Sunday Motivation: Grace

That has been the word of the week. I tried to get away from this word but it came in every message I was around. I ran 4 days this week and during each run I heard it.

Grace is not something that is earned. Most times we are gifted grace by those who love us when we don’t deserve it. That’s the meaning of love right?! Of all the years I’ve gone to church Sunday by Sunday, grace was supposed to be my salvation.

Grace isn’t for those who deem themselves perfect. Grace is for the imperfect. It’s for those who know better but still fall short. It’s for those who had a blue print but deviated from the plan. Grace is for those who heard the plan but went another way. It’s for those who decided that something or someone was more important than sometimes themselves. Grace!

When you see someone who is strung out on drugs instead of looking down grace comes down and picks them up. It’s the same grace that can get a homeless person into their own. Grace can come and hold that single mom who knew the man in her life meant her no good but grace came and showered her and the child (ren) love anyway. It’s grace when a leader that you looked up to your whole life falls and makes mistakes.

Who are you showing grace to in your life?! I mean some of my own personal times were marred by the whispers of those who didn’t have the grace to be there, to encourage me, or love me through. Most of those same people do not have a front seat in my life either. Grace sees where you are broken and instead of walking away, applies pressure, understanding, and peace. Grace doesn’t always have to be an all or nothing. Sometimes grace can be frustrated but still stand in love to get you to your next level.

I listened to a podcast of a woman my same age who had gotten married and when that marriage ended she had to go home. I’m talking about someone who is successful and appears to have it together, old enough to know better, wise enough to solve her own problems but she still needed grace and she received it. I was touched by her vulnerability in sharing her story. As much as I love my family going back home would be an ultimate disappointment or sense of failure. It’s the number one reason while some fail in private. It’s because that failure or feeling of failure cut is too deep! I messed up or I need help is a hard phrase to live in! I know I’ve done it!

Her story reminded me of the times when I walked from grace and was uncovered. I was in a bad way, depressed, in pain, doing things that made zero sense until grace covered me. Grace came in family and friends who didn’t leave my side. It came in the form of my partner’s love. It came in my children’s smile when most days I knew they saw me blow it! It came when a stranger paid for my meal and at the time I had a mere few dollars to my name. Life is hard and it sucks at times! The grace we share with others matters.

It also can be what others see when you aren’t walking in grace with others. You too become uncovered too. Not gifting grace when you should can be just as detrimental to you as what you don’t give.

I also listened to Kirk Franklin’s new project; Long Live Love! The whole album is about grace. It’s about returning to grace and about lessons in love and showing love to ourselves and those around me and I knew…. today’s message is about grace. We all want it but few feel the need to gift and be the gift of grace this world needs! Extend grace even to the difficult they need it more!!

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Drag Queen Afternoon Tea

So can I admit something?! I’ve never been to an afternoon tea. Clutch your pears for real because it’s true. So after being invited to a Drag Queen Afternoon Tea I was even more nervous.

I wanted to make sure I was right head to toe and that everything went well. It’s pride weekend here in Philly and I’ve always been super supportive of the LGBTQ community in any way I can. I was so happy to attend this tea and I’m sure it showed in my smile.

Today is also national best friend day so sharing it with one of my besties made it special. I couldn’t wait to go to Sofitel Philadelphia and enjoy myself. From the moment I parked I was treated with such courtesy. Every staff member greeted me. Everyone was super welcoming and warm. In their lobby is a love sign. You can’t miss it. I know that love is an action word and Sofitel did that by the way they took great care of each guest!! It’s what I look for when I attend events. How someone treats you when they don’t know your position speaks well of how they are. Sofitel has my backing on their ability to show love and I hope to come back as a patron soon!

I wasn’t in the room long when I was greeted by 3 phenomenal divas. Each of them welcomed me and immediately took pictures with me! I loved them! I loved everything about them! I know there are some who would just love to point their noses but let me tell you, don’t! They are living their lives and doing a fabulous time doing it!

Pictured left to right; The Lady Vayne, SunShyne and A-Dick-Shun

Since I had never been to an afternoon tea I was excited to see how it all played out. We were asked our drink order and our tea selection. We were served on a 3 tiered stand. I knew that I was to start with the sandwiches, then the scones and then the desserts. I did my research. In between I sipped my tea and my Bellini. Nothing I had wasn’t amazing. Each selection was great!

Here’s the fun part. While enjoying the amazing food we were treated by performances from our drag queen guests of honors. It was one of the most entertaining performances and it was just fun. They went in and held nothing back and worked that room like nobody’s business! I knew they would. No one in that room wasn’t pulled in by their performances!

You will have to check my Instagram for the performances. So I know you want to be apart and you can!! How?

There is another rendition of the Drag Queen Tea coming next Saturday. The atmosphere is super relaxing, fun, and the food and drinks are a smash hit! Hit the link so you can come show your love for Pride, and to give a portion of the proceeds to the Attic Youth Center to support LGBTQ youth. Who doesn’t love to give while having an amazing time! To be honest the time frame from 2-4 goes so quick you don’t want it end! I’m proud of all who live in this world being who they choose to be even when the world wants them to conform. It’s not our job to police someone’s choice. It is our job to love with action!

Make sure you click the link, grab a friend and be in the building. Sofitel is doing their part and you can do yours! While we know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea; I sure didn’t have a problem sippin so you now can do the same!!

Sip and relax because this afternoon tea isn’t like anything you have ever been to before!!

Thanks ladies for a wonderful time!! Thanks Sofitel Philadelphia and Aversa PR for the invite.

Monday Motivation: It’s Not That Easy

Nothing in life will be. Everything comes from a place of working hard. I’m amazed at the two extremes that people use the term “it’s not that easy.”

People use it’s not that easy when they want to highlight their accomplishments. It’s true when you work your behind off the last thing you need is someone coming with the discredit. It’s humiliating to be honest to put energy and backing into something only to have someone who by the way doesn’t like you to discredit your efforts. I would say often times it’s the ones that closest to you or those you let your guard down the most with. The ones you might have shared a dream or conversation about a dream with. They know that you’re not qualified but they don’t see your passions working behind the scene. None of which, can stop you unless your fuel needs to come from pats on your back! If that is the case you’re going to burn out fast. People’s attention span aren’t strong enough to hold all of your accolades in their forefront until your winning season pushes through. When winning season comes people become like magnets and want to meet up, link up, and talk. Always remember the times you couldn’t even get them to answer an email, a call, or smoke screen. That doesn’t mean be brand new it just means don’t rush to meet them so they can drink off of your success!

The other time people use it’s not easy is when they want to discredit their own ability to push through a difficult situation and usually about trauma or hardship. Example, “it’s not that easy to walk away.” When in reality it may not be but the consequences of staying is greater than the stagnant of staying. This could be staying in a relationship, bad job, not attending or finishing school, starting a dream job or passion. It applies to you when you are pulling at available and readily available excuses. You can make more excuses than a little bit! End it today. You can have zero knowledge about a dream but wake up and feel that dream on your mind. You know you have to walk in it but don’t let fear of rejection, intimidation, or acceptance stop you!

Nothing in life will just fall into line without proper backing of energy that has to come from inside of you. Whatever you are after this week go and grab it. Work hard for it! Push through! Be consistent! Manage your emotions and those around you! Say no a few times. No is a small but powerful word that successful people learn to use! Put a wedge in-between those who sit and listen to your dreams in hopes to deter you from working hard. If the people you speak to don’t encourage and in addition have zero resources to assist, why are you speaking to them? What can they do?

You got this! You can crush it! You can win! Work smarter not harder! Push through even when it’s difficult, hard, or makes you feel like you’re not going to win-you will!!

Paris owes me Nothing….Part 1

I’m going to break this trip down in 3-4 parts! I want you to travel with me at least in your head since I’m back and still in love!!

It started off as a wedding and I ended with a bang! I recently took a trip to Paris and to say it was a once in a lifetime experience is a complete understatement. It was everything and more I could think of. We were invited to a wedding of our dear friend Chrystal and her new husband Ray and then the rest of the time it would for us to be tourist!

Secure the Babies

Let’s back up to the prep work it takes to pull this trip off. Not only are we speaking in terms of coins aka money, but with 3 kids it means a juggling act to secure them as this was an adult trip only. Also my girl Kyla attended as well. So making sure all 3 adults were safe, secure, fulfilled and happy while my kids were safe and secure with family proved to be a blessing and took a little finesse. Shout out to my brother and sister in love who kept the kids. Our kids only ended up missing 2 days of school due to their schedule. Not bad if you ask me. The kids had an amazing time with them. I’m grateful for knowing hands down that they were safe and happy. My sister in love is amazing! Thanks little brother for holding it down!

My friends can tell you that I’m not an irresponsible parent. The second we knew we were going on an international flight, it was important to me that I made sure all changes to my will were updated. It didn’t mean that I was anticipating something happening because I wasn’t. It had everything to do with making sure that if something did happen our children wouldn’t be further traumatized by not being with whom we wanted them to be with. I didn’t want anyone fighting in courts or our children not being raised the way we wanted them to in the respect of major child rearing aspects of parenting. I admonish all parents to have their paperwork in order even if you’re not taking a flight. The worse things you can do is not secure your kids’ future to the best of your ability. Thankfully we didn’t have to initiate any further plans! Since I needed to finalize the will, I’m super glad it was all handled!

Also we informed the school more than a month before so they could get their homework! Our oldest has finals and we don’t want any excuses for her not to get good grades. Their schools were amazing preparing the work ahead of time. I know the kids ain’t happy about it but education is important around here!

Shout out to my neighbor for keeping a watchful eye for my furry son, Tiki! I missed that little cat!!

Not Without a Hitch

Days before while doing my last fun prep like going to the nail salon,etc I got into a car accident. I was hit by a man and in return my car has damage. Now between that and some family issues that popped up I probably could have just flown from the anger I felt. However it’s beautiful to know that regardless of how I felt I still maintained my emotions. Not once did I fly off the handle. Not once did I speak out of turn! There wasn’t much I could do so acting a fool wasn’t going to add anything to the situation so I elected to remain calm! However in the coming days I will need to handle the aftermath of the issues left behind! Some of them will be easier than others. But that’s life?!

Birthday Behavior

The day that we left to go to Paris was also my oldest daughter birthday! We celebrated her the week before with a large 10th birthday party. However we also made sure that on our birthday we would be right there with her. For that reason we took a night flight out!

We took her out to breakfast and made sure we had cake with her and she got a few gifts from friends as well! Shout out to Hershey Pantry for an amazing meal!

Easy quick tips to make an International Trip smoother

Obviously get your passport as soon as you can. Do not wait until the last minute. It took me about 4-5 weeks to get me and during high peak times it could be even 6 weeks to get back!

Packing

Pack a few days before. You will most likely find that you need items if you pack as if you’re leaving in a few hours even though you have days to leave. I find doing this for most flights is a life saver.

Packing cubes

So although not a requirement, anytime I travel I like to utilize packing cubes. This is merely a suggestion however it helped to make packing easier as well as sleek. It gave me incredible space. My bags were only 14 pounds once weighed. This was great as I didn’t want to incur any extra baggage fees. I had everything too but them cubes was the real MVP!

Also I packed the kids suitcase a week before. With 3 kids I have a master list that I use. It may seem extra but it ensures that I don’t leave the most important items! I didn’t want to be that far away and forget the things they needed!

As you’re packing you find out what you still need and can purchase options without having to be super rushed. I didn’t pack anything new because the weather was about 70 degrees or a little under. So my Fallish clothes worked fine! I did purchase some new walking shoes and insoles as the walking we did was amazing but it was a lot. We limited the amount of Uber usage. I probably could have used it more but it is what it is! Step count was off the charts!

STEP

Outside of having your passport, also register for STEP. It’s free!! It basically registers you with the US consulate in the country that you are traveling so that if there is an emergency they can assist. This is also good in case of a crisis in the visiting country too! They will also include someone back at home to contact on your behalf!

WiFi

We used an international traveling WiFi. It was super beneficial. In our case it was 3 adults traveling. In hindsight I might have ordered 2 of them since there were times when our small party was separated. However we had the travel WiFi delivered to our home and we dropped it off to the airport before we left. It allowed us to use our phones after turning off cellular data not only to be on social media or use maps but it also allowed us to utilize FaceTime with our kids! Paris is 6 hours ahead of Philadelphia, we kept the connection flowing at all times. Another tip is using an app called maps.me by downloading prior to your trip so you don’t have to even have WiFi to use and get around. Shout out Travel WiFi for being super responsive, amazing company, and making sure we were secured!

Apps

Please update your apps before leaving including Uber. The time to update isn’t when you need it the most. I suggested everyone in our group to do so. That helped tremendously.

Theft Protection

You can go anywhere and something could happen. However in international areas, be sure to have a theft protection bag. It helped as a lot of areas get overcrowded and pick pocketing is real. Our bags were cute and helped to safe guard us. Also our passport holder which doubled as a wallet also had RFID technology to prevent thieves from stealing our card information.

Here is the link for the cover from Amazon

Passport Holder Cover, ACdream… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CBYVSJC?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

Here is the link of where I got the bookbag from Amazon:

Laptop Backpack for Women Men… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MLQZ1W1?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

Back it Up

No not for the 99 and the 00 (those who know, know) but always make copies of your travel documents and passports and leave hard copies and electronic copies with one or more folks back home. We love technology until it doesn’t work. If a computer glitch happens you want to be ready with what you need without fumbling! May seem extra but being prepared in life is a skill set. Get it and you might troubleshoot a lot of issues in your regular life too but what do I know?!

Travel Back Up Power

Listen between videos and pics you may find that while you’re out and about you could be in jeopardy of losing power. Be sure to purchase a back up power pack. I’ve had the same one since my solo trip last year and it has served me well. I’ve taken it to work, to blog events, and any and all travel! I try my best to always start with full power and make sure I have my back up power. It may seem extra but I’ve only run out of power once and I like to keep that number from never increasing.

My charger is 2 years old here is the updated sleeker version:

Portable Charger Anker PowerCore 20100mAh – Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with 4.8A Output, External Battery Pack for iPhone, iPad & Samsung Galaxy & More (Black) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X5RV14Y/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Hdt8Cb6JAJ25V

Get that Money

We exchanged our money before we left. It made it easier to have our Euros before we left. We didn’t have to find a place although there were many spot to do so. Also having a certain amount of Euros prevented us from having to “re up” unless we needed to. In addition we also informed our banks and credit card companies that we were traveling in case we needed to use them! Thankfully we didn’t do much swiping so that’s a great thing!

Shout outs go to Omnia Nails and John for giving me that neutral manicure and pedicure with the color “Be There in a Prosecco” so super fitting!

Thanks Dee of ExtraordinarySewinsbydee who put her amazing hands on my head. Had me Paris ready! She always ready and answers the call.

Now that I did my research, got my stuff all handled, parked my banged up car, celebrated our baby girl, and did my prep…

Let’s go to Paris…..

Ask Toi: How do you communicate with someone who is unwilling to see their faults?

First you have to at least make an attempt to speak to them. Sometimes when you’re more willing to hear for the win instead of for understanding, that’s when things go left.

I have been the type that listened for the win. Once you get past who is right and hear people for their point it may make it easier to actually hear. Try that. I would take a break from the conversation too. Sometimes breaks help to put a pause and hold. A pause and a hold doesn’t mean you are ignoring the issue; it just means you want to give space and come back later. Breaks are sometimes necessary!!

One thing I would say is don’t ignore it altogether. Out of sight is never out of mind. Thoughts fester and can make things worse. Set a time to speak about the issues. If you can’t sit down with the other person, recognize what’s important. If maintaining a relationship is important you both not just one party will put in the energy. Don’t chase a person down to make amends. You don’t have to run and find a person to reconcile after adequate time as passed.

Also the severity of whatever happened matters. Anything that is about abuse, physical pain, or detrimental to one’s personal mental health sometimes can’t always be repaired but it is worth a try.

I wish you the best. I know arguments and fights are bound to happen in life. You can’t control everything that someone does but you can control your responses. Sometimes if you try and it doesn’t work, time will make it right and sometimes it won’t. Just try!

Tuesday Motivation: Drop the Complaints

So since many of us had a 3-4 day weekend I decided to have today’s motivation ready.  Its always hard to get back into gear after having so many days off. I do hope those who celebrated Memorial Day found it to be about fun and spent doing at least one thing that you loved for yourself. It’s never a good thing to spend so much time catering to others only to find that your cup is just about empty.

So how do you shift back into gear? First by accepting the fact that you have to actually shift into gear. The worse times to complain is when you act as if what you’re complaining about will change simply by stating your displeasure. If you’re going to complain today do it with an action plan. Follow up with job applications, put out a resume, make an investment to do something you love, or simply start the process of detaching from those things that no longer serve you. Whatever you do, do it with action. Do it with passion and turn complaint into something that will make you stronger, better, healthier.

I used to complain about the most mundane things. It not only got on my own nerves but the nerves of those around me. Nothing good can come from a person who complains like you’re going to get an award for it. It’s draining. It’s depressing and it doesn’t add to the value to you as a person. People detach or should detach from negative folks. Everyone around you can see the very game plan you need to start but your complaining ways make the path so thick when it’s not.

Today shake the Tuesday like Monday blues and utilize your time better. I would hate to use my last breath in a negative funk. Let’s step it up and change our thoughts, our conversations and especially those around us. You can draw better results even in the worse tragedies but what you say, do, and act.

Let’s conquer the day!!

 

 

Happy Birthday Naila

Today is such a holiday in my world. My oldest is 10! 10 years of love. 10 years of peace! 10 years of pure joy!

I love that I was chosen to be her mother! She has been amazing since I first laid eyes on her. I had her 6 weeks early due to me suffering from preeclampsia. This is a condition that caused me to have elevated high blood pressure and other complications. It caused me to be on borderline seizure activity. From the time of them attempting to stop my contractions they told me they didn’t think her lungs were developed enough. I met with the NICU nurses who reassured me that no matter what happened she would be in great care.

After they realized my contractions wouldn’t stop they assumed it would produce enough to make her come down the birth canal but she didn’t. They then started to speed up the process and the pain was terrible. All of that and still no baby and I was in active labor for at least 2 days. Finally I was told I would have to have a C-section. At this point, I didn’t care what they did the only thing on my mind was her safety. Although I was in pain and having a lot of headaches due to my blood pressure, she was my main concern.

I got bumped several times to have the surgery, but at 11pm on May 26 we had a 4 pounds and 3 oz baby girl. She did everything the opposite of what I feared. She was hollering which meant her lungs were strong. She was still taken to the NICU. I barely saw her but I remember being sort of out of it but I was crying just hearing her. I kept asking if she was ok and everyone was all smiles. Thank you to all of the nurses in the NICU who hands down were everything we needed and more!

I went into recovery and a week and a half she was home. It was the longest time but having her home meant the world to me. She would go on to have several complications that required me to lose time at work, many hospital stays, etc. but I wouldn’t change a thing. Through it all, she has smiled and had the best disposition that you can’t help but want to smile back at her. Everyone who knows her or been around her, knows that she has a heart of gold.

To the best 10 year old who made me a mom, brought out to best in me, gives me constant joy, the best big sister, awesome friend, and an amazing mini-me daughter-Happy Birthday Gummi Bear!