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.

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Holiday Reminder-Watch your Children

This blog is meant to educate not to scare you.  As parents we are doing the best that you can to raise great kids but as long as evil exits we can always do better, and be warned of the dangers that our kids face:

Now I am a mom and I think a pretty good one. Having kids in this world these days has created the most anxiety as our entire purpose is to raise children that are healthy, supported, and safe.  Now what I am about to talk about is super serious.  As we progress into holidays and gatherings its important for all parents to be vigilant about your children.  Know where they are, who they are with, and stop having familiar relationships that you put a wall up because you think your friend, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc would never. I do not prescribe to that notion. Everyone is a suspect as far as I am concerned.  Not that I have ever had to wonder about anyone around my kids thus far, but just know I am not a blind parent to put more stock on relationships with folks over my kids.

First of all raise your children with the proper names of their body parts.  If you ask my kids they not only know all of the cute names parents give their kids but they know the names of their body and especially their sexual organs. Man-mans can only take you so far when you are teaching your son to know where his penis is and to know what a good touch and a bad touch is. Same for my girls they know they have a vagina and have been able to say it properly since they could talk.  I read a story a few years ago about a man who raped a girl who was around 3 and he got less time because the girl couldn’t properly say if she was penetrated vaginally or anally.  How sick that someone’s lawyer was able to get a child molester less time with that notion?!  It forever changed how I raised my kids and this was before I even had them.  I might have been pregnant with my oldest. I know some parents don’t agree but for me its important to empower them to know from the gate that anybody who touches them in a bad touch way is going to get the business from me and their father and I mean on site.

I check my kids when they come from other people’s house, have open and honest age appropriate conversations, as well as make sure they know that anything they tell me I believe. I also don’t force them to hug and kiss people to spare adults feelings. No they don’t and won’t sit on your lap cause you bought them a gift.  The appropriate response is thank you, not a lap sit. They don’t and won’t be made to be feel as if they owe you a kiss regardless of your relationship just so you can feel like an outstanding adult. Work on your own emotions. I have had family members say they need to give (insert relationship) a hug and as their parent I step up to the plate and kindly and politely let folks no, they don’t have to. I teach my kids to acknowledge them so in our house a hi, a hand wave is good and appropriate until they are comfortable.  Some kids need time to warm up.  Whatever the reason there is apprehension from my child, I just watch.  Kids have more sense than some adults and the vibes they feel is often not wrong.

The number one reason why I don’t force my kids is that I want them to know they have power over their bodies at all times in hopes they keep that power and if God forbid someone tries to take their power from them, it won’t be because they were being groomed by me to allow certain behaviors to continue that they were uncomfortable with from the gate.  I do not devalue their feelings on vibes they receive from adults.  my kids have said, why did (insert family) act like that, say that, etc.  They know.  We tell them there is no secrets policy as well. So we have told them that if someone says don’t tell, they need to be open to us and tell us anyway and realize that as children they aren’t wrong for speaking up.  Now with all of that background there could be an adult male or female that may try to take their precious innocence. I pray that it NEVER happens but will publicly state that my husband is licensed to carry so let’s keep it at just that.

Sometimes as you venture to homes to celebrate the holidays, you start to let the kids roam off. Be careful of that.  Not to scare you but you’re number one job at ALL times is to protect your kids.  So be vigilant in where they are, who they are with and around, and not to be so intoxicated, miscalculating, etc that you let your guard down.  I know of children and we all read of children who daily are being sexually abused, mistreated, preyed upon, missing, etc and I just want to be sure that my kids won’t have that story to tell.  I know I can’t protect them every second of the day, but I along with my husband are doing the best we can to ensure that they know they matter, they should be respected, and just because they are kids no one will just do anything.  I am more than willing to end relationships with anyone who challenges me about their safety. Our kids are precious, all kids are, and you can bet we will try not to allow foolery to happen.  So enjoy the holidays, but be careful that someone doesn’t prey on their innocence and use this jolly time as an occasion to take what didn’t belong to them.

Check Your Own Body

I have so many tips for doing different work outs but I am not a professional so I really have what works for me.  I don’t even act like my fail proof plan is a Godsend for all, however there comes a time when you have to be on top of things because let’s face it, who else will?  I remember a reader asking an Ask Toi about gynecological exams and if they should continue to have them done after they were married. My answer then and now is an absolute YES!

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Marriage doesn’t mean you sexual health is perfect. You as a woman need to be aware that now that you got the ring and are one, you can still be one at risk woman.  I always wish happiness and great sex for married couples but if anything you should know right now, everyone ain’t on the up and up.  Not only that outside of getting an unwanted and unexpected non gift from a mate, is the risk of ovarian cancer. It is your job to do all you can to live a happy and healthy life.  Part of living a healthy life is to be about your health and sexual health is important.  No ring or marriage certificate will keep you safe.  So my advice is simple, get checked.  I’ve told the story before how when I was pregnant with my youngest, my OBGYN asked me if I wanted to get the STD panel done.  My answer was hell yes. Her response is well you’re married and you have kids.  I asked her who licensed her again because if you are giving me of sound mind this advice what in the holy hell was she telling other women.  Ladies get checked regardless of your status even my born again virgins that ain’t had none since Jesus was a baby, you need to get things checked too.

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No married woman should be told, you good and that’s it. Again the amount of women who die from ovarian cancer is enough for me to check.  Also like I said I do not subscribe that my husband is so perfect that there is a chance that I am going to be okay. I do trust my husband but how many women rely on trust alone and find out after it’s too late that there husband was on the “down low” and they have contracted something that a pill or a shot can’t cure.  I have told my husband plenty of times that I love me and my kids enough and I get that sometimes men take chances on getting some new %ussy but I refuse to live my life where I just throw caution to the wind. One of us has to love themselves enough to get things checked out.  So far after 5 years there hasn’t need to put the “man” between us.  I do not live my life on the edge.  If something is wrong I want to know, get a plan and keep it moving. This is why I encourage my ladies and my men to know what is going on with your health.  Avoidance is a sure fail way to not live your best life.  In order to have a good life you need to be here.

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So find what works for you in general.  I would also encourage all to see your doctor as well as a nutritionist.  These two are key to getting your health on track.  What you eat is literally a large component to how healthy your life is.  Eating the wrong things can contribute to high cholesterol, weight issues, etc.  Overall health seems so overwhelming. I think when I am trying to drink enough water, exercise, take care of my kids, go to work, have a good sex life, be good to my husband, and anything else life throws how much it takes to be on point in each other.  This is why I believe in balance.  However when it comes to my health, I believe in going in, getting things checked and then attacking each area.

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Menopause Woes

As many of you know, I had a full hysterectomy.  With that surgery it sent my body into menopause.   For the most part it has been bearable.  It has been 4 months since the surgery and I feel like I am just getting my body back.

So let me take some time to answer some questions that some readers have asked me regarding menopause:

  1. How long did the pain take to manage-I would say surgery wise that took about 3 weeks to heal.  This is the initial pain that anyone who has had any uterus surgery goes through.  It took about an additional 5 weeks to be able to move about without the pain being agitated during the healing process.
  2. Hot Flashes, are they controlled-I have to say I think not.  I even with the hormone therapy replacement the flashes occur several times a week.  It is annoying since before surgery I was a really cold person.  The flashes can be overwhelming.  I find myself stripping clothes off as soon as I get home.  When I am at work, I immediately need my fan or I am in the bathroom with cold water compresses.  However I will take it over bleeding every month.
  3. Sex after the fact was extremely hard in the beginning.  I waited a little longer than I was cleared.  It was painful and different.  I think now I am doing a lot better and feel like my drive hasn’t changed from before surgery, but to say it was just so freely a great experience after surgery would be lie.  Some women experience pan, dryness, and lose their desire to even have sex altogether.  Every woman is different.  Do not compare yourself to how you are reacting to another woman.
  4. Swelly belly-this is when no matter what you do, your body has told you how much you are doing is too much.  You still at times look like a woman who has had a fresh baby.  It’s annoying to say the least.  I have come to terms that this is apart of the process.  On days where my belly is normal, I celebrate with a great outfit.
  5. Mood Swings-they do exist but in my case I feel like its less than when I had a bunch of unruly hormones guiding me.  I think the combination of self-care and the even dose of hormones through the hormone replacement therapy patch which gives me a low dose over time has helped.  I have been better off emotionally.

Do I regret the surgery?

Absolutely not.  I am 100% on board with my decision.  For one physically I feel so much better.  I do not have to be on guard about if a period is going to come or not. I do not have to carry unnecessary clothes in case of an accident.  The lack of bleeding every month has decreased my previous diagnosis of anemia.  I will get my final results by end of the month, but the test I had a few months ago was already looking great.  I had already had my tubes tied before surgery so having more kids wasn’t in the cards.  My husband supported that decision and to be honest it was the most selfish giving decision I could give myself.  Shout out to the women who have had or will have the surgery or go through menopause naturally and unfortunately can’t or won’t experience motherhood.  I do not take that gift of motherhood lightly.  I do however love the fact that my sister in love is about to give me my baby fix this upcoming Spring.

I did what was best for my body.  I do not regret it for a second even with the worst flash, or tiredness or even the feeling of being overwhelmed comes over me and sometimes at the same time, I find myself taking a deep breath and thanking God that I am on the path of healing.

To other menopausal women both young and old who may be reading this thinking how much of a negative experience you may be going through, or think I may be going through, remember that every woman experiences this change in different ways. I could have healed faster than another, doesn’t make me normal and you weird.  What works for me may not work for you.  I would say that if you are going through menopause I would applaud you to find out what self-care looks like for you both before, during and especially afterwards.  Self care will refocus your thoughts as your body changes.  It’s like going through the awkward teenage phase all over again.  For some the changes in body odor, lost of hair or increase of hair, change in libido, lack of a period, or feeling like your body is experiencing a death from lack of having children even if children was never on your radar are all real experiences. How you navigate through will depend on you.  Do not allow anyone to push what you should do.  Always trust yourself and talk to your doctors.

One last thing is that going through menopause has made me realize that I can’t take my body for granted.  This is why I try to be mindful of if I am doing the things that I need to keep my body at the best shape of my life.

Menopause is a phase of life that women go through regardless if it’s naturally or surgically induced know my fellow women I am with you and I understand.

Any of US Could be Kenneka?

Unless you live under a rock you have heard the story of Kenneka Jenkins, the young lady who was found in a freezer in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Chicago.  This story has had twitter and social media in a frenzy.  She left with a group of friends to attend a party and never came home.  Follow any of the hashtags to follow the story.  Regardless of the distorted facts one fact remained is that she had some extremely horrible “friends” and that she was being brought there to be raped.

Now I have seen the memes floating about how her death and rape has sparked the whole be careful of your friends movement but it makes it seem as if the rapist and murdered of Kenneka deserves a pass?  My thoughts are on what planet?  Just because people are using this story to remind others about their choice of friends that doesn’t mean that the rapists and murder whomever they may be are fine.  The way the information is spilling, the rapists and murders can be her friends.  Everyone in that hotel room should be charged.  Hands down.  I will not dispute that.  It’s not a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Everyone who live streamed it, turned the music to muffle Kenneka’s cries, participated, set it up, and carried it out should be charged.  AND you should STILL watch your friends.

I placed myself in the place of a mother.  I am a mother in real life.  I have two daughters. My oldest child is very lovable and already possesses the thoughts that her friends are great.  However as her mother teaching her right from wrong I am the voice until she has a voice on whom is not for her.  Yes, even at 8 I have had to call out a few of the mean girls.  My daughter goes to private school which means for the most part her classes are small and most of the kids in her class have already been together since Kindergarten.  They hang together in and out of the classroom. If you think that I as a mother am not in her ear telling her, pointing out, and calling out her fake friends you are sadly mistaken.  We ALL have had to deal with those who we thought was real and found it wasn’t remotely true.

I was asked this week have I ever had to deal with fake friends and the answer is HELL YES.  My eyes were opened AFTER something went down.  Whether that was hearing of stories being said tabout me, being left at a party, etc, it has happened.  Or the times I have had a circle of friends who were really friends because we had one mutual friend involved and heard some crap about me that I didn’t tell the group.  These are the very recipes for fake friends.  I do not think Kenneka realized that until her unfortunate death.  I said on my SnapChat and I will say it again, its not just the teenagers we need to worry about it’s the young girls that are my oldest daughters age that already show mean girl attributes.  It’s the grown women who keep stuff going well into their 40s and up. This mean girl mentality can begin at any age.  It doesn’t discriminate so while others are pointing their fingers at Kenneka, remember to re-evaluate your own circle.

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Listen cutting off friends is hard.  It hurts.  It makes your circle smaller.  Here are a few things to watch for:

  1. The “leader” that likes to control off the cards aka the information that is given to the group.  My rule of thumb is that just because we share a mutual friend don’t bring me no news about someone I don’t pick up the phone and call myself.  Do you know how many people talk that let’s pray for her crap and ain’t been in church a month of Sundays.  Stop believing the that’s my sis crap. That same sis is the same one when you get on hard times will give your information to people who don’t even know you.  Rule of thumb even in a group setting, let others tell their own business.  Stop giving in the name of friendship other’s information unless you have permission.
  2. When one or more lie about inviting another but talk about how that one don’t come.  I had that happen recently.  I found out that after all this talking about one “friend” went down the girl wasn’t even invited but the “leader” told everyone they were and then talked bad about them for not coming.  IF they will do it to one they will do it to all
  3. Be still sometimes.  We go to things without asking the right questions.  If you feel something isn’t right, trust what you say and have your own mind.

These are the lessons that even at 8 I have had to share with my daughter.  These will NOT solve fake friends problems but it will open eyes.  We believe anything.  Just because you know someone for a long time don’t always mean they have your best interest in heart. Also to my men you play a HUGE part in some of this.  For the men who use women as bait, stop.  Start having conversations with your son and other young men about respect. Too many women trying to protect each other but not having men stand and rally behind them to do the same.  Sorry your fragile egos can’t take a no but remember at some point, this could have been your daughter, mother, cousin, etc. Keneeka is all of us and I have the deepest sympathy for that mother and family.  I pray that the ones who did this, will come forward and take responsibility soon.  R.I.P Kenneka Jenkins!!

8 Weeks: Gym didn’t kill me

Well the day has been rainy and I really wanted to just relax on my lunch break and that’s code for read magazines and eat.  However when I looked at my calendar and thanked the Lord for allowing me to finally get to 8 weeks post surgery, I got super excited. Then I got really sad when I saw I have less than a month to get in shape for a 5k and a walk that I have in the same weekend in September.  I started to get anxiety as if I wouldn’t be ready in time.  I decided that instead of worrying about it, it was time to get in the gym.  So I did and I didn’t die.

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I really wanted to wait until next week but then I thought about my whole mantra I have lived by which is not to put it off.  So I tied my hair until a bun, put my sweat bands on and headed in the rain to the gym.  The whole time I wanted to make a turn and roll out but I kept going.  At first I was super intimidated.  I was like girl you ain’t ready, just work on something productive and you will feel just as good.  Then I thought about today being national failures day and I was like naw, I got to keep on going.  I got in the gym and stretched and then got to work.  Let me say that I have done some exercises towards the end of my surgery but its a whole other ball game when you’re in the gym.  I wanted to take things slow but the reality is that even when I took sports in high school slow doesn’t always motivate me so I played a game with each song to push myself and change the intervals while doing cardio.  Until tomorrow with a new song line up, I can’t wait to crush it again.

So all in all I have to say I hope that getting back into the swing of things will boost my energy.  I have noticed that every 2 day I have to go to bed before 9pm.  I can’t go much longer than two days before I feel like someone hit me with a car even with taking all of my vitamins.  So maybe that will change but 2 months later a few weeks taking them and I am no longer on go all the time.  My hormones have finally leveled out.  The night sweats have decreased and so has the hot flashes.  That is a blessing let me tell you.  I still carry my fan with me I refuse to be out here and not prepared that’s for sure.

A lot of the issues that I had prior to surgery has gone away.  I am super happy to feel like I am a healthy woman again.  Finding out that a lot of this needed to be corrected years ago has been hard as I pushed to have these things done but not by the right doctor who would listen.  So now with the right doctors in place, life has gotten so much easier.

So I look forward to a few things.  As the year is in its last quarter or very close to it, I have some fitness goals yet to work on.

  1. Maintain my weight
  2. Ability to choose the costume for Halloween I want.  Last year although cute, I felt like an over sized Mario Brothers (female version) with sausage arms.
  3. Not look like I am the mini turkey for Thanksgiving (won’t see my sausage arms in this year’s pics)
  4. Get to the New Years with an awesome little number (dress) even if I don’t go anywhere.  You know if my husband and I don’t go out I throw a mean family party. I’ll be the flyest in-house mom ever.
  5. To be able to look back on this year and know my goal for 2018 won’t be to lose any weight but to maintain it.  You know the years prior I would make a goal and never work at it, never achieve it, but it was a “goal” I had in the back of my mind since surely my body didn’t do the work to get there.

So ladies and gentleman thank you all for rocking out with me during this hysterectomy journey.  All of the ups and downs have all been worth this moment of clarity and health. Be vigilant about your health and complete your goals!

Learn From All This Usher Mess

I’ve seen some pretty good memes from all the Usher reported Herpes talk. However my message is simple women asked him reportedly and he said he was fine. Now I don’t know if it was because he was Usher that someone figured he was good but, no one’s pocket will excuse you from getting STDs.

So as much as everyone thinks this whole story is funny the truth is celebrity or not this is a situation that happens to both men and women all the time. The issue is that some people are fortunate to be able to get some medication and recover and others are not. How many stories have to be published with people who knowingly know they have a STD and make it their life long mission to infect others. How easy it for you to be in the passion and just go with the flow? Very easy if you’re not thinking.

One night of passion can devastate an entire family not just the ones who laid down and opened themselves up to the infection. Oh and FYI for my married folks, your marital vows are not enough to protect you from a STD. It only takes one night of misguided passion to bring your mate home more than they bargained for. Many women and men don’t think with their right “head.” So as a married women I still insist on yearly STD checks. I remember when I had my youngest daughter and my doctor said well you’re married you don’t need to be checked.  I looked at her and said lady, if you don’t check and do a full panel! Like I thought how many other married couples she told this to. Marriage doesn’t change the will of the person in the marriage. That is a daily test. Married couples need to be just as vigilant in their sexual health as anyonelse. 

So why you worrying about Usher let this help you get to the nearest clinic and get checked. Yes get checked. The issue with the women who are suing Usher and will most likely win is that he has the funds to at least begin financial healing but the regular man or woman doesn’t. If you’re not on top of your sexual health by the time you find out you could already be in harms way. Life and death are super important when it comes to sex. Please don’t allow a night of wet sheets cost you your life. Get tested not just ask if someone has a STD.  Keep your regular STD check. If you find yourself in a position and make the decision to have unprotected sex although not safe, go get checked and then head the protocol to go back a few weeks up to months to recheck again. 

Oh and one more thing if a man is married, leave him alone!! It is reported that the young lady he slept with was his ex wife’s bridesmaid. She really must have thought she had pulled her a good one and played herself. She is just as responsible for this as he is. No passes given here.

I don’t know how Usher’s new wife is feeling about all of this and if she too is vigilant about her sexual health but I know I would be embarrassed. I hope it works for all parties involved.