Category Archives: Lifestyle

It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes staying fit, eating healthy, being in a peaceful state of mind and having a clearer and positive outlook on life.

Merry-Go-Round and Round

I started to write this post about something else that was inspired by a merry-go-round until I experienced yet, another situation which also fits this round and round scenario.

A merry-go-round is an entertainment device that has lots of moving parts, lights, music and people just enjoying the time of their lives. It’s an apparatus of distractions. If you’ve ever been on one, you’d understand the concept of being spun around in a circle going up and down on a horse or what have you, laughing ever so gleefully but until you get off, all you’ll ever see is the same scenery with the same people listening to the same loud music on the same white horse.

As a spectator, from the outside looking in, it seems like fun until you realize, they’re all on a machine that’s taking them in a circle over and over again. What’s so fun about that? It’s not going anywhere, it’s not taking them from point A to point B. If anything, it’s dropping them right back off where they first began.

But you can’t tell that to the people having fun. They don’t see it from that perspective, at all. And the moment you try to tell them about this circle of distractions, they bite your head off because they LOVE this merry-go-round. They always have. They’ll also remind you, that you too used to love this merry-go-round as a child. You used to ride it together.

“Yeah”, you say, “But there are other thrills, other rides, other amazing things other than this same merry-go-round that takes you in a circle over and over again.”

It gets frustrating when you see your friends and family going around in the same circle over and over again. You’ve tried to interject and say, “Hey, there are other thrills, other rides in life…” You’ve tried to point over to the horizon to show them something else greater or even just to show them the merry-go-round itself. But they won’t listen. You are the odd man out.

People keep making the same mistakes, with the same people, using the same distractions on the same horse that takes them up and down and nowhere at all.

When you love them so much, it’s painful to watch. When you love them so much, you passionately want them to see the horse, see the same people hearing the same music. You want them to see the circle. But they still can’t. It hurts.

At this point, you have to make the decision. Do you want to stay standing outside of this circle, pointing to something greater hoping and praying they’ll see, eventually? Or, will you turn away with a broken heart and march on towards something great, alone?

The invitation to join you is always open, you can love them tremendously from your next adventure, still praying that their merry-go-round stops. Opening your arms to welcome them when they do, but you must still move forward.

Sometimes our love for people will drag us back onto that merry-go-round with them because we want to see them happy, all the while we’re miserable because we know better.

Don’t get dragged back into something you know you’ve grown out of for the sake of someone else’s happiness.

If they reject you, yes it will hurt. If they attack you, it will hurt even more, but the mend is on the way to the next thing where you’ll find others who’ve stepped off of the merry-go-round and are willing to enjoy this next adventure with you!

I pray this makes sense to you and gives you guidance in whichever area of your life this applies. I know as I write this under the guidance of the divine, I have answered my own struggle. I too shall apply this with you.

Like I said in a previous post, as I learn, you will too. Spiritual growth isn’t easy. Growing pains are real. But when you go through anything with anyone else who can relate, it makes the journey that much more tolerable.

I pray I helped someone other than myself today. Amen.

~ Toi Powell

Dig deep – Hidden Pain

Have you ever had a splinter? Doesn’t that joint hurt like a …? And it’s so amazing and frustrating at how easy it was to get in there but once you’re ready to take it out, you have to go through so much work? It feels like an impossible task. Sometimes the splinter is in a place we don’t think we can access on our own, but it’s much more painful having someone else do it than to do it ourselves.

Removing splinters is so time-consuming. It takes precision and patience. Sometimes it takes forever, but if you really want it out, you’ll put forth the effort. If you can see it and it’s close to the surface, you have a better chance at getting it out much easier and faster. But what about those that are so far beneath the surface, you literally have to dig deep to find and remove it?

That’s what I think of when I think of pain. Pain is like a splinter. It’s literally a pain in the behind, toe, finger, leg or wherever your splinter is, but let’s associate this splinter with the pain of the heart.

There are so many things we keep deep down inside of us. We know it’s there, we can see it, we can feel it, but it takes too much work to release it. Why is that? Because we have to pull back so many outer layers of skin to get to the source/root of the problem. So many of us aren’t willing to take the time to unpack our pain. So, we leave it there to fester and fester and fester and fester until it gets to a point where we can no longer walk, run, breathe, live. The pain is so strong it interrupts our lives when we least expect it.

