Protect your Spirit

Happy Monday to you.  Happy I am just making it Monday.  Happy I am alive Monday. Whatever your Monday looks like to you, make it that and rise above it.  Yes the weekend has left some of us dry.  If it wasn’t the news that is constantly being pushed in our faces, to relationships, situationships, kids, jobs, etc you may be at wit’s end.

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So we all know that we need to protect our spirit.  Your spirit is your essence.  It’s your wits.  It’s you in a nut shell. I know there are many times when I have to take a time out. I give my kids one and have no shame in taking one.  You need to protect your essence. All of life’s drama can take the beauty out of you if you let it.  Today I am even more guarded to keep being informed but to filter some of the junk to avoid getting too overly emotional or let things take me out of my element.

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Life is hard but cover yourself today and everyday.  Cover your children who don’t fully understand but are in the presence of the same junk you are touched with.  Never underestimate that they are able to pick up on negative vibes just as much as you do. Protect what they see and hear.  Protect who they are around.  Who you allow your kids to be around speaks volumes as they take on what on who is around them.  Protect what words you say around them as well.  Words have life and death in them and you have to be careful that the tearing down isn’t occurring in-house.  We are worried about the outsiders but truth be told you can cause more damage in house than you will ever know if you aren’t careful.

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Filter what you take on when it comes to social media. I love social media but the down size is that it doesn’t always allow you to be social.  It can become battle grounds.  It can become warfare. It can zap your energy.  It can take up so much of your time.  It can allow you to not be able to disengage with those around you.  It is a choice and you must make good choices on what you entertain on social media.  Everything isn’t worth a response. Everything doesn’t need a clap back.  You have to clean your social media act up. Delete some accounts you don’t need.  Take a few folks off that you allow to get you all up in arms.  Learn to take a step back with who you call friends on your social media accounts.  Never post anything you don’t stand by 100% and be prepared to live with any backlash.  Learn that some things that inspire you may just be for you.  Learn that you can choose to spread hate or love.  Love on yourself.  Practice self-love everyday.  Mental illness is real and it can be elevated by social media because when the mind is weak it allows the defenses of everything to be low.  Be careful.  Speak life today.  Speak life into your situations and find ways to make your bottom line better.  Reach out to help others when your able.  It’s no different from when you’re on a plane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on you first.  Same rule applies in life, stop handing out all of your resources to others and leave yourself depleted.  Help you than you can help someone else.  Have a great Monday and practice self love and love on others around you.

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 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….

Jayz 4:44

So you know you heard about it. The new anticipated album of Jayz has hit and so have all of the reviews. So I’m not about to analyze every song and their meaning. However let’s get to the grit of what all the hoopla is about. 

Did Jayz cheat on Beyoncé?

He said he did. He was clear in his lyrics. I know some has speculated that both of them used a made up situation to make money and exploit but let’s just be real, what man is going to out himself and bring his kids in the middle of it? He mentions his daughter Blue and all of that to sell records? I didn’t get the whole let’s make money vibe from the album at all. 

I felt like it was a man who couldn’t deny that he had been cheating on Beyoncé and especially after the infamous Lemonade that Bey spilled. Now let’s be clear Beyoncé isn’t the first woman to be cheated on nor will she be the last. The premise is that with Beyoncé how could anyone do this?! Simple, no matter who you are, life happens.  Money and power doesn’t excuse life from coming at you. If anything it makes life that much more complicated.

So is Jayz the best man in the world or the worst? I say no. Just because he came clean in his music I’m quite sure he had a lot of redemption behind the scenes. Now I am not judging Bey but let’s be clear her reasons to stay were of her own. She can’t change what Jayz did. His cheating regardless of his reasons are all his own. A woman staying past many miscarriages and cheating is a lot. Her being Queen Bey will never as a woman put what happened under a light eye. No woman wants to be cheated on. We don’t ask for it. We don’t. However when a woman stays that says more about her. I know I’m a Beyoncé fan, but truth is truth. 

So yes it promoted me after hearing 4:44 to re-listen to Lemonade once again. I heard the pain in her voice. I heard it the first time and said without knowing that this album wasn’t simply about her mother’s divorce. So let’s talk about marriage. I’m not about to drag Beyoncé on what she should have done in HER marriage. It’s hers. Marriage is never perfect.  I don’t have one and we are coming up to 5 years next month. My parents have been married over 20 years and don’t have one either. What someone puts up with in their marriage is up to them. It can be talked about and judged but until you walk in a person’s shoes than you will never get it. What I pray is that Beyoncé and Jayz are doing what works for them and their now 3 kids. 

