When we imagine arranged marriages in the traditional sense, our minds may trail off into stereotypes that reflect reluctant brides, invasive parents, with two coerced individuals, doomed to suffer in a loveless union. Not so romantic, right? But arranged marriages are not to be confused with forced marriages. See, the former centers the autonomy of choice: with two consenting adults, choosing to pursue one another for a lifetime - even after the allure of their parent's wise counsel fades. This was the case for content creators, Cam and Vicky Logan; who after 7 years of marriage illustrates what can happen when the potential for love is offered and accepted.
Courtesy of Vicky Logan
Cam and Vicky's parents were friends before the two of them ever met. Follow me: Vicky's father was celebrating his 40th birthday and invited Cam's father; it was there that Vicky met Cam's dad. Soon after the party, both sets of parents suggested that the two should meet, so Cam and Vicky started by adding each other on Facebook. Initially, there weren't any sparks that ignited their correspondence. In fact, Vicky shares that she never intended on dating someone who shared the same "Preacher's Kid" background that she grew up in, being that both her mother and grandmother were wives of preachers.
"I wanted a different experience and I knew how much work it would take," she shares. But what she didn't know was how God would use her expert-level background as preparation for the marriage awaiting her, "The joke was on me because since I knew how much it would take, it was just preparing me for doing the work with Cam."
Although reluctant at first, answering the call allowed her to step deeper into her purpose in becoming a helpmeet, which for Cam, was an answered prayer, "Growing up as a preacher's kid, various girlfriends didn't understand my necessity to be at church all the time, it's part of my life. As I got older and matured, I knew I needed someone that was going to understand this life in ministry and when I found out that she was a PK too, things started going off in my head like, 'Oh, this could work.'"
Courtesy of Vicky Logan
Their friendship grew even as the miles separating them widened, with Vicky finishing school in Texas, and Cam starting his post-grad life in Chicago. The distance between them allowed the space to be filled with what would fortify their relationship in the long run: deep and intentional communication. Still, the two had to get creative for things to work since, even in the early 2010s, technology still hasn't quite reached its peak, "We were recording videos on the back cameras of our iPhone 3s, we were on ooVoo and Skype. We communicated as much as we could to feel connected even though we were 1000 miles away," Cam says. Or as Vicky puts it, "We were definitely doing the most."
But you have to applaud the effort. Especially when you're young and dating at a distance, since, let's be honest, the innate reflex is to jump straight to the physical. Cultivating verbal and non-physical intimacy was fundamental for the two in their early days, "Since we weren't sexually attracted to each other at first, we were able to develop a natural, non-sexual friendship," Cam shares. "We genuinely talked about our interests and desires. It wasn't just, 'Aye girl, what you got on?'"
This approach laid a solid framework for their relationship because they were (and still are) truly friends, "At the end of the day, she's my homey, that's my best friend. Then you add the physical, sexual attraction and it just elevates how deeply we care about each other," Cam tells xoNecole.
"At the end of the day, she's my homey, that's my best friend. Then you add the physical, sexual attraction and it just elevates how deeply we care about each other."
One of the keys to making love work is building a relationship from a solid friendship. You never really know how important that can be until you're facing a difficult time with your partner, like a global pandemic, and realize there are some things that romance and sex just can't fix. As Vicky shares, you have to truly be in like with each other, "People like to ask me, how do we not get bored with one another? Well, we're friends! Do you get bored with your friends?" she shares laughingly.
The authenticity of their companionship not only beams over the phone but also through the camera. For over 10 years, YouTube has served as a digital archive for Vicky to document everything from ever-changing hairstyles, her colorful style hauls, and witty girl talk videos. So when the two got engaged in 2013, it was only natural for them to join forces to create their own vlog channel, Life With the Logans. As both platforms grew, there was one annual video that their community looked forward to the most: their Marriage Q&As.
Only in 2020, things were different. With COVID forcing everyone inside, Cam and Vicky decided to open their YouTube livestreams for their subscribers to ask them all things love and relationships advice. The response was so great, it springboarded their newest collaboration, the Everything is We podcast.
"We had a really good foundation because we spent a lot of time just being friends. Now, when we go through things as a married couple, we have our friendship to fall back on, it's not like our only connection was sexual or romantic. We had a true friendship where we enjoyed hanging out together, doing things together, marking each other laugh, no matter what we're doing, we're enjoying each other's company."
