Sunday Message: Being Aware

One of the biggest things that we don’t always do is make ourselves aware of ourselves. This week I was super agitated. It wasn’t anything that anyone had done. I had to find a balance between the news and all of the events surrounding myself.  It was hard to balance. I found myself semi-triggered at times. Thinking to myself how hard it was to not be upset because whatever was going on around me was triggered.

I had to remove myself from conversations with certain people this week. I had to walk away and say I can’t do anymore than I am doing. As someone who is an ultimate care giver, I find myself in that mode all the time.  My kids can be at school all day and I am still over thinking about what has to be done as soon as I get home. It’s a part of my personality honestly to be on top of it all.  With wanting to stay up to date with current events especially with the elections around the corner, researching candidates so I can make an informed decision, self-care, eating right, working out, and training for this half marathon has been mentally draining. I swear my wrist got tired just typing all of that. Nonetheless taking a moment when I took a step back to see when I was breathing heavier trying to prevent myself from reacting, or watching my kids laugh instead of just walking around like a stress bomb made me take more account of myself.

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What do I need? It’s always okay to step out and grab what you need in the moments but we pretend that we have to have it altogether and we don’t. Being aware of my husband and the things he is processing is a learned skill. To know when he needs me to just let him talk so he can vent and I just listen has been a task this week.  It is hard because we all have stuff pulling on us.  Being aware when my kids just want more hugs instead of me so excited for their bedtime so I can decompress.  It was a challenge this week. It wasn’t this natural happy flow. I had to work at it. I had to step back and make myself be in the moments.

What are you needing to be aware?  What can being aware help you accomplish?  You will be surprised of the inspiration that comes from it. You will be more zen to handle your life instead of your life handling you. Take a moment and be in the moments of life. Don’t let time slip by and you don’t even know how you got there!

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Ask Toi: How do you tell someone about your will and whom your kids will go if you should die and it’s not them?

Well this was an interesting question this morning.

The back story for my readers is the husband and Wife made their wills to include who their young children should go to in their death…..the grandparents are upset they weren’t chosen….

First of all I pray that you are here for your children and this will never have to go into an active plan. However the reality of your children not going to either parents is a harsh reality. Parents being a caregiver after they have raised their own kids isn’t always an ideal situation. Age of your parents, their health, how active they are with their own grandkids and suitability doesn’t always match title. You need to take into consideration how you were raised and how the grandparents interact with the kids to play a major role in them being chosen.

There should be many factors in making that hard decision. It shouldn’t be based upon friendships or family relationships to be honest with you. It should be about whom aligns the best with you and your husband’s parenting style and who will give your children the same type of lifestyle that you would if you were still here. You can’t choose people to raise your children in your place just based on relationships.

Also how often does the children interact with whomever your choosing? How active are they involved with the kids? These things matter. Think about you not being here, your kids being devastated and then having to live with people they know only in title. If whomever you’re choosing hasn’t made efforts to be in the kids’ lives they shouldn’t be at the top of the list. Also one of the biggest things to think about is how whomever you choose deals with discipline. Discipline is a major compartment in who you choose. If someone doesn’t align with you and your husband than they shouldn’t be on the list. Also factors with age and appropriateness needs to be within your decision making process as well.

So although either parents don’t make the list you can approach it in the sense of being honest with them. Let them know that you love them and you want this decision to be in the best interest of the children involved. Parenting is hard and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. You can talk as little as you want about the choice.

Know that they will be upset. There is no way around it. They will be offended that you come off feeling that their parenting is not enough. This is what they feel. Even if it’s true you have a right to feel the way you do. They will think that you don’t value what they taught you and it’s not good enough for your kids. Some parents may come off rash and demonstrate further why they weren’t chosen by being even more disconnected to their kids. Either way you have to find a way to take all of these things into consideration but still make the decisions for the kids at hand that matter!!

Ultimately whatever chooses you make is dependent on you and your husband and as long as you can live with the decisions, everyone else around you will have no choice but to accept it. Also even though you have not chosen the grandparents, still apply the same logic in whom you do select.

