10 Things You Should Definitely Toss Before The New Year Rolls Around
I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t do holidays, I am a Rosh Hashanah observer or what, but I really do find it fascinating (sometimes even funny), that right when November pops up, so many folks will make these grand declarations about all of the things that they are going to do…after New Year’s Day. So…you’re going to wait two whole months, as if tomorrow is guaranteed, to make big changes in your life? Doesn’t that sound more like procrastination more than anything? I mean, why not start right now? Like…right now.
More or less, that’s what this article is about. In the spirit of seizing the day and also in honor of those who may put stock into the turn of a calendar year, here 10 things that, by getting rid of them, you can feel lighter, more focused and ready for your new season — whether to you, that is tomorrow, next week or yes, January 1, 2022 (sounds crazy to say, doesn’t it? Whew, chile!).
1. Expired Stuff
There is nothing like buying some canned goods, telling yourself that you’re going to use them, and then when you finally get around to it, you realize that because they were put way back in the back of your pantry, they now are totally expired (le sigh). Y’all, I don’t care if it’s food (including spices), make-up, sunscreen, medicine, tea bags (yes, tea expires; the only food that doesn’t is honey), eyeglasses (get your annual exam; lens prescriptions can also expire); motor oil; paint or batteries — if it had an expiration date on it when you bought it, check it now to see if it’s expired or not. If it is, it’s not going to benefit you on any level at this point, so it’s time to let it go.
2. Certain Streaming Apps
Recently, I was teasing a friend of mine who, a couple of years ago, tried to be slightly high ‘n mighty about the fact that, while I still had cable, she had “downsized” to streaming apps. As we were comparing notes on how that’s been going, she is now paying about $75 more than what my monthly bill is. Listen, I know that the pandemic’s lockdown had us all thinking that we were going to watch more television than ever but, looking back, is that even really true? As grandpa used to say (on loop), money doesn’t grow on trees and there’s no point in wasting money on streaming apps that you only barely watch, right? Cut some of those subscriptions so that you can put those coins to much better use.
3. Clothes (and Shoes) You Haven’t Worn in 1.5 Years
OK, most interior designers, stylists, and professional organizers will say that if you haven’t worn something within a calendar year, you need to either donate it, sell it or toss it. I know that most of us aren’t going to do that which is why I extended a grace period of six more months. I’m about to actually do some getting rid of things in a couple of weeks, not because I don’t adore all of my fashion investments but because I treat my closets like I do my weight — when something doesn’t fit anymore (my body or in my closet), that’s my cue to do some transitioning.
Besides, from a lot of the studies that I’ve read, Americans only wear about 18 percent of what’s in their wardrobe. So, why keep holding onto things that you haven’t worn in three years now, just because you like them? Hell, if that was true, you’d be wearing it all more often. Yeah…it’s time to move on.
4. The Old Make-Up in Your Bathroom Drawer
Although I’m not a huge make-up wearer, a sistah does adore some mascara and lip color (the lip thing is totally out of control!). And I must admit that back in the day, I didn’t change my mascara as often as I should have (which needs to happen every 2-3 months). Honestly, I’ve got some lipstick that has far exceeded its shelf life at this point too (those are supposed to be swapped out every six months or so). We’ve all got a cosmetics drawer; it’s a rite of passage for women. One day, put on some of your favorite music and clean yours out. I promise you that you’ve got something lingering in there that your skin has been ready (past ready) for you to get rid of. If you need a bit of a cheat sheet on what to do, check out “When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?”.
5. Memorabilia from Your Ex
Pardon the pun but I’m still unpacking why so many of us like to keep things from our ex (or exes). I mean, I get that some memories are precious but if something is truly over, I’m not sure how much holding on to memorabilia is going to help any of us to move fully forward. I mean, isn’t the fact that most of our past is on social media, so it’s not like we can’t hop onto a site and catch up on their world in 10 minutes or less (please try and keep that down to a minimum, by the way)? That said, if things ended well and clean and you can look back with peace and closure, I guess a pic or two isn’t too bad.
Yet if there’s a part of you that is still hanging on (when he is not) or you are close to tears every time you look at that birthday card that he got you two years ago, sis, stop torturing yourself. Things carry a certain amount of energy. Clear out the power of things that are holding you hostage on an emotional level so that you can get some fresh and new life into your space.