Courtesy of Vicky Logan/Instagram
On their faith-based, relationship-centered podcast, the two speak candidly about a range of topics from sex before marriage, toxic relationships, love languages, and even gender roles and submission. After 7 years of marriage, the two felt confident enough in their experiences to dish advice on their union from a place of transparency to host honest and open dialogue. "We know each other well enough to give people something of substance. This a 'we' thing, not just a 'me' thing," Vicky shares, explaining the origin of the show.
Creating as a "we" continues to add color and vibrancy to the Logans' relationship, with visual documentation being a vital part of how they keep record of their experiences together and connect with their audience. Vicky grew up with home videos and videotapes being essential in logging her childhood memories, so continuing that tradition was a natural progression for her and Cam's story. "I love documenting our relationship because I can always go back and see our memories happening on video. It keeps me grounded because I can see our progression as a couple," Vicky explains.
Courtesy of Vicky Logan
Documenting your life online for yourself and for the world to see comes with its own set of boundaries. For the Logans, that means staying true to their authentic selves and being present in the moments they share together. Cam expresses that who you are online should always match who you are in private. "I saw people that would vlog and become these public figures, and when they turn the cameras off, they're nothing like that. For me, in everything that I do, I want to be consistent."
Staying rooted as a content creator requires a deep level of self-awareness and routine check-ins with yourself. In fact, Vicky recalls a time early in her vlogging career where she found herself swept away in the process of creating a perfect memory, instead of participating in the moment. "When I was heavily into YouTube, I was vlogging so much, I felt like I have to go back and watch those videos to remember what happened because I wasn't present in the moment." She continues, "I was looking at my life through the lens instead of looking at it as my life. I never want to get back to that point. I try to prioritize being in the moment rather than creating content."
"When I was heavily into YouTube, I was vlogging so much, I felt like I have to go back and watch those videos to remember what happened because I wasn't present in the moment. I was looking at my life through the lens instead of looking at it as my life. I never want to get back to that point. I try to prioritize being in the moment rather than creating content."
When you've been with someone through your 20s and into your early 30s like the Logans have, evolution becomes the third wheel. Over the years, the two have seen each other grow and evolve as individuals with callings that stand alone and complement each other's purpose. Arriving at the place in a relationship where everything is truly about the we and not the me takes sacrifice, time, and the process of "dying to yourself" daily. That means pride and self-centeredness have no place. For the Logans, this required taking the time to learn how to truly love each other the way each person needs to be loved, not the way they assumed they needed to be loved. As Vicky puts it, "I think sometimes people come into relationships a little bit prideful and don't want to change."
But if the common goal is longevity, you have to forgo the "that's just the way I am" mentality. "We know that we're different people, but at the same time, we want to operate as a team," Vicky shares. "You have a partner for a reason: to help you."
Courtesy of Vicky Logan/Instagram
If you follow the #CamToria hashtag on Instagram, you'll find that the Logans are far more than your typical "relationship goals", they're the embodiment of steadfastness. A marriage that hasn't rushed through the years or the moments that they've shared together, but has instead made the daily decision to partake in the witnessing of one another's blooming growth. "My life has changed just by being friends with Cam," Vicky reflects, "He truly loves people and I try to be like that more and more every day."
For Cam, experiencing Vicky's growth has been the greatest honor to witness as a husband, "[Vicky's] ability to literally go after her dreams... I don't know if people realize how difficult that is in a society that trains you to do what people tell you to do." He adds, "She's a boss, but remains humble and loving at the end of the day. She's constantly growing and I'm just happy to be married to her."
The freedom in having an unconventional love story is in the license it gives to a couple to tell a story that's never been told before. Although arranged marriages aren't something that's typically highlighted in the Black community, the Logans exemplify what can happen when you follow the wise counsel of your parents, while fostering the "it takes a village" adage. "I think our community could benefit from the fact that our parents are connected with solid people with solid foundations, values, and morals," Cam says. When you're building towards a future legacy, sometimes the best way to know where you're headed to by trusting the wisdom and guidance of those who have been where you're headed. Even if that turns out to be your own parents.
"I know that when we have children, that's definitely something I plan on doing," Cam says.
