Keep it Clean

The last several weeks I have been cleaning.  No I don’t mean just cleaning my natural house either.   I have been cleaning up my social media and what like in entertainment and who I choose to entertain.

I have been slowly pulling away from reality television to start with.  There are series that I watch that I have been deciding not to watch anymore.  That doesn’t mean I have sworn all of it off, but slowly but surely I will get there.  At this point it’s not that entertainment can’t be fun, but it can also be draining.  I am on a new wave as I conclude this year to find other ways of entertaining myself.  To be sure that I don’t, I make sure I don’t record it.  Do you know how much room my DVR has now?  Lots of space for me to record documentaries, movies, or things for my kids and I to watch together as a family.

Another thing I have been doing is cleaning out my social media.  Now let me be honest, I have an impressive block list. This is simply out of respect that my rule is I block in real life than I block in social media and not the other way around.  I do not block on social media just because I am temporarily mad over an issue.  We use the block feature so loosely that it really doesn’t have meaning.  I block after I have come to the decision that I do not want to interact with a person or group of persons in real life.  I am not a social media thug.  So no posting about what is wrong, posting petty memes.  I live in real-time.  So no you do not need to see pictures of my kids, what I am doing, who I am with, etc.  That privilege is lost.  Check out the features you have on your social media.  You can really control who the audience of your page goes to and who you allow to sit under as well.

One last thing about cleaning out my social media is my children.  Social media was developed to bring people together.  My children are the best parts of me.  I have friends and some family all over the world.  I am not going to be able to see them as often as I would like. Allowing them on my social media is a great way for them to see my kids grow.  With that in mind, we have closed up how we post on social media where they are concerned.  We don’t post them in real-time.  We do not allow anything identifying where they live, go to school, etc This prevents as much as we can, from others being able to go online and getting a social print of them.  I am not saying this is super fool-proof because it’s not but it at least allows me to put forth an effort.  Those who need to know the intrigue details know from my husband and I communicating those details.  Another app I use now is BlurPhoto for Apple Phones. (Android Phones Blue Photo) It is used to blur out anything that you don’t want shared.  I use this to block out names, other kids, and anything damaging to my kids’ identity.  Please get the app and use it.  It is free by the way.

One last thing, do not let anyone on your social media you don’t want on there.  You get tired of seeing their post than delete them. Don’t want them to know you deleted them then limit their access to you and your access to them.  Anything that makes you upset over social media can be tweaked in a way to keep your sanity.  There is an over indulgence in what we look at, what we take in, who we take in, etc  You have always had the power.  Clean it up and create places of peace.  All of those groups you are in, get out of them.  I was in a several marriage groups and they were places of nothing but contention and arguing and trying to show what you know.  I got to the point where I don’t need support for my marriage outside of the actual marriage.  In real life I wouldn’t consort with such a large group of people so why do it now.  Having a person or a few folks you can confide is one thing, but opening up Pandora’s box is unhealthy.

Trust me this will help you weed out real life friendships too.  As you change you don’t engage as much in real life to those things that are no longer serving your bottom line-get there!  Again as I always say this is what works for me  There is something that works for you but we all can use a little back up from social media and the headache that we not social media bring into our own lives.

Also on your phone too, you can mute group messages,.  Those messages will be there when you decide to unmute them.  I refuse to be a prisoner to my phone, social media, and anything else that do not matter in the long run.  This is coming from someone who loves social media.  Step back, try it out for a little while, I promise you its super fulfilling.

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!! 

Adult Not Grown

I finally get it.  Shout out to my parents, Charles and Rhonda but I finally get it.  All the times I was yelling out how “grown” I was and my parents would come behind my rant, and burst my bubble, I would feel some type of way, I was wrong and they were totally right.  But the reality is they were teaching me an invaluable lesson.  A lesson I need to share with some of my adults who have yet to walk in what it is to be a grown man or woman.

Image result for im grown

As an adult its easy to think you have arrived when reality you have not.  You think that age has finally granted you the right to speak up and do whatever it is you want until life hits you and find out real quick the difference between grown and an adult. After many conversations with other adults let me help some of you fake grown adults out a bit.

