Ask Toi: Your blogs are overwhelming with too much positivity, are you like this daily?!

Yes and no. I am human. I have bad days and good days. I can be up emotionally up and ready to take on the world one minute and having to be put on the prayer list to get out of the bed the next. 

Positivity is overwhelming when you only focus on the low moment. I have so many goals that I’m working on that even in the busy days I get extremely overwhelmed myself. My husband is probably the only one who sees my lowest moments. They can be small to severe. He’s a trooper. We’ve been together and as a team he knows what to say to snap me back. I also push to be positive. The world has enough negativity that I try not to add more to it. 

I also have expressed that I’ve suffered from depression. I have been in my past on medication during post partum and I’ve gone to professional counseling. I was taught the tools to come out of a negative jam. Also honesty is the best policy. See the way my life is set up I don’t have time to wallow.  But I get how you would be overwhelmed. You are looking through the lens of your own life and try to measure. Don’t do that. We have different paths. You have no idea what things I’ve been through to get to where I am. Never compare what you think you see. I’ve learned this the hard way. You will be super disappointed if you do. 

This is why I blog. So you can change the lens and direct it from the inside out and not the other way around. Try writing what it is about your life that you don’t like. Put it on paper than write what your grateful for. Then make a plan for each thing that you are struggling with and then work your plan. In doing this alone you won’t have time to focus on others. People including me will be in your rearview mirrow instead of in front of your windshield. Change your perspective!!! 

It’s a good thing to be overwhelming positive if I could describe what my life was like years ago, it might scare you!! 

Sunday Message: Happy National Grandparents Day!

So it’s national grandparents day. A day to say thank you to all of the grandparents for the things they have done. Salute to all awesome grandparents. Being a grandparent from my perspective of watching my own can be a very great ordeal. As a parent you work hard to establish boundaries and spend so much time raising kids but grandparents have already done it so often times they can be a wealth of knowledge, love, support, and fun times.

I want to send a message to heaven to my mother in law who was an awesome grandmother to my 3 kids. She always had their best intentions in mind. She loved on them as their own. She gave them all she could.  So today in her absence we honor her. My kids adore her and her not being here is still affecting them. However with the crazy times she and I had the one thing I am super glad that although not ideal living with her gave my kids the best time with her. Love you Mom Mom.

Grandparents are such a stepping stone to life. However let’s talk about relationships that aren’t so glittery with grandparents. Sometimes it’s an extension of torn relationships with parents. I know of parental issues that trickle down to kids causing generational struggles. Not every grandparent has memories with their grand kids where cookies are being made or sweaters knitted. Sometimes there are constant fights and struggles that keep relationships stagnant. These fights can put a hamper on a relationship and make them non existent. Both kid and grandchild loses!

Listen there are grandparents that are in their 30s who still club and go out and don’t even see themselves as a grandparent. Thus the term glammom is now a thing. Grandparents don’t look like big momma anymore. It’s not my place to judge.  However coming from someone who had that big momma spirit in her life it’s important. Grandparents should teach you by example. They don’t usually have to yell and act as a parent.  You usually want to glean from their wisdom. Big momma was the foundation of a family even when grandfather was there. 

I do want to shout out my great grandparents who were the ones who gave me extra cake. They took me fishing and showed me how to plant a garden.  They let me stay up late to watch tv just as long as I was up and ready for church on Sunday.  I’ve never met more genuine people like my great grand grandparents. They prayed for me and loved me and on me as long as I could remember. I can still hear their voices calling me their sweet baby. I don’t even know how many of us there were but trust me it’s a lot of us and the number is still growing. They gave us collective and individual love. Thank you Mom and dad who allowed us the Summer to spend with them. Those memeories I cherish in their earthly absence. 

I also want to shout out my grandparents as well. Let’s start with my mom’s Mom who helped raise us. She is one of the people I can call who will not judge me. Her love is unconditional. If I called her and said I had a body she wouldn’t even blink and would know what to do. Her conversations are rough and to the point and she doesn’t sugar coat.  This is most likely why my Mom is to the point like I am. However I remember having the best spaghetti this world has ever had. I have great memories with her.  I’m glad she’s still here to continue making more. My kids call her GG!!

Also to my dad’s parents who are great too. I was in a car accident in 2001 where I dislocated my left shoulder. I had to stay with my grandparents who lived a mere few houses away from my parents so I can sleep in their reclining chair.  My grandfather woke up all through the night to get me medicine and we would eat black cherry vanilla icecream just he and I with his famous homemade cake. This was nightly. I was feeling some type of way when I knew my icecream runs would stop and I had to go back to Penn State.  Oh and my grandma makes the best rice. They both have had their times when they went out of their way to make sure something I needed was taken care of.

To my parents who I love. They are grandparents to 5 and I hold my breath on that number. However Hanmom (my oldest couldn’t say grandma when she was a baby and now the name has stuck with the rest) and dad dad as they are called do great things with all of the kids. Just the summer they turned their yard into a slip and slide and all summer long there wasn’t a cookout that wasn’t had.  Christmas is super fun with all of the kids ripping presents, eating food, and having the best cousin time. Memories are being made.  I hope when they look back at their child hood that they too will have great memories especially now that my parents are the only grandparents they have between my husband and I. I am only speaking on them as grandparents as my kids still have their set of great grandparents from my dad and mom’s side still here as well. 

My hope is that for the estranged grandparents and there are many, to make it right with your kids or attempt. As much as I hear that things should be in the past the real reality is that you have to deal with the past to move forward. You can’t simply throw it under the rug or act like it’s not a big deal just because you don’t want to deal. There are grandkids who have never met their grandparents because of that reason.  

To the surrogate grandparents aka the honary grandparents who has shown extreme love to someone that they have invited you into their heart, salut!! You have no idea what that says about your character as a person. I am not one who takes in people often but when I do they have to be so dope of a person that I feel I would be losing not to take them in as my own. I have been fortunate to meet some of those awesome people.  Their value is amazing. If someone calls you grandma or grandfather especially if not by birth walk in that beautiful calling. 

To all grandparents near and far even the ones in heaven ToiTime salutes you!!  Enjoy your day!!

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.