Featured image courtesy of Cam and Vicky
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
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.
Not too long ago, someone asked me why I write about sex so much. The simple answer is I think it’s a part of my purpose, and since I believe that, I don’t question it much. Sex is something that I find to be special, sacred, wonderful, profound, incomparable, and very necessary — all of those things, not just a few. And since studying it, researching it, writing about it, and talking about it all come so naturally to me, I’m pretty sure it’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life, in some capacity. Because when something is so wonderful as sex, why wouldn’t you want to “share the wealth” on the things that you come to learn?
Take orgasms, for example. If there’s one thing that I want every single human to experience, more than just once, in this lifetime, it’s that. Because if there’s one thing that will blow your mind, in a way that nothing else ever can or will, it’s climaxing — especially when you’re doing it with someone who you truly care about. And that’s why, I make it my mission to learn as much as I can about the, what many would consider, pinnacle of the sexual experience.
And since there are so many different types of orgasms to choose from, I want to make you aware of one that you may not have heard of before: the hands-free orgasm. While it might sound impossible to achieve, I’m thinking in a few moments, you’ll totally get why it’s absolutely not.
The Connection Between Your Brain and Sexual Pleasure
No matter how much you might read about the role of genitalia as it directly relates to sex, there is no way around the fact that your largest sex organ is actually your brain. There is data for days about it. Okay, but even if you already knew that, have you ever stopped to consider why that is indeed the case?
For starters, the most profound and relevant sex hormones and chemicals — ones like amphetamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine (as well as several others)— are produced in your brain. Another reason is that what you think about your sex partner and how you feel about what you think, these two things also play a pivotal role in sexual attraction and levels of sexual pleasure — and this includes things like how emotionally connected you feel, how well the two of you communicate (check out “Are You A Good Sexual Communicator? You Sure?”), if you feel safe in each other’s presence and if the two of you are committed to meeting each other’s needs, both inside and outside of the bedroom.
In fact, this is a big part of what separates humans from other mammals when it comes to how we process sex; it’s not just instinctive…there are mental and emotional factors that heavily come into play, too.
Now put a pin in that, and let’s keep building on this thing.
How To Have an Orgasm: The Four Stages of OrgasmGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “How Can You Know For Sure That You've Had An Orgasm?.” The reason why is that, since so few women have vaginal orgasms (which are not to be mistaken for clitoral ones, by the way), I thought it was important for women to know what it feels like (as best as I can describe it in print) what climaxing actually feels like. That being said, in order to lay down some more foundation for this whole “hands-free orgasm” thing, let’s briefly touch on what an orgasm is.
Although sex experts tend to disagree on whether there are four or five stages in an orgasm, for the sake of time and space, let’s go with four:
Excitement: this is when your muscles tense up, your heart races, natural lubrication transpires, your nipples become erect, and blood flows down to your genital region
Plateau: this is when muscle tension increases, your heart rate and breathing intensify, your clitoris literally retracts, you become wetter, and muscle spasms begin
Orgasm: this is when your heart rate and blood pressure are at their peak, muscles within your body begin to contract (including your vagina), a flow of lubrication comes forth, there’s a lot of sexual tension, and typically your partner ejaculates
Resolution: this is when everything in your body starts to slow down, you feel release and satisfaction and oftentimes fatigue (by the way, it’s science that causes men to feel sleepy at this point; it’s due to oxytocin and vasopressin being released which increases the production of melatonin)
From a strictly physical standpoint, this is what goes down whenever you have an orgasm — whether alone or with someone else. It’s important to keep all of this in mind as we transition into what a hands-free orgasm is all about.
The Hands-Free Orgasm: How To Climax Without Touch
As you can see from this subject heading, there is technically more than one kind of a hands-free orgasm: one is the literal kind, and the other falls under more of a technicality. I’ll get into what I mean by the second one in just a moment.
Okay, so the first type of hands-free orgasm is rooted in tantric sex. A few years ago, another writer for the platform penned, “Elevate Your Pleasure With The Transformative Power Of Tantric Sex” which can help you to gain a bit more clarity about it all. For now, I’ll just say that the word “tantra” is a Sanskrit one that means “to weave.” At the end of the day, tantra is all about interweaving yourself, sexually, with another individual, so that you both can have an elevated sexual experience — one that goes beyond simply…cumming.
