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Those who have experienced an HBCU homecoming understand the assignment. Students, alumni, and family of a Historically Black College and University gather to partake in the excitement of celebrating the heritage and culture of the school. It's a time of joy, honoring traditions, and for some, reflecting on the good ol' days. Homecoming weekends are spent eating well, laughing plenty, and enjoying the sights; and there is plenty to see! (Spoiler alert: Sleep is not on the syllabus.)
There's no such thing as doing too much for homecoming. People order outfits months in advance and have items custom made and tailored; it's a time to show up and show out. From famous alumni to journalists or photographers, you never know who you might bump into at the tailgate. Students have actually launched full modeling careers during homecoming weekend.
It’s Called Fashion, Honey.
HBCU college students are known for dressing well just to go to class, so of course homecoming weekend is a high-profile event! The yard becomes a personal runway and everyone on campus has a front-row seat to the hottest show in town— they're looking to be impressed. Attendees have a major task; prepping outfits for the yard, tailgating, the game, and parties.
Here are our three favorite style categories:
1. The Effortless O.G.
For those traveling to their college towns, overpacking is inevitable (we don't blame you). Yes, bring extra outfits and let your mood guide your choice. We suggest seeking out boutique items online or handmade pieces from your hometown so there's no doubt that you'll stand out. Avoid showing up in the same outfit—fresh off a mannequin—from everyone's go-to stores.
2. Comfort Queen
So, a three-piece suit with a bow tie, high socks and hard dress shoes doesn't exactly scream cozy. It's OK to switch up your homecoming attire to something more comfortable, because even in the GOAT outfit, limping around in painful heels and tugging at a rising skirt all night is simply not appealing. We suggest a dress rehearsal! Take a lap around the house in whatever you plan to dance, eat, or drink in for hours on end. Are those leggings see-through? Can you dance how you want to? Remember, comfort can always be made cute!
3. Classy & Confident
Have you picked up a few quarantine pounds? You could join the club, but we're pretty full. So, consider your evolving body when preparing for the big weekend. Aim for garments that meet you where you are, complimenting new curves and all your fabulousness. This weekend is about you doing you, so do it well, and take those selfies! But most importantly—have fun, confidence really is the key!
Featured image by Getty Images
One of my favorite things about the changing seasons are the new vibes and new energies that change welcomes with it. September represents a transition from the white sand beaches, bottomless brunches, and undeniable romantic vibes long nights, festivals, and impromptu road trips often thought of when we think about the summer. In its place comes romanticism in a different approach. Pumpkin spice anything, the excuse to cuddle up, and the leaves of the trees turning warm shades sparks joy in a different way as fall begins. Perhaps what I am most excited about though are the 2021 wellness trends that come with it.
From hiking to self-pleasure, here is what the fall season has in store for you in the form of wellness trends.
1. Cold Water Therapy
Cold water therapy can look like indulging in cold showers every morning or as immersive as ice water baths, swims or cold chambers. While cold water therapy might have gained popularity from Wim Hof and his infamous breathing methods, it turns out, opting for cold water over hot water comes with its share of benefits. From boosting your immune system and energy levels to improving your quality of sleep and overall mood, the benefits of cold water therapy aren't only limited to recovery (i.e. muscle soreness).
And if you were wondering what temperature qualifies as cold water therapy, according to Dr. Michael Barnish, anything below 15 degrees Celsius. Talk about icy.
I first fell in love with hiking while in the mountains of Mexico and have indulged in the activity whenever I can ever since. Although it is a great thing to do for the mind, body, and spirit year-round, there is something special about fall hikes. Perhaps, it is the changing foilage. Perhaps, it is the not-too-hot, not-too-cold weather combo. Whatever it is, Outdoor Industry Association, has seen a spike in the amount of hiking people have been engaging in in 2021, and it doesn't look like it's a trend that will stop. What's better is that it it is a way to tap into escapism while being safe (because we are still in a panorama out here).
If you haven't been hiking yet this year, the fall season might be the perfect time to begin. Travel + Leisure has a great list of the best hikes in the U.S. that you can check out here.
3. Ritual Baths
I first became introduced to the magical world of ritual baths in the metaphysical space where tarot readers and other spiritual practices noted the benefits of sacred ritual baths as a way to detox, ground, and cleanse. Bathing in general is about the cleansing of one's body, but ritual baths take things a step further by adding a spiritual component to how you bathe. Florida water, Epsom salt, sage, crystals, rose petals and coconut milk can be common staples in ritual bathing. Bathing can be more than a cleansing practice, it can be transformative and healing.
