For all my ladies looking to indulge in a little more than chocolate and wine this month, xoNecole is here to help. We've rounded up more than your fair share of eye candy and we found out exactly what they're looking for in love and how they personally care for their women. From musicians and models to poets and actors, these amazing men are sure to make your heart skip a beat. Check out these gorgeous MCMs and don't ever say we never did anything nice for you. We always got you, sis.
Meet Anthony Okray Jr..
Anthony Okray Jr. is a talented model hailing from South Central LA. He recently starred alongside J. Lo for her music video "Te Bote 2." And when he's not making women swoon with his good looks, he's wooing them with his words. A true writer at heart and poet, he'll be publishing two books of poetry in the near future. Anthony is definitely one to watch so indulge responsibly ladies...
On the top qualities he looks for in a woman…
"First and foremost, she must in some way, shape, or form resemble the qualities of my mother. Qualities that I look for in a woman would have to be compassion, ambition, confidence, and intelligence."
On his ideal date…
"My ideal date would honestly consist of myself and the person accompanying me simply gaining better insight of each other. It doesn't necessarily have to consist of anything monetary. We could chill on the beach, sip wine, and enjoy each other's company. As long as I'm able to further my understanding of that person, then nothing else matters. The only thing that I'm concerned with is creating memories and vibrations that won't ever be forgotten."
On what he’s learned from his last serious relationship…
"My last relationship taught me multiple lessons, but my main inference would be that no matter how much you love someone--that does not promise they'll be in your life forever. It took me a while to understand that the abundance of love that you emit is all that you can give. How that person receives it and what they choose to do with it is dependent [on] them."
On his major deal-breakers…
"One of the major deal-breakers for me in a relationship would have to be liars. But not just any liars, the compulsive/habitual liars. Another deal breaker for me would be someone who lacks a sense of humor and self-confidence. Also, a person who's unmotivated or not determined to transcend beyond where they currently are. I thrive off passion and people who are driven to become better. Lastly, a person who cannot hold an intellectual conversion. I value mental connections that go beyond your average 'wyd' conversation."
"I love being mentally stimulated, it turns me on more than anything else."
Courtesy of Anthony Okray Jr.
On the toughest part about dating nowadays…
"Man, this is the question! In my eyes the most difficult component of dating in this day in age is the fact that everyone is so damaged and distracted. My concern is that many people have become content with being this way and are not actively seeking ways to heal themselves. We tend to move from relationship to relationship without ever properly assessing our open wounds. We end hurting people who simply want to love us but since we are so hurt, we cannot determine their true intentions. I also feel like social media interferes. It distracts us from reality because so much is at our access.
"Social media has a way of eliminating certain things which we would be intrigued by and people form judgments based on our profiles. This to me ties in with our cellular devices which I feel people spend too much time on. People rarely listen with their undivided attention these days and everything is about how many likes you can obtain as well as validation."
On how he makes his special woman feel loved…
"I think the main thing you want to achieve when making your woman feel special is just making sure that she is aware of how special she truly is. Ensuring that she understands that she is beautiful as a person.
"Reassurance is also important; your lady has to be certain of you and your intentions with her. I like to remind my woman that I am hers and I do not plan on involving myself with anyone else the way I do with her.
"I don't think materialism is important, although I do believe from time to time you should indulge simply because it's deserved. It should not be the focal point. Your woman knows she is special when you give her you time, when you listen to her attentively."
On the first thing he notices about a woman when she walks into a room…
"When a fly woman walks into the room, the first thing that I notice is her energy and confidence. I notice the way that she draws attention and how she can change the entire scenery and shift the focus towards her. I notice the way she carries herself, like if she's capable of standing on her own two feet and accomplishing whatever she sets out to do."
His relationship status…
"I'm definitely single; I'm dating myself actually, trying to get to know myself better. I'm trying to figure out exactly what I like and vice versa."
