Increased Self Care

Who doesn’t love getting a mani/pedi? How about a salon trip? It feels amazing to pamper yourself or just continue your up keep. As much as these activities are awesome and can be forms of self-care, do not limit that to your only self-care. Increase self-care to those things that bring joy into your heart and life.  What about that hobby that brings the type of smile that can’t be wiped away?  What about making time with friends a priority? What about going back to school to accomplish a goal you left sitting? What about making time for rest and unplugging? We all need to dip deeper into self care now more than ever.

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When I hear older folks make complaints such as “what is this self-care business, we didn’t have that growing up,” it irks me. Those be the same women that have the most insecurities, the most hard battles in their spirit that have gone unchecked. When you know better you do better. Why aren’t you practicing it yourself or encouraging the younger generation to focus on their mental health just because no one encouraged you? You remember them lonely battles you fought? Remember that feeling of being overwhelmed? Why would you want another woman or man to go through that?  Even it made someone 5 seconds better, it’s worth it. Encourage and then practice it yourself. 2019 is about accountability and that is even in how we treat ourselves. We can’t expect anyone to treat us well when we treat ourselves badly. Think about it from head to toe. What are you doing to make you whole? If you are still eating, drinking, not working out, have a thousand bad habits that contribute to your body and mind’s demise, these things need to be worked out.

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Self care is about self-preservation.  It pulls you out of darkness and makes you alert. When you don’t practice self-care often times you are numb to things and people around you. It doesn’t stop bad things from coming but it can help you deal with it that much more. Think about the times you let yourself go mentally. You weren’t even ready for hits that life was about to throw. Self care is super important. I don’t care what you call it.  You can call it self-care, self-love, me time, whatever it is find it, be consistent, and then add some more. There is no such thing as too much self-care. That is impossible. Having joy in this world is what keeps people from feeling hopeless. That hopeless feeling leads people into paths that don’t bring about positive results. People need hope. Joy isn’t about walking around with a smile 24/7.  It means that you have things in your life that bring you real happiness no matter what. Self care is about preserving peace in a world full of chaos. Self care is about loving yourself even when the world wants to make you feel unlovable. Self care doesn’t care what your status is in life. Self care is important. Please invest in yourself. Practice some more self-care!

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How to Catch Creation

I had the honor of being invited to attend the opening show of How to Catch Creation. I actually withheld reading any reviews, or any the media write-up before hand because I love coming in without any thoughts of what to expect before hand. I was pleasantly surprised of this production. First of all the set was magnificent. I grew up in theatre so sets matter to me. Secondly the cast looked like me. I loved seeing all of the representation of pretty brown faces.  Third, the play captured my attention and gave me a whirlwind of surprises some subtle and some knocking me over.

Let me give honor to whom honor is due by saying that How to Catch Creation is coming off the acclaimed Kilroy’s list.  It’s a play about discovering legacy as well as what it means to create and how creation shifts during periods of life. Creation takes many forms from art, life, relationships, and how all of the loops come together. As a creator myself it definitely spoke to the hills and lows of life and watching my own work take dips according to what may or may not have taken off.

Christina Anderson, playwright, did an amazing job on capturing the experience of black queer feminist writer and how through her life, life has taken on turns that end up bringing the most unexpected people to unite. When you see the connection I found myself holding back in the audience try not to mess it up for someone who might not have. I laughed so hard during this play.  I loved at moments when the audience interacted right on cue without a notion. I also loved seeing Christina Anderson herself in the audience as well as the director, Nataki Garrett. Seeing them watch their work had to be amazing.

This play is for everyone. I do love how it highlights love and heartache for same-sex relationships.  To be honest sometimes society in my opinion forgets that they have an experience like everyone else. It’s not as easy even with society beginning to open up to what it means to be apart of the LGBTQ community and also be Black.  I enjoyed hearing prior to the show from Amber Hikes who is the Executive Director of LGBT Affairs for the city of Philadelphia. I didn’t even know there was a division first of all.  I also didn’t know that are only 3 other positions in the cities of the United States like it. There is definitely a need for all of us to be aware of what our city is offering. It was great knowing that the city of Philadelphia and the Mayor’s office is representing all walks of life.

So what were some of the themes presented:

Despair, from seeing Lindsay Smiling who played Griffin, try to work his way to normality after being wrongfully accused of a crime and incarcerated for 25 years. His struggle to want to have a child of his own as he learns about his mother and her past was incredible.

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Love, from Tiffani Barbour who play GK Marche a writer who falls in love with Natalie played by Shauna Miles and seeing who their love goes from incredible highs to the lows of breaking up and infidelity. Their love was priceless and unmatched until loneliness lead Natalie into the arms of another.

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Betrayal, Shayna Small plays Riley a young woman who has motivated her boyfriend, Stokes, played by Jonathan Bangs, who is losing his focus and rhythm.  Their beat is thrown off when Riley falls in love with Tami, played by Stephanie Weeks who is opening herself up to this forbidden love.  The beat is so off that now in order to get the rhythm back do they let go?  Do they go back to life before the betrayal? Can they co-exist?

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Explosive, fun, witty, and most importantly colorful are some of the best words to describe my experience. You are not going to want to miss out on this adventure. How to Catch Creation will be playing until April 14th. You can purchase tickets which range from $10-69 by clicking here

I would strongly encourage you to see the play and take some friends or family along as well. Thank you to the Philadelphia Theatre Company for as always inviting me and treating me above well. Thank you to Kory Aversa and Aversa PR for these opportunities as well. Thank you to the amazing cast of How to Catch Creation for such a wonderful time.  You all were professional and most gracious as well after the show.  Thanks to my personal team for always helping me get to these shows and for being the best caretakers for my littles!

 

 

 

 

Ask Toi: When should you disclose your sexual status to someone?

I think the earliest that you can before any sexual lines are crossed. I know people have casual sex but if you do it’s still important to have that conversation with someone early. Never wait.

For anyone who takes on the responsibility of sex, condoms are number one. You must protect your own life at all times. Condoms are not 100% either. They break or can slip out-of-place, be vigilant. No one ever looks “dirty” as people used to call it. You must remember this is the age of information. It’s not dirty it’s about knowing your status and the status of your partner. If you are having casual sex you take on an incredible risk to yourself and someone’s life. Sex can kill you. You don’t have to be afraid but you do have to be vigilant. This is why I never tell married woman not to continue getting tested. I told my readers how a doctor told me that because I am married I carry a smaller risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. In theory he was right in real life I will never take that chance. Love and responsibility are two different things. My quality of life can easily be interrupted by one slip of myself or my mate. Protect yourself at all times.

Do not let the heated moment of sex ever put your life at risk. Not everything can be cured with a pill or a shot. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your life. Know your status, speak up early, and wrap it up and married or not always know your status and constantly get checked!

Counseling Days

I know I am going to say a few things that may come off of a few folks.  Whenever it rains it makes me pull out my journals.  I have been in counseling on and off for a few years. So when rainy days it takes me back to that moment. I believe in counseling by licensed counselor.  I am not all for folks running to everyone with their issues.  The reason is everyone don’t have the license and mindset to rightly divide where a person is.  So it’s not that you can’t run to a friend, or a pastor but you just got to be careful.  I do love licensed pastors because they can be a jewel to the community having the spiritual understanding with the licenses can be super helpful. So for some they get so upset the second you say don’t run to the pastors. I didn’t say don’t I said be careful. It could be from my level of hurt that I am openly saying I am still working through since my old pastor tried it.  I will say is some folks will talk to you and then have their message be your life on Sunday. Some folks like to do that prayer list conversation and reality your life becomes the tea of the week.  So be careful. People are messy individuals in real life no matter what their title!

In counseling I noticed that my days that I would go in was on rainy days.  It wasn’t that many sunny days. It really could just be that during those times I noticed the rainy days because of the down place that made me go there in the first place.  I can admit that made a lot of sense.  However today’s rain made me pull a few lessons for my current life. Not that life has totally went left, but emotionally I really want to respond to those around me in the proper way even when my petty, smart assed mouth yes I said smart assed mouth is ever-present.  I really struggle with balanced my life in those regards.  I really am sweet but if pushed or provoked or I just want to let loose, I can and will and I know deep down in my heart, that life will not bring me any good down the line.  So I dusted off a few techniques so I could find the place where I needed to be.

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I was asked  in my Facebook message what reasons have I gone to counseling a few weeks ago and I acted like I hadn’t seen the message, but I seen it. I have gone initially for postpartum.  So a few years ago after the birth of my son, moving from one city to another and being a stay at home mom of 2 under 2 my life was under pressure and after almost calling the police at my fiancé at the time, I called me a counselor who saw me stat.  Ever since then I have gone for various things. If I feel triggered about something in my childhood, issues within myself, or issues with motherhood or being a wife, I stroll right down.  My last session was almost 2 years ago with a counselor in person.  I also have done some pick me up sessions with a mobile counselor meaning I call them and they say hey Toi, what’s going on how can I help.  I prefer in person counseling but it is hard to do with working full-time, and being a wife and a mother that the mobile counselor is what I rely on.  Now I don’t call every time something gets on my nerves. I only call if I feel like I am overwhelmed and reaching out to strategic friends and family who are not the cause in my head of the trigger doesn’t help, I will call my mobile therapist.  They are wonderful. Always warm, and if they are judging you it’s in their head and not out their mouths. They give you real life tips and they have been helpful to and for me.

Now growing up the general message was that you don’t share your business. I now know that is wrong information. You have to be strategic in who you share. If I am not comfortable and for me I choose male or female depending on what’s going on.  So shout out to my counselors because altogether they have been super bomb. Let me encourage a few of you who have never gone but are super on edge on if you should go.  Consider asking your insurance who to go to so it’s covered.  Watch your coins. Sometimes it ain’t free and you need to know that.  You can get services through your job at times.  Even them free 6 sessions can be the difference between bail money, suicide, a fight, or a mental meltdown.  Trust me-no shame at all.  If you know of someone in your inner circle who is getting counseling unless they tell you to give that information out to others its imperative to shut your mouth and let people be great.  I had that happen the first year that I went and someone super close to me told others how I was in counseling and taking meds at a time where I wouldn’t have shared the information with anyone.  I hadn’t even told my momma and two its super personal and set me to trigger even more. But counseling is necessary for those who need it. I honestly think that everyone can benefit going at least once.  Even the super happy folks have things inside of them that need worked out.

Benefits of Therapy

  • Having a 3rd party call you out without having a personal relationship
  • Healing whether mental or emotional healing
  • Consistent sessions give you something positive to look forward

Pitfalls of Therapy

  • Opens other wounds as you process
  • Emotionally down for about an hour after session and having to recover
  • If not taken serious or stopping too soon can make things work, so commit

The pitfalls aren’t anything that is super detrimental but needed to be said.  You may go to counseling and think you will leave skipping and jumping and that may not be the case. I have left therapy mad more times before because of the assignments given after you leave make you think.  That is what the counseling is supposed to do.  So be aware that its work.  It’s not a great high time like the movies show you.

The other day I wrote about national family day and then this week I felt like just unblocking folks, and walking in full healing I just wanted to be sure that it was for the right reason. I called my counselor and letting him/her know about it.  She was so happy about it but the reality is I have been walking in but these last steps of speaking openly about my family was super good for me even if no one else felt what I was trying to say. Not to say that no one does because I love reading your comments as well as your emails about some of the issues you may have had in your own family.  That made me feel good knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had to be tried in that area.  Also today the rain allowed me to write.  It allowed me to share with my therapist about a few things that transpired and helped me to find ways to be a help to those around me and not give into things I know will trigger me.  Also I find that a lot of techniques I end up practicing on those around me even if they don’t know I am.  But the results is the only thing I am looking for. I am looking to be the right that I want or need in my life.  I really don’t want to be a hinderance to myself and especially the ones I live with. If I am walking around mad, pissed off, yelling, testy, what will that do for anyone?  No!  So although I am not perfect I am very grateful for balance and attempting to balance me in all areas.  I am really not working towards perfection.  That perfect life for me just doesn’t exist.  However if I can balance things better than that works for me.

Shout out to all of you who like me are a work in progress and rely on therapy or ever had it to make you whole!

Boyfriend Drama

Having a boyfriend or girlfriend should be a nice welcomed addition to your life.  It can be fun, exciting, and new.  Sometimes when the newness wears off you may have a few things that lust allow you to check in the beginning.

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Are You a Real Couple?

Huh? Yes did you know that some folks get together and think its all love between them but in the end you may not even have had the talk.  You actually need to communicate that you and your boo are really an official couple.  Do NOT ever miss this step.  Even if you two had this conversation over sex, have the conversation again outside of the actual bedroom.  This will save you a few weeks in and possibly a heartache.  Being on the same page is the biggest thing that couples will need to be sure they are on.  Also what is your dating goal?  Casual? Dating towards a future? Kicking it?  FYI kicking sometimes means kicking it for sex alone, so be clear!

Jealousy

There is a healthy dose of jealousy in any relationship but when you find that the jealousy leads you not to both be able to live active lives separately and come together then, sis you get a problem.  No relationship should have micromanaging as part as criteria.  This is unhealthy.  I am married and the thought that I would be micromanaging my husband or he me makes me tired just thinking of it.  Two individuals need to be that-two individuals that are dating to see if they are compatible or just dating to date. Also micromanaging someone is a lot of work.  Its draining! This energy could be used to start a business, get physically fit, make money, something other than knowing where another individual physically is.  I am not taking time to smell body parts, checking mileage, checking phones, etc

Cheating

Cheating isn’t everyone’s deal breakers.  I think it should be.  The amount of disrespect it takes to do the most against the one you claim you are in love with or even a strong like, is sheer madness to me!  Also keep in mind the amount of STD that are out here in world makes zero sense to put my life at risk for a relationship.  Let me plug that no relationship is cheat proof.  Please manage your sexual health.  Do not tell me how long you have been with your love a reason not to get checked on a regular basis.  I wrote a blog on a previous doctor telling me that as a married woman who I didn’t need to be checked regularly.  She got the business.  I would be less worried about body count and more concerned with clean sexual health and great health practices.

Space Please

When I met my husband back in 1999 he was my first and my first adult relationship.  Not having someone manage our time we found ourselves up under one another all the time.  In the beginning I thought how great it was but there came a time where it became unhealthy.  Being up under someone all the time will wear down one or both of you.  Back up! Give space.  Even if you and your boyfriend have decided to live with one another, space is necessary.  Go and still hang with friends, continue the same dreams you had before you got all Ella Mai “Boo’d up.” Did you go to work?  Yes still go and get work done.  Don’t mess up your coins just to be on your phones, losing focus, or taking off to spend days with no love interest.  Being employed and in love is better than Broke and in Love!

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All up in The Business

Learn to keep folks out of your business.  The more hands on deck, the more complicated things can and will be.  Everyone doesn’t need to know every time there is an argument or fall out.  You do know everyone is going  to be as forgiving.  People wonder why there friends and family members can barely have descent relationships with their significant others and one answer is they know all the tea.  It’s hard not to give a side eye to someone who keeps off as raggedy human beings.  So to keep the drama down, keep folks out of your business!

If you are embarking on a new love take precaution.  Get to know the one you are taking this chance on.  Keep your life as rich as it was! Take your time.  Get to know how this new person reacts when they get mad with you and others around them.  Also if they have kids but aren’t active with them, find that out too.  No man should be out here making a whole new life and neglecting their kids.  No man who won’t care about his own flesh and blood won’t care about the things that concern you.  That’s a word! Too many women letting me dick them down that don’t even know what grade their kids are in.  If your new love doesn’t want you to be healthy, run! A man should want to get his life together and definitely would want their new leading lady to live her “best life” too!

Securing the Bag, Secure it All!

Ladies are securing bags everyday. The term securing the bag is in the context of getting your money or closing deals. I battle back and forth on using the term in the everyday life of just working since in my mind everyone is supposed to work, but again it’s my own personal thought. While your securing your bag be sure to secure your own emotions and definitely your body.  How many women worrying about securing the man, the job, the car, the section 8 payments sorry I had to go there because there are many who think that is life.  Ladies, being healthy, working out, eating right, drinking water, talking right to your kids, traveling, etc is a full-time job.  All of the things that we do to be secure in life comes at price points. What’s more pricey than you body and sexual health?  How many times does a woman have to lay down with a man thinking he is the bag.  He is not if you had a doubt.  He is not. What you secure on your own by hard work is but don’t in heat and not remember that.  Sex is great but its better in the right way.

Nothing in, Nothing Out

So back in the day the old mothers would tell you to save yourself for marriage. They meant it! Not the new way of saving yourself where you do everything but sex! If you don’t have nothing going in, won’t nothing come out. That’s a given. Now that goes for traditional virgins and born again virgins. If this non sex life is your life be sure that’s a decision you want. Don’t do it cause you are afraid of what someone will think. You’re the only one that has to combat them urges when they come. You can say what you will but you alone are in charge of that. Don’t let peer pressure to give it up or hold it move you one or the other. Sexual health is a personal decision-more on that later!

If you aren’t of that mindset then you better play by the rules of the land where you secure some birth control. The pull out method is one of the weakest methods. So don’t be found out here with a new boo telling you that it will work. Don’t even let the old boo tell you that mess either. It don’t work like you think. Many a baby has been made from that weak move.

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It’s so nice to have a partner that will agree or support your decisions. Please understand as a woman who you and you alone will have that child. All the support in the world hasn’t stopped women from having to take care of babies alone. Every woman didn’t lay down with a jerk or at least what they thought was one in the beginning. Some of these men have been Prince Charming!  Some have been husbands who have decided for whatever their reasons are, they don’t want to be apart anymore.  You the woman have to decide that if you aren’t ready to be a single mom at any given point in life, do not at that point or continue to have babies with any man.  Be careful.  This is a lifetime commitment that society has allowed men to be able to walk away from.  Note to my men this isn’t to bash you but to bring awareness.  This is the conversation that regardless of status you should be having.  Married women aren’t exempt.  My mom told me the realist message after I got engaged.  Marriage isn’t the end all be all.  You could be single at any moment.  The life you have built, can change and you better be sure that you are able and ready to take on that life by yourself should something change.

So yes go in with the we with the mindset of an I at any time am willing to bring this life on and take on all it takes on.  If you can’t say that with the partner you are with, then that’s your number one issue and your second issue is that if you say this will work, I can do this than be sure your anchor holds or you have the ability to mindset to push past any hindrances that may come.  Yes we know women are strong they can take it but the number one thing divorced women or women who partners have walked off or may have passed away say is that they never thought about this moment.  Life is beautiful but keep those moments in the back of your mind. Secure your future.  One more note, do NOT let a boyfriend or a fiance push you into any decision. This means no tubes tied, no having babies if that is not something YOU can live with.  Listen husbands don’t get a full pass. I know of many husbands who force their wives to continue in childbirth and at the end of the day those same men weren’t supportive after the baby is born.  It’s cute to have a baby with your husband until you’re in the house bare feet and pregnant with no job security, going through depression and can’t get that same husband to change one diaper.  Count up the cost.  Your mental piece is worth it.  Not to mention the physical needs…  The one thing I didn’t do was secure my own sexual health with my own husband. Gasp.  I alone should have taken my birth control, gotten my tubes tied before I did because that’s what I wanted to do and should have done.

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Don’t look for the tea.  I am good.  There’s no of my goodness what if her kids read this and think they didn’t want them.  STAWP!!!!!!! That is nowhere near the case.  However as much as I loved my boyfriend who turned my fiance who turned my husband,  it wasn’t his decision to make on the continuance of childbirth.  When my second child came it was what it was.  I was in-between decisions and careless on making a decision for birth control when my 3rd came.  She wasn’t a mistake at ALL.  None of my kids were regardless of how much the church folks was whispering.  NONE of my kids were a mistake but I failed myself in how I secured my sexual health.  I love the family that my husband and I have built. I wouldn’t change it but I can help other women be wise. That’s about real as it can get. It is what it is.  Thankful to my husband who he was the one who made me see it that way.  Yes he had his part we both get that but if we can get the younger generation to see the big picture from this, then it was all worth it.  Secure your sexual health married, divorced, seeking, not in the sex game, don’t know where things stand, whomever you may be secure everything not just the bag.

 

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.