OK, so guess how much an average vacation costs. Dun-dun-dun-dun. It's a whopping $4,700! And while things like traveling internationally, staying in a nice hotel and planning to eat out for every meal (not to mention how long you plan on staying gone) definitely contribute to whether this could be your price tag reality, I'm pretty sure that I'm not jumping the gun when I say that money is gonna be a little tight for a lot of us this year when it comes to taking a traditional summer vacation.
Still, when you factor in all of the definitions of vacation that are up at the top of this article, just because you may not have a ton of coins (or maybe even a lot of time), that doesn't mean that you can't create your own vacation of sorts — one that doesn't require you spending a ton of cash or even going very far.
If you definitely would like a little bit of rest and relaxation in the upcoming weeks but your budget says you need to get creative, here are some ways to take a bit of a summer vacation — even if you can't really take one.
1. Shop Like You’re About to Go on a Trip
Aight, y'all. Let's not act like one of the best things about going on vacation is purchasing some new things to take on our trip. Since you're not actually going anywhere (or anywhere far), you can actually buy a few things without guilt or debt because you won't have to spend as much (if you're on a budget, that is).
So, why not use your non-vacation vacation as an opportunity to pick up a new dress, pair of pumps or whatever else you've been eyeing for a while? Something new, whether you wear it immediately or not, is always an easy way to put a smile on your face and take some of the stress off (again, if you budget).
2. Turn Your Bedroom into a (Temporary) Tropical Paradise
I know someone who had an actual tree (sans the leaves) in their living room. It was kinda dope because, every holiday (and also with the change of the seasons), they would put different decorations on it. Why not do something similar to this when it comes to your bedroom? Because here's the thing — the change of bedding, some new window treatments and maybe a big plant or a faux tree can make all of the difference in the world if you're ready for something new in your bedroom but you don't have the big bucks to go all out. If you would've liked nothing more than to go somewhere that requires a passport and has plenty of water and sand upon your arrival, Decoist is a site that offers 30 tips for how to turn your bedroom into a tropical oasis (check it out here). If you add a pineapple-scented soy candle, a fan and some ASMR of ocean waves, you really could feel like you're in a beach house — or very close to it.
3. Eat Different Exotic Foods Every Day
Something else that's fun about going on vacation is it's pretty common to either try a restaurant or a kind of food that you've never had before. That doesn't have to change, just because you're going to be at home. If you go to your favorite search engine and put "exotic recipes" into the search field, you might be surprised by the kind of dishes that you can make. Or, if the last thing that you want to do is be in your kitchen, try putting "unique dining experiences near me" in the search field instead for a list of restaurants that you can either go to or will deliver food to your front door.
4. Play Some World Music Sometimes
There are literally dozens of scientifically backed reasons for why listening to music is good for us. It reduces stress and anxiety. It puts us in a better mood (well, depending on what we choose to listen to). It can decrease pain and discomfort. It improves your memory, strengthens your heart and can even help you to sleep better.
That said, this time, rather than playing what you usually do (shout-out to 90s R&B fans), how about a little bit of world music? It can introduce you to new artists, expose you to another culture and can put your home's atmosphere into a totally different kind of vibe.
For instance, I happened upon a Nigerian artist named Banky W. and the song he wrote for his wife a few years back. It's called "Heaven (Susu's Song)". It definitely put me on the path to check out other artists in his country. Absolutely no regrets either.
5. Have Fun with Google Street View/Google Earth
Who said that just because you're not physically traveling anywhere that you can't still do some major sightseeing from the comfort and convenience of your own home? Thanks to Google Street View and Google Earth, you can look at various countries, museums, national parks — just about anything that you can possibly think of, all while sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.
6. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I went to the Assembly Food Hall, downtown in Music City, for the first time and y'all — I've lived in Nashville since I was three and have written for the major newspaper here which means I spent a lot of time in that area…and when I tell you I barely recognized my own city? Nashville is on steroids right now! My point? I could easily spend a day down there and explore like I was a tourist. Chances are, you could probably do the same thing where you live since there's a really good chance that you've never really looked at where you live through the eyes of a tourist. Hey, it might seem like a corny thing to do on the surface, but you might be surprised what hanging out for a few hours in your own downtown will reveal to you.
7. Book a Hotel Room
It doesn't matter if you're single, in a relationship or wanting to hang out with your friends, you absolutely must take out at least one day to spend the night in a local hotel. Not some two-star one up the street either. Pick a place that you've always been curious about, go to a discount site likeHotels and book a reservation at a discounted rate. While the world is still trying to open up, you should be able to get a pretty good deal since many businesses are not as busy as they were prior to the pandemic (yet).
8. Do Something “Risky”
I don't know what it is about traveling to other places that makes us want to try things that we probably would never attempt at home. Why wait to go out of town to take a risk or two, though? Whether it's ziplining, skydiving, rock climbing — whatever, book an appointment to do it while you've got the time off. It's a great way to check something off of your bucket list and create a pretty awesome memory in the process.
9. Designate a “Good Vices” Day
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "The excess of a virtue is a vice." Aristotle is who said it. What it basically means is, anything done in excess has the great potential to be problematic — even if it's good for you. So, if you've been eating super clean in order to shed some pounds, you can't remember the last time you've enjoyed your favorite cocktail or you've been craving ice cream for a couple of weeks now and, for whatever the reason, you've been denying yourself — why not use this time off to have what I call a "good vices" day. Nobody is saying to be reckless or anything. Just designate a day when you can order a pizza, roll up a couple of blunts and/or eat a couple of Krispy Kremes to your total heart's content. You're on vacation. Why the hell not?
10. Get Completely Off of the Grid
There are a few people I know who are definitely workaholics. What's my clue? Even when they go on vacation, they are still "plugged in". If it's not their laptop, it's their phone. A part of why you go on a vacation is so you can take a break away from your regular routine. So, unless you're a parent who is going to take a few days off from your kids, there really is no reason to be around your usual electronics during your down time. Folks can leave a voicemail, shoot an email or write a text. And I promise you, 85 percent of whatever it is that they say — it can wait until you return to your regularly scheduled life.
11. Leave Certain Topics Totally Off of the Table
Along the same lines of the point I just made, there is also absolutely no point in going on a vacation if all you're going to be doing is worrying about the same stuff that you do when you're not taking time off. So again, whether you're single, in a relationship or planning to do some of this with family members and/or friends, ask everyone to agree that certain topics are off of the table — bills, work, drama…stuff that prevents you from chilling out and completely relaxing.
When I'm working with married couples and I recommend that they take a sexcation, it is amazing how many of them return stressed because they decided to bring their problems along for the ride. A vacation should be about a shift in mindset more than anything else. Always remember that.
12. Don’t Forget About Your Sex Jar
One of the first articles that I wrote when I first came to this platform was "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar". The gist is, if you're in a long-term exclusive relationship, every time you and your partner have sex, put some money into a jar. At the end of six months or a year, count up your coins and do something together that will benefit the relationship — whether that ends up being a trip to Baskin Robbins or a cruise is totally up to y'all and y'all's sex life. Anyway, if you happen to fall into this relational dynamic, there's no time like your vacation to start stacking up some paper. Sex jars are one of the best things ever invented. Using your vacation as an opportunity to take advantage of 'em.
13. Take Lots of Pictures
Maybe it's just me, but it's kinda crazy how folks will take selfies all day, every day (some literally) and yet, ask them to show you a picture of their family or some event, and oftentimes they find themselves drawing a blank. Where I'm going with this is, just because you may not end up doing anything super extravagant, that doesn't mean that memories won't be made, so be intentional about taking pictures. There's a list of apps for photographers here and an article on almost 40 cool editing apps for pictures here.
14. Rent a Vacation House in the Next County/Town/City
What if you actually do want a change of scenery for more than a night but your funds (or the amount of time off) are keeping you from going all out? Something worth considering is renting a vacation house, even if it's just for a couple of days. One site that you might want to try is VRBO. While it features listings from all over the United States, what I like about it is, there's a really good chance that you could find a dope house or even a mansion that isn't very far from you; one that you wouldn't have ever known about, had you not specifically gone looking for vacation homes. You can live like the rich for a little while without going into debt in the process.
15. Plan Your Next “Away Vacation”
Now that you're about to have some downtime, use it as an opportunity to also plan your next vacation that's away from your house/city. When you're sitting on the floor with some pizza, wine and your favorite tunes playing in the background, it can be fun to use some vacation-planning apps to figure out where you're gonna go, when and how much it will cost. And you know what? If you, even 50 percent of what's on this list, you might realize next year that you'll want to take a traditional vacation — and another one just like this too!
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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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What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs