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

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

man and woman surrounded by grass

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

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

 

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Sunday Message: Controlling Your Triggers

We all have triggers.  Triggers are the things that we see, experience, or are around us that pushes an emotional response.  We all have to find a way to control them, handle them and most importantly address them.

Some people deal with them in healthy ways such as counseling, talking to a trusted associate or friend or acknowledge them.  The unhealthy way of dealing with triggers is hoping they will simply go away, drugs, sex, relationships, etc. I am aware of my triggers because I have had more times of not handling them right that I had no choice but address them.  I was tired of arguing, yelling, ready to fight, and being about drama to deflect what I hadn’t acknowledged.  It was too much to keep things going!  My tipping point came when I got into it with family and it spilled over into social media. I knew at that moment that I had to disengage, take a break, and handle the root of the issue. So instead of worrying who was wrong, I just dug deep into getting my life aligned. Now the issues that came up didn’t  disappear but with the help of my counselor I worked through!  Funny part I was in counseling and she told me that the situation was going to happen.  It was almost verbatim how she described it.  It’s funny now but then I was one split second from bail.

I have since seen a few family members since the whole breakdown and nothing on he inside of me moves. I hold no malice.  However there are other triggers that I still work through quite often.  For me they come out when I handle my children. My kids are good overall but they will every now and again make me tap into something and I find I have to work through some things. Parenthood in my opinion is sharpening me to be a better version of myself.  I owe it to my children to be the parent that they need and not the parent that is in constant fight or flight so that is why I have been in and out of therapy since I had my oldest and she will be 10 this year. I  have no embarrassment at all with saying that in order to control how I walk in this world is to have help. I want to spend my days being whole and not a whole mess.

How do you know that you are being triggered? Listen to yourself.  The things you speak about portray where you are.  If all you speak about is certain people or things that aren’t about building you to be your best, that issue you speak on still has life and you need to really deal with.  When I as having marital issues and not speaking and listening to my husband all I spoke about was negativity of our marriage.  I also would speak negatively about the imagery of other positive marriages. This is where the term hating does apply. I wanted my marriage to be a safe space.  I wanted it to be strong from the inside out and would take issue with others who appeared that way.  I wasn’t strong enough to be real about my part in my marriage. I never acknowledged how my triggers were not my husband’s to deal with.  I wanted him to be understanding and fix me while I acted a fool and hide behind “for better or for worse.”

adult alone autumn brick

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We are responsible for our own happiness. We want others to care about our triggers more than we are wiling to deal and handle them.  It’s not enough to be understanding as you watch a partner do nothing.  How about just regular folks watching you wallow in your triggers.  Are your friends supposed to carry your triggers and the bad behavior they often demonstrate?  They can love and be supportive but they are limited in making things okay. I blogged the other day about who my friends were present for my most colorful times with Marques in college. Looking back they should have raised the standard for our behavior in that if we wanted to hang the drama couldn’t come.  Triggers place distance between people.  Triggers is the cause of why hurt people hurt people.  It’s simply still not okay to contain hurting people and having expectations that your relationship, title, or age will grace you.

You need to speak for, handle, and show up for that inner pain and deal with it. You need to trust me it’s in your best interest.  Everyday I wake up even when the day before  might have allowed  a trigger to get the best of me and show up for myself.  It’s important for me to mirror wholeness to myself as well as my children. Also social media and triggers is real. I do not argue  with folks on social media. Debate is a thin line to fighting too.  I will debate you with maybe 2 exchanges and that’s it.  It also depends on the topic. The trolls will never engage me.  Also if its family or friends that I have personal numbers to, it’s a no automatically. First I don’t post too many subjective things and on top of that I think about whether or not its someone who has a front row or at least a few rows into my life for me to get hype and it has zero outcome.  Also don’t let what you think you see on Facebook. I knew of several males who made who dedications to their wives and was cheating the whole time using hashtags like couple goals.  Life is complicated and comparison will leave you  in self defeat! Don’t do it!

One last thing, in life we can’t always retreat but one of the things that can assist in healing is separation.  I was told when I stated I needed to separate from individuals that I was wrong.  I knew what I needed.  I knew I wasn’t going to be okay from years of mess by staying in the midst.  My counselor allowed me to see that the person needed me to stay and work things out because staying gave the other party to believe that things weren’t as bad as it was. I didn’t care if I was looked as wrong.  I no longer wanted to be right. I wanted to be free to live and love.  I needed healing from my triggers.  I needed to separate to walk in real wholeness and know right or wrong I was entitled to how I felt but not entitled to react negatively to it!  Working through triggers is a daily tussle.  However if you are overwhelmed or feel overtaken in your triggers, its time to acknowledge it and get help!

Philly Theatre Week; February 7-17th

Theatre week is back.  A 10 day festival of some of the best that Philly has to offer in theatre.  81 organizations will host 100 events with 315 performances.  All of the performances are either free, $15 or $30 dollars making it affordable to experience these performances.

There are performances for everyone from Valentine’s Day themed, Black History themed, regional theatre and the classics as well.

Philly Theatre Week was the brainchild of Goldenberg and her team at Theatre Philadelphia. The idea dates back to 2017 when Goldenberg was in search of a new flagship program that would focus on inclusivity and reducing barriers to participation.

“Theatre Philadelphia wanted to create a new signature program that would draw even more attention to the region’s theatre organizations and artists,” added Goldenberg. “We wanted to make a big and impactful statement about the importance of theatre in our city and region, and bring artists together in a collaborative and equitable format. Like Philly Beer Week, Center City Restaurant Week or Philly Tech Week, this festival celebrated theatre alongside our city’s other flagship events that are nationally known and recognized.”

Philly Theatre Week is presented by Theatre Philadelphia in partnership with TodayTix and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional Theatre Philadelphia funding is provided by the WIlliam Penn Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation.

Theatre Philadelphia has partnered with the international ticketing platform TodayTix for 2019 Philly Theatre Week to offer reduced-price tickets exclusively through the app. For select performances with participating theaters, $15 and $30 tickets will be available for purchase. Reservations for free events can also be made through TodayTix. Download the TodayTix app or visit the website for more information.

For additional information, please visit www.phillytheatreweek.com or call 267-761-9950.

Kids at the theatre

So today I took the kids to the preview of Philly theatre week at the Cherry Street Pier. I didn’t tell them where we were going because I wanted to be sure that they went in and experience it all on their own. After making sure that once we got there they weren’t disrespectful to the actors of which by the way they weren’t, I was delighted to see how much they enjoyed. We got a preview of ENAensemble. What I liked about this particular theatre group is that they were from the time we entered the door and until we left their presence, were extremely interactive.

Anais Navarro-Murphy caught my youngest daughter’s eye. A lot of people don’t realize that although my youngest is assertive she’s just as shy. However she comes alive through music and dance. I just sat and watched the way she didn’t take her eyes off of her. Anais must have seen her too because she took the time to come to her and show her how to read sheet music. Now I know my youngest didn’t really understand fully, but she was mesmerized. I appreciated Anais taken that time with her. Didn’t help that the kids were able to do a little face painting afterwards!

I explained to my children how behind the scenes it takes a lot of work and dedication to put a show together, perform in front of people and how dedicated they are in their craft. I love exposing my children to new things and I was honored for them to see a variety of performances.

ENAensemble allowing audience members to direct the piece

Take the time to enjoy this 10 day treat!! Get your tickets and get out to these wonderful pieces!!

 

Today is Self Renewal Day

What do you do to self renew?  There are a million and one ways to renew.  Renewal of any kind means to reset. This is taking deliberate time out for yourself to get your body, mind and head in the game of life. Although it is celebrated as a holiday for today I like to think this goes along with self-care which should be done daily.