6. Unnecessary Social Media (and Emails)
Earlier this year, Google mail told me that my box was about to be full (do you know many emails you’ve got to have for that to happen?!). When I went to investigate what was up, I was still holding onto Facebook messages and notifications, and chile, I haven’t been on there in close to 15 years at this point. Once I cleared a few thousand of those out and then got rid of some of my promotional emails and old emails from folks I don’t interact with anymore, Google stopped sending me those warnings. Paper trails are wise to a point, even in social media and email form.
At the same time, you know there’s stuff that you’ve got that you absolutely don’t need anymore. It’s gonna be a bit of a headache to go through all of that stuff yet one day, while watching a movie, do it. I promise that seeing those numbers of unread (or not dealt with) emails and unfollowing some folks who either are out of your algorithm at this point or who bring nothing beneficial to your life will cause you to feel so much better.
7. Stuff That Makes You Busy but Isn’t Really Productive
A word that I have spent a lot of 2020 and 2021 trying to use a whole lot less is “busy.” While there is no solid right or wrong here, to me, it just sounds kind of pretentious to tell someone that I can’t do something due to how busy I am. I think a part of the reason why I feel that way is because I wholeheartedly believe that none of us are too "busy” to do something; we simply prioritize what we want to do. That said, what I also believe is sometimes we can get caught up in stuff that doesn’t really help us out, one way or another. For instance, there are a couple of clients who I’ve reduced the amount of time that I spend with them. Why? Because they are super cyclic and so, even though they pay me, it’s starting to become a waste of my time to be as invested in them as I’ve been when there are other people who are more serious about hitting certain relational goals.
Also, when it comes to writing opportunities that are presented to me, I’m more thoughtful about what I agree to do. I’ve been writing for 21 years now. I’m by no means a novice and so, not everything is a “great opportunity,” just because it’s pitched that way. Stuff has to honor my purpose, my time, and my mental and emotional bandwidth. If it doesn’t, more and more these days, it’s gotta go.
Before the calendar year ends, do some processing in this lane. If there is something or someone who is keeping you busy yet you know it or they are not really productive in the long run, at the very least, reduce the time that you are spending on it or with them. We all only get 24 hours and life is shorter than we think it is. It’s important that we are as productive as possible. This brings me to my next point.
8. Whatever Drains You Without Benefiting You
When something or someone benefits you, they are advantageous. Some synonyms for that word include helpful, worthwhile and for your best (FOR YOUR BEST). On the flip side, when something or someone drains you, they deplete you of your resources and/or energy. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how important it is to be responsible with both of those items. You know, over the past couple of years, I’ve had to make some somewhat challenging decisions to release people who drain me because I know that my energy is my life source and spending a lot of time caught up in their drama, their manipulation, or even just their selfishness was depleting me of what I needed in order to manifest certain goals and aspirations.
Just like being busy can be really counterproductive, being drained can be such a waste. Sis, only you know what people, places, things, and ideas are taking more than they’re giving. Now is just as good of a time as any to shift some of those things out of your way — too.
9. Your Grudges
A writer by the name of Sherrilyn Kenyon once said, “Grudges seldom hurt anyone but the one bearing them.” Agreed. That said, one of my favorite takeaways from this year is that generalizations oftentimes stem from pure bitterness (check out “Ever Wonder What It Means To Be Bitter? The Answer Might Surprise You.”). It might be a bit of “red pill thinking” (or maybe just a good dose of spiritual enlightenment) but I really don't get how people think it's empowering to hold grudges and refuse to forgive other people.
Now am I all for setting up some boundaries and making sure that you learn from the experiences that put you in the position to hold any grudge and struggle with unforgivingness in the first place? 1000 times 1000 percent. All I’m saying is, there’s a really huge possibility that no one is really losing sleep over your grudge than you. And so keeping it is such a waste of that precious energy that I was just talking about; energy that could be directed into something (or someone) that will make you see that getting past the grudge is far better than holding onto it.
That stuff in the trunk of your car. Old condiments and plastic utensils from fast food spots. Books you haven’t looked at in five years. Magazines. CDs and DVDs. Lawd, those plastic bags that are underneath your kitchen sink. Containers that no longer have a lid. Hangers that have lost their shape. Junk jewelry. Office supplies. That nasty ass loofah (you know those are supposed to be replaced once a month, right?). I’m sure that I’ve named at least one thing that you know you’ve got that you also know needs to be tossed into the trash.
By definition, junk is “anything that is regarded as worthless, meaningless, or contemptible; trash.” Basically, junk is clutter. It’s physical clutter that can oftentimes trigger mental and emotional clutter. Why keep something that is worthless? Before 2022 creeps up on you, get that junk out of your space so that you can relax so much easier. Amen? Hallelujah, chile!
