One of life's most worthwhile lessons is learning how to love. And more importantly, how to love yourself more.
Like most 20-somethings, I've had my fair share of failed relationships and "situationships." You know, those soul sucking kinships that aren't really what you need or want, when neither of you know what is really going on, but it offers companionship and a good time. But, after my last relationship left me almost broken to my core, I couldn't seem to face the possibility of loving anyone else.
It's funny how life works…
Seven months after that breakup, I finished my MBA, packed up my apartment, quit my job and left for Europe. If I could've left earlier, I probably would have, but you know.... Grad School. I had no plan, all I knew is that I wanted to get away from Atlanta because I refused to be just another single, overly educated, 20-something black woman in Atlanta brunching on Sundays.
I figured I could at least be a single, overly educated, 20-something black woman brunching in London!
Was I running? Yes.
But, not running from just the memories of a failed relationship.
I was running from mediocrity and comfort.
Everything I knew was back in Atlanta: my friends, a job I
loved liked, some family, and my esteemed social circles of young, bougie, black professionals. However, if I ever planned to grow and live the life I had imagined, I would have to leave what was comfortable and known all behind.
I really learned to love myself and find comfort in my own company (I mean honestly, you really have no choice traveling solo for 2 months). But, it taught me great life lessons about self-affirmations. Once you understand that you are worthy and deserving of everything you ever wished for, whether it be a loving partner, a CEO position, a fancy sports car, or a penthouse condo, you can make moves to have those things manifest.
After spending time in Europe, I ended up moving to Dubai, which presented its own new set of dating challenges and setbacks. But after 18 months, I met an amazing man from Holland, who taught me how to love again and made me open to being loved. I've slowly let down those walls that were built up and let love reign in my heart. I know that this man loves me to "the moon & back" and I'm okay with that because I've learned to love him with the same passion.
Of course, he shares my love of travel and we've had several adventures together already to the Maldives, Holland and Italy.
It almost sounds like a fairy tale, right? It kind of feels surreal sometimes, but I know it's a result of making conscious and intentional decisions to invite love back into my life.
Here are my four tips for letting love reign supreme:
Like all the experts say, it first starts at home. You can never truly love someone else if you don't know what it takes. By spending time alone, meditating, reading, taking yourself on dates (and trips), and pampering yourself; you begin to understand the things that make you happy and make life more enjoyable for YOU. Figure out the things that fill you with joy, make you smile and that can't wait to experience. Having a partner should make you feel the same way. So be strong enough to let go, and wise enough to wait for what you deserve.
Let love in and don't block it.
The toughest lesson I had to learn was being vulnerable again. That breakup really hurt me. I had tried dating shortly after in an attempt to move on, but it didn't help. I wasn't open to loving someone again. I needed time to heal. It took over a year and half, but I eventually began to live in the light and let love in. When it happened I didn't block it, try to understand it, I just let it in. And if somehow it doesn't work out in the end, you lived, you loved, and you learned.
Stop fearing loss.
When we lose people, it's a natural reaction to fear losing others. But you can't let that fear into your dating process or new relationship. If they want to leave, there's nothing you can do to stop them. Yeah, it sucks. But like my mama says "don't hold on to wet newspapers. There's something better in tomorrow's edition."
Trust people when they say “I love you."
After a painful breakup, it can make you doubt that you are worthy of someone's love again. Doubt is poison. So when someone tells you that they love you, believe them and have faith that they mean it. It's no fun, worrying whether they do or don't. Their actions will reveal everything you need to know in the end.
In the end, all you can do is hope for the best. But don't let fear keep you hostage. Just remember: All's fair in love & travel.
Originally posted on CocoGoneGlobal.com
Coco Hunter is a travel & lifestyle blogger, who has traveled to 30+ countries. She chronicles her global adventures at CocoGoneGlobal.com. Originally from Oakland, CA, she has lived in Atlanta, Dubai and now resides in Zurich, Switzerland. Her adventures have led her backpacking across Europe, sand surfing in Dubai, hot air ballooning over the Swiss Alps, chasing waterfalls in the Philippines, and whale shark diving in the Maldives. You can follow her writing, musings and wacky adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood