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 email@example.com. 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
Zoe Saldaña is raising her sons to mirror her in the most incredible way.
The From Scratch star opened up to PEOPLE in an exclusive where she spoke about leading her household by example, the different seasons of parenthood, and teaching her boys to embrace their femininity.
The 45-year-old actress is a mother to three sons that she shares with her husband and longtime love Marco Perego-Saldaña. The couple have twin sons, 8-year-olds Cy and Bowie, and a 6-year-old named Zen. The working mom never hesitates to be transparent about the delicate balance that is headlining films while raising a family.
Zoe told PEOPLE that she regards parenthood as "the most amazing thing," but she doesn't take the impact she has in molding her sons lightly.
"We are here to set very big tones for them in life on how to be, how to react, how to regulate, how to repair, how to heal, how to stand up for yourself. So they're going to be constantly mirroring what you do, knowing that you're being observed at all times," she explained.
Zoe credited communication and teamwork as a saving grace for how she and her husband Marco are able to adapt and adjust depending on their busy schedules. The star told the outlet that they are "very honest with each other about what your bandwidth feels like it can be."
She continued, "Certain seasons, I'm the one that may be taking over all of the domestic operations so that my husband can mentally break away and focus on his creativity. And other seasons when I go completely back into work mode, then we're switching off. I don't think it's ever an even share of the load, which is why I think it's important to be absolutely transparent with your bandwidth and where you are and how you're doing."
Zoe has also been candid about her belief in not instilling gender roles into her boys. Instead of adopting a mantra of "boys will be boys," Zoe and her husband take their approach to parenthood as an opportunity to teach their sons "to honor and celebrate women." Just as important to Zoe is showing Cy, Bowie, and Zen how to also "honor themselves, their femininity, to celebrate their feminine self as well."
"We're very hard on our boys the same way we're hard on women. And boys are encouraged to be strong and to suppress their emotions. And then once you learn to do that so much for so long, you become completely excommunicated from your feelings," Zoe explained to PEOPLE.
She added, "We definitely understood the assignments and accepted it knowing that we were raising boys during a time when women's movements are so important."
This isn't the first time the Avatar star has touched on the importance of a strong female presence in her growing boys' lives. Back in 2017, the Marvel actress told Yahoo Style about her young sons' superhero obsessions at the time.
"My boys are obsessed with female superheroes. And we have to search high and low to find these toys. [My sons] are demanding a female presence as much as a male presence. I am accepting this ironic challenge that this universe has presented to me."
In the past, Zoe has also been vocal about the importance of a village when raising a child and dispelling the myth of "having it all" and instead embracing "compromise" and "sacrifice" in her reality as a working mom.
“Our assistant, our nanny, and our housekeeper. They are literally raising our children with us,” she told Yahoo Style in 2017. “It’s because of them I am able to rip myself away as long as I can, and my husband as well, to do what we do. They’re teaching us how to manage our pain as they’re raising our kids with us … When you’re away a little too much, it compromises a lot more things. It’s a sacrifice and a pain that will never go away. You take every day at a time.”
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Featured image by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Fendi