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Another Health is Wealth Moment by Guest Blogger S. L. Efua Joe

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Yay for Spring!

It’s finally here in all of its cold and still snow on the ground love. Spring has arrived. Who wouldn’t be happy?  What I love about Spring is that it brings me that much closer to my favorite season and that is Summer.  Spring allows us all one last season to get Summer time fine. For all of the people who use Winter as an excuse not to work out because of the cold will have nothing to hide under.  Yes Spring brings showers, but if you really were about that work out life you will work around it.  So as we celebrate Spring’s arrival here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s time to change out hygiene products.  I don’t know if this post is inspired by the Strawberry Letter I heard on the Steve Harvey show about the woman who didn’t wash, but we ALL need to make some changes.  Our bodies change over when warmer weather comes in.  Change your makeup, deodorant, hair products, etc to what YOU need to be at your freshest.
  2. For the Spring and Summer over shavers, please get to it.  I can’t say what someone should do as far as shaving or waxing but I will say that the benefits of either one is cleanliness.  Some people do it for appearance reason but always know less hair means less trapped in smells.  I will tell you what my own momma taught me, you can smell you.  No one should have to tell you to that you stink.  So let’s all tighten up.
  3. Color.  Enjoy some color.  I know black and gray is the go to but…Spring is here add a few shades of color.  It doesn’t have to be super bright colors just yet but a pop of color definitely helps in aiding in happier modes.  So don’t be shy.  Scarfs are great ways to add color if you aren’t confident enough to go all the way in with a color top or bottom.  So get your color on!
  4. Change-please note this is the time where salons are their super busiest.  Everyone wants cuts and colors so if this is you, book early. Also be sure that you go for a consult.  Do not just go and plop in a chair unless it’s a stylist you are super comfortable with.
  5. Pedicures and manicures-start getting them if you haven’t all winter.  If you can’t afford them there are way too many at home gel or regular nail polish systems that cost less than a salon stop. Visit your local beauty supply and get creative.  There is no real reason to walk around raggedy. In the words of my best friend, you can grab an at home foot scrubber.  So scrub off the winter blues and look to be more polished literally.
  6. Keep up your gym or outside work out commitments.  The warm weather can have you all in your feelings but the feeling of not being able to wear shorts or a cute skirt is even worst.  Do not slack up instead be creative. Don’t have gym money? There are YouTube videos with free workout routines.  Don’t want to do that, get you an old-fashioned jump rope or hula hoop.  Trust me a few times of this a week can take off inches off of your waist. Get active.
  7. Reconnect .  Start planning that Summer trip.  I advise all to find a trip in your budget for yourself, your family, and friends too. Nothing says relaxed you like a trip.  Make yourself a priority. There are no excuses.  There is apps like Groupon that can get you where you want to go.  Last Summer I did a beach day solo and I WILL be doing it again.  It feels good to let your hair down and you don’t need to break the bank to do it.  However whatever you do make the sacrifice and enjoy life more.  Your family, friends, job, etc will thank you. The more relaxed you are, the better you are to those around you.  Plus you have a few neglected friends who miss you so meet ups are important.
  8. Love you.  Yes as it gets warmer you will find that some people get more irritated. It should be the opposite since the Winter may have had you in cabin fever, but for some its the polar opposite. Love on yourself.  If YOU need something to make your life better, get it.  Meaning for example, you need more time outside because being inside is wearing on you, than do that.  Sit outside on your front porch, take a walk, have an outside picnic do what works for you.

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Enjoy the Spring. I know at least in my area it’s still cold and the snow hasn’t even melted all the way, but trust me warmer weather is on its way.  As it gets here, people will be out more.  For some who deal with anxiety as socialization increases, be aware and do what you need to do to be prepared.  Don’t let it stop you.  Get out, and do what you need for you but enjoy it!!

How to Have the Best New Year’s Eve…

First of all this is one busy night.  There are a lot of preparations to make it perfect, but let’s keep it real there’s no such thing as perfect.  You have to set aside what goals are most important to you.  They say how you bring in the New Year is super important and it is.

Here are some of the ways you can bring in the New Year:

For Couples:

It’s important to attempt to spend it together.  Yes some people have to work and that is totally understandable.  However if you are a couple there are a million ways to spend it. You can go to a hot party and get all dolled up.  This would require that you and your partner book ahead of time.  Going out on New Years means having a party plan.  Will you use a taxi, Uber, Lyft?  What are the prices?  Everything is super expensive on that night. Do you even want to go out and deal with other party goers?  Decide early because after Christmas if most clubs and establishments haven’t already posted prices they definitely will.  Remember anything where you can pre-pay ahead of time is better.  At the door the price will usually go up from $20 to 100 per person.  Ouch.  So plan ahead.

If you and your boo do NOT want to go out, opt hosting a party get together.  You can do this by having other couples come and share in the purchase of food and drinks.  This will cut cost down dramatically.  You can have a great night in.  You can do things like play games, watch movies, whatever you want to do.  It’s all your choice.  This is a great option for a laid back night with others.

