What I love about Thanksgiving

This is not a drill. We are exactly one week away. I can’t wait. I love to eat. I love Thanksgiving for a few reasons. A lot of them has to do with how people act. It’s like the one time of the year for the most part that others around you lay their issues down. Now I know some folks turn up and like to ruin the day, but the folks and family I am around these last few years especially come together and celebrate what it’s all about.

We generally have no rules for Thanksgiving. We usually go to our uncle’s house where he graciously does all the cooking. I usually still cook my own meal at home too. Got to have more food for later in the week. Nothing is better than Thanksgiving food days later. We also started a new tradition where we go to the movies the day off too. I love it because it’s not crowded and we can see what’s coming out for the rest of the holiday season too. Also its about coming together and relaxing and enjoying one another’s companies. It’s a time to catch up before Christmas comes. I love it. I love to sip my wine pretty much all day. Thanks to my husband for being that designated driver because by end of the night we always end with a final glass together. It’s our way to tell each other how thankful we are for what we have. Its our own couple’s tradition. We  have a lot to be grateful for.

I love the traditional food. You know turkey, mac and cheese, greens, etc. However the only thing I don’t like is the struggle plates folks want to post. We all eating generally the same thing. No one’s plate looks great. It is a plate with every piece of food that could fit on plate number 1. I don’t post my plates and try my best to scroll past the other plates that day. I love how happy everyone is. I love how people give the best hugs that they must have been saving all year because hugs just feel warmer this day. I love watching my kids interact with family and how happy they are.  I love seeing my grandpa do his yearly dance and all of the kids try to teach him the newest and latest moves. I record it every year. I know eventually it will be a memory that we will hold on to. I love calling my family and hearing about what they are doing. We generally stay in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving so I call the Lancaster family or FaceTime them .  It’s always good to check on them and to see how much potato salad my mom made. I love talking to my friends and checking in on them. We have one set of friends this year who will be parents. So baby watch is in full effect. I love waking up to the smells of the kitchen.  The only thing about the holidays that we miss is my Mother in Law, Deborah, my great grand parents, Beverly and Olivia Sims, and my maternal grandfather Fred McGinnis. I always wake up and remember them on these big holidays. I wonder what they would be doing if they were. I know their memory will live on.

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I hope that as you prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving that you remember what it’s about. That you take in the moments that you can. That you remember how grateful you should be on that day and everyday. I hope that you will have a great Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. I hope that it’s not ruined by anyone. If you know you are bound to cause issues don’t go to someone else’s home starting stuff. Stay home. Thanksgiving isn’t the arena to air out differences. It’s a time to come together. Go to those you need to make it right with, and do it before the dinner. Don’t come to the dinner table ready to start the mess that could have been worked out before the day. Work it out or find another home by which you can have a good time. Drama and holidays don’t have to mix. Also to some of my friends who I know the holidays trigger you, you don’t have to be the one to start issues to not go to a function that will further trigger you. I would rather you do a Friendsgiving than a family one if the family one is going to make you all kinds of upset. I don’t spend my time holidays or not around folks that I feel I can’t get along with. Life is too short to spend it with miserable people.

Also I know some deal with anxiety of getting together with others. I would try to take someone with you if you can. Also if there is a family member you get along with more, stay around them until you get comfortable. Especially if you haven’t seen others in quite some time. Be prepared for the 3rd degree. Those family members that’s asking others a thousand questions, leave folks alone. It’s no ones business why they aint married or have kids yet, worry about your own mate and kids. These types of situations make it hard for some folks to be around your nosey behind. Eat your turkey in peace and leave other folks lives alone.

Let folks come and enjoy their time together. That is what I love, the coming together without the issues. Eat and have a good time-sharing your gratefulness!