The least that we can do is listen to two people tell their truth in song. If they sell records and they have and will that’s what artist do. I don’t think it makes what they are saying any less truth because of it. Artist of all types pour their souls into their artistry. So just sip, gather the tea, resip some more and than the biggest part, work on your own life. Jayz brought up investing, keeping wealth in your family and taking care of home. Apply all of that. It’s not as if the universe, your mom, blogs, and just about everywhere hasn’t been pushing that message. It’s the reason we got more go fund me accounts for funerals than life insurance. We got more fake ballers than millionaires. The reason we take more stances in what Bey and Jayz are doing than our own lives. Learn to watch while still doing. Did you kiss your own mate? Or did you walk out the house with bitterness and neglected to kiss your own love but you knew the exact moment the Carter’s kissed and paparazzi got the shot? They are married and married folks kiss-no big thing right?! See I love to watch others too but I try with the best intentions to build in my own house more.  

So yes he cheated. She stayed. She lost a few babies along the way. It’s their journey together. Work on yours. If you are or have been cheated on what did you do? What are you doing in your relationships to be more open? Do you have your financial house in order single or married? How’s your credit? What debt will you leave behind? Did you drink water today? Did you work out? Did you? Sip and do. 

Ask Toi: What should I do if someone from my past or new love interest knocks and I’m already connected?!

If you’re already connected and the interested person doesn’t know you need to tell them. If they know but still pushing up than know they just like the chase and want to see if you will take the bait.

As an adult it’s your choice who you are with period. This means even if you just want a one night or one time physical relationship as an adult it’s up to you. Not everyone wants a commitment but be true to yourself. Don’t say you don’t want a commitment in hopes that you can later change a person’s mind. 

If you are already connected either by dating or marriage than you know that the answer is a no for now. With that being said it’s best to thank the person for the interest and move along. In a dating situation boundaries need to be made. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you don’t have anything to entertain another person.  If you’re married the boundary was made on your wedding day and you end it. 

The past is the past. It can be a beautiful reminder of what was but it takes a lot to dig the past up, revive it and make it work. Ask anyone including me how much work it takes to date someone from your past.  It’s not super easy.  It’s never a good idea to open the door to a past or new interest because if you do it says more about you than the person knocking. People don’t realize that a person who will cheat or entertain someone else but expect loyalty from the person they were originally connected to shows they have NO loyalty at all. You want what you can’t or won’t give. This goes for men and women. So if you’re connected say thanks, nice talking to you, and seal the door of communication. 

Let me guess you can handle it right? Wrong. You start catching up. Then you exchange emails at first, then phone numbers, than social media and now you can’t get this person off your mind.  You absolutely not giving the person you were connected to any of your valuable time because your sharing space with someone else. Now if your just dating and no commitment with anyone than that’s your right. However don’t mess over another individual while taking space with another while connected or committed to a person. You might lose on both relationships. 

When Basics are Celebrated

Please do not get me wrong.  I think anyone doing anything positive is good news.  I love that people are attempting to move past the backward thinking that has seemed to take this world over.  However, can we just be real for about a few seconds?  When basic behavior is like the best thing since sliced bread than we have a problem.

You are in a dating situation the man of your dreams is wining and dining you and pulls your chair out, etc now you are like see my man loves me?  I don’t doubt he does.  In a world where men and no not all men are too busy getting caught up in the negative things, playing video games and no job, making babies with no responsibility this could seem like a breath of fresh air.  However the issue isn’t in the mere manners, it needs to be our own personal standards that have gone on a decline. Even when I dated the most thugs of boyfriends they pulled my chair out.  It was the way I carried myself that lead them to know from the gate that if they never pull a dime like myself they was going to step it ALL the up.  So opening up doors is normal for me during my dating processes. Opening doors was basic.  It wasn’t because I carried myself in a stuck up way, I didn’t I was laid back but my mere demeanor said hey buddy, this is going to be a classy outing. Now this didn’t always mean I was at 5 star restaurants all the time either.  I could go to a night of dancing in the hole in the wall but still be treated like I wasn’t living in the hole of the wall.  I set the standard!

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If you are married and your husband is super caring, we uplift them. We start labeling relationship goals right off the bat because a husband kissed their wife.  Okay I get there are sexless and boring marriages (all by choice) but a simple kiss even a romantic passionate one making relationship goals only means that there are a lot of married couples who do not enjoy the union they are in. Kisses are done simply at the altar or union as a seal of commitment.  So….yeah we have got to raise the standard.  I had a conversation with my own husband and we acknowledged the highs and lows of our relationship and how outside things and distractions are often celebrated when we lack the self-sufficiency to love on each other and ourselves in the way it should be.  A husband who simply comes home is celebrated as if he isn’t supposed to return home after his outside of the home obligations are done.  He is celebrated and the phrase, “well at least he’s not cheating” comes into play. Like is he supposed to be cheating?  I know cheating is big but let’s not give more respect to the cheater than the faithful?  We live in a messed up world.  The only way to make the world smaller is to learn to leave the outside world OUTSIDE. Spend more time making YOUR world what YOU want it to be.

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If you are married and have kids and your husband doesn’t lift the finger to assist you with the kids some of it on you because you won’t speak up and other reasons is because he doesn’t think he should, I hear well at least he’s in the home.  So many men are locked up or leave after they make the babies.  This is true.  However him being in the home still living like an absentee father is even more crazy.  You do know they exist.  They are simply bodies but they don’t do a thing but get the greatest father in the world book just because they stayed.  Um, if you have a baby and make a baby it is YOUR responsibility to be there, provide, and dare I say interact and assist in the raising of that child.  It is simply not okay to come in the home, say hi, watch tv and send the child to bed and think you have arrived in parenting.  NO you need to be a force in the home.  You need to be helping with whatever it takes to make sure you have healthy, loved and supported children.  Ladies, if you have a man who is simply there don’t expect it.  Also speak up and don’t berate him because he doesn’t do things like you do either.  It’s give and take once ALL parties pay their part.

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I believe in rewarding kids but kids are supposed to do good things if they are influenced in the right way.  For instance every time your child does something he/she will NOT always be rewarded.  Teaching integrity means that at some point they learn to do the right thing simply because it’s right and not because someone is watching them or will give them something.  This is why some kids feel a sense of entitlement because you love your little love muffin and use rewards for everything.  Reward systems are awesome.  It can be used to motivate but should not be in the place of all parenting techniques. These little angels grow up and think the world owes them something and you and I both know that really isn’t how it works.

Like I have always pushed, balance is key.  Never do more on one side over another. I know this whole not wanting to be “basic” is a thing but the reality is there are times when going back to the old landmark really does still work.  The standard you set in your life and how you work through it should still be set by a measurement.  If a person is worth your time they will know what your standard is.  That is why some people go ga ga over things like good sex.  Is sex supposed to be bad?  Yes there are some sexual partners that don’t always do it right off the bat and you have to set the standard even in that on what you will accept or not.  However some folks get one strong sexual partner and will throw caution to the wind over some wet sheets and weak knees.  It’s like having a stack of cards and as long as one suit is good, you don’t pay any attention to anything else.  Set the standard.  Know you are worth to be treated the way you want and make no excuse for it.  In time once your basic needs are met the other items will line up because you are looking through balanced eyes.

The Mirage is really A smoke Screen

People, good people, good morning.  Listen let’s have a serious talk about what appears to be and what is.  We ALL have put out into the atmosphere our very best self.  We post the best pics out of the 100 we took.  We use filters because let’s face it they are pretty. However there is one thing that we all need to be reminded.  Everything that glitters isn’t gold.  This isn’t the first time we have heard it but let’s talk about it some more.

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We get caught up in the ideas about of what people put out. Some people post about solid marriages and have the most flakiest ones.  Being real is about being loud and yelling instead of just being honest and transparent.  Just because you yell you keeping it real doesn’t mean you are.  That’s a free nugget of wisdom for someone.  People struggle. Relationships and marriages struggle.  People don’t air out their dirty laundry or rather they shouldn’t.  We base our lives off of others and do less work on our own.  If you see a woman get flowers, you go home and complain you aren’t getting them.  However you haven’t expressed you wanted them before.  You don’t go and get them yourself because you enjoy them.  You are waiting, hoping that the man you are with will finally take this initiative and do and missing out on the love you really do and can give yourself.  You realize that if that love won’t measure up and you practice self-love, nature will separate you from what you don’t need to be with.  Again another freebie for you.

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Please learn to take some stock in YOUR life.  I give great advice but I try to eat and nibble on it before I give it.  I hold myself accountable.  For instance let me give you some realness.  I was having the worst anxiety attack.  I didn’t want to go to an event because I knew some of the people there I don’t vibe with.  I had to be reminded that its more than talk, I will NEVER vibe well with them.  I can’t live with brakes on.  SO I got dressed and made it happen.  I wanted to be in my defeated world and just go to bed.  I ended up having an amazing time.  The point is simple, it’s about getting past the hiccups with action and not just lip service.

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We have to get past our favorites smoke screens.  I love LL Cool J and Morris Chestnut and both are married.  Like my marriage there are days even with all of their fineness that their wives are ready to trip them because of something they did or didn’t do.  No different from my own marriage. I have friends who I look up to but when they close their doors they have things they are working out in their lives.  So you have to understand that and learn to live life on your own terms.  A lot of people selling this message of love your spouse, or job or life to the fullest don’t always mean they receive it or live it everyday.  Be careful who you put your highest stock on.  Everyone on your pedalstool will disappoint you if you don’t keep things into perspective.  No different from when the report of  America’s sweetheart Jesse Williams called it quits with his wife.  Everyone like lawd if they can’t make it what we gon do?  You gon get over it and make your marriage work.  You need to use the information to make yours solid.  Love harder, listen more, don’t take things for granted, etc  That’s what you do instead of attributing everything good and going into doom and gloom when it doesn’t add up.

Live your OWN best life!!