What Self-Care Looks Like To Host & Author Africa Miranda
One of the shortest words in the English language is also one of the most difficult to say. Boston-born, Alabama-raised digital content creator Africa Miranda says mastering the art of saying "nah" ultimately helped guide her on her journey to living her absolute best life, and she recently slid through xo to teach us her ways.
Being booked and busy is all fun and games until you realize that you're overscheduled and overwhelmed. This creative understands that time is one thing you can't get back and owes her selective nature to one simple equation. She told xoNecole, "Passion plus purpose equals profit. And it's how I make decisions of what deserves my time, what deserves my energy and honestly, also what drives me as well."
According to Africa, if an upcoming project in your life doesn't meet these criteria, it's time to pump the breaks, sis. "I look at things in my life and projects that I work on and I always ask myself, am I passionate about it? If you're going to use your time on this earth, it has to be [focused on] something you have some sort of fire inside you about. If I can answer yes to that, then I say, okay, we can at least investigate further."
Once determining her level of passion, Africa says that she then has to evaluate whether her plan aligns with her purpose. There's no blueprint to success, but there is definitely a formula for growth, and to Africa, this method is the key to securing the bag. I mean you, sis. You're the bag. "If I can say yes to both of those things, then there's always a profit that comes from it; and by profit, yes. A lot of times it is monetary, which is great because we love a coin, but it also is profitable in the sense that it will help other people, or it's something that will help me, meaning that I'll learn something from it."
We sat down with Africa to learn more about how she finds balance despite constantly jetsetting and being a CEO, author, and content creator at the same damn time, here's what she had to say:
What are your mornings like?
“When I'm more centered [and] when I'm not like so harried or so running around, I like to try to start my day a little quieter with like meditation or journaling. The goal for me is to always try to spend at least 10-15 [minutes] before I jump on social media. Some days are better than others, but that's always my goal, to try to just take some time to center myself for the day before I jump right into what everybody's posting and what's happening in the world."
"Some days are better than others, but that's always my goal, to try to just take some time to center myself for the day before I jump right into what everybody's posting and what's happening in the world."
How do you wind down at night?
“I used to have trouble trying to wind down and go to sleep and now I treat myself like a little kid. I know like okay, an hour or so before it's time to go to bed, I've got to start turning lights down and maybe light a candle, doing things to kind of signal my body and my brain that it's time to wind down. I've also have started taking this magnesium supplement that is fantastic. It's called Natural Calm and it really just helps literally calm your body. It doesn't put you to sleep, but it really helps with relaxation and anxiety and it's great. And I've noticed that doing that at night also helps me get ready to rest."
What do you find to be the most hectic part of your week?
“The most hectic and stressful part is that everything is dependent on me. Because at the end of the day, yes, I have an assistant, I have an attorney, I have a team, I have people; but ultimately, so many things still rest on me and it is stressful. It's a lot physically, it's a lot mentally, it's a lot emotionally. I know everything centers around how well I'm performing or functioning from day-to-day, so I do have to really be careful about my energy and people and situations because if I'm off track, then everything's off track."
"I know everything centers around how well I'm performing or functioning from day-to-day, so I do have to really be careful about my energy and people and situations because if I'm off track, then everything's off track."
What does self-care look like for you?
“For me, it varies. Lately, it's just been saying no to things that I don't really want to do and not feeling bad about it. Understanding that sometimes I just have to be home. Let's say, for example, tomorrow, I have an audition I have to prep for and I have a project that I also need to prep for. So, if I have the choice tonight of like meeting friends for drinks or hanging out, it's like no, like self-care for me is prepping so that I'm not stressed tomorrow and I can walk into both of those rooms and perform at my optimal level. Versus like, 'oh let me have fun tonight' and then I'm stressed tomorrow. So I'm just learning that self-care for me these days may not be the spa. It may just be taking the time to do the work that I'm supposed to do so that I can not be stressed and perform well."
What advice do you have for women that may be busy like you who feel like they don't have time for self-care?