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Fusing Friendships

One of the biggest challenges when I moved to Philly years ago was leaving what I was comfortable being around. I was used to my set of friends. I was used to my town. I knew how to get everywhere. Lancaster was small enough for me to navigate my life and it was fine. Fast forward to getting engaged to my husband and I knew that I would have to move. In the beginning I was excited to start this new life but I didn’t think about the challenges.  The biggest challenge was friends and wanting to have my own sense of community like I had in Lancaster. As much as people want to leave Lancaster, one of the biggest things about leaving that you can’t deny is community.

Friend Factor

Being that I was comfortable with my friends, I never thought about what would happen when I moved. I didn’t invite anyone to visit me in Philadelphia. I always just went back to Lancaster. Lancaster is home. It feels right. I can go back today and fit right in with zero issues. Friendships matter to me. Having a core set of friends even if they aren’t from Lancaster has always been my saving grace. When I was single and not attached I could take a trip and have girl time with any of them. My biggest hurdle was being pregnant with a toddler in a city I had NO friends in.  At first I focused on making sure my toddler was secure. I made that my number one priority. Then making sure the new baby I was carrying was safe and healthy.  Then I would go back and forth traveling either pregnant, or with a toddler and newborn baby.  When I think about it now there needed to be balance in that. No way should I have made that into one sided trips. Anyone who follows my blogs know the reason I kept going to Lancaster was my refusal to be in Philadelphia and attempt to make things happen.

Fusing Friends

The issue I have less now of but definitely more when I first moved was when my husband wanted me to fuse relationships with his friends. He never asked me to but he would tell me to be open to relationships. My response was so super negative and I wasn’t able to take his advice at face value. Even now some of his friends wives who I think are completely awesome I don’t see myself getting as close to. I never wanted to have my friends to only be an extension of him. Meaning I didn’t want to get in a situation where his friends or their significant others felt obligated to be nice to me out of respect for him. I don’t keep friends like that. I only and always ask for respect and I give it.  I do not expect people to extend themselves to me to save face.  So even know I have met a great level of friends through him but I refuse to force myself on any of them. It’s hard for me at times to push past anxiety.

When I do often times I find folks aren’t as receptive.  Let me give an example. I reached out to one via text. I still have yet to hear back. Like not for nothing I’m in a better place. Petty Toi would be super stank when I see her in the future but why?! Now when I see the same person (s), it’s always hey let’s get together. To my husband he thinks they are being nice. To what actually happens is after a few text messages, the real of let’s get together to be nice in public and the real of let’s get together in real life don’t match. I am the person that will take you at what your action says over what you say to save face.  This isn’t to say they are fake or they don’t like me. It’s the fact that this is the real of what happens when you come into someone else’s circle. It takes time to build a relationship or if you are honest, as a wife no one is obligated to be friends with me just because they are friends with him.  Having my husband be the only thing in common isn’t enough to fuse a relationship. This thought process takes growth.

So anyone who has ever dealt with social anxiety knows it takes a large level of bravery to put yourself out to others. The Toi that I was when I first moved here was a lot more cut throat than I am now. I have completely softened but not to the point of stupidity. Back in the day when I needed to feel apart I was more hurt and out of that hurt I would cut a person off. Now I don’t worry about vibes that don’t return to me. I get that I am coming into already long lasting relationships and for that I don’t get moved as much.  I don’t over extend myself to people. There is a fine line between hey girl, and feeling like after 4-5 attempts and not getting the message. We all have lives. I am married. I have 3 kids. I blog. I work a full and a part time job. I am not looking for someone to be an instant bestie.

Here are my tips when you struggle to make new friends in an established group:

  • Be yourself
  • Always be cordial
  • Attempt to make yourself a friend
  • Don’t get caught up when the friendly relationship is only when you see certain folks
  • Look to find your own friends by getting out in social events
  • Do not feel obligated to overextend yourself to others if they show you who they are-believe them
  • Don’t take things personal
  • Work on you this will bring others that are supposed to be around you
  • Remember you are awesome

Be gentle with yourself as you fuse into a new life, new city, etc

It’s hard to figure out the life balance. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

Know that you will get better as you practice self care, take risks, put yourself out to be a friend, etc

It’s not the number of friends you have but the ones who are super solid! They outweigh having large entourages any day.

