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.

white and pink floral freestanding letter decor

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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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Women’s History Month: Jasmine D.

Jasmine Drake is 32 years old. from Philadelphia, Pa, but she currently resides in California. She made the move to California with Ty (her hubby) about 4 years ago. Jasmine and Ty have been together for almost 17 years. She is an elementary school teacher. She is a Sagittarius. She loves sunflowers and French fries.

Sometimes we place so much pressure on ourselves that it makes it hard to pull oneself from that heavy load.  What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell myself to see the beauty in my flaws. I would tell myself to love myself. I grew up with very low self-esteem and I just wish that I could tell my younger self to not be so focused on my physical appearance as compared to social norms and to really truly see the beauty in myself inside and out. 
There isn’t a woman who hasn’t made many mistakes in life, love or career.  We are always striving to find a balance in the things that we are, where we want to be, and we constantly beat ourselves over where we think we should be.  What are the lessons you have learned thus far?
I have learned that happiness is all that matters in love, life and career. What makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another person so happy, so we all have to first find what makes us happy and then build up from there. If it doesn’t make me happy then it’s not for me. If something doesn’t make me smile, then it’s not for me.
My Nana used to tell me that, life is what you make it. If you want something in life to change you have to make the change. The only thing that can hold you back is yourself. I choose happiness in life so I fill it up with things that make ME happy. Ty brings me happiness and creates the loving and caring environment for my happiness to grow, bloom and rejuvenate. I was so lucky to meet Ty at such a young age and for my first love to be my only love. We have ups, downs and all around, but at the start and finish of everyday we choose each other. I went to college the first time to get a job that I will make good money. I later learned that just working a job that pays good was counterproductive to my overall goal of being happy and that my work itself should make me happy, so I changed that and became the teacher that my kindergarten aged self always wanted to be. 
I have also learned that there is a lesson is every mistake. It took me a while to get where I am today. I don’t regret what I have been through to get me here, because it has all helped guide me to the woman I am today. I still make mistakes and I am still learning and getting better from them. 
That’s truly beautiful. It often takes folks years before they learn to be happy in their career and what they do verses only chasing the money.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I see myself reaching new levels of happiness in my life. As I grow some things that used to make me happy, don’t have the same effect and vice verse. I want to be more in tune with myself, I want to make memories and inside jokes with Ty, I want to make more time for family and friends, I want to create new streams of revenue, explore the world, and become a mom.  
What is on my heart that I look forward to just “crushing” in the future is motherhood. My new focus in life is beginning a family. After the loss of our first baby during pregnancy, recovery was the focus. Recovery not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It was one of the toughest things I have had to go through in life. 
I always wanted to be a mom, but was very cautious about when to begin that journey in my life. I just wanted to make sure that I was fully prepared for parenthood and that we would be ready for the life long responsibilities that would come. My mother did it by herself and made a way and sometimes made it look easy, but she also struggled and I just wanted to improve on that with my family. When we said that we were ready, it was almost to easy- we got pregnant that month. We were looking forward to welcoming our baby girl to the world, but we lost her at 20 weeks and it was devastating to say the least. The physical pain was brief compared to the emotional pain that will seemingly always linger on. 
We are still working to start our family and becoming parents. When the time is right it will happen and we will “crush” it for sure!
Again this is why I dislike for people to put pressure on someone else who is either not a mom or desires to be a mom.  Sometimes people mean well but be careful on how you address women.  Let them go through their processes without the added pressure.  Jasmine from Toitime we are so sorry for you and your family and your daughter.  I pray continued peace as you continue to process that pain.
What are your accomplishments to date?
I don’t give myself enough credit for my accomplishments. Getting my masters degree was quite an accomplishment for me, because I proved to myself that not only can do it, I was awesome at it and graduated with a 3.97 GPA. Some other accomplishments I am proud of, learning to forgive the right people, learning to let go of toxic relationships, learning to speak up for myself, learning to let my light shine, overcoming depression, learning to be more vulnerable and open and learning to put myself first, just to name a few. 
What I liked about your accomplishments were the fact that you chose to highlight the accomplishments that will overall make you a better person.  I am grateful for any accomplishment but the ones that go past, education, past status are the ones that will pull you out on a dark day. The ones that will keep you grounded.
How do you feel about the #metoo movement?
I feel encouraged by the Me Too movement and how it has empowered people to speak up and expose those who have violated their human rights. I think that it is wonderful that the Me Too movement is challenging “social norms” and helping those effected to stand up and be seen and heard after being silenced for so long. I think that the Me Too movement is going to create a lot of change for the better for women’s rights in the future.
One thing that I do not like is how the Me Too movement can be taken advantage of and used for personal gain or notoriety. I have heard the stories of all the celebrities who have been guilty of abusing their power to mistreat women and I am glad that they are being held accountable for their actions. I just do not like a few of the stories that I have heard of women just trying to get fame or notoriety from using the Me Too movement to get in the spotlight.
How do you practice self-love?
I can be really hard on myself and sometimes I only see my flaws, so I have to remind myself to practice good habits of self-love. I practice self-love, by being gentle with myself and treating myself with care. Self love for me can be making healthier meal choices, treating myself to something I’ve been wanting, reading a book, exercising, indulging when I want to have a dessert, distancing myself from negativity, etc. Anything that can help me enjoy life, make me smile and be a better me is self love and I try to practice that in someway everyday.

So we ended this month-long celebration with a bang.  Jasmine thank you for being vulnerable and stepping out of your comfort zone. I speak continued blessings as you educate our young people and that every goal that you have for yourself, your relationship and for your future!

jasmine

Ask Toi: How do I encourage the love of my life to do the old things they once did?

This is a very sensitive subject.  Often times women and men can lose their way when it comes to keeping the spark lit.  One of the things to keep in mind is to look at what may have happened that has your baby not being what you want them or expected them to be.  Has there been a lost of any sort?  What about changes in atmosphere?  These are things to consider.

One thing to do is communicate.  Long gone are the days when a mate, a boo thing, your love, your bae is supposed to just know.  That isn’t fair. Things change and if you are in the middle of a miscommunication the best way is to get on track with realistic expectations.  This means what do you want?  Be clear but also be prepared to give. You may find that you have stopped in an area(s) as well.  While you are focusing on what you aren’t being given it may be that you too got some giving to do as well.

Talk about it.  Tell them what you need.  Don’t use words like you fell off, you aint, you suck, I can’t stand… This should be understood but trust me when I say that there are folks doing the most and it’s so super true.  Be careful what you say and how you say it.  Then get to the root of the problem.  If your bae is really a good bae and you approach it right you both can come from this with a sense of renewed love.  Love is beautiful and it can give those lovey dovey feelings that everyone has told themselves is supposed to happen but if you aren’t careful you will forget how much work it takes to get the light of love burning.

So whatever you were doing for your bae, keep doing.  Dinners, do them. Flowers, do them.  Date night monthly, do it.  Also be the change you want to see.  Encourage your partner to be the best version of themselves by you doing the same.  A solid individual that feels like they got their act together personally can contribute to the “we” part of their life too.  So get back on track by using tact and work through together.  Also be sure that you and your bae physical, emotional and especially mental needs are being met.  This doesn’t mean that they need to be met by you.  The idea that we need to put on or perform for our mate has to be dispelled. I read a comment where a young lady asked for others to pray for her that her boyfriend will keep liking her and accept her.  Although I believe in the power of prayer, your boo to continue liking you is a bit much. Relationships do change.  However someone having to be prayed to accept is not the will.  Acceptance should be how you and your bae got together.  This is why I never encourage men or women to change themselves for their mate.  This will create something for your loved one that isn’t going to be kept up because it may go against the very core of who you are.  It’s like wearing heels everyday trying to kill yourself when you are a real sneaker girl is crazy. However sliding your pretty feet in a pair of heels every now and again and especially on date nights is a better compromise.

Let Love Be Great!

So this is the weekend when most people will take their significant others out and show them love.  Let me just say that everyone doesn’t celebrate this “man-made” holiday however let me encourage all in a few home keeping details.