For me I try to do self-care and self renewal daily. I like to switch it up it may be with changing the scents of my bath bombs, using my body exfoliation and turning shower time into a home spa. Sometimes it’s shutting the bathroom door and listening to an uplifting song. It may be going to the nail salon and coffee shop.  My self-care rituals can be as a big or as small as I need them. How you preserve your mind is important. Sometimes it may come in the form of no. I have had to cancel plans if I feel overwhelmed. It happens!  I have a lot on my plate. However what I have learned is saying NO without explanation. This is a big one even to elders. You can be respectful even with a NO.

african american woman black girl black woman chair

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So renewal is necessary. It really should be a part of your daily process that its normal. So many times I hear things like I don’t have time. Make time. I make me a priority while I jumble a busy schedule. I take time out for me because I know the second I don’t everyone around me is going to catch it. Why have the folks around you suffer and to be honest, why would you have yourself suffer?  If you know you can’t do more, don’t take on more. It sounds more simple than it sounds because you have allowed the notion of more is better. Sometimes less is more. Don’t over exert your energies where it’s not being replenished. You can’t fill someone up from an empty cup.

When I feel like I can’t tap into myself, I ask why?  What is going on inside of me that makes me feel like I can’t take a break. My husband is good at saying, sit down it will be there later. Often times I give him a look but the reality is others can see sometimes what we can. Do not sit and think that by asking for help you are less than who you are.  Help is great. Help allows you more time not to find things to put in its place but to be sooner so you can do something you enjoy. I often now have it so that when the kids go down I like to have my kitchen cleaned and food put away so that remainder of the night I can focus on what I like.  That is my time to get my wine glass should I want or take an extra long shower or even go to bed early. Getting rest is self-renewal too. Naps are a blessing that blesses those around you!

Take time today to renew. You hold the power. Today I will be taking some magazine and wine down time. Its quiet and I can shut the door and enjoy my me time. Renew yourself today!

Sunday Message: Adjusting but not Breaking

Life throws curve balls. We all have had moments when something happens and it leaves you doubting yourself, hurt, or even confused. This week has been that week.  When life is constantly changing, being able to change will help.  However there are moments when things are so overwhelming that sometimes all you can do is just be still.

No response. No answer in sight. No beautiful encouraging words. Just silence. At first the silence is fine. You carry on with your day. You attempt to do what you can until something changes. Over time silence hurts. You wonder why.  You ask a thousand questions. No answers comes. You hear people say it will get better while you’re desperately searching for better and its so far off you FEEL defeated. However the pain, don’t break.

adult dark depressed face

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Don’t break because you’re supposed to be strong. You can still be strong at the midst of a breakage but don’t break.  You can be strong and cry. You can be strong and have fear just don’t let it over take you.  There are hard times going on all over the world. From furloughed employees struggling to live, to people dying, to people stress about their day-to-day decisions, know that you have to keep going because you depend on you.

Adjusting is hard. It could be in the form of adjusting your attitude. I had a situation that I had no idea what to do. Right at the point of being mad, I adjusted, a call came in. It didn’t take away the problem but it aligned the problem to better so I could handle it. There is no magic trick but our attitudes does determine our altitude.  Remember that. Believe that. Live it!

I can’t wave a magical wand in life.  If I could I surely would.  However I am not going to break even when breaking seems like the only viable option. Even when my chest feels up with pain from anxiety. Even when I feel like I am going to lose it, don’t break! Sending you love and encouragement your way on this Sunday!

Sunday Message: Stop Fighting

When I was younger I didn’t get into a lot of fights but the ones that I did get into I definitely finished them. Fighting back in the day was a means of survival. I definitely wasn’t the one to start a physical fight but like my mom always taught me don’t write a check your behind can’t cash, so I made sure I protected myself and my twin.

