Brick by Brick

When a relationship doesn’t pan out to be what we expect it to be or what our version of a particular relationship should look like we begin to build mental walls.  The walls that we build are set into place brick by brick; because while we hope the relationship has potential we don’t want to personally set ourselves up for failure.  At best, we are trying to protect the heart.

I believe this to be true for all relationships.  Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, family, business, or casual. Continue reading

When I turned the rapper 50 Cent down….

The year was early 2003.  I was a junior/senior in college just minding my everyday “young at heart” business.  The rapper 50 Cent was a fairly new artist to the public mainstream.  He had a hit record that radio stations played constantly, as if the song was on automatic repeat.  Many of you may remember the song….

Go shorty, it’s your birthday

We gonna party like it’s your birthday

We gonna sip Barcardi like it’s your birthday

Of course you remember the song!  It was one of Billboards 100 Best Songs of the 2000s according to the Rolling Stone’s Magazine.

So you’re thinking, why or how did I turn 50 Cent down?  Well, according to sources 50 Cent was coming to Richmond, VA for a concert.  The promoter of said concert was a friend of a friend.  This particular friend had previously given me stories upon stories about this promoter guy.  She then came back to me at some point and stated that the rapper 50 Cent was coming into town and he needed a driver.  The promoter wanted to know if I could be the driver for 50 Cent?

My curiosity began to grow because I couldn’t understand how a breakout rapper with a number one song on the radio could come to town and not have transportation?  Or why the promoter would ask me to be the transportation for such a high-profile rapper.  I didn’t have a fancy car.  I didn’t work in the industry.  AND to add icing to the cake (pun intended) when I asked why he didn’t have his own transportation, I was told “he’s just getting started in the business.”  Nothing was adding up to me and it left me baffled.

Baffled because it was 50 Cent and also because I really didn’t trust this promoter guy.  None of the stories that I had previously heard about him supported me in saying yes to  this task.  I later asked if I could have a friend accompany me while transporting the star from the airport to the venue.  My suggestion was turned down.

This lead me to my ultimate decision of turning down 50 Cent.  My safety has always been my main concern and focus in life.  I take pride in being a very cautious person and able to listen to my intuition when needed.  I purposely choose to not take part in Russian Roulette type deals.

I’ll never know if I really had the chance to chauffeur 50 Cent around or not.  I often wonder, what if?  But at the end of the day, I have no regrets.  Besides, I can almost see it working more in today’s time with the whole “Uber” transportation phenomenon going on right now.  But then I would have to work for such companies, and I don’t…….and this puts us back at square one!

Perhaps, you may have a “what-if” moment as well?  If that’s the case, feel free to share your stories in the comment section below.  But also take pride in knowing that if it was meant to be–it would have happened.


Just Keep Climbing! (Picture blog)

Recently, we (my fiance’, myself, and friends from out-of-town) decided to go on a hike.  I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I was determined to give it a shot. Being that I live in the valley, mountains are literally in my backyard.

This particular mountain peaks at 3,197 feet.  The trail has mostly uphill terrain with a few flat portions to it.  But I must add that we took the “easier” route but the “easy” route is still challenging; a steady climb of about 1700 feet.  From where we started it was four miles up (which took us 3 hours to complete) and four miles down (which took us 2 hours to complete). Once we reached the top we spent about an hour there enjoying the mountain breeze, refueling off the lunch we packed, and taking pictures.

Instead of boring you with a full detailed outline of the day and the hike itself and how at one point I thought we would never see the end; I figured I would share the pictures from that day because they are worth a thousand words plus more.

Follow me with my pictures as we hike to McAfee’s Knob (The Knob) which is located atop of Catawba Mountain which is part of the Appalachian Trail.


The men leading the way and carrying all of the water and snacks 🙂


Nature at it’s best


A massive rock


The sun peeping through the rocks


Only 1.2 miles remained before we reached the top but this 1.2 miles was all climbing.  It felt more like 5.


The stairs behind me starts the final mile!


We  FINALLY made it to the top!


A well deserved break


I was surprised I went this far out on The Knob; but it is one of the most popular photo places along the entire trail.