Mama Medicine, author of Ritual Baths, recommends starting with foundational elements like cinnamon sticks and unscented candles with your ritual baths. Depending on what you are trying to attract or channel, there are a plethora of recipes you can choose from, including ones for clarity, strength, grounding, and self-love. For more information on starting your restorative ritual bathing practice, start here.
Nothing speaks to me quite as strongly as the word "pleasure", add some self to that, and I'm all about it. Self-pleasure through masturbation has been a staple of my life for years now, but 2021 finally marked the year where sexual wellness is much more mainstream and therefore being looked at as a means of self-care, aka self-pleasure is something to be prioritized in order to truly live well.
Besides the euphoria that usually follows a self-pleasure experience, orgasms are good for the mind, body, and soul. From regulating your cycle to being nature's painkillers, pleasure can maintain your health and your peace of mind. Doing so through acts of self-pleasure increases your self-esteem as well as your knowledge of your body and your ability to communicate your pleasure needs to others. Invest in your sexual wellness by adding sex toys to your toy box, getting some lubricant, watching ethical porn, and/or experimenting with doing more of what feels good to you.
Pleasure is your birthright. Indulge accordingly.
5. Face Yoga
On the surface, face yoga can seem like yet another pathway into aging backwards. However, in reality, it's more like another way to assist you in aging gracefully. In order to combat the effects of tension, worry, and stress on your face muscles, enter face yoga. Through a series of facial exercises that include massages targeting the lymphatic system, the skin, and the muscles, face yoga is a natural approach to revitalizing the look and appearance of your skin.
6. Adaptogenic Drinks
Want to stress less? The secret might be in implementing adaptogenic drinks into your everyday life. With stress and anxiety at an all-time high, there's no wonder people are looking everywhere for holistic approaches to stress relief, from CBD and now to adaptogenic drinks. Known for their ability to help our bodies adapt to stress and regulate our hormones, adaptogens have long since been heralded in the wellness industry for their benefits. Now that they are being consumed in readily available beverage forms, that hype has become next-level.
While adaptogens like maca, ginseng, ashwagandha, and holy basil are where it's at, adaptogenic drinks from brands like Recess, Trip, and Vybes are definitely paving the way for the adaptogenic wellness drink trend.
For more inspiration, self-care, and wellness tips, check out xoNecole's Wellness section here.
Originally published on Sheriden Chanel
Featured image by Getty Images
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with some folks about songs that should've been official singles yet never were. One of the ones that I shared was Mariah Carey's "All Alone in Love" (a song that she wrote when she was only 15, by the way). To me, it's a perfect way to intro this piece because I have had enough personal experiences and counseled enough people to know that it is very possible to be in a relationship with someone — and still feel quite alone in it. Not because your partner doesn't love you. Not because they're up to some totally f'ed up shenanigans. It's just…even though you signed up for a true and lasting partnership, somehow you now feel some of the very words that define what being alone can feel like: unattended, detached, unassisted, semi-compassionless and perhaps even abandoned on some levels.
As you can already tell, this isn't the kind of article that is for the masses. However, if you are married and this has already resonated with you on some level, before you consider an affair, separation or straight up filing for divorce, please ponder the following seven questions until you get the answers that you need. Then run them by your husband. And a reputable therapist/counselor/life coach if necessary to get back to what you signed up for — which definitely wasn't being alone…while you're married.
1. What’s Changed from When You Were Dating to Now?
When a lot of people reflect on the best times in their relationship, it's not uncommon for them to talk about when they were dating their significant other. That was back when things were fresh, new and exciting. It's also when both people tend to be far more proactive and intentional about their words and actions. That's why I personally recommend that if you're currently feeling alone in your relationship, pull out a journal and really think about what things were like back before you and yours even got engaged. What was he doing differently? Shoot, while you're at it, what were you doing differently?
The reason why both questions are pretty relevant is because, while a lot of wives have told me that her husband no longer "woos her" like he used to, if I then look at the husband, he will oftentimes say that he no longer feels inspired to because he feels totally taken for granted (check out "This Is How To Avoid Taking Your Spouse For Granted"). Yeah, that's the thing about marriage. Oftentimes, both people are feeling the same way at the same time about certain things, they just have a different perspective about it. I'll tap more into that in just a bit.
2. How Much Does Quality Time Matter to You?
You know something that is interesting to me about love languages? The top two that I have (words of affirmation and physical touch), they totally make sense to me. The other three — acts of service, quality time and gifts — I oftentimes have to mentally and emotionally extend myself to meet those needs in others; especially when it comes to quality time. The last boyfriend that I had was a quality time person. So is one of my closest girlfriends. And I'll be honest, sometimes I have to refrain from feeling like that "language" is a little on the needy side because you've gotta make time to honor quality time. While you can pick up a Hallmark card from the store and/or hug me, when it comes to my quality time folks, I've literally got to set time aside to pay attention to them — and only them. And, depending on what my time is looking like, that can be a bit of a challenge.
I'm single and I feel this way. I can only imagine how married folks (especially ones with small children) must feel; especially if they are a quality time kind of individual or they happen to be married to one. I do think this is a relative point to bring up, though, because if you happen to be a quality time type of person and your partner isn't and they aren't very sensitive about you being this way, that could be where the lines are getting crossed. They're not ignoring you; they simply don't need quality time to feel loved in the way that you do.
So yes, this is another relevant point to think about. If you currently feel alone in your marriage, could it be that your love language isn't being spoken very fluently? And if that is indeed the case, do you have some suggestions on how your partner can be more "vocal" in this way? Something that my ex needed was total eye contact with no distractions (including electronic ones like my phone notifications going off). My girlfriend likes to talk on the phone for at least an hour. Other examples of quality time include going out on dates and vacations, playing board and card games together, cooking as a couple, going for a walk, enjoying a bubble bath together — things that the two of you can do together and alone.
The reason why I provided some suggestions is because, when you're a quality time type of individual, it's pretty easy to feel alone in your relationship, even if you've got a pretty healthy relationship, including a sexual one (check out "Married Folks: Ever Wonder If Your Sex Life Is 'Normal'?"). The reason why I bring up sex is because, while your husband may be all good with physical intimacy being seen as quality time, since quality time is your love language, you probably need a lot more attention than that. And so, if he's not a quality time person, you may need to provide examples of how he can spend time with you — time that is outside of the bedroom (check out "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language" and "Are You Ready To Apply Your Love Language To Your Sex Life?").
3. Are Your Expectations Realistic?
Not too long ago, I read a quote that has remained yelling in my head ever since I saw it. I don't know who to credit it to yet the quote simply says, "Relationships fail because people take their own insecurities and try and twist them into their partner's flaws." Pass the plate. Pass the freakin' plate. Yeah, a part of the reason why a lot of marriages struggle, if not flat-out fail, is because people go into them with super unrealistic expectations and sometimes they are based on their own insecurities.
For instance, I know a husband who's been miserable, pretty much for most of his marriage (and it's been well over 20 years at this point). One reason is because his wife is insecure. Another reason is because she doesn't really respect what he does for a living. While she enjoys the financial benefits that come from it, she didn't process what being married to someone in the music business requires — long hours, travel, engaging people of the opposite sex, weird working schedules, etc. So, when she decided to quit her own job (which suddenly freed up all kinds of time), she started "pulling on her husband" to make more time for her. Meanwhile, although he supported her decision to not work anymore, he was like, "You quit your job, I didn't. I've still got to focus on my other priorities."
Now she's constantly calling him, has a billion questions about where he's at and is talking about how lonely she feels when…is that really the case? Is she lonely or is she now bored and putting the pressure on her husband to compensate for the choices that she made and the insecurities that she has? And if it's the latter, how realistic is it for him to do so? Not just realistic but fair. Lawd, I can't tell y'all how many couples I've worked with where the quote that I shared at the top of this point rings loud and clear. While no one should feel abandoned or neglected in their marriage (more on what that truly means in a bit), it's also not a spouse's job to do for you what you should be doing for yourself. That wife needs to find a hobby, do some community work, get into some personal counseling — something. Because her husband isn't causing her to feel lonely; her own insecurities, combined with the fallout from her own decisions and then not choosing to replace what she lost with something else are her triggers. BIG DIFFERENCE.
4. Have Your Needs Been Articulated?
It was about a year ago when I wrote an article for this platform entitled, "So, Experts Have Something To Say About Your Intuition's Accuracy". Yeah, while I know that a lot of us — and by "us", I mean, women — think that our intuition is 100 percent accurate, research (and I) disagree. Yes, oftentimes, that "gut feeling" can be spot-on. At the same time, it can also be connected to what we wish was the case or worse, our own projections.
Where am I going with this? Since a lot of women think that their gut instinct never fails, this means that they oftentimes also think they know everything that their partner is thinking. Yet again, it's wise to remain in a state of humility and to ask questions in order to gain clarity because sometimes what you may think you know could be what you wish was going on in his head or what you are projecting from yourself and your own imagination onto him. And because it's really easy to get into this kind of headspace, it can also be easy to expect him to know what you are thinking too.
Listen, women claim to be mind-readers far more than men do (I hear it all of the time). It's important to keep all of this in mind as well because, if you already feeling lonely and then you assume that your man should know this, you're only going to make matters worse — especially for yourself. That said, a good man shouldn't be defined as someone who can constantly stay two steps ahead of you and your thoughts, wants and needs at all times (that too is pretty unrealistic).
No, a good man is someone who listens to his partner (check out "How You And Your Partner Can Listen To Each Other Better") and, once her needs are clearly articulated and expressed, he does what he can to accommodate them. If you're feeling alone in your marriage right now, have you told your husband? Or are you simply waiting for him to…catch on?
5. Does Your Husband Feel the Same Way?
Unless you're married to someone who is super selfish and/or disconnected within the dynamic (which does happen to some people and is another article for another time), chances are, if you're feeling somewhat alone, your man is too — even if he's simply noticing how your emotional state has shifted the dynamic of the relationship on some level.
For instance, one couple that I work with, they have been dealing with both of them feeling alone in their marriage. The wife feels like the husband doesn't set aside time to really listen to her on a daily basis which has caused her to build a bit of an emotional wall while they husband feels like the wife is shunning physical affection like kisses at the end of the day or cuddling at night. Until they shared all of this in a session with me, the wife thought her husband just didn't care about how she was feeling while he didn't feel like she would take his feelings about everything to heart either.
Y'all, in order to be together, both people have to be involved. Along these same lines, if one person feels alone in their marriage, it's not far-fetched to believe that the other partner is feeling like something is off, not right and/or missing too. My point here is, instead of pulling back even more from your husband, talking to everyone else but him about what's going on (or not going on) and/or finding yourself becoming more aloof by the day, how about simply telling your man that you miss him? Then explain why and hear him out after you finish. I've been doing this counseling thing for a hot minute now. And again, it's been rare when one spouse has felt distant or out of sync — pardon the pun — alone.
6. What’s Your Idea of “Togetherness”?
Togetherness isn't a word that comes up in everyday conversation. I still dig it, though, because it means "warm fellowship". In the context of this message, when something is warm, it's enthusiastic about something or one. Also, some synonyms for the word include benevolent, gentle, kind, doting and tender. Fellowship is all about companionship.
When two people decide to enter into a "until death parts us" type of union, a part of what they are signing up for is committing to a lifelong journey of togetherness. And yes, that requires effort — on both people's part. I mean, deciding to take an enthusiastic approach to your partner and your relationship requires you not getting so comfortable in the relationship that you become lazy. Then when you add onto that just how important it is to be gentle, doting and tender…yeah, marriage ain't for the nonchalant. Not. At. All.
This is why, something that I will sometimes do, is recommend that a couple put together an annual mission statement for their marriage — you know, something that can help both of them get clear and then remain focused on the vision for the union and the direction that they both would like for it to take. The reason why I think doing this annually is so important is because, well, think of where your mind was at this time last year and where you are now. A wise person once said, "People change and forget to tell each other." This is definitely the case in a lot of marriages.
Anyway, as you and yours are putting a mission statement together (no more than a paragraph or two is fine, by the way), make some space for togetherness. There is a bigger chance that you won't find yourself feeling alone in your relationship if you both make it a mission for that not to happen — to either one of you.
7. True Love Doesn’t Ignore Loneliness
The reason why I thought it was important to unpack this topic as much as possible (at least, as much as I could in just one article) is because, feeling alone in a marriage is oftentimes not a clear-cut problem with an immediate or oversimplified solution. You've got to factor in so many things in order to get down to the root. That said, as I bring this to a close, it's important that you hear me when I say that when you signed up to be married, lonely should not be a word to describe how you feel in your relationship.
And so, if you know that a lot of what you're going through is more about what you've got going on internally (because, as a man by the name of Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "If you're lonely when you're alone, you're in bad company."), still run it by your partner and then be open to seeing a therapist, counselor or life coach. Some of us have been battling with loneliness for a long time, thinking that marriage would "fix" it and yet, a wise person once said that marriage only magnifies what already exists, and they are right. On the other hand, if you know that it isn't about an internal void so much as a relational need, bring it to your partner, give him time (more than a week, please) to make some adjustments. If after a couple of months nothing has changed, encourage the both of you to see a professional. If he truly loves you, he's going to want to do all that he can to make you feel like he's really "in this" with you. If he's too self-consumed to meet your needs, well, counseling will reveal that too.
In the meantime, please hear me when I say that if you currently feel alone in your marriage 1) you aren't alone; many people have been or are where you are; 2) internalizing it only makes matters worse, and 3) more times than not, it's a season that will pass. Talk to your partner. Work together to come up with a way for you to feel more comforted and supported. Rinse and repeat. Commit to getting, even through this, together.
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When I think about actresses who have been cultural figures throughout my lifetime, Gabrielle Union-Wade is truly one of the first names that come to mind. I can recall being on the playground in grade school urging my friends to learn the cheer routines from Bring it On just as easily as I can remember a few years ago watching Being Mary Jane, crying from the relatability of Mary Jane's life struggles (a story for another day). It's inspiring to watch a powerful black woman whose art has been a consistent source of entertainment and influence. Although I must say, I think many of us have grown to cherish her personal journey and stories just as much.
Through avenues like social media and her first book, We're Going to Need More Wine, Gabrielle has shared her highs and lows, life-changing moments, and more. Now in her latest novel, You Got Anything Stronger?, she continues to let audiences into other intimate details of her life, including her journey to motherhood.
In 2018, Gabrielle Union welcomed her first child via surrogate. After publicly sharing her issues with fertility, many of us felt a sigh of relief and genuine happiness from the announcement. However, in her latest memoir, she shares the complete truth behind what we saw online. Yes, she was elated, but there's a lot more to the story. From questioning the validity of her motherhood to healing after her now husband's 'break baby' years before, she details her surrogacy journey.
Time Magazine shared an excerpt from the new release, and all I'm gonna say is, I understand the realness of the title. Because I would need a shot.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have dealt with the fall-out of infidelity. The feeling of deceit and hurt is indescribable. But for most of us, we're able to heal privately. Sure, we may talk to friends and family, but no one knows except the people we choose to tell. Obviously, as a prominent star, it was different for Gabrielle Union. Imagine having millions of people aware of your situation while you are still processing the intensity of the pain. She writes:
"The experience of Dwyane having a baby so easily—while I was unable to—left my soul not just broken into pieces, but shattered into fine dust scattering in the wind."
According to studies, Black women are almost twice as likely to experience infertility than white women. Gabrielle Union is no different, she suffered what she describes as, "more miscarriages than she could confidently count" and an adenomyosis diagnosis, frequent pain, and heavy bleeding that is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. She knew something had to shift, but when her doctor recommended surrogacy, Union was determined to find another outcome. This resulted in multiple IVF cycles and losses. She was even willing to try Lupron, a drug that had only a 30% success rate and dire side effects.
"Why was I so willing to risk myself for a chance? If there was another way for me to bring my baby into the world, and have my health, why was it so hard for me to make peace with that?"
This decision led to initial insecurity meeting the surrogate, feeling the grief of prior miscarriages, and ultimately a complex sea of emotions and gratitude for Kaavia's birth.
"If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with. And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time."
As a woman who desires motherhood one day, I think stories like this are needed. Motherhood doesn't look one way, and Gabrielle Union's authentic way of sharing the emotions that come with this, is part of why I and so many others gravitate toward her.
Anyway, I'm excited to add her book to the fall reading list, but I can tell it's going to be intense. If you're interested in checking it out, it's available for purchase here.
Read more of her Time Magazine essay here.
Featured image by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
Feed-in braids have become one of the hottest hair trends on the scene. These types of braids are created by "feeding-in" pieces of hair extensions to the main braid so that it gradually grows in size. It gives the illusion that the hair is directly growing from the scalp, which comes in clutch for styles that requires synthetic hair. This type of styling allows for a more natural look at the hairline and it protects your edges and hairline from excessive tension from heavy hair extensions thus, reducing the likelihood of traction alopecia (or loss of hair from the hairline.) And for women of color, tight braids or pulling the hair back too tight is one leading cause of this type of hair loss.
These braids come in many different styles, textures, lengths, and shapes. The good thing about feed-in braids is they do less damage to our hair and are even better for fine hair and they can be worn for at least two weeks to six weeks. Our natural hair needs room to grow and keeping braids in longer can damage our hair follicles. It's also easier to keep the scalp clean since the braids start with your real hair. While regular braids can take 5 to 6 hours, feed-in braids can take a whole lot longer. Be prepared to sit for 5-9 hours. This styling method can be more expensive than traditional knotted braids. But this depends on the stylist.
Here are a few feed-in braid looks that are trending on the 'Gram:
Classic Straight Backs
To get your beauty fix and to stay up to date with the latest trends, check out the xoNecole Beauty section here.
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