🎃Happy Halloween

🎃Happy Halloween

I hope you all enjoyed your day! New blog coming Thursday! ✌🏾

📸Halloween Photo Dump! It was Mj’s first Halloween! We enjoyed ourselves! Didn’t even have to leave the neighborhood because everyone did such a good job for the kids! #happyhalloween #photodump #familyiseverything

My beautiful family 💕
-Toni💕

Introducing my newest Blessing… “Mj”

Introducing Martin Murray Jr “Mj” August 17, 21 7lbs9oz💙

It is bittersweet to say Mj is out final child, but I would not want it any other way! He’s been the perfect addition to our family!

My pregnancy was hard, but birthing him was challenging as well, along with other traumatizing events that took place after his birth.

Through it all I am doing a lot better physically, and I am working hard everyday to build my mental strength as well!

I just wanted to give an update! I will be blogging about my birth experience and all that has transpired so far! I am thankful for my mother & my husband (the dynamic duo) who have given me around the clock care, love, & support.

Besides the minor stuff, life is good! I can not wait to get the okay to lift 💪🏾 & workout again because excersise is how I stay sane! But I’m excited for my postpartum healing & fitness journey! This is just the beginning! 💕 I will be returning soon! 😉

#postpartum #motherhoodunplugged #postpartumjourney #motherhoodjourney #strongmama #postpartumsupport #postpartumfitness #blessedmama #csectionmama #momof4 #healingjourney #innerstrength #trustyourjourney #selfhealingjourney #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthrecovery #familyfirst #ilovemyfamily #familyiseverything #familyfirst❤️ #newbaby #newbabyboy

How it started…

How it started…

I do not believe my husband and I ever said how we met, or how it started. Most of the time when someone asks us, we usually do not go into details. Funny thing is there are millions of people who have met like we did, but maybe it did not lead to love, marriage, and kids!

So, let us get into it! I met my husband on Tinder! Yes, you read right…. Tinder! I downloaded the app July 4th, 2015 as I laid on my coach with my headset on listening to music to drown out the loud sounds of fireworks. It had been less than a year since my return from Afghanistan and I was home in panic mode just laying around bored. My two boys from my previous marriage were gone for the summer holiday and the house was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The reason I had downloaded Tinder is because I felt ready to date, but because of my anxiety and being in a new place I was hesitant to get out and meet someone. Tinder gave me more control, and I did not have to share my number or did not feel pressured to meet up with anyone. While using Tinder I was able to go at my own pace.

Although I downloaded Tinder in July 2015 I only chatted with people, and then immediately I would get bored and delete the app! I never connected with anyone until September 2015. My husband and I had our first date September 12, 2015. We had planned a date on September 11th, but I was not able to attend, and I almost did not make the second date either. My husband has been boxing since he was an adolescent, so our first date was watching the Floyd Mayweather fight at the movie theater. Once I arrived at the theater it was full of people and immediately, I froze up and texted him that I could not come inside because the crowd outside was making me have anxiety. His response to that message let me know he was perfect for me! He told me stay right there, I will come out and get you. Our first date went well, and I am sure I talked his head off because he was so attractive, polite, & he made me feel safe and comfortable. After our movie date he and I sat in the parking lot until the sun came up talking about life. I did not want the date to end that night!

The months following our first date were rocky, and partially because of me! We both have flaws that made us not ready for a serious relationship! I was scared, guarded, and not ready to fully trust anyone with my heart and so was he. We stopped talking sometimes, but we were always led back to each other no matter what! Dating with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, & past relationship trauma can be hard for anyone. I knew what my issues were, but I was not ready to fully express them to him. Our first year of dating was rocky, and simply because of egos, trauma, unsaid issues, & fear of being hurt on both sides. My husband has been my number one supporter when it comes to my mental health. I knew that any man I decided to date needed to know I struggle mentally, and I am not always this happy woman, and that I am flawed but I am worth it. What sealed the deal for me and made me marry him September 21, 2016 was the way he catered to my needs, the way he loved my babies, the way he attended my appointments, and became my biggest supporter. It did not matter what has happening in our day to day lives, he would always make sure I was okay and that is what I needed. Due to my father issues, I struggled with abandonment and I did not want to have a toxic relationship like my first marriage. I wanted this marriage to be healthy & happy!

One thing I can be completely honest about is that we did not go through “the honeymoon phase” our first year of marriage. We struggled our first year because I became pregnant and my pregnancy was hard, and he started his new job as an electrician and I wanted to support the long hours and schooling, but truth be told I needed help at home with the kids. In marriage it is hard to voice your weaker moments when you want to be fully supportive of your spouse. I always knew my husband had amazing potential. In the beginning of our relationship, I was often scrutinized because he worked at Macys’ and was told he only was dating me to benefit from me. What no one never knew is he has never asked me for a dime. Therefore, when he got a good paying job that he actually liked, I wanted him to enjoy it, and not worry about the stress of what was happening at home and that lead to me neglecting myself, which caused me to resent that he was working, and I was retired and at home with the kids. After medically retiring from the military, I enjoyed being home, but it was after our daughter that I felt like I needed to be out the house more and I felt the “stay at home mom” role was not enough. In all honesty a stay-at-home mom has the hardest job in America in my opinion and does not receive enough credit! I was craving work, adult conversation, and more freedom but I was not voicing all my needs and that led us to a bad place. We grew apart for awhile.

There was a year 2018-2019 that we were together…but separate and doing this time so many hurtful things transpired. We both portrayed hurtful words and actions towards one another simply because we did not communicate or know how to problem solve. Add losing a parent, sister with cancer, & being mentally exhausted to marital problems. I can admit with all I was dealing with mentally I completely checked out of my marriage and I thought I did not want to be married anymore. I kept asking myself why did I get married? I knew if I had to question the marriage that the relationship was completely over. During our separation is when everything became clear as day to me. It was April 11, 2018 I looked in the mirror and realized I did not know the woman looking back anymore. I was 220lbs, I was grieving the loss of my father, I was angry, I was numb, and I hated my life. While being all those things how I could I focus on being a wife. I needed that time to find myself again. I had lost myself, and the only way back to me was to allow myself to figure it all out. My husband has always been my safe place and I was dependent on him for my emotional and mental health so much that I did not know how to function completely without him. The year 2018-2019 I learned to stand on my own two feet for myself and my kids. I started being active every day and I fell in love with fitness. I never really focused on the scale because fitness became a lifestyle, and it was how I coped with the grief, anger, depression, and anxiety. I would leave all my feelings in the workout. Once I became physically, mentally, & spiritually better is when I decided I wanted to get back to work. Finding a job was not something I wanted or needed for finances it was something that I knew would make me feel whole again, simply because I wanted to interact with other adults and get over my fears of anxiety towards people and unfamiliar places. A job for me was getting back to a routine like when I was in the Army.

After months of soul searching and reaching a healthy and happy space in my life, I started to think about my marriage more. I missed my husband presence, but I needed to be whole before we reconnected. Also, I refused to be in an environment that was toxic for me or my children. My goal with this marriage was to see red flags, handle red flags, and not make the same mistakes. Since my husband and I had been apart we both had grown into different people. I wanted my marriage back, and I wanted us to grow into a loving and healthy space again but there was some work to be done. My sons have experience divorced and it was hard on them. I did not want to divorce unless I was for sure because to be honest my husband has been the boy’s father figure, and they loved and depended on him. I did not want to make a permanent decision over temporary feelings and cause more hurt to myself or my three children. The problems that my husband and I had were minor. We both needed to sit down and figure out what we needed and wanted from our marriage. There were some honest and hurtful conversations had. I made it clear that yes, I am a Mom and I want to support my kids and my husband; but I also must take care of me first! If I am not physically, mentally, and spiritually together I cannot function properly as a wife or mother. My husband understood that I had to have a life outside of kids and him. I did not want to sound selfish but, I had to be completely honest. We eventually came back together and I am glad that we did!

Where we at now….

One important thing I have learned in the process of my husband and I falling in love all over again is that it is not my job to make my husband happy and it is not my husband job to make me happy. A healthy marriage requires two people who are already happy within themselves to come together and combine the happiness and create a healthy relationship. My husband and I are one, but self-development is a must before you can become whole with another person. Our marriage is not perfect now, and we disagree at times, but what I can say is we do not have a toxic marriage! We are at a place where we talk openly and honestly with one another, we respect each other, we listen, & we do not act out of anger. The year of 2019 up until now has been our best years of marriage thus far! We have matured so much over the years, and we have grown closer than ever. Marriage is work and it takes effort on both parts. I do not regret the time apart, because it was needed to grow into where we are today. I can say my husband is my best friend, he finishes my sentences, and he knows what is wrong without me even speaking at times because now we are on the same page. I wrote this blog because I want to encourage anyone that may be having marital issues to take a step back and reevaluate before making a final decision. If you are not being abused or if there is no infidelity, then it can be worked out. We all have our own breaking points in relationships. My breaking point is abuse, infidelity, or lack of respect. If it is not one of the three above, then I can work through it. No marriage will be like marriages on television. All marriages are different and have different challenges. No matter what your challenges may be remember to put “You” first and evaluate what would be best for you! Do not let society convince you to accept anything that does not bring you happiness. I hope that my story inspires you to love, grow, heal, or let go what is no longer serving you!

-Toni

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And just like that my life changed…..

And just like that my life changed……

How it all started:

I can remember it like yesterday, although it has been 8 whole years. I was in my first marriage, 9 months pregnant, & the most unhappy I have ever been in my life.  When you are deep into a situation it is hard to see the bigger picture. Any person that has been depressed, abused, or in an unhealthy relationship may describe that time in their life as “a fog”. The dictionary defines a fog as “something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone’s thought processes”. The years 2013-2015 were a fog to me. I can tell you that I reported in my Army uniform to work every day, I graduated from college, I had two children I was caring for, but I was not aware of my true feelings. The marriage was for “show purposes only” I was not loved, supported, or respected. Since I was not receiving love, support, or respect I became this shielded person. I walked around completely numb, and I always had this fake smile on my face to keep my coworkers, family, & friends unaware of what I was suffering through on a regular basis.

Why I never accepted help:

A week before my second child was born, I was holding onto a stairway pole with a death grip because my then husband was attempting to push me down the stairs. I was screaming over and over “what about the baby?” with no avail at all I was still being pushed. This incident was not the first time & unfortunately for me it would not be the last time. I would never involve my family in our problems but on this night in particular I was so afraid I called my mother and begged for her help. My mother was the only person in my family that was aware of the abuse, & she promised me she would never tell or call the police because I was threatened to have my children removed from my home by law enforcement before. Law enforcement would come to the house when I would call & tell me about all the resources available for me & say “just leave!”. What no one never understood is that leaving was the hardest part.

Why I could not leave:

Leaving is the hardest part. Why is leaving hard? To leave a toxic situation you must first have CONFIDENCE! I was often beaten down verbally, so I lacked confidence and self-esteem. Beautiful was not in my vocabulary, never felt like   I mattered, and I never felt like I was enough. I can admit now that I had become co-dependent, and I was in the cycle of abuse, love, sorry, separate, makeup, & things improving. Then back through the same cycle all over again. Did I think of how I could leave this man yes, but I never would actually leave longer than a month. Even when he cheated on me on a regular basis, I still would make excuses for him and blame myself. The young twenty-four-year-old me thought I could change him, or that he would change if I did better as his wife. He never changed and he never made me and our kids his number one priority. This marriage scarred me so deeply inside and I was so broken that I contemplated suicide just to get out of the toxicity. Before I met him, I was a happy & free-spirited individual that lived life to the fullest. I lost all of myself in him.

How I planned my exit:

When I look back today, I know exactly when I decided I was done, and nothing or no one could stop me from going. March 2014 my grandma passed, and I also was deployed to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the best thing to happen to me…. sounds crazy right? I was in a combat zone, but it was the first time I felt safe, the first time I felt free, and the first time I realized what I had allowed to happen to me over the las five years. While in Afghanistan I started to think of my exit plan. Although my life was on the line every day, I was still very aware that if I survived this deployment I did not want to go back home to another war. My tour in Afghanistan ended earlier than I expected, and I was thrown back into the lion’s den. My ex had changed while I was gone, he showed me a different side as if he had changed his behaviors, which led us into living together again with our children…only for me to discover that he had not changed at all.

How I left:

We stayed together seven months after I returned from that deployment. I was mentally, physically, & emotionally burnt-out. I had physical injuries from my deployment, but I also had some deep mental scars that I needed help with. Mentally I was a complete wreck, so my first step was to ensure I stayed in therapy. I participated in trauma recovery therapy every week during those seven months and slowly but surely my mind, my confidence, my courage, & my will power began to grow immensely. When I started to look in the mirror, I seen a woman I did not recognize, someone that I was not before I boarded that flight to Bagram, Afghanistan. My first step to leaving was to have all my financials in order. I started stashing back extra funds, I placed my kids in permanent childcare, and I found a divorce lawyer.  Through out this entire process I acted as if nothing was different, and I prepared to go to war again. March 2015, I had him served with divorce papers, and at this point my mind was completely made up. My mind was set, and I was not afraid of what could happen next. I had informed my company commander of everything that was transpiring, and I had support of friends and family, which made the process easier for me and my two boys. My ex-husband did not want the divorce, & he attempted on many occasions to convince me I was not sure. Not even three weeks after I had filed, he had moved into a place with one of the women he was cheating with throughout the marriage…& it was then I knew I had made the best decision for me & my children!

Fast forward 8 years later:

Currently I am retired from the Army, and although my life in not perfect, I am happy & genuinely free. As for my ex-husband he and I share the boys. He currently has visitation rights with some restrictions, and I can say now that he is still the narcissistic man I was married to, but it does not directly affect me as much because now I am confident, respected, loved, & practically fearless. I have remarried an amazing man that loves me & accepted my boys as his own. My husband and I have a daughter & currently we are expecting our baby boy Mj! My marriage is not perfect, but my relationship is not toxic, and I enjoy that. I am still guarded but in a good way. Since my experience I am now aware of who I am. No one can change my perspective of myself regardless of what they say or how they feel. The confidence I have today is unmatched and can not be touched. The hardest part used to be that I had to share my boys with someone who hurt immensely. Therapy has allowed me to separate the relationship him and I had from the relationship that my boys needed with their father. There are days my boys ask why their dad and I are divorced, and I have not given them a complete honest answer, instead I say mommy and daddy grew apart and decided to move on. One day when the boys are older and understand life more, I will have that conversation with them. For now, I just want my boys to enjoy life, and figure out who people are on their own through their actions.

As for me…

As for me, I currently run The Pearl Blog, which I started as a place to share my life experiences. I have experienced so much trauma in my short thirty-one years of life. Sharing my trauma, giving life advice, and revealing how I got through it is my purpose now. My goal in life is to help anyone who have experienced trauma or is experiencing trauma. I want all who are hurting to know there can be healing after hurting, and you can grow strength & learn through your life trauma. Trauma does not have to be the end of your life. There is healing and growing after trauma. You can follow my Instagram page @healingandgrowing_ to see how I am healing and growing through my own personal trauma. You can also shop The Pearl Blog merchandise, which was inspired by my life trauma and experiences.

 

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The Five Love Languages, Do you Know Yours? 💜

Love Languages!

With Valentines Day right around the corner, have you thought about what to give or do for your partner? Or if you are single have you considered what to do in celebration of loving yourself? Interesting enough we all love differently, but also those we love has specific languages or ways they prefer to be loved! What is your love language? What is your partner love language? And what are ways you could incorporate the love languages for Valentines Day and any other day?

The Five Love Languages:

There are five different love languages:
  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time.
  3. Physical Touch.
  4. Acts of Service.
  5. Receiving Gifts.
Words of Affirmation:

Would be the love language of an induvial who cares about all words spoken or written! With words of affirmation the most important factor is how the individual is being spoken to. Compliments would be a great way to make your partner feel loved if words of affirmation are their love language. A perfect Valentines gift or appreciate of love gift would be a handwritten note or a card expressing your love in words. If you are single for Valentines day you could always stand in the mirror and give yourself words of affirmations. Tell yourself how beautiful you are, or how successful you are.

Quality Time:

Quality time is a love language that require togetherness! This means your partner would just enjoy spending time alone with you, no matter where you are. Your partner prefers to be alone with your undivided attention and no distractions from the outside world. So, if you are a entrepreneur or a person who works often then quality for your partner would mean the world to them. No phones, no television, just you and them! Along with the quality time it would be important to be attentive, listen carefully, and make an effort to make sure the time you two are spending together is special! A perfect Valentines gift could be a candlelight dinner together, or simply cuddling on the couch and just having a conversation over a glass of wine or other libations. Whatever you decide, would be great because your partner main focus is the time spent together. If you are single you could always go on a scenic walk alone, take yourself to a movie, or a spa day and just enjoy time with yourself!

Physical Touch:

I am sure the first thought on physical touch is sex…But sex is not the only and most important way to express physical touch. Physical touch could be physically showing up in your partner life and being supportive, or it could be cuddling, kissing, holding hands, or simply just touching each other softly! A perfect Physical Touch gift could be giving each other massages! If you are single it could be taking yourself to receive a nice massage!

Acts of Service:

Acts of service is my personal favorite love language! Acts of Service is all about actions speaking louder than words! Acts of Service requires you to put in some work. If your partner loves acts of service then it would mean the world to them if you brought home their favorite thing for dinner without them asking, take on the resonantly of something that he/she always have to do, or simply help around the house. Acts of service kinds of help take some weight off your partner shoulders, which is why I love acts of service because I enjoys the sharing of responsibilities and not feeling in it alone. If you are single you could hire someone to clean your place, order in so that you do not have to cook or take your clothes to the cleaner to eliminate the problem of doing all your laundry.

Receiving gifts:

Gift giving is probably one of the most common love languages because who do not love receiving gifts? Receiving gifts is debatably the most misinterpreted love language because some believe that it is a materialistic love language and that the sole focus is gifts over love, but that is not true! Receiving gifts simply means the individual feels special or loved when receiving tangible items. The tangible gift does not have to be an expensive gift but could simple be something sentimental that your partner values. The person receiving the gift will cherish that gift and hold it near and dear to their heart. So, if your partner prefers receiving gifts then think of a sentimental item to give them for Valentines day, and if you are single go out and purchase something for yourself that you have been wanted!

Regardless of your love language, valentines and every day is all about love! Every day that you get another day to breath a fresh breath of air you should give and receive love because there is no life without love. Love from a partner, yourself, a family member, or a friend is important, especially during these times. If you are not sure of your love language or your partner love language please click this link to participate in the love language test and determine your love language. You can also share the link with your partner. Also, if you are looking for some last-minute Valentines Day gifts I have included some ideas below & linked  a blog I posted last year that revisits my own personal love story! https://thepearl.blog/2020/12/02/love-is-not-always-complicated/My prayer is that you are loving and being loved this Valentines Day! I hope you all enjoy!

-Love, Toni

#Motherhood #TeamNoKids….

Motherhood…. Let’s talk about it! If you log into Instagram right now and type in the hashtag #motherhood, there are over 23.1 million post on or about Motherhood. If you look up the #teamnokids hashtag there are 79.8k post about women/men celebrating their choice to not procreate. I am not against #teamnokids, nor am I someone who goes around throwing my #Motherhood in others faces. I can say I understand and have been in both sets of shoes. I have walked in the single, no kids, party, no stress, no worries, and only concerned with myself shoes. I have also walked in the kids are my life, I could not imagine my life without kids, & kids changed me completely shoes! Both sets of shoes are absolutely amazing if you ask my opinion.

