Typically, this is the time of year when a lot of us would be focused on spring cleaning. Yet, with the coronavirus requiring so many of us to be at home, virtually all day, every day, it can be hard to make that a priority when 1) your house is now your office (and if you have kids, also a school) and 2) you are so over looking at your place that you're not even all that inspired to give it the TLC that it needs and deserves.
If that about sums up how you feel right about now, this article was written with you in mind. I know that times are tough and money is tight. But since you've gotta be in your crib most of the time, why not use this as an opportunity to do a little remodeling? To create the kind of oasis that makes you feel less bored, more relaxed and like, no matter what is going on outside of your front door, you totally adore the space that you are living, 24/7, in.
What do you need to do to bring you to this kind of resolve?
1. Get Some (More) Plants
When it comes to this first tip, I'm actually preaching to the choir because, although I am an ambivert who works from home, I don't have one plant in my house (don't judge me). That's pretty weird considering I grew up in a home that has plenty of 'em. I think it's because I'm very aware of the care and attention that they deserve (even the low-maintenance ones) and I just haven't become intentional about adding them to my daily routine. That doesn't mean I shouldn't, though; especially right through here because plants can make your living space much more calm and serene. Tranquil even.
One more thing while we're on this topic. It's been proven that indoor air pollution is 2-5 times higher than outdoor air pollution and can be far more deadly. Why am I bringing this up? Well, if you've read somewhere that plants can also reduce indoor air pollution, I hate to break the news to you, but nowadays, they are saying that is a myth (check out "A Popular Benefit of Houseplants Is a Myth" and "Which houseplants should you buy to purify air? None of them."). So, just what can you do to remove some of those extra toxins that you're currently taking in? Declutter. Get a humidifier. Remove your shoes as soon as you walk into your house (so you're not tracking dirt and dander throughout your home). Dust and vacuum. Open up your windows sometimes and, once you are done using your candles, put the lid back on them; that decreases the amount of smoke that goes out into your room once you blow the candle out.
2. Make It Smell Good
In a nutshell, aromatherapy is all about using plant extracts in order to improve your overall health and well-being. It can decrease stress, reduce pain, treat headaches, boost your immune system, improve your quality of sleep, ease depression symptoms and even fight off bacteria and fungus—all things that we need on a whole 'nother level these days.
So, whether it's via a soy candle, diffuser, DIY spritzers or draping something like eucalyptus vines on your bedroom wall, it's well worth your time and money to get some "smell goods" for your house. As far as aromatherapy scents that are wonderful de-stressers, some of those include lavender, jasmine, lemon, bergamot and rose.
3. Pick Up a Blackout Curtain
Although I make sure to get 8-9 hours of sleep each day, I must admit that it's not always consecutive. Sometimes I'll sleep for five or so hours at night and then take a nap in the daytime. If you're not used to being at home during day hours and the at-home demands and stress are pushing you to your limit, taking a nap might be just what you need. If, like me, it's hard for you to rest in a bright room, you can trick your body into thinking that it's nighttime if you put up a blackout curtain. Just make sure to set an alarm. For a nap to be truly effective, you only need about 20-30 minutes in order to give yourself a real energy boost.
4. Wallpaper Some Stuff
Something that you can do to totally change the appearance of a bookshelf or any shelves in your house is to put some peel 'n stick wallpaper (which you can buy at Walmart or home improvement stores) on it/them. It's the kind of wallpaper that's also cool on breakfast trays or even a backdoor of your home office or your bedroom. Click here and here for a few tips and other ideas on how to make peel 'n stick wallpaper can totally upgrade your home.
5. Invest in a Slipcover for Your Couch
I'm willing to bet some pretty good money that you and your couch are about to break records thanks to how much time you'll be sitting on it. One way to keep the appearance of your sofa from boring you to tears is to get a couple of slipcovers to put over it. Sites like Sofa Lush, Jane Closet and The Décor Home Store have them for under thirty bucks. You also can typically find them in stores like Target and Walmart too. While you're at it, pick up some (extra) throw pillows. A simple addition like those can change your living room's appearance. As a bonus, they're super comfy as well.
6. DIY a Bed Canopy
While we're on the subject of upgrading your living space, if you want to do something different with your bed, how about making your own bed canopy? All you really need are some sheer curtains and copper rods and you can create a whimsical getaway in your very own bedroom. If you'd like to learn how, click here.
7. Buy a Whiteboard
Whether you're working from home or homeschooling your kids (or both), you definitely need a couple of whiteboards. When it comes to your work, whiteboards are affordable ways to jot down ideas, keep up with goals and to organize your thoughts. On the homeschooling tip, they make it possible to put together lesson plans and keep your kids engaged with what you are teaching them. You can usually find them at office supply stores for less than $10.
8. Make Your Own Clothing Rack
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who was feeling guilty about wanting to purchase a few new clothes that were on sale. "I mean, with all that is going on in the world right now, am I being insensitive?" they asked. My response was, "Shoot, with all that is going on in the world right now, if a new outfit will make you feel better, I say cop it. Plus, it's 40 percent off, so you're saving money."
Listen, no one is suggesting that you should be out here whilin'. But if you are also using this time of quarantining to toss out the old and bring in a little new, why not take out a weekend to make a clothing rack? Something that's great about this idea is a rack can provide you with extra space to hang up clothes, plus you can move it to anywhere in your house that you want. Some copper pipes, glue, a tape measure, a Sharpie and nail polish remover (basically a quick run to Home Depot or Lowe's) are all you really need. Click here for instructions if you want to take this suggestion on.
9. Change the Frames of Your Artwork
If you're sick and tired of looking at the same art that's on your walls but your budget won't let you purchase any new prints, you can totally change the appearance of the art that you currently have by simply putting them into some other frames. While that might sound a little too Martha Stewart for you at first, articles like "DIY Picture Frame Tutorials (How to Make a Picture Frame)" will show you that it's easier to do than you probably thought. Plus, if you hit up a family member or friend on Skype, Google Hangout or Zoom, y'all can hold a virtual arts and crafts party which could be a lot of fun.
10. Order a Laptop Stand
It's been years since I've had a desktop computer; I have a couple of laptops instead. Something that I know I need to stay on top of is maintaining my posture. One way to do that is to invest in a laptop stand. Not only does it make things easier on your neck, shoulders and back while you're typing away, a laptop stand help to keep your laptop cool, makes it easier for you to read whatever is on your monitor and, it can help to decrease the chances of it getting damaged due to dropping it or spilling something on it. Just prop the stand on your desk, put your laptop on top of that and your all set. Target has some that are less than $15 that are great for if you want to work in bed or while sitting on your sofa. Or, if you want to get one for your home office desk, "10 Best Laptop Stands (Review) in 2020".
BONUS: Make a Rug Out of Your Old T-Shirts
I think it's like once a day these days when I find myself triggered about something that is being overlooked at the expense of the Rona. For example, did you know that the EPA has currently relaxed its regulations in direct response to the pandemic (SMDH)? One way to do your part to care for the environment during all of this upheaval is to upcycle. And one way to do that is to repurpose old clothing. If you've got some old T-shirts that you don't know what to do with, you can even update one of your floors by making a rug out of 'em. Basically, you cut your T-shirts into strips to turn them into "yarn". Then you crochet them into a circle and voila! You've got your very own area rug (you can get all of the instructions here). It's a creative way to pass the time, to not be wasteful, and to have something decorative to show for it after you're done. It's just one more way to beautify your place and enjoy your space until this quarantine passes. #verycool
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Dating a water sign is full of love and intensity. Water signs are often known to be more emotional than the rest of the zodiac, but what does this mean for their love life and for dating a water sign yourself? Well, it means experiencing a love that is refreshing at its best, consuming at its worst, but more importantly, a love that is deeply felt. See, water signs often find power in expressing their emotions, and being so vulnerable with their inner world creates partners who don’t just tell you how much they love and feel for you, but they want to show you so that you can feel it as well.
