7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before 2022 Officially Arrives
Something that I am really big on is doing things that will heighten self-awareness and tap into a deeper level of emotional intelligence. One thing that is sure to do that is self-introspection and one of the best practices for that is to ask yourself questions. While I’m pretty sure that, just like me, you can’t believe that we’re headed into — what in the world?! — 2022, before your calendar officially ushers in January 1, pull out one of your journals (‘cause I know you’ve probably got more than one) and ask yourself the following seven questions. If you’re serious about answering them, it could provide you with just the clarity that you need in order to move fully forward into a brand spanking new year.
1. “Did I Accomplish All That I Set Out to Do This Year?”
Something that I personally find to be pretty unfortunate is how so many people think that focusing solely on their looks is what will make them feel good about themselves when it’s actually setting goals and reaching them that will take their self-confidence to an entirely new level. Keeping that in mind, when you reflect on these past 12 months, what did you accomplish that you are truly proud of? For instance, for me, I set out to make real and complete peace with how some of my past trauma and poor decisions as a result of said trauma have resulted in some of my current outcomes.
An example? Being sexually molested as a child and teen definitely played a role in my abortions (long story) which resulted in years of healing which resulted in my being in my late 40s now with no children. I am not someone who will say I don’t have some regrets tied into all of this (check out “Why Regret Might Not Always Be A Bad Thing”) because I do. Regret means remorse and having remorse is a good thing. Anyway, even though my cycles (periods) are still on-point and I’ve got more than a few good eggs (I roll my eyes at my doctor whenever we discuss it), I’m at peace with not being a mom now — partly by circumstance and partly by choice. And because I set out this year to get to this space, I now look at where I am in life as a new season rather than replaying so many woulda-coulda-shouldas. And yes, that is a big accomplishment in my world because I am confident that I will make decisions out of wholeness, not fear.
I’m sharing all of this to say that an accomplishment doesn’t have to be professional or even huge. It just needs to be something that you wanted to get done and you did. When it comes to what you said you were going to focus on in 2021, what can you put a gold star on with pride? Whatever it is, pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned it.
2. “Am I As Devoted to My Purpose As I Need to Be?”
Let me tell you two things that I will fight to the death over — my purpose and my peace of mind. I don’t care what person, place, thing, or idea is trying to stand in the way, if you’re not an “ally” in those areas for me, you’ve gotta go. You just do. That’s how loyal I am when it comes to why I was put on this planet and what kind of mentality I need to have in order to manifest my purpose on a daily basis.
You know, one of the worst things that you can ever do with your time and really, your life overall, is to never really know, with complete clarity, what your purpose is (check out “5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose” and “How To Handle ‘Purpose Fatigue’”). The next thing is to allow so many other things to distract you that you never end up fulfilling it. Only you know if you’ve been as loyal and committed to the reason why you were put on this planet, to begin with. The good news is if you haven’t been, there is no time like the present to do some serious and significant rerouting. Make sure that you bring peacefulness along with you. Your purpose will not fulfill itself without it.
3. “Am I Spending? Or Investing?” (Across the Board)
I recently saw a tweet where someone was saying that we should stop investing in people who don’t really care about us. My immediate thought was, “If you’re not in something that consists of consistent reciprocity, you aren’t ‘investing’, you are spending. And honestly, you actually could be wasting time, resources, energy, etc.”
Mark 2:22(NKJV) says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” This basically means that it makes no sense to put what is new into what is old because you’ll end up wasting (some of) it. Matthew 7:6(NKJV) says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” For the record, one definition of swine is “a coarse, gross, or brutishly sensual person”; another is “a contemptible person”. When dealing with “swine”, it doesn’t know how to value you because, well, it’s swine.
So yes, when you put these verses together and you apply them to this particular question because time is short and life is far too precious, it is absolutely imperative that you reflect on who and what are actual investments and who and what is actually causing you to spend without getting much of a return or waste without anything to show for it at all. I don’t care if it’s personally or professionally, familial, platonic or romantic — you deserve to have people invest in you as much as you choose to invest in them. Is that currently happening in your life or…not?
4. “Who Do I Need to Get Closure From?”
The more I talk to people who prefer to ghost someone rather than get closure with them, the more I have come to the personal conclusion that far too many people function from a place of fear. A part of the reason why I’m such a fan of closure is because I communicate for a living and, even when something comes to an end, I think the dignity of communicating is important. Another reason is because oftentimes, bitterness, resentment, and unforgivingness can reside in people for years because they assume about what led to the breakdown of a relationship or situation rather than getting the information that will help them to truly know. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, the people in your future — the ones who have absolutely nothing to do with what someone else did to or didn’t do for you — deserve you getting closure so that they don’t have to overcompensate in areas that are absolutely not their issue or fault.
