It really is ok to Level Up!

ciara and russell

So a comment was made by a celebrity (Ciara this week), and folks are all up in arms. I am not 100% sure what the fuss is about. From what I have read she simply expressed her truth. She noted after she leveled up, started to look to God more, and really love herself the right man came along. This is her experience and who are we to take that from her. Before you all start the eye-rolling keep reading... I think the issue is because she said  “level up” and get the love you deserve. People seem to be super in their feelings because of the words level up. Even one of my friends said she took the comment as if you are single you have no standards. So it got me thinking…

Why are we so consumed with every thought a celebrity has? Sure they are in the light and people look to them and they decided to be in the spotlight but we are all responsible for our own actions. Just because she believes in leveling up you don’t have to.They are human just like the rest of us, and if your homegirl disagreed with you would you drag her like some do celebrities? Just my thoughts…

Let’s talk about leveling up. If I am correct it means to get your shit together in all areas of your life. This will look different for everyone. Some will lose weight, start their business, get a deeper relationship with God, carry crystals with you, start reading more books, whatever it is we all can agree it is an improvement on your life. So don’t you want to level up? Or is complacency the new in thing? When we apply for jobs we never say ok I'm entry level and I am good with this for life. I have arrived. No, we get in to learn the ropes and start looking for a raise, promotion, or the next job.

I read some comments saying she is using her marriage as a tool or weapon and I was again confused. #Howsway All she was saying, or how I interpreted it was once you focus on you, and get clear about what you want you can attract it. After you get so into you and realize what it is you actually want you will be able to waste less time with men who mean you no good. I know for me I wasted time and dated losers because I was dating to be dating at one time in my life. I didn’t really know what I wanted so I ended up not getting much of anything if you catch my drift. We can all agree like attracts like so why not improve yourself. The new and improved you will undoubtedly attract more than a man. You will get the bougie girlfriends you wished you had, the promotion you have been dreaming about, or even attract the client to your business because you have now become an improved version of our self. What is wrong with that?

Let me tell you a story… When I met my husband I was a single mom of one, working as a therapist (my previous dream job). I lived on my own and was doing my thing. Admittedly I was more together on paper than I was internally but I was actively working on it. So I guess at the time I met him I was like mid glow up lol (although I am sure that was not the term those years ago). The point is I was in a good place, and working daily to be better. THAT IS WHAT ATTRACTED THE MAN TO ME. For us, regular degular folks life ain't always peaches and cream. So what married minded man wants to marry a girl he has t fix up or who is bringing nothing to the table, not even a plate? Because if the shoe was on the other foot while women are more likely to go for the fixer-upper we are not setting out looking for him. We want a man with his ish together. We want the security that comes with a stable man.

I got off topic...Prior to my self-proclaimed glow up I was attracting broken men, with no jobs, mommy issues, emotional abusers, egos bigger than the Beyonce song, and all other foolery. I was attracting them because I was broken. I was vibrating so low that is what I picked up.  Did I need to level up? Hell yes! Is that the sole reason I got married? Nope, but it damn sure helped. I was happy and whole when I got married. I was not looking for anyone to love me because I loved and still love me. In fact, I was happy to just be me with my child. I had spent so much time dating idiots I decided to date me, and the moment I became ok with me things changed. I walked away from my job (I went back, but with a raise lol making just under what a LCSW makes without a license and in case you are not a counselor and not familiar with non-profits that's a big damn deal!). Nope, life has not been perfect but it has steadily been getting better. I have setbacks but I come out ahead because I glowed up.

So no this is not me using my life as a weapon or shaming tool. This is me telling you if I can do it, the girl who was pregnant at 19 by the way ole boy the sperm donor straight walked away you can too!!!!! I have been through so much and we all have a story to tell but unless you level up in some way your story is going to stay the same and we both know you don’t want that. Leveling up is not all about a man because some of my smartest most successful girlfriends don’t even see marriage as an accomplishment. However to live a life you love whether working a 9-5, being a housewife, having a side hustle, walking the red carpet, whatever it is will require you to level up. How will you level up today?