Shout out to my friends new and old who are all around awesome!! You have made this transition in your own way, better.

Keep your Thanksgiving Wits

So this is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that the grocery stores will be super crowded. So take your patience with you as you travel out. Between stores and traffic it will be a testing time.

Prepare for the holidays with more than what you will eat. Think about who you will invite and if you can find it in your heart to give towards others who may not be as fortunate. Think about ways you and your family can assist others either by donating food to food banks, volunteering to serve meals to others on Thanksgiving morning, or finding a family to sponsor. Either way let’s open our hearts to one another.

Another way to get ready for the holidays when going to the grocery store is to go with a list. I would attempt to get all that you need and treat it as if it was the day. This will help you to make those trips and you may find it may take more than one.  You will always need extra milk, eggs, and butter. So stack up early. I for one know that I need to get the list going so I don’t forget the key items. Thanksgiving eve is not the time to go to the store. All of the last-minute folks will be on super edge. Avoid them if you can.

chicken close up dish food

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Also think if you are doing a fancy seating chart, how you want things decorated and who will sit where. Also don’t forget about the kids. It’s best to have activities to keep the littles occupied.  This will save from the necessary meltdowns. If you are having dinner at a specific time and you know you are the late type person, have appetizers for others to enjoy while they wait. It’s super annoying to go to someone’s house, arrive on time, and they still making key dishes and they have ZERO snacks. Think about your guest and have good appetizers as well as great drinks.  Trust me you will be the hostess with the mostest if you have the necessary food in place.

If you can’t cook let me stress this isn’t the time to train. You should have been practicing all year-long but not today. Today is the day you stick to the things you do well. Maybe that means you should bring the wine.  Either way don’t be out here telling folks you got a speciality dish and your food ain’t hitting. I don’t know about you but the way my family is set up, you getting clowned. Stick to what you know and stick to the basics. If you have kids also bring them extra activities. Not all host will keep your children entertained although they should if they invited guests with kids. Even with our kids being a little older, we come prepared with extra outfits, entertainment, and we have a code word if we think things are getting out of hand. We have a code word between my husband and I for everywhere that we go. We use this word if one of us is ready to go or something is happening that is too much. This has been our saving grace.

If you go to someone’s home bring something. I always try to bring something. Like the times we go to my mom’s house. I bring a dessert, something. I have 5 folks in my home. There’s no way I am coming to someone’s home squad deep with nothing in my hand. Unless the person insists, bring a dish. Or even bring a bottle to share. That is always a gift. If the person of whom you are going doesn’t drink, make a non alcoholic drink that is festive to share. There are ways around no alcohol. Get on Pintrest, online, anything and make it special.

bowl of red round fruits

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Think about what you are going to wear. Some people wing it and that is fine, but if you want to be dressed up, make sure you have your outfit together. My uncle doesn’t require fancy attire so unless I get the kids Thanksgiving shirts, I just stick to being comfortable.  If your gathering is requiring more formal affair, be cute and comfy. Do not over do it and especially with kids. They are going to get dirty. They are going to play. They do not ever care about dressed and dress shoes. So go into the situation knowing that and always bring a back up outfit for them so when the pictures are done being taken you can move along and enjoy your day!

Above all be grateful for what you have. Think about the day and what it is all about. More than prepping food, it is about making sure that you spend it with those you love. It’s about being grateful for all advancements that we have. It’s about sitting around the table enjoying one another’s company. So enjoy as you prepare it doesn’t have to be filled with stress! Don’t forget to call your loved ones who couldn’t be with you on the day as well and tell them you love them!

