Valentine’s Day Message

I would like to say Happy Valentine’ Day to all who celebrate this holiday. Sending you love and peace today and everyday.

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To my husband, I love you! Another year of love to push through this life with! To want to still wake up and pray with you and push you to being your best self as you do the same! To wake up feeling safe in body and mind-I don’t take that for granted. To know you are being honorable in a world of Futures……….thank you!

To my children, mommy absolutely adores you! Y’all turn up to that candy so y’all can turn down at bedtime so mommy and daddy can drink our wine and fall asleep on the couch!

To my friends and family, have a loving day!  Some of my best points in waking up to text messages of encouragement from dope friends who are out here trying to be whole and happy is the best!

To my readers, I send you abundant love!

To my single readers and friends-I know today is hard. You question your when.  It hurts and its okay to say it hurts. People will tell you how you should feel and how to process today. I say process it in a healthy way.  Process it in your way! I get it. I used to wake up and decorate my apartment and watch all of the girlie romantic comedies, go out on dates or hang with my family or friends. Night was hard especially if you feel or don’t have anyone to hang with.  It will pass but it doesn’t change the depth of feeling you feel today! I understand!  Sending you an extra genuine dose of support!

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Valentine’s Day Snub

This day can be so super dramatic. Between the movies that make it bigger than life. So often, we even I get caught up in this day. What I think is important is to be honest about where you are and your expectations.

When my husband and I dated in college he really outdid himself. Without even having to say anything he really did a good job. Before him I really was blessed to date and whomever I dated just naturally got it right. I love holidays of all kinds. I love the art of celebrating. It breaks up life. It gives you small victories to look forward to. So for me it’s another celebration. It’s not just above saying well as a married couple he should show love so this one day doesn’t matter. I post holidays of all kinds and everyday I get excited to find a way to celebrate one of those holidays so Valentine’s Day is one as well.

I used to not be so vocal in my love for the day because everyone would make these claims of how commercial they were. As a preachers kid holidays depending on which ones you celebrated were deemed wrong. As I came into my own, I realized how happy celebrations made me feel. So I don’t allow others’ feelings to fall on me. I won’t allow people to say that a commercial holiday doesn’t matter. I’ve heard it all from what if your husband wasn’t able to make the day special?! How is that possible when he and I can make heart shaped cookies and watch a movie feel special?! End of day I enjoy his presence and I enjoy celebrating these types of holidays with him. It’s a perk of having him in my life.

So there’s never a Valentine’s Day snub for me. Although I understand that some don’t feel the same as I do or as blessed as me in regards of having someone to share the day, I don’t want to snub my feelings to appease others. I can have empathy without dissing my own love of the day!

I respect everyone no matter where they are. There were many years that I spent with family, by myself or just with my girlfriends. Some years in my singleness I felt fine and other times I was heartbroken. Admit where you are. Own it! But be okay if you like me love these love holidays!!!!!

Ask Toi: Valentine’s Day Edition: My wife states she doesn’t want a Valentine’s Day gift should I not get one?

Getting a gift for Valentine’s Day just because you are married is not mundane. I dislike people making the excuse that if your husband loves you he doesn’t have to show you love on Valentine’s Day. If your spouse loves you and wants to shower you with a gift on that day he can.  If you as a couple have come to the conclusion that you don’t exchange gifts that is fine too. Just be sure that when you state you don’t want a gift you are mature to make that decision and not give your spouse Hell come that day because you made a decision to be something you aren’t.  It’s okay to be married and exchange or not to. I encouraged that man to honor his wife’s words, by getting something and not giving to her that day but finding another day to give her a gift. This way if she by chance is one of these women who say things but don’t mean it he will still be covered and if she is standing by not wanting to exchange, he has a gift to give her as a thinking of you gift.

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Ladies, I want to encourage you if you can’t stand by your decision to not give gifts, do NOT ever tell a man something you can’t stand by 100%.  This is the same thing when you get into an argument and you tell that man to leave the house and you don’t want him to leave. Or you get mad and use the big “D” word out of anger. This is a larger principle of not saying things to either look like the “cool” wife or to say things out of anger that you can’t back up.  Out of all of the times that I have argued with my husband I have learned not to say what I don’t mean. If you want a gift, it’s perfectly ok to say you want to exchange on Valentine’s Day.  What’s not okay to do is to play games or say things you think they want to hear. This will disappoint you in the long run.  This you should have known mess that people pull in relationships shows lack of maturity. Relationships are about communication and saying or acting in one manner that isn’t who you are makes it hard for either one of you to walk in love because you spend more time recovering from idle messages!

 

Mature Love

Let’s face it with the wave of reality television society obviously loves drama. We thrive on. We take it in.  We gravitate towards it. In the last 2 years I have taken on a journey to dismiss a lot of the drama in my life in the form of television and media. In addition to that in the last few years I have eliminated drama in my personal life and especially in marriage.

I think about the wonder years of college. Here I had come from this small town and I had recently been holding on to my high school sweetheart. I was so torn on keeping up this relationship but happy to start this new adult life. With limited time I ended one relationship and set out on a journey to find myself. In the midst of finding myself, I found a new relationship. In the beginning I kept telling myself to keep my options open but I fell hard and heavy with this tall glass of water who I later would end up marrying and having a family.  Oh the relationship goals I hear people speak of when I post my beautiful family is encouraging.  It encourages my husband and I to honor each other more and to be the example to ourselves and children.

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Let me dip my baby toe into the early years when we weren’t as gracious in relating to one another as we should. The drama and fights and break ups to make up were really out-of-pocket. My college years were filled with too much of it.  Our friends God bless their hearts had seen their fair share. From me moving off campus, to not being able to go down the street without a fight, goodness. Yes not anything physical but all that ratchet yelling could have made a lot of this reality television look like Elmo’s World. We were in love and I will speak for me unable to handle and know what adult love was supposed to look like. The cursing each other out, seeing or attempting to see other folks (depending on who you ask), acting a fool in public, breaking up and making up and not telling others, just exhausting to write let alone live. Back in the day it seemed like a whirlwind. It seemed normal. Everyone on campus knew we were toxic and out-of-pocket. Just a mess!

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Separating and allowing space and time and for me to honestly deal with some inner struggles led us back to each other. People think we just woke up one day and decided to give this thing called love a try. We were tested in that love several times almost ending our marriage. What turned things around from college and marriage was living and learning about myself. Finding out what worked for me. I found out my passions. I had learned to live with myself enough to not allow someone else to come into my space that wouldn’t allow me to be me. This allowance has come up several times in our current marriage. The ability to let your partner balance their lives with you is necessary. One day in our car we were at the point of divorce, he looked at me and said, “are we in or out?” He said if we are in lets stick together and make it and if we are out, lets find a way to be honorable with our children.  He looked me in my eyes and I knew he wasn’t playing.

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We at that moment lived by our mantra” us against the world.” We had stated that mantra in college but it solidified with me and him that day. That was at least 2 years into our marriage. There are no cute pictures you can take when two people have kids and are literally walking around like hateful roommates. What picture can you show when you are at the point of no return?  what picture can you show when you have enough and only doing the bare minimal?  So I always go back to the picture below.  When we were happy and made the decision to love each other forever. The time where we were so in love that nothing before that mattered and now nothing after should be to the point where we can’t work together.  We are willing to be with one another and this picture reminds me to take a mental break, wait for an answer, love despite of, and go back to the basics of what makes us, us!

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We don’t have the answers. We live each day but we know what works for us. We were friends first. We have “truth moments.” We give each safe space to be vulnerable.  We are learning to listen and talk to and not at each other. These are things that we learned in counseling the first months of our first year! I stepped out what we should be in our marriage and looked at the value of what we are able to make and hold on to when disaster hits. We are stronger together because we still want to be teammates in this thing called life.  As holidays like Valentine’s Day comes we love love or at least I who loves all holidays love these and any love related holidays, but to know that we are working through things and have matured beyond the college days is a miracle of staying the course! I want to leave a highlight with you, don’t think you have to struggle to get to this great point. If you can avoid it, please do so. Know yourself before you enter any relationship. The best thing is to work on you, get counseling before considering dating because uniting with a person can be a trigger in itself, and be clear about boundaries.  I am not glorifying bad behavior.  You can have healthy love. I am glad that we did the work to get to where we are. Nobody wants that perfect love story, but our love story is perfectly fitting for us!