Featured image by Getty Images
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
As I move through life and experience different highs and lows, one thing that has become increasingly clear is the importance of self-love and self-worth. Now, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I do feel like if it’s in a good place, people experience life more fully. And when it comes to love, my friend Amanda Wicks and her husband, Will Ford, are the perfect example.
Amanda may not remember this, but years ago, on one of her many visits back to Atlanta (we both went to Clark Atlanta University), she sat across from me at a dinner table and declared she was done looking for love. She was happy with who she was, and while she still desired it, it was no longer something she was chasing. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. The statement was so bold it made me quickly reroute our usual dating story catch-ups and awkwardly move to a different topic.
Well, the next time we met up, she told me she had met someone and was moving to Houston to live with him. Imagine my surprise and concern. Later, I’d find out that this decision, like so many other elements of their relationship, flowed naturally and organically. Their whole partnership has been full of peace and vulnerability.
Fast forward to today’s conversation, they’re still living together, celebrating four years of marriage, and planning to create a family. And while this stage of their story sounds generally normal, the way they got there is nothing but. Check out the "How We Met" feature below to see how a couple who never spoke on the phone and lived in different states ended up in a loving marriage full of ease, art, and authenticity.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Walk me through your ‘How We Met’ story.
Amanda: We met on Instagram (laughs). He followed me first, and I followed back because he does art, and I was intrigued by that. Honestly, we followed each other for a while before we connected. But I remember one day I saw a post where he had on a Martin t-shirt that I liked, and that sparked our conversation. He ended up telling me he made the shirt and actually mailed me one. So when I got it, I made a post wearing it, and that’s where the conversation started. Since that day we’ve communicated every day since.
Will: Yeah, I initially saw her on a short-hair Instagram page and followed her because I thought she was attractive. I actually showed her to my co-workers on one of our monthly outings as an example of my “type” – something I had never done. But one thing I will say is, I noticed she had on a Nina Simone shirt in one of her photos, that’s what got me. It showed she had more depth.
I guess that answers my next question. Did you have an initial attraction to each other?
Will: (Laughs) Yeah, I did.
Amanda: For me, no. I just wasn’t looking at him through that lens. I didn’t follow him because he was attractive. I don’t follow people online because of that. I actually remember a time when we were going back and forth, and I was like, “Aye, you kinda cute.” It was a specific moment. Once I started looking through his page more often, I started to view him that way, but it still was more of an acknowledgment. We really connected primarily because of our creative interests.
So, how did it go to the next level?
Amanda: I was in Nashville, and he was in Houston. But I’m somebody where if I feel like doing something, I’m going to do it. I had been meaning to go to Houston for a while to see a friend, so I felt like it was the perfect combination of a circumstance. We had been talking a lot, and I knew I liked him as a person and really wanted to meet him, but of course, I was aware of the idea that it could blossom into more. I remember I sent him a text saying, “Would you think I was crazy if I pulled up to Houston?”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What was your reply? Did you think she was crazy?
Will: In my mind, I was like, I don’t know. (Laughs) I wanted her to, though, so I wasn’t going to say yeah. It was a little wild, but I encouraged it.
Okay, so tell me about the date.
Amanda: I don’t know if you’d call it our first “date,” but the first time we met, we went to a skating rink. I was a little nervous about meeting him in person. Like, what if we don’t have chemistry – that was in the back of my head a little. But I brought my friend with me as a buffer, and thank God I did because he was so quiet the whole night. I literally can’t think of one thing he said the entire time. But the saving grace was that we had built a rapport. We reconnected the following night and were together until 5 a.m. – just sitting there talking. We ended up spending the whole weekend together.
Will: I’m socially awkward if I don’t know you. Also, before the date, I didn’t know what she sounded like or anything because, that’s another thing, we hadn’t talked on the phone. (They both really don’t like phone calls, so everything was through texts at this point.) I guess I could say I was kinda nervous, too. I had never met someone through social media, and then here I was, meeting her in person at a skating rink. I hadn’t skated in years, I was hoping I didn’t fall. But we had just been talking so much that I was open to it.
What made you want to take that risk?
Will: She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around.
Amanda: I don’t think it was anything specific. It’s not hard for me to connect with people. But there were no red flags. We align across the board. That was different. We really connect on how we see the world.
"She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around."
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Out of curiosity, what are your love languages?
