Keep your Thanksgiving Wits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Checking in on Your Loved Ones

There is something to be said when you check in on your loved ones. Whether it’s a quick check in or a full on call and listen session we need to be proactive in doing more for each other. We are connected and we need to keep that connection as strong as it possibly can be. We need to do a better job on spreading love to everyone and even the ones we know well. We tend to give better compliments to strangers at times than we do to those we are around. Be the type of person that is nurturing to one another and attempt to find the good in your circle of loved ones.

So for that I am challenging all of my followers to do a quick check in. I know that often times we use text messages and we don’t talk on the actual phone, but it may be time to do a full on call. You can use text messages as a lead way but overall it would be good to hear a voice and be sure that your friends and family are truly okay. Its getting colder out and seasonal depression is real. Even the ones who you think is totally fine and there are no issues present could be fighting a silent fight.

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You would do yourself a disservice to ignore your loved ones in this season. So spend a little time and make it your business to reach out to a few folks over the next couple of weeks. Be sure that if you do that you ask open-ended questions too. Sometimes people will hit you with the yes and no and true interaction is engaging. Also keep in mind some people are private. Make sure the conversation and space is safe for them to open up and speak. Don’t judge what they have to say. Just be sure that you are truly inviting and be there. Some people don’t want a fix they just need to vent. I want to be able to look back and know that I attempted to be there for my friends and loved ones and I encourage you to do the same!!

Sunday Message: Being Aware

One of the biggest things that we don’t always do is make ourselves aware of ourselves. This week I was super agitated. It wasn’t anything that anyone had done. I had to find a balance between the news and all of the events surrounding myself.  It was hard to balance. I found myself semi-triggered at times. Thinking to myself how hard it was to not be upset because whatever was going on around me was triggered.

I had to remove myself from conversations with certain people this week. I had to walk away and say I can’t do anymore than I am doing. As someone who is an ultimate care giver, I find myself in that mode all the time.  My kids can be at school all day and I am still over thinking about what has to be done as soon as I get home. It’s a part of my personality honestly to be on top of it all.  With wanting to stay up to date with current events especially with the elections around the corner, researching candidates so I can make an informed decision, self-care, eating right, working out, and training for this half marathon has been mentally draining. I swear my wrist got tired just typing all of that. Nonetheless taking a moment when I took a step back to see when I was breathing heavier trying to prevent myself from reacting, or watching my kids laugh instead of just walking around like a stress bomb made me take more account of myself.

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What do I need? It’s always okay to step out and grab what you need in the moments but we pretend that we have to have it altogether and we don’t. Being aware of my husband and the things he is processing is a learned skill. To know when he needs me to just let him talk so he can vent and I just listen has been a task this week.  It is hard because we all have stuff pulling on us.  Being aware when my kids just want more hugs instead of me so excited for their bedtime so I can decompress.  It was a challenge this week. It wasn’t this natural happy flow. I had to work at it. I had to step back and make myself be in the moments.

What are you needing to be aware?  What can being aware help you accomplish?  You will be surprised of the inspiration that comes from it. You will be more zen to handle your life instead of your life handling you. Take a moment and be in the moments of life. Don’t let time slip by and you don’t even know how you got there!

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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!!

 

What your Married Friends Won’t Tell You

So I am going to a wedding today.  I know without a doubt this union is just going to be a beautiful celebration of two people who really do love each other and who are both committed to being there for one another.  Going to weddings when you are married is supposed to remind you of your own vows.  You get that rush of feeling when you think of the nervousness of both individuals and you remember how you felt doing the same thing.  Marriage is a lifetime committment and that committment can be easy-going but filled with the ups and downs of life.  So here are a few things that married people don’t share but its true.

