Call it petty. Call it silly. Call it whatever you wish. But I'm here to tell you that if you live long enough on this planet—and you're actually paying attention to what's happening both inside of and around you—you start to figure out what truly benefits you the most, whether other people "get it" or not. One of those things for me is, preferring my friends to not be friends with each other (if they weren't already friends beforehand).
Before we do somewhat of a deep dive into why I feel this way, let me just share two complementary points that helped to bring me to this resolve. One is that I'm an ambivert who leans more to the introverted side. So much, in fact, that the running joke in my friendships is, should I ever get married, the thought of sitting around in a room with all of my friends as we eat cake and open up lingerie boxes is completely nauseating to me. I'd much rather do one-on-ones with each person at one of our favorite spots. Second, there are two articles on friendship that I've already written for the site. One is "Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them"; the other is "According To Aristotle, We Need 'Utility', 'Pleasure' & 'Good' Friends". Because I have different kinds of friendships, different people bring forth a different type of energy. And so, when different-level-friends connect with other people in my world, I've come to realize that it can bring other unexpected issues into the dynamic; things that can become complicated, if not flat-out maddening.
If you can kinda-sorta see where I'm coming from, but you'd still like a little more of an explanation, just to be completely clear on where I'm coming from, sit tight. I'll break it down for you, as best I can, why my friends aren't friends with each other—and that's perfectly fine with me, chile.
Boundaries Are ALWAYS Good
I'm big on boundaries (check out "The Relationships In Your Life That Are Desperately In Need Of Boundaries"). Boundaries are simply limits. With that said, my not preferring my friends to be friends isn't a "rule". People are grown and can do whatever they wanna do. It is a limit for me, though, in the sense that I don't live my life in a way where my friends would become friends in the first place. I don't create settings for everyone to meet up. I don't recommend my friends get to know each other better. Honestly, I don't bring my friends up a ton to my other friends at all. Plus, because my friends know this is how I am, they aren't out here "hunting my other friends down" either (besides, that's just weird).
I must admit that, at first, some of the more sociable people in my life found this preference of mine to be strange, but actually many of my homies have started to incorporate this same "limit" themselves. Everyone has their own space in their other relationships which is cool. Sure, we may know about some of each other's friends on a surface level, but most of us are all good with the buck starting and stopping right there.
My Business Is Mine Alone to Tell
Yeah. Remember what I said about friendships having different levels? Back when I didn't draw firm boundaries in my relationships, I can't tell you how many times one of my friends would bring some detail of my life to me that I absolutely did not tell them. So, how did they find out? One of my other friends brought it up to them. I'm not talking about something nonconsequential like I made a run to the store either. Sometimes, it would be some really deep ish. In fairness (if you can call it that) to the "teller", it wasn't that they were being malicious or anything. More times than not, they were running off at the mouth thinking that, since I was friends with the other person, my friend already knew. 6 times out of 10, they couldn't be more wrong.
But now, since my friends aren't friends with each other, this isn't something that I have to worry about. Everyone finds out what I want them to know—if I want them to know it—on my own time. Besides, since friendships have levels, there are some people I go deep with while there are others that I choose to stay on the surface with, by design. When your friends aren't friends with each other, you get to make the decision of who is privy to info and who isn't—which should solely be your decision in the first place. Right?
I’m Not Perfect. My Friends Need to Vent to Their Own Folks, Tho.
Self-awareness is something that is very important to me. It's what helps me to see my flaws and issues; it's also what helps me to let my friends "show me myself" too. And because my friends and I typically hold nothing back when it comes to holding each other accountable, I know there are times when my friends may need to vent about my over-the-top candor or how I tend to be more black and white than grey. Maturity has taught me to be OK with that. At the same time, it's a lot easier when your friends vent (or rant) about you to people you don't even know (or aren't connected to) than someone who is your actual homie. Shoot, sometimes those same friends get on my nerves and I want to be able to express my feelings too. They don't care that I do it either because, just like I'm not emotionally invested or involved in who they are venting about me to, the same point applies over this way.
(By the way, I know that some of y'all are probably thinking, "A true friend wouldn't talk about you at all." That's not realistic. Or probable. Especially since you probably talk about your friends from time to time. Give them the space to do it. So long as it's not in your space.)
Should a Friendship End, I Don’t Want to Keep Hearing About That Person
This is a big one right here. I've got one friend who is still friends with me and another person who totally betrayed my trust. When you're in the third grade, you tend to take the position that if someone hurts you, all of your friends should stop being their friend. When you're grown, you get that, not only is that a very childish approach to relationships, it's not even fair. Still, it's been years since I ended things with said-friend and I still hearing about her, even though I couldn't care less. Why? Because we share a friend and I don't want to "police" my friend's topics of conversation. It's not her fault that her friend and I don't kick it anymore. Sometimes she's excited about something that happened in her friend's life. Sometimes she wants advice on how to handle a matter with the friend. Sometimes her friend comes up, simply because she's a part of the landscape of her life. But man, do I have moments where I am sick and tired of still hearing about that girl.
This is one more reason why I don't like my friends being friends. While I must say that my friend circle now is pretty darn healthy, beneficial and drama-free, even if it wasn't, it wouldn't matter. If I were to end things with one of my friends now, I wouldn't be hearing about them from any of my other friends.
While some of them know of each other or might even be connected via social media (due to business similarities, etc.), none of them are friends. And so, when I'm done, everything is done. There's no need for them to come up unless I bring them up because my other friends aren't invested in them in the way that I was. And I like it that way. I really do.
I’d Prefer the Universe Match People Up. Not Me.
This last point doesn't even come from my own personal experience. It comes from a friend of mine. Before I share her example that illustrates another reason why I don't like my friends being friends, let me just say that, because I live in this type of space, you can best believe that I respect it when it comes to others. Yes, there have been times when a friend has given me their blessing to connect with one of their friends for a particular business opportunity or I've ran into one of my friend's friends and we've had a cool chat. But I pretty much leave it at that. I don't keep phone numbers. I don't do social media so there's no need to connect there. I just leave it at "I appreciate you" and go on with my life. I've got my own friends, so I don't need to "woo" them in.
Here's another reason why I like living this way. One of my close girlfriends once had a close guy friend. She threw a party where her closest friends attended and another close girlfriend exchanged contact information with her guy friend. About three months later, my friend noticed that her girlfriend was bringing up her guy friend a lot. About three months after that, she also realized that she wasn't speaking as much with her guy friend. When she and the guy friend finally discussed it, he said that he felt like being friends with both of them was kind of awkward because he (now) knew so much about them both. And since their mutual girlfriend was more proactive in connecting with him, he (now) considered them to be closer.
Ain't that some ish? Yet, it happens. It happens when you're out here bringing friends together like a Coke commercial (LOL). As a result, now my friend isn't as close with either person because the guy friend has distanced himself and her girlfriend is cryptic AF about her friendship with the guy. None of this would've happened if my friend hadn't matched up her friends.
Listen, I know that this isn't the way everyone lives their life nor do I think that it should be. But I make no apologies for how much I like this particular standard. It has been nothing but relational smooth sailing for me, ever since I implemented it. And what about when my time comes to leave this earth? What then? Well, it's kind of another article for another time, but I'm the cremate-me-and-go-on-with-your-life kind of person, so there's no need for a kumbaya get together then either. Just remember me how I was. Your friend. Our relationship. As it was. On our own. Thank you much. No worries (literally). The end. Amen.
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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. ;)
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.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
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