Monday Motivation: Mario Kart Life

Today is a day like any day to make the best out of our situations. Let’s not front and act as if everyone woke up with their affairs in order. You might have gotten up this morning with stress on your heart and feeling overwhelmed. I sympathize with you. I want you to know that no matter what’s going on in your life, mind, or heart we have to press through. There may not be someone to come and save you but don’t have to let your situation overtake you.

I know you’re saying that it may be easy for me to say but it’s not. Most days lately have been pure crazy. If I could touch on the things you would be like wow. I know that life happens to all of us. I know that even with crazy life circumstances, what will pull me through is resetting myself daily. It’s going to take me being in charge of what I entertain in my mind and who I allow around me. Your thoughts matter. It’s the first line of defense in how you continue in your day. If all you speak is negativity and worry that’s all you look to see. Even in bad situations I’m like what’s the lesson and where is the good that can come out of this. I know I’ve been in worst situations and I know some how I’ve come out. That’s the reassurance that motivates me to wake up and intentionally push.

Some mornings especially in this holiday season I can feel grieve and sadness around me. So I do what I need to do for me to push out of it. Prayer is how I start, music and speaking to my children is also how I push through. Sometimes journaling. Whatever you need, grab it while your situations work themselves out. Take care of you while life happens. The worst thing you can do is fall apart and while life is happening to you. The stress of life is going to be there. Losing your mind or losing yourself is not worth it.

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime

Photo by Rodrigo on Pexels.com

Take Monday by the horns and have a great day on purpose. You ever play Mario Kart?  In the game all kinds of objects are being thrown. The objective is to dodge the objectives and keep going. Sometimes life is like that. I think about that when I am driving in Philly and trying to avoid the potholes. Life is like that sometimes. You have everything being thrown to you at one time only to find that some you miss and others you don’t. The objective is to keep going and win. It didn’t say it would be easy. It didn’t say it would work out, life is about not quitting. Usually regardless of skill set, resources, and help the person who wins in life is the one who doesn’t give up. They are the ones that push through.  How about you?

Ask Toi: What do you do if you reach out to a friend and they constantly ghost you?

Stop reaching out to them. They could have things going on or they could just not be in the space to talk at all or specifically to you. There is no way of knowing. However its okay to reach out a few times to someone. After the ghosting continues, just go on. I know it sounds super harsh that I wouldn’t encourage you to chase people but in 2018, give people space to process their lives. The ghosting may not be about you but there is no reason to chase an adult around for any reason. You can always pick up with a person if they had stuff going on that prevented them from being a good friend. When you see that adult being super cool with another person in the midst of ghosting you, than just leave it be. Who is supposed to be in your life will be. I also belief in provision. If you need a friend and you continue to be a good friend, God, the universe etc. will send you what you need to replace. This is why I always believe you never really lose friends.  So acknowledge how frustrated you are and then release that person and the relationship.  Also do not feel obligated if you see that person in person to do more than a hi and bye. You don’t have to do acrobats to get that person’s attention. People are allowed to process life, go on in life, befriend who they need to. You also have every right to continue on in your life and be at peace. Part of peace is about preserving your spirit.

Friends List-Anxiety Buster

So we all friends and how they interact with you determine how you should proceed with them. I have been guilty of having a large list of friends on social media but in real life barely interact with then. I have since changed how I look at my friends and let me share with you why.

Anxiety and New Friends

Since graduating from Penn State in 2003 I have noticed that at times my anxiety is lot more pronounced than I gave notice to it. I am a creature of habit. I like when things are comfortable. Being in college knowing that I had a small list of core friends allowed me to attempt to make new friends because my thought of rejection always tended to the point that at the end of the day, I had some solid friends. Now in my real adult life trying to manage all things, I don’t have the time that I once had to goof off, party and be irresponsible and my friends reflect that. There are a few friends that are about to be cut. It’s nothing personal as I change so will my list of who I call friends change. This post isn’t to air that out. My anxiety has caused me to be super selective in who my real friends are.

Friends of a Friend

Since I am attempting to make new strides in friendships I am realizing that a lot of my friends are friends of a friend. They are not really my friend but are super bomb and cool people. Meaning they are friendly, we speak when we are in circles but they are not the ones I go to when things go left. For a couple of months I had been trying to fuse relationships with a few friends of a friend and getting upset when it didn’t pop like I wanted to. Rejection made me one get upset because I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working out. Now I come to mind that I had to stop making something fit that wasn’t going to fit.  I realize that I can be friends to them, and not try to take it personal because the flow of friendship isn’t the same as it was for other friendships to blossom. I think as much as we holler “no new friends” the objective isn’t necessarily in not having new relationships as much as knowing how much energy it’s going to take and knowing if you want to invest in that new relationship.

woman working girl sitting

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

If you are the type that people don’t want to become friends with, that’s an entirely different story. Vibes matter and if you are constantly setting off get away from me vibes you won’t match the potential that friendships have to offer. As the holidays get closer, it’s going to be important to be connected with the right people. I know for myself seeing how much friendships can really be supportive not having that here in Philadelphia through my own fault in the beginning and now has made the difference in how rich my life is. I am blossoming that much more because of great people who I can call that if nothing else can call me out on my stuff but also be supportive of my wins. You have to be able to step out of your comfort zone with others.

How I managed my anxiety and meeting new people:

  • Be yourself-you don’t know others enough to start switching off in the beginning. Them seeing you for who you are will matter if you want to attempt to know if people like you for you. Let them see the real you!
  • Take your time. Quality is more important than quantity
  • Nerves are fine. If you feel like you are becoming overwhelmed, take a few moments to yourself. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. Take a few seconds to gather yourself in a social setting.
  • Hang with whomever makes you comfortable at first and then slowly introduce yourself to others. If you feel rejected, than still remain in control of yourself but be gracious to everyone.
  • Smile- a smile goes a long way, he or she who presents themselves friendly will invite more friends. I have been known to have rest you know what face, but I have changed my approach. When I go to events, I let my home life, at home. I leave work at home. I do not bring these things with me when I am out and about because it hinders me from showing myself in the best life. If I am spending my coin I refuse to waste my time these days and especially not my me time. My me time is scarce and sacred.

 

Blogiversary Year 4

Do you know what today is? It’s my blogiversary! Yesssssss! We have reached 4 years of blogging. What an accomplishment! It has been my extreme pleasure to blog and bring you so much content. From starting this blog as an outlet from my stay at home mom days to now has been nothing short of a miracle. God is good!

I have learned about myself as a person. I re-read my blogs ALL the time. I literally want to see the growth that has taken place. From how they look, how they are edited, to what I am writing about, and what I put out. It needs to reflect who I am, what I want to represent, and what I hope you all get and that is the notion that we all just trying to be our best version of ourselves. Failure isn’t final. I love that about life. You can literally fail at something, take the time to heal and deal and then get up and make life happen.  It’s a personal choice that we all have to make. There is nothing we can’t bounce back from.

So every year I feel like I am getting stronger. In the first 3 years I was blogging but not as consistent as I am now. I like to attempt to give at least 3 fresh blogs a week and if you follow me on Facebook you know that I also reblog that are appropriate for Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays. So there is rarely a day where blogs aren’t going out. What I like about my blogging tools now is that I can write them all up, edit them and set them to release on a day and time of my choosing. This is essential for me as my life on the daily is super busy. I love that I don’t have to choose between my regular life and my blog life. I plan my blogs a lot of them ahead of time. I also will still write when inspiration comes to me too. It’s really a mix between prep and go and being consistent with blogging. I use my blog planner everyday. My kids even say which planner is this one?  I have it on me at all times.

