter’s birthday this Friday.  So if you ever spent any time in the hospital you know you are guaranteed to lose weight at least in my experience.  I got so many compliments about how drastic and fast my weight loss was but fast forward to about 6 months ago when I could no longer use breast feeding and a “new” baby to hide my weight.

My daughter will be 3 this Friday and I literally can say I stopped breast-feeding her at age 2.  I did everything to wean her but it wouldn’t work.  One of the things about breast feeding is you drop weight but at some point I started eating more to make more milk especially when I was storing milk.  My daughter went to work with me everyday until she was 6 months so I began storing milk for when she would return to daycare.  It was a good plan and I had plenty of milk for her however, she didn’t and wouldn’t drink from a bottle. NO one prepared me for that.  Eventually I had to stop working among the fact that my medical condition from her birth wasn’t resolving.  The amount of calories began to add up and especially when you are consuming the wrongs one in the name of “feeding the baby.”  I began to look like I actually was having another one and I wasn’t.

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In the beginning when I started this weight loss journey I had more people asking me if I was pregnant than when I was actually at my heaviest.  I am talking about co-workers who see me daily.  Those piercing words to a woman who is one losing and is not pregnant can be hurtful.  Shout out to my girls who picked me up on those crushing days.  It really means and meant the world to me. So now back to today.  It’s Valentine’s Day and all kinds of goodies are in this office.  However I have a set plan for which ones I will and will not indulge.  So I am good on that.  No distractions will take place.  My husband sent me an edible arrangement this morning because he knows what I am trying to do and he supports it.  His card had me dying because he literally said those words.  I can appreciate it that he’s not on team sabotage as I continue this journey.  Today I have on one of my favorite black pants.  I had to use my head scarf to make a belt because feel too lose.  Hey it was either that or look and feel uncomfortable and that wasn’t happening.  How my clothes fit is how I choose to monitor my progress. Yes I am being weighed by licensed professionals weekly but how I look and feel during this is what is important to me too. Yes weekly I am killing it at my weigh-in but the fact that things are getting looser and not more snug is key too.

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I will share my weight as well as total weight lost when I get closer to my first mental check point which is before my birthday trip in May.  That is my first initial goal. That is when I will let you in on the numbers.  So for those who are in this journey to a better you and are still going strong, New Year’s Resolution or not, Valentine’s day or not, keep pushing.  My water intake has doubled, my exercise is still going strong, and everyday I am getting stronger.  Keep pushing!

Ask Toi: If you wanted to throw a party for a friend that is married or in a relationship, do you have to ask their mate first?

I would say out of respect you would.  How do you know that the mate or significant other would want to be the one that plans it?  Or what if they were taking your friend out-of-town? Back in the days when your friend was single, planning surprises was easier but it doesn’t mean the element of surprise still can’t exist.  You just have to be creative.

I know in our house my husband usually is really good at planning great birthdays.  Now I do celebrate from May 1st until the actual day of May 10th.  So that leads plenty of time for friends to do their own thing. He however is always the one on my day with the major of surprises.  He welcomes others to do as they please but if its dinner, etc. he’s the one that makes that day special.  If others contacted him he would be willing to make things happen.

It’s about respecting your friend’s relationship.  You can still be spontaneous towards your friend.  I have had friends who send me things to my house or work place and it catches me totally off guard.  The ideal is to honor your friend and celebrate their Earth day.  You can do that and still give space for the special man or woman in their life to be able to do the same.  Who doesn’t like multiple celebrations?  Dinners, luncheons, happy hours, brunches these are a few ideals that still can be done to honor your friend.  You can do one day or in conjunction with the friend’s boo or separate and have a great time.  Now if you don’t like your friend’s significant other, well there’s not much that can be done with that.  However it cost you nothing to ask questions and clear the schedule.  The significant other can even assist you in getting your friend to the location of your choice for a great guy’s catch up or girl’s night or day out.

Now I have heard some vindictive signficant others who say they have no plans and then when you do, they make them for the same day that you set aside.  Keep in mind that your friend will in time see through this.  Do not sweat the small stuff.  Let your friend know way after their birthday what transpired.

How to Survive Thanksgiving with Annoying Family Members

You can’t choose your family.  At least that’s what they tell me.  So what happens when you don’t feel like hearing Aunt Sally that don’t ever have her own crap together come questioning you on your life at the Thanksgiving dinner get together?  Simply know what you want to respond to.  Some things don’t always need a response.  However if you are quick on your feet you can send a clear message that gets the job done and keep your sanity.

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  1. Know your family: you know who in your family is messy.  Keep the conversations to a minimal.  No need to defend yourself against a person who likes to keep the foolery going because they think they can.  It will only annoy you.  Learn to pick and choose your battles wisely.
  2. Stay calm-others will attempt all they can to be “themselves” and inherently working on your nerves.  Don’t let them see you sweat.
  3. Bring a game or activity.  Nothing says distraction like a game and thus Aunt Sally can worry as to why her husband is sitting with cousin Shana and not with her and everyone is whispering about her.
  4. If you know alcohol isn’t a good idea for some then attempt to limit the amount that is brought into the picture.  Some folks will leave as soon as the liquor is gone anyway.  That is called doing yourself a favor.
  5. Ignore all that you can and learn to walk away.  Unless they are at your home for the holiday dinner, you can get up and leave.  You don’t have a set time to be around your family.  Leave and come back or just leave altogether.
  6. Phone.  I know we frown upon family having to be so close to their phones because it takes away from true interaction,  but the reality is that some phones are saving the lives of raggedy family members all around the world.
  7. Make sure some topics of your personal life are off limit.  One Thanksgiving I had a family member ask me if I was still dating an ex.  That’s normal banter.  However when I gave him/her the response they attempted to ask me a few more times.  I looked at him/her and asked them to leave the situation alone and worry about him/herself and didn’t have to hear from that family member on that topic again.

The bottom line even in the best of families folks are folks.  You aren’t going to be able to get people to act like they have sense.  Common sense isn’t common.  Some folks think that their titles means that they have exclusive rights to your life and your life choices. That’s simply not true.  You can let in or keep whomever you want at bay.  Keep in mind you came to enjoy your family, eat a great meal. and depart.  This isn’t World War II so if you drop your anxiety a little before you go in often times you can have a level head and upper hand.  One thing at the end of the day remember that you’re an adult.  Adults can speak to one another and move along.  I know in most families we want to look at folks like they are still 12 but as long as none of your family members are paying your rent then you don’t have to answer to no one.  Keep it pushing and enjoy the Turkey and egg nog without going to blows…

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If all else fails then at least make sure you don’t start a fight and go home and have a glass to celebrate that you didn’t have to smack anyone.  For the families who love each other and its all good than I say, enjoy.  However since we live in a messed up world, this advice will be spot on.  Families fight and fuss but at the end of the day most are willing to be there for one another when it counts. Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy.