When you hear Amerie’s name, you think of her smash hits responsible for some of the most notable R&B lyrics of the early 2000s, like “Why Don’t We Fall In Love” and “1 Thing” - including the Eve remix. But there’s one more thing about Amerie that we can add to her resume in addition to being the sound of 2006, and that’s being an author.
The “Gotta Work” singer released her debut children’s picture book,You Will Do Great Things, inspired by her son River. With the development of her then-future son’s mind at the top of her mind, Amerie would read to River while he was in the womb in an effort to not only hear the sound of his mother’s voice but to relay sweet and meaningful messages as his organs and subconscious began to form simultaneously. “Maybe there would be that kind of cadence and that kind of feel he would be familiar with when he was born,” Amerie told me retrospectively during our phone interview.
Once River was born, she continued to read to him as regularly scheduled programming when he was inside of her, but it wasn’t until she held him in the natural world that Amerie realized how much she really wanted to share with this new life. Between 14 and 16 weeks old, Amerie noticed how her son began to turn the pages of books by himself because he was already so familiar with the cadence of his mother’s reading voice - even down to the indication of when a line was done on a page. While she realized that her son was able to recognize the action of reading, something clicked in the “Why R U” singer’s head that it was just as important for her son to see himself represented in the books that she was sharing with him.
“We would have books that feature kids from all different backgrounds, but I wanted more books in which he could see himself,” Amerie told xoNecole. “I really wanted to create a very special universal message book that was also very specific to how I was feeling. I knew that I was feeling pretty much how most parents feel, but that would have that beautiful and strong message about life, and all the things that he can do, and all the great things that I am certain he's going to do, and all the love that surrounds him from the past and the present. All of those things were in a book that featured a child who looked like him. That was extremely important to me.”
Following the release of her children’s book, I caught up with the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter about prioritizing self-love as a mother and wife, demystifying the notion that women can’t have it all, and addressing the fears of being a mother raising a Black son in America.
It’s This One Thing…About Reading
For as long as she could remember, Amerie turned to reading and the world of literature as a form of self-care and escapism from the physical beings around her. Whenever someone would ask her about her favorite hobbies, she would not hesitate to point to either the art of writing or the wonder of reading. She sees reading as a way to continue to expand her mind as an adult, to learn more about the world around her, and to "develop empathy" for new cultural backgrounds and walks of life.
In fact, she loves reading so much that she has a wall in her home dedicated to her collection of books in addition to all of the books located in her personal library, River's room, the guest room, and throughout her house. As a new author, she recognizes that the amount of vulnerability that she experiences as a writer is not equivalent to the feeling when she's writing a book.
While as a fictional author, people who may or may not like your work are not necessarily connected to you as a human being, Amerie acknowledges the powers that lie within her pen game as an author to convey messages of both society's shortcomings and beautiful beings in a children's book. "On one hand, I feel like there's safety because people could either not like the story or they will. It's no indictment on you, necessarily," Amerie explained. "However, when you write something, you really are letting people into your head. When you create these characters, because all these characters represent some part of yourself, it's really like laying yourself bare. In that way, you allow people to see a lot."
"When you create these characters, because all these characters represent some part of yourself, it's really like laying yourself bare. In that way, you allow people to see a lot.”
The “Pretty Brown Eyes” singer believes in the power of commitment to a book, especially when you have the reader’s eyes and ears for hours to the point in which they become the character. “It's that whole holding up the mirror to society and allowing people to see it in a way that's a little bit more subliminal than someone just having an outright conversation with someone who may or may not want to have that conversation,” Amerie said. “I think you’re able to tackle more regarding life in that way.”
In comparison to her music career, Amerie notes that you can impact someone in a shorter time span than a book because a song only lasts between 3-5 minutes on average. She leans on songs as a way to curate a vibe and evoke an immediate feeling as opposed to encouraging lingering thoughts about the state of the culture and the world around us.
“You can uplift, make them melancholy, make them kind of feel sad, make them reflect, make them want to dance. You really can control. It's almost like you're hijacking a person's emotions when you're creating music,” Amerie noted excitedly as she realized the power she possessed as a Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter.
Amerie continued, “Even though you're not letting them in your head, and you do have much more of a buffer between yourself and your art, as far as people may know how you're feeling, they don't necessarily know what you're thinking about any given thing. They may, depending on what you write, but it's not necessarily a given, unlike a book, where you have all these characters running around that are all these different parts of yourselves, but they will know what you're about to a certain extent when they're listening to the music.”
Nothing Like Loving Mommy
In addition to being a singer, songwriter, and author, there are two more roles that Amerie would always put above all - and that's being a mother and wife. But how does she do it all and take time to take care of herself?
"I actually don't put myself first. That's something I'm working on," she admittedly laughed.
While she acknowledges that she doesn't make herself a priority in her life, Amerie doesn't feel the need to check herself to do so. In fact, she's become so accustomed to how things are that she's begun to accept such is life. "I'm kind of fine with that, but I do realize that I do have to make time for myself too. I certainly don't put myself first. That's not what I do at all," she told xoNecole.