My dad took his life almost eight years ago. The amount of people who hurt him over the course of his life is endless. Some of those same people have hurt me, so I get it. Yet his approach was to ghost, internalize and use substances to ease the pain. Mine was to confront as many as possible to, at the very least, get the reasons behind why they did what they did. And because I got that closure, I know to not expect every person to be like those people. I know not to put a residue of pain onto everything. I also know the kind of foolishness that is in my bloodline, on both sides, that I absolutely and proactively need to avoid.
It takes courage to get closure. There ain’t no way around that. However, I am a personal testament to the fact that getting it is better than running from it. Standing firm rather than running is better across the board, actually. That’s another article for another time, though.
5. “Where Am I Spiritually?”
You can check out articles that I’ve written for the site like “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?”, “7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone”, “7 Spiritual Principles About Sex That Married Couples Should Never Forget”, “Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit” and “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul” and know that when I speak of “spiritual”, I am not talking about religion. What I do know, though, is if you don’t put your spiritual health and well-being above, pretty much anything else, everything else will suffer — if not immediately, eventually.
And just what are some telling signs that you are in a good place on the spiritual tip?
- Prayer and meditation are consistent practices.
- You function from a place of boldness rather than fear.
- You respond more than react.
- You would rather be happy than right.
- You know how to take accountability for your actions.
- You extend the kind of mercy and grace that you wish to receive.
- You make time for creativity.
- You see humility as a strength, not a weakness.
- Empathy and compassion are important to you.
- Your vibration is high.
If there’s one thing that this world doesn’t want you to be, it’s spiritual. After looking at some of these signs of spirituality, I’m pretty sure you can see why. As you think back on this past year, where did you flourish spiritually and where is there still a lot of room for improvement? Focusing on even one of these 10 things can make you such a better person. That, I can guarantee.
6. “Where Can I Improve When It Comes to Self-Care?”
Please sis, if you don’t do anything else in the upcoming year, free yourself from the bondage of thinking that maintenance is pampering. I speak from very up close and personal experience when I say this too because, prior to getting pedicures and waxes on a monthly basis, I used to see those things as a way to pamper myself. Nope. Those are maintenance. Pampering is about being self-indulgent for no other reason than you are worth it.
I believe that’s a good way to introduce this particular question because self-care is so paramount. And yes, it includes consistent maintenance, pampering, and also doing whatever will keep your mind, body, and spirit thriving. When it comes to what self-care actually means, one wise person said, “Be enough for yourself. The rest of the world can wait.” A mental health expert by the name of Katie Reed once said, “Self-care is giving the word the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” And civil rights leader Audre Lorde once said, “Self-care is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation.” Shoot, even Christ himself has gone on record as saying, “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” (Mark 12:30-31)
If you look up dictionary definitions of self-care, you will see words like “soothe,” “comfort” and “attending to one’s physical and mental health.” There are a lot of us who run on fumes, constantly, because we are finding ways to do these things for everyone and their grandma but ourselves. Shoot, some of us even struggle with feeling guilty for even contemplating putting ourselves on the top of our “care” list. If you are one of them, don’t. You can’t be your best genuine self without self-care and yes, that includes pampering. If you didn’t do it enough last year, make it the ultimate priority in the year that lies ahead.
7. “What Can I Do to Avoid Experiencing a ‘Rerun Life’?”
Y’all, I haven’t watched that Sex and the City reboot. For what? I barely even watch the reruns of the original show now…because I’ve pretty much outgrown them. The entertainment and sometimes ah-ha moments that they provided many moons ago, they don’t now. I’m a different person. I’m in a different headspace. What’s next? WHAT’S NEW? (Yes, I am yelling it because all of these reboots, chile, are doing THE most!)
A lot of my life is similar. These days, very few people, places, things, and ideas from my past hold my attention. Not because they didn’t serve their purpose or at least a reason — whatever that was — at the time; it’s just...very few people, places, things, and ideas are just so monumental to me now that I want to replay them over and over again. Sometimes I reflect for nostalgia’s sake and that’s cool. Other than that…again, what’s next? WHAT’S NEW?
Whenever I think of a “rerun life”, I think of that doggone hamster, running for dear life, in a wheel that is getting him absolutely nowhere. Listen, I don’t care if it’s at work, at home, in your friendships, when it comes to your spending habits, your church life, your health, sex, communication — y’all pick one…if you know that you are in your own hamster wheel, right now, jot down some ways where you can break all the way out in 2022. It makes absolutely no sense to spend (or is it waste?) all of that time, effort, and energy, blood, sweat, and tears on stuff that really isn’t getting you anywhere…isn’t expanding the quality of your life.
2022 is right up the street, y’all. The answers to these questions can help you to enter in on a higher plane. And who doesn’t deserve that? New year. New you. Let’s do this!
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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
I tried sliding into my crush’s DMs like Vanessa Hudgens successfully did to her soon-to-be husband, Cole Tucker, after she met him during a Zoom meditation group call. For me, it was akin to a backfired romance in a Mara Brock Akil comedy series.