National Spouse Day

Today is national spouse day! A day to acknowledge your spouse. Everyone needs and wants to be acknowledged for their wonderful accomplishments and that includes being a great spouse.

I love shouting out my spouse even when he irks my last nerve. The reality that some people say that the only time people shout out their spouse is usually in response to something that they have done wrong is craziness. You shouldn’t be married to someone who you are not proud to do the work in the background and show the world how amazing they are. The concept of treating them like crap in the background and then shouting them out openly when you want to save your marriage is not good. My husband and I are working towards private love that keeps us both grounded and secured so that when we have public displays of affection, there aren’t people like “I know the truth” moments.

 

I have shouted out my spouse even in the midst of turmoil and the reason is simple, better or worse! The worse moments are real. They are not the best of times but the commitment and friendship that I share with him overshadows the bad. Working through the bad and using the tools that he and I got from when we went to couple’s counseling helps. We are not ashamed that we did the work those first years that have saved us from calling it quits. Taking a few minutes to listen to each other matter. Sometimes we talk over our spouse and that is never good. No one wins when the family feuds. Also not embarrassing each other by talking down to, treating each other like kids, or just plain old respect helps too.

What I will say about my spouse, Marques, is that he is moving from husband to partner. I know that sounds weird but the moment he did I saw a change in how we interact. It’s cute to say your husband or husbae as I call him sometimes does what needs to be done. As a partner I notice that instead of the mundane tasks, we actually are at a point where we are flipping hats and giving each other what we need and not what we think each other needs. This comes from a LOT of communication. We talk to and try to not talk at. This doesn’t mean we don’t have fights because we have arguments but they aren’t as bad and we aren’t somewhere sulking and taking forever to recover.

We have known each other for 20 years this year. We split up and obviously kept in contact but we will be celebrating 7 years of marriage this year. Whew! That is grace. Being friends first there are times when we have our “truth moments.” It doesn’t mean we lie to each other outside of those moments. It’s a moment of vulnerability that neither one of us are allowed to judge each other. It may mean we listen and take a break from coming up with an answer or solution.  Marques you are an amazing father and we would say openly how he was working on being a great husband. I would like to say you moved right on up to awesome husband and partner. So today I shout you out and say I wouldn’t want to navigate the hard time with anyone else. You get me in all of my quirky ways and you allow me to be me. Now if we could get you to enjoy eating outside with me this would tip the scale! In the meantime, you just let me enjoy that outside eating with my girls and I love you for compromising in the places that needed it and being firm when it was necessary. Our son has an amazing example and our daughters can’t bring home nothing but excellence when the time comes for them to look for a great man in their lives in the future! I love you!

Ask Toi: A man I’ve been dating for months has gone stale in communication, what should I do?

This sounds like he’s ghosting you. Ghosting is when someone you’re dating or dealing with no longer answers calls or text messages and is unavailable.

First of all, understand that some folks avoid difficult conversations. He is definitely not interested or has more on his plate and is unable to or doesn’t want to add you into the equation. There could be a thousand reasons why. It’s not your job to figure him out. Your job is to not take on his lack of communication as means of figuring out your worthiness of being in a relationship that meets your needs.

I can share that I’ve been ghosted in the past. However when I went back and thought about the surrounding signs that I paid no attention to it made sense. I had been ghosted by someone who didn’t have his stuff together. He didn’t have a place of his own. He was almost nomadic or basically going from one spot to another. So I didn’t fit the bill of fostering that situationship and was ghosted. It was cool while it lasted. I spent more time than I should have worrying about what I could have done for someone who wasn’t worthy of the amount of energy I gave. Don’t be Toi in her 20s. Be smarter than I was. Know your worth and add tax. Dating was hard in my 20s and it’s harder now!

This man may never reveal his why. You may have to gather yourself and move along. It’s hard! It sounds easier said than done but it’s definitely necessary. Chalk it up to dating in this world with inconsistent players.

