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.

Image result for wits end gif

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.

Image result for wits end gif

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.

Image result for wits end gif

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

Sunday Message: Check Yourself in Your Friends 

Happy Sunday to you. I’m hoping that this blog finds you at peace but in case it doesn’t let’s have our Sunday talk. Today is national friends or national friendship day. It’s a day where you celebrate friendships but let’s keep it real not all friendships are one in the same.  Your friends should be a reflection of you. It shouldn’t be forced. It should be a welcoming part of your social life. 

Friends are human and they are capable of change. This can sometimes hurt if you are holding on to what once was. You may find yourself in a friend drought where you have friends but they may be scattered leaving an emptiness in your heart. You may be rebuilding friendships so the closeness may not be there yet. Whatever the reason days where friendships should be celebrated may leave you in your feelings. It’s okay. 

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about friendships along the way:

1. Long time friends aren’t always real friends

Just because you have known someone forever doesn’t mean they are your friend. A friend is someone you can count on, encourages you and is there. Sometimes length of friendships may not allow you to fully see if that person is genuine. Friends don’t hurt you, leave you high and dry, or are cruel. Get clear on who you call or have been calling friend.

2. Keeping it real needs turned off 

We all have different things going on in our hearts. Sometimes the keep it real friend can cross a real boundary. Anything that is being said should always be said in love.  I’ve had friends who had to tell everyone what they “need” to do but the delivery is always bad. If an encounter with your keep it real friend has caused more harm than good you need to evaluate the friendships. You also need to speak up.  People do what you allow. Sometimes you have to tell the keep it real to keep it quiet. Sometimes your spirit don’t need another I told you so moment but hey I’m here for you moment. A friend pushing their agenda over the hurt of a friend is not cool.

3. Gossiping to non real mutual friends is never okay 

Mutual friends means that all parties equally hang out or talk.  If all the parties don’t call each other on the phone and the only denominator is you than gossiping and giving other friend’s tea is off limits.  You are not operating a prayer circle.  You are not keeping others informed.  You are running a gossip train. Sorry not sorry. If you’re the mutual friend and the others don’t talk there could be a reason. The friendship is based on you the mutual friend and the others aren’t automatic friends because of it. Separate the friendships.  Unless abuse is happening there is no reason why one person should be handing out the tea in the name of friendship.  How do you think when everyone comes together your friend will feel knowing that all of the other girls know their personal business before they had a chance to tell it?! Stop this practice.  The reality is if it all good than have the friend whose business it is on the line and let them tell their own business. If you can’t do that than 9 times out of 10 you are just gossiping.

4. Friendships do end 

As hard as it ends not everyone is meant to ride out to the end. This is a hard lesson when dealing with friends. We are conditioned to believe that if the friendship doesn’t continue until the grave it’s not a good relationship. What makes it a wrong relationship is how mutual respect is shown and given during whatever period of time it’s granted. You will always have good times but the times have ended and you can still look back at it and learn from it.  

5. Everyone should be able to win

You ever have that one friend that makes it like they are the only one to have good happen? News flash good happens to all when you’re open to it. One friend attempting to deflect from others to stand out is a clear sign that you aren’t a friend you need an entourage.  

So as you celebrate friendships today take stock of who you chose to be friends with.  Remember it speaks volumes about who you are. If your friend is always whatever negative attribute and you feel the need to down then than maybe do a reality check on what about you allows the same type of stuff into your own spirit. 

Celebrate friendships near and far today. But don’t carry a friendship longer than the expiration date. It may hurt to lose a few along the way but it will hurt you more carrying someone to a new level where they don’t belong 

5 Lessons: Happy 5th Anniversary 

So today is the day. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary. Yes finally we have made it to year 5 and whew God is merciful because we almost didn’t get here. Marriage is hard work. People make it like a fairy tale where you are just so super in love and everything works out. Well I can’t speak for everyone else’s marriage but that isn’t how it works.

Let me break down the years. Our first year we already had our oldest daughter and son. I personally went through the worst post-partum of my life. Between the arguments and threatening to take the kids every other second the first year wasn’t a good year. I thought that since we had known each other forever and a day and was friends first that we wouldn’t be hit with the normal first year drama. I was hella wrong. It was so bad we even went to counseling after 3 months and it was then when I was ready to roll. The dreaded “divorce” came up and we were both ready to end it. Looking at the one that I loved and feeling defeated was humiliating even if a large people had no idea we were at a brink.

I could blame it on the new baby, living with his mom, being a stay at home Mom, and moving to a new city with no support system in place.  The reality is I put forth no effort even though if I could go back to my journal entries I was just angry, tired, and unfulfilled. The reality is that although I loved my husband I wasn’t ready to be a wife in the fullest extent. We had too much going on at one time but I knew when I took my vows that I wanted to be the best wife. What is a good wife? I had no clue no more than he did on what made a good husband.

Years 2-5 were up and down. I remember that the drama from year one spilled into year 2 for sure. I wasn’t sure if going to counseling where I felt like it was on me to suck it up and deal with it all had taken its toll. Our counselor was great. I’m not painting it all bad let me be clear that the Lord knows the many days we went without talking, not on the same page, or was plain sick of each other.

What turned it all around for me personally was at year 3, we had been on the down side of our marriage and Marques looked at me, grabbed my face and asked me was I in or out? He said we can’t threaten to divorce or even attempt it because had we gone down that road again we would be done and not turning back. He said he wanted us to get it together. No more hitting below the belt. No more talking disrespectfully. No more yelling and definitely no arguing in front of the kids. No more planning on leaving or taking the kids. No more craziness from either one of us.

Here are the 5 lessons I learned so far:

1. Happy Wife, happy life isn’t true: I think we as women use that phrase to our advantage sometimes to get what we want. However the key is having a wife who is happy in her own skin. You can’t make a miserable, hurting or unfulfilled person happy. I choose now after the smoke has cleared to get and keep my life grounded and not make it about my relationship alone.
2. I’m not always right.
3. Quietness is good at times.
4. Having my own activities, friends etc is key. Being one doesn’t mean that we have to be joined at the hips. Balancing being a whole woman is key before I can give to my husband or my kids.
5. To laugh-I was too serious trying to be perfect that I became the wife that I never wanted to be.

Marques’ Lessons learned:

1. Communication is important

2. Give respect to get respect

3. Better to listen than to speak

4. Don’t jump to conclusions

5. Don’t harp on things that don’t matter

Marriage life isn’t perfect. However we both are better at balancing. He does the things that make him solid and I do the same. We both don’t put pressure on each other to be who we aren’t. We are learning to accept each other’s flaws.  We have gotten super solid as a team. Since year 3 we made it clear to those around us that we are a real team. No nonsense will be accepted and we don’t give others front row seats to play us against one another. We shut the door. If you see us we work more behind the scenes without having to be open to listen to all advice from everyone without listening to each other for what we need. I respect all marriage but we no longer mirror our marriage in compassion to what works for another couple.  We are different and what works for another couple doesn’t work for us and vice versa.

Relationships goals are what we set between us during pillow talk and not just cute pictures to display a falsehood of love and admiration. We are our own relationship goals!!

So happy anniversary to us, Mr. and Mrs. Storr!!

Our Engagement Story: October 16, 2010 (Sweetest Day)

So on October 15, 2010 my friend Colleen came to pick me up.  She had called me several times before about the birthday party I was supposed to attend for my boyfriend at the time’s uncle birthday.  I really want to downplay what I was going to wear. However Marques had already gotten me a dress that we picked out a few weeks ago and with the dress I figured let me get to the salon and get my hair done.She took me to one of her girls and she did my hair.  I got my nails done and proceeded with my normal day.

On Saturday October 16, 2010 I drove to Philly but I had to make a stop to pick Marques up from the train station.  He had went on a business trip.  We got to the house I talked with his mom and then we went to the mall because he said he had to get a gift for his uncle.  We left the mall with no gift.  He said he couldn’t find anything.  We managed to eat and then back home to get dressed.  On the way there he says that one of his cousins might try to be late and he had to call them.  He pulled over on the side of the road and asked if the cousin had arrived and then he had to fix his clothes.  In my normal what are you doing, I asked him if he could wait until we got to our destination to fix his clothes.

Well we pull up to Maggiano’s and I ran into a long time friend. I wasn’t paying any attention until we walked into the room and I saw his family than I looked over and saw my college girlfriends sitting at the table and I knew this couldn’t have been for his uncle birthday.  I looked back and saw my parents and family and best friend sitting at a table and I knew immediately but I didn’t want to play myself.

He came in the room turned on the most beautiful photo spread and video and asked for my hand in marriage.  I was floored.  I couldn’t believe it. All the things I had in my mind I could barely say much but yes!!  His family was clowning him I do remember that asking what would he have done if I said no, but Marques knew I wouldn’t have said no.

The back story is that my college girlfriends had arrived Friday and were staying at the house.  When I got there they had left and basically it was arranged for them to get dressed and not be in the house so I wouldn’t see them.  But we had crossed paths and  I had no clue.  He had my parents and family there and the only times I remember them interacting was for the sake of our daughter.  It was a really beautiful time. Oh and there was no business trip.  It was a way to divert me from going to house.