Moments of Frustration Day

Today is Moments of Frustration Day. We all have gotten frustrated or upset over something. The key is to not allow this temporary moment allow you to make permanent decisions. This means in your frustration where you are more inclined to speak out of turn, practice the art of dealing with your issues before you spew things onto others. The fallout could be more than you wanted to take on.

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Let me give you an example, a husband and wife have situation where life throws a curveball.  They are upset and frustrated. Instead of being mad and finding a solution or taking a temporary step back, they say things to one another that damage each other. They do this so often that one or both may think it was no big deal. Little do they know that one of them has reached their breaking point. So now they aren’t interesting in reconciling as if nothing happened. They aren’t willing to move past the words this time and now their marriage is in a long-term mess. Our words have life and death attached to them.

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Moment of frustration can happen over anything. It doesn’t have to be a person. It could a circumstance as well. Do not allow yourself to take that leap into negativity where you find yourself unable to get out. I know life is hard. I have had too many times when things have happened where some of the issues were out of my control and some  were a direct correlation of what I had put out into the universe. End of day, how you respond to it matters. You can’t always make an excuse and hope for forgiveness when you speak out of context or out of character. You may not always get that back in return. You can attempt to take a mental time out. This may mean walking away and addressing something later on when you have had time to cool down. This is necessary at times. Remember when you were a kid for those who had time outs?  Those were times to teach you to cool off and think about the situation at hand. Adults need them too. You need to keep your cool and not do something that can cause mental, emotional, or physical harm to themselves or others around you. Think in the moments of frustration if you would be okay after you have calmed down with the outcome of your decision.  If no, then stop! Don’t keep talking. Don’t keep pushing. Don’t keep the same response that will dig you further and further into potential trouble.

If you find that in moments of frustration you have crossed the line, ask for forgiveness. Find ways to eliminate the crossing of the line to begin with. For instance if something is being said or done that is triggering me, I am more prone to ask for a few minutes. I am an arguer by nature. However some arguments and hitting below the belt I find is not worth the pain and the apologies later. So I work on what I need in those active moments.  I hope you can do the same.

 

Counseling Days

I know I am going to say a few things that may come off of a few folks.  Whenever it rains it makes me pull out my journals.  I have been in counseling on and off for a few years. So when rainy days it takes me back to that moment. I believe in counseling by licensed counselor.  I am not all for folks running to everyone with their issues.  The reason is everyone don’t have the license and mindset to rightly divide where a person is.  So it’s not that you can’t run to a friend, or a pastor but you just got to be careful.  I do love licensed pastors because they can be a jewel to the community having the spiritual understanding with the licenses can be super helpful. So for some they get so upset the second you say don’t run to the pastors. I didn’t say don’t I said be careful. It could be from my level of hurt that I am openly saying I am still working through since my old pastor tried it.  I will say is some folks will talk to you and then have their message be your life on Sunday. Some folks like to do that prayer list conversation and reality your life becomes the tea of the week.  So be careful. People are messy individuals in real life no matter what their title!

In counseling I noticed that my days that I would go in was on rainy days.  It wasn’t that many sunny days. It really could just be that during those times I noticed the rainy days because of the down place that made me go there in the first place.  I can admit that made a lot of sense.  However today’s rain made me pull a few lessons for my current life. Not that life has totally went left, but emotionally I really want to respond to those around me in the proper way even when my petty, smart assed mouth yes I said smart assed mouth is ever-present.  I really struggle with balanced my life in those regards.  I really am sweet but if pushed or provoked or I just want to let loose, I can and will and I know deep down in my heart, that life will not bring me any good down the line.  So I dusted off a few techniques so I could find the place where I needed to be.

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I was asked  in my Facebook message what reasons have I gone to counseling a few weeks ago and I acted like I hadn’t seen the message, but I seen it. I have gone initially for postpartum.  So a few years ago after the birth of my son, moving from one city to another and being a stay at home mom of 2 under 2 my life was under pressure and after almost calling the police at my fiancé at the time, I called me a counselor who saw me stat.  Ever since then I have gone for various things. If I feel triggered about something in my childhood, issues within myself, or issues with motherhood or being a wife, I stroll right down.  My last session was almost 2 years ago with a counselor in person.  I also have done some pick me up sessions with a mobile counselor meaning I call them and they say hey Toi, what’s going on how can I help.  I prefer in person counseling but it is hard to do with working full-time, and being a wife and a mother that the mobile counselor is what I rely on.  Now I don’t call every time something gets on my nerves. I only call if I feel like I am overwhelmed and reaching out to strategic friends and family who are not the cause in my head of the trigger doesn’t help, I will call my mobile therapist.  They are wonderful. Always warm, and if they are judging you it’s in their head and not out their mouths. They give you real life tips and they have been helpful to and for me.

