Sunday Message: Check Yourself in Your Friends 

Happy Sunday to you. I’m hoping that this blog finds you at peace but in case it doesn’t let’s have our Sunday talk. Today is national friends or national friendship day. It’s a day where you celebrate friendships but let’s keep it real not all friendships are one in the same.  Your friends should be a reflection of you. It shouldn’t be forced. It should be a welcoming part of your social life. 

Friends are human and they are capable of change. This can sometimes hurt if you are holding on to what once was. You may find yourself in a friend drought where you have friends but they may be scattered leaving an emptiness in your heart. You may be rebuilding friendships so the closeness may not be there yet. Whatever the reason days where friendships should be celebrated may leave you in your feelings. It’s okay. 

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about friendships along the way:

1. Long time friends aren’t always real friends

Just because you have known someone forever doesn’t mean they are your friend. A friend is someone you can count on, encourages you and is there. Sometimes length of friendships may not allow you to fully see if that person is genuine. Friends don’t hurt you, leave you high and dry, or are cruel. Get clear on who you call or have been calling friend.

2. Keeping it real needs turned off 

We all have different things going on in our hearts. Sometimes the keep it real friend can cross a real boundary. Anything that is being said should always be said in love.  I’ve had friends who had to tell everyone what they “need” to do but the delivery is always bad. If an encounter with your keep it real friend has caused more harm than good you need to evaluate the friendships. You also need to speak up.  People do what you allow. Sometimes you have to tell the keep it real to keep it quiet. Sometimes your spirit don’t need another I told you so moment but hey I’m here for you moment. A friend pushing their agenda over the hurt of a friend is not cool.

3. Gossiping to non real mutual friends is never okay 

Mutual friends means that all parties equally hang out or talk.  If all the parties don’t call each other on the phone and the only denominator is you than gossiping and giving other friend’s tea is off limits.  You are not operating a prayer circle.  You are not keeping others informed.  You are running a gossip train. Sorry not sorry. If you’re the mutual friend and the others don’t talk there could be a reason. The friendship is based on you the mutual friend and the others aren’t automatic friends because of it. Separate the friendships.  Unless abuse is happening there is no reason why one person should be handing out the tea in the name of friendship.  How do you think when everyone comes together your friend will feel knowing that all of the other girls know their personal business before they had a chance to tell it?! Stop this practice.  The reality is if it all good than have the friend whose business it is on the line and let them tell their own business. If you can’t do that than 9 times out of 10 you are just gossiping.

4. Friendships do end 

As hard as it ends not everyone is meant to ride out to the end. This is a hard lesson when dealing with friends. We are conditioned to believe that if the friendship doesn’t continue until the grave it’s not a good relationship. What makes it a wrong relationship is how mutual respect is shown and given during whatever period of time it’s granted. You will always have good times but the times have ended and you can still look back at it and learn from it.  

5. Everyone should be able to win

You ever have that one friend that makes it like they are the only one to have good happen? News flash good happens to all when you’re open to it. One friend attempting to deflect from others to stand out is a clear sign that you aren’t a friend you need an entourage.  

So as you celebrate friendships today take stock of who you chose to be friends with.  Remember it speaks volumes about who you are. If your friend is always whatever negative attribute and you feel the need to down then than maybe do a reality check on what about you allows the same type of stuff into your own spirit. 

Celebrate friendships near and far today. But don’t carry a friendship longer than the expiration date. It may hurt to lose a few along the way but it will hurt you more carrying someone to a new level where they don’t belong 

5 Lessons: Happy 5th Anniversary 

So today is the day. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary. Yes finally we have made it to year 5 and whew God is merciful because we almost didn’t get here. Marriage is hard work. People make it like a fairy tale where you are just so super in love and everything works out. Well I can’t speak for everyone else’s marriage but that isn’t how it works.

Let me break down the years. Our first year we already had our oldest daughter and son. I personally went through the worst post-partum of my life. Between the arguments and threatening to take the kids every other second the first year wasn’t a good year. I thought that since we had known each other forever and a day and was friends first that we wouldn’t be hit with the normal first year drama. I was hella wrong. It was so bad we even went to counseling after 3 months and it was then when I was ready to roll. The dreaded “divorce” came up and we were both ready to end it. Looking at the one that I loved and feeling defeated was humiliating even if a large people had no idea we were at a brink.

I could blame it on the new baby, living with his mom, being a stay at home Mom, and moving to a new city with no support system in place.  The reality is I put forth no effort even though if I could go back to my journal entries I was just angry, tired, and unfulfilled. The reality is that although I loved my husband I wasn’t ready to be a wife in the fullest extent. We had too much going on at one time but I knew when I took my vows that I wanted to be the best wife. What is a good wife? I had no clue no more than he did on what made a good husband.