Image result for he put a ring on it gif

He put a lot of effort into this day.  I totally appreciated it all.  The other part to the proposal is the ring.  The ring was incredibly beautiful.  When he and I were dating back in the day, I would get my Essence magazines and read them.  In the magazine were always Tacori ring advertisements.  I fell in love with them.  They are super expensive sets.  Trust me. However he would ask me questions as to why I liked those rings.  My answer is simple, I loved how the band had diamonds all around it.  I like the princess cut and halo rings.  I liked how it looked different from other rings to me.  He never forgot that conversation. I later found out not how much he spent but trust me he wanted my social security number like Martin did Pam in the Martin comedy series but the effort.  It was the fact that he went and literally put this ring together.  He got the center stone from one place, got a setting and had it put together to my specifications like a Tacori ring.  So for that this ring means the world to me because of him listening to me, and knowing my style.  He could have gotten any ring and I would have loved it but the ring was made for me and it makes it that much more special.  Oh and my favorite food is Italian.  My favorite color is red he incorporated it all into the day.  We went to Maggiano’s at our first anniversary and the flood of emotions still gets me.  Marques has always been great with large gestures, the proposal was an extension of that.  To this day we celebrate Sweetest Day even when others don’t.  It’s our own special Valentine’s Day.

Image result for he put a ring on it gif

I asked him why he proposed, and it was simple, he loved me and it was time.  Also he told me that I was by his side throughout the years he wanted to give me the ring that I loved and he did!!!

 

Shout out to all of our family and friends who helped in the background to pull that day off!!

 

5 years of Marriage: Day #1 Dating woes 1999 Style

I want to introduce this week’s guest for the blog and that is none other than my husband Marques. We are going to take you back to the first times, the good times, the bad times and the intense times as we celebrate one whole hand of marriage.

Dating is a beautiful thing. It lets you know if you have what it takes to make it. We definitely know what that’s like. Dating in 1999 and then separating and coming back together with a child in tow, getting engaged, second baby on the way, moving in together with his mom, getting married, having a 3rd baby, moving out and the big D (divorce) all in the middle, no wonder we made it. It’s no secret to love. It’s hard work and for us, unconventional. We have bruises and scars but we pressing.

How did we meet?

In August 1999 Marques was coming out of the Shields Building, at Pennsylvania State University and I was going into the building.  We were introduced by our mentor at the time and I was with my roommate who happened to have the same name. Marques made a joke about our names and made me laugh.  Laughter was probably one of my first memories of him. Marques was witty and definitely caught my eye physically.

Marques: She was cute. Well a little more than cute and we were introduced by our mentor. I went home and called my best friend and told him that I would look her name up on campus.  I knew I would see her on campus since we were in the same scholarship program.  I told her at some point that she was going to be my main chick.

Latoi: I was clear that there would be no main anything. I was either one and only or nothing.

Image result for lies you tell gif

First Date

We went out parents weekend. It’s a big time on campus where parents came and see the progress that their kids were making.

Latoi: Now let me back up to how the date was being prepared.  My parents and I had an interesting day. My cousin was in a fraternity so we stopped by their apartment and my dad about had an entire dad attack. I had the shortest mini dress on so I can understand why my dad wasn’t feeling the attention he saw me getting. Being a PK aka a preacher’s kid doesn’t allow for you to have your own identity. I asked my mom to do my hair. She did. She thought she was doing my hair so I could be “right” on campus but I was trying to get right for Marques.

Now here’s where it gets tricky and especially since we met in 1999 dates seem to fuse themselves together. I say our first date was the movies he says it was Red Lobster.  The one thing we agree on is he was late. Wasn’t no Bey biscuit situation going on at that time either.

Marques: I was late since I had been with my mom earlier and time went over. I borrowed my moms car and came to get her but I admit I was late. Another thing we agree on is that we were both nervous. We were good friends and did the whole talking on the phone for hours at a time. There was definitely a comfortable feeling but since we met within the scholarship program only our closest few friends knew we were going on a date.

Official 

We became official in January but not without our share of drama or I should say mine (Toi). I felt at the time I was under pressure from myself to maintain this picture of a perfect child that often times when asked by my parents I would lie about dating Marques. I lied so much about the relationship that it spiraled out of control and I was caught between lying on the intensity of our relationship or being transparent and I choose to hide.

Image result for love our love gif

I didn’t think the relationship was able to survive it but it did and in January we were officially a couple. It wasn’t peaches and cream but we made it through. It was the first of many trials that would touch our relationship.

First Year of Dating

Marques: In the first year of dating it was the perfect honeymoon. It was the most fun that I had. We did everything together. Latoi was the perfect blend to my life until she chose her family over me.  I was hurt, disappointed and upset.

Latoi: Our first year of dating was intense. It was the first adult relationship I had. He was my first in all aspects and that dynamic alone and trying to figure out my first years away became problematic. I learned early on that if Marques and I was going to work I had to let my guard down of who I was and fuse that to who I had become and be okay with the fall out either way.

Image result for lies you tell gif

Redemption 

Marques: Latoi called me and apologized. I was willing to talk and work it out.  Latoi invited me to come down and spend time with her family and we attended several churches. Although it wasn’t about the services, it was more of going public and setting the tone that we wanted to go the distance.

Latoi: I really didn’t want him to attend church with me on the basis of it making things better.  I was changing and knew how my church family was and knew that he could have preached in those churches and it still would have been a thing. Everything at the time was about appearances and not being real. I learned not to let other’s opinions change who I had chosen to love. From then on I enjoyed my relationship and let us have our own issues without everyone’s hand in it.

Image result for love our love gif

Even thinking about the first years of dating, it would be a piece of cake compared to our first year of marriage….

No Dads Allowed, If You Believe the BS!

So a few weeks ago I asked several followers who had kids under 10 to help me with today’s blog. I want to thank all of the women who responded. I needed women who were considered the main primary care giver to their children even with men, fathers, boyfriends, husbands, etc that are stand up men assisting.

So what I have found is that even with the most hands on men often times it is still being viewed as the “woman’s job.” Let’s que in today’s news story where a mom of 2 took her oldest child to his or her sporting event. While there she got a call from her boyfriend who was sitting with their 4 week old daughter. The boyfriend got frustrated with the baby and shook the baby. The baby was rushed to the hospital and after 2 days in the ICU, the baby passed away. Prayers go out to the family at this time!

In the comments sections was uploads of women who said the mom was responsible for allowing her 4 week old to be left with their dad. The mother was interviewed and didn’t have an idea that the child’s own father would cause harm. So my issue is two-fold. There are some men that shouldn’t be left with kids. However with my same thought process with it I feel a woman shouldn’t have a child with a man she doesn’t trust.  There are horrible people in general and becoming a parent won’t always change the evil in their heart if it’s there.A woman can be a primary care giver to her children. However in 2017 men are stepping up and out when it comes to being hands on with their kids.

No kids…What I wouldn’t do edition

So the part of child raising goes to mostly people who have no kids who make the comments of what they would allow or wouldn’t allow if and when they have kids. Their comments aren’t the issue as the delusion that they seem to have. I do believe that you can set up in your home where both mom and dad do for their kids. We have that in our home. It’s not on me to do it all. My husband willingly jumps into his role and does what is necessary. However the ones who have no children who say I wouldn’t allow my husband to not do…..

Listen, no one knows how things will pan out UNTIL you are in a situation. The things I even said I would or wouldn’t do or allow when I had kids has been tested.

He should just know….

The kids become the primary focus. If your husband is hands on but not as hands on enough will you allow your kids to go without to prove a point? I would hope not. Would you continue in an argumentative state and have the home filled with hate and yelling just because for example the man in the home won’t put a load of laundry in not because you asked but because he “should have just known” to do it but didn’t.  The “my husband or boyfriend would know better” is a lie. Explain to me how new parents who are new to the parent game can play mind games are supposed to also know what to do? Women who are supposed to have natural instincts to take care of kids need help and learn as they go. But not your knowing man he just knows. Raising kids take patience and is one of the biggest learning curves that a human will ever experience.

I can speak as a woman who is a mother and wife and say that often times even from most of the women who I interviewed is that women don’t speak up and say exactly what they need. No man is a mind reader. If you’re the main care giver does that mean that you can’t ask your mate or child’s father for specific help? No you can and you must.

The women who beat that mother up about the child’s father killing the baby are displaced. A man can be with their child. It is the actions of that horrible man who killed the child. Unless the women who were in the comment sections have PROOF that the mother had known he was a killer or had these tendencies to harm than it goes to show you how women are programmed to belief that men should only procreate leaving women alone to raise their kids. This is BS. Raising a family takes the same two people who laid down to make sure their needs are met. If one or both of them do something right or wrong it’s a team effort.

So how about we monitor who we first have kids with. Be the best parents we can be to our children. If you’re a mom who is drowning with children and you have their dad in their life, speak up. Ask specifically for what you need and ultimately about what your child needs.  Your child deserves to be raised by a mom who isn’t always super stressed. Sometimes by not asking puts you and your kids more at risk for more stressors. Ask the single mom with no help.  She is under pressure. A married mom or a mom with help that doesn’t ask, is acting under the same guise.