4 Ways to Make 2018 Great

New Year

As soon as the kids took off their Halloween costumes it felt like they were pulling out the Christmas tree lights, and here we are in 2018. Is it me or is time flying by?

Anyway, this is the time of year where everyone is reflecting. What went well, what went wrong? Some people will be shouting "new year new me" and while I am not a fan, I am a recovering member of the club. I am not quite sure why I thought I had to wait until the new year to change. Change is a series decisions you make and they are not bound by time or date.

However, I understand the concept. The new year brings about a refreshing sense of newness and it seems like the right time to lose weight or cut people off when really the right time was the moment you made the decision to be a better you. I get though we are all looking to win in some form or fashion. Whether it be finding that great love, buying our dream home,  booking a speaking gig, or landing a high paying client. Whatever it is we all want to be great. So this year, if you start losing focus on the resolutions here, are some habits to adapt to make sure this is your year.

  1. Be intentional. Whatever your goals are get aligned and make them happen. Once you are sure about what you want  to accomplish make sure you are constantly doing what you need to do to make it happen on purpose.
  2. Change your mindset. You can have everything you want if you think you can. Stop allowing our past, what you did last year, or the limiting beliefs you have to stop you. Trust me we all have had these beliefs and a lot of times they are inherited. How you were raised helps to shape what you think is possible but that is a lesson for a different day.
  3.  Stop setting goals without setting time to do the work. We all are like Ok I am going to lose weight this year, but what we fail to figure out is when we will meal prep, when we add working out to our already busy schedule, how many calories will we intake. Or better yet my clients say this is the year they will find a man, yet they never leave the house, don't know what they are looking for in a relationship, and sadly some of them are still in love with their ex. Simply setting the goal is not enough. You have to plan for the process.
  4.  Make your to-do list NON NEGOTIABLE.  I get it at the end of the day you are tired and just want to sit on the couch and watch the TV, or maybe you want to read a book. Either way, the to-do list is not a priority after work. You had the best intentions but by the end of the day, your determination fades. But this is where we mess up. This is how we stay stuck and never lose the weight, start the business, finish writing that bestseller or whatever the goal is.  If you are really serious you have to work even when you are tired and don't want to because that is where the real change happens. 

What are you going to do to make this a great year for you?

6 time management tips to help you have it all

We want it all if we are honest with ourselves, and in my opinion nothing is wrong with that. We want the family, career, money, cars, all of it. Now how do we get there? You have to begin telling yourself you can have it all and then define what “it all” is for you. This will look differently for every one. Figure out what your ideal day looks like. Does this include meetings, sessions, gym time, children, husband, work, travel? You have to know what you are working toward so you can get there. Then there is time.

Time, if we are honest we often waste away (social media, reality TV, sleep) and then complain about not having enough of it. Coming from my own past experience, watching TV instead of working out was much more fun. However, you could always find me complaining about my weight and saying I had no time to work out. Another old favorite of mine was using my children as an excuse not to clean. Yep I would say well I work every day the weekend is the time I need to be with them. When really I just wanted to avoid the laundry, scrubbing, and sweeping. Yes spending time with my kids is hella important but if one is napping and the other is reading how much time are we really spending together? Still, I would think geesh I really just need a day to clean... yes after wasting an entire day with excuses.

I was making a lot of excuses to simply do what I wanted to do (be lazy, although I called it rest) and not what I needed to do (everything else, cook, clean, etc.). I always found myself saying I want to do more, be more, and have more, but I was not putting in the effort. I was putting in the excuses.

Excuses are tools of nothingness (yep I am a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta- all my fellow NPHC Greeks feel me on this). Back to these excuses... making them was only getting me one thing NOTHING. The truth was I had time to get healthy, cook, start a business, and whatever else I wanted to if I used my time wisely. What I needed to do was to shift the way I thought about time. I had convinced myself I did not have enough of it when the truth is I had plenty. I simply had to use wisely.

Here are a few things I started to do to gain better control of my time.