Greenide

I recently in this year collaborated with Greenide.  This relationship has been huge for me. Being able to step out of my comfort zone and write for other blogs have been amazing. If you haven’t gotten a chance than check the article on Sex and Kids and the one on losing weight

TCP

I also regularly collaborate with TCP, The Cultured Professional. It is filled with blogs from writers such as myself as well as podcasts and really a one stop shop to get all of the information that any and all cultured professionals are talking about.

Dream Deferred

What have I learned about myself this year, is that I can make any dream happen. From losing over 50 pounds, to running and competing in races, to being a better mom, taking solo trips and getting my zen back in my life, to forgiving and moving on from past issues, there’s nothing I can’t do.  From having to take some time to get used to my move to Philadelphia, to conquering motherhood (I am still learning), to being a wife the journey has been a bit crazy. I value the changes that has taken place even when I wasn’t in the place to receive it. I have been out of sync to where I needed to be because I wasn’t able to catch up due to holding onto the past.  I held myself back for quite some time because I hated change that I didn’t feel as if I was in control of!  I love control. I love being able to call the shots, but in life that’s not how it works. Often times I have had to be vulnerable to change. From getting my life back on track after discovering my weight had gotten so far out of control that it was causing me some severe health issues to letting go and allowing someone to teach me a few things about myself.

Followers

One thing that makes this all great is having amazing readers. From those who send me questions for the Ask Toi segments, to those that interact with me across all of my social media platforms you are the REAL MVP! Having people still believe in your dream from all around the world is amazing. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Friends and Family

I have to shout out my amazing family who stand behind me. From my husband who sometimes fills in reading things if I think something doesn’t sound right to being an impromptu camera man, thank you. He has been truly open to this as I blog about anything and everything and that includes him to a certain extent. My kids for loving that mommy has blog friends and for the many times that I attend events.  Thank you to the Storr kids for understanding that a balanced mom makes a better mom. To my amazing friends who read my blogs without me having to send you the links, thank you. To the friends who share my links without me asking, thank you. It takes one second to share and I appreciate you for that. To the ones that was shooting with me in the gym, thank you! To my blogging mentors, you are amazing. I have so many that if I forget I would be amiss but you know who you are. Your advice has made this blog that much better. To my graphic designer Angelo. You have been amazing, when I call and slide them fees over, you never cease to amaze me with everything that I need!

Health is Wealth

We added a new component to ToiTime and that is Health is Wealth by S.L. Efua Joe who is our health is wealth contributor. We will be back in the near future with more content. It is a page that is dedicated to challenging you on what is actual health and having you spend more time finding ways to eat better, take care of self so you can spend less of your money at a doctor’s office. It’s not an anti doctor but often times the very diseases we have can be attributed to the bad choices we take daily.

Blogging Goals

  • To get a better camera and take me from behind the scenes and more into the scenes. I will be posting more intimate pictures where I am in them instead of always getting the shot without me in it! I dislike the camera and I have no reason to so this upcoming year expect a lot more of ME.
  • Collaborations are coming. I am working with more brands and working with more bloggers.
  • Attend at least one blog conference so I can network with other bloggers.
  • Being consistent. This has been the greatest push of my life to do so and its paying off so we not going to stop we are going to keep growing

If I had to choose a dream job it would be being able to blog full-time, and travel with my family. Trust me I am working on it. My vision is for me to blog all around this beautiful world and allow my children to come along for the ride!

 

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Ask Toi

You can also send all questions for Ask Toi to toitimeblog@gmail.com

Keep in mind that all questions submitted will be confidential. I will always give you a longer response than I do for the blog. I am here as an outlet. I will do my best to answer you and of course all answers are based upon my own experience. You at the end of the day should always do what’s best and safe for you and your life!

Most Requested Blogs of the Year

Drum Roll on the Most requested Blogs of the year in order; these are the most requested blogs of all time to a certain degree. So these are the issues that most of the readers come back to:

Boss issues:

Those who deflect

Going to a party without your wife as she wasn’t invited

Where are my Followers the Most Engaged

Out of the 30 countries that my blog has been read, these are the top 3:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada