Fusing Friendships

One of the biggest challenges when I moved to Philly years ago was leaving what I was comfortable being around. I was used to my set of friends. I was used to my town. I knew how to get everywhere. Lancaster was small enough for me to navigate my life and it was fine. Fast forward to getting engaged to my husband and I knew that I would have to move. In the beginning I was excited to start this new life but I didn’t think about the challenges.  The biggest challenge was friends and wanting to have my own sense of community like I had in Lancaster. As much as people want to leave Lancaster, one of the biggest things about leaving that you can’t deny is community.

Friend Factor

Being that I was comfortable with my friends, I never thought about what would happen when I moved. I didn’t invite anyone to visit me in Philadelphia. I always just went back to Lancaster. Lancaster is home. It feels right. I can go back today and fit right in with zero issues. Friendships matter to me. Having a core set of friends even if they aren’t from Lancaster has always been my saving grace. When I was single and not attached I could take a trip and have girl time with any of them. My biggest hurdle was being pregnant with a toddler in a city I had NO friends in.  At first I focused on making sure my toddler was secure. I made that my number one priority. Then making sure the new baby I was carrying was safe and healthy.  Then I would go back and forth traveling either pregnant, or with a toddler and newborn baby.  When I think about it now there needed to be balance in that. No way should I have made that into one sided trips. Anyone who follows my blogs know the reason I kept going to Lancaster was my refusal to be in Philadelphia and attempt to make things happen.

Fusing Friends

The issue I have less now of but definitely more when I first moved was when my husband wanted me to fuse relationships with his friends. He never asked me to but he would tell me to be open to relationships. My response was so super negative and I wasn’t able to take his advice at face value. Even now some of his friends wives who I think are completely awesome I don’t see myself getting as close to. I never wanted to have my friends to only be an extension of him. Meaning I didn’t want to get in a situation where his friends or their significant others felt obligated to be nice to me out of respect for him. I don’t keep friends like that. I only and always ask for respect and I give it.  I do not expect people to extend themselves to me to save face.  So even know I have met a great level of friends through him but I refuse to force myself on any of them. It’s hard for me at times to push past anxiety.

When I do often times I find folks aren’t as receptive.  Let me give an example. I reached out to one via text. I still have yet to hear back. Like not for nothing I’m in a better place. Petty Toi would be super stank when I see her in the future but why?! Now when I see the same person (s), it’s always hey let’s get together. To my husband he thinks they are being nice. To what actually happens is after a few text messages, the real of let’s get together to be nice in public and the real of let’s get together in real life don’t match. I am the person that will take you at what your action says over what you say to save face.  This isn’t to say they are fake or they don’t like me. It’s the fact that this is the real of what happens when you come into someone else’s circle. It takes time to build a relationship or if you are honest, as a wife no one is obligated to be friends with me just because they are friends with him.  Having my husband be the only thing in common isn’t enough to fuse a relationship. This thought process takes growth.

So anyone who has ever dealt with social anxiety knows it takes a large level of bravery to put yourself out to others. The Toi that I was when I first moved here was a lot more cut throat than I am now. I have completely softened but not to the point of stupidity. Back in the day when I needed to feel apart I was more hurt and out of that hurt I would cut a person off. Now I don’t worry about vibes that don’t return to me. I get that I am coming into already long lasting relationships and for that I don’t get moved as much.  I don’t over extend myself to people. There is a fine line between hey girl, and feeling like after 4-5 attempts and not getting the message. We all have lives. I am married. I have 3 kids. I blog. I work a full and a part time job. I am not looking for someone to be an instant bestie.

Here are my tips when you struggle to make new friends in an established group:

  • Be yourself
  • Always be cordial
  • Attempt to make yourself a friend
  • Don’t get caught up when the friendly relationship is only when you see certain folks
  • Look to find your own friends by getting out in social events
  • Do not feel obligated to overextend yourself to others if they show you who they are-believe them
  • Don’t take things personal
  • Work on you this will bring others that are supposed to be around you
  • Remember you are awesome

Be gentle with yourself as you fuse into a new life, new city, etc

It’s hard to figure out the life balance. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

Know that you will get better as you practice self care, take risks, put yourself out to be a friend, etc

It’s not the number of friends you have but the ones who are super solid! They outweigh having large entourages any day.