  1. Just because you don’t celebrate doesn’t mean you have to do the whole “it’s not a big deal” on everyone who is celebrating’s social media pages.  I can’t tell you how many times it irks to see this.  I am not calling anyone who feels like this a hater because truth be told it is a man-made holiday, however stop being love killers because you either have love and don’t care, don’t have love, or just by your nature need to be a negative Nancy.
  2. Just because you do celebrate and you want to shower yourself, your loved ones in love do not shun those who do not celebrate.  Basically let people be great either way and do what works for you.
  3. This is not the time to jump on status that is not about you to tell everyone either way how miserable you are or less it’s an open-ended question, a poll, or you’re apart of a group that is asking.  This is code for stop with the unsolicited information so the world can know which side you are on.  Trust and believe if its unwarranted people don’t really want to know and that’s real.
  4. Married people, just because you live with you mate and you don’t make it a big deal in your home, its okay for other married people to indulge and vice versa.  This “holiday” isn’t just for those in the dating world and still trying to get “some.”  Some people need these types of holidays to be a bit more expressive than they would normally. Let folks live.  Marriage should be celebrated daily but let’s be real most don’t and little reminders of love in ANY forms can keep folks from the divorce line.
  5. Realize that the single folks that swore of relationships will showcase what they got just to let themselves or others know.  Guess what? Even if you feel a way about it, its okay for them to do that.  If one day our country can focus on spending a few bucks to tell whomever they want they love them, although love is free I say let them.  In this hate filled world I would rather see expressions of love than the hate that is quicky spread like wildfire.
  6. Pray for those who have lost love.  While some are looking down for those who do or do not celebrate there is a widow who misses the times when their significant other showered them.  Also the newly separated and divorced grieve during this time as well.  Learn to show compassion.
  7. Single folks try and this is a big try because let’s be honest its easy for me to say try when I don’t live that life anymore but try to find ways to celebrate you, celebrate in groups, or enjoy the day. I know that again its hard to do but don’t go batty for one day and putting your life and what life means into this one day. There will be a lot of flowers and candy going out to significant others who don’t even mean their mates well.
  8. Show love daily.  I love to hear the men especially complain about this holiday but if you ask them when was the last time they did the little things you can only hear crickets.  Do not be fooled into thinking that if you buy into this holiday that your relationships no matter which ones they are will be perfect because it won’t.  The thought behind the idea is to show that you love and want to do something nice for the one you love.
  9. LADIES, please get you man something.  Yes more than a sappy card.  Be just as creative as you want him to be.  What makes you think that just because he says I am good that he really is.  Try finding ways to make his day easier.  How about treat him too.  Too many men complain about what they do and they remember the times when it wasn’t given in return.  Men want to be shown just as much as we do. Step up your game this year.
  10. Be creative for those you love. I send things to my single friends, my grandmother, my nieces, parents, etc.  It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to say hey, you’re loved today and everyday.  Think outside the box.

 

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day weekend!!  Remember don’t find yourself loving on someone else’s mate.  This is not the time to be a celebrated side piece.  Remember side pieces gets ransacked candy and broken hearts.  Invest in someone who is all into you and you alone. Being a part of and being the only one are two different things.

 

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Ask Toi: What is the Worst Part about being Married?

Well let me put some thought into that question.  Marriage is beautiful but since I stay on the keep it real train, I have to say there are some drawbacks.  A lot of women can’t wait to be married.  They have no idea that it’s work.  They have no idea that often times it can distract you from what you want to do.  The days of just getting up if you remove the kids from the equation and just doing my own thing don’t fully exist. I miss the days where I didn’t have to have a plan.  I miss the carefree days of not having to wonder did I feed another person let alone myself.

Marriage makes you have to think of another person and their needs and how it will all fit in a larger setting. This isn’t something that I would want to exit my marriage for but it does make it hard when you want to do just do you and you can’t.  I don’t have a worst part but I can highlight some of the challenges we faced during our marriage that we have overcome.  One of those challenges was in the beginning we lived with his mom to do a 5 year plan to pay off bills.  In one regard it benefitted us financially to save and pay bills. The draw back was that we were in someone else’s home.  It didn’t mentally or emotionally work out in our favor.  I know now that I am unwilling to live with another person outside of my husband and kids.  The mental anguish that it gave was too much and in order for us to stay married that’s how it has to be.  Again others have done the same thing and have survived and have even liked it.  I have been an independent flower all my life. I watched my mom has us in shelters and from other folks’ home.  Once you get your own going backwards to someone else’s rules and the way they do things just doesn’t work for grown people.  Most people will act on the surface that it works but since people are people will always push their agendas.  The same happened and because of it, I now know that if we should be in the same situation it could be a breaking point for us.  I know that isn’t something to say but he and I are honest about that.  We won’t sugar coat it.  One thing I appreciate now that we are out is now my husband is more aware of my needs.  He is one to be sure that if I am even going into a challenge to check on me often.

Another challenge that I know I personally had in my marriage was not communicating well.  I think most couples go through it.  There are better days but some days are truly the type of days where you have to really push yourself to keep entering your home.  Its like having all this love for a person but still wanting to slap them and their parents at the same time for having to deal with whatever the issue has thrown.  I am sorry but that’s about as real as its going to get.  Everything in marriage ain’t lingerie and smiles.  There are times when fights occur.  You will have moments where you have to stop dishing the silent treatment and deal with things.  Those moments make you cry.  It can make you mad but it will produce growth.

Lastly the use of the word divorce.  We had moments when that was our reality.  I would caution all couples that are married or planning to be married to NEVER use that word unless you ready to sign that day.  Being mad is one thing, but being mad enough to threaten the word or the use of divorce is never a good thing.  We were headed for disaster. We had to come to the realization that the kids weren’t going to hold us together.  Either we were in or continue being out.  There was no middle.

