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!!

National Make A Difference Day

How can you make a difference? This is such an open-ended question. We always have a tenacity to go to what we don’t have before we answer. You start listing all of the things you aren’t before you can just simply find ways to be the difference in someone else’s lives.

Whatever gifts and talents that are inside of you is more than enough to make a difference. Here are a few ways you can give back and make a difference:

 

Home Life

One charity starts at home. I hate to see people who are super bomb to everyone around them except their own family. I hate to see it with parents who go out and win everyone else’s child but ignore the issues with their own. I hate to see husbands and wives flex on social media but behind closed doors, give silent treatments and ignore the needs of their spouse. We all have to do better.

  • Spend more time with your children. Yes you work to provide. Provision is responsibility. Taking time away from your phone, to sing a song, or play one of their games, or sit and ask them what they like and what’s bothering them makes a difference for a child. Try it some time.
  • Love on your mate. Whether it’s a boo, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, take some time and spend it on them. Yes gifts are great, but how about watch one of their shows actively with them. How about talk and make sure the air is clear? You can also make a dessert together. These are inexpensive ways to show the ones you love that you are one with them.
  • Check in on loved ones. We say we love folks but the only time we check in on them is if we have the tea about another family member. Change that. Call and ask if all is well and mean it. Than when you find out it’s not if you can help, help. Also unless someone told you to tell another person, build trust and just listen and not take their issues to another family member so you “can pray about it.”

Work Life

  • Show up and be on time ready to work. That’s a ministry all in itself.
  • Don’t be apart of the office gossip-remember the same lips bringing you the tea, is the same one taking your tea to stir at another pot on you
  • Be the change in the office you want to see
  • If the job no longer serves you, don’t stay get an exit plan. This may take time, but be proactive in leaving
  • Find ways to be more productive even if that means changing the scenery. When work starts to get to me sometimes I redecorate to fit a new mood. It helps me about 60% of the time

Social Media Life

  • Don’t go back and forth with them……. (in my Lil Duval voice) if you find yourself having to respond to more than one comment just stop. You aren’t going to win an argument on social media with trolls
  • Be who you post to be. Yeah that’s right. Align your social media to reflect who you are. On my social media I highlight me as a mom and wife. I don’t create doors to let anyone think they have space to slide in the DM. They do but at that point they just are trying to do the most.
  • Make sure you don’t do subliminal post. This is hard even for me at times. You see a post and it speaks to you but post it cause it spoke to YOU. You can’t be out here taking shots at folks you don’t even @

 

We all have things that we can give to the world. I came across a young lady on social media that is a hair dresser and she feeds the homeless. This is her life work. She literally gets out there with the folks that many would snub their noses at, and she feeds them and cleans them up and does their hair. She has a whole team of folks that assist her. Think about how her being there does for them. She treats them with dignity and respect. I know if I was down and out the last thing I would want is someone kicking me when I was done. What about those who raise money for others?  They are making a difference in the causes by which they are raising it for. How about those who set up camps at the bus stops for kids to make sure all of the kids have breakfast. You don’t know what someone may be going through at home. Everybody ain’t sitting at home collecting checks. Some middle class folks work everyday and still can’t make ends meet. How about the men who go into the community to pray over the city. There are a few groups here in Philadelphia who do it consistently. What can you do? Whatever gift is inside of you can help make a difference.

I said it before but around thanksgiving I see so many companies give back to others and it warms my heart. If you cut hair, how about offer your services to people who can’t afford to maintain their cuts on a regular basis? If you are a financial planner, offer your services to a few families for free to get them out of debt?  The sky is the limit. Whatever you do, do it well. Someone needs the very thing you have and complain about. Make a difference today and everyday!

 

Evaluate Your Life

I think doing check ins with yourself is important. It’s not just something you do when the New Year hits or on your birthday. A life check up and check in helps to reinforce your goals. T

So what do you do when you check in and discover your life is heading left and you are off task of completing your goals?

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You take a deep breath. You find out what caused you to lose focus. Was it not investing enough time into yourself. This happens more often than most people think. If you aren’t doing a monthly or even weekly check up you can find that on your lists of importance you are on the bottom. You can’t give to someone when you have nothing to give of yourself. Take the time to put you back on the top of your list and make your dreams come true.

What if you don’t have enough resources?

A lot of us don’t have enough resources. We simply are acquiring them as we go along. Join the crowd. End of day, you can still make things happen. If you work your plan and find hiccups, set some intentions. Research what you need and how others in your same position got them. If it worked for them it can work for you. The difference is when you don’t have resources you have to learn to make them. Ask a mom who has limited resources but her children have many needs. If she loves her kids, she gets up and makes it happen.

What if the list are long and overwhelming?

Take that list and put them into categories. What can you do right now? What will take time? List them in order of the time you think it will take to make it happen. Not all dreams if not most are build over night. You have to be doing the work and being consistent. Its like the stories of those who are looking for a job and interviewing. They may hear a thousand Nos until they get to that Yes. Be consistent and keep moving.

What if you lose hope?

Hope isn’t lost its just shifted. You have to be able to refocus yourself. How do you refocus yourself? Look at what you want. Is it something that no matter how many times you put it down, you keep coming back to it? Is it a passion that you feel on a daily basis. If you are at work is it always on your mind? This is where your hope is. Just because you laid your dream down, it didn’t die its crying out to you to pick it up. This is why you talk about it all the time. This is why the desire is burning so bright. It has a hold of you tighter than you have a hold on it. Tighten it up. Get back out there. Be ready for a few Nos. Be ready for times when you feel overwhelmed.

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

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Evaluating your life can be exhausting. It can be mentally draining. All you do is focus on what you don’t have, where you aren’t, the time wasted, etc. you will find it hard to keep going. Find the little victories along the way. Get back up, dust yourself. and get back into your life. Don’t quit on life, make your life happen. Even if that dream takes years as long as you keep moving you will get there. Everyday there is at least one more thing you can do to make your dream happen. If you aren’t doing something everyday than you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough. If you want to lose weight, everyday you should be drinking your water, increasing your exercise, substituting better food in place of bad food. This is daily. If you want to go to school, you need to prepare. Have you gone to the school of your choice and spoke to a counselor? Have you applied for grants online and in your community? Have you filled out the application? Are you working hard in the day to finance school? This is called an action plan. The part where you take your dreams from off the paper and push them into the atmosphere of action so you can see the reward!

 

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.

Moments of Frustration Day

Today is Moments of Frustration Day. We all have gotten frustrated or upset over something. The key is to not allow this temporary moment allow you to make permanent decisions. This means in your frustration where you are more inclined to speak out of turn, practice the art of dealing with your issues before you spew things onto others. The fallout could be more than you wanted to take on.

design desk display eyewear

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Let me give you an example, a husband and wife have situation where life throws a curveball.  They are upset and frustrated. Instead of being mad and finding a solution or taking a temporary step back, they say things to one another that damage each other. They do this so often that one or both may think it was no big deal. Little do they know that one of them has reached their breaking point. So now they aren’t interesting in reconciling as if nothing happened. They aren’t willing to move past the words this time and now their marriage is in a long-term mess. Our words have life and death attached to them.

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Moment of frustration can happen over anything. It doesn’t have to be a person. It could a circumstance as well. Do not allow yourself to take that leap into negativity where you find yourself unable to get out. I know life is hard. I have had too many times when things have happened where some of the issues were out of my control and some  were a direct correlation of what I had put out into the universe. End of day, how you respond to it matters. You can’t always make an excuse and hope for forgiveness when you speak out of context or out of character. You may not always get that back in return. You can attempt to take a mental time out. This may mean walking away and addressing something later on when you have had time to cool down. This is necessary at times. Remember when you were a kid for those who had time outs?  Those were times to teach you to cool off and think about the situation at hand. Adults need them too. You need to keep your cool and not do something that can cause mental, emotional, or physical harm to themselves or others around you. Think in the moments of frustration if you would be okay after you have calmed down with the outcome of your decision.  If no, then stop! Don’t keep talking. Don’t keep pushing. Don’t keep the same response that will dig you further and further into potential trouble.

If you find that in moments of frustration you have crossed the line, ask for forgiveness. Find ways to eliminate the crossing of the line to begin with. For instance if something is being said or done that is triggering me, I am more prone to ask for a few minutes. I am an arguer by nature. However some arguments and hitting below the belt I find is not worth the pain and the apologies later. So I work on what I need in those active moments.  I hope you can do the same.