Have you ever gone off on someone and was surprised at your own reaction? Was it really that serious? Did they deserve the name calling? Did they deserve the sharp tongue? Did they deserve…any of it? You’re holding on to something you need to let go.

Are you reacting to someone the way you react to everyone when they say a “trigger word”? Guess what boo boo? The trigger is not the word. The trigger is you.

You are holding onto something you need to let go of. The dictionary is full of words and no one is going to sit there and figure out what triggers you or not. If you don’t even have the patience to address your own pain, what makes you think others will? They’d quicker leave you alone so you can figure out your own problems than to figure them out for you unless you’re paying them to.

In order to release yourself from this pain, you need to take the time to unpack it.

  • Why did I go off on so and so?
  • What did they say to make me feel that way?
  • Why do I feel that way?
  • Who did what to me in the past to make me feel this way?
  • What did I do to fix it? Did I address it, or did I just ignore it?
  • Now that I know what it was that hurt me, how do I move on from it?

These are the layers of skin you need to pull back to get to the splinter, the root, the source. When you find the source, you have a few steps you can take.

  • Address this issue with the person who hurt you.
  • Forgive them with all of your heart.
  • Forgive yourself for holding onto it.

It’s important to note the space you’re in when you do address the issues with the people who hurt you. If you take that route, you need to be in a space of true transparency and with the effort of moving forward, past this in love and light.

You can’t call up your old best friend or baby momma or baby daddy cussin them out and blaming them for everything in the world that happened to you since they did what they did.

You simply explain to them…

“I’ve been holding onto something that happened between us in the past and it hurt me badly. This is not a call to confront or blame you for anything. I just want to make amends and say I forgive you for whatever I feel you’ve done to me and I hope you can forgive me for holding onto it all of this time.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re friends anymore or not. What matters is that you’ve addressed it, and you want to move forward without it weighing on your heart and spirit from now on. If they accept it, great! If they don’t, you’ve said your peace and you can still move on.

Trust me, it works. I’ve done it myself and you can literally feel the weight melt right off of you. Next!

Now that you’ve gotten that terrible splinter out, you can walk freely. You won’t be “triggered” by words or phrases since you’ve located the source and have moved on from it. Now you’ll be able to live a healthier lifestyle with friends who don’t think you’re crazy because your eye starts twitching everytime someone mentions xyz.

That’s just the beginning of a journey of self-healing. It can probably save you some coint since you won’t need a psychotherapist to unpack it for you, making you relive every horrible moment of your childhood just to get to age 26 when Jack told you to walk home instead of picking you up. Remember, I said, sometimes its more painful having someone else do it than to do it ourselves? #Message.

A lot of self-healing you can do on your own. You just have to know where to start. Start with you. Not everyone else.

~ Toi Powell

Let me grow or let me go

Growing is something we all must do at some point in our lives but, it’s important to know that growth is different for everyone. Some people grow faster and some slower than others but growing is still an important part of life.

Physical growth, of course, is visible to the naked eye. Maybe a child gets taller, someone grows stronger, someone grows bigger and some grow smaller. It’s easier to accept what we can see but what about the things we can’t see. For instance:

  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

These are all areas that you or someone you know has to work on for themselves.

We all carry emotional baggage and we tend to think sometimes that we’ve let it go, but seriously. Did we really? If you still feel the heat of anger rising up in your chest when you think about what so and so did to you and what you wish you would’ve said and done, guess what? You’re still holding on to it. Let it go.

Mentally, when your perspective and knowledge increases, you’re the 1st to know and everyone else is the last to find out. No one likes to be the last to find out anything, so it makes sense to experience some pushback there.

Spiritually – woah! When you become more aligned with God, you change. You become a new you. This can be scary because you find yourself at the crossroads between old and new and you have others trying to pull you back when God is trying to move you forward. It’s a tug of war but only you know what’s best for you. You already know what lies back there but only God knows what lies ahead. Don’t you want the answers to everything you’ve been asking for? Don’t you finally want that business to take off? That special career you’ve been longing for? Behind you is your past and although it prepared you for what lies ahead, it’s time to put your skills to the test and walk in your purpose.

When you begin to “go with the flow” of where God is guiding you, others who “knew” you are so quick to remind you of who you used to be. They throw things at you that make you question yourself based on your old self. But growth, especially spiritual growth is a process. Say it with me… a process!

How others grow is and will be completely different from how you grow. You have your own talents, skills, thoughts, drives, and ways you’d like to share this with others. Just because you don’t grow like them and vice versa doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening. It just means perhaps keep your distance for a while until you are steady enough in your course and have faith that God has seen something special in you and he wants to work with you in wonderful ways.

While you may have looked like a strong tree prior to your transformation…

Photography: Toi Powell

The transition into the new you can look, not so strong…

Photography: Toi Powell

But when you’re allowed to grow in peace and able to spread your roots,  where an old tree last stood, sprouts something beautiful and new.

Photography: Toi Powell

You may not look like the old tree but you’re growing and that’s all that matters. It may take months, it may take years but if you find someone constantly reminding you of who you “were” simply tell them… Let me grow, or let me go.

If they truly love you, they’ll be amazed at the person you’ve grown to be.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  (NKJV)

~ Toi Powell

Veronica & Compassion

Who is Veronica?

Why do we care about Veronica? What has she ever done for us?

These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when we don’t understand why we need to do something nice for someone who has never done or said a nice thing about us. In fact, Veronica or Victor (if you want to put a gender to this topic) is sometimes at the head of the snake, the head of the problems in your life. But what you don’t understand is that sometimes our reactions to these problems and problem makers is what extends the life of the issue.

We like to talk about Veronica to everyone. We need a team of “Ummm Hmmm-ers” or “Are you serious, she said WHAT-ers” to validate the offense and don’t realize, we’re spreading our own issues like wildfire. Maybe it doesn’t get back to Veronica that you were offended or maybe it does, but the fact of the matter is, you also had a hand in your own undoing.

When we talk to others to share our pain, why are we doing it?

  • Are we looking for validation?
  • Are we looking for guidance?
  • Are we looking to gossip?

There are too many reasons to list but not enough solutions. When you judge Veronica for being a horrible person and you stand around with others who do the same, do you see yourself as the crowd holding stones? If not, you should ask yourself why not? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

While you’re pointing the finger at mean old Veronica, you haven’t been able to pay your own bills on time for months. Your friend you go to lunch with hasn’t seen his kids in just as long if not longer. Your other co-worker is sleeping in her car because she lost her apartment. Meanwhile, Veronica may be dealing with issues unseen, unheard and she has no other outlet than to let it out on you because misery likes company and you don’t even realize you’re in the company of misery.

Where compassion comes in is, you can see, realize and understand that all people have issues. Everyone falls short. Nothing you do or say will ever change that. So,  when you went looking for compassion because Veronica slammed her laptop on your desk and asked you something for the fifth time, or maybe it was the first, you denied her the same right you have. The right for others to have compassion for those in the midst of their own struggle.

You pray for Veronica’s healing. You pray that she’s removed from the struggle. You pray that anything not of God that’s holding her down is removed from her life so that she may prosper and bring light instead of pain. You pray for yourself and ask for further clarity and understanding that you may identify in yourself and in others the block that is keeping you from living your greatest life.

Compassion for your enemies. That’s the lesson. And when you learn that and apply it, see how things begin to shift in your own favor.

And congratulations! Those tangled headphones just got a little more unraveled. That is our purpose after all isn’t it? To be unraveled enough to be more aligned with God and our purpose.

~ Toi Powell

Unraveled

When we think of unraveling something, we think of taking it apart. Why would we need to unravel anything, you ask? Hmmm, perhaps your phone charger cord is in knots or how about those headphones you throw into a bag when you’re in a rush, just to realize, by rushing and not paying careful attention, you’ll have to unravel it later on when you need it most. Think about the amount of time you could’ve saved in the beginning if you just took your time and carefully placed it where it should’ve been in the 1st place.

To unravel something, it takes intense scrutiny, intense observation, struggle, frustration and at times we even think about giving up. But we need those headphones, right? What are the typical steps we take?

  • Praying for a Miracle: We’ve got a mess, so we figure if we roll it around in our hands really fast, in some miraculous way, it’ll come undone.  That’s wishful thinking and hey, sometimes it works, especially if it’s not as knotted up, to begin with (follow me here). But if it’s like most headphone wires, you’ve got some work to do.
  • Time is of the essence: Why do we need these tangled up headphones so badly. Perhaps there’s something important we need to hear. We get frustrated because we want to hear it so bad, but we’re not in the atmosphere where we can hear it out loud. We need privacy, so we continue to struggle and then thoughts of makeshift ideas set in like, “Maybe if I unravel it enough to get the buds to reach both ears, that’ll do.” But who wants to sit there looking like the struggle? To everyone else looking at you from the outside, you look disheveled and lazy. You keep this in mind and either run away to be disheveled in private or you decide to take the time to unravel it now, or you decide, “It’s not worth it, so I’ll listen to it some other time.”
  • Divine Intervention: This is the moment when you’re at your wit’s end and have decided that you are out of your league here. You’ve given up on your own ability to figure it out for yourself and you turn and ask someone for help. “I’m sorry, I’ve tried and tried to unravel these knots and I just can’t do it.” For whatever reason, you’ve given up on yourself and your hope is that someone more qualified can help you. Here is where you decide one of the most important things in your life. Are you going to stand there and watch how they unraveled it for you or are you going to be distracted while someone else does all the hard work? I can assure you, if you allow yourself to be distracted, you’ll end up in the same position later on with tangled headphones, without the skill to unravel them. If you really need to learn the life lesson, no one will be around when you need the help. And then it’s just you and those tangled headphones ready to drive you crazy until you actually learn to sit there and figure it out.

It’s important to note here, that going to just anyone for divine intervention can tangle those headphones up even more. Use caution and the spirit of discernment to guide you. If you feel worse, if those headphones look worse, that’s not the one. If you feel good around the person you asked for help and you leave feeling refreshed and wonderful, Good for you! That’s it!

Why in the world is Toi going on and on about these headphones you ask? Because it’s not about headphones sweetheart. It’s about YOU.

Our lives are a set of tangled up headphones. It’s a mess and it’s ok to admit it. We’re human and unfortunately, that’s all part of the deal. But at some point, we have to evolve past frustration, past hurt, past guilt, past everything that holds us back from our full potential of being our best selves.

Ask yourself. Do you want to be the person who’s always trying to unravel headphones or do you want to be the one who is cautious in the 1st place #1 and/or #2 the person who has learned the lesson and is able to help the next person unravel their tangled headphones?

The world is a huge distraction, everything in it, everything of it. It’s built and made to distract, but what they don’t teach on a large enough scale is that the most amazing experience in life lies within you! You already have the juice! Everyone has the juice, but the world is built to convince you that you have to do the most extreme things to get it. You need trillions upon trillions of dollars to live your best life, you need undeniable fame to be happy and well loved the world over. But when you truly love yourself, you don’t need the love of others.

Self-awareness is knowing that there is a higher power, I call him God. He’s created you in his image which means although your vessel (humanity) may not be perfect, what lies within you, your living breathing, thinking spirit is something truly amazing. It’s outright phenomenal. Our spirit is who we are, sometimes we confuse our identity for spirit, but it’s not. We can’t fully understand who we really are until we begin to unravel it like the headphones (just making sure you’re still following).

You know you’re on your spiritual quest when you begin to question everything around you. I’m aware this sounds like the Matrix movie, but writers of that movie were truly insightful. If you’re very surface and literal about things, you just see Neo flying around like a superhero trying to save Zion. But if you’re one who begins to question everything, you see yourself as Thomas A. Anderson (Neo’s birth name), looking for answers, afraid to step out. But, the overwhelming feeling of curiosity of what else there is, and who you really are leads you to your true destiny. If you’re really bold and want to be the one who helps unravel the headphones, you’ll see yourself as Neo wanting to save Zion and release as many people stuck in the Matrix so that they too will be saved (Mr. Anderson has evolved into Neo – wanted to make that clear).

When you begin to question why, to everything from politics to religion, to workplace habits, to why humanity is the way that it is (that was my catalyst – what is wrong with humanity?), those who “know” you begin to look at you like “What’s wrong with you?”, “This is the way it’s always been.” “Why are you treating me differently?”  And you begin to realize that the world you’ve been blissfully living in, feels like a sham. It walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, but is it really a duck or is it a rabbit? <—– I’d enter a  hyperlink here to take you somewhere else to explain this reference but, let’s keep it cool and simple for now. If you already know what that means, kudos to you. I’m still grasping it myself.

Anywho, it can be difficult when you begin on this journey of self-discovery because your self is alone. You came into this world alone and you’ll do what? Yeah, I knew you knew the phrase. So to everyone else you seem unraveled.

To them, unraveled means “Uh oh, he/she is losing it.” But to you, it should be the greatest compliment!

You have chosen to unravel yourself and you’re “losing it”, congratulations! That’s breaking the chains of everything holding you back. Depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, confusion, disillusionment, distorted self-images. You’re breaking through. If you’re familiar with spiritual leaders and you hear them “pray for your breakthrough” they’re not praying for your new car, your new house, your new job, your new friends. They’re praying for your unraveling, for you to see through this disillusionment we call the world. They’re praying that you have an open and pure relationship with God for yourself who will supply all of those needs you thought they were praying for. They’re praying for better decision making, praying for healing your mind, body, and spirit. Praying that the woes of the world break from you so that you may break – through into the glory of who God set out for you to be.

Now, before you think I’m getting all preachy because I started typing the letters G.O.D at the end of this post, you feel like I suckered you in, think about this. Are you the headphones or are you the unraveler? Because I once too was the set of tangled headphones, but I stuck around and still am to see how to unravel them. But my spirit is relentless and I am the head and not the tail. I’ll show you how to unravel them as I Iearn. Will you stick around too or will you allow yourself to be distracted and have to do this all over again, 10 years from now?

~ Toi Powell

#ThisIsWhat Democracy LooksLike – Women’s March 2017 – NYC By Toi Powell

#ThisIsWhatDemocracyLooksLike

Women’s March 2017 – NYC
By Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

There are a million words I could choose  to describe my experience at yesterday’s Women’s March in NYC, but I feel they just won’t be poetic enough. My best, is to string together enough of them to help paint a picture for those of you who couldn’t or didn’t attend any of hundreds of sister marches held around the world. Millions of women and men worldwide descended upon their cities in solidarity and if my words aren’t enough, I put on my photographers hat in hopes that you could feel through my lens what I felt in person in NYC that day.

On Saturday morning, on the 21st of January, my Aunt Amanda, my friend Tasheea and I journeyed into Manhattan from NJ to march the streets of NY in support of the rights of women and everyone else who has felt the sting of discrimination, racism, sexism and all of the “isms” that are unfair and unjust to all human beings.

Book bags filled with our cameras and Project Pixie care packages of tampons, pads and wipes to distribute to homeless women in need of menstrual products, we marched onto the crowded streets to serve our purpose and the purpose of those around us. Women’s rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1

My friend Tasheea has founded such an amazing campaign soon to be an organization to help women with low income- to none at all -access feminine hygiene products. This march is what we stand for, and what an amazing sight it was when we arrived. Tasheea’s campaign is called Project Pixie. Visit her website at iheartprojectpixie.org to see how you can make a change in the lives of women in need today.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Tasheea N. Founder of Project Pixie at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

When we arrived, the air buzzed with electricity, hummed with voices of every race, creed, gender, religious background and sexual orientation. Flags waved from poles, bridges, store front windows and apartment balconies. Witty posters, relate-able phrases, fists and handwriting on thin white pages soared through the air, thrust upwards by passionate demonstrators. Demonstrators who merged onto the streets of NYC to voice, shout and demand fair, equal, justice for all including gays, African Americans, women, Muslims, and anyone who has been discriminated against and whose very rights have been threatened by this incoming administration.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell and her Aunt Amanda at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

Men joined us in step, marching a long side their wives, friends, daughters, girlfriends and children. Chanting and demanding justice for us and for all.

My favorite chant of the day was the call and response from men and women, “My body my choice” as the men would respond with “Her body her choice.” Empowering and uplifting, every person there, sharing the same positive contagious energy.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Without typing a long drawn out story, I must say my experience will stay with me forever. There were occasions where I teared up as I captured special moments through my camera’s lens. Moments that were not meant for me, but were being experienced in real time by my focal subject. Seeing the amazement, the love, the pride, the teaching, the curiosity and the awe in that “split” second where I was able to capture a moving target is what you will see in the galleries below.