  1. Protecting my time. Which really means setting boundaries, and saying no when I needed to say no and no longer feeling guilty about it.  I now refuse to allow my time to be wasted. It may seem harsh but it has really been beneficial for me and my family.
  2. I am intentional about how I spend my time. If I set out to spend time with my family, I make sure everyone is awake, present, and with limited electronic interaction. If it is time to blog or do other stuff related to my business I make sure I set the intentions to complete those task. It really is about a mind shift here.
  3. I plan for things. Part of being able to fit so many things into one day is knowing what must be done. If I know what I have to do, I can fit in what I want to do. I decided I wanted to put more effort into my own self development. So instead of having my own lip sync battle on the way to work daily I now make sure I listen to a podcast that will feed my growth at least 3 days a week on my way to work. 
  4. Prioritize. This is my best kept secret. If it can be done later I do it later and do something that cannot wait. Everything is not an emergency so it will not be treated as such.
  5. Practice discipline. It is easy to lay down because I worked all day. Then who is going to cook, clean, blog, talk to my clients, how will I ever get into shape. When I set my list I do it. There is no waiting until tomorrow because I have already filtered out what can wait so it is not on the current day’s to do list.
  6. I am flexible with my family. I know you giving side eye after reading 1-5, but I am. If my babies are sick things get shifted. My daughter is pushing 13 so her emotions and hormones are off the chain. If she needs some extra mommy time she gets it. Sometimes bae needs time and I am not here for the games so bae gets his time.

By doing all these things I am so much closer to my goal of having it all. I am able to be a great wife, mom, biz owner, and still employee. It is not easy but it can definitely be done.

 

How do you manage it all? Have questions? Shoot me an email mrstoyacarter@gmail.com I would love to help.

3 Reasons why Comparing makes you Lose!

The fastest way to make yourself miserable is to look at what other's are doing. Their life will always look better than yours if you are looking at the phone and they are living their life. We live in a world where people’s lives are literally at our fingertips. Don’t think so? Scroll through anyone’s Facebook Feed. You will know when they met their boo, how and when he proposed when they got married, pregnant, and every fight in between. Of course, there is always an exception I have a friend who waited a year before she “debuted” her daughter on Facebook.

With so much exposure we have a front row seat to anyone's life we want.  We see the bags, trips, cars, and if we are real enough to admit it we want it for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting more the issue starts when you compare and covet what others have. If we are not careful we can start to want their relationship too. We see what their partner is doing for them, what they bought, how they said they were beautiful even though they gained weight then silently and slowly we begin to think their version of the love is the only version.

We get mad at what we have at home believing our love life is supposed to be like what we see on the gram. The sad thing is we never consider any differences. We don't stop to look at how long they have been together, is he taking her on vacation because he got caught with his side chick, the difference in bank accounts, or anything else.

We stop remembering all the things that make our relationship special because we are too busy looking at others. In the past, I shared with a friend that I did not want a man I had to cook Thanksgiving meals every single day so being true to me I got a man who did not require that. On the flip side, one of my friends cooks daily and from scratch. If I were to base my relationship on hers I would be failing as a wife, and my husband would be miserable. Every relationship is different and we have to learn to appreciate what makes our relationship special. When you constantly compare your relationship to others you lose in major ways.

You get stuck so you don’t produce. You are so busy worrying what others are doing and how they are posting on Instagram you are unable to focus on your own relationship. You cannot be a good wife if you are trying to force your man to fit a mold that some other woman made. It doesn’t matter if someone else’s husband has them all over there social media, your husband may not be into that. So by demanding he subscribes to someone else’s standards you will mess up what is working for you and cause unnecessary arguments. If he has never paraded you on his social media why are you asking him to start now? The woman who is on her husband’s social media may be missing something in her relationship that your husband does on a regular.

You are coveting an ending when you have no idea what it took to get there and if you could even handle it. Sure it is all fun and games watching them take trips but what if he choked her right before they took the picture? Everyone is happy on pictures because we smile for the camera not frown for the camera.  What if the couple you are calling your relationship goals have dealt with an affair in their marriage? Do you want that too? So much could be going on behind the scenes that there is really nothing for you to be jealous of. You may want what they have now but could you have survived what they went through to get there? If you are not willing to struggle don’t envy the success.

