If you have an Instagram page, then surely you've seen the growing number of black women getting into the plant game. Since we began quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of black women becoming plant moms has grown exponentially. Caring for plants has propelled itself far past its aesthetic roots, and instead the act of growing, cultivating, and watering something outside of ourselves has become a lifeline, a reminder of normalcy, and an act of self-care. From the Fiddle-leaf fig tree to Bird of Paradise, houseplants have become a reminder of how beautiful growth can be.
Still, for many, having plants was a passion long before we even heard of COVID-19. I reached out to some of these women, women I like to call OG plant moms. During our conversation, we discussed how they got into caring for plants, what plants they love, and tips and tricks for caring for plants just in case you need help like me. Here's the rundown.
Meet the Ladies
Antonia, who is a teacher by day, not only cares for her two dogs, she also has over 60 plants. She runs a site called The Modern Plant Lady where she gives you the quick rundown and simple steps to care for your houseplants. Follow Antonia @themodernplantlady.
Chanel Anice is a self-proclaimed plant mom, vibe cultivator and yogi. Chanel drops tons of tips and tricks on her Instagram page, so make sure you follow her @chanel.alamode.
Veronica, who is known in the houseplant space as The Houseplant Therapist, uses plants for therapy. She's also the creator of #brownskinplantmama. Access a free plant buying guide here and follow her @brownskinplantmama.
How did you develop your green thumb?
Antonia: I developed my green thumb through lots of research and plant conversations with my mother. I spent many hours reading and learning about plants.
Chanel: Growing up, my mom always kept a ton of plants around the house. Like, a lot, even by my standards. But they were just always there so I never paid them much attention— until I bought my first plant (a snake plant) back in 2016. One plant became two, then three and my collection just slowly grew from there! I always say to start with something easy and low-maintenance to boost your confidence. From there, you really can learn a lot from YouTube University! There's a whole thriving plant community on there with a wealth of knowledge. I can be kind of intense and love learning about new things, so there was a period of time where I was literally watching hours of plant videos daily, just completely in awe of their magic!
Veronica: My mother is a master gardener and I grew up with a living room full of houseplants of all different types. There were so many plants you could barely see out of the front window! In addition to our indoor plant collection, we grew food in our outdoor garden. I would help my mother tend to our different fruits and vegetables at a young age, so I guess you could say that my ability to care for plants is an inherited gift that was passed down because, in addition to my mother, I come from a lineage of sharecroppers.
What plants do you find yourself gravitating towards?
Antonia: I find myself gravitating towards big ones! I get excited about anything that's big and green. I love tall plants and ones that spread out wide. I remember the first time I got my hands on a tall Fiddle-leaf fig (taller than me), I was ecstatic! I would walk into my living room and regularly gawk at it. To have something so beautiful in my home made me extremely happy.
Chanel: I have all sorts of plants in my collection, but I always find myself drawn to tropical plants— Monsteras, birds of paradise, ZZ plants, Rubber Plants. Those are a few of my favorites. They make such a bold statement with their striking leaves, and I really love that kind of boho, jungle vibe for my space. Tropical plants are the perfect way to add that flair.
Veronica: I absolutely love pothos and philodendron varieties. Each have their own uniqueness and I love that they can either climb or trail.
"Plants have become a form of self-care for me because they force me to slow down and give them attention. I check on my plants every Wednesday and Saturday. This means that no matter how crazy the week is, right in the middle of it all, I have to take time to check on every plant in my home and give it the care it needs. When Saturday rolls around after an exhausting week, waking up and tending to my plants provides me a sense of calmness and clarity."
How have plants become a form of self-care in your home, especially during these times of COVID-19?
Antonia: Plants have become a form of self-care for me because they force me to slow down and give them attention. I check on my plants every Wednesday and Saturday. This means that no matter how crazy the week is, right in the middle of it all, I have to take time to check on every plant in my home and give it the care it needs. When Saturday rolls around after an exhausting week, waking up and tending to my plants provides me a sense of calmness and clarity. It relaxes me and helps me decompress from the week.
Chanel: My plants have always been a form of self-care for me. They are natural mood-boosters and stress-reducers, which is one of the first things that I noticed when I first started taking care of plants a few years ago. With all the uncertainty in the world, it's so easy to get caught up in thinking about the past or worrying about the future, which is ultimately the root of a lot of the feelings of sadness, worry, and anxiety we might be experiencing. My plants keep me grounded in the moment because you really have to get still and pay attention to learn each plant and her unique needs. Putting that time and energy into taking care of my plants naturally translates into me taking better care of and being kinder to myself. Plus, the simple joy of seeing the plant you've been nurturing putting out a new leaf is like nothing else! All the amazing people and communities I've met through my plant journey have been an unexpected bonus. That sense of connectedness is something that a lot of us are missing while we're stuck at home.
"My plants keep me grounded in the moment because you really have to get still and pay attention to learn each plant and her unique needs. Putting that time and energy into taking care of my plants naturally translates into me taking better care of and being kinder to myself."
Veronica: I truly believe that plants can be used as therapeutic properties for mental emotional and spiritual healing. My sister died unexpectedly in February of 2018. I avoided going to grief therapy for a year and finally embarked on the journey after putting it off for an entire year. Having successfully gone through a year and one month of traditional talk therapy, I ended our relationship (it was amicable) and was met with the responsibility of continuing the hard work I had done over the last year. One week prior to the shutdown, I visited my local nursery to grab some new plants hoping that they would uplift my spirit from the late winter blues.
Little did I know that one trip would not only bring me back to my love for plants, but provide me with a healthy practice to continue my journey of self-love and healing after the intentional work with my therapist. I had lost myself completely when my sister died. I was in a very dark place and didn't have the will to care for myself or anything else (other than my daughter). It was all a divine connection the way plants saved me. Had I not selected the therapist that I did (who had plants all over her office which piqued my interest in them again), I would not have seen and experienced the healing properties of plants and I most certainly would not have a platform that is geared towards helping others find and understand that plant therapy is real! All of this happened unexpectedly during the pandemic as my next necessary pivot. I am humbled to be the vessel to do such divinely inspired empowerment work.
"I truly believe that plants can be used as therapeutic properties for mental emotional and spiritual healing... I had lost myself completely when my sister died. I was in a very dark place and didn't have the will to care for myself or anything else (other than my daughter). It was all a divine connection the way plants saved me."
Can you share any tips or tricks that you’ve learned on your plant journey?
Antonia: Reach out and connect with other plant parents and lovers. There's a wealth of knowledge in the plant community and most plant folks love to talk about plants and help others with their plants. Most plants get overwatered. Go under before over. If you're struggling with a plant, don't give up. Do some research, reach out to plant-loving people and keep trying. Don't be so quick to throw it out and get a new one. Getting to know a new plant takes time. The tips and tricks out there on the web are a great starting point, but sometimes it takes you figuring it out on your own as you get to know your plant. Be patient.
Chanel:It might sound obvious, but when it comes to keeping your plants happy, light and water are really the two most important factors. So, before you choose a plant, take some time to learn your space. Are there lots of trees or tall buildings outside of your window? What type of light does your space get? Watch how the light moves and changes in different rooms throughout the day. Pull out the compass app on your phone and figure out which direction your windows face— a north-facing window is going to get a lot less light than a south- or west-facing window. Then you can choose plants that will actually survive and thrive in your space. Next, I always recommend you get a moisture meter. They're only $12 on Amazon and they basically take all the guesswork out of watering.
Veronica: The most vital tip that I have learned and constantly share is that you must know the conditions of your living space first because going out to buy a ton of plants. If you don't have the environment for your plants to thrive, you will not be successful at keeping them alive. Knowing the lighting situation in your home is so important because it will lessen the headache that comes with trying to care for a plant in the ways it needs. Knowing the lighting situation in your space also allows you to find particular plants that thrive in that environment. Not doing so will cause many headaches down the line so let's avoid that before it becomes an issue (P.S. grow lights are helpful when you don't have the best lighting, but I wouldn't recommend them until one has some care experience under their belt).
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Originally published August 20, 2020
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This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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Ever since I started (regularly) writing for the platform, at the beginning of each new year, I try my best to come up with a few things that people can do in their bedroom to make their future sexual experiences even better than the ones they’ve had before. Because even though the overall concept of sex has never changed, there are always little “tweaks” that can be made along the way that can make things more exciting, more lust-filled, and more thoroughly satisfying.
Although sometimes I go the sex trends route, this year only contains one of those (and even it is something that isn’t “new”; it’s just become more popular). Instead, I decided to share 10 small things that can make a big impact, from start to finish, during sex, if you’re willing to give them a shot.
And please, give each one some serious consideration. They could be the game-changer that you’ve been looking for all this time.
1. Use Purple Light Bulbs
Give your bedroom a sexy upgrade with purple lightbulbs.
Recently, while reading an article on how to give bedroom decor a sexy upgrade, it mentioned that if you don’t like red (which symbolizes things like love, passion, and romance), black and dark purple can work as well.
Purple, eh? While a lot of you probably know that it’s a hue that represents royalty, it also symbolizes femininity, creativity, and spirituality. Plus, the crown chakra, which is your head, is also known as the purple one — and since your brain is the biggest sex organ that you have…why not see purple as a super sexy color? It’s also pretty dope that purple is considered to be a “highly spiritual hue” that intensifies feelings of self-awareness and unity. Not to mention that it’s a color that can make you feel very sensual too (think the late and great artist Prince; he wore purple often).
So, if you want to intensify your sexual experiences, my first recommendation would be to switch over from candlelight every once in a while and rely on a purple light bulb instead. It looks hella good on Black skin tones; plus, it helps to evoke all kinds of erotic thoughts — in the easiest way possible.
2. Eat More L-Arginine Foods
L-arginine foods have been touted for their ability to give stronger erections.
Whether your partner struggles a bit with erectile dysfunction or you simply want him to have stronger erections, make this the year when you’re intentional about him getting more L-arginine foods into his system.
Long story short, L-arginine is an amino acid that helps to build protein and increase proper blood circulation throughout the body, including the genital region; the benefit of that is that the more blood that’s flowing down below, the more amazing your orgasms will feel. While you can take it as a supplement, foods like red meat, poultry, whole grains, beans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and dairy can get you right in this department as well.
3. Play a Round of “Dirty Questions”
Asking your partner stimulating questions is a great way to add a little foreplay to your day.
What position do you like to feel me in the most?
What word do you like to hear when you first penetrate me?
How can you tell when you’ve hit my spot?
Do you like it most when I whisper, moan, or yell?
What’s the thing that you wish I would do more often? Describe it in detail.
How can I please you more?
What fantasy do you want me to fulfill?
If you’re squirming around in your own seat by just reading the questions, think about how he’ll feel being asked them. So, whether you decide to send a few “dirty questions” in the form of a text, you randomly call him while he’s at work and tell him not to say anything while you ask these things in your sexiest voice, or you decide to start off foreplay this way — you know what they say: wisdom comes in the questions far more than the answers. Ask him a few stimulating questions and ask him to return the favor. It’s one of the best ways to get a night of passion ignited before one of you touches the other at all.
4. Do More Initiating
Everyone wants to feel desired. Initiating intimacy is a game-changer in bringing that fantasy to life.
I’ve been working with couples for close to two decades at this point, and when it comes to what easily 80 percent of the men have told me that they wished happened more in the bedroom is that their partner would initiate sex more often. I get why, too, because even if sex is bomb once it gets going, everyone wants to feel desired — and initiating intimacy plays a significant role in making that wish a reality. Besides, the word “initiate” doesn’t just mean to begin something; you can also initiate by introducing a certain topic or level of knowledge to another individual too.
You know what? I can’t think of one man who wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy being a student of his sex partner when it comes to learning about new positions, creative places to have sex, and whatever else your imagination (and maybe a bit of Googling on the topic of sex) can conjure up. So yeah, definitely make it a priority to initiate sex more often than you currently do…the more energy you give, the more you will receive. Just you watch.
5. Incorporate Shallowing into Your Foreplay
Your most intense vaginal nerve endings are two inches in your vaginal opening. Shallowing gives new meaning to that sensation.
If you put “sexual trends 2024” into the search field of your favorite search engine, I’d be shocked if “shallowing” didn’t come up in half of the articles that you read.
If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s when your partner uses his tongue, fingers, penis, or a sex toy of your choice to gently caress only the outer part of your vagina. Kinda like how back in the day, we used to joke about guys who asked if they could only “put the tip in”? This is that. The sensation is like edging on steroids because, contrary to popular belief, no woman needs a big package in order to be sexually satisfied or even (pun intended) ful-filled.