As I got older I’ve gotten into more verbal altercations than physical. Contrary to most I can handle myself. Words can sometimes be more cutting than fights. Up until a few years ago I would go in on folks. My personality is strong. I’m usually quiet and reserved but is pushed or provoked I’m not the one to back down. I’ve learned that some fights aren’t even worth it. Some back and forth rob you of peace. The last big verbal altercation had me pacing back and forth, heated, and ready to escalate. I knew I could easily make it physical and after 30, unless my kids are in danger, what’s the point?!

So why do we engage in these types of fights? To prove ourselves right? Then what? What do I gain? Nothing. So now I try not to engage with people who I know I might lose my cool and over the last few years I’ve spent more time working on me. Working on my triggers so that if ever confronted again I’ll pass the test. Working on why the issues began. Some of it goes to my childhood and some unresolved issues that I didn’t speak on.

I was talking to a friend and she was telling me about some folks she rarely sees. On average she sees them maybe once a year. I understood that when with a yearly visit how irritating some people can be. She was putting into plan all the things she was going to say. I stopped her and reminded her that she needs to not focus on what to say to them but how to maintain her peace. She was more worked up on making her points to folks who could probably care less. I encouraged her to switch the plan. Instead of being in defense, lower her defense and just be cordial. If anything is brought up, deal with it and have an exit plan for herself. Of course she hit me with the but you don’t get it. Mind you I had been listening but the whole time she hasn’t realized all she is doing is giving life to someone she only interacts for a year. She was giving them the power of dictating her emotions about the issues instead of dealing with it.

She’s going into the situation with her arms up to jab instead of being protectant of herself. She’s ready to fight. She has no idea what has changed in a year. I’m not saying her feelings aren’t valid. They are. However you can’t let your feelings to take complete control. She has to interact with folks or remove herself completely. The middle would be cordial until they aren’t. There’s always a middle. In her situation for her to not interact at least on a case be case measure would be a domino effect to her main relationship. I could hear that she was getting it.

After she calmed down from thinking I wasn’t listening, she started crying. FYI she’s given me permission to share this story. She had been getting sick and doctors were finding nothing wrong with her. She allowed the stress of the people she had a bad interaction with to stress her for over a year. She doesn’t know what the other party was going through but she has allowed it to get so bad she was sick, losing weight, etc. I let her know that maybe it was time to figure out her part in it and hers alone. She had to deal with her. She had to either be willing to be on a hi and bye with them or remove herself from them altogether.

It was time to stop fighting. She was fighting alone. She was losing. She was losing horribly. I asked her was worth it to make whatever point if at the end of the day you are the one bearing the pain alone. When I asked why the argument started she said she didn’t remember. I reminded her she would always remember how she felt and it’s valid. However release the pain and it may mean walking away mentally and emotionally and dropping the charges. You will remember. It will sting at points. However she didn’t need to hold onto it. She wanted an apology. I asked her in order to open the door for one was she willing to sit down and speak to the other party to get it?! She said no.

We fight so many battles. Some battles it’s time to be about that life. Just because I see things differently doesn’t mean I wouldn’t ever turn up. It just means I take into consideration which situations it’s warranted. Anything that robs me of my peace is not worth it. She asked me how did I handle myself in the aftermath, and the answer is simply prayer, counseling; and space. I removed myself from the issues and got clarity. I’ve seen some of the others involved and nothing on the inside of me is mad or upset because instead of making them a focus, I focused on what I didn’t do right, how to be in control, and where I can improve. I switched the energy and dropped the charges. I let her know I will most likely never get an apology but I didn’t have to walk around in defeat.

I’m glad to say that she has begun counseling to help her though it!!!

Pick and choose your battles! Everything ain’t worth the headache. Sometimes situations happen to reveal things in you. Always look in instead of pointing the other way. Yes others can be wrong as two left shoes, but if you still are holding onto the he sting or the situation who loses? You. Listen to your conversation. What you are still dealing with will come out in your conversations. Out of your mouth runs the issues of the heart! If you still talk about it especially consistently, you may not be completely healed. If you’re not healed, you are walking in pain and that pain has more consequences for you than them.