If you say Toi, I really just want a quiet evening, than do that.  I know couples who dress up and cook a meal together.  This can turn into something if you want it to trust me. Nothing is sexier than your partner in the kitchen.  Make a meal that you both can try that you wouldn’t have normally tried before.  This way its something out of the ordinary than your normal pasta dish at home watching tv.  You can do a vision board together as a couple as well as an individual.  You can play games and make it fun.  Spice it up.  You can just spend some quality time with the one you love as you bring in another year.

For Singles:

You can do the same thing as above as far as going out but make it a great group effort. You aren’t the only single one in the whole world no matter how much your mind tells you. Get together and reconnect with friends that you may not have been able to catch up with during Christmas.  This is a great time to travel.  Some of my friends are out of the state so if I was single you could travel to their state or pick a new destination altogether. The same rules apply, have fun and be safe.  If you want you can have the ultimate girls night.  There are a million and one ways to have a group of women come together and have a great time. You can pick a theme.  It doesn’t have to be just the New Year.  You can have a makeover night.  Everyone brings make up, wear cute pajamas, etc. The sky is the limit. Be open-minded.

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Travel

Like I said I remember hitting Miami up one year.  I had the BEST time with my girlfriends. We went to a great club that had open bar for a price and food.  We danced so much I can’t tell you how bad my feet hurt.  However when I look back at the pictures I smile.  We really had a great time and even walked a little on the beach.   You’re single not dead.  Enjoy life. There is so much to experience that is beyond your backyard.  Now that I am married a few of my single friends have even gone out of the country.  Imagine that.  If you have a passport, isn’t it time for some new stamps?

For Parents:

My husband and I have been parents for 7 years and the ONLY time we have had a night out for New Years has been this past year.  We ended up going to Chickie and Pete’s.  We had no immediate plans.  We made none.  We decided to just get dressed up and head out. As we went to a few places, we noticed how super crowded and how limited space was open to be out.  So I did what any woman would do, I goggled.  I found that Chickie and Pete’s had a special for a flat rate you could eat and drink top shelf liquor all night. I said let’s give it a try.  Let me tell you, it was worth every penny.  Not only was the crowd hype, there was dancing, our own table, and did I mention all you can eat and drink on food we knew would be good?  Yes we had hit the jackpot.  It’s hard to get a sitter and last year we lucked up.  So what do you do when you have no sitter and you have little people?  You make your own party. I have always done a party at home.  I had adult drinks and kiddie mock drinks, New Year’s gear, and we had a full party.  Dancing, music, the countdown all of that. Guess what it was low-key, loads of fun, and I didn’t stress bed time either.  I let them stay up until they fell out.  It was a great time.  Oh and my kids can hang.  They loved every bit of it.

Another option for parents is to invite other parents that are in the same boat.  You can have a kid and parent party.  This is a good idea for parents who want to interact with others but can’t find a sitter.  Everyone can come together and split food and drinks. Everyone can have a great time in a safe location.  Parents can interact with other adults and the kids can get some time out as well.  Trust me the ride home will be quiet, your little ones will be knocked out no matter how late or early you go out.  Also during the day on New Years places like aquariums etc will have specials for the little people and a special count down too. This way if you are venturing out you can tire them out before you go and have some fun too.  Check prices and get tickets early as well.

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New Year’s night can be as much fun as you want it to be.  You have to be willing to step it up no matter what your status in life is.  Yes I didn’t mention church, but you didn’t think this fellow PK (preacher’s kid) would forget.  Yes watch tower or midnight services are fun too.  It does depend on where you go.  I am sorry church folks but you can make New Years fun.  Yes have a good message, preach, have choirs but have some fun too.  Nothing is worst is dragging your family out in the cold to church and having them wanting to gnaw their arms off because the service is no different from any other day.  It’s a fun night of celebration.  Just because you in the church you don’t have to cut the fun out. Incorporate something into the service. Have food.  Do something out of the box and bring folks into the church.

I do not have my plans set yet.  Whatever I do it will be fun.  Whether that’s out and about, a night at home, with friends I will have the same joy of beginning the New Year as I have always have even if I have to create it.  That should be a part of your new goals.  Creating happiness in your circle. Trust me the situations I was in I should have been sad but I turned them around and made the best of it and so can you.  Enjoy the New Year celebration as well as make your own mark going into 2017.

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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.

The Thanksgiving Rush

So I am usually one for celebrating the holidays.  However my days have been super long and I just realized that Thanksgiving is the next week.  We have so much to do with closing out some of the items from my mother in law’s passing that I haven’t really tapped in. Normally his mother would cook until she got to the point where she couldn’t and my husband’s uncle would do all the cooking.  I haven’t heard word on whether or not he will be resuming things so my husband and I will just cook something at home and enjoy our little family. Now if the uncle decides at the last minute to cook, I will still prepare a meal at home because that’s how I grew up.  My mother didn’t care whose house we went to she made her own dinner that way we would always have something to enjoy for later. Remember you can’t go to folks house trying to take leftovers for the week and when you barely lucky to get a plate.