Since a huge part of tantra is about breathing deeply and being in a meditative state (check out “What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?”) in order to make all of that happen, tantra is a reminder that your mind and spirit play a pivotal role in sex — not just your body.
And so, it is the belief that if you get really still, stay very present, and follow certain deep breathing exercises while being in a meditative state that focuses either on your sexual fantasies or your partner, it can cause you to, at the very least, have a deep tingling sensation all throughout your body (similar to what edging feels like) or that you will have an orgasm altogether (maybe not the first time you try this technique out but eventually).
And just what kind of breathing can make that happen? LOL. Actually, if you put “breath work for sex” into your favorite search engine, you’ll find quite a few articles on the topic. One that I found to be very helpful is on Lionness’s site; it’s entitled, “The Art of Breathing: Using Breathing Exercises For Better Sex.”
And so, since you don’t need someone else’s help to breathe or meditate, I’m sure you get how you can totally make all of this happen on your own. All you need is to create a romantic and extremely comfortable atmosphere, maybe put on some sexy music, add a scent that will tap into your sexual stimulation side as you’re inhaling and exhaling (like vanilla, jasmine, cinnamon, lavender, rose, or patchouli), get into a position where you can comfortably rock your hips and — get to breathing, chile. Deep. Calculated. Rhythmic breathing.
If you do all of this and pay close attention to how your body responds, you will probably notice that you are literally shifting into one or even all phases of an orgasm — without a single touch (hey, try it before you doubt it!).
How To Have a Hands-Free Orgasm With TouchGiphy
Remember how I said that another type of hands-free orgasm is a technicality? What I meant by that is, technically, if you achieve an orgasm without using your hands — or someone else’s — you just had a hands-free orgasm. This means that a sex toy can give you a hands-free orgasm. Your partner’s mouth can give you a hands-free orgasm. Hell, dry humping can give you a hands-free orgasm. Because, so long as you are sexually stimulated without the assistance of your hands or someone else’s and you then climaxed as a direct result, you just had one.
Clearly, this type of hands-free orgasm isn’t nearly as impressive as the other one that we just discussed. Still, it does deserve a bit of a shout-out because if you’re trying to master orgasms or find different ways to stimulate your partner, as they learn more about how to stimulate you in return, bringing hands-free orgasms into the mix can help you to achieve both missions.
Also, when it comes to this particular spin on the hands-free orgasm, it’s a reminder that you don’t have to always resort to the obvious (like fingering, for example) to “get the job done.”
Find other ways to stimulate erogenous zones, participate in foreplay that is a bit “off-script” (check out “Mental Foreplay Hacks That Ultimately Takes Intercourse To New Levels”), and get each other off without immediately relying on hands to make it happen — it all can introduce you to a new world of sexual pleasure if you’re open to giving it a shot.
Finally, Here Are the Benefits of Mastering Both Techniques
Beyond sheer intrigue, you might wonder why you would want to attempt one or both types of hands-free orgasms when “the old-fashioned way” has been working just fine. Okay, let’s take water play, for example. If you or your partner use a portable or detachable shower head in order to stimulate you (because again, that wouldn’t be using any hands), aside from the experience being pretty erotic all on its own, it can teach you and/or your partner different things about how your body responds to certain temperatures, types of stimuli, different amount of pressure, etc. Without the automatic go-to of hands, you/they are forced to hone in on you in a way that requires a deeper amount of intention and concentration — and that’s always a good thing.
Another form of a hands-free orgasm is the sensation that you might feel while doing kegels. Tightening up your pelvic walls can definitely sexually arouse you (especially if you’re fantasizing at the time). And girrrl, learning how to “grip him” during penetrative sex because you’ve mastered how to control your muscles down below. That’s an orgasm like no other and also qualifies as a hands-free orgasm!
At the end of the day, like pretty much any other orgasm that there is (and there are several), a hands-free orgasm is all about learning more about you and your partner and applying what you’ve learned in order to enhance your sexual encounters with one another.
And if you’re able to get to the point where you can do that, hell, not just without the use of your hands but any type of touch at all? You’ll be absolutely (sexually) unstoppable! (Pardon the pun)…hands down.
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Featured image by boggy22/Getty Images