Years 2-5 were up and down. I remember that the drama from year one spilled into year 2 for sure. I wasn’t sure if going to counseling where I felt like it was on me to suck it up and deal with it all had taken its toll. Our counselor was great. I’m not painting it all bad let me be clear that the Lord knows the many days we went without talking, not on the same page, or was plain sick of each other.

What turned it all around for me personally was at year 3, we had been on the down side of our marriage and Marques looked at me, grabbed my face and asked me was I in or out? He said we can’t threaten to divorce or even attempt it because had we gone down that road again we would be done and not turning back. He said he wanted us to get it together. No more hitting below the belt. No more talking disrespectfully. No more yelling and definitely no arguing in front of the kids. No more planning on leaving or taking the kids. No more craziness from either one of us.

Here are the 5 lessons I learned so far:

1. Happy Wife, happy life isn’t true: I think we as women use that phrase to our advantage sometimes to get what we want. However the key is having a wife who is happy in her own skin. You can’t make a miserable, hurting or unfulfilled person happy. I choose now after the smoke has cleared to get and keep my life grounded and not make it about my relationship alone.
2. I’m not always right.
3. Quietness is good at times.
4. Having my own activities, friends etc is key. Being one doesn’t mean that we have to be joined at the hips. Balancing being a whole woman is key before I can give to my husband or my kids.
5. To laugh-I was too serious trying to be perfect that I became the wife that I never wanted to be.

Marques’ Lessons learned:

1. Communication is important

2. Give respect to get respect

3. Better to listen than to speak

4. Don’t jump to conclusions

5. Don’t harp on things that don’t matter

Marriage life isn’t perfect. However we both are better at balancing. He does the things that make him solid and I do the same. We both don’t put pressure on each other to be who we aren’t. We are learning to accept each other’s flaws.  We have gotten super solid as a team. Since year 3 we made it clear to those around us that we are a real team. No nonsense will be accepted and we don’t give others front row seats to play us against one another. We shut the door. If you see us we work more behind the scenes without having to be open to listen to all advice from everyone without listening to each other for what we need. I respect all marriage but we no longer mirror our marriage in compassion to what works for another couple.  We are different and what works for another couple doesn’t work for us and vice versa.

Relationships goals are what we set between us during pillow talk and not just cute pictures to display a falsehood of love and admiration. We are our own relationship goals!!

So happy anniversary to us, Mr. and Mrs. Storr!!

5 years of Marriage: Day #1 Dating woes 1999 Style

I want to introduce this week’s guest for the blog and that is none other than my husband Marques. We are going to take you back to the first times, the good times, the bad times and the intense times as we celebrate one whole hand of marriage.

Dating is a beautiful thing. It lets you know if you have what it takes to make it. We definitely know what that’s like. Dating in 1999 and then separating and coming back together with a child in tow, getting engaged, second baby on the way, moving in together with his mom, getting married, having a 3rd baby, moving out and the big D (divorce) all in the middle, no wonder we made it. It’s no secret to love. It’s hard work and for us, unconventional. We have bruises and scars but we pressing.

How did we meet?

In August 1999 Marques was coming out of the Shields Building, at Pennsylvania State University and I was going into the building.  We were introduced by our mentor at the time and I was with my roommate who happened to have the same name. Marques made a joke about our names and made me laugh.  Laughter was probably one of my first memories of him. Marques was witty and definitely caught my eye physically.

Marques: She was cute. Well a little more than cute and we were introduced by our mentor. I went home and called my best friend and told him that I would look her name up on campus.  I knew I would see her on campus since we were in the same scholarship program.  I told her at some point that she was going to be my main chick.

Latoi: I was clear that there would be no main anything. I was either one and only or nothing.

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First Date

We went out parents weekend. It’s a big time on campus where parents came and see the progress that their kids were making.

Latoi: Now let me back up to how the date was being prepared.  My parents and I had an interesting day. My cousin was in a fraternity so we stopped by their apartment and my dad about had an entire dad attack. I had the shortest mini dress on so I can understand why my dad wasn’t feeling the attention he saw me getting. Being a PK aka a preacher’s kid doesn’t allow for you to have your own identity. I asked my mom to do my hair. She did. She thought she was doing my hair so I could be “right” on campus but I was trying to get right for Marques.

Now here’s where it gets tricky and especially since we met in 1999 dates seem to fuse themselves together. I say our first date was the movies he says it was Red Lobster.  The one thing we agree on is he was late. Wasn’t no Bey biscuit situation going on at that time either.