When she does have a moment, Amerie pours into herself through creation and writing, whether that be literary or musical. She even noted how her son is aware of when it's time to be creative and practice solitude, but River still enjoys being around his mother and being involved in all of her activities. "My son knows mommy's writing time. That's when mommy's doing the thing that I love to do," Amerie said. While she usually doesn't record her music while River is home, she does her best to incorporate her son into whenever "mommy's creating" because "it's fun for him."
Like anyone else who may be a full-time parent, career-driven woman, or an overall on-the-go human being, alone time is essential to recharge her battery, but Amerie practices an open-door policy with her son as an exception for interruption.
"He's the most important thing. He knows that I could be writing, but if it's really important like you really need to give me kisses or you need to tell me something, you can come in. It's an open door," Amerie told xoNecole. "That's important to me that he knows that because I never want him to grow up thinking that this one thing was more important than him, and I don't think he would think that because that's not how I present things."
Retrospectively, Amerie realized that she's only had about three or four massages since the birth of her four-year-old son, which her own husband encourages her to do more of. "The thing is, the way I handle my time is I have a lot to do, [but] I'm never going to sacrifice time from my child," she said adamantly.
Amerie continued, "Whatever I need to do, I can fit it in. We'll make it work. I'll stay up late or whatever it is, but those times are very important, like going with him to school, picking him up, family meals. Sometimes though, Mommy might have to miss dinner, and I don't like that, but [I'm] never missing bedtime because there's other certain things that for myself are important to me. "As she buckled down on her non-negotiables, she added that every parent has theirs, but she stands ten-toes down on hers, no matter how tough achieving the balance is.
"You always feel like there's a ball dropping somewhere, but my own personal thing is, I refuse to let the ball drop in the mom zone. I'm not going to do that," Amerie said powerfully. She thought back to her own parents, who she said were present in her life and encouraged her to do the best she can and always put her child first. However, she knew that it didn't mean to put herself on the back burner and not care for herself at all, but to know that child care and raising a human being is more than just cute Instagram moments and first words."It's such a beautiful gift, being a parent, and it's one that I take really seriously and that I love."
Why Don’t We Let Women Do It All?
Amerie has always been a proud multihyphenate, and she's not the first woman to do so by balancing motherhood, personal time, her professional life, and all while looking good doing it. We've seen Rihanna run her beauty empire with Baby Fenty No. 1 and No. 2 on the way, and we've seen Beyoncé be a mother of three while planning a world tour and dropping one of the best albums of the decade with Renaissance.
But why is it that we still don't have total faith that women can truly have it all? We asked Amerie, and she said that we certainly can - but with some caveats.
"I've always been a big believer in any person, and we're talking specifically about women, can have it all, but not necessarily at the same time. Because there will be concessions you have to make," Amerie explained. She continued to express that you can make sure with every fiber of your being that nothing goes wrong while you're in mommy mode. You may slow up or backlog in other areas of your life because you're not giving it that same energy or attention.
Amerie added, "Let's just say you are 'hashtag mommy-ing,' and you are able to balance your work as well because maybe you're staying up later. You're tired, but maybe you are not seeing your friends as much as you wanted to, so it's been harder to maintain more of your friendship. I do think that these things all come at a cost, and maybe you're just balancing it all, but that can be very, very difficult."
She fully acknowledged that women routinely carry a lot of the weight of parenting, both physically and emotionally, in addition to the weight of keeping their marriage alive, having friends, and keeping food on the table. In the same breath, Amerie wants women who empathize with her to know that they're doing the best they can with what they have - and it's okay to give yourself time and grace.
"I've always been a big believer in any person, and we're talking specifically about women, can have it all, but not necessarily at the same time. Because there will be concessions you have to make."
"It's important, I think, for moms to know and women to know that you're not failing. It's very easy to see people doing things and [seeing] they're doing it well, and they're making it look so effortless, and it's just like, Well, why can't I get this right? Why am I struggling? Why am I not able to be on top of everything? And no one's on top of it," Amerie reassured. "You can't compare because you don't really know what's going on in everyone's life."
As a suggestion, the singer noted that instead of focusing on how life can be in disarray and escaping for a few moments in between, one would be better off establishing balance by picking two areas to excel in and putting them at the top of the priority list.
"Everyone has those fears. Everyone wonders if they could do it. You can do a lot more than you think. You can handle a lot more than you think, but it's not something that you have to do just because you feel like everyone does it," she encouraged first-time moms about entering the journey of motherhood. "If it's something that you feel called to do or you feel excited about, absolutely, but if you're feeling like you don't want to, then there's no need to do that. You don't have to follow anyone else's path."
Amerie added, "It is a very amazing thing, and it is a very life-changing thing. It is a very miraculous thing. Even though there are 8 billion people on this planet, the birth of a child, bringing another human being into this world, shepherding in another soul, that is a miracle every time."
For more of Amerie, follow her on Instagram @amerie. Her book, You Will Do Great Things, is out now.
Featured image courtesy of Amerie
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images