Whether still dealing with the aftershocks of the pandemic, not being able to get enough time off or money being a little on the tight side is what's preventing you from going on a romantic vacation this summer, who's to say that you can't do a sexy staycation instead? If the mere thought of that feels like a poor man's — or woman's — consolation prize, I promise you that it absolutely does not have to. Opting to stay at home while possibly throwing in a couple of day trip adventures (which is a classic definition of a staycation, by the way) can be loads of fun, super romantic and also really cost effective without feeling mad cheap.
All you need is an open mind, this article and a willingness to put a plan into place as soon as possible. Ready to get started?
1. Tell Everyone You’re Going to Be Away
When it comes to putting a staycation together, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is not announcing that they are going to be away for a little while. Listen, even if you're gonna do nothing other than camp out at your home for a week, it's important that family, friends and co-workers don't treat you like you're just a phone call or stop by away.
A staycation is still a form of a vacation, so make sure you let everyone know that you won't be available (unless it's an absolute emergency) once you've got some dates in place.
2. Order Breakfast in Bed
OK. Personally, I like to cook. I also think that cooking dates can be kind of sexy. Here's the thing, though. When you're on a staycation, it's important to deviate from your usual routine, as much as possible, even when it comes to how you get down in your house. A huge benefit that comes with being on vacation is sleeping in, right? So, when it comes to the most important meal of the day, avoid the urge to cook or settle for nothing more than a bowl of cereal. I'm pretty sure you've got some great breakfast/brunch restaurants in your area. Support local businesses and treat yourself by ordering breakfast to be delivered to your house, at least a couple of times, instead.
3. Dine at a New Romantic Restaurant
Not too long ago, someone asked me in an interview if going out for dinner can get old for a couple. My answer was, "No. Not if the restaurant requires dressing up and you're not constantly going to the same one." Unfortunately, when it comes to eating out, a lot of us seem to only treat it as a functional outing rather than an uber romantic experience. Avoid being that kind of statistic by finding an upscale restaurant and dressing to the nines. Good food, good ambiance and good company can never be boring; especially when you're on a staycation.
4. See If ‘Let’s Roam’ Works in Your City
When I take staycations, I promise you that I can never leave the house and be just fine. For those of you who end up feeling a little stir crazy after a day or two, be a tourist in your city — only with a romantic twist. In 300 different cities to-date, there is an app called Let's Roam. The cool thing about it is, for under fifty bucks (for both of you), you can go on a scavenger hunt throughout your city. It could be a unique way to create some new memories. If you're interested in learning more, go here.
5. Upgrade Your First Date
Whether your first date was super extravagant or it consisted of meeting at a coffee shop, there are few things more romantic than revisiting the moment when you and yours officially made a "formal" connection. Thing is, for many of us, as great as the experience may have been, we secretly wish that some tweaks could've been made to make things that much better. During your summer staycation, seize the opportunity by redoing your first date…by upgrading it a bit. If you wish the date had been earlier and longer, make that happen this time. If you would've preferred a quieter restaurant or one with a different cuisine, find a place that fits the bill and go there. If the connection was awesome but the location/venue could've used some work, change the place and wear the same outfit. You get the drift. Upgrading a first date while reminiscing about the actual first date is a form of mental foreplay like no other.
6. Redo Your First Night Together
Speaking of foreplay, chile…while we're in the spirit of redoing things, how about replaying your first night together too? The key here is to not make either one of you feel self-conscious by critiquing what could've been done differently or better. It's more about first discussing all of the amazing memories you recall from your first experience with each other and using that as a way to mentally go back to that time, in order to enjoy each other all over again.
The mind is the biggest sex organ we've got. You'd be amazed how merely discussing the first time you were one with each other in that way can take sexual pleasure to a whole 'nother level.
7. Take a Day Trip
Remember how I said that a staycation doesn't mean that you've got to stay cooped up in your house or even in your city the entire time? Going on a day trip can be romantic too because the time in the car can give you the opportunity to catch up in a way that you may not have been able to in a while. Plus, there's nothing like finding some romantically random bed and breakfast in some quaint little town. If you'd like some help finding one within a 150-300 mile radius to you, bnbfinder and BBOnline can be of some great assistance.
8. Make a Different Cocktail (or Mocktail) Every Day
Whether you and your boo decide to stay in bed all day or you stroll the mall, take in a movie and dine outdoors, very few things are more relaxing and delightful than a cocktail or, if you don't consume alcohol, a mocktail (which is basically a virgin cocktail). In the spirit of keeping things sexy, check out "8 Summer-Themed Alcoholic Drinks That Can Boost Your Libido". For some mocktail ideas, go to your favorite search engine and put "mocktail recipes" in the search field.
9. Play Some ‘Monogamy’ or ‘Fog of Love’
Do you and yours like to play games (the good kind) when you're able to spend some quality time together? If so, two that you may really like are the sex-driven conversational board game Monogamy (you can get it here) and Lovehoney Oh! Sexploration Vouchers 52 Weeks of Adventures (you can get it here); it consists of a deck of romantic and raunchy cards to pull from. If you put on some sexy music, pull out a bottle of wine and make sure that you don't have much on, you'll be sure to have a super entertaining evening.
10. Then Go for a Round of ‘Truth or Drink’
While you've got that bottle out, something else that you might want to do is play a round or two of Truth or Drink. Now, I'll be the first to say that super sensitive or even potentially insecure couples should probably steer clear of this one (especially as the drinks get to flowing). But if your relationship is based on a solid friendship and you both are very open with each other anyway, this game can be a lot of fun because there's no telling what you'll find out about your partner.
