I don't know about you, but 2019 has been one for the books, and not all the stories inside are good. I decided to do a full 360 on my career, and along my journey, I had some wins, cool experiences that brought me out of my comfort zone, and met some amazing people along the way. BUT, because favor ain't always fair, I also had my fair share of setbacks and failures.
Nonetheless, even though 2019 has not been my favorite year, it has taught me a lot, and for that, I can appreciate it. This year, the biggest lesson that I learned was: "You've got to earn it to own it." As a new, full-time entrepreneur, 2019 has taught me that if you want something, you have to literally put in the work. If you don't work, you don't eat, and eating enough boiled eggs, oatmeal, and ramen (not the restaurant-grade kind) this year has taught me how to really work because sis, this boiled-eggs-everyday life ain't for me.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with some other boss women and they candidly shared their biggest lesson of 2019. Keep reading for all the gems!
Annie Jean Baptiste, Head of Product Inclusion, Research, and Activation at Google
Her Lesson: “Intentional living is everything.”
"My biggest career lesson has been that you need to be intentional about using your voice for causes and projects that matter, but you also need to put yourself in the other person's shoes to create a compelling argument. What works for one person won't necessarily work for the other. But by bringing together data and coupling it with human stories, you can get people to care about the causes you are championing. When you can show people that you can do well and do good, they are more compelled to move. When doing that, I've been able to start speaking up around the power of underrepresented voices and how we should bring these voices to the forefront; not only because it's the right thing to do, but because all people deserve to be seen and represented beautifully and accurately."
Briana Owens, Founder of Spiked Spin
Her Lesson: “I can do anything!”
"Opening the Spiked Spin flagship location in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn while also maintaining my full-time job and planning a wedding was one of the craziest decisions that I've ever made, but it was a decision that I believe was divinely timed. This year I have been stretched to capacity in every area of my life and while there were many days of frustration, there were days of complete joy and gained confidence in my purpose. This year has taught me that when I trust God, get out of my own way, move forward in the face of fear, I can literally do anything!"
W.E. Da Cruz, Co-founder of The VGC Group
Her Lesson: “You are defined by what you decline, not what you accept.”
"This year I learned our power is in our 'no', not in our 'yes'. We must learn to anchor people in our value from the start. People get accustomed to devaluing people unintentionally and intentionally when we as the service provider or product deliver cut prices. Additionally, you have to culture people to transact with you in an environment that works best for you as the provider to grow and succeed."
Ericka Perry, CEO & Founder of The Stork Bag
Her Lesson: “Don't let the medals distract you from running the race.”
"My biggest career (and life) lesson of 2019 is accolades can sometimes deter you from your purpose, but stay focused. Now, don't get me wrong, we all love praise, some more than others, but in a world driven by social media and grandiose images, chasing accolades can sometimes result in swaying away from your purpose--your why. As a minority female entrepreneur with a growing brand, I slowly began to allow the accolades distract me from my purpose. While I work darn hard and deserve all the awards presented to me, I recognized that all the smoke and mirrors started to take me away from my purpose, which is serving women and mothers. I found myself slowly becoming busier with the glitz and really started feeling these accolades so much that my 'why' began to fade into the background.
"The entrepreneurial journey can have a lot of twists and turns and sometimes if you allow yourself to forget why you became an entrepreneur, you can lose focus on what's most important. This year really taught me that, I became so busy with everything else that I started to forget why I started The Stork Bag and why I ever wanted to serve this population. Luckily, I realized what was happening and began to pull it back in, but I had to consciously get rid of some of the distractions and learn how to prioritize my time. If I could share a few lessons with aspiring entrepreneurs, mothers, and women in general, I would say this, find your purpose/passion and follow that path, remain focused and remember why you started."
GiGi McDowell, CEO & Founder of Fêtefully
Her Lesson: “Remember your ‘why’ in the face of rejection.”
"In many ways, 2019 was the year of 'no' for me. While building a technology company, there were so many people who told me 'no' this year. From potential customers, to partners, and sometimes the most painful, investors. When you hear a 'no' as an entrepreneur, so many thoughts run through your mind like, 'Is it not good enough?', 'Am I crazy?!', 'Is this even worth it?!' But 2019 has taught me to ask myself 'Why?' when I'm faced with rejection. Why am I doing this? Why does this matter? Why do I want this? After asking myself 'why' when receiving 'no' after 'no', I realized I am not building a company to hear 'yes'.
"I'm building a company to solve problems, to help others, and to transform an industry; not for applause. By remembering why I started, it was easier to remember why I had to keep going. Focusing on my 'why' allowed me to get back to the basics which enabled me to end the year with metrics 5X my initial projections while also developing customer acquisition channels and partnerships for 2020 that I could've never imagined! Rejection is hard and rejection hurts but remembering your 'why' makes it a little bit easier to persevere when things seem tough."
Marty McDonald, Founder of Boss Women Media Group
Her Lesson: “Dream bigger than big.”
"My biggest career lesson of 2019 has been centered around the idea of dreaming bigger than big. Over this year, I've learned not to take 'no' for an answer, and simply being bold and confident in whatever it is that I am asking for—whether that's pitching to brands for sponsorships or inspiring like-minded women to turn their side hustle into their full-time gig—keep going after your dreams even when you hear the 'no'! I've challenged myself to look at the no's as stepping stones towards that one 'yes', because that is literally all it takes is one 'yes' to keep you on the path of dreaming bigger than big."
Emerald-Jane Hunter, Chief Storyteller at myWHY Agency
Her Lesson: “Take a pause when things aren’t going your way and trust that the universe knows exactly what it’s doing.”
"My new mindset is now 'If it's not moving, it's not meant to be moved.' As PR professionals, we are used to making things happen. It's what we do. We imagine, conceptualize and snap our fingers and poof--magic! (Or so it feels). Not when it comes to entrepreneurship. There were several moments this year where I found myself pushing hard to force past employees to 'get' my vision, to want to work smarter, to crave the need to win for our clients. I went above and beyond to make people happy, thinking that would equal results with work output.
"I found myself pushing so hard to the point of burnout to meet some goals but for how hard I worked (literally), many things didn't pan out how I wanted them to.
"I had to take a step back and the moment I took a deep breath and said 'Let it go! Trust in God. Believe that what's meant to be will be', things shifted. A complete 360-change. I got clarity on so many pain points and I'm ending 2019 stronger than how the first half went. Lesson learned? When you're pushing, pulling, going so hard and things are stalling or not moving, that's a sign it's time to take a pause. Take a step back. Take a breath. It might not be meant to be -- the people, the place, that thing. It'll happen but perhaps not where, when and how you want it. We get so focused on what we want and forget that it's not by our might."
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Featured image courtesy of Ericka Perry
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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