Going forward pay attention to the signs. When something sounds off, acts off, or behaves off, it could very well be off. You would be better off without the headache.

If it’s that he isn’t being as consistent as he once was in terms of communication, Ask. It could be that he does have a legitimate reason. But don’t be fooled into I was bust explanation. Busy people still prioritize their wants.

Good luck!

Operating In Offense

So today I was reminded of what it looks like to operate in offense. Operating in offense is when you are so offended by someone or something that you can’t hear what others are saying to you. You are snippy, rude, loud and angry. Not one thing is heard from that moment. You aren’t willing to see someone else because you have taken the focus off of the issue and made it about self.  This is a self-righteous stance. There is nothing that will be gained walking in offense.  The world is really walking in offense. A lot of it is real and some of it comes from a deep seeded place that needs to be healed.

Now I wasn’t the person operating in offense today but I was able to see the old me through the eyes of the other person’s offense. Like many who have attempted to speak to me in moments of rage, anger, etc. in the past,  I saw what its like talking to a wounded person. You can’t heal that situation or person until you deal with their pain. Period. I don’t care how many cute quotes, speeches, etc. you give, they aren’t going to listen. I think about some of my past hurt prior to counseling and I seen how extremely closed off I was. Not willing to hear a person because all I kept focusing on  was myself.  Today I was hit with that same reality. I was humbled and blessed to see that for one I had real growth. The old me would have dipped into offense and gave folks a run for their money. My mouth is for sure a sword. I know this about me and with that mindset I do all I can to check myself first before handing out a 2 piece!  I listened to them and saw them for their pain and gifted them grace.  Isn’t it funny how you will confront yourself in another form down the line?

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I gave the person the grace that wasn’t extended to me. This is probably the part that I struggle with the most. Not giving of grace, because my life is a grace walk, but knowing that lack of maturity didn’t allow or wont allow people to see my past issues as simply me walking in offense. My ability to see myself works wonders for me NOW.  My biggest challenge is feeling like I have to apologize a thousand times and do emotional backflips for folks to see growth. I have now come or am coming to peace with the notion that after you take a step back some folks won’t see you for your growth because they never wanted to see you grow in the first place. They saw the offense and used it to get off their chest what they had in them the whole time.  As I watched the situation unfold this morning and while I stayed calm I just said let me gift this grace. Let me not get offended at their offense. Let me let time, maturity, and step back. It will be fixed eventually. We all have to check ourselves and walk without sometimes getting the apology that we think we need or want. I couldn’t get through to the person this morning.  I probably wont for some time. I can’t do anything past their offense. That is a hard pill to swallow but such is life.  Eventually I pray they have their moment like I had to have mine. Hurt people or offended people can’t operate with your best interest in mind until they deal with their issues.  It doesn’t matter how old or young, how smart, etc. We all have a responsibility to do our daily work and check ourselves.

My message for anyone  who is  walking in offense, you will not grow and heal until you deal with you. I could give you a virtual high-five over your offense. You could be like YASSSS SIS I was right to be offended. I did that to and justified my responses, but the truth is that the offense was there to help you grow. It wasn’t so you could prove anything. It was there to make you whole. Once you tap into that you really will have deep seeded change.

 

I know this sounds super deep on Wednesday when you were just grateful for simply surviving your week but it is a necessary nugget. Sometime you are fighting a person and its like punching air. You are attempting to get through to someone who isn’t ready to receive because they cant get past their offense or even their general disdain of you to keep it real. This is across ALL relationships. Even romantic ones. If you and your boo is always up in arms its because instead of hearing you are defending your offense. You are coming to the table of communication with your guard up so high nothing is reaching past this imaginary wall of offense. That’s what happened today. (FYI I am not talking about my husband) That wall was so high it would have taken Olympic size strides to overpower it.

Today was interesting to say the least especially since it’s not even noon but remember when you head is on right, your at peace in your life, its not just so you can be in a peace bubble.  You will see you and either be grateful for change or have to say ouch and be the change. To the person I encountered today that was and is walking in offense, I pray that you have your moment of inner clarity. I wish you the best as my peace remains!