Amanda: I connect with all of them. I think it just depends on what I’ve been lacking. I appreciate words of affirmation because I’m so big on actions that I like those bold statements of love, and of course, I appreciate quality time. The older I get, the more I appreciate physical touch, but that’s not something I need. With receiving gifts, I like thoughtfulness, and I like giving thoughtful gifts, too. But acts of service is for sure my biggest one. I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most.
"I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most."
Will: I think it all depends on how I’m feeling, too. But probably also acts of service. I like how Amanda will buy me deodorant when I run out (laughs). She just does so much all the time to show that I’m thought of.
At what point in your connection did y’all have the “what are we” conversation?
Will: I don’t think we ever had that convo. We never defined anything, we just kinda went with how it was going. However, I knew I wanted it to be more serious when I went to visit her. She had been coming to Houston once a month, and I went to Florida (she was there for work) to see her. I realized I felt comfortable coming into her space, too. That gave me that last little bit of whatever I needed.
Amanda: Yeah, I can’t say I had a defined moment like that. But again, as we had more and more interactions, there were just no red flags. The more we thought about it, the more we realized no matter where we went relationship-wise, we were adamant about being a part of each other’s lives. We never had the “talking to other people” conversation or anything. But we did both understand we weren’t going anywhere. Eventually, it graduated to convos around building a life together, but even that was over six months in. I just liked him as a person.
Have there been any negative revelations that your partnership and marriage have taught you about yourself?
Amanda: I’ve always felt that partnership is supposed to make the other person’s life easier. For me, it was a struggle to let someone help me in all the ways I didn’t really know I needed help. As I started having less capacity, I had to realize that it doesn't work anymore. It was hard for me to acknowledge and ask for help. I think that’s something I am still coming to terms with, even with other relationships in my life.
Will: I think I’m learning and still learning how to get out of my head. I’m the kind of person who always has to visualize stuff before it happens. And this relationship is the first thing that I don’t do that with. Of course, we plan stuff, but I know it’s gonna be good regardless. It allows me to stay in the moment. If I can do that with this, which is the most important thing to me, why can’t I do that with other things?
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What challenges have you faced together?
Will: For me, the preconceived challenge was living together. I’ve never lived with a woman before. Even in my previous relationship, it was long-distance. I’m also the type of person that likes my space, but as soon as she got here, that was out the window. It was so smooth it made me feel stupid for questioning it.
Amanda: I’m grateful to say we don’t necessarily have challenges between each other together. But we have been struggling with infertility and health issues. Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way. But that’s an example of how having someone else there can be helpful. I was so functional as a full-blown individual doing everything by myself.
So, in my head, I don’t need anyone, but having someone there who is happy to support me has taught me it’s okay to welcome that. It’s made us stronger because it’s taught us how we both function under duress – it’s good to know it’s not terrible (laughs).
"Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way."
What are some of the shared values that are important to your relationship?
Will: How we see life, what we’re here for, and how you’re supposed to treat people. It sounds really simple, but it’s not as common as you think.
Amanda: We value being really good people – without strings. We both don’t value money, but we value stability. So we don’t have to endure the “why are you not hustling” arguments. We were both stable people individually, and we came together. Also, we both value meaningful connections, alone time, reflection, and family. That guides us in what we do and how we build a life.
Finally, what is your favorite thing about each other?
Amanda: I’ll say one of my favorite things about him is that he’s brilliant. I view myself as a smart person, but in my head, he can do what I’m doing ten times faster. There are times I want to push myself to do stuff, and I’ll just ask him because I know he can do it. It’s incredible.
Will: My favorite thing about her is how people see her. Being a witness to how important she is to other people’s lives is amazing. Standing to the side and seeing how she affects them is really special.
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Feature image courtesy of Amanda Hicks and Will Ford
Hip-hop and its influences are everywhere! It started in the South Bronx 50 years ago and was born from the social and economic disparities of a forgotten part of New York City struggling with poverty, drugs, and crime. Before it was called hip-hop, it was called "the culture," which included four elements: DJing, emceeing, B-boying or B-girling, and graffiti.
Throughout history, people of color have created innovative and transforming expressions of art within challenging environments. Hip-hop was created by men, who used it as a tool to dream bigger than their reality. It was supported by women with a vision that propelled the culture forward.
The Early Vision
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One of the groundbreaking groups in the early days of hip-hop was Funky Four plus One More, featuring M.C. Sha Rock, the first female of hip-hop culture.