On top of the world


A view of the city from the top of the mountain


Some things just can’t be explained


Another ledge atop of the mountain


My Boo and I




It was  beautiful day for a hike


The one time you’re not in a plane but you’re above the power lines!


Use the signs and colors when hiking to help direct your path


The end was insight and we were HAPPY CONQUERS!

I love being able to wake up and see mountains surrounding me everyday.  People are usually fascinated whenever they come to my “neck of the woods!”  The hike was challenging and I’m certain that I sweated more this day than ever before.  I burned over 2400 calories in just the hike alone and had over 22 thousand footsteps.  Perhaps, I’ve never been more proud of myself for completing a physical activity.  MAYBE, one day, I’ll do it again! 🙂

What do you think?  Have you ever hiked a mountain before?  Would you give this mountain a try if you could?

Until next time, just keep climbing!


Dos and Don’ts (March Edition)

Well, well, well!

Your favorite blogger is back with your favorite segment of IToja which is the monthly edition of Dos and Don’ts!!! If you need to catch up the previous issues, please catch the 411 HERE for January and HERE for February!

All aboard? Lets go!

Shana:  Don’t pay full price for anything.  There are coupons for everything.  Let Google be your friend. If for whatever reason, the item you want is no longer available then you didn’t need it anyway.  Toya has some pretty good discounts at places she can hook you up with.

Toya:  My motto is, “Ball on a budget” I rarely pay full price for anything.  And if I do, then it’s something that is a must and there is no other way to get it.  I do believe in splurging every now and then but not all the time.  I love shopping online too, and usually you can find some good deals online.  I do a lot of shopping through Ebates, they literally pay you to shop.  You can click HERE to get started.

Also, RetailMeNot is a great app to use if you’re out and about and looking for last minute coupons.

S:  We all get mad, some easier than others, but count to 10 or whatever it is that you do to calm down, before you say something you may later regret.  I have zero filter sometimes so this helps me A LOT!! I seriously live by this, “every action does not deserve a reaction.”

T:  Don’t be tap dancing on my nerves! — I would say, check your delivery.  Because my reaction may be necessary but the delivery of my reaction may not be necessary.  My goal this year is to check my delivery.

S:  I think a really good investment besides a home and a car, is bedding!  You need to sleep to be able to function.  So good bedding is a must!  Sheets, blankets, definitely pillows and mattresses.

T:  Yaaaassss.  I’m trying to hold out until Spring to redo my room, my bedding, and to get new pillows but it’s taking so long to get here!  I just wish King size sheets and pillows weren’t so expensive.  Geez.

S:  This a hard one, but you really should have some sort of savings even if you’re only putting $5 a week in there.  You never know what’s going to happen.  You may need new tires, a furnace, or what if you lose your job?  A little cushion could come in handy.

T:  This is great advice.  Really great if you can get into the habit of saving at an early age.  I would also suggest that you have some type of savings deposited into a separate account before you even get your check.  It makes it easier.  It’s already taken care of and you will not have to make extra trips to the bank or end up spending it.

S:  Have relationships with people and not just your significant other.  I’m talking about your friends; take the time to get to know them.  The deep down them.  Their likes, dislikes, pet peeves, favorite color.  Make them feel appreciated.

T:  Friends are valuable.  It is important to be a great friend because one day you may need the favor returned.  I’m happy to say that I know just about everything about my closest friends.  Perhaps, too much!  Check out my post on friends HERE!

S:  This kind of goes along with the last one, but I recently had a friend lose their companion of many years.  Tomorrow is never promised so say, “I Love You” every chance you get and mean it.

T:  The older we get, the faster time goes, and the more deaths we come across.  From the very young to the very old.  At one point, all I was hearing was another person has died.  My family says “I Love You” all the time.  You just never know when the last time will be the last time.

S:  You know how when you were younger your parents would take food to a love ones house who had death in their family?  Well now that we are older we need to continue that “tradition” people really appreciate it probably much more than flowers.

T:  Definitely a “tradition” that is a must.  Letting a person know you’re thinking about them during a sad time is great.  Plus, no one wants to cook when going through the hardships of death.  People are steadily going in and out of there home to show their condolences.  Who wants to cook during this time?  Having that food already their and ready to eat is a blessing.

