The sweltering sun is playing hide-and-seek in lower Manhattan this afternoon as Tracy G. approaches a makeshift bench in front of her alma mater Pace University.
In this moment, the on-air edutainer fuses seamlessly with scattering students swinging doors to and fro as they make their way around the city campus. The average passerby doesn't speculate that the woman clad in all black fitness attire is Tracy G., the woman who lends her voice to the masses every weekday morning beside radio giant Sway Calloway and hip-hop aficionado Heather B. on SiriusXM.
"A lot of times in radio, people think you are a full-time extrovert, but I don't want to talk all the time," the Sway In The Morning co-host admits with respect to her incognito outfit of the day. Yet, before sneaking in a few lone hours to work on her wellness brand She's Beauty And The Beast, Tracy G. graciously scribbles me into her schedule to take a trip down memory lane.
Before stepping foot on Pace University's campus as a freshman, the one-time aspiring fashion designer loosened her grip on fleeting runway dreams during a trial-and-error semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She suddenly realized--as many young adults do--that her mother's reservations were not out of sync with the truth. This was not her calling. "I literally hollered at Google as my life coach at the time, and I put in 'writing, entertainment industry, sales and talking,' and I came up with this term 'public relations,'" she recalls of the first of three career changes to unfold in her life.
The Brooklyn native got to work immediately after transferring to Pace, landing a myriad of internships in her field throughout the breadth of her collegiate journey. Then, the summer before her senior year, a New York Women in Communications panel threw a dart in her unsuspecting plans. A full-time job offer at a renowned PR firm was on the table, but a burgeoning fervor for journalism relentlessly vied for her attention, prompting her to reevaluate her next move. "When I was literally holding a tangible piece of my dream in my hands, I realized this is not it," Tracy G. reflects. "I wanted my loyalty to be to the people rather than to the product."
Tommy T Photography
As graduation day loomed ahead, Tracy incorporated journalism courses including a graduate class with former ESSENCE Managing Editor Denolyn Carroll, fittingly titled "Writing for Magazines," into her scheme while closing the deal on a spring internship with VIBE after her friend, who completed the program in the fall, put in a good word for her.
"VIBE was very intense," she says, accentuating each word. “This boss a** lady Shirea [Carroll] remolded you into someone of use." The respect for her former internship coordinator, then the executive assistant to former VIBE Editor-in-Chief Danyel Smith, is evident as she gushes with a smile and good-hearted laughter at the flashback.
While she managed to win Carroll over, Tracy understood that she couldn't delude herself into thinking one favorable impression was enough to turn her internship into a promising career. "I'm always just looking at how I can maximize the opportunity that's been presented to me," she begins. "I literally had informationals with everyone there because I was like if I'm ever going to get a job, it can't just be one person vouching for me."
As she collected a grand jar of gems from top-dog journalists within and outside of VIBE (for the first time on record, she discloses she once compiled a list of her favorite writers' email addresses when left to assume assistant duties at Caroll's desk for an hour), she didn't neglect to build relationships with the hopeful scribes she rubbed shoulders with every day. "Often when we're in the infancy stages of our career, we forget that our peers and the people we're interning with are probably going to make it into positions alongside us."
Though her revelation certainly would assist her on the cusp of a career shift to radio years later, a semester at VIBE didn't result in a hiring opportunity as quickly as the spirited intern had hoped. "I was devastated. I melted into a sour puddle of shame," she proclaims as she transports back in time to rehash her immediate reaction to the disheartening news. In a meteoric flash, she re-enters her charismatic, self-assured realm of being.
Tommy T Photography
"What kind of biography would it be if everything went my way?" she asks, shutting the door on the recollection. "It's not going to resonate."
Instead of shriveling in defeat, the rising writer, once exclusively known as Tracy Garraud, tirelessly pushed her pen and landed bylines in Honey, Complex and XXL before returning to her home base. "Eventually, because the universe has a hell of a sense of humor, it turns into me getting a position at VIBE full circle." The former full-time editor describes her relationship with writing as a monogamous one during her tenure under Editor-in-Chief Jermaine Hall. "I wake up to find myself cuddling with my freaking MacBook," she confesses. “Writing was my everything."
It's not hard to think what happened as Tracy details the untainted love she once had for her craft. "I was around so many f**king brilliant brains," she says of her team as she flips through the highs of her work environment before answering my unexpressed inquiry about the hurdles that got in the way. "I felt like I was a leg on the clickbait monster," she muses without a hint of animosity in her tone. "We all evolve. I've never been a slave to a job title because if anything happens to that title, your whole identity can crumble."
She began toying with the idea of closing her chapter at the legacy publication, a decision she made official in November 2011, once an untapped passion crept out of the shadows of her comfort zone. "I love the art of communication and humanizing people. I like finding the thread that connects me to you and us to the width of the world so radio started calling me."
The year that followed proved to be arduous, however, as she attempted to transfer her skills to the microphone. "It's not like I had Sway Calloway's number on speed dial," she says of her start in radio business, which took form when she co-hosted a short-lived podcast for clothing brand LRG with fellow Pace graduate Shine Travis. She admits the venture was a gamble at the time, considering podcasts had yet to reach their spike in popularity. "I'm not hard on myself if I did my best. If I did my best, and it doesn't work out, that's when I really have to lean on my faith because my life is a collaboration with God."
Tommy T Photography
A chance encounter with music industry insider Amber Ravenel at a Carol Daughter's event fueled her efforts before she could get trapped in a web of uncertainty. "I never told her anything about radio," she reveals in reference to the woman who connected her with SiriusXM Program Director Reggie Hawkins. This was her shot, but the winning buzzer didn't sound off until October 2012, when she finally landed her gig at Sway In The Morning after months of pitching ideas, auditioning and following up.
"You have to humble yourself and say I'm at the bottom of the totem pole so it's my responsibility to keep up this relationship because they're at the top of my to-do list. I'm not at the top of theirs," she says of her unshakable go-getter mindset.
On the day of our meeting, Tracy G. is gearing up to release #TeamYesSleep, a "turn down alarm" for the millennial woman who needs a gentle but firm reminder to indulge in necessary me-time before going to bed at night. It's one of the many good-for-the-soul finds on She's Beauty And The Beast.
Since its inception last year, the brand has been crossing the bridge from passion project to entrepreneurial business, but Tracy G. clarifies that she didn't set out to create a side hustle for the mere sake of having something to call her own. "My brain was in a really f**king cloudy place, and I needed to figure out how to perform self-therapy."
She immersed herself in the healing force of audio vision boards after tuning into a Joel Osteen sermon where the acclaimed televangelist challenged his congregation to craft 10 empowering affirmations that would renew their psyches.
Tommy T Photography
"I don't write basic sh*t," the self-proclaimed personal development junkie reminds me. "I write as if something is going to be plastered on somebody's wall."
Her first EP Love, Light and That Good Sh*t, chock full of affirmations like her personal favorite, “I will not forget my blessings when faced with my burdens," is not only a testament to her unfailing, yet ever-evolving relationship with her pen, but also a reflection of her decision to embrace the power of her voice. "I've been able to understand my voice as an instrument and as a match to light someone's fire," she says when staring at the sum of her career trajectory's various parts.
It's the reason why, weeks after our sit down, she launched She's Beauty And The Beast: The Podcast with Tracy G. "I'm still flesh, bones and blood," she tells me of her initial reservations to add her weekly series to a mounting pile of podcasts on the Internet. "I'm not going to escape certain feelings so when me and these feelings meet on the block, it's just a matter of do I invite them in or do I keep it moving?"
In the name of emotional empowerment, she drops new episodes every Tuesday that unveil her life theories, experiences and conversations with guest voices. "So many people go through similar events in life, but they tell the story differently," she adds. "There's so many more topics I want to explore, and there's so many more opinions, ideas and expertise that I want to share from other dope a** humans that's not necessarily coming from my own lens on life."
Although Tracy G. is far beyond her wide-eyed intern days at VIBE, she's in no hurry to quit being a student in the world of entertainment.
“You're fighting your own expiration date of relevancy when you are focused more on quantity versus quality," she says while addressing alternative--and often quick--roads to success in an era where social media and reality TV prevail.
“People have different agendas, and they're allowed to have that."
As far as her story goes, she's content with not taking shortcuts to lasting influence. "I'm doing the best in the role that I'm in, but I can't even begin to act as if I'm on the same level as a Sway Calloway. Me saying that would be saying I don't have any more to learn."
While we prepare to part ways, I finally decipher the tattoo etched on Tracy G.'s left wrist--Carpe Diem. It's a principle--seize the day--that she has unarguably weaved throughout her approach to life's fluctuating winds. "I don't want to be in a state of perfection because you don't grow there," she says, twisting the lid on our hour-long conversation. “I want to be a partner in progression with people."
Shanice Davis is a proud alumna of Howard University who earned her BA in English in May 2016. The emerging writer currently contributes to VIBE Magazine. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter: @alwayshanice
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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