Your most intense vaginal nerve endings are 2” in from your vaginal opening, and so if your partner can master that area (along with your clitoris), you should be good to go…on a few different levels.
6. Get Your Shibari On
If you're curious about BDSM, Shibari might be a great initiation.
If you’ve been finding yourself becoming more and more curious about BDSM, but you want to inch your way into it rather than dive all in at once, how about learning more about Shibari? It’s a form of Japanese rope bondage that simply consists of using (comfortable) ropes to tie your partner up. Now, for the record, this isn’t just about using a pair of handcuffs and calling it a day. Shibari experiments with tying different parts of the body up in different positions to see what kind of sexual pleasure comes from it.
And what if you’ve never considered bondage sex play before, and you don’t get why anyone would? There are plenty of studies to support that the feeling of empowerment that comes from the one who is doing the typing up mixed with the feeling of complete vulnerability from the one who is in the bondage cultivates an exchange of excitement that can elevate the entire sexual experience overall.
By the way, I don’t recommend you go to your local hardware store to get the rope. There is something that is designed specifically for Shibari. One example is located here.
7. Do Some “Sandpapering” with the Help of Minty Gum
Want to get better at giving head? Sandpapering could be that method.
You know what’s a trip? Whenever I talk to men and women about a sexual gripe that they have with their partner, it’s a constant that they want to receive better head. Listen, I get it because it’s certainly not a given that just because somebody’s mouth is on someone else’s genitalia that earth-shattering orgasms are on their way. As far as men go, my recommendation would be to do some sandpapering.
Yeah, as “ouch” as that might sound, all it means (as far as oral sex goes) is that you focus on flattening your tongue on the tip (and right under the tip) of his penis as you move your tongue back and forth as if you were literally trying to sandpaper something. The texture of your tastebuds will provide an amazing sensation — especially if you chew some minty gum first.
What role does the gum play? Not only will gum help to build more saliva in your mouth (which men damn near lose their minds over!), the minty sensation will make it easier for him to climax too. Chile…CHILE.
8. Experiment with a Metal Spoon
Who knew a key to unlocking new levels of pleasure in the bedroom was a metal spoon?
There are certain things that you have right in your house that you can use as an expensive sex toy alternative. Believe it or not, one of them is a metal spoon. If you apply some lube or a carrier oil like carrot seed, sweet almond, or vitamin E to it after warming it up with the palm of your hands a bit and then rub it across your clitoris and labia, the sensation of the spoon will provide a unique pressure as the wetness of the lubricant or oil will end up making you that much…wetter.
9. Treat Him Like a Rocking Chair
"Woman on top" isn't a crowd pleaser for nothing.
If you were to get a group of women together and you asked them what their favorite sex position was, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if at least half of them said it was the cowgirl — you know, when the woman is on top. A big part of the reason why it’s such a fan favorite is it gives the woman the ability to control the amount of penetration she receives and how slow or fast she actually wants things to go. Take things up a notch this year by doing the position in a chair…better yet, a rocking chair.
The fact that the both of you will be sitting up makes it easier for him to grasp all of your erogenous zones, it can help your clitoris to grind better on his shaft, and the movement of the rocking chair will give you some unexpected feelings of thrusting and stimulation. Yeah, a rocking chair is a must-have in 2024, for sure.
10. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Sex is about shutting the world out and enjoying each other.
“Mindfulness” is a word that you’re going to see everywhere this year. It’s about slowing down. It’s about being fully present. It’s about focusing on the moment — not what happened 30 minutes ago or what will happen 30 minutes from now. When you bring this type of mindset into the bedroom, it can only work in your favor because, real talk, a big part of the reason why women don’t get to “see the mountaintop” as far as sexual pleasure goes is that they are overthinking. Sex with your partner is not supposed to make you feel like you’re getting graded on a test in school. It’s about the two of you shutting the world out for a few moments (or a couple of hours) and just…enjoying each other.
So, take the devices out of your room. Do not worry about the time. Slow down and just be…there with him. Shoot, if you apply the other things that I mentioned to this final point, you should be in for one hell of a night if you do. #wink
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