I'm an island girl at heart.
I was born, raised, and still live in the beautiful islands of The Bahamas so I know for a fact that when I see bridal parties, girl squads, and women in general living their best lives on an island getaway and hashtagging their pics with #travelgoals, they're telling no lies!
I was invited on an all-girls trip to Barbados last year and I was super excited to soak in the sun on an island I'd never visited before! As a travel writer, this trip proved to be like none I'd ever experienced.
The trip was the brainchild of Black Girls Travel Too (BGTT) owner Danny Rivers-Mitchell whose company encourages, promotes, and supports Black women traveling the world and occupying spaces "they" say we can't or shouldn't be in. For the first time ever, 10 influential Black queens descended on an island at once to soak up some sun and prove that we too have an audience, reach and influence. In fact, when combined our followers total more than one million!
The ladies & Writer Ianthia Smith showing the impact of their reachPhoto by Will Edmond
How's that for influence?
After an early morning meet up in the JFK Airport in New York, friendships, bonds, and connections were immediately formed, and as we boarded our five-hour flight to paradise, it was crystal clear that this would be a girls trip I wouldn't soon forget.
Like most island destinations, the minute you hop off the plane, you're immediately hugged by sweet island breezes and intoxicated by the salt left lingering the air by the ocean's waves. Barbados is no different. It didn't help that we were in Rihanna's home country either, so our inner "bad gals" were all activated as we brought the bikinis, the melanin, and the sass!
Check out these 5 times me and my newest gal pals got our entire lives in Barbados!
Private Cooking Class on the Beach
Writer Ianthia Smith cooking with Barbados celeb chef Craig Greenidge
Photo by Will Edmond
Our first day out, we headed to the beach for a cooking demo with one of Barbados' celebrity chefs, Craig Greenidge. The entire atmosphere at Pirate's Cove was so tranquil and serene. Hammocks swayed in the midday sun as tropical drinks and cups of rum punch flowed endlessly. The sea glistened as the powder white sand seemingly evaporated between my toes. We were like little kids on the beach; dipping our toes in the water, running amuck and trying hard to pay attention to the chef as he walked us through cooking our meal of cassava chips, fish cakes, and curry chicken salad.
We helped to whip up a traditional Bajan meal and washed it back with more rum punch, of course. The food was delicious, but the relaxing mood and quiet of the beach satisfied our appetites more. We walked along the sandy shoreline for what seemed like hours, bonding, connecting, and capturing fire images of each other.
The results of the girls' private cooking lesson on the beach
Photo c/o Ianthia Smith
Nikki Beach was LIT!
Writer Ianthia Smith keeping things mellow in yellow on Nikki Beach
Photo by Will Edmond
No girls trip to Barbados is complete without a visit to Nikki Beach. I was not ready for the insane amount of fun and frolic that was awaiting my arrival at this posh, luxurious destination. The minute we arrived, it was clear that Nikki Beach was made with a queen in mind. Day beds and lounges stretched the length of the pool on one side, while the beach gave endless views on the other. Our section was ready and waiting for us when we arrived and we quickly traded whatever we were wearing for bikinis and one pieces. The vibe at Nikki Beach was lit for the entire time we were there. Freshly made mojitos were delivered to us with all the pomp and pageantry we deserved; our delicious spread was served on the cutest little boat complete with sparklers, music and...abs!
The beautiful ladies & Writer Ianthia Smith stylin' and profilin'
Photo by Will Edmond
A Catamaran Cruise for the Queens
The ladies enjoying sunbathing on their luxurious cruise
Photo by Will Edmond
We left land for a bit to head out on the water for a day of sailing and sun bathing...and scoping out Rihanna's mansion! On the high seas, we coined the phrase, "Riri, are you home?!" because we annoyingly shouted it for 20 minutes straight, hoping our favorite bad gal would hear us, and possibly come out on the balcony. We had a successful day of doing absolutely nothing as we lathered our melanin in the warm Bajan sun. Our catamaran cruise took us on a magical tour of the island, passing by mansions and five-star developments on the way. At one point, we stopped to snorkel and swim with the turtles and hop on jet skis, where some of us were far more adventurous than others. It was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip and...Rihanna never came outside lol.
Visiting Rihanna’s Childhood Home
Writer Ianthia Smith posted up on Rihanna Drive
Photo c/o Ianthia Smith
So, this time we got a little closer to Rihanna, but she still wasn't home! Either way, we got our entire lives visiting the home she grew up in. The tiny, but colorful house sits on a quaint corner named Rihanna Drive, in honor of our girl! There's this huge plaque sitting at the corner of the entrance, paying homage to the music and beauty mogul. A tiny red and white bar also welcomes you in. This building is definitely everything Rihanna, with paintings splashed on the ground featuring some of her song titles. We spent so much time at Riri's homestead taking a million photos on her front porch and chatting it up with the neighbors and Ms. Marj, the cutest little old lady who claims to be Rihanna's godmother. Here is where we got to see just how much the people of Barbados love and cherish Rihanna, just like we do!
The Safari Ride with Breathtaking Views
Writer Ianthia Smith looking out into the beauty of the ocean
Photo c/o Ianthia Smith
On our last full day on the island, we hopped on two separate trucks for a Bajan safari ride at dusk. We got a late start and raced to beat the setting sun. But before the light escaped us, we were able to take in some of the most enchanting views of Barbados. We trucked through these close knit communities passing by mountains, beaches, and the most beautiful smiles, and warmest waves on the way. I had no clue Barbados had as many breathtaking views as it does. Bathsheba, to me, though, was the most beautiful. With large boulders sitting far out in the middle of the ocean and some casually resting on the roadside, the views here were dramatic, but so calming. On the way back, our tour guide Glein let us connect to his Bluetooth for an hour-long Rihanna jam out session. We sang our lungs out to so many of her songs as the winds flung our hair to the skies and the nighttime cool kissed us goodbye...until next time.
This was my first trip to another Caribbean country and I can admit that I've certainly been missing out. But being in Barbados, I enjoyed this strange familiarity and quickly remembered that even if you take the girl off the island and put her on another one, she'll always be at home.
It's all about peace and love on this gorgeous Barbados adventure
Photo by Will Edmond
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Featured image by Will Edmond. Originally published January 15, 2019.
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Ianthia is a freelance Bahamian writer, journalist, TV host and producer and travel and lifestyle blogger with works and features in Essence, Forbes Travel Guide and Sheen Magazine. A TV anchor turned full-time blogger, Ianthia quickly became one of The Bahamas' top influencers; even being awarded the honor at the 2017 Bahamas 40 Under 40 awards. Ianthia's MiniSkirts and Microphones website (www.ianthia-smith.com) is a travel and lifestyle blog for busy millennial women looking for advice and inspiration on how to transition from 9 to 5 to fulltime girl boss while being a woman in the age of social media.
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 masterdating? 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 masterdating 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 Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. 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 masterdating 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 masterdating 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 masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
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 masterdating 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” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating 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 masterdating 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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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images