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
I know it’s an unpopular opinion these days, but I still like setting goals for the New Year. I think it gives you a tangible reason to revisit old desires and achieve new ones. That’s why every year on NYE, I write down my aspirations for the next 365 days on a whiteboard in my bedroom – that way, it stares me in my face, and I’m forced to be held accountable. But this year, something stuck out to me: improving my finances had made the top of the list – again. That’s when it dawned on me. I need more of a financial plan. “Saving better and making more” wasn’t making enough of an impact. That’s why I’m so grateful for women like Cynthia Smith and her vulnerability. Because when you know better, you do better.
Cynthia Smith is a renowned financial expert, business coach, serial entrepreneur, and author of Untangling the Ledger. The self-made millionaire started her tax service with only $500, and today, she’s made up to $100,000 a month through varied business efforts. But as expected, she had a plan for every dollar she made, and it was a journey.
“Before taxes, I worked in oil and gas. I’ve been making six figures since I was 26 years old, but I had poor money-managing skills. Also, I had twins at 18. So, anything they wanted, they got,” she admitted. “But as I got older, I realized I wanted to do more, so I had to stop spending so much to allow my bank account to grow. I positioned my mind to get uncomfortable with over-spending. As a people, we don’t teach money management, and it’s important.”
While she’s unique in the sense that her 9-to-5 allowed her to live generally comfortably, she still enjoyed doing taxes as her side hustle. Cynthia comically shared how she’d initially meet people at coffee shops to use the free wifi. But, like many, her main source of income started to come at the expense of her peace. “I recall being on my last project, and it was a hard project to be on because there were so many egos. I started to feel like why am I here? I had a successful business, but my job was my crutch,” she explained.
Once she became a full-time tax accountant, she started to experience extreme highs and lows and learned quite a bit along the way. “Some people look on the outside and don’t realize the hard work. There were nights I cried and nights I had to make payroll when I was still working,” she said. “At some points, I’ve had a $10k payroll, along with a mortgage, and still had to support my twins.”
There’s also been struggles she’s endured throughout the company’s process. “My business is predominantly women, and we usually get along well. But I had one messy situation. There’s been times where I could’ve been a better leader or manager or explained components better,” she confessed. “Now, when we’re together, we’re family, but I also don’t allow anyone to put holes in my ship.”
In addition to her accountability and hard work, Cynthia credits varied streams of income and responsible spending to her financial success. “I wasn’t strict in the past. But I started budgeting in 2017. The twins were in college so I had to change how I was spending, and I maintained that discipline. Now, as an empty-nester, I spend less. I don’t purchase large items every day.” Today, Cynthia owns her tax office, tax franchise, a tax software, skincare line, and teaches taxes. In their entirety, the tax offices have roughly 8,000 clients.
She also differs from a lot of her peers in how she invests. Most of her investments are primarily into her own endeavors, like the skincare line and tax software – not stocks and bonds. “When it comes to anything, I like to see a fast turnaround. I like to see where it’s going; I don’t like to wait. I made over $1 million in less than six months,” she said. “It may not be the right way, but that’s how I operate. However, I maxed out my sons’ 401k. I’ve seen the market go up and down, but that’s one of my favorite things I took from my oil and gas job.”
When asked what other financial tips she has for our readers, she mentioned the importance of credit and budgeting. “Instead of using my own cash, I use credit cards. Get one with points. For my birthday, I took my boys and my baby sister to Vegas. All of their trips and vacations were paid for by points,” she explained. She also encouraged eating in and being very specific with your budgeting spreadsheet. “For 2024, forget the outside. You don’t have to be in the in-crowd. Walk your journey. Read the fine print, and block out the outside noise. Focus on you and growing and learning yourself and passion.”
She continued, “My money mantra is to ask God to do exceedingly above all that I ask for and make me a good stewardess over my family. I put God first, and I know it’s nothing but him that keeps me going. Looking into the future, her goal is to become bill-free and have little overhead. “When I reach 50, I don’t wanna worry about my mortgage, and I want to retire.”
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