Marques: I was late since I had been with my mom earlier and time went over. I borrowed my moms car and came to get her but I admit I was late. Another thing we agree on is that we were both nervous. We were good friends and did the whole talking on the phone for hours at a time. There was definitely a comfortable feeling but since we met within the scholarship program only our closest few friends knew we were going on a date.

Official 

We became official in January but not without our share of drama or I should say mine (Toi). I felt at the time I was under pressure from myself to maintain this picture of a perfect child that often times when asked by my parents I would lie about dating Marques. I lied so much about the relationship that it spiraled out of control and I was caught between lying on the intensity of our relationship or being transparent and I choose to hide.

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I didn’t think the relationship was able to survive it but it did and in January we were officially a couple. It wasn’t peaches and cream but we made it through. It was the first of many trials that would touch our relationship.

First Year of Dating

Marques: In the first year of dating it was the perfect honeymoon. It was the most fun that I had. We did everything together. Latoi was the perfect blend to my life until she chose her family over me.  I was hurt, disappointed and upset.

Latoi: Our first year of dating was intense. It was the first adult relationship I had. He was my first in all aspects and that dynamic alone and trying to figure out my first years away became problematic. I learned early on that if Marques and I was going to work I had to let my guard down of who I was and fuse that to who I had become and be okay with the fall out either way.

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Redemption 

Marques: Latoi called me and apologized. I was willing to talk and work it out.  Latoi invited me to come down and spend time with her family and we attended several churches. Although it wasn’t about the services, it was more of going public and setting the tone that we wanted to go the distance.

Latoi: I really didn’t want him to attend church with me on the basis of it making things better.  I was changing and knew how my church family was and knew that he could have preached in those churches and it still would have been a thing. Everything at the time was about appearances and not being real. I learned not to let other’s opinions change who I had chosen to love. From then on I enjoyed my relationship and let us have our own issues without everyone’s hand in it.

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Even thinking about the first years of dating, it would be a piece of cake compared to our first year of marriage….

The Scare Of My Life, Brought Me Life

So I’m finally home after having one of the best times of my life yesterday. I’m catching up and reading my Essence magazine (the August edition with Idris Elba) and reading the stories of women who suffered strokes and all I can say is but God.

It’s making me super grateful. I remember having the migraine of my life while pregnant with my youngest child. I also remember the flood of emotions after being told I had a blood clot in my brain. I’m super grateful for that migraine because it’s the one thing that alerted doctors that something wasn’t right. I’m grateful that I was spared from having a stroke. Had I not had that migraine I can’t imagine what my family and I would have had to endure. I am super happy that although the road from the blood clot wasn’t an easy one how much worst it could be.  The doctors are amazed at how I didn’t stroke out and let me say I am grateful.

It’s the one thing that I think of when I don’t want to work out and eat the right things. My health is my wealth. I can’t do for myself or my family if I’m not at my best. To be at my best I have to invest in my overall health from the inside out.

I indulge but for the most part I am super cautious of what I eat or drink. I do not want to do anything that may cause large issues later. Ladies and gentlemen, please take your health seriously. I never really paid any attention to it until that day and even after that I slipped until I was weighed almost 3 years later weighing 190 pounds. I got on that scale at work of all places and secretly cried in the bathroom. I thought what type of sorcery was I on to eat myself to this point? I blamed breastfeeding. Yes when you first start out and are pumping I lost all of my baby weight in the first two weeks. Even my husband was shocked. Slowly but surely I needed more calorie intake but I took that to be more of the unhealthy choices and soon after I stopped nursing I had this 190 pounds of foolishness to carry. 

That is why after that reality check I couldn’t see the weight like that anymore. Not being able to wear the clothes I wanted was a push too. No one feels good wearing clothes you have to wear. However I took the responsibility that it was on me to fix.  Even if I didn’t have a goal of what my weight was to be, I couldn’t wear any more plus size clothes. I’m not knocking a plus size woman but my issue was from pure laziness and it wasn’t my size. It was the size that I accepted by not putting effort in my life.  There was other areas in my life where I didn’t put effort either. So in December before the New Year hit I set out to change what I looked like and how I felt. Even with the recovery of my hysterectomy I have maintained my weight without working out. I will step back into my work outs this week and I’m super excited. 

My overall effort in my inside is showing on my outside. I feel a new glow up in my life. It’s not just the clothes I can finally wear but it’s the fact that every single day I wake up and do the things that make me happy and whole.  Please don’t let a medial scare take you out of here or bring you to death’s door.  You can make the change today! 

