Why Fall Is The Perfect Time To Prep For The New Year
Man, is autumn my favorite time of the year. Aside from when global warming decides to completely show out, the temperature is mild and the leaves turn into vibrant hues. When it comes to clothes, layering is always fun. I adore all of the signature scents of autumn (like cinnamon apple and pumpkin). On the emotional tip, my late father and fiancé both had birthdays in October, plus, my father used to love to bug me to death about the Cowboys on Sundays—so I have fond memories around all of that. And, because I am a Rosh Hashanah person (Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year) and it always falls during the autumn season, for me, the fall also marks a fresh start too.
Yet, whether autumn is your favorite time of year or not, I still encourage you to look at this season from a truly beneficial perspective in the sense that, with roughly 12 weeks left in the calendar year, what better time to get your life in order for the year that is to come? Just think about it—rather than waiting until New Year's Eve and then stressing yourself out by coming up with a New Year's resolution that probably isn't going to hold up anyway (because a whopping 80 percent of them don't), why not ease into January by preparing for it now? It's a lot easier, so much more realistic and, you might be surprised by how good you feel about stepping into a brand new year, if you put, at least a few of the following 10 suggestions, into practice.
1. Decide What Kind of Life You Want in the New Year
Let's begin here. A broadcaster by the name of Germany Kent once said, "Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction." She's exactly right. And here's one reason why now is a great time to prepare for the new year—if you are a procrastinator, you can quit telling yourself that you'll change your life on January 1; instead, you can change it right at this very moment. Listen, as a marriage life coach, something that truly tickles me is how so many engaged couples, whenever we discuss red flags that already exist in their relationship prior to marriage, shrug them off as if to say that strolling down the aisle—or in our culture, jumping a broom—will miraculously change those things.
Chile, please. Marriage amplifies what already exists. And you know what else?
There is absolutely nothing supernatural about January 1. It's just another day that happens to fall on another calendar year. So, if you want your personal or professional life to be different, try to avoid saying to yourself, "I'll get to it in the new year."
Cop yourself a fresh journal and figure out what you want your world to be like, three months from now. It'll give you time to really think long and hard and come up with a strategy to make your desires a reality—well before the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.
2. Create A New Savings Goal
Yeeeeeah, this isn't good. Did you know that, reportedly, 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account? Shoot, for a lot of us, that reality means that if we lost our job today, we could barely pay one month's mortgage/rent, let alone anything else. So, while I know this is actually the time of year when a lot of us spend more money than we should (you know, due to the holiday season 'n all), try and put aside enough money to where you can go into the new year with at least $1,500 saved up. If you saved $125 a week, starting the first week of October, it would get you there. I know that might sound steep, but I'm just giving you an angle to work from.
If you already are a pretty good saver (and if that is indeed the case, Mazel Tov!), come up with something that you want to save up money for. A new car. Some money to do some investing. Maybe a travel account. If this is something you're interested in, there are cool savings apps that can help you to keep track of your coins or, if you're married, I'm all about couples having a sex jar. You can read more about that by checking out, "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar".
3. Do a Health Detox
Detoxing your system is beneficial on a lot of different levels. Since it's literally about removing toxins from your body, it can give you more energy; reduce breakouts; boost your immune system; put you in a better mood; decrease body inflammation; help you to lose weight; improve your digestion, and help your liver to function better. Personally, I think that the early side of autumn is a good time to do some sort of a detox because one, you can cleanse out your system before the holiday season of food approaches and two, you can figure out what type of detox you like best.
On a semi-surface level, if you're not doing it already, it's a really good idea to detox your scalp and armpits. But when it comes to fully flushing out your system, spend a couple of weeks researching the approach that you wanna take. Articles like Gaiam's "10 Ways to Detox Your Body" and Max Living's "10 Natural Detox Strategies to Cleanse Your Body & Lose Weight With Your Diet" are both helpful when it comes to helping you to learn about different approaches to detoxing your system and which one will prove to be most beneficial to you in the long run.
4. Break A Bad Habit
Remember how it used to be a common saying that it takes around 21 days to break a habit? And so, we would try, but usually fail after a couple of weeks, all the while wondering what the hell was wrong with us? Well, more research has gone into this very topic and, come to find out, it actually takes more like—you ready for this?—18 to 254 days. Yep. In the time that it roughly takes to conceive and birth a child, that could be how long it takes to break a bad habit too.