Finally, you never know the time frame for success. There are no overnight successes. You have to put in the WERK!!!! Think about anyone who you want to be like, pick a blogger (Regina from Byregina has had how many business and blogs), singer (K. Michelle has had how many record deals, and she suffered abuse), actress (Halle Berry is gorgeous and she has had bad luck in love), your friend who got married before you (how many bad relationships did she have). Nothing happens overnight. You can’t start a committed relationship on Monday and expect it to look like your friend’s relationship when she has been married 3 years. Comparing your start to someone else’s middle will have you upset every time.

The more accesses we have to others the more important it becomes to be happy with what you have. This in no way means be complacent we should all be striving for more, however comparing and being jealous is not the way. Always remember social media is a highlight reel. It is supposed to the show the person in the best light. No one is posting their messy house or their arguments. Just because you do not see it doesn’t mean it is not there. Remember to be grateful for what you have and water your own grass to make it better.

 

3 Reasons why Sex is important in Marriage

sex and marrige

Sex, sex, and more sex. Now that we got that out of the way, let's have a real conversation. We live in a society where sex is everywhere right? Remember the freaky Hardees commercial that had some men ready to eat a burger a day? Like what the hell is sexy about a burger? Even the M&M candy commercials have started to have some sexual innuendos. But it is the world we live in.

If it is so common, which it is, then why are people, married people, in particular, shying away from talking about it? Especially in the proper setting. Better yet why are some married people shying away from having sex. 

Recently I spoke at an event and when I mentioned scheduling sex the ladies dam near shut down like I called their mothers the B word. I was shocked because I was at a mommy and me event which meant everyone had had sex before. Then I thought well maybe they don't want to schedule it because that makes it seem too impersonal. Nope, they didn't want to talk about it because they were not doing it.

Then if you watch reality TV (and we all know I do) Kirk, in defense of his recent cheating scandal, was talking about how his wife, Rasheeda has not been having sex with him. Let me feel you in... Kirk and Rasheeda are married and have been for years. Now there is a possibility he has fathered a child with another woman. While having some man to man talk he kept saying that Rasheeda was not giving it up and she was rolling over on him when he touched her. Let me note Rasheeda is like many of us, a BAWSE. She has children, a couple businesses, and I am not sure if she is still rapping or not. So she is busy. Which was also part of his argument. I am not making excuses for her simply giving you a full picture.

On top of all this, I recently overheard a conversation where a woman proudly discussed not being sexual, giving her man oral sex, and exclaiming that he married her for reasons other than sex. Sis, really? We all get married for reasons other than sex but I think it is naive to think sex has nothing to do with it. This is not the traditional days where we are marrying for a dowry, or to expand territories.

Aside from the great pleasure, and instant feeling of calm sex is very important in a marriage. Consider this...

Sex is the one thing you share with your mate that you don't share with anyone else. The world gets your smile, your job gets your strong work ethic, your kids get your love. You give it all to everybody...except the sex. You save that for bae right? So why be stingy with it? Sex is what keeps the two of you from falling into roommate syndrome.

It is an intimate conversation with body parts that creates immense trust. The ability to truly be free and unapologetically say I like it like this, touch me there is so freeing. More than that you are trusting that your partner will comply without judgment. That type of trust builds real intimacy. 

The lack of sex, when both parties are healthy, breeds and atmosphere of distrust. It does not matter how liberal, trusting and free you are in your relationship, go too long without sex and you will start to wonder who has been hooking your boo up. It is just that simple.

I understand, maybe sex is something so intimate to you that talking about it seems ridiculous. Or maybe you are having lots of great sex and you don't feel the need to talk about it. The tea is everyone else IS talking about it So whether you talk about it or not make sure yo are doing it. I get it, maybe you are not as liberal and as free as I am but sex in your home is a MUST. Need some pointers, tips, and just a way to take sex off the to-do list and into the bedroom? Join my 15-day sex challenge HERE. I dare you!!!!