Being a mom is hard work. I personally can go to work all day and come home and think man work was a piece of work in comparison.  Then even as a stay at home mom which I did for 3 years, no job combined was more than being a mom.

Ladies with men helping allow these men to help. Ask for what you need and the bigger issue is do not nit pick how it was done. Our men won’t have the same instinct or know how like we may have but if you want to foster a give and take relationship than ask for what you need. You aren’t less than a mom to do so. It wasn’t meant to be your shoulders alone. Women can raise these babies by themselves but a good man won’t allow you to. However they also don’t want to be killed by your rolled eyes, deep sighs, and berating either.

Mommy wars…mind your uterus

Ladies single or not if you’re a mom stop these mommy wars. We are all trying to figure it out. When you hear a woman who makes claims that you have already tested and no won’t work just smile, you know when their time comes that life will hit the most organized, well put together woman and child-birth is the testing grounds should they WANT to do so. Also for my moms stop asking women with no kids when and if they are going to have a baby. Some women don’t want any. Guess what?! They don’t have to either.

Let’s mind our own uterus and get our men to help us more. Ask for help. Don’t do it all and still look for help where you won’t allow that man to help by simply asking and letting him do it.

Lastly to the men, it’s simply not enough to have your presence in the home. You work and your wife or girlfriend did too whether in the home or not. If you see toys that needs picked up. Do it. If you see your lady needs help you can ask or do a few things to assist her. You can send her for some time alone while you help with the kids you both made. The little things add up!

However raising kids should be a joint ever when it can be and if you are a man you have the same need to be hands on not just a financer for your children. Kids need to be supported and it’s not just a woman’s job it’s the parents job to raise them!!

Beach Day aka Peace

So yesterday I had my annual beach day. What a great time. It was everything I needed and more. I went to Belmar Beach in Jersey. It’s super nice and not too crowded.

Let’s talk about the things that was different from last year. One I didn’t get to the beach until like noon. That is like beach no no. Normally I like to get there by 9 so I can get settled before the swarm of people come. Getting there at noon meant no umbrellas was available to rent. So I settled with the beach chair. Another issue with getting there later than normal is parking. I was super far and it felt like I parked in Philly and walked to the beach. None the less I got snuggled into my spot and got to my me day.  I sat there super proud yet again. 2 years in a row and I didn’t let even my surgery stop me from having this time to renew. 

I let those who I needed to know I was safe and the first agenda, a nap. I don’t know if it was that yesterday was national nap day but I got one. Armed with my beach hat to shield me from the sun I got some good sleep. There actually was a breeze and clouds so it wasn’t at all bad weather wise. However after my nap the sun came and stayed so I ended up having some awesome fries and a smoothie from Cruz Bay Cafe. These fries was so good. I was determined not to eat anything too heavy especially with the heat.

After that I read a book, got in the water, stayed off of social media for the most part and wrote in my journal in between some great snacking.  As my time came to a close I decided to walk the board walk. During that time I met a young woman who was traveling solo. We ended up having an acai bowl at Playa Bowls. If you ever had a bowl from there you know just how good they are for you and to you.  We talked about everything. She’s in the middle of a divorce and having to figure her new life out. I just encouraged her to find out who she is now. What she wants from her new relationship with her soon to be ex husband and how to keep her wits about her. She said she doesn’t have a lot of friends and I explained to her how I felt during my move to Philly. I encouraged her to get out and get into some new activities. 

I also did a LOT of people watching. I saw a guy who was on clear house arrest but he was out splashing around. My thought is he must have a window of time to be out but he was definitely out there enjoying himself. I have to say that’s a first that I’ve seen someone on house arrest out at the beach but hey he’s minding his business so I simply observed and kept it moving. 

The best part is always that it’s my time. I don’t take any of my family with me since the kids are unpredictable with the beach and my husband hates sand between his toes. It’s a win for me to indulge in the peace of watching the waves, hearing the sound of the water, enjoying the sand in my toes and literally getting quiet. I love this time. It’s all mine. Not to mention I had some great snacks that I didn’t have to share with little hands. That’s always a plus. 

I got some clarity and I can’t wait to implement them. I got some fresh ideas for the blog and some series to do as well.  So be on the look out for them as I release them in the coming months.  

As always I encourage everyone to take some time out for themselves. Nothing like peace that is priceless. No excuse to making sure that you are the priority. I look forward to getting ready to go back to work soon. I think anyway. But until then I will be focusing on my next appointments, and crossing off my summer wish list.  I’m more determined to get things done even if that means going solo.