While on one hand, that might seem self-defeating AF, I choose to look at it from a different perspective. Since some things really do require months to get past, you can actually offer yourself a little more mercy and grace by taking a more logical approach to habit breaking. Since it's not realistic to get over certain things in three weeks or less, try and take your journey one day at a time—and consider starting that journey now. That way, come January 1, you'll be at least three months in and…who knows? You might actually be stronger in your areas of weakness while everyone else is trying to figure out how to go a week without breaking their own resolution(s).
5. Get Clarity/Closure in Your “Questionable” Relationships
There's a quote from the movie The Life of Pi that says, "It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise, you are left with words you should have said but never did and your heart is left with remorse." What this quote is basically speaking on is closure and yes, I am a fan of it; mostly because, to me, closure is a sign of profound respect. The thing that two people started together should be the thing that both people end, together, as well. While I know that sometimes we're not given the closure that we deserve, a Scripture in the Bible that I really like is, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18—NIV) In the context of this particular point, to me, it means that we should be as proactive as possible about getting clarity or closure in a relationship so that, if things do end, they can at least end…peacefully.
So, whether it's personal or professional, if there is a relationship that either isn't serving you well or you're super unclear about, why bring it into a new year?
Why not use these last several weeks to get the answers and/or do the grieving that needs to be done now, so that you can step into January from a more healed and positive space? I've shared, several times before, that one of my favorite quotes from the movie Love Jones is when Nina said to her ex-fiancé, "All we have or all these years." Life is too short and purposeful to be in relationships or situationships—again, whether they be personal or professional—that aren't really benefitting you. Figure that out now so that your heart can be open to something better once the new year rolls around.
6. Put Yourself on a Schedule
An author by the name of Matt Fox once said, "Time and effort can get you anything you want in the world. But nothing in the world can get you more time." On the time tip, he's exactly right. That's why, I'm a firm believer that, one of the worst things that someone could ever do (or we could ever do to someone), is waste our (or their) time. And yes, waste is exactly what can happen because waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return". So yeah, this is definitely a good time to pause, ponder and reflect over if you feel like someone has you out here giving when you're not receiving anything adequate in return (Lawd!). It could be your employer. It could be the guy you're currently seeing. It could even be a friend.
And then, once you've got that figured out, ask yourself if YOU are the one who is wasting your own time. Maybe you spend too much time on social media. Maybe you let your emotions rule you when it should be the other way around, so that you can discipline your feelings and get stuff done. Maybe you're someone who puts things off until the last minute which prevents you from doing them in excellence. Maybe you complain too often. Maybe you gossip too much. Maybe you worry about things that are out of your control. Maybe you let things trigger you to the point where they leave you stagnant.
For all of these things, you know what can help? Putting together a schedule. Think about it. If you only have a certain amount of time set aside for Twitter, maybe less people will piss you off and you'll have less celebrity gossip to talk about. If you make sure to leave work when you're officially off, maybe you can put more time into building your own company so that you can leave that crazy boss of yours in six months or less. If you aren't watching so much television, you can read more. Or, if you're not always on the phone with your bestie who is always caught up in a cycle of toxicity, you can soak in the tub longer and get to bed earlier.
Oftentimes, when the topic of scheduling comes up, it's from the angle of figuring out what goes where on our to-do list. Yet I'm encouraging you to look at it from a bit of a broader perspective. A wise person once said, "The difference between success and failure depends on what we decide to do with the 24 hours in our day." Whether it's a calendar on your desk or a scheduling app on your phone, try and get into the habit of scheduling your time better as we get ready for another calendar year. By the way, please make sure that on your schedule, 6-8 hours of rest and quality time with yourself are on it. This one tip alone is a total game-changer if you take it seriously and literally.