I have nothing but love for my husband.  He is my college sweetheart.  The love is there but the knowledge that the work lining up with the love is more apparent.  I was one of those sugar cookie kids who got married and had all of this high hopes of what my first year would be. I imagined me leaving love notes all over the place.  I imagined myself just skipping off to the sunset.  I can’t say I didn’t leave  notes in that first year but I probably said more curse words than I had ever before too.  We fought and we fought hard.  I had moments when I thought I would have been better off with an ex.  He and I have talked about this so don’t act like you getting a fresh brew of tea.  You aren’t.  We are human and flawed but perfect for one another.  We have made it through things most people would have been packed up and left. Did I mention my suitcase of clothes for me and the kids that stayed in the car?  Yeah I found myself being a runner.  I run naturally but I found myself running for every little thing.  He came home late, I’m out.  He spent more time with his friends than me, I was out.  Any excuse would tip me over the edge.  I wasn’t ready and if you are like I was, you better count up the cost.

Please know that you can weather the storm through babies, depression, lost of jobs, etc. It will happen.  There’s no escape.  But if you love and truly have love for the woman or man of your dreams, you can do it.  Our motto is “its he and I against the world.”  We know that and live by that.    We had to learn that we were and are on the same team.  Instead of trying to win all the time and seeing the person as an enemy we had to change the mindset.  If you are married you know what I mean.  You know that moment that you ASSume everything.  You know what that usually leads to.  Assumption can lead to more martial strife than anything.  You think you know the person so well that you use what your mind has already told you about what “may” happen and then you go off on that.  I have had plenty of I thought you said arguments than a little bit.  Be clear on what your goals are.  If not than you will find yourself battling for days, weeks even months for something that wasn’t even to be.

Love Week: Love Notes from ToiTime Readers

This week I’m posting various love letters straight from my ToiTime readers.  If you still want a chance to sneak one in for your boo, please send them to latoi.storr@gmail.com

I’ll be releasing these love letters all week long. Trust me there are many so I will make sure each and every letter is released before Valentine’s Day and will end the week by writing mine to my husband.  Happy Love Week!!

Let’s love on each other!!

Michael from New York Writes:

“I just want to let Lorraine know that I absolutely love her.  We have been dating for 4 years now and I know she’s the one for me. I plan to make her my wife very soon.  No one has ever loved on me and encouraged me to be a better man.  She makes me feel like I can do anything just with her presence.  I love you JuJu Bean.  Lets continue this love fest forever!!”

Raynisha from Pittsburgh Writes:

“I was sick of men.  I was so hurt from my last relationship.  I kept swearing off good men just because I wasn’t ready.  I definitely took a chance with Thomas.  He loved me even with all my flaws.  When I needed space he gave it to me. It helped me.  You loved my daughter like she was your own.  I want the world to know that I love you and I’m in love with you.  You make my life that much better!!”

Chanel from Texas Writes:

“I love Kenny with all that I have.  His love is just plain old magical.  He never has let me down and is a man of his word.  He is the most sincere man I know.  I smile everyday because he goes out of his way to make me happy.  He believes in my dreams and not once has asked me to take a back seat to him in anything.  He lets me know that good men do exist.  I love you Kenny!”

 

 

 

Renew your love this Thanksgiving

It’s so easy to not pay attention to the ones around you.  In my house growing up on Thanksgiving we would share with one another the things we are grateful for.  In some larger families this could be awhile.  It’s easy to get caught up in negative things about your spouse, you boo, whatever you call them.

Thanksgiving will be filled with many wonderful things other than a “Pattie Pie.” Take some time to appreciate the one you go to bed at night with.  Most couples are doing what most people are doing and that’s sometimes strictly surviving. However as you’re looking around at the table, take the time to say I love you. Someone wishes they had your portion and you are too consumed with the negativity to appreciate it. Let’s do better!

If you’re a new couple it may come easy as with newness of the relationship may have you in that new glow.  However I can remember the days when even in the newness of a relationship there were difficult times and a smile was hard.  Think about the countless men and women who don’t have someone or lost someone.  Sometimes we take for granted the simplicity of love. Love doesn’t mean the world will be okay.  It does mean that your little world can be better.  Why be with someone who all you do is complain about them and complain to others about them?  This is craziness.  If the love you claim you have is this hard, you might be in the wrong relationship. Yes relationships take work to keep sparks etc alive but if its hard for you to agree with someone every single day-you might need to re-evaluate things.  Being in misery is not where it’s at.

This year write your mate a love letter and share before the day is done.  If you’re not much of a writer, then gift a small trinket of appreciation.  Sometimes maybe that smile that has been long gone will do as well.  My husband and I used to split a piece of pie after the kids had gone to bed and cuddle.  It was a small gesture but it meant the world.  Nothing says love like sharing that last bite.  Whatever you do, don’t leave your mate out.  You can host the best party, serve the best cocktail and go to bed with an empty heart because your mate didn’t even say thank you.  Don’t let that be you this year.  Don’t let it happen.  Show love.  They say charity starts at home and it’s true, make it count this year with the one that you love.

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