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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Porsha Williams And Simon Guobadia’s Marriage Has Ended: Here’s A Look Into Their Relationship Timeline
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia have called it quits.
After a 15-month-long marriage commenced with two elaborate wedding ceremonies, PEOPLEexclusively reports that the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star has filed for divorce from the Nigerian businessman on Thursday.
With online rumors around Guobadia's citizenship status coinciding with the announcement of their separation, a source informed PEOPLE that the divorce is "unrelated to recent allegations involving Simon's past" and is an “ongoing matter.”
In November 2022, the ex-lovebirds tied the knot in Atlanta during a show-stopping, 350-guest Nigerian traditional native law, with a traditional American wedding to follow.
Ahead of their wedding, Williams told PEOPLEexclusively, “I am ridiculously excited. I am just so ready. I'm not even nervous. I know I'm marrying the love of my life, and it's going to solidify our relationship and our family bond. I'm calm and excited."
Although their relationship has come to a sudden conclusion, their whirlwind romance was one to watch; or in this case, look back on. Here’s a breakdown of the moments that made Williams and Guobadia’s relationship one to remember.
2020 - Porsha and Simon's First Encounter
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia first crossed paths in 2020 on the set of Season 13 of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Guobadia was then married to friend of the show, Falynn Pina.
May 2021 - Their Surprise Engagement
In May 2021, Porsha Williams surprised fans by announcing her engagement to Simon Guobadia shortly after he reportedly declared his divorce from Falynn Pina. Williams shared on Instagram that their relationship started a month earlier, and Guobadia had initiated divorce proceedings in January 2021, which had been resolved.
Williams took to Instagram to dispel rumors around the overlap in Guobadia’s prior relationship.
“Our relationship began a month ago—yes we are crazy in love,” she wrote in the caption. “I know it’s fast but we are living life each day to its fullest. I choose happiness every morning and every night. Tuning out all negative energy and only focused on positive wishes.”
November 2021 - Porsha Clears Up Rumors Around Their Relationship Timeline
On an episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen looked to “nail down some dates” in connection to alleged overlaps with Porsha, Simon, and his ex-wife. She shared that she reached out to Guobadia to express her sympathy for his divorce, having experienced the weight of divorce herself.
“I actually told him, ‘I’m sorry for your divorce,’ and all of that because I know what that feels like,” Williams shared. “I know what it feels like to go through betrayal and hurt.”
She continued, "A little birdie had told me that [Falynn] was pregnant, so I knew what he was about to go through." Porsha noted that his ex-wife’s pregnancy announcement prompted her to offer support to Simon, which opened a door for their connection to deepen and eventually fall in love.
November 2022 - Williams and Guobadia Tie the Knot
The couple spared no expense for their not one, but two wedding ceremonies. On Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, the two celebrated their love in front of 350 wedding guests at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The first ceremony celebrated Guobadia's Edo culture, while the following day featured a star-studded American wedding. Williams told PEOPLE that the double-wedding was a "true fashion extravaganza," as a nod to her numerous outfit changes.
November 2023 - A Diamond-Studded Declaration
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, the couple exchanged extravagant dazzling diamond rings — a stunning emerald cut for her and a stylish band for him.
February 2024 - The Two File for Divorce
Williams filed for divorce from Guobadia on Thursday, Feb. 22 2024, after nearly a half of marriage. While the cause of their divorce is still unknown, sources close to Williams confirmed that the divorce is an “ongoing matter.”
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images