7. Set Pampering Appointments
While I'm more an advocate of bucket lists or goal-setting instead of resolutions, if you are a resolutions kind of woman, please make sure that pampering is on the top of your list for the new year. While it took me getting well into my 30s before I embraced how essential pampering is, it's extremely important to do, just what the definition says—"to treat or gratify with extreme or excessive indulgence, kindness, or care". For the record, pampering IS NOT maintenance. What I mean by that is, if you're gonna pamper yourself in the bath, make sure there are rose petals, champagne and some milk in your water. If you're gonna get a pedicure, pay for the higher end kind. If you like wine, get it from somewhere other than the grocery store. If it's time for new panties, make sure a couple of pair are lace and in your favorite color.
Remember that the key words of pamper are "extreme" and "excessive". It's not about if it "makes sense" so much as it makes you feel very special and extremely adored. Every woman needs to feel that way, so every woman needs 1) a pampering budget and 2) to make pampering a monthly priority.
There's no time like the present to set aside some cash and to make some hair, nail and massage appointments for January. Get to it, sis.
8. Upgrade Each Room
OK. When it comes to this particular point, I'm not saying that you have to completely remodel each room because I'm pretty sure we all know that, in order to do that right, you've gotta have more than a couple of bucks in your bank account. But since the new year is all about being out with the old and in with the new, you can use the next couple of months to bring in some new and affordable additions. Maybe some new bedding in your bedroom. New throw pillows in your living room. A new set of dishes for your kitchen. A new shower curtain in your bathroom. Or, how about some new window treatments, some different art prints or a different chair in your office? Not too long ago, I purchased some of the coziest looking throw pillows for a corner of one of my rooms and it's amazing how that one upgrade has made my space look completely different. Hey, no one is saying you gotta be Bob Villa over there…but why not give yourself a little something new to look at? You've got time. Use it.
9. Nix Resolutions. Cultivate Goals Instead.
Resolutions typically don't bring forth the best results. But you know what does? Setting goals. The key to this particular recommendation is first that you create long- and short-term goals. Then, follow that up with prioritizing each goal, organizing how to execute them, setting aside time either every day or each week to work on your goal, and then celebrate your accomplishment once you actually reach it.
Say that one of your goals is to do more networking in the new year. This can be the time to research who you want to connect with and how to get in touch with them. Or perhaps your goal is to write your first book. If you want to have a publisher, this is a good time to find a reputable literary agent. If you'd prefer to publish it yourself, find out now how to go about that and get to working on/completing your manuscript. Maybe one of your goals is to become a more positive person. No time like the present to figure out what your "negative triggers" are so that you can remove them from your life.
The thing about waiting until January 1 to put some goals into place is you're basically setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Planning your goals out now gives you the time and freedom to look at each one from a practical headspace so that you're able to increase your chances of actually reaching them.
10. Get Your Sleep Patterns Together
If you don't make any other plans for the year that is to come, please at least consider getting more rest. The reality that 1 in 3 Americans are walking around here moody, irritable, unable to concentrate, worn out and/or with a weak immune system and low libido and it's because they don't make getting 6-8 hours of sleep a top priority. If you know you could stand to get more zzzs in, use these last few weeks of the year to study your sleep patterns; to get the electronic devices out of your bedroom; to consume less stimulants (like sugar and caffeine) two hours before bedtime; to create a sleep ritual (like a soak in the tub and/or reading a book) and, if need be, to see your doctor so they can see if your lack of rest is tied into a hormonal imbalance or some underlying health concern.
Autumn has been the season when I've been super intentional about getting my world in order for several years now and it's been the absolute best decision. Go into the new year less worried, less preoccupied and less stressed by using this season to prepare for January. Then watch how much easier next year is for you. For real, for real.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
A Yoni Massage Might Be Your Tantric Ticket To Sexual Healing
Acts of intimacy don't have to be limited to our lovers and sexual partners. In fact, when we utilize sacred techniques like yoni massages to explore deeper connections within ourselves, we create new pathways for healing and releasing shame.
“Yoni massages are a type of sensual massage — it's not necessarily about sex or foreplay,” says Brianne Patrice, a sensuality doula and founder of the sexual wellness platform, Twenty Nine Thirty. “The ultimate goal is for you to be more comfortable in your skin, tuned into your body, and be able to name and understand what brings you pleasure.”
Truth is, factors like shame, sexualization, and the belief that most conversations around sexual exploration are “taboo” can leave us feeling foreign in their bodies. “Our bodies might not represent our age because, as Black women, we have hips, butts, breasts, and we’re just curvaceous. A lot of us can grow into that relatively early, and it's not our fault, it's just the blessings of being a Black woman,” she says.