Some of my favorite shots were on the bridge as we walked down 5th Ave, as I used my long lens to capture a group of young men above me, chant to the sea of demonstrators below, “Show me what Democracy Looks Like!” and the crowd responded with love, cheers and chants “This is what Democracy Looks Like!” The pride in their eyes is what held my heart.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

In a similar shot you can see them engaged in  chanting, but it is the gentleman to the far right in the red jacket who caught this moment. I felt a similar feeling when I went to higher ground to capture the sea of people. Yet, higher than I was, I can only imagine what he is feeling in that moment. Awe.

womens-march-2017-nyc-photo-credit-toi-powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Seeing the amazement on the faces of these children below was priceless. Mouths gaping, a sight to never forget I am sure.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Even those who could not join us in the streets, witnessed the magnetic demonstration from buildings above, joining us in spirit and solidarity.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Symbolism in architecture and art, lined the route, giving us more purpose, more energy and more strength to stand, march and fight for our freedoms and rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

As we come together for a common cause, with branches of injustice written upon boards, shouted from every mouth and supported by every stranger who marched shoulder to shoulder, the message is clear…

Love Trumps hate. We will not go quietly into the good night. My body My Choice, and this…is what democracy looks like.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

View My Special Gallery Below

Take a look at these cool shots from the entire day. (Read the signs!)

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

When you stop to think about how vast the universe is, how many planets, comets, asteroids and stars there are, remember your place within it.

You are but a grain of living energy sailing within a single galaxy, within a minute solar system drifting among millions, on a tiny infinitesimal planet, orbiting but 1 star, literally floating in the blackness of space.

You actually exist within a colossal body of glorious life which literally spins of its own accord with 8 sister planets in a harmonic dance that has lasted for millions of years.

And then, there’s you…you, who is only here but for a mere half of a blink, a flicker of existence. Living life, giving life and ultimately exploring it. Would you waste this miraculous moment, which is you, dispirited, tormented, dissatisfied and unmotivated to be anything but?

galaxy-facebook-cover-22

Your life is the most precious, most miraculous gift the star-dust of galaxies has ever formed, ever created. Live in your moment. Breathe your purpose. Explore your being and never waste it on anything less than the miracle that is you.

Overall, the endless vastness of space and all of the immaculate life it holds is so much bigger than any type of adversity you shall ever face.

Be encouraged and be motivated to make your moment, your time, your existence in this universe worth it.

~ Toi Powell

 

Sign up for my book mailing list here!

Summer Vacation – Cancun, Mexico – Paradisus All-Inclusive

What I did this Summer…

Heyyyyyy ya’ll heyyyyy!!!!

It’s so exciting to write you once again and this time, to share my vacation experience with you! My luv and I went to the beautiful country of Mexico, but not just to Mexico…to CANCUN! I know it sounds cliché, – Spring break = Immature fun, but we went during the summer when it was raging-teenager-hormone free! If we saw any, they were there with their parents… praise Jesus cause I can’t deal!

Anyway, my luv and I weren’t alone. My mother and her husband actually double vactioned with us although we left them during the day to embark upon our own private time which equaled – EXCURSIONS! They had a blast all on their own! They actually  had more time to enjoy the resort than we did!

20150627_131601
Aeromexico – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

We were only there for 5 days so we had to jam pack everything into one huge experience. The 1st day was a bust because whoever’s idea it was to fly and connect in Mexico city must’ve been drinking while they booked our flights. #1. Mexico city is the worst place to catch a connecting flight. Hardly any structure for US immigrants, no English speaking employees to guide us through the line and it was so big we had a hard time finding our gate…which we eventually did with moments to spare! – But enough of the negative reviews on Mexico city because the rest of the trip was amazing —- exxxxxxcept when we flipped over on a jet ski in the middle of the ocean but – we’ll get to that later.

Paradisus - Cancun, Mexico - Toi Stori for T.O.I House
Isla Mujeres- Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The color of the water was spectacular – the beaches amazing, although there was so much seaweed it made it a difficult swimming experience,  just being in another country was everything I hoped it would be – Hot weather, beautiful water, amazing culture, kind and humbling people and excitement to last me until my next trip!

20150627_193400
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The Paradisus Resort was BEAUTIFUL! It was a 4 star hotel with real vegetation hanging from every balcony, level and floor. It was like living in a real life Oasis. We bought the Royal Suite package which allowed us a butler, exclusive access to private dining areas, private pools (no kids – pa-raise Jesus) and every service you could’ve wanted. 24 hour room service we hardly used and scented pillows with Lavender and Vanilla, Eucalyptus with white tea were some awesome services included in the package! Yummmmm happy snoozing!

20150627_193241
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150627_200035
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150627_200125
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Day 1 we arrived pretty late so that was a bust thanks to our booking agent getting us on a connecting flight but, whatever. We were beat by time we arrived. We had dinner at one of the all inclusive restaurants (Taco’s – not my choice) but I noticed their portion sizes were extremely small. If you wanted a big adult sized meal, head to the buffet. You can make your own plate and you have waaay more options.

Day 2 my bf and I got up and dressed for the pool. We decided to book our excursions 1st thing. I think we did the best thing by booking the entire week at once because every day we knew what we were doing, where we were goin and what time we’d be back. Scheduling your life is key, why not your vacation UNLESS you’re on vaca specifically to rest. Then you’re best bet is to just go with the flow.

20150627_193308
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Our 1st excursion on day 1 was the worst experience for me (insert overturned jet ski). It was no surprise to me that my bf couldn’t swim. Although he was in the Navy for 6 years, somehow he got through it without really grasping how to swim “correctly”. He’d told me months before this vacation that he couldn’t swim but I begged him to try a water sport. Just TRY! He’d have on a vest, so he’ll be fine. After MUCH deliberation he obliged, so here we were, finally in Mexico and we sign up for ….Parasailing. Parasailing. What does swimming have to do with parasailing…. shut up and wait…you’ll see. lol

20150627_193246
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

In order for us to parasail, we had to get on a JET SKI to get to the boat that was already in the middle of the ocean. Insert sigh. I’ve never been on a jet ski but I was willing. I’m SUPER adventurous and always open to a new experience but when they told us that we both had to ride behind a guide …I counted 3 grown ass adults on a jet ski…scary but we went on. They told us to bring a camera but if it got wet they weren’t responsible…ooookay so I brought my brand new Nikon DSL D3200 and wrapped it in a plastic bag and the guy placed it in a compartment of the jet ski.

We got on and OMGGGGG he was flying all over the place, jumping waves and I was holding on to him for dear life and my bf holding on to the guys jacket with me in between them for dear life. WTF! Then he stops. Mid water…land just a blink in the distance. He hops off and disappears under the water. BABE! Where the hell did he go?

He appears and in broken English says he needed to take the seaweed off the rotors and for ME to hold the jet ski steady while he basically somersaults over us to get back in front. JESUS give me balance! Be a weight, an anchor, a bouey… cause I can’t!

He finally gets seated in front of me and I think ok, we’re safe, we’ll be there in a moment. Not even 3 minutes later, he stops again and does the same thing! This time as he’s trying to re-board, i’m trying with all of my might to hold it steady, but this Cirque du sole trick he did over my head caused us to flip ALL THE WAY over! The ENTIRE jet ski was upside down, me and my bf were underwater and of course he’s trying to swim up to the surface but he’s pushing me beneath him! I thought OMG this is it. We’re gonna die right here, right now!

I swam away from him and when I came up for air he apologized of course but he was holding on to this rope on the back of the jet ski I hadn’t even noticed previously. I was ok because I can swim, but I more more worried about him. To my surprise, he was very calm. (Must have been that Navy training kicking in I guess) insert eye roll.

I get back on the jet ski 1st, and wait for everyone else to get on behind me. I am absolutely terrified, but everything works out and we continue our journey. Of course i’m crying all the way to the boat because I convinced my bf to try water sports and this is what happens! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t come all the way down there to lose him to the ocean! Oh hell no!

We finally get to the boat and discover that my camera didn’t survive the journey. It stayed in the compartment but water got inside of it. So you know I was annoyed but not as pissed off because at least we were alive.  I did a no no and tried to turn it on which I’m sure ruined it.

Parasailing was even more stressful because after that near death experience, we go almost a hundred + feet in the air with no belts, no harness – just a 2 seater something. Everytime the wind blew or the boat accelerated, I thought we were gonna fly out! That was it. Get me off and get me out!

Needless to say, we went back to the company we booked with, told them of our horrifying experience and demanded we change our next excursion. Guess what it was…..Jet ski’s! yeeeeeah, no.

So they booked us for a day trip to the island of Isla Mujeres which we did on day 2.

It was absolutely beautiful! We took a boat there which was spectacular! Tequila on the boat, entertainment from the crew and a relaxing ride along the gulf. When we arrived, there were hammocks, beach chairs and a nice little beach to relax. We passed that up and rented a golf cart to explore the island. It was beautiful. We saw Iguanas, some ruins, tons of unoccupied houses, and the views were breath taking.

20150629_120431
Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150629_115513
Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

When we got back, we had a buffet lunch and hopped back on the boat to take us to the downtown area of the island. We walked, did a little shopping, but mostly just explored for 2 hours. So many merchants tried to get us to come into their “little shops” (their words, not mine) and buy over priced knick knacks. Yeah, if everything was handmade, how come every store had em? LOL

I opted to haggle some guy for 2 gorgeous necklaces $15 for 2. I’d seen them sold at so many shops that when someone approached me on the street with a bag of them I couldn’t resist. The stores were selling them for $20 each.

(here I am at happy hour at work with my fun co-worker wearing one. It’s twisted cause I’m having a good time at happy hour! But the middle is supposed to drip towards the center)

wpid-20150730_171956.jpg
Work Buddies – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

 

wpid-20150730_110742.jpg
Isla Mujeres Necklace – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The next day we went on another day tour to Tulum! It was Marvelous! – and HOT! 1st we got picked up late by our tour bus and then had to listen to a very vocal, highly IQ’d gentleman from Australia who talked everyone’s ear off all day. I thought he was interesting but the hotter it got the less he talked!

1st we went to see the pyramids in Tulum. Awesome, breathtakingly beautiful but there was not an ounce of shade so as my bf and I speed walked throughout the entire complex of ruins, I forced myself to take in the hot breathtaking experience. I was beautiful but damn it was hot as hell!

20150630_130738
Tulum – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Next they shuffled us off to a little jungle in the middle of nowhere to eat a quite decent buffet lunch – even though they rushed us. We then strapped on our gear to go zip lining! It was amazing and for my 1st time, I had a blast! After that, we rappelled into a cave and then changed to snorkel in a fresh water cave with tiny little fish and bats, bats, bats! Guano anyone?

_MG_2547
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
IMG_0064
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
IMG_0071
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

It was a long ride back but it was such an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Tulum - Cancun, Mexico - Toi Stori for T.O.I House
Tulum – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

On our last day, we managed to fit in a speed boat excursion! That was fun and scary because I’ve never driven a boat before, let alone in open water (read above about my new fear of open water) speeding behind boats being inches from the water.

20150701_131519
Speed Boat – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Once we stopped and anchored to other boats, I was the only one from my family that hopped into the ocean and  snorkeled along the great barrier reef. Talk about amazingly beautiful!!!  It’s like a whole other world down there. Quite alien-like and awe-inspiring. I always seem to have a new appreciation for the Universe, creation, God and life itself when I snorkel.

20150701_142336
Speed Boat – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

I hated to leave that wonderful oasis of beauty, grandeur, lost and rediscovered ancient ruins. I was more emotionally attached to this place than anywhere I’d ever been before. I watch the History channel and I researched the ancient pyramids, drawn to their mystery, history and architectural achievements. I never thought I’d see one up close and I did…and it was AMAZING.

20150628_111336
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
wpid-20150628_165319.jpg
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150701_182646
Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

If you are drawn to a special place and feel the urge to travel, do it. We only have one life. Make the best of it. I know I will!

20150629_105915
Isla Mujeres – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Visit Me on Pinterest!

follow-me-on-pinterest__

So, I am secretly obsessed with Pinterest! I don’t even know where to begin! I’ll admit, I was a bit late to jump on the bandwagon because honestly, I hadn’t heard of it. When I did, I didn’t really understand it because, who just goes around clicking on everything they like? What’s the point?

After taking a moment out of my busy schedule to just sit down and look at it (after a suggestion from my aunt who wanted me to see something that she pinned so bad), I started to see some really interesting things! They had tutorials on makeup, natural hair (this is what she wanted me to see – we were trying new things lol), DIY, beauty products, awesome recipes and much more! I couldn’t believe the access I was given to just about anything I could think of at the tip of my fingers! I just described the internet, but this is much better! It’s not cluttered with things you aren’t looking for or too much content. As a visual person, I was in image HEAVEN!

A lot of these pins inspired me to try new things, share with friends, organize my interests into boards and it kept my creative bug itching!

Take a look through my Pinterest profile for some inspiration!