I would even like to challenge my readers to take this a step further.  To go back to being a good friend, when a friend is sick or just having a rough time stop by to visit them.  Take them a few snacks or some soup or their favorite things.  A little goes a long way.

S:  Everyone should have a hobby.  I use to think mine was shopping but as I’ve gotten older I think it is more decorating and crafts.  I also really enjoy blogging on IToja once a month, so I would consider writing and reading as another hobby.  Sometimes you just have to take a mental break and let your mind wander, with your hobby it’s easy to do that.

T:  Aww–so happy you’re enjoying our adventure together.

I think hobbies are great.  Overtime, my hobbies always seem to change but I think that has a lot to do with my personality.

S:  So, I recently went to a spa party and it was great!  I think you should pamper yourself even if it’s just buying a foot scrub, new lotion, or a face mask.  I try to do one of these at least once a week to help me unwind a little.

T:  I’m a total believer in taking care of yourself.  I love being pampered too.  So yes, everyone take time out to pamper yourself.  Put this on your to-do list, for sure!

S:  Everyone has an opinion, you know the saying.  So don’t get mad at someone just because theirs is different from yours.  Everyone is different.  It’s what makes the world go round.

T:  In today’s world its hard to let others have their own opinion but I think we need to always remember this.

S:  If you straighten your house a little everyday, say one room a day, then you won’t have to spend a whole day doing it all at one time.  This may just work for me though because I am so OCD.

T:  I wish I could do this everyday.  Now, I’ll just text my daughter and say, “Make sure you have your chores done.”  See–having a teenager isn’t all bad!

S:  Learn how to change a tire, this super important.  Your dad or man may not always be readily available to do this for you.

T:  Do you boo!  But, uh, I’m not changing a tire.  I do know how to check (not change) the oil though.  That has to count for something!

S:  I know cash is like a thing of the past, but it really is smart to keep a little bit with you at all times.  I usually try to keep $20 on me, you never know when you may need it.

T:  This sounds like my grandmother.  She say’s this all the time.  So yes, lets all try to keep a little cash on us–for the unexpected, right?

S:  Never expect too much from anyone. So that in the event that they do happen to let you down it doesn’t hurt as bad.  Because like I’ve said before not everyone has the same intentions as you.

T:  I’m stuck in between Do and Don’t on this one.  While I agree with the above statement I also feel like if I can’t depend on you, or expect for you to come through for me, then I don’t really need you.  I think it mostly depend on the person and the situation and the relationship that you have with someone.

S:  You should never have to prove a relationship or yourself to anyone.  If it’s real it’s real!

T:  Agreed.  Don’t worry about what others think.  Haters will always hate!!!!!! #IToja

As always, we would love to hear what you think.  Do you have a hobby? What about a spa ritual?  Have you implemented a savings plan?  We would love to hear your stories.

Leave your comments below and don’t forgot to hit the FOLLOW button so that you’re always up to speed on our Dos and Don’ts!!


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.


Black Card Revoked!

It’s officially Black History Month, and I want to change things up, so I feel its only right to begin with a new card gamed titled “Black Card Revoked!”  Find it HERE.  So in this game, you can pretty much play however you feel fit.  Because the instructions are clearly typed saying, I know you will make up your own rules anyway, so play however you want!  But then they give some general guidelines; like, you can play the religious version and every time you miss an answer read a scripture from the bible.  Or, play the gambling version and when you get an answer right, you get a point.  The goal of the game is to try to answer your question correctly so that your black card, or all the things that make you black (besides your skin color) will not be revoked. Continue reading

What about your friends?

Over the years, I’ve learned that friends come in many forms. The reserved one, the honest one, the listener, the BFF, the acquaintance, the friend who doesn’t like any of your other friends, the annoying friend, the negative friend, the THOT friend, the fighting friend, the go-getter friend, the party friend… get my drift?  Then there are friends who switch friends every other month and friends who are super loyal.  As the saying goes, people enter your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Just like any relationship, you must put in your work.  Being a friend is two people, usually, giving 100% of their time at different moments.  I particularly don’t believe in that whole 50/50 crap.  I believe in giving 100% of myself in everything I do. Continue reading