“We are not exactly taught what it means to have a body, to feel desired, to have a vagina, to interact with our vulva, and to have breasts.”
From the time we become young girls, teenagers, and even adults, labels and societal standards get placed on us long before we’re ever able to define what our bodies mean for ourselves. With this in mind, it’s important to have the tools necessary to make a safe return to ourselves.
“A lot of my clients start with journaling or breathwork, and some are more comfortable with diving off into the deep end with pleasure mapping, masturbation, and pleasure play,” Brianne says. “The practice is about allowing yourself to move away from past shame so you can cultivate a better relationship with your body.”
Navigating sexual trauma, PTSD, and even religious shame can seem like an uphill battle without the proper roadmap. Thankfully, utilizing a sexual doula like Brianna can provide you with the emotional and spiritual support you need to improve your self-intimacy.
Q: How does yoni massage work to promote sexual healing and a deeper connection with our inner being?
A: It's a spiritual practice. It's a practice that allows you to connect to your mind, restore a sense of safety, and remind you that this body of yours is deserving of pleasure. When we are talking about sexual healing and being in community with ourselves, we are talking about creating a sacred practice for us to be in union with ourselves.
It's not always going to feel good. It's not always so exciting or enjoyable. There will be moments where you're going to cry. There will be moments when hard feelings and emotions come up. But I always encourage people that instead of shying away from those moments, continue to move through those emotions and allow the movement of massaging yourself to melt away those emotions.
Q: What’s the difference between a yoni massage and masturbation?
A: It's really about the intention more than the act itself. We've been conditioned to think about masturbation as a quick 5-10 minutes to rub it out with our favorite toy, and then we’re on our way.
Whereas yoni massages are more of a mindful practice and the intention behind it isn't to orgasm. You're not in a rush. You're talking very clearly and intentionally about understanding your body. Yoni massages are more of a healing tool and can be a grounding practice as well. You’re coming back to yourself, filtering through your trauma, and releasing all of that pent-up emotion from past relationships, sexual trauma, your childhood, and religion.
Q: Should we be incorporating affirmation during yoni massages? How should we talk to ourselves during this practice?
A: Absolutely! It kind of tetters on the line of sex magic, and I adore sex magic. If you want to talk out loud, do it. If you want to keep it quiet and talk to yourself in your head, do it. However you want to communicate with yourself during this time, it’s up to you. You definitely should be speaking to yourself with kindness and asking yourself questions.
Speak life over yourself the way you would a partner or friend. Affirm yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful, fine, sexy, important, necessary, and abundant you are. Use that energy to your benefit because it's your energy, and it can absolutely allow you to manifest as well. Visualize your future self and have conversations with her. Again, this is your erotic energy, this is your purest energy, and it's the rawest form to use whatever you want to have a conversation with yourself.
Follow These Steps To Perform Your Own Yoni Massage:
Prepare your mind.
“We want to bring our full self into this, so take a few minutes to meditate and breathe slowly and deeply. Set the mood for yourself, whether that is lining satin sheets, lighting candles, or turning some music on. Court and date yourself in this process. The same way that you would want to set the mood for your partner, set the mood for yourself. Help yourself get into the mindset to explore your body.”
Look at yourself in the mirror.
“Spend time touching yourself in the mirror, standing up, and gently running your hands all over your body before you fully dive into the massage. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate your body in the mirror. It can be uncomfortable to be with ourselves in that vulnerable state, but I find it to be empowering to look in the mirror and never break the gaze you have with yourself.”
Find a comfortable space and position.
“It could be your bedroom or the bathroom, wherever you feel comfortable. Bend your legs or place your feet on the ground and spread your legs. Start with sensual touching, massaging your abdomen and your belly, playing with your breasts and your areolas.”
Stay connected to your heart.
“Try to keep at least one hand on your heart and the other hand playing with your yoni. Pay attention to your heart, how your heart rate is increasing, or if it is relaxed. Notice when your body tenses up, breathe, and force that energy back down to your yoni to relax. The goal again isn’t to orgasm — it can happen and more than likely will — the point of the massage is for you to be comfortable, confident, and to communicate with yourself.”
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