Now growing up the general message was that you don’t share your business. I now know that is wrong information. You have to be strategic in who you share. If I am not comfortable and for me I choose male or female depending on what’s going on.  So shout out to my counselors because altogether they have been super bomb. Let me encourage a few of you who have never gone but are super on edge on if you should go.  Consider asking your insurance who to go to so it’s covered.  Watch your coins. Sometimes it ain’t free and you need to know that.  You can get services through your job at times.  Even them free 6 sessions can be the difference between bail money, suicide, a fight, or a mental meltdown.  Trust me-no shame at all.  If you know of someone in your inner circle who is getting counseling unless they tell you to give that information out to others its imperative to shut your mouth and let people be great.  I had that happen the first year that I went and someone super close to me told others how I was in counseling and taking meds at a time where I wouldn’t have shared the information with anyone.  I hadn’t even told my momma and two its super personal and set me to trigger even more. But counseling is necessary for those who need it. I honestly think that everyone can benefit going at least once.  Even the super happy folks have things inside of them that need worked out.

Benefits of Therapy

  • Having a 3rd party call you out without having a personal relationship
  • Healing whether mental or emotional healing
  • Consistent sessions give you something positive to look forward

Pitfalls of Therapy

  • Opens other wounds as you process
  • Emotionally down for about an hour after session and having to recover
  • If not taken serious or stopping too soon can make things work, so commit

The pitfalls aren’t anything that is super detrimental but needed to be said.  You may go to counseling and think you will leave skipping and jumping and that may not be the case. I have left therapy mad more times before because of the assignments given after you leave make you think.  That is what the counseling is supposed to do.  So be aware that its work.  It’s not a great high time like the movies show you.

The other day I wrote about national family day and then this week I felt like just unblocking folks, and walking in full healing I just wanted to be sure that it was for the right reason. I called my counselor and letting him/her know about it.  She was so happy about it but the reality is I have been walking in but these last steps of speaking openly about my family was super good for me even if no one else felt what I was trying to say. Not to say that no one does because I love reading your comments as well as your emails about some of the issues you may have had in your own family.  That made me feel good knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had to be tried in that area.  Also today the rain allowed me to write.  It allowed me to share with my therapist about a few things that transpired and helped me to find ways to be a help to those around me and not give into things I know will trigger me.  Also I find that a lot of techniques I end up practicing on those around me even if they don’t know I am.  But the results is the only thing I am looking for. I am looking to be the right that I want or need in my life.  I really don’t want to be a hinderance to myself and especially the ones I live with. If I am walking around mad, pissed off, yelling, testy, what will that do for anyone?  No!  So although I am not perfect I am very grateful for balance and attempting to balance me in all areas.  I am really not working towards perfection.  That perfect life for me just doesn’t exist.  However if I can balance things better than that works for me.

Shout out to all of you who like me are a work in progress and rely on therapy or ever had it to make you whole!

National Family Day

Families are wonderful to be involved in. Families don’t have to be the set parents and siblings that we think they should be.  Family dynamics change all the time. What is important for any family structure is love being in the center. Being in a family and being in close proximity is the fact that there are times when you will be irritated, hurt, or angry with a family member.   How you pick up the pieces is what defines what family means to you.