Water signs that are evolved and aligned with their highest selves are some of the most loving, romantic, and compassionate partners to have. You don’t have to guess with a water sign. If they like you, they will tell you, and if they don’t, they will tell you that as well. Even though water signs can be a little mysterious sometimes, they aren’t ones to hold back when it comes to expressing how they are feeling, which leads to a sense of transparency when dating them. Water signs at their worst, however, can be controlling and moody, and it depends on the person at hand. Water signs feel everything so deeply, and they can often attract negative energy into their life and let it consume them.
When it comes down to it, water signs put their relationships and loved ones first in life. So much of their time and day-to-day life is wrapped up in whom they love and care for, so they make a dedicated partner, to say the least. Sexually, water signs tend to be some of the most sensual as they need to feel the connection of the relationship on every level, and they crave this type of intimacy with their partners. They are sincere lovers who can intuitively feel how you feel and often read your mind because of it. They want to be known as a good partner, and although there are some water signs notoriously known for their toxic behavior, when you get a good one, you are loved by them for life.
Dating a Cancer
Cancers are known for their nurturing energy, though those close to them know there is a lot more to it than that. Cancers have a deep yearning for stability and safety and create their relationships around this part of themselves. Family and close loved ones are everything to a Cancer, and this is a partner that is perfect to bring home to the parents, and one whom you can build a strong family foundation with yourself as well. Cancers are the type of partners to treat you to something special that you mentioned once in passing and to make you feel like you are the center of their world.
At their best, Cancers are nurturing and protective, at their worst they are moody and restrictive.
The perfect types of date nights for a Cancer are ones where there aren't too many people around, and preferably a romantic date at home or somewhere they have already been and love. Many Cancers are known for their homemaking skills as well so don’t be shocked if they try to take rein here and surprise you with a homemade meal of your favorite dish. Cancers are homebodies, so if they invite you into their home, then that is a good sign they feel safe and comfortable with you which they need as a basis for the relationship. Dating a Cancer is a nostalgic type of love.
Learn how a Cancer pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Scorpio
Scorpios are passionate lovers and will go to the ends of the earth for you. Dating a Scorpio is like entering the depths of love, as they only form bonds with those they feel they have a strong connection with. Every Scorpio is different, and this is a sign that if you dated a few of them, you would see some similarities, but the experience you have of them will be completely different. Scorpios are masters at mirroring energy, and if they feel the love they are looking to give to another, then you can be assured they will give their all to the relationship.
At their best, Scorpios are loyal and magnetic, and at their worst, they are jealous and resentful.
Scorpio is another private sign, as most water signs are, and a perfect date night for them is one with moody lighting, minimal people or interruptions, and an intimate sort of environment. Scorpio is an intrigued lover and will want to know absolutely everything about you right away, but will take some time divulging any information about themselves. Dating a Scorpio is sexy, and you can feel their love and attraction towards you strongly when they are interested.
Learn how a Scorpio pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Pisces
Pisces is the hopeless romantic of the zodiac, and dreams of a fairytale type of love. This is the type of lover who wants to immerse themselves in art, fun events, music, and movies. They cherish every moment they spend with their partners, and love is never a dull experience for them. Pisces has a habit of being all over the place so this is a relationship that will sure to be a whirlwind, but one where you feel like you are dancing together rather than alone. Pisces are givers that want to make their partners feel loved the way they wish to. They tend to attract people who are more organized or “put together” than them, as they love to grow and learn more through their partnerships. This is the type of partner who wants to be led more than lead.
At their best, they are creative and compassionate, at their worst they are confused and co-dependent.
The perfect date night for a Pisces is one where you take the lead and plan something. They love to be thought of sincerely, and they will be swooned if you take them to their special places or do something that brings out their more extroverted side. Organizing something for them, not being flaky, and also taking your time when developing the relationship are all favored by Pisces. Dating a Pisces is like entering a dream of their own making.
Learn how a Pisces pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
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