I remember my 18-year-old self, watching my friends become mothers in high school & college and thinking. “That will never be me!” I never seen myself having children simply because I was a wildflower aka Free-Spirited teenager growing into adulthood. I wanted to go into the US Army travel the world, and never look back to where I came from because there was nothing but trauma there. I felt like I had my mind made up. Even in my first marriage I know it was only a forced topic, and I was only going with the flow of what my ex-partner wanted and after awhile I led myself to believe “You have partied, and done a lot of wild things why not have a couple of kids for your spouse?” I was 21 years old when my first child was born.

I tell you one thing, my life as a new mother looked nothing like the mothers on the Instagram hashtag #Motherhood! Lol! The birth of my son in general was the worst and most traumatic birth of all three of my children. I literally felt like I was going to die, and although he survived it was a hard labor for him too. I was not prepared for the 14hours of labor that led to an emergency c-section, that left me sore and left my body forever changed. The first year of motherhood was the hardest because I dealt with post-partum depression and I did not even know what that was until I experienced it. I went into motherhood blind, not prepared, and with the image of mothers happy with their children (like you I had seen on television)!

If I could speak to my younger self now, I would say baby girl wait! I would let my younger self know girl you are not ready mentally, physically, or emotionally, and on top of that…the man who begging you to procreate “is not father material” I would let my younger self know that motherhood is for the right time, and with the right one. When it is the right timing, and the right one motherhood just “hit different”! I can vouch for that! I never really knew what Motherhood entailed or how loving & emotional rewarding it could be until I experienced it with the right partner. If I made a list of things to consider before procreating, the number one item on my list would be #1 Do not procreate until you are for sure you are procreating with the right partner.

Motherhood requires giving all of you, but when you have a partner to do it with motherhood is ten times easier, and more fun. Although having a partner can be fun, I also was once a single mom of two boys with bare minimum assistance before I met my husband. I still enjoyed motherhood as a single mom because I did not allow myself to get burned out. I kept the boys busy, and we did a lot of activities and traveling together. Although activities are fun, having a family member or a paid sitter for “me-time” is especially important for all single mothers. It is important to have time to yourself for moments of quietness, and just time for focusing on you! One of the #1 reasons that most women do not want to become mothers are because they like their time alone and  caring for someone besides yourself can be stressful, depressing, and 9 times out of 10 you will get burnout physically, mentally, emotionally if you do not balance you every day life with your children.

Now that I have my 3 children, I know for sure I would not want a life without children. I enjoy how innocent and loving my children are. My children have drugged me out of depression, helped me to grow as a woman, motivated me when I wanted to quit, and all me to experience the best love I have ever received. Although I enjoyed just jumping in the car without worrying about car seats, or who forgot something. I enjoy the cuddles, the joking and play, and just unconditional love from my children more than anything in this world. I enjoy the family time, and how my husband & I get to bond with them and guide them into greatness!  I wrote this blog to basically say if you are on the line between #TeamNokids & #Motherhood I just want to say dig deep within yourself and think long and hard about your decision. I suggest that you do not go into motherhood blindsided and that you have done all or at least most of what you want to do in life. Children are a permanent life decision & you can not wake up one morning and decide to give them back. I also suggest being as mentally & emotionally prepared as possible because motherhood can be emotionally & mentally draining. If you still decide not to procreate, I say kudos to you because what you decide with your body & your life is your decision. Never let society, or the “when are you having a baby?” people rush you or convince you into something you did not genuinely want. Social media is a place that shows us all these beautiful pictures, happy videos, children behaving perfectly, and mothers in pure bliss, but that is not reality. The reality is no matter what you decide life is not perfect, and regardless of what you decide go into any decision mentally, physically, & emotionally ready to give your all.

-Peace & Blessings

 

 

Love is NOT always COMPLICATED

Love is NOT always complicated.

Believe it or not love does not have to always be complicated. I was that young girl that believed if my boyfriend did not argue with me then he was boring and the relationship would not last. I remember my 19-year-old self starting petty and unnecessary arguments with my boyfriend of 2 years who in all honesty was an amazing guy. Besides my husband, mt ex-boyfriend is the only man I have met that has a pure and genuine heart. The guy would open my door, never cursed me out or called me out of my name, he was always gentle and respectful… but I would in return purposefully piss him off and try to make him mad. I can speak on this now because I have been in therapy over 5 years and I now know I was the problem! The sad thing is I left that nice guy for one of the worst men I ever have encountered, and had two amazing kids with him, but suffered 6 years of unhappiness & abuse, and I still today have to co-parent with him. So, I mentioned that to say I have received the karma for mistreating a good man. I received the karma, and I learned a life lesson that love is not always Complicated, and love can be simplicity and just you and that person with no arguments or stress! There does not have to be conflict in a relationship for it to thrive. Because of the relationships I seen growing up, I did not know the difference and I thought conflict in relationships meant love.

Fast forward today and I am remarried to a man that has loved me more than any man on this planet besides my father. My husband is the most unproblematic man I ever met. He loves simplicity, and he does not deal with drama. My husband groomed me into the woman I am today and taught me the meaning of “Love does not have to be complicated!” He has shown me a different type of love. The type of love you crave for after we have been apart too long. My husband went through some rough times with me. He met me fresh off a deployment, and I was going back and forth in the courts with a toxic ex over our children, and I was angry as hell! I was definitely the angry black woman and I can admit it. I was not particularly angry with anyone but myself. I felt like I had been used, and abused, so I was angry that I allowed it for so long. My husband seen a light in me. Since I was a young girl I have always been told “There’s a light around you” or that I have a glow! I used to laugh about it because my first thought was “Yeah Right!”

I can admit with all of me that I did not fully love myself when I met my husband. I would punish myself on the regular by telling myself negative affirmations about myself, and by not allowing myself to be happy. When I met my lover, I knew he had pain and he had been hurt in some way and we connected on our traumas and pain. We did not really have a foundation, we just felt good when we were together and that was all we both ever wanted. I put him through the ringer the first 3 years because I was still healing and forgiving myself for failing myself. I felt like I did not deserve him, and although I knew I had so much love to give, I was scared.

Going on 5 years later and I can say I have learned so many life lessons, and I know now from therapy, research, and a lot of self-help books that conflict in relationships is okay, but it should not be normalized to enjoy relationship conflicts. Most conflict starts because inner anger that we are holding onto from our past. We become defensive towards the closest person to us due to lack of compassion for ourselves. If you have more compassion for yourself then, it is easy to be less defensive and open for communication with the person you love. Giving compassion for your lover, and yourself allows vulnerability.

 

Below I have listed the top reasons men/women start conflict in their relationships and I will also discuss ways to stop/heal these issues.

If you want a LOVING and UNCOMPLICATED relationship I suggest you….

  1. Focus on the positive things in your relationship. This could mean stop nitpicking about small things that are not a big deal.
  2. Have compassion for your partner and try to relate to them before you judge them. For example, stop criticizing them and pointing out all of their flaws before you point out your own. Give them positive affirmations to uplift them and make them feel secure.
  3. Stop, listen, & think before you react to your spouse out of anger. Taking time to reflect, can prevent words being said that you cannot take back.
  4. Be honest with your spouse & always express how you are feeling. For example, if you have an issue with your spouse today, discuss it today. A lack of communion and holding back feelings can lead to a huge blow-up that could be prevented with open communication & honesty!

Conflict can skyrocket during the holidays, but it does not have to! Do not ruin your holiday by having conflict with the one you love the most. Keep an open mind and remember Love is not always Complicated!

Grieving is normal…

In my years of living I have seen my fair share of death, but there are a few that really broke my whole heart. I have seen death a few times too many, & even once thought I wanted to be a mortician. I know death is supposed to happen & that we all must leave this hell hole here on earth! The hard part for me is the absence. My maternal grandma passed in 2002, I was too young to understand. I just knew we visited her a lot, and then one day those visits stopped. I remember going to her funeral and seeing my mother upset, but I did not quite understand her pain and I do not even remember if I cried.

The first experience I had with grieving and death was with my grandma Ruth. My grandma Majorie Ruth was the sweetest woman on earth. My grandmother was a strong woman, and I seen nothing from her but strength. I never seen her cry, I never seen her worry, I never seen her fret about anything and that is why I desired to be half the woman she was. She was married to my grandfather for many of years and was loyal! When my grandfather passed, I did not see her upset, I watched her bury her husband with dignity and comfort her sons as if she herself was not hurting. Majorie was just an amazing woman in general. My father was not always active, but that did not stop my grandma from showing up and making sure my brother & I knew we were loved deeply by her. She just always always impressed me with her strength. Even when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she comforted me and told me she would be okay, not to worry. She and I had been through storms together, she just always covered me & never let me get wet! Although I served in the Army, she was the true solider down to her final breath. She was so strong, and prideful that she waited to the exact moment I was not there to pass on. I was so hurt and upset by her passing while I was not by her side. Until I realized that she waited because she did not want me there, she did not want me to watch her die. After she passed it was like I had a dark cloud over my head and there were no sunny days. The pain I felt inside is still indescribable, but I do remember feeling like I wish I had died with her. I would wake up and wish I were dreaming. I would wake up, and realize she is really gone & I felt numb like my heart had left from my body.

Grieving for my grandma was the first time I lost someone so close to me that it affected me physically, mentally, & emotionally. I literally thought I could not live without my Majorie…& then I deployed to Afghanistan and had to tuck my feelings away to protect myself from being distracted. Over the years I still cry on her birthday, and October during breast cancer awareness month I always feel a little blue. I have healed and improved some, but I still miss her, and I cry when I think of wanting to hear her voice. I sometimes play her voicemails just to hear her voice, and to make sure I do not forget her. I know she is my personal angel because I have seen her in spirit and she is around me because I feel it and I know.

This platform is so important to me because it was inspired by the hurt that I feel when I think of my Majorie. To lose her was a punch to the gut, and to lose my dad 4 years later was a total TKO! My father Mike was the funniest man I ever knew. He was in and out my life as I grew up, but he would always show up to make sure my brother & I did not forget his presence. He would come bearing gifts, and he often bought me nice jewelry that I always lost. He was always gentle with me, and he never once that I can remember raised his voice to me or said anything hurtful to me, although I have given him a few bad words. He was just always there being silly, trying to make me laugh. My dad had this contagious laugh, and it was a unique laugh that if you heard it, you knew it was him. After suffering a brain injury he was different and he actually forgot a lot about how he was not as active in my childhood so that gave us space to grow and start a new father and daughter relationship & I can honestly say I enjoyed getting to know him all over again the last 8 years of his life, he and I became so close. He lived with me & my children even got to know their Papa! We spent Thanksgiving together, Christmas, and we just had so many great memories that we got to create before he left this earth. I miss him so much, and my prayer is always that he knew I love him, and that he is proud. There is no handbook on grieving and even the written books on grieving do not help because each person grieves differently. For me I look at the small things for comfort. I often see red birds & rainbows in the sky on days when I feels the saddest, and I believe it is just a sign from my personal angels letting me know it is going to be okay. Today was a tough day, and as I sat in the line at Starbucks a small rainbow sat in the clouds and that gave me comfort. If you have lost someone you love, I suggest you find your way to grieve and do not allow anyone to tell you how to grieve. Look for the small positives that make you smile. Always keep your head up and know this too shall pass. Pain is temporary, and it will not last forever. If ever you want to chat, please subscribe to my blog, and add your commentary below. I am here to support & grow with you!

-Toni

Grieving is normal…

In my years of living I have seen my fair share of death, but there are a few that really broke my whole heart. I have seen death a few times too many, & even once thought I wanted to be a mortician. For me death is something I know death is supposed to happen & that we all must leave this hell hole here on earth! The hard part for me is the absence. My maternal grandma passed in 2002, I was too young to understand. I just knew we visited her a lot, and then one day those visits stopped. I remember going to her funeral and seeing my mother upset, but I did not quite understand her pain and I do not even remember if I cried.

The first experience I had with grieving and death was with my grandma Ruth. My grandma Majorie Ruth was the sweetest woman on earth. My grandmother was a strong woman, and I seen nothing from her but strength. I never seen her cry, I never seen her worry, I never seen her fret about anything and that is why I desired to be half the woman she was. She was married to my grandfather for many of years and was loyal! When my grandfather passed, I did not see her upset, I watched her bury her husband with dignity and comfort her sons as if she herself was not hurting. Majorie was just an amazing woman in general. My father was not always active, but that did not stop my grandma from showing up and making sure my brother & I knew we were loved deeply by her. She just always always impressed me with her strength. Even when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she comforted me and told me she would be okay, not to worry. She and I had been through storms together, she just always covered me & never let me get wet! Although I served in the Army, she was the true solider down to her final breath. She was so strong, and prideful that she waited to the exact moment I was not there to pass on. I was so hurt and upset by her passing while I was not by her side. Until I realized that she waited because she did not want me there, she did not want me to watch her die. After she passed it was like I had a dark cloud over my head and there were no sunny days. The pain I felt inside is still indescribable, but I do remember feeling like I wish I had died with her. I would wake up and wish I were dreaming. I would wake up, and realize she is really gone & I felt numb like my heart had left from my body.

 Grieving for my grandma was the first time I lost someone so close to me that it affected me physically, mentally, & emotionally. I literally thought I could not live without my Majorie…& then I deployed to Afghanistan and had to tuck my feelings away to protect myself from being distracted. Over the years I still cry on her birthday, and October during breast cancer awareness month I always feel a little blue. I have healed and improved some, but I still miss her, and I cry when I think of wanting to hear her voice. I sometimes play her voicemails just to hear her voice, and to make sure I do not forget her. I know she is my personal angel because I have seen her spirit and she is around me because I feel it and I know.

This platform is so important to me because it was inspired by the hurt that I feel when I think of my Majorie. To lose her was a punch to the gut, and to lose my dad 4 years later was a total TKO! My father Mike was the funniest man I ever knew. He was in and out my life as I grew up, but he would always show up to make sure my brother & I did not forget his presence. He would come bearing gifts, and he often bought me nice jewelry that I always lost. He was always gentle with me, and he never once that I can remember raised his voice to me or said anything hurtful to me, although I have given him a few bad words. He was just always there being silly, trying to make me laugh. My dad had this contagious laugh, and it was a unique laugh that if you heard it, you knew it was him. After suffering a brain injury he was different and he actually forgot a lot about how he was not as active in my childhood so that gave us space to grow and start a new father and daughter relationship & I can honestly say I enjoyed getting to know him all over again the last 8 years of his life, he and I became so close. He lived with me & my children even got to know their Papa! We spent Thanksgiving together, Christmas, and we just had so many great memories that we got to create before he left this earth. I miss him so much, and my prayer is always that he knew I love him, and that he is proud. There is no handbook on grieving and even the written books on grieving do not help because each person grieves differently. For me I look at the small things for comfort. I often see red birds & rainbows in the sky on days when I feels the saddest, and I believe it is just a sign from my personal angels letting me know it is going to be okay. Today was a tough day, and as I sat in the line at Starbucks a small rainbow sat in the clouds and that gave me comfort. If you have lost someone you love, I suggest you find your way to grieve and do not allow anyone to tell you how to grieve. Look for the small positives that make you smile. Always keep your head up and know this too shall pass. Pain is temporary, and it will not last forever. If ever you want to chat, please subscribe to my blog, and add your commentary below. I am here to support & grow with you!

-Toni

Body Positivity starts with Self ❤

Love Yourself ❤💕💜

Wikipedia defines Body Positivity as “a social movement initially created to empower and shed light on plus size women and men, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance”.

Body positivity. (2020, November 07). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity

Although I agree with most of the definition, I also believe that body positivity does not means you have to be plus size. Being Plus size is beautiful, but also being smaller is beautiful too. My definition of body positivity is loving all & everything that you see in the mirror. Body positivity is treating your body in a positive matter, loving your body, speaking positively about your body, and thinking positivity about your body. It is my opinion that all people have flaws that bother them. Even skinny or small build people have insecurities about their body. There are some heavy set or plus size people that have more confidence & body positivity than the smallest person next to them.

Photo by Jennifer Enujiugha on Pexels.com

I have always been insecure about certain things on my body. I had insecurities about my appearance, and I can say for sure that none of my insecurities begun until someone around me pointed them out. It all started in elementary school when I was constantly bullied because of the gap in between my teeth. I was aware of my gap, but it never bothered me. Because of the flaws that my peers pointed out, I always smiled with my mouth closed during my teenager years & early twenties I. My negative thoughts about my body & image started with the perspectives of others, not myself.

Body positivity starts from within. You cannot focus on your friends, celebrities, or anyone else’s body. My biggest advice to women or men who deal with negative thoughts about their body, or insecurities about their looks in general is to learn to love all your flaws & learn to NEVER COMPARE yourself. My biggest issue through different phases of my life was comparisons. Do I still compare? Yes, but today I am older & wiser, and I understand that it is only a thought that I am having, and it does not determine anything else about me as a person. When I had low self-esteem in the past it stemmed from me not knowing and loving myself enough to recognize how amazing of a person I was.

My body positivity attitude started to change about 5 years ago. I had just returned from Bagram, Afghanistan leaving a deployment and I was the smallest I had ever been in life; but because I had birthed two big babies via c-section I always was self-conscious about my mom pudge. I hated the way it looked, and how my clothing fit so I went and sent 4,000 on CoolSculpting. CoolSculpting is meant to target fatty areas, and it was the biggest mistake of my life because after that procedure I only became fixated with other flaws on my body. One day it clicked in mind after a rigorous workout and me standing in my long sliver mirror nude. It hit me that my body was not the problem! I had seen how beautiful I was and realized the problem was I did not love myself.

Self- Love & Body positivity coincide with one another! My self-esteem, my thoughts about myself & my body all change once I started to genuinely love me. Loving me consisted of not tolerating mistreatment from others, not accepting and acknowledging the negative opinions from others, not allowing others to disturb my peace, eating healthier, exercising on the regular, & making sure I always put myself first. The self-love lead to me loving each and every stretch mark, embracing my cesarean pouch that welcomed beautiful & amazing children into this world, my gap in between my teeth, my forehead, & any small or big flaw that I used to focus on. I have moments of insecurities still, but I do not dwell on my image like I once did in the past.

Before I loved me…& After I discovered Self-Love 💜

In the past I did not even understand I was thinking negatively & being pessimistic towards my body. Body positivity will not work if you have a pessimistic attitude. Body positivity requires having a positive mindset towards loving your own body no matter what your size, gender, race, or appearance may be. You are beautiful inside and out! You are beautifully flawed! Embrace everything about who you are! Do not change or alter yourself because of others. Anatole France quote on being flawed is the best quote to repeat when you are not feeling good about yourself. “Cling to your imperfection…Your imperfections are the very essence of your being!” Remember your imperfections makes you the person you are. Your soul, inner self, & heart, are more essential than any flaw!  I encourage you and challenge you from today forward to stand in a mirror and tell yourself at least three positive affirmations that you love about YOU! You are more that your outer shell, love your inner self & your outer self will appear just as beautiful as you are inside!

“Cling to your imperfection…Your imperfections are the very essence of your being!”

Anatole France

 

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