Learn From All This Usher Mess

I’ve seen some pretty good memes from all the Usher reported Herpes talk. However my message is simple women asked him reportedly and he said he was fine. Now I don’t know if it was because he was Usher that someone figured he was good but, no one’s pocket will excuse you from getting STDs.

So as much as everyone thinks this whole story is funny the truth is celebrity or not this is a situation that happens to both men and women all the time. The issue is that some people are fortunate to be able to get some medication and recover and others are not. How many stories have to be published with people who knowingly know they have a STD and make it their life long mission to infect others. How easy it for you to be in the passion and just go with the flow? Very easy if you’re not thinking.

One night of passion can devastate an entire family not just the ones who laid down and opened themselves up to the infection. Oh and FYI for my married folks, your marital vows are not enough to protect you from a STD. It only takes one night of misguided passion to bring your mate home more than they bargained for. Many women and men don’t think with their right “head.” So as a married women I still insist on yearly STD checks. I remember when I had my youngest daughter and my doctor said well you’re married you don’t need to be checked.  I looked at her and said lady, if you don’t check and do a full panel! Like I thought how many other married couples she told this to. Marriage doesn’t change the will of the person in the marriage. That is a daily test. Married couples need to be just as vigilant in their sexual health as anyonelse. 

So why you worrying about Usher let this help you get to the nearest clinic and get checked. Yes get checked. The issue with the women who are suing Usher and will most likely win is that he has the funds to at least begin financial healing but the regular man or woman doesn’t. If you’re not on top of your sexual health by the time you find out you could already be in harms way. Life and death are super important when it comes to sex. Please don’t allow a night of wet sheets cost you your life. Get tested not just ask if someone has a STD.  Keep your regular STD check. If you find yourself in a position and make the decision to have unprotected sex although not safe, go get checked and then head the protocol to go back a few weeks up to months to recheck again. 

Oh and one more thing if a man is married, leave him alone!! It is reported that the young lady he slept with was his ex wife’s bridesmaid. She really must have thought she had pulled her a good one and played herself. She is just as responsible for this as he is. No passes given here.

I don’t know how Usher’s new wife is feeling about all of this and if she too is vigilant about her sexual health but I know I would be embarrassed. I hope it works for all parties involved. 

Beach Day aka Peace

So yesterday I had my annual beach day. What a great time. It was everything I needed and more. I went to Belmar Beach in Jersey. It’s super nice and not too crowded.

Let’s talk about the things that was different from last year. One I didn’t get to the beach until like noon. That is like beach no no. Normally I like to get there by 9 so I can get settled before the swarm of people come. Getting there at noon meant no umbrellas was available to rent. So I settled with the beach chair. Another issue with getting there later than normal is parking. I was super far and it felt like I parked in Philly and walked to the beach. None the less I got snuggled into my spot and got to my me day.  I sat there super proud yet again. 2 years in a row and I didn’t let even my surgery stop me from having this time to renew. 

I let those who I needed to know I was safe and the first agenda, a nap. I don’t know if it was that yesterday was national nap day but I got one. Armed with my beach hat to shield me from the sun I got some good sleep. There actually was a breeze and clouds so it wasn’t at all bad weather wise. However after my nap the sun came and stayed so I ended up having some awesome fries and a smoothie from Cruz Bay Cafe. These fries was so good. I was determined not to eat anything too heavy especially with the heat.

After that I read a book, got in the water, stayed off of social media for the most part and wrote in my journal in between some great snacking.  As my time came to a close I decided to walk the board walk. During that time I met a young woman who was traveling solo. We ended up having an acai bowl at Playa Bowls. If you ever had a bowl from there you know just how good they are for you and to you.  We talked about everything. She’s in the middle of a divorce and having to figure her new life out. I just encouraged her to find out who she is now. What she wants from her new relationship with her soon to be ex husband and how to keep her wits about her. She said she doesn’t have a lot of friends and I explained to her how I felt during my move to Philly. I encouraged her to get out and get into some new activities. 

I also did a LOT of people watching. I saw a guy who was on clear house arrest but he was out splashing around. My thought is he must have a window of time to be out but he was definitely out there enjoying himself. I have to say that’s a first that I’ve seen someone on house arrest out at the beach but hey he’s minding his business so I simply observed and kept it moving. 

The best part is always that it’s my time. I don’t take any of my family with me since the kids are unpredictable with the beach and my husband hates sand between his toes. It’s a win for me to indulge in the peace of watching the waves, hearing the sound of the water, enjoying the sand in my toes and literally getting quiet. I love this time. It’s all mine. Not to mention I had some great snacks that I didn’t have to share with little hands. That’s always a plus. 