What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you

So I’m out and about today. While out a woman is behind me talking to another woman. The one woman asks where her husband was. Her answer was he just started chemotherapy and he’s home. So I’m like wow Lord bless her and give her strength. Then they keep talking and she said well he also is evil. It caught me off guard. I’m like oh wow either way help them both God! She stated that he was abusive now and before his treatment and she’s just trying to get through whatever happens to him.

My heart immediately dropped. She appears to be an older woman and even with her husband going through chemo she still is aware of how he treats her. Should she give him a pass? No. When the woman tried to tell her she should be nicer to him because of his medical condition she made it clear that she might have except he’s still abusing her now and had done it before. It made me think about how some people define their vows of in sickness and in health. Yes you’re supposed to be there for him but she chose the words abuse. Abuse is not okay. She remembers what he did and what he’s doing.

Abuse is not something you tolerate. I hear so many times of people abusing their spouses in other forms not just physical. Gaslighting a person is a form of abuse. Financial abuse where one partner withholds money and resources or makes their partner practically beg for money is a abuse. What about the men who asks for a detailed list of what their spouse bought, but he doesn’t have to? Don’t even hit me with well what if the woman doesn’t work?! I was a stay at home mom for years and if my spouse made me feel like I was his child instead of a partner when it came to abuse then I would be writing this piece from the perspective that he was abusive and a shitty partner period! This isn’t love. This is demeaning and abusive!!

What a wicked way to treat your spouse if you can to yourself yes my spouse does those things to me. How about the husband or spouse who embarrasses them out in public? What about the spouse that deliberately reveals the spouse’s intimate moments to others? This is abuse. Women are expected to ride or die for a man and not receive love, understanding, and commitment. It’s not okay to sit and hope one day their spouse will treat them well. Note for the good man, this may not be you but you can speak openly to your friends when you are alone with them and they speak of doing these things. I have had male friends who do these very horrible things to their spouses and girlfriends and guess what if I know about it I speak about it. How could someone you love be treated so badly by the hand of the one saying I love you. You don’t get to say well I don’t have male role models in my life therefore I just can’t…..

I read a story this week where a fiancé was going through cancer and he had like the married couple of today’s story treated her with abuse before and during. She left him and everyone was all up in arms about it. What was she supposed to do? Stay and wait for his treatment to be over while being abuse? He wasn’t moved by his treatment neither did he focus on his health and make a decision to be kind to the one taken care of him. She wasn’t even married so she had more to lose than the wife of today’s story. She decided that being abused and leaving was more important than the folks who would condemn her inability to ride it out during his treatment. His treatment is unfortunate but if you get that close to potential pain and death and that can’t change your behavior, you have bigger issues!

Relationships are great when two parties want to make things work. They can also be Hell on Earth if one or more partner thinks that it’s okay to be disrespectful or when one party things you should stick it all at your expense. Be careful who you align yourself with. Always find ways to speak up for yourself. If you find yourself in an abusive do everything you can to get away. What you’re thinking isn’t wrong. What you feel is your inner voice telling you that the late nights alone while they run the streets isn’t okay. What you feel when they set you up for failure or tell you no one will love you like them isn’t just an alarm to leave it’s an alarm to run.

Abuse is not okay. He can love you all day with his words but if his or her actions says different, pay attention to action. Actions matter! It’s not okay to stick it out just so others will think you left a person when the chips were down. The chips are already down if you’re being abused. You being abused is wrong. There is no good time to leave abuse. You don’t have to wait until you think it’s socially acceptable to leave. Your mental and emotional well being matters!!

Please make the best decision in love. Not all love is made up abuse. I love love. I love hearing two people come together and just mesh so well. I love to hear when two people come together and beat all odds. Love isn’t about being beat, emotional drained or mentally beat down but smile and bear