Lessons I Learned In The Stillness Of Recovery
We speed through our lives, driving ourselves into early graves to get to the next thing. We fly through life as if the best of our lives is always just out of reach and we must bolt towards it. I pushed this reality to the back of my mind until one day I collapsed.
Recently, I moved back in with my mother in New Jersey after deciding to completely change careers. Washington, D.C. offered little to no opportunities in screenwriting and production so I needed to move back as close to New York City as possible to get into the business.
After almost a year of smaller stomach pains that I ignored, attributing to overeating, a few weeks ago, my mother found me on the living room floor on my knees unable to stand.
I was taken to the ER, not knowing that a few hours later, I would be in the OR with portions of my small intestine and colon being removed due to endometriosis. As someone who has always had reasonably good health, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I did not know what to expect in recovery. I did not understand the extent to which I would need to slow down.
I didn't understand that in order to begin to live fully again, I would have to decrease speed and pay more attention.
It's a lesson I can look back and see that God was trying to teach me at least 3 different points in my adult life. This time, I got it. I had nothing but time to dig deeper, journaling and meditating to find just what this downtime is supposed to be teaching me.
1. Accept help.
The hardest thing for me was to accept that I couldn't even lift my own body or bathe myself for the first few weeks. I had to rely on nurses, CCTs, and family members. I didn't realize how prideful I was until I had to accept others' help on a larger scale than I ever have before. It doesn't point to weakness when you must rely on others, it shows your humanity. It's cliche but true, no one is an island and sometimes we can become arrogant in our ability to give and help others. So, it's paramount to living our best lives to learn how to receive help graciously and gratefully.
2. Find your own pace.
It is difficult to be in recovery in any capacity while trying to move at others' speeds. Social media advertising friends' accomplishments and escapades can do a number on us psychologically when we are in a state of stillness. We want to be doing more when we physically cannot or should not. Don't rush yourself to be doing more if you don't have the energy. Try not to obsess over what other people are doing, talking about, or posting. Focus on yourself, doctor's orders, and how you want to be on the other side of recovering.
3. Stop and listen for lessons.
What do you hear when you get quiet and listen? What adjustments have you wanted to make to your life but felt you never could because you had to keep moving? While you have the time, it's worth it to establish a daily practice of prayer or meditation to ensure you're where you need to be mentally and emotionally. One of the main lessons I'm learning during my recovery is to redefine success. I didn't notice until I had to sit still that I was defining success as constantly being in motion, constantly doing something, producing something. Am I no longer successful now that most of my attention goes to recovering from surgery?
Have I lost my value?
At first, I felt that way. Over the course of a couple of weeks journaling, sitting in silence, praying, and meditating, I recognized this was a major lesson God was trying to teach me. Movement is not most important; being present, grateful, and whole is.
While I was constantly traveling, mixing and mingling, talking, and creating, I lost sight of that truth and wrapped my worth in constant motion.
Stillness is a gift in how it offers us time and space to scoop up the bits of wisdom we leave on the table when we're typically rushing through life. There is no shame in taking that time to reevaluate and reemerge with new perspective and appreciation for life.
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- Lessons I Learned In The Stillness Of Recovery - xoNecole ›
- What Embracing Stillness Truly Means - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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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Black Friday and Cyber Monday have long been reserved for those looking to snag deals on gifts, gadgets, and gizmos just before the holidays. While most folks keep an eye out for insane deals on gaming systems, TVs, and home decor— what many often miss are the travel deals that come out around this time of year, too.
In 2024, we’re all looking to jet set a little more. Whether that means finally taking advantage of our PTO to go, lay on a beach, and let the soothing sounds of crystal blue waters carry us away or booking a quick weekend escape with bae. Either way, a vacation is deserved, so why not save a few coins in the process?
If you’re ready to add some new destinations to the list, or you are just the type of person who loves a good sale, we’ve rounded up some of the best airline and hotel deals for you to check out this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Airline Deals
Since travel rebounded after the global pandemic, flight prices have increased. And, depending on your home airport, those prices could be borderline astronomical— hello, Charlotte. So, being able to lock in a discount fare for your trip is always a win.
Check out a few of the best airline deals we’ve come across for BFCM thus far.
TAP Air Portugal: Starting now until November 24, the Portugal-based airline carrier is advertising economy class flights starting at $379 for travel through May 31, 2024. Departure airports include Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA), Chicago O-Hare (ORD), and D.C. (IAD), with the lowest-priced flights heading to Rome, Italy, and Lisbon, Portugal.
Qatar Airways: Consistently voted one of the world’s best airlines, you can take advantage of up to $350 off in premium class and up to $150 off in economy to select destinations from all gateways across the US, Canada, and Brazil. This offer ends 11/24/2023.
French Bee: Deemed a budget airline with service to Paris and other popular international destinations, the carrier is taking things up a notch with flights to Paris and Tahiti from New York City, San Francisco, L.A., and Miami starting at as low as $387 roundtrip. The cheapest option is NYC to Paris for $387. The sale runs November 20 - 27, 2023, and it must be for travel between November 20, 2023, to March 31, 2024.
La Compagnie: The 100% smart business-class airline is bringing back its annual “Blue Friday” deal from November 17 to 21, 2023. Travelers can get roundtrip business class flights to Paris, Milan, or Nice, France, for $2,000. The sale only applies to flights between December 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024.
*Editor’s Note: Most US airline carriers typically announce any BFCM sales on the actual days, so be sure to look out for those as well.
John Lund/ Getty Images
BFCM Hotel Deals
You’ve purchased your flight, and now it’s time to lock in the last part standing between you and a vacay— the hotel. Long gone are the days of “staying anywhere because we’ll barely be in the room.” No, we want to be able to kick back and lap in luxury at the hotel, too. These deals will certainly help you achieve that.
Windjammer Resort - Saint Lucia: If you saw Chloë’s stunning beach shots from St. Lucia, they were taken along the sands of this resort. Save up to 60% on all room categories, plus get a $250 resort credit, daily breakfast, and complimentary access to world-class amenities for the entire family. The sale runs November 20 - 28, 2023.
Marriott Bonvoy: Current Bonvoy members can save 20% off bookings made through the app for stays between November 26, 2023, and January 15, 2024. The offer runs from November 21 - 28, 2023.
The Spectator Hotel - Charleston, SC: Receive 23% off bookings made from November 27, 2023, through December 3, 2023, for travel happening before December 31, 2024. Without the discount, the hotel’s rates start at $299/night.
Intercontinental Miami: From November 24, 2023, to November 28, 2023, get 40% off a second night when booking a two-night stay from November 24, 2023 - March 31, 2024. This also includes complimentary early check-in and late check-out based on availability.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort - Saint Lucia: Save up to 35% on bookings made for stays between January 4, 2024 - December 20, 2024. A 4-night minimum stay is required to receive this discount.
The Standard Hotels - worldwide: Between November 24, 2023, and November 28, 2023, The Standard Hotels are offering rooms across all its hotel properties at 35% off the best available rate for stays between November 14, 2023, and August 31, 2024. Some blackout dates do apply.
SLS South Beach: Get up to 50% off stays between December 12, 2023, to June 30, 2024, when you book between November 15, 2023, to November 19, 2023, and November 23, 2023, to November 27, 2023. For all other days between November 13, 2023, and November 28, 2023, the SLS South Beach is offering rooms up to 35% off for stays with a minimum length of two nights throughout 2024.
Royalton Resorts - worldwide: Available now, you can save up to 25% off your hotel booking. Resorts include Royalton Negril, Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun (Adults-only), Royalton Punta Cana, and more.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton - Las Vegas: Get 40% off the best available rate when you book November 20 – December 5, 2023. Travel dates must be between November 20, 2023 – December 31, 2024.
Dimensions/ Getty Images
Hilton Los Cabos - Los Cabos, Mexico: Between November 20, 2023, and December 15, 2023, save up to 35% off accommodations and receive a $100 resort credit. Applies to travel between January 1 – September 30, 2024. Some blackout dates apply.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts - worldwide: Get savings of up to 70% off on stays and up to $1,000 in resort credits at world-class properties in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Belize. Book now through Dec. 7, 2023, and travel between November 16, 2023, to January 2, 2026, to take advantage.
General Saint Lucia BFCM Hotel Sale: Nearly two dozen hotels, villas, and resorts in Saint Lucia are offering discounts and perks up to 76% off for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Travel Tuesday 2023. Deals include discounts on room rates, upgrades, resort credits, spa discounts, and more.
General The Islands of the Bahamas Sale: If you’re ready for white sands and cerulean blue waters in 2024, the Bahamas has created an entire website of all the BFCM deals the islands are offering this week. From 40% off hotels to discounts on adrenaline-pumping excursions.
Freehand Hotels and Generator Hotels - across the US: For a limited time, this Black Friday flash sale features BOGO (buy one, get one) room rates, which allows you to stay two nights at any Freehand or Generator property for the price of one. This applies to travel dates between January 1, 2024, and March 31, 2024. This deal is available to book from November 21, 2023- November 27, 2023.
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