Painting with a Twist; Anxiety Buster! 

So tonight I pushed past my anxiety. Yes I deal with social anxiety at times and it’s annoying but it’s apart of my life for right now. I never went through this in college weird enough but a lot of that had to do with being a freshman and trying to do it all. You know that wild college student that would be on a table that was me.


Fast forward to after college Toi and now at times I find that meeting up with others is a chore. The kind of chore where I back out quickly and because I have kids sometimes it’s real and other times my kids are my get out of jail free card. My husband is the polar opposite. He’s always been super outgoing and still is. It’s crazy when we go to places. It seems that he’s more inclined to be in the front and I’m content with disappearing. So although I am not the wild child that I once was when I was trying to find myself in college, I’m still just as easy-going as I remember and I am finding that instead of allowing my anxiety to get the best of me, I’m pushing past it and getting out. Maybe not the type of college crazy but the essence of who I am is still there.


A bigger issue with getting out was adjusting to motherhood. My first daughter was a preemie and with asthma too. There were more hospital trips than anything. I kept to myself because no one seemed to understand how I balanced working full-time, being at the hospital all night and with literally no sleep pushing through. I learned how to keep my circle tight. Moving to Philadelphia like I’ve blogged about many times was overwhelming. I relied on my husband for everything. I didn’t even drive for the first months even though I had my own car.


Fast forward to my life now I’m pushing through. Losing weight, being a good mom, working full-time, blogging, and meeting new friends. Slowly but surely I’m getting out and enjoying life. Tonight I had the opportunity to meet up at Painting with a Twist with Mocha Moms. Mocha Moms is an organization that is a support for women of color who are mostly stay at home moms. Now you know that I work full-time and there are other moms who work as well. When I first moved to Philadelphia I wanted to join. I was a stay at home mom then but my anxiety kept me from being apart. Tonight I crushed that fear that I had almost 5 years ago.



Tonight’s meet and great while painting and sipping of course was everything. These women are like-minded, warm and I was myself from the beginning and didn’t feel the need to put on airs.  I’ve been in group situations and you find yourself in the back and connect with maybe one another person, but not this group of women.  Plus who can’t have a good time painting and sipping on wine?!

I am truly grateful for not backing out tonight. I’m super happy to have met these great women. As I drove him thinking of the night, a huge smile came on my face. I turned on my adult music, maybe I could let pre mom Toi out every now and again!! Just maybe!! Oh and who won a gift certificate for the next visit to Painting with a Twist?! Oh yeah!!

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Sunday Message: Get What You Need 

So it’s no secret that I don’t always make it to church. I would love to be there every week and do make an effort, but life happens and sometimes we miss the mark. Today I was able to get into the building. Today was the 100 year celebration of the church and school. It was a lot of people today.  Standing room only type of crowd.

What I noticed most was this woman to my left who inspite of what everyone else was doing was tapping in for what she needed. Growing up I was always taught that if you can’t hear from the preacher, then maybe the choir will move you. If the choir won’t move you then maybe a greeting or hug will. I’ve been that woman in church today where life is going on but with tears streaming down my face I needed something more.  I don’t pretend to know what that woman was praying, crying, or seeking for what I do know is I get it.

In the world of wants there will come a time where you will have a need.  We all have had those times. You are no longer worried about the things that don’t matter as your mind and heart is bogged down that you shift your thoughts to only what you need. While you are in this mindset, you could care less who’s talking and why, who don’t like you or agree with you-you just have a need. Life has a way of humbling everyone to this place.  Like that woman, you get quiet, and the issues of your heart start to overflow.

Learn to tap into what you need more often. We are taught to be not be selfish but you will have to learn to have selfish moments. This is why women and mothers struggle with the balance of giving and pulling back. The struggle of the word no is important. Doing more for others who need to do for themselves, being a support to someone when you need support, giving your last and never being able to receive in your time of need are all examples of times when we have to learn to not always give in but find what we actually need.

Today you need a nap-take it. Today you need a break-take it. You need a bill paid and no money in sight but you can shift some things around and be a better steward of your finances. You need companionship but you really need to find out who you are, what you need and that will guide what you want. 

Like that woman who tuned the service out; tune out negative vibes, negative folks, even negativity that you bring to the table and focus!! This is why self-care and self-love is super important. Practicing this daily helps for when life knocks you down. You’re better equipped to be able to tap into your needs. When you’re off balance you have to be reminded of what’s important than if you had actually only focusing on the necessary things in life. 