"I'm the first female of hip-hop culture! I started as a B-girl, carrying records to the parties, and my presence elevated there," Sha-Rock shared with xoNecole. "I was fortunate to be a member of the first hip-hop group ever to appear on national television. My group appeared on Saturday Night Live, hosted by Deborah Harry of Blondie in 1981." Today, Sha-Rock is making waves on the radio show Rock the Bells and touring all across the U.S. to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of hip-hop. Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, recently declared June 3 as M.C. Sha Rock Day.
Sylvia Robinson's foresight and belief in hip-hop's potential laid the foundation for the genre's success today. Despite major record companies' lack of interest, Robinson released hip-hop on vinyl independently on her Sugar Hill Records label.
Other women from that era included vocalist Angie Stone and the hip-hop trio The Sequence. "I speak for the group when I say we want to thank everyone who has acknowledged us this late in the game," she said. "My group was the first female hip-hop group signed to Sugar Hill Records. In our song 'Funk You Up,' we mixed the element of vocals with hip-hop, which is still prominent today."
"My group was the first female hip-hop group signed to Sugar Hill Records. In our song 'Funk You Up,' we mixed the element of vocals with hip-hop, which is still prominent today."
Stone would go on to become an integral part of the early neo-soul movement in music and has continued to have a successful career for more than four decades. Her latest album, Love Language, is available now on streaming services.
Passing The Torch
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
The trailblazing achievements of female Hip-Hop artists in the early days paved the way for future generations. The 2023 Netflix documentary Ladies First: A Story of Women In Hip-Hopnarrates the stories of game changers like Salt-N-Pepa, whose record sales exceeded 15 million, making them one of the most successful female hip-hop groups ever. Roxanne Shanté was known as one of the first battle rappers, fearlessly taking on some of the most skilled lyricists in the game. There was MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Queen Latifah, and J.J. Fad, the first female hip-hop group nominated for a Grammy.
In the '90s, there was a rise of female rappers such as Lil' Kim and Trina, who unapologetically embraced their sexuality, leading the way for the creation of a sub-genre of hip-hop called "pussy rap."
Trailblazing women like Missy Elliott introduced us to eccentric personas, setting the stage for artists like Nicki Minaj to push the boundaries further.
KMazur / Contributor/Getty
In the '90s, there was a rise of independent hip-hop labels like Def Jam and Bad Boy, both started by men. However, many women behind the scenes helped keep the hip-hop culture alive. Unfortunately, these women often do not receive their flowers for their contributions. Michelle Joyce, former director of marketing, and Lajoyce Brookshire, former head of publicity at Bad Boy Records, were surprised by the lack of women mentioned in the documentaryCan't Stop, Won't Stop.
As a result, they collaborated on a book calledWomen Behind The Mic: Curators of Pop Culture, which features 22 stories of women record company executives who helped shape the careers of some of hip-hop's most influential artists.
"The industry was male-dominated, and we had to fight to get our voices heard. However, we formed a strong bond with other women," the authors shared with xoNecole. "We created a lasting sisterhood we still cherish to this day."
Jennifer Perry, a former features writer at The Source, added, "Women helped to influence hip-hop's style, culture, and trajectory. Still, because we're in a male-centered world, women were regulated to roles of reduced acknowledgment, participation, and financial compensation."
"Women helped to influence hip-hop's style, culture, and trajectory. Still, because we're in a male-centered world, women were regulated to roles of reduced acknowledgment, participation, and financial compensation."
During the '90s, April Walker, creator of the urban clothing brand Walker Wear, emerged in urban hip-hop fashion. Her designs were loved by old-school artists like Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Wu-Tang Clan and are still sported by Joey Bada$$ today. In a recent interview, Walker shared her experiences as a woman in the fashion industry, stating that it is a microcosm of a male-dominated society. Despite this, she believed in herself and her talents and stood up for herself when necessary.
Her commitment to her craft ultimately paid off as the world stood up to assist her in achieving her dreams. Stacy Gray, a renowned hair stylist in the celebrity world, shared that she owed a significant portion of her successful career to the hip-hop industry. She began her journey working with some of the most prominent hip-hop artists and has been thriving in the field for over 25 years.
According to Gray, hip-hop allowed her to embrace her creativity and showcase her skills to the world; she will always be grateful.
Women in hip-hop have played an integral role in shaping the culture and have paved the way for a quintessential part of its narrative through triumphs and struggles. We are all a part of hip-hop, and it is up to us to continue to push the envelope forward.
Tami Cooper, former manager of Mobb Deep, has shared some inspiring words for the next generation of women in hip hop: "Build your networks, embrace your uniqueness, and stay informed and confident."
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