No One Wins when the Family Feuds

I have been in arguments with family members.  It’s a part of life. Not all family members mesh well. If you are blood related just because you are angry won’t change that you are family.  The issue sometimes comes from when you aren’t.  Not all step families are super welcoming.  Shoot, blood members act fun too so let’s be super clear.  Families feud. I am not just talking about a fight over who is making the mac and cheese for the holiday dinner, I am talking about the types of fighting that would make Love and Hip Hop blush.  Family members can be super messy.  It would be super nice if you’re able to dust yourself off from family spats and pick up as if none of the issues ever happened. People are left bruised and battered by family members and its hard to navigate yourself back into the fold.  The reality time is the biggest thing that you lose when family members fight. You don’t get that time back.  You could be interacting and enjoying one another’s company but a rift can be super damaging. I encourage everyone to attempt to make peace with those that you can. Be aware there are times that even with the best intentions, some folks run out of chances and distance may be the best solution. Learn to wish folks well and don’t speak ill will towards them.

Family Breaks

Some folks opt to take a break or a breather. Some opt to break away altogether and wipe their hands clean.  This is a personal decision. Kids don’t get to know members of the family and the family use the kids to bring the adults back.  There are times if we are honest that some family members are super toxic. Bringing a kid into toxicity if you can avoid it, please do.  It’s one thing to simply not deal with a Family member but to know that if you left your child in a room with a person that all that venom inside of them would spew on a child, those types of things you disconnect from.  I would personally never allow my children around any side of the family if I thought that would be the case.  Why would I as a parent set up my kids who can’t defend themselves around that?  Why would I as an adult want to be around that? If you need a break, take a break.  If you break completely than at least make sure that if you talked it out, you said all that needed to be said. If you can say to yourself I mean whomever no harm and if something happened to them you would be of a clear conscience than so be it. If you can’t there’s work to be done to hopefully reconcile. Toxic situations we should all strive to remove ourselves from them. So no you don’t go around violence, abuse, etc in the name of nobody family or not.  Let’s not ever do that!

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Marriage Anyone?

Once you get married, you leave your original family structure and become your own unit.  This doesn’t wait until kids are in the midst.  A husband and wife are their own family now.  As tight as a family can be, if you are getting married be prepared to leave your original and cleave to your spouse, this is your new family. You will always be connected to both of your original family but you shouldn’t be at the point where you can’t find health boundaries in how you interact. Marriages have been in shambles because if the original family has the presence made known in the couple’s lives and then dictates their every move, animosity sets in. You should be able to do things as your new structure like vacation, go on date nights, have fun between both sets of family members etc without your original family having to sign off.  I know of couples who were lets say for argument’s sake, the bride only deals with the brides’ side. This is not cool.  Find a way to fuse both sides.  Start your marriage where the couple make decisions together and find ways of agreeing and learn to keep family as a focus but keep them out of your union.  This means stop running your mouth every time something happens and then get mad when the family is mad at your spouse. Your husband shouldn’t feel like you still need your parents or family to agree on decisions and vice versa. You married into, you didn’t marry the individual bonus members of each other’s new family. Make sure your marriage is strong and have fun and do things with each side. No one side should dominate anything. If you aren’t mature to do that, I would advise not getting married.

Now What? Framily?

If you say, but ToiTime I took a break, I walked away from some folks, I keep folks out of my business but continued to enjoy the ones that were willing, but there is a void and I need it filled and my family is just too much.  I would say, look in your inner circle. I always believe we truly do not lose, there is fulfillment with framily. Framily are friends who become family. This doesn’t mean you don’t have family. This doesn’t mean you do more for your friends than your family. The flip to that is too, family will say you are doing too much for your framily but forget the times they weren’t there and a friend had to step in.  This is so real! I have had friends jump quicker than my family members.  This didn’t take away from my family, it meant that who was supposed to be there for me at that time. If there is a pattern of family not being involved, a conversation needs to be had. I would say, if a family member is mad at a friend for stepping in, to the family member ask yourself how often have you stepped in.  Even if the family member in question shuts you out, how often did you pick up the phone, check in, etc?  I was always taught than regardless of how another person acts that you have to be willing to try. So for me that means, I will call when no one answers. I have sent cards to family members and never got a thank you. I sent gifts and never got a thank you, but my heart is clear knowing one I didn’t do it for the recognition and two I have done all I could and if they are okay with doing nothing on their side, I am okay waiting for them to reach out and my reach may temporarily stop.

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Family I don’t Deal with

Even with all of this wisdom basically from being burned by folks over the years, having my family aka my parents teach me how to handle bad situations there are still family members that I haven’t seen, talked to, or associated with in years.  I will never go into the why especially on an open forum. Regardless of what may have said or done I only can own my part in it and say that anything said I meant and I take full responsibility for my actions.  I take full responsibility because I can never blame a person for what came out of my mouth or what was done.  I don’t live my life waiting to play the blame game.  Those situations were unfortunate but it revealed things about me mostly.  It revealed how easily upset I was.  It revealed parts about things that I thought I had healed and discovered I wasn’t truly healed. So it allowed me to go back into counseling to deal with them.  Its been enough years that whatever sting or grudge I carried and carried it well then is NO LONGER an issue now.  The distance and quietness and simply my own refusal to be apart of the equation was what I needed. It had nothing to do with being mad.  I never want to give anyone the opportunity to ruffle me to the point where I am not in control of my own emotions and responses. However what I am learning is that removing myself and dealing with only me allowed me peace and it made me deal with the negative things that the very family members brought up.  There was truth to the things said so I owned it.  There was lies and misjudgments too. Now that I have owned it no one can roll up and say “but you aint..”My response would be simply, you were right on a few things but now I am good should I ever see them again.  Will I ever see them?  I am sure I will! Am I looking for an apology? Nope I gave myself permission to forgive them and me without getting one.  I dropped the charges at least a year after the big blow up.  Should I have done it sooner? Maybe but I wasn’t ready!  I needed that time to live in that and it forever changed how I operate as a person.

The Incredible Storr 5

What I love about my little family now is that we apologize.  Especially my husband and I towards each other, and with and to our kids. I learned a lot from them as a whole. We get to see the good and the bad sides of each other but we also see each other daily striving to be our best version.  There are a lot of people who would love my portion and I am grateful everyday that we wake up together and get to try to get it right!

My husband and I come from good families.  They aren’t perfect either but we have made up in our house that we will always be a family that keeps the drama to a bare minimal, we keep space in our home and keep peace, we allow our kids to be around same like-minded families, we have fun, we serve and love God, and we try our best even when it looks like we are failing to get it right!  We will always protect the 5 in that home at all cost and that’s from a mental, emotional, and physical standpoint. I have seen my husband take stands with others concerning me and I do the same for him.  And you can pretty much forget it if you think the 3 littles in our home will be in the middle of some mess.  Like Jay’Z said:

“And I don´t have to worry, only worry is him
She do anything necessary for him
And I do anything necessary for her
So don´t let the necessary occur, yep!”

jayz

Ask Toi: How do I deal with my Parents thinking I’m not following old school parenting with my own kids?!

This is multilayered. This could have come up if you’re making comments about new school parenting is better. It can come up if you do something that an old school parent thinks is too new school. It could come up if you ask for advice from old school parent but then do the opposite.

Depending on when it comes up is how you proceed. There’s no doubt that old school parents believe and hold to their old school values. That can be from diapering to discipline. So if you are stating how better the new school way is better often times old school parents hear “you think you’re a better parent,” or they hear, “you think my ways are wrong.”

If the argument of who is better comes up during a time when the new school parent does something in front of an old school parent that could mess with the new school parent and you think you’re not good enough. You may feel pressure for approval and it can mess you up if you aren’t feeling it. If you ever ask an old school parent advice and then don’t take it, it could come off as a “why you ask?!” This is probably the most irritating interactions.

So here’s the thing:

1. Parenting is subjective: you won’t ever get to the point where you feel 100% feel that you are quite finding your rhythm and old school parents are super high fiving you! It would be nice but not everyone has that happy mesh.

2. Old school and new old school ways are within you. You will fuse them but only how much depends on you.

3. Try not to take everything said to heart. Between your own parents and finding your way and the world with their long laundry list of to dos and not to do it will be hard to find your actual way. It’s okay!

4. Trust your instinct-this is hard but necessary

When I had my first child she was born 6 weeks early and had to stay a few days in the NICU. I was fortunate that it wasn’t a longer stay. I relied on my own mother to guide me. She gave me basic parenting skills. However my child had a lot of health issues therefore I had to rely on the doctors for a lot that first couple of years. Probably more than I would have all things considered. A lot of folks was knocking me for it. I trusted my instinct, and did some give and take with those around me. I pushed through! You’re not choosing one side over the over. You’re choosing what you need to feel successful in parenting. Also it’s okay that old school won’t agree. Parenting comes with thick skin. Take things with a grain of salt. No the things that our parents did when we were younger will work now, times have changed but what’s the same is wanting better for your child, keeping them safe and healthy, and working hard to provide. Be gentle with yourself but stand strong in your decisions.

Father’s Day Pain

As we approach Fathers Day we must talk about the pain of the day. There are a lot of amazing fathers that have passed away. It makes days about honoring a father hard just like it was for Mother’s Day. It’s unbearable feeling for many. The pain of the day has to be talked about because it’s unsettling and real.

Absentee Father

Unfortunately the way life is set up it makes it easier for men to be absentee fathers. Like the old folks would say mamas baby, fathers maybe! This is the time to note that not all men run from their responsibilities. There are some outstanding men who not only honor themselves and their children but some men who are stand up men and father and raise children who are not theirs biologically. Kudos to you wonderful men and we will be celebrating you all week. However there are children who regardless of having male influences in their lives or having a mother who attempts to play both roles still need and long for their fathers love, admiration, and respect.

I don’t know why a man would leave. I can’t answer for men in that regard but I can answer for the children who are stuck between this adult world and child life. Normally there is never an explanation. They have no choice to rely on what they are being told. Depends on their mother if they are told the real story without bias. I hear men saying well that child is being tainted by their mother. You are right to a point except often times when the father leaves it opens the door. Let’s not act like there are mothers who use their kids as pawns. You can open your local paper and read how some kids are even being murdered because the father won’t comply to the mother’s demands. We know it exists. However a child can’t understand and as that child gets older they will continue to see the absence of the father as something that is about them. The child thinks I’m not good enough! Kids need both parents!

Fathers raising other families

This could mean that the original set of parents have broken up, the father has left, etc and instead of that man keeping and maintaining a relationship with his kids, he leaves and starts a whole new family. This is the ultimate disrespect to a child. What was it about that new family that made it okay for you to leave and never look back. No calls on birthdays. No time spent on holidays. Nothing. But a new life with a new family and the father that your child longs for is now being done elsewhere. It’s heart breaking. Even grown kids feel a sense of pain.

Single moms as fathers

I will say this and I know a small amount of folks will get mad. Kudos to the single moms doing all the work. You are not mom and dad you are mom doing it alone. Your child may respect the hustle but they still want their father. You can give a child everything but it will never erase the void of that father. The child can even live a settled life but hear me clearly my sister, your child will still want their dad. It’s hard. The pain of trying to make sure that child doesn’t miss a beat only to think your child is not affected by the absence of that father is setting yourself up.

Salute to my single mothers. You get a bad rap! There are a million reasons why you are single and raising a child or children alone. You have the world on your shoulder and you’re doing the best you can! My hat off to you but do understand your child needs their dad. You might try all you can to get the father to participate and he won’t. You can’t make him! Love on your child but do understand how your child feels. I heard a mom tell her child “you don’t need that fake ass father of yours. I’m all you got.” I understood the pain. I get it! That’s how you feel when that father makes promises and leaves you with the pain from that child and the pain you feel everyday with no help! That child even if he or she understand will still want their dad. It’s natural. Thus the pain on the day!

What can fathers who have placed pain do?

Attempt to be there! Apologize and show up. I would rather know my dad cane and tried and was stopped than to think he just knew I existed and just kept living a life as if I was never apart of it. If you have a child then do right by that child. Do not tell me that the mother of your child makes it hard so you stopped only at her. Yes the courts do make it easier for women then men but if you stop at that you are to blame. Does it cost? Yes! But stop at nothing to be apart of that child’s life. There are organizations that assist men in being in their kids life. If you can google the little dumb stuff that we all google, google information to assist in being involved. Any reasons you try to give me will never be acceptable not to me but to your child. End of the day that child is the one losing.

As we continue to celebrate Father’s Day we will talk about all of the pain associated around the day. We will hit it strong and make sure we balance the pain along with the joys of being a father. I know how being loved on by your father and how that love pushes you through relationships or even with your own kids.