Blackish Postpartum Episode

This is a trigger episode if you ever had or have currently postpartum depression.  I am going to be super blunt today, I cried throughout the episode and let me tell you why:

  1. I dealt with postpartum after the birth of my son.  I remember feeling like the biggest punk and failure because I couldn’t navigate through it.
  2. I felt isolated and therefore didn’t speak up to others not even my fiance at points throughout
  3. I had no support because especially in the black community black folks always talk that you gon be aight, go pray talk when real life ish is happening that takes prayer and action.
  4. I remember my mother in law being a huge trigger for me not because of her being mean but because of her personality and me not being strong enough to handle life at that time.
  5. Postpartum is real.  It should be discussed without shame
  6. I still reach out to moms and new moms in my circle because suffering in silence is unacceptable
  7. Please show love to a mom and be understanding.
  8. Phrases of get over it, you need to go somewhere and rest, it ain’t that deep, or you just need to get it together will NOT help a mom going through postpartum
  9. Sometimes medicine is necessary
  10. Postpartum is not a weakness.  Our bodies go through it during pregnancy and birth and its going to take some time to get through this new life.
  11. I do NOT allow people to make jokes of it.  It’s not funny.

 

Blackish did their thing on that episode capturing what its like.  I cursed almost exactly the same time I felt like Rainbow should have-watch it and you will see why.  Blackish definitely made sure all of the pure emotion of what it’s like to go through postpartum was like.  When I went through it, I felt like I couldn’t connect to my son.  I felt like because I had more support with my oldest that when it came to my son I was doomed.  I cried all the time. I blew up all the time.  I was in rage a lot of the time. I threatened to call the police on my fiance many times.  I had friends who saw me going through and talked about me like a dog instead of offering help.  I had family who gave me the eye when they found out, BUT I got through it all.  This very blog was created after I healed from that experience. It made me more aware of what I was capable of going through at the birth of my last daughter.  It made me stronger in the end.  It also is a good look for dads too.  They need support. They need to know how to approach the conversation and how to support themselves, their families and their ladies as they navigate through all of the emotions good and bad that pregnancy and childbirth brings.

 

Here is more information about Postpartum

This episode regardless of the title of the show (I know it offends some right off the bat) is a MUST see for all!

Light The Night 2017; No One Fights Alone 

Many times we are all asked to donate to a cause. Especially in these last few months where disaster has seemed to take over. About 5 years ago I was presented with a decision to walk for Light the Night and I haven’t stopped since.

My co worker and friend Jen was diagnosed with cancer. This is someone who turned from merely a co worker to close friend and although I had moved from the city I had always known, our friendship didn’t end with distance. I had never really known too many people with cancer but I knew that being there to support her family was on the top of my agenda.  Even though I was almost 2 hours away, I had to do my part. Seeing Jen change physically was a lot. It kept me humble. Her sons are around the same age as my 2 oldest kids. Thinking of what they had endured made me appreciate life more.  I thought about Eric, Jen’s husband and how hard it was to help but at times feel helpless. Any time I saw Jen she smiled. I know she had dark days but she kept moving. It is with her strength that she has survived and kicked cancer’s ass. Simply donating to Light the Night wasn’t and still isn’t enough. When she formed the Lymphomanics years ago I knew I had to be apart and we as a team have been strong ever since.



Light the Night is more than just an organization that wants to raise money to bring awareness but it’s on a mission to find a cure. Jen had at her diagnosis, family and friends supporting her but what about the many others who do not!  I have personally heard some amazing stories of survivors I wouldn’t have even known existed had I not gotten involved.

So again we organized.  We came together and with various others we lit the night. It was an amazing experience. Seeing people from all walks of life set aside their differences. All of us having either been in support or others who had cancer, were a survivor, or were there in memory of someone who had unfortunately lost their fight.


I was glad to see that a lot had changed from last year. One was that the crowd was much bigger. The second is that the amount of sponsors had increased. Lastly the stage was bigger.  The stage being bigger meant we are raising more money and that means that until we have a cure more families are being supported. Seeing the many lanterns lit was truly breath taking as we walked. 



The walk isn’t something too grueling. I believe we cover about 2 miles. However it’s the stories, the energy, and the sense of leaving for just a moment our own lives and coming together that is overwhelmingly beautiful. From the kids to the adults everyone has a great time. 


This year I want to shout out our team member Holly whose husband, Chadd who is kicking cancer’s ass this year. They welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Ellanora who to date is the youngest and newest member of the Lymphomanics.



Every year they end the walk with fireworks. It’s always a special treat to see. It reminds us that we completed the walk, we worked together and no one fights alone.