An adult by definition according to the law is anyone who is 18 years and up.  How many 18 year olders are supporting themselves?  Not many.  However when they get in their feelings and want to talk they throw grown around and quite frankly not living up to it.  There are 50 year olds that are doing the same.  Your age doesn’t make you grown, its how you live your life that makes you grown. Just like when I was in college with a car but had a scholarship I was feeling myself except that my parents were still insuring my car.  See if I really wanted to be grown I should have been fitting ALL of my bills.  Yes I had two jobs and taking 19 credits and doing well, but the reality is I would have been financially supporting myself without their help then I could have hollered I was grown. My parents would have respected it.  Trust and believe they awaited the day for me to be grown.  All I had to do was use the energy of wanting to say I was grown and really be grown to get there.

Grown is when you can finance and deal with the repercussions of ALL of your actions. So if you fake grown and are pregnant with a baby that others will have to help you to support you just made an adult decision but ain’t grown enough to handle it.  See now I can say I am grown.  No one can say that they had to support me.  When I had my kids, my parents didn’t shell out money for my children.  They could just be grandparents and not feel like they were second parents in command.  As much as anyone could have had so much to say at the end of the day, no one had to support me financially.  I made a grown and an adult decision and still do this day.

See adulting will have you thinking the best of yourself when you aren’t in that place.  Grown people do grown things.  They can handle rejection, they can handle fall out from their decisions, they can stand on their own.  You can’t call yourself grown when at the very sign of pain or hurt, you fall apart.  You are just an adult that can’t take things. Grown folks are just grown and handle life has it comes.  Now that isn’t to say that things won’t knock you down, but there are childish adults that whine and die if any one thing happens.  Please understand where you are.

Here are examples of you being an adult but not grown:

  1. Someone having to pay your rent for you.  Grown people provide for their housing.  So if you are in the category of having to borrow money ALL the time you are an adult you are not grown. Grown people make an assessment of where they are financially and get their finances in order.  If that means cutting back, not spending on things they don’t need, etc.
  2. If you always have to call someone else to fight your battles. Why can’t you hold an argument or disagreement? If you find that you always need someone to speak for you, or you only say what you need to say when your support system is there, you are not grown you are an adult.  Grown people do as Kevin Hart, they “say it with their chest” and move on.
  3. If you have credit issues but refuse to deal with it, be grown open them past due bills and handle it.  You may take forever and a day to get it together but you do it because you are grown and have to face the music.
  4. If you have offended someone, apologize.  Yes this is hard to do but as an adult and one who wants to be grown be humble in my Kendrick Lamar voice.
  5. You lack accountability. Yes you are an adult.  Yes you can do certain things, but accountability leaves from parent to child so you can become stable.  The fact that you think of yourself as an island just because “nobody can tell you what to do” shows your lack of maturity.  Handle your business but have the maturity to know when to let others into your space and when to let them go.
  6. Skipping responsibilities such as fathering a child you had, being a good mother, skipping work, not paying bills, etc this is an adult who isn’t grown.  We ALL have been an adult that may have been messy in one or more of these areas, but when you are grown you are constantly trying to improve.  Not going to work is not being an adult, that’s stupid.  Yes stupid.  If you don’t work you don’t eat.  Stop relying on others to bail you out until you get your check next week because you don’t want to work and do what you need to do.

So to all of my adults that haven’t started walking in grown up things, get there.  It’s going to take discipline.  No one should have to carry another adult’s load.  Things happen in life, that someone will have to help others but when this is your everyday life than you need to accept that although you are by age an adult,  you are not a full-grown woman or man.  Get there!  Thanks to my mom and dad for busting my chops many a day.  Especially when I wanted to make decisions that they would have had to deal with the fall out.  I teach this lesson to my own kids.  We can be friends when you can pay these bills is not just a thing that parents say but its a way of life.  You can’t keep talking the talk but not walking the walk.  You really have to be able to handle YOUR decisions.  If YOUR decisions become a community response and it’s not just because you got sick, or unable to work, maybe you need less “grown” talk and more “grown” actions.

Image result for im grown

Ear Muffs

I respond to things that I am passionate about.  The things that affect my here and now or my and my kids future.  I respond to the petty things of the world sometimes and have to remind myself constantly to use ear muffs.  No my ears aren’t cold but they need to be shielded.  Sometimes we yell ear muffs to our kids and they know that means cup them ears mommy or daddy needs to express adult content.

Image result for ignore

For adults the same technique sometimes needs to be used.  You are in control of what you entertain.  You are in control of what you allow to get into your spirit.  You’re an adult.  You have the ability to end the things that no longer serve you.  You have the ability to say no to images, sounds, and social media that do not line up with preserving you.  You have a right not to argue and debate a fool who will not listen to anything you or anyone else has to say.  You can be pulled in but as an adult you control the stops in your life.  You have to be willing to look wrong sometimes.  You have to be willing to look off when someone wants to engage you and you know it will lead no where.

Image result for ignore

Even on social media. I told you about the time I allowed myself to be pulled into a debate.  Even though I felt I was being targeted or the person was saying things about my kids for one, I still had a right to end it early and deal with that person face to face. So you have the same power.  You have to evoke ear muffs to shield the very things that will cause you to be upset.  Anything that takes space in your mind that has you thinking of it for more than an hour that isn’t something centered around making you better, putting food on your table, getting you that much closer to your destiny-cut it off.  Disengage on social media, stop hanging around the family and friends who do not mean you well, stop arguing with your mate and getting no where, find another job so every day you aren’t crying in the parking lot or miserable at your place of employment. Control the parts of your life that you can.  Trust me I have been in that place before.  It tears your spirit down.  Activate your ear muffs so you can hear what you need to do, where you need to be, and how you are going to get there.  You don’t have time to entertain things that don’t build you.

Passive Aggression only Serves You

Being passive aggressive in your personality only serves YOU.  Think about it, passive aggressiveness is the ability to avoid confrontation.  So this is the type that will say little slick things out of their mouth, will indirectly snub a person or just dance around the issue because they want to save face or they don’t like to deal with the consequences if they would just be direct.  They know if they are direct that they will have to put it all on the table but they want to dance along things to keep things brewing.  Do NOT ever let this personality type get under your skin.

This personality type have themselves believe that if they were direct that they “would hurt someone’s feeling.”  However that isn’t the truth.  Most adults being adults should be able to hear the words no and adjust.  This starts from childhood.  So withholding yourself back like you’re in a fight but can’t fight shows lack of maturity.  Being direct would stop and end a lot of unnecessary back and forth.  Passive aggressive personalities actually keep things going.  Let me explain how:

  1. It’s like being bumped by “accident” but scared the person who you bumped won’t call you out. You will know if you are dealing with a passive aggressive personality because they will jump bad but then revert to the “I was just joking” phrase to act as if what they just said they didn’t mean.  Trust me they meant it but they don’t want you to take them serious because they will have to deal with the outcome of their actions.
  2. When dealing with a passive aggressive person they will continue to under cut you just to see if you will respond.  When you don’t it doesn’t make them stop.  They will continue to poke the bear until they get a response.  Continue to not respond.  Trust me they need that to irritate themselves.  Don’t let them irritate you.
  3. They are nice/nasty.  They will say things in a nice mean way to on paper appear that they are being nice but reality they are trying to under cut.  Smile at them and let them know you will have a good day.  Passive aggressive people are actually mad at themselves for not being bold and if they catch on that you see it too, they will get even more upset.

Passive aggressive people do not like bold people.  They come off as shy but they are the ones that have to feel “pushed” to speak up.  They wait for you to tick them off because they need justification to be adults and speak up.  Learn to spot them, mark them mentally and always make sure you are clear.  You don’t have to allow a person’s passive aggressive behavior to make you upset in any way.  Passive aggressive avoid in a lot of areas too not just a one on one with others.

Image result for passive aggressive memes

Oh the biggest passive aggressive sign is indirect posts on social media.  These folks will ever speak to the person (s) they have issues but they will hit them with a meme.  Stop. Don’t fall into this and then respond.  Let this adult act childish and learn to move on. Reality is they are just not sure how to speak up, don’t want to, or just like drama. Either way they are not serving anything of value in your life and you will live if you didn’t have that type of back and forth going on.

Image result for passive aggressive memes

I have had plenty of passive aggressive people who I have had to deal with it and when I ask them directly what is the issue the first response is there’s nothing wrong.  They are right there isn’t anything wrong with how they choose to conduct themselves because they want to hide.  However with my direct personality I would rather just end the back and forth and talk.  Most passive aggressive folks want to hide.  My response to this situation when I hear an undercut is that until something is brought to my attention from the source, all is fine. I do not care if I hear about a person’s issues from a 3rd party.

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.

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.

Image result for lies you tell gif

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.

Image result for love our love gif

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.

Image result for lies you tell gif

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.

Image result for love our love gif

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