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So either way I find myself focusing on the big day.  I know we are to be thankful for everything all the time and trust me I am but the anxiety of trying to pull a menu together is a bit much right now but I know I will do just fine.  So with that being said I had to dust off a few of my recipes and start my master Thanksgiving list.  You know that no matter what happens somebody will be hitting that grocery store the day before.  I am trying to be one less of those folks.  I will be going this week before the weekend.  I have a lot of events this upcoming weekend on top of some extra cleaning in my own home that I need to work on as well.

So how will I get through? I will try to pre-prep as much of the items I can.  This weekend I will be getting my cookie dough all together.  Mind you I usually do this in the beginning of November but I didn’t have enough time.  Preparing the food that I can earlier such as cutting up ingredients, etc will save me time and stress.  I will start making things on Wednesday.  I am off super early so without the little people in the way I can get one or more items in the oven.  Another way is to have some fun.  My kids love helping me and I will be letting them in the kitchen.  Music will be there as well to get me through.  Not to mention with Thanksgiving means I can start decorating for Christmas and I really do look forward to it.  A little adult juice will be had as well.  So a stop to the state store to get me some wine is in order.  The holidays as stressful as they are at times depending on the situation.  There are some who have no one to spend it with.  A lot of people miss significant members of their family. This year it will be my mother in law and my great-grandmother.  This is the time to call and check up on everyone.  This can be such a low time for some of our neighbors or even the elderly.  If you have a sick member in your community if you don’t want to invite them over pack them up some good treats that they can enjoy.

Call a friend whom you haven’t spoken to in a while.  I know we are an Instagram, text, snap world but people’s voices are just as much important as being on social media.  Call a loved on whom you may have an issue with and work it out.  Let me just say for the disclaimer, since I have so many family and friends that read this I have nothing but peace for all.  I love the holidays and I think everyone should be together but I still also believe that you don’t have to force your feet under other’s table to make a point.  Love is love and love don’t always mean forcing relationships to fit where they don’t fit.  You can however call and be cordial to your family members.

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Also to note, the holidays also start a lot of drama. So for the men and women that are juggling more than one man or woman and neither man or woman knows that they are being juggled, good luck.  You know how this works, whomever you spend your holidays with will feel like the main chick or boo.  You can’t be at the same place at the same time. For my single readers, enjoy your holiday.  I get it you don’t want to be alone but its better to be alone than sitting with the one that is eyeing your cousin and your mom.  I get it. Being single feels like it sucks but everybody in matching outfits and broken smiles ain’t happy.  Also back to families not all families are built like the Cosby’s.  So often times old things come out or things that shouldn’t have come out too.  Don’t mix so much alcohol at these events when you know Aunt Sue going to show her ass.  I mean that literally too.

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Take your time.  Try not to have so much hypness over the holidays.  Be gentle with others and remember the most important part, being thankful for the little or the much you were blessed with .

Work Outs in the Fall. Getting my McFluffy Tight….

There is something amazing that happens in the Fall, that’s good crisp air.  Although it doesn’t work in favor of my kids with their asthma it does wonders for me.  That morning air is a good time to get out of bed and get a good work out in.

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Now my job is doing a step challenge and I am on a team of 3 other individuals.  We have increased our walking.  We don’t take elevators and we take walk breaks.  I also have been hitting the gym strong almost daily.  My rest day is Friday.  I am more motivated to make moves than ever before and instead of saying I want to do, I am simply doing.  I am making better food choices.  I sort of have to so I can indulge every now and again in some of Fall’s comfort food.

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I would say because a lot of people are more focused in this month with back to school and other projects, it would be a good time to form a group.  You need a group or even just a partner to hold you accountable for your workouts.  It always helps to have someone else along the journey with you.  If you can’t that’s understandable but start making small changes. Trust me I became more aware of what I was eating when I wrote it down.  I am not on a diet.  I have never dieted a day in my life.  I don’t knock others for it but it’s just not my thing.  I am making better snack choices, increase water, etc.  I just can’t do the whole count calorie thing.  I will look at one snack and compare for my consumption but often times I elect for some form of veggie or fruit substitution.

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Keep in mind with the Fall that means again that you have approximately 3 months to complete those goals of fitness that you made almost 9 months ago.  The year is almost done.  You have to get it together and especially now because as more and more times past, we are getting ready to go into Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and then wham right into the New Year.  I don’t know about you but that’s candy, potato salad, ham, turkey and a lot of cakes that are about to be made and ate.  With that in mind I have to literally step my game up.  I do not want to be extra fluffy come holiday picture time.  I refuse to be.  Now I may still have a few places that still won’t be in formation but I definitely will be a sleeker version than I was last year during the holidays.  So no mcfluffy this year, I got to be mchealthy.

So step it up and get on team healthy!!