  1. You will get on each others nerves-I know in the fairy tales the man and woman marry and then they live happily ever after but in planet Reality, it’s not true all the time.  Your mate will get on your last nerve and then resurrect that nerve and get on it again and again and again.  Yes and some more.  This is the closest person to you and they know all of your ups and downs as well as your triggers.  Love is forever but staying in that forever moment take works.
  2. You will not be in a blissful state of euphoria every minute of your marriage.  Cue in the flowers, lingerie, and happy smiles marriage is work.  I think I said that before but marriage is work.  You will have to be intentional in creating happy spaces of your marriage.  You will also need to be prepared for the down times as well as make sure you are already on a stable foundation.
  3. Your first few years are the hardest.  You may find that your temperament will change as you ride the waves of this new life.  You may argue for the first time since you called your little baby boo, teddy bear, love muffin yours.  This will pass.  If you notice that you are having more trouble than most than seek counseling.  But know its normal to disagree.  Don’t stress and if you can’t find a solution than let an argument settle and come back to it.  Take a time out.  It’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither do all arguments.
  4. Sometimes you will crave your own space.  You got married to be one, but you don’t have to be joined at the hip.  However there will be time when life pushes you more and more together and if you aren’t careful can push you away from your own dreams.  You have a help mate which means someone to help you along the journey of life but not to be your life.  Make time to love on each other and still have to cultivate your own passions.
  5. Life changes.  This has to be said.  Marriage is not just a piece of paper.  It binds you in spirit and love.  That changes the game altogether.  You are no longer on an island you are responsible for each other and the family and life you have.  Going with the flow isn’t easy for everyone that is why the person you pick to spend your life with is super important.  You want to be sure that the person is willing to take care of you if you lost all of your limbs, lost your mind, or got severely sick.  Why pick a person who will run at the slightest sign of danger.  You are wasting the time you could be with the one who really wants to be just be there.  They should want to be there just because they love you and love doing for you and with you.
  6. Sex is important.  I know you hear stories of wives who only have sex 3 times a year: birthday, Christmas, and anniversaries.  Although it’s not my place to say how often a couple should be having it, if you ask the couple separately there will always be one that wants it more and the other who wants it less.  Whether you believe in sex before marriage or not, talking about sex and the expectations should be discussed before hand.  Why be married to the one person who is to fulfill your needs and find out that they aren’t going to or have no intention of doing so.  This is crushing, especially in lines of honoring your vows.  If you are to honor your vows and that means not sleeping around than you should be able to be sexually free with your mate.  This takes time and being on the same page outside of the bedroom.  Also be realistic.  Once babies, sickness or anything else life swings your way will change-up the rhythm.  It takes two to tango.  If you hear from a married friend that something is wrong in the timing of sex in their lives, always remember there are always two sides and in the middle is always a big misunderstanding. Communication and the lack thereof is always the culprit.
  7. Communication is a big issue in marriage and it can make or break the relationship.  Money is tied or sometimes seen as number one but communication is the culprit before money.  If you can’t communicate and if you struggle like I do at times than you must have someone willing to help you close that gap or is patient. You have to be able to open up.  Men you will definitely know you are marrying or have married the right one when you don’t want to communicate but its something about the lady in your life that pushes you past your comfort level of opening up. How you say what you say is actually more important than the words you say. Saying hey you lost yourself and you look horrible is way off track than saying hey what is going on and how can I help you get back to your happy place.  See the difference. I tell my husband all the time you can the same thing and use tact and tact will get you everything with me.  Its super true.  I love that man and if he comes correct 99% he can get whatever he needs within reason.
  8. Money is something to be on top of. I don’t like money talks. I hate them to be honest.  I always feel like I am being talked to like a child when it comes to money.  I am the type that is like just tell me what I need to contribute to and move on but it doesn’t always work that way.  You can’t be afraid to know where you stand. I encourage every woman who is reading this blog if you are in a marriage to know the ends and outs of what is coming in and what is coming out. You should have copies of every important financial document and know the status everything concerning you and your households.  Do you know how many women just because they are stay at home moms or aren’t working that don’t know this information.  If something happens to that man you can’t write a check, drive, or even know if you can bury that man-nothing. Change that.  You need to be partners in life which means that you must be partners who have full rights.  Every partner should have all the cards facing up.
  9. Happy wife, happy life is a lie and a truth at the same time.  Happy wife starts with a happy wife than you can do things to make her happy after her happiness is fulfilled.  Let me share a little confession, I am not that happy wife all the time.  This takes practice. I would encourage all soon to be wives and those wanting to be wives to do some work on yourself before you join yourself to someone.  It takes a lot of out of the marriage to constantly try to make a miserable person happy.  You can kill a person trying to do the most.  Once you have a happy wife than men its up to you to make sure you keep her love bucket full and vice versa the same applies to the ladies.  Love on yourself and never forget the reason why you got married is the key to keeping you as an individual happy therefore making a happy marriage.
  10. Marriage isn’t for everyone.  I know we know about the divorce rates but that isn’t supposed to scare you.  Marriage is what you and your mate put into it.  What people don’t tell you is to never judge your marriage off of what others around you do.  What makes one marriage work never applies to all marriages.  So be careful comparing and water your own garden.