Yes. Like clockwork, another Valentine's Day is upon us. While on one hand, it's been so long since I've been in a relationship that I don't even get triggered by being single during this time of year anymore, interestingly enough, it is my favorite commercial holiday (long story short, there is a St. Valentine who married people when it was against the law and was martyred for it. I am a marriage life coach, so there you have it). Besides, how can you actually get mad about a day devoted to expressing love? Good grief.
Anyway, most of us heard, at some point along the way, that love comes in many forms. Agape love is a Greco-Christian term that basically breaks down to unconditional love which is the kind of love that a lot of us have for our friends. So, whether you've got a boo this year or not, why not take a moment to celebrate the homies in your life who, whether they've got a boo or not, would probably love nothing more than a token of your affection and appreciation this coming V-Day. If you need a little inspiration on what you can do for them, I've got 10 ideas.
1. Make Them a Pampering Basket
If there's one thing that I personally think that women—especially Black women—absolutely can never do enough of, it's pampering. Thing is, treating oneself is not exactly a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Think about what your friend's favorite leisure or self-care activity is and then create a little gift basket that reflects that. If she likes to read books, get her a gift card, a box of some herbal teas and some cute footies. If she enjoys essential oils, make some body wash, lotion and a hair spritz out of scents that will help her to feel calm and relaxed like lavender or patchouli (YouTube has all kinds of how-to videos on easy ways to make this kind of stuff). If it's doing her nails and toes, look for some new polish colors and be sure to throw in some cuticle oil and eyeliner brushes (they're great for correcting painting mistakes).
No one said that the basket had to be over the top. Just a lil' something that lets them know that they're in your thoughts and you are on the top of the list of people who think that they deserve to be loved on; including on Valentine's Day.
2. Exchange DIY Cards
Remember back when we were in elementary school and one of the heights of being in the fourth grade and under (sometimes even a little older than that) was exchanging Valentine's Day cards? Just because you're grown, that doesn't mean that you and your peeps still can't do the same thing. At the very least, it will bring back some nostalgia; however, something tells me that it will be a little more heartwarming than that. If you'd like a few ideas for how to go about making some, there are 25 right here.
3. DIY a Dessert or Have Their Favorite One Delivered
Whenever I think about Valentine's Day, sweets are one of the first things that comes to my mind. If you know what your friend's favorite dessert is, why not make it for them? If they're local, you can bake some chocolate chip cookies or a cheesecake, package it up and leave it on their porch (with a heads up after you dropped it off, of course). If they're out of town, make them some brownies and ship 'em.
If you're looking at me crazy because cooking and/or baking isn't your strong suit, you can always have a dessert delivered to them. Simply find a bakery in their area and ask them to send something that will appease your homie's sweet tooth this year.
4. Write Them a Love Letter
It's pretty easy to take just about anyone for granted. This is why I'm so big on encouraging folks to be intentional about telling others what they appreciate and/or love about them. If money is super tight or you're the kind of person who takes procrastination to a whole 'nother level on a regular basis, another idea is to write your friend a love letter. And yes, I mean that literally.
Take out a couple of hours one afternoon or evening and reflect on all of the things that you like and respect about them. Then add to that, why you are honored to call them "friend". Getting a really nice blank card, writing your message, and sending it in the mail (whether they live in the same city or not) is a really nice touch. Yet even if you are down to the wire and you email a message instead, I promise you that it will move them, on so many levels.
5. Customize Some Pajamas
Lawd, this pandemic. Whenever I hear about people going on (clothing) shopping sprees, I usually wonder, "What for? Where the heck do y'all plan to go?!" Since many of us are spending a significant amount of time in sweats and PJs, another cute idea could be to get some pajamas customized for your friend. It can have their name, a nickname or some inside joke phrase that only the two of you know about on it. I'm a huge Etsy supporter, so if you wanna know where to start your search to get some, I would recommend clicking here first.
6. Send Them a Get-over-Your-Ex Gift Pack
There's a pretty good chance that you've got at least one friend who is getting over a break-up this Valentine's Day. Something that I bet they wouldn't see coming is a break-up gift pack. Have it include some bubble bath to help them relax. A piece of lingerie or sexy sleepwear to represent starting a fresh collection. Download a customized playlist with songs like Kelis's "Caught Out There" on it (just sayin'). Include some notecards with self-esteem quotes on them. Give them a gift card with lunch or dinner on you. I recently saw a boyfriend pillow that I thought was comedy (check it out here). If they're down, get them an online dating membership. Anything that will help them to not sit and sulk in the day but instead, see Valentine's Day as a new beginning.
7. Watch Your Favorite Rom-Com on Zoom
If you and your friend are doing Valentine's Day on the solo tip this year, one way to get your mind off of others who may be boo'ed up is to watch a favorite rom-com together. Decide beforehand what you're gonna eat and drink, download the film and then watch it on an app like Zoom together. I do this with one of my godchildren sometimes and it's actually a lot of fun. If you'd like to test out an app other than Zoom to see how it works, you can click here for a few other ideas.
8. Host a Virtual Sleepover
Speaking of my god babies, something that one of my goddaughters does with her friends is have virtual sleepovers. Everyone brings their sleeping bags downstairs in their home, has snacks, and plays games together until they all fall asleep. It really is adorable. You and your folks can do some variation of that.
Get cozy in your bed, determine if you're gonna play a round of something like Truth or Dare or I've Never, telling some dating spooky stories, and decide that you're each gonna have a surprise dinner delivered to each other. You might look up and realize that being single on Valentine's Day can be a whole lot more fun than you ever imagined.
9. Do (Electronic) Vision Boards Together
Write the vision, make it plain, right? Setting goals for your life is always a wise decision—including love life goals. Something else that could be enjoyable this Valentine's Day is for you and your friend to create vision boards together as they directly relate to the love that you desire to bring into your life. What does he look like? What kind of qualities do you desire? What things would you like to do together? Stuff like that. If you don't want to make a traditional vision board, there are apps these days that make it easy to upload ideas and even exchange them electronically (click here for a few).
10. Plan a Future Trip Together
Some folks are out here on these planes, chile. If that's not you but you do want to travel again someday (le sigh), something else that you and your friend can do is plan a trip together. Due to the pandemic, there are actually all kinds of virtual tours that you can take (check out a couple of 'em here and here) in order to get an idea of where you want to go. After landing on a place, come to a mutual decision of how much you're going to save a month in order to make the vacation happen. Speaking of traveling, check your passport. Mine expires in March, so I sent in my renewal app in December. Some folks have told me that they waited as much as six months to get theirs back (goodness), so there's no time like the present to get your things in order. Planning for later in the year or even a trip next February 14 could be just the thing to get you through this upcoming one. Happy Valentine's Day—to you and your homies—sis.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images