I got some clarity and I can’t wait to implement them. I got some fresh ideas for the blog and some series to do as well.  So be on the look out for them as I release them in the coming months.  

As always I encourage everyone to take some time out for themselves. Nothing like peace that is priceless. No excuse to making sure that you are the priority. I look forward to getting ready to go back to work soon. I think anyway. But until then I will be focusing on my next appointments, and crossing off my summer wish list.  I’m more determined to get things done even if that means going solo. 

The Art of Stress Less Packing

I love to travel. I can’t say I travel as much as I would like but when the opportunity comes I definitely take full advantage of it. Here are a few of my own personal tips that helps regardless if you’re single, married, or have kids.


1. Don’t wait until the last minute 

Sometimes this is easier said and done. We all have busy lives. However taking the time to pack ahead of time cuts down on having to detour your trip to the store to replace something you already have but forgot and not to mention saving on coins. 

2. Pack the necessary things first

If you are traveling via an aircraft this is the best advice. Pack what you know without a doubt you will need first. Not all airlines allow you to travel with your bags for free so making executive decisions on what you have to have and packing that first helps. After that you can decide if the extras are really worth it or not. Do you know how many people have to unpack and readjust their items to avoid that fee?! 

3. Roll and pack

Rolling your items can help you pack more of the things you want and need. Often times where you are going will have an iron of some sort. 

4. Make a master traveling list 

I do this even for all seasons. This will help you to cross off the things you have packed, the things you need to purchase and pack or the things that you have yet to pack. This is key even with kids. During our recent quickcation I left nothing behind using this method. It felt good to have more than we needed. Checking the list off instead of just grabbing things was way more organized and saved on the stress later.

5. Pack light 

There’s usually smaller versions of the things you need. Get those items instead of the home size as I call it. This is especially for hair care and hygiene. Everyone knows there are travel sections in most stores. They have made it possible even to travel with laundry detergent these days. Grab those items first. They are key in opening room for the other items you need. 

6. You can’t take it all

As much as you would like to bring it all it’s not going to happen. Think about the method of your traveling. Are you going via car? Will you be with others via car? You will need to keep things to one bag to ensure room for others to store things in the trunk. Is this a family trip? Can multiple people pack in one bag? I packed the kids in on suitcase for a 3-4 day trip and it worked. Are you traveling via aircraft? You will have to limit. Think about having to push or carry these items too. The lighter the bag the less stress you allot for yourself or travel companions. 

7. Pack for the events 

Sometimes we just get clothes but don’t count the events you are going for. Focus on the events and pack around it. For our quickcation I packed around the pool and beach. This made it easier to make sure I had what I needed. Going for a wedding, pack around that. People have gone away for these types of events and completely forget the major needs for why they are traveling. Stay focused. 

8. Be prepared

Have copies of your travel documents and identification on you. The worst thing you can do is forget these items. Bring a first aid kit. Emergencies can happen at any time. Have others who are not traveling to have copies of your travel documents that can get them to you via email. Not only that having someone be able to reach you in case of emergency is key. 


9. Emergency fund 

I know in some cases traveling with just enough is what happens, however having emergency money on hand is key. You never know what can take place. You need to be prepared for anything to happen. A blown tire, lost luggage, a wardrobe malfunction. These are very real events and having to depend on someone to get you through doesn’t always work. I traveled to a wedding with my daughter one time and the hotel we originally booked was horrible. I ended up having to rebook somewhere else during the holiday weekend. 

10. Have options

This is key to have options for what you wear but also for what you will do. This is a digital age so you should have files designated for when you travel for what you want to do. This is key before you set out to travel. This is important even if you are meeting up with others. Nothing is worse than you not doing enough research before you travel. You should have weather alerts set up for your place of travel and with the alerts you should be prepared for a dip in weather, rain, snow, etc. 
The more prepared you are ahead of time the better the over all trip will be.

Also travel with empty store bags, traveling mesh bag, etc 

You can use the bags to place dirty or soiled clothes. Once you return you can take the bags to the laundry room and keep them separated from the clean ones. 

Also take empty sandwich bags or storage bags to bring things home too. You will be surprised of how they can be used. 

Extra tips:

1. Take or get Lysol especially if you’re going to be staying at a hotel. If you can also get a room disinfectant and a cleaner to wipes things down. This may be extreme to some but I never travel without it. 

2. Pack hand sanitizer and you’re own towels and wash clothes if you can. Some even buy a cheap towel and wash cloth set to throw out at the end of their trip. 

3. Pillow. It always good if you can bring your own. If not get a towel to lay over the one you will be using.