Shout out to my friends new and old who are all around awesome!! You have made this transition in your own way, better.

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Monday Motivation: Keeping Space

So here we are on another Monday. Tired from the weekend and dreading another manic Monday. However instead of playing the I don’t want to go out and adult game, change your perspective. Start today or even reset your day with how you think about the tasks at hand.

You can’t get to glorious Friday unless you go through the week. All of the challenges will be overwhelming at points but in the end you will make it through. Start your Monday in the right head space. I have had the toughest few weeks I’ve seen in a long while. However my attitude has been hands down the deciding factor on pushing through or feeling pushed over. I am in control of my responses and my reactions. So if you’re struggling this Monday morning, no worries don’t let that mindset stay with you all day or all week.

I was listening to a podcast and it talked about how moments don’t gave to run our lives. We live in moments too long that we could have dealt with and moved on. Bad traffic in the morning shouting be still on your mind by lunch time. Your kids messing up with the morning commute shouldn’t be on your mind at dinner time. So change your moments and make them the best that you can!! Change your mindset and change your day!!

Saxby; Change your Environment

Today’s message comes from the beautiful Saxbys. I am here in this space and the environment is super conducive to crushing my goals. A lot of followers know I always plan my blogs ahead of time. It helps me to continue in my creativity. I found Saxbys online and from their Instagram I really thought it was somewhere outside of Philadelphia. I was wrong. This was about less than 15 minutes from my house. I planned in my head to give them a try.

Two places for a self-proclaimed nerd are bookstores and coffee shops. The reason is I love the atmosphere that is present in both places.  Saxbys gave me the 3 things I look forward to while being in coffee shops. One is natural lighting. I love the way it makes me feel therefore I can create in that type of space. The second is COFFEE. I had their sweet mint cold brew and it tasted so good it made me second guess my selection. I didn’t have to add anything in it other than my almond milk. You know I am still on team no dairy. First sip had me in love. Sweet mint had enough of the chocolate mint flavor that I felt like it was  Girl Scout cookie. I’ll get back to sipping.  The third thing that I love about Saxbys is the third element that I look forward to with coffee shops and that’s the people in it. I know its hard to separate a place from the folks that comes in, but truth be told the right coffee shop’s elements will attract certain types. I loved that Saxbys gave me what I needed.

Now how does Saxbys help in today’s message, changing your environment. I have been and always will remain creative because that is who I am. However sometimes stepping out of your controlled spaces helps to get you moving towards your goals in ways you wouldn’t have even given thought. For one moving out of my house today allowed me to take care of one of my needs today and that was to get away from my family. I love the kids but after a while mommy needs her ear phones and adult interaction. My husband doesn’t drink coffee like that and its rare that he’s going to a coffee shop with me. It’s like my own mental retreat. One of my other needs was coffee. Sometimes I wake up with headaches that I know that often times caffeine helps. Saxbys cold brew had some of the coffee I’ve had in a while. It was exactly what I needed. As I sat and realized that my headache was subsiding, I felt a lot more relaxed.

What if I hadn’t been open to trying something different? What if I allowed my anxiety to get the best of me and allow me to sit home with my family, drinking my home coffee, and not feeling like my cup literally being full. Sometimes it takes moving out-of-the-way to go after the things that you need to be whole. As a mom I know its easy to look around and get in a zone about the needs of my house, but I am striving to take time outs that I need to allow me to refuel and come back whole. Sometimes life won’t allow me to take an escape on one of my solo trips. Being practical about moving things around so I can grow is an essential goal of mine. I used to think being in the house and being present with my family was the only way i could prove to be a great wife or mom. You already know with my self-care notion that being whole requires you to find space, say no, and be able to fuel yourself in a guilt free way.

So let me tell you how finding spaces in the city you live in is crucial. I hear from women who have a thousand complaints about not having a place to go, no one to go with them, or just that they are bored. I am a living witness that you can change that, one outing at a time. So I encourage you to get out of your own way and change your environment. It will help you see the world around you in a different way. As I sat in Saxbys writing, organizing, listening to music and people watching, it was that little space of heaven that made me for a second forget about my long list of to do. It allowed me a place of peace that I needed. It allowed me time to do a mental check in with myself.  I had a lot on my mind that I felt like I could map out without the voices of those around me that I know and love. Strangers talking about all kinds of things, sipping on that coffee goodness was what I needed. Saxbys allowed me a mental retreat today that I so needed. I would encourage you to get out and try Saxby’s for yourself.

Now if you do come to Saxbys let me help you with a few things:

  • Intimate space
  • Variety of drinks including teas, smoothies and food
  • Cheaper than the competitor coffee shops
  • Outside seating and indoor seating (University of Penn location)
  • Great customer service
  • Music low-key playing in the background
  • Clean environment
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Natural Lighting
  • College vibe but adults from all walks of life
  • Plenty of sit down seats as well as outlets to plug into
  • Knowledgable Baristas-I stood there making life choices on coffee and they were super patient with me

Also for those who love apps, Saxbys has an app to get you in and out. You can link your card to it as well as earn points for more coffee. In addition just for signing up you can get $3 to go towards your first purchase!! I would say that’s a win!! So enjoy!!

Ask Toi: How do you tell someone about your will and whom your kids will go if you should die and it’s not them?

Well this was an interesting question this morning.

The back story for my readers is the husband and Wife made their wills to include who their young children should go to in their death…..the grandparents are upset they weren’t chosen….

First of all I pray that you are here for your children and this will never have to go into an active plan. However the reality of your children not going to either parents is a harsh reality. Parents being a caregiver after they have raised their own kids isn’t always an ideal situation. Age of your parents, their health, how active they are with their own grandkids and suitability doesn’t always match title. You need to take into consideration how you were raised and how the grandparents interact with the kids to play a major role in them being chosen.

There should be many factors in making that hard decision. It shouldn’t be based upon friendships or family relationships to be honest with you. It should be about whom aligns the best with you and your husband’s parenting style and who will give your children the same type of lifestyle that you would if you were still here. You can’t choose people to raise your children in your place just based on relationships.

Also how often does the children interact with whomever your choosing? How active are they involved with the kids? These things matter. Think about you not being here, your kids being devastated and then having to live with people they know only in title. If whomever you’re choosing hasn’t made efforts to be in the kids’ lives they shouldn’t be at the top of the list. Also one of the biggest things to think about is how whomever you choose deals with discipline. Discipline is a major compartment in who you choose. If someone doesn’t align with you and your husband than they shouldn’t be on the list. Also factors with age and appropriateness needs to be within your decision making process as well.

So although either parents don’t make the list you can approach it in the sense of being honest with them. Let them know that you love them and you want this decision to be in the best interest of the children involved. Parenting is hard and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. You can talk as little as you want about the choice.

Know that they will be upset. There is no way around it. They will be offended that you come off feeling that their parenting is not enough. This is what they feel. Even if it’s true you have a right to feel the way you do. They will think that you don’t value what they taught you and it’s not good enough for your kids. Some parents may come off rash and demonstrate further why they weren’t chosen by being even more disconnected to their kids. Either way you have to find a way to take all of these things into consideration but still make the decisions for the kids at hand that matter!!

Ultimately whatever chooses you make is dependent on you and your husband and as long as you can live with the decisions, everyone else around you will have no choice but to accept it. Also even though you have not chosen the grandparents, still apply the same logic in whom you do select.

Monday Motivation: Small Nugget Lessons

So if you’re lucky to have odd today on this supposed holiday kudos to you. To the rest of us grabbing our life line I mean coffee cups, we out here surviving! Today I decided to give you some little nuggets to help your Monday progress!

  • Mute on your phone works-there are people you don’t feel like entertaining on your phone mute them. This way you can answer their shenanigans on your time
  • Saying no is just as powerful as a yes
  • If you are involved with someone or something that is a point of anger or issues, end it (it’s your choice to stay)
  • Happiness is a personal job! Stop making folks pay a bill that God gifted you with the sufficiency to pay
  • Step out of faith. Just cause you are scared doesn’t change it being a faith walk nonetheless
  • If you need help ask for it
  • Strength is in finding your purpose not staying in dysfunctional situations
  • Take social media breaks; even if you need to set a timer to help. Too much of it isn’t good
  • Write this week’s goals down-you can’t achieve it without being clear in what the it is
  • Limit foolishness this week
  • Reduce your reality television trust me it does something for you
  • Instead of wishing you had something someone had, find out what you really like or need and focus on that
  • Don’t like your job? Get your resume out there and actively search
  • Work week feels overwhelmed; what can you do to organize the things around you?
  • If you’re a mom and you’re ready to pull your hair, gather your edges and break down your stress to find small solutions until your bigger solution comes
  • If you’re dating someone and the red flags are mounting, don’t ignore them
  • If you’re married and it seems like you’re off base, find ways to change you and pray for your mate. Sometimes small changes in you will inspire them
  • If you’re divorced know that finding a new life isn’t easy but it’s doable!

Enjoy your week! Take control of the things that you can control! Don’t feed into negativity. Drink your water. Work out. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Dedicate to healthier eating habits. Mind your business. Grow your business. Spend time laughing. Find the joy in the bad!!

All of the mentioned above will give you an awesome day and week!!

Sunday Message: Healthy Friendships

Friendships help you as you walk this journey. It has to be healthy above all. A friendship that has you stressed, feeling pressed or any other negative friendship needs to be re-evaluated and possibly let go.

I’ve been taking a stock of friendships lately. Which ones are requiring more from me than that person is willing to give? Which ones suck the life out of me because it’s filled with women who want to show off that their better than? Which ones have it based upon length of friendship but lack mutual love? I’m looking at them all. I have nothing in my life or anyone that I don’t constantly evaluate and friendships are no different.

I’m not willing to make changes in my life but allow myself to be blind to the factors that matter. For instance as I get older turning up isn’t my thing anymore. I can gave a good time but to have a friend who only wants to turn up doesn’t serve me anymore. I’m more into brunches, dinners, going to try new things. I have one friend in particular our monthly dates is a list of things we both haven’t done and we fuse the list and attack it.

Some people think that because of length of friendship means I will tolerate being in an argumentative state, dealing with flakiness, or having someone who I literally go into anxiety with because one or more friends are take over legends, or spends more time showing off that they know everything. This I was okay with in my 20s. It seemed quite normal to be that friend or even accept that friend. Now I know for a fact I can’t be around that and I’m definitely not spending my coins to do activities with no one like this.

When I’m with friends I listen to phrases like “oh that’s how so and so are.” If you have a friend or a group of friends and someone states that, listen to it. This means that something is being done that one or more don’t like but tolerated. This is a red flag. The more you make excuses for those around you in the name of friendships you spend more time defending it instead of actually enjoying their company. Don’t be afraid to either call them out or call yourself out. You can withdraw or just put checks and balances in place!

If you’re out with friends and your friend is loud, obnoxious, or rude understand if you continue to hang out with them it’s a reflection of you. I have a few friends who fit that mode. I hang out with them less and less because my life can’t take all that foolishness. Life isn’t a reality show. So I place checks and balances in place. For instance, I never get in their car to go to places because when I’m done I leave. I also try not to go to places by which I’m going to be embarrassed. They have a right to be like they are and I have a right to roll when I’ve had enough. Eventually to be honest the relationship will fizzle. We won’t be on the same pages. I know some folks saying that me being like that is lack of loyalty. That’s fine to think that too. However anything and anyone who vexes my spirit to the point where I leave from their presence upset, hostile, or mentally drained is not showing loyalty to myself!

Also within friendships the keep it real friend is sometimes the friend that can cause the most irritation. I’ve learned to just listen and see what my friends need of me. I don’t have to analyze them or what they are going through. Sometimes when life is going to Hell you may just want to have fun. The keep it real friend feels the need to insert themselves and be the everything guru. Nobody wants that all the time. You can be real and have real go real left. Just because you are in a different place than another; everyone’s timing on what they tolerate is different. It reminds me of the show Insecure where Molly told Nathan not to show up cause she was protecting Issa. She was being a good friend by attempting to control the players around Issa. Molly couldn’t see the mess in her own life. Everyone was used to Molly being altogether. You’re stuff can look together and be off. Support your friend. You don’t have to be the one that demands that they adjust to your standards.

I saw something on social media that spoke volumes:

Also group friends be clear! I’ve seen many issues go down in group friendships. The best kind is when everyone can hang but the rules of friendships are clear. If your group is based on the fact that you all share a mutual friend, it’s not a real group friendship. Also unless the other members of the group have given permission to share the business between them, the one or usually the semi leader who shares it is wrong. Period! Don’t share folks stuff without them knowing it. Especially if it’s stuff that they themselves didn’t share. The group can be a great support system if their actually supporting each other. I’ve had to call some folks out in a group because I knew that one of the group members didn’t need or want one member sharing intimate details that they weren’t willing to share. Please be clear on that. Some of the most embarrassing things can cause some issues down the line.

Healthy friendships support each other. They are there for one another. There is mutual respect. If you’re grown let grown folks be them. No one should be criticized in the name of “not on my watch” mindset. I’ve made up a new personal rule if one of my friends calls me out I’ll listen but instead of complaining later you can best believe I’m going to speak out on it immediately. Any friend that attempts to call me out in front of others; that’s a definite stop and block. Embarrassing a friend is not a friend!

Let me give you an example, I had a friend who we were meeting. This was when I was in my depression, I looked a mess. She kindly emphasis on kind took me to the side and talked to me. She found out what was wrong and told me she was there and didn’t tell anyone else that I’m aware what was going on. I’ve always appreciated her being there and understanding me. Now I had another friend do the same thing but did it loudly and in front of others and I’ve never forgotten how it made me feel. Being real and having tact goes together. I made a promise to myself to never allow that to happen again. I should have spoken up when I felt bad but instead graced that friend something they weren’t willing to grace me and that was simple understanding.

This is why friendships mean so much. You choose the relationship. It’s not like family and where the choice was taken. Be careful of who you link up. Friendships that make you anxious, upset, or hurt may need to be evaluated. There are simple rules of engagement and those rules should start out with respect. So as you begin your week and you are feeling like taking stock of your life; start with you and then start with the choices of relationship you entertain. You have the power to allow relationships to stay or leave! Choose wisely!

2018 Light the Night

9 years ago I met this bubbly personality in my girl Jen! We met at work. We quickly clicked. We were even pregnant at the same time and a bond was made. I got a call that Jen was diagnosed with cancer! I was in such disbelief. There was no way she had cancer. She didn’t seem phased she went right into let’s fight it mode. Everyone around her took on the same mindset. It was time to fight!

The family organized to provide food for her while she went through her treatments. Everyone was full hands on deck. She pulled through while losing all of her hair, being tired, being sick but she did it while raising her boys and being a wife. Lymphomanics was made! We came together and we have been walking for at least 5 years! Friday October 5, we came together and walked to help stomp out cancer!

If you don’t know what Light the Night is take some time to read up on the blood cancer, the various types, and how you can help the cause. It is not only dear to me as it was a source of support for Jen, it is also an organization I will probably be behind for years to come!

White lanterns are for survivors.

Red lanterns are for supporters and care givers

Gold or yellow is in memory of someone who unfortunately lost their battle with cancer!

When it’s night the lit lanterns are carried to be a symbolism of the fight that so many are there to stand behind.

One day as we continue to raise money there will be a cure so that people of all ages will never have to get that call that cancer has come calling. It’s a beautiful sea of lanterns walking together!

Thank you to organizations like Light the Night for supporting families like Jen push through. Thank you to the Lymphomanics for still answering the call to continue and forever stand behind Jen and her family. Thank to all who have supported this year and the years of the past. Thank you to my family for supporting me as I travel to attend the walks every year! Thank you Jen for your continued love and support!