“The first thing I would challenge them to do is to throw away the definition that everybody has of what self-care is, like on the Internet and social media, whatever. Because everybody paints this picture of, if you're not like wrapped in a white robe at a spa with a candle burning, then it's not self-care. And that's not realistic for everyone. It's not realistic financially. It's just not realistic from a time perspective, everybody does not have time or the means to do that.
“But if you don't start carving out that time, then it's not going to happen. So I would just say one, adjust your definition of what self-care looks like and to be willing to sacrifice certain things to carve out the time that you need for stuff that's going to ultimately make you happier."
How do you find balance with:
“I don't have the answer for that because it is a struggle. I do miss a lot, like I miss a lot. Thankfully, my friends understand it, but there are times where I wish I feel like, okay, I should be being a better friend or I should be more present, but it's very hard to do that. No one talks about the loss of time, the loss of connection and the loneliness that comes with [being an entrepreneur]. I don't have many friends that do exactly what I do or understand. They love me, but they don't do what I do. It can be very lonely and it's definitely a struggle. I hope that we start being more honest about that so people understand that they're not alone in that, [and so] they're also prepared for some of the sacrifices that come with a life of pushing yourself, so to speak."
"No one talks about the loss of time, the loss of connection and the loneliness that comes with [being an entrepreneur]. I don't have many friends that do exactly what I do or understand. They love me, but they don't do what I do. It can be very lonely and it's definitely a struggle."
“That is a challenge as well because again it's not easy finding a partner that can understand, but then also if you have a partner that also has a similar lifestyle and both of you are off doing things, how do you then connect? So I think it's just about choices and finding the time where you can. But again, it's a constant struggle."
Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
"I kind of treat it the same way. I order my groceries from Instacart, that was self-care for me, realizing that my time was not best served standing up in the grocery store when I was tired. I order my groceries and so that way, I have food at home. But, if I have food here to make to cook or whatever, but I'm tired or I had meetings, I've been running around, then self-care for me also was letting myself off the hook and saying, okay then I can still order some food tonight because it's better for me to rest and have this food than to kill myself. Sometimes we punish ourselves when it's like, spending $20 on takeout is not going to kill you if you're exhausted. Like just order the food, you know what I mean? Just order the food and eat so you can go to bed. And that's how I find my balance."
"For me, [working out] is necessary. It's necessary for what I do but it's also necessary for like my emotional health as well. Like I feel better when I do it, so it's not something in my life that's on my schedule in pencil because if it is, you're going to always find a reason to move it around or 'oh I'll do it tomorrow' or 'I'll do the next day'. And I don't work out for like three hours in the gym. You go 45 minutes, the most an hour. You get in, you get out. I'm not training for a marathon, you know what I mean? I've learned to listen to my body and if I'm tired, it's not going to help to push myself beyond that and then make myself sick or like, you know, just kill myself just to say that I worked out today."
When you're going through a bout of uncertainty or you're feeling stuck, how do you handle that?
"My reset usually comes from people that I'm close to because we can get in our own heads. I'm guilty of that, of just feeling like, oh my God, this is not going to work and the world is coming to an end and I do think it's very important to have people in your life that can help you reset because sometimes you can't do it on your own."
What does success mean to you?
"Peace, opportunity, and options. [Having] the peace of knowing that you've accomplished or are accomplishing your goals. Opportunities, because the more success you attain, the better your opportunities are and they're more in line with what you really want, and options because the more successful you are, the more options and choices you have."
What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance?
"Don't strive for something that's not attainable. I don't strive for balance. I just strive to have the best moments that I can because I don't think that this idea of balance is really unattainable and I think that it sets women up for failure and I'm not striving for failure. I'm just striving to have the best moments and best days that I can, and then have the next best moment and best day that I can."
"Even if you do have a moment of balance, it's not sustainable long-term. I just think for me, it's about striving to live your life as freely and fully as you can and functioning in that space."
Featured image by Derrick Davis
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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