So the next time someone comes and asks you for a donation, consider helping. It’s not just about the money but it is about helping one another in this thing called life. Until next year!! Love you Jen and the Lymphomanics!!! 

Shake Shack Virgin

So for quite some time I’ve been seeing Shake Shack and never went. I would say everytime how I was going to stop but didn’t. So on a random Friday as this past Friday was, I decided why not?

Soooo. I get there and the menu is big but yet small enough so my anxiety doesn’t kick in. Oh and I went by myself. I’m on this whole push to do the things I want even if I go by myself. Soooooooo I ventured out. I grabbed my keys and went. Now I’m glad I decided to go to the one near Drexel University especially since I work on a campus already the atmosphere was more laid back. It was extremely busy.  I enjoyed watching the students playing games, talking, and enjoying the 80 degree weather.

So happiness  sunk in and I was ready.  I ordered the vegetarian burger or the Shroom burger which is a fried portobello mushroom, melted muenster cheese, with lettuce, tomato and shake sauce. I added their to die for fries and a salted caramel milkshake with pretzel and I was in heaven.  Like eating it made me feel like I was in a whole other place! 

Now let me say what I liked about the experience:

1. Fast service-they give you one of those light up wait your turn line lights 


2. Friendly staff-funny story so the cashier was super nice and trying to hit on me. No offense taken but he couldn’t get my name right so I said Toi. When I went to pay he looked at my debit card and saw my name but more importantly he saw my husband and kids picture on it and have a look of damn. It was hilarious!!


3. College atmosphere-with working on a campus it gives me constant nostalgia. Makes me miss my Penny Packer crew! 

4. Fries-I almost went back and took that 20 minute drive. They are that good. 

5. That shake-they ain’t the Shake Shack for nothing; complete bliss!! 


For my parents this is not a spot I would regularly take my little ones. In the words of my Cousin Mark this is much too premium for children unless it’s a special event. My meal alone was 17 dollars which ain’t breaking the bank but this is an indulgence that is strictly a Mom thing only! Well at least for me it will be. 


I can’t wait to go back again. I really want another shake. It was worth the drive! Thanks to the staff at the Drexel University Shake Shack who were over the top pleasant and made my first experience one to remember. 

Sunday Message: Don’t Ignore the Message

So today I went to church. As a PK aka a preachers kid I have been in many of churches in my time.  However today’s church was an experience.

While in church there was a mother with 3 kids-2 girls and 1 toddler boy. The toddler was running around in church not listening and the mother thought it was cute. I thought I or the other nearby mothers was going to grab her let alone the child. The priest as it was a Catholic Church had already called her out for the busy child. He suggested she take the child out but she ignored the message. As she ignored the message the child kept running, kept screaming, kept being a distraction to everyone around him.

See I love the kids. I have 3 of my own and although they are not perfect anytime they are so loud and distracting to everyone around it’s been time for me to step in but she ignored the message. She didn’t want to hear that her little angel was bad. She didn’t want to adhere to maybe he needed a time out. The embarrassment wasn’t enough to get out of her seat to the point that when the child was on the altar the second time she sent her oldest who appeared to be younger than my 8 year old to get him. 

I was irritated beyond belief. Like come on now mother, get your baby. Ignoring him wouldn’t stop the whole church from looking at you. It wouldn’t stop the stares, the huffing or the eye rolls. As I wanted to snatch the mother myself I had to practice self control. If I would have reacted what would have been the point?! Yes we all could have been able to hear but the reality is this little boy is a probably an issue no matter where they go. If the priest directly called her out and she didn’t care to change surely my words wouldn’t have done much.

How many of us have had life say stop, or don’t proceed and we ignore it? So I didn’t stop my eye rolls but I did get calmer than I was when the child first started out. No doubt the mother and child was the talk on everyone’s ride home. The priest even told her good luck at the end. Ignoring the things in your life that is sticking out, or out of place sometimes isn’t enough. You can go to the doctors get a bad report with suggestions and still live life like you’re fine. You ignore the message until things are so out of pocket with limited change. You can date a man who you just caught in the very act and instead of setting him free, you make excuses and simply ignore the message. 

So what, just like that child is trying to get your attention? Whatever that area of your life is that is talking loud enough for you and others to see and hear, deal with that. I can’t snatch that child but I can snatch my life and get it in order. Snatch your life too!! 

Sunday Message: Happy National Grandparents Day!

So it’s national grandparents day. A day to say thank you to all of the grandparents for the things they have done. Salute to all awesome grandparents. Being a grandparent from my perspective of watching my own can be a very great ordeal. As a parent you work hard to establish boundaries and spend so much time raising kids but grandparents have already done it so often times they can be a wealth of knowledge, love, support, and fun times.

I want to send a message to heaven to my mother in law who was an awesome grandmother to my 3 kids. She always had their best intentions in mind. She loved on them as their own. She gave them all she could.  So today in her absence we honor her. My kids adore her and her not being here is still affecting them. However with the crazy times she and I had the one thing I am super glad that although not ideal living with her gave my kids the best time with her. Love you Mom Mom.

Grandparents are such a stepping stone to life. However let’s talk about relationships that aren’t so glittery with grandparents. Sometimes it’s an extension of torn relationships with parents. I know of parental issues that trickle down to kids causing generational struggles. Not every grandparent has memories with their grand kids where cookies are being made or sweaters knitted. Sometimes there are constant fights and struggles that keep relationships stagnant. These fights can put a hamper on a relationship and make them non existent. Both kid and grandchild loses!

Listen there are grandparents that are in their 30s who still club and go out and don’t even see themselves as a grandparent. Thus the term glammom is now a thing. Grandparents don’t look like big momma anymore. It’s not my place to judge.  However coming from someone who had that big momma spirit in her life it’s important. Grandparents should teach you by example. They don’t usually have to yell and act as a parent.  You usually want to glean from their wisdom. Big momma was the foundation of a family even when grandfather was there. 

I do want to shout out my great grandparents who were the ones who gave me extra cake. They took me fishing and showed me how to plant a garden.  They let me stay up late to watch tv just as long as I was up and ready for church on Sunday.  I’ve never met more genuine people like my great grand grandparents. They prayed for me and loved me and on me as long as I could remember. I can still hear their voices calling me their sweet baby. I don’t even know how many of us there were but trust me it’s a lot of us and the number is still growing. They gave us collective and individual love. Thank you Mom and dad who allowed us the Summer to spend with them. Those memeories I cherish in their earthly absence. 

I also want to shout out my grandparents as well. Let’s start with my mom’s Mom who helped raise us. She is one of the people I can call who will not judge me. Her love is unconditional. If I called her and said I had a body she wouldn’t even blink and would know what to do. Her conversations are rough and to the point and she doesn’t sugar coat.  This is most likely why my Mom is to the point like I am. However I remember having the best spaghetti this world has ever had. I have great memories with her.  I’m glad she’s still here to continue making more. My kids call her GG!!

Also to my dad’s parents who are great too. I was in a car accident in 2001 where I dislocated my left shoulder. I had to stay with my grandparents who lived a mere few houses away from my parents so I can sleep in their reclining chair.  My grandfather woke up all through the night to get me medicine and we would eat black cherry vanilla icecream just he and I with his famous homemade cake. This was nightly. I was feeling some type of way when I knew my icecream runs would stop and I had to go back to Penn State.  Oh and my grandma makes the best rice. They both have had their times when they went out of their way to make sure something I needed was taken care of.

To my parents who I love. They are grandparents to 5 and I hold my breath on that number. However Hanmom (my oldest couldn’t say grandma when she was a baby and now the name has stuck with the rest) and dad dad as they are called do great things with all of the kids. Just the summer they turned their yard into a slip and slide and all summer long there wasn’t a cookout that wasn’t had.  Christmas is super fun with all of the kids ripping presents, eating food, and having the best cousin time. Memories are being made.  I hope when they look back at their child hood that they too will have great memories especially now that my parents are the only grandparents they have between my husband and I. I am only speaking on them as grandparents as my kids still have their set of great grandparents from my dad and mom’s side still here as well. 

My hope is that for the estranged grandparents and there are many, to make it right with your kids or attempt. As much as I hear that things should be in the past the real reality is that you have to deal with the past to move forward. You can’t simply throw it under the rug or act like it’s not a big deal just because you don’t want to deal. There are grandkids who have never met their grandparents because of that reason.  

To the surrogate grandparents aka the honary grandparents who has shown extreme love to someone that they have invited you into their heart, salut!! You have no idea what that says about your character as a person. I am not one who takes in people often but when I do they have to be so dope of a person that I feel I would be losing not to take them in as my own. I have been fortunate to meet some of those awesome people.  Their value is amazing. If someone calls you grandma or grandfather especially if not by birth walk in that beautiful calling. 

To all grandparents near and far even the ones in heaven ToiTime salutes you!!  Enjoy your day!!