At the wiser age of 30, I stopped side-eyeing online dating and acquiesced to the possibility of finding love in the digital realm. My one rule: He has to take the lead. I wouldn’t strike up a single conversation once the confetti cues burst that we’re a match. That rule trotted out the door once I swiped on a presumably tall, brawn, and accomplished venture capitalist sporting a million-dollar smile.
The clock was ticking; our match would expire in mere hours if one of us didn’t take the gambit. Screw it. I made the first intro, and the suave VC responded. Turned out we had a close mutual friend, too.
He had an upcoming business trip but said he’d reach out once he returned. I never heard from the VC guy until one year later when I mistakenly ambled into what felt like a zombie ambush at an intimate Thanksgiving gathering our mutual friend held. Then and there, I vowed never again to take the lead at the precipice of dating!
At 36, however, I surreptitiously stumbled across a mutual acquaintance who left me breathless at one of my girlfriend’s husband’s 40th surprise birthday celebration.
Mobilized by swoon-worthy anecdotes from countless women who successfully found love because they weren’t too shy to slide into their dream man’s DMs, I heeded the enticing call to a fortuitous meme: “Ladies, this is your sign to shoot your shot.”
He strolled into the decorated backyard, late, while the rest of us were enthralled by illusory magic tricks performed by a bookish magician; the real enigma was, who is this man who’s left me utterly captivated?
I tried to excavate more intel from my girlfriend, but she was incredibly tipsy from one too many of her husband’s themed cocktails to divulge. From the time I sashayed to the bar to standing across the extended dinner table for 30 – where we locked eyes and grinned at one another – until the end of the night, where I lolled in line for photo booth fun, I noticed Mystery Crush staring back at me.
“You have tree shrub on your butt,” a handsome guy with a stocky athletic build, who’d later introduce himself as B. warned me with a heavy southern drawl, as he and Mystery Crush chuckled. I blushed in embarrassment and swept the debris off my derriere.
Bright, professional lights flashed. I shook off the flub and angled every curve on my body, accentuated by my slinky black, backless dress.
“Let’s take a pic together,” B. smiled. I peered over my shoulder, watching Mystery Crush gazing back. Why couldn’t he be as vocal and proactive as B.? I agonized.
Later, as celebratory glasses clinked, B. boldly asked for my number, in hopes of snagging a copy of our photo and getting to know each other over lunch.
“I haven’t dated anyone in almost two-and-a-half years,” I hesitated, conjuring up any truthful excuse after B. casually revealed he was close friends with Mystery Crush.
Still, my racing heart couldn’t leave the party without officially meeting Mystery Crush. I had to know if his voice, intellect, and character matched his sultry vibe.
Channeling my inner badass Beyoncé, I meandered to him and introduced myself as I firmly shook his smooth cocoa hand. Aside from us exchanging names, no in-depth camaraderie followed.
That should’ve been a clue to relinquish any lingering feelings, but as a single woman who often comes across a smattering of gentlemen who rarely generate a mutual, palpable connection–coupled with a recent missed romantic opportunity in Mexico, I felt compelled to take the leap.
Hey. It was really great meeting you. You seemed afraid to talk to me, but I was really wishing you weren’t…
I hadn’t expected him to respond, however, within a couple of days, he DM’d me with his number. I replied with mine, squealing in excitement. Maybe taking the initiative favorably worked after all?
“Don’t call him. Wait for him to call you.” My sage hair stylist instructed me as she ran her fingers through my curly coils. “Of course not. I believe in attracting, not chasing.” I grinned.
Seven days passed since I first slid into Mystery Crush’s DMs. My optimism waned as calls from family, friends, and aggressively pesky scammers filled my phone log, but none from him, leaving me temporarily deflated. I resurfaced feeling empowered for confidently seeking after what I wanted–not from a place of desperation, but from a well of self-certainty and wholeness.
I’m a type A, go-getter accustomed to proactively risking it all for the unknown and receiving unrequited outcomes. It works wonders for my career; my love life… not so much.
A month prior, I’d just returned from an invigorating solo trip to Cabo, where I met two, late-30-something eligible men while I was enjoying an al fresco brunch buffet, overlooking the Sea of Cortez. One included a charming Black resident doctor who lived near me in LA. He struck up an amusing yet fruitless conversation while we picked over steamy mini waffles and dispensed fresh pressed juice. His geeky friend, however, mustered the courage to ask for my number.
As I was boarding my flight home later that day, a white middle-aged couple, who recognized me and my flowy white linen maxi dress from brunch, probed if the cute doctor connected with me after he expressed he was smitten.
“I told him he should’ve asked you, but he said he didn’t think you were interested,” the wife lamented. “That’s too bad, because I was waiting for him to ask me.”
The doctor’s misinterpretation of my interest and lack of initiation fueled my otherwise reserved proclivity to slide into Mystery Crush’s DMs.
I’m still a traditional millennial woman who appreciates the chivalrous elements of courting, and I’m perfectly content in waiting for my future love to spark the dating communication.
That’s how I’ll know he’s divinely meant for me.
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images