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

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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.

My thoughts on MLK Day?

As we have taken part in another MLK day, I have so many mixed emotions.  I have done my duty as a parent to instill in my kids the importance that they need to be accepting of others even though based on their own skin color they may not get that in return.  I have since my kids are under 8, shield them from a larger scale of the recent events but finding my own voice to still give them the messages that they will no doubt face.  That in itself has been hard.  I am very concerned in the balance of restricting imagery but not take away from the message.  So I spent more of my time researching the facts.  I have also attempted to keep it real but not tamper with my kids spirit.  They have to live in this world and know they can go through the fire but not get burned.  I could paint an ugly world.  I see that everyday.  I see adults do some damaging things to kids. I see race riots.  I see violence within communities and to communities.  I have had to take social media and blogging breaks more in 2016 than when I started 2 years ago.  Life can be confusing, complicated, and difficult.

I reflect on how even in elementary school I had to take a few fights for being called a Nigger.  I had teachers change my grades because I wasn’t seen as valuable.  So I will never let my kids think we live in a cookie cutter world.  As I rewatched the I have a dream speech today the very things that Dr. King spoke gotten better and other things seem as we have all dipped back in the 60’s.  So when all the service projects have ended, will we be a nation that can stand arm in arm with others who look differently and drop the hate?  Will my kids have to worry about being called a Nigger?  Will they be arrested for no reason, beat or even God forbid killed for no reason? My mother answer says no not mine.  My reality answer is Lord help us all.  The fact that just because these are issues that touch predominately brown people, people with disabilities, gay or lesbian, etc., the reality is that these issues touches us all.

In a few days we will have a new president.  Everything that we know will change.  That is fact.  The way that president-elect Trump to basically bring in his own team, fired many that have more political tenure then he, further let’s me know that.  It doesn’t matter if I like or agree with his political appetite or not.  Honestly I haven’t given too much thought on what type of president he will be.  What I am seeing now has been all over the place as well as a general inability to understand the policy that Trump brings.  What I will do is stay vigilant in keeping my home a safe haven.  A place where my family can come and have peace from the world.  A place where we can do what we need to do behind the scenes so we can take that same message of love outside of the home.

I will however have a voice.  I will use that voice in the coming weeks, months and years to come up with solutions.  I will find a way to let Dr. King’s words live in me.  It is more critical now to implement what he preached and make our kids see the same.  I pray that today was more than the once a year help others day.  What are you doing all year-long?  Do you take medication to the elderly? Do you know of a family who needs support?  Do you give a single mom or dad some assistance even if it’s just a home cooked meal?  We have to do more across the board than just giving this one day.  What reflection have you given to Dr. King’s legacy other than posting a meme?  It is time to apply Dr. King’s message to our everyday lives.

Mommy Loves You Notes

So I get it when your child goes off to the land of education there are far more things to be worried about other than their education.  In this day and age you have to make sure you tell and teach your children what to do in case of a crisis.  You have to worry about if their being bullied.  You have to worry if they are in a position where another child or even teacher isn’t breaking them down mentally to where they aren’t attempting to harm themselves or others.  Whew.  It’s too much.  These are some of the things that when I was in school, I just didn’t have to worry to much about.  So with that being said, let’s fast forward to my daughter.  I am making her after school snack, and as usual I write mommy loves you on the front.  No big deal right?  Absolutely. I try to write this note on every last after school bag.  Sometimes if she makes her snacks herself, I add a little treat that she finds with a note. I’ve been doing this since Kindergarten.

My daughter says mommy can you sign your name on the bag?! I signed it not thinking of it. I finally asked her why.  So when she told me that the kids in her class think she is writing her own notes and that there’s no way her mom could love her, I got mad.  I know my response should have been off the cuff in a loving manner and deal with my daughter and I did after my first 5 second reaction which was pissed.  How dare some child think that as sweet as my child is that her mother wouldn’t love her enough to say I love you to her daily.  Then as I went into parent mode to love on her, I reminder her that she is too lovable for me not to write I love you everyday.  She smiled.  I felt like I had won.  However I further explained to my daughter that some parents may forget to give these little reminders to their kids. I told her that some households have a lot going on but in our households above making sure they have what they need, the most important need is showing love.

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Now let me be clear before the pitch forks of parents start rolling into my inbox, my letters to my child or the notes on her snack bag doesn’t mean I love mine any more than yours. It means that is MY way to be able to show her love and she looks forward to my messages. The message I needed to make clear with my child is that she is loved in this way and there are some homes who don’t take the time to show love. That is a fact.  You don’t have to like my fact but if you are bothered by it, than step up and do what’s best in your home. Far too many times we exchange gifts and electronics as means of love when reality is some kids are dying for a hug, a kiss, or just a few minutes of your time.  I am no where a perfect parent but it doesn’t matter if I will be late to spend a few minutes in prayer with my kids.  I make sure that above all that before they leave me that any issues had our squashed.  You know why?  How many children have to leave their home and never return where parents say I wish I had said I love you.  Now that my daughter is of school age, my stress is always up every time she goes to school.  I need her to know that I love her, I am here for her and her siblings, and that if anything should go down that her last impression of me is love.  It doesn’t matter if there will be times when she doesn’t like me, I love her and she will know it.

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Listen every mother has a birth story for every last child, but my life has literally been on the line for my children and I have gotten every dramatic life altering thing possible during my pregnancies.  I loved them before I even met them.  I want them to know that above any thing I ever do or give them.  I don’t know what the future holds for my children, but they have to know that there is someone in this world that loves them unconditionally.  I and her father will be that to them.  Now for other parents, aunts, grandparents, friends, etc. reading this blog. Let’s do better.  As much as I want to say that the child or children who made the comment are off as 2 left shoes, the real issue is that the child or children are growing up in homes where this seems abnormal.  Even if it’s not in cute notes, please make sure that the people who you raise, help raise or influence KNOW that they are loved.  They should see the manifestation of that love in more than your responsibility to them.  Yes you have to work, sometimes under paid and deal with the most ugliest of adults in how their spirit and mouths are towards others, but it cost nothing to give an extra hug. Please show kindness so our children can see this around them.  I am reading too many stories of kids killing themselves and they aren’t even out of elementary school.  We aren’t doing enough to surround our kids with affirmations.  I know we are busy.  I am busy.  I however pledge to make a difference in the lives of the 3 that call me mom. I would rather what I want to take a back seat so that they aren’t on some couch of a therapist over some stuff I did or didn’t do for them.  I want them to be sound individuals who know what love loves like and what it feels like.

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Please increase love and how you show love in your homes.  Our children are hungry for the affirmation.

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Soul Cycle, 2nd Coming…

So if you follow me on Instagram (ToiTimeblog) then you know that I have increased my healthy living incentive.  I have been working hard and thus far I have lost over 20 pounds since I began over 6 months ago.  How I started was simple.  At my job they push fitness and health.  I was weighed by a health professional and to my surprise I had hit a little over 190.  I was embarrassed, hurt, and blindsided.  Clothes can lie, but numbers don’t.  After picking up my pride, I was determined to be better.  I didn’t set out to be perfect but better.  Trust me, numbers can make you either slow slide into a woe is me or it can make you get up and do something about it. I choose to do the latter.

A few months ago, I was introduced to Soul Cycle which is an intense cycling class.   I had said for months even years how I wanted to take this class.  I had seen other classes like it and immediately wanted to participate.  You can read up on my 1st adventure, Soul Cycle Survivor.  This time around I still didn’t feel as if I was a pro.  I felt like my stamina had increased.  I was able to have my butt hit the sit instead of sitting in the seat.  I’ve said it before, that class is intense.  I was however able to get my shoes off the bike without help.  The first class I took with Ryan and this time I took it with Alexis Rose.  Both were very energetic, fun, and gave a hell of a workout.  Alexis’ ability to speak positivity was super refreshing.  The ability to be able to remind everyone that not only for the class but after that the biggest battle isn’t physical but mental.  That is the message I will take with me during the week and beyond.

Some of the things that I have done well in regards to my health journey is drinking more water.  I have spoken many times about my love/hate relationship with water.  I think that with working out more has helped me get over the water issue fast.  There is no way to lose weight without drinking water and staying hydrated.  Another plus during this journey is my newest planner.   It has helped me to keep focus.  It has been a life saver.  It allows me to be clear about goals, as well as allows me to use my need for visualization and organization in one beautiful place.

As I continue this journey I will highlight more for you.  My hope is that others will join me.  I hope that others can see regular people taking their health important.  I want to shed the “baby weight.”  By baby weight since my almost 3-year-old is no longer a baby, is my “girl, you need to do better” weight.  This isn’t a perfect journey.  This is a human, make mistakes, love yourself, get mad at yourself, but keep on going journey.  So until I reach my newest goal of going down one more clothing size by my 36th birthday, here’s to more healthy options, an active lifestyle, and being happy in my skin.

 

How to Have the Best New Year’s Eve…

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

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

For Couples:

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

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

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

For Singles:

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

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Travel

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

For Parents:

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

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

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

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

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The Thanksgiving Rush

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

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

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

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

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

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