As the title of it goes, it's pretty self-explanatory. Each of you gets to ask a question and the other person gets to choose whether they want to answer or take a sip (or shot). If you want to raise up the ante a bit, throw in some sexy dares too. If you'd like some help coming up with some questions, Scary Mommy's site has 145 to inspire you. Check them out here.
11. Enjoy a Night of ‘Movie Strip’
What the heck is Movie Strip? It's another thing that one of my blasts from the past and I used to do.
We'd each pick a favorite movie, watch it and then quiz each other on the details in the film. For every time we got an answer wrong, we'd have to take off a piece of clothing. I'm pretty sure it goes without saying that whoever ends up naked first loses.
Well, sorta. #wink
12. Try to Literally Have Sex All Night
Anyone who knows me knows that very few things make me happier than listening to 90s R&B for hours on end. However, if there's one thing that really does tickle me about a lot of R&B music is the lies, lies…LIES it tells about people when it talks about having sex all night long. C'mon now. Who has the time, the energy or the natural lubrication required to make that happen? Chile, please. Still, when you're on a sexy staycation, it can be enjoyable to see how close to that goal you can actually reach. Shoot, to serve as extra motivation, some sort of prize can be offered to the partner who doesn't "tap out" first. It could be doing a household chore for a week that one of you hates, running errands that one of you likes to avoid — something that makes winning really worthwhile, even after your staycation is over.
13. Have an Orgasm Competition
Speaking of being up all night long…back when I was sexually active (le sigh), one of my partners and I used to literally compete to see who could give each other the most orgasms in one sex session (well, one night but you know what I mean). It was actually a strategic kind of "game" because while it can be pretty easy to get the first one off, it requires a bit more finessing, technique and intentionality to enter into the multiple orgasms lane. Nothing beats trying though. Wheeeeeeeew-whee.
14. Stay Naked Most of the Time
Whenever I'm in a counseling session and the topic of improving a married couple's sex life comes up, it never fails that women want more foreplay while men want visual stimuli to go up a few notches. For some, that means they wish that their partner would play dress up in more lingerie. However, what I tend to hear even more than that is men wish that their lady would be naked way more often than right before it's time to "get it in". Surely y'all are not shocked by that. Still, there's no time like this article to encourage you to disrobe more than usual. I mean, you're on a staycation and you want to make it as HOT as possible so — why the heck not?
Being naked is not only alluring and appealing as hell, it's a great way to keep your body temperature stabilized, decrease your stress levels, make you feel more comfortable with your body image, give your vagina the time and space it needs to "air out" a bit and, it definitely is an entry way to more intimacy.
I live alone, work from home and even I can't tell you how many days you can find me in nothing but a blanket for most of the day. There is something very freeing about nudity. There's also something erotic about it when you're that way with your partner. Even if it's just for a couple of days, take it off, TAKE IT ALL OFF, while you're on your staycation.
15. Pitch a Tent
If you've got a private backyard, there really is something sweet about pitching a tent, bringing a few snacks outside, along with blanks and pillows and cuddling up while looking up at the stars until you both fall asleep. It's a super relaxing and very sentimental way to culminate what will hopefully be one of your best vacations ever — a super hot staycation.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Marsai Martin Gets Real About Her Decision To Undergo Surgery To Remove A 'Grapefruit-Sized' Ovarian Cyst
Actress Marsai Martin is showcasing the importance of advocating for one's health after recently opening up about her ovarian cyst surgery. For context, the 18-year-old revealed in a now-deleted Instagram story last December that she underwent a medical procedure to remove the large ovarian cyst that gave her "constant pain" for years, especially during her menstrual cycle.
According to Mayo Clinic, an ovarian cyst is described as a sac "usually filled with fluid" in an individual's ovary or near it. Although it is relatively common, with one in ten women diagnosed with a cyst, many experience little to no symptoms because it usually goes away. Those with pain and discomfort often have a large ovarian cyst, which was the case for Martin.
During a discussion with Women's Health magazine, Martin opened up about her menstrual cycle and when she started noticing the symptoms. The black-ish star told the publication she started her period at 11 but didn't experience any unusual pains until she was 14.
Coincidentally this event occurred a little after she was diagnosed by a medical professional with an ovarian cyst "the size of a small grapefruit."
Martin's Symptoms With A Large Ovarian Cyst:
In light of her diagnosis, Martin didn't think much of it because, at the time, her doctor told her that cysts usually disappear on their own. Over the years, as she got her menstrual cycle, Martin had extreme pain and severe nausea.
Even though she often combated the cramps with medication such as Aleve and naproxen, per doctor's orders, Martin shared that the pain would eventually progress so much that she couldn't keep "food or water" in her system.
Martin also revealed that these symptoms negatively impacted her daily routine, such as work and participating in social activities. The star further explained that she thought these signs were typical and didn't go to the hospital because of what her mother, Carol Martin, previously mentioned and warned her about while discussing the history of her own menstrual cycles.
Martin's Health Took a Toll At Age 17:
All this came to a head when Martin was 17 years old. The Little star decided to go to the hospital because the pain became unbearable.
"But one day, when I was 17, I just couldn't take it anymore. I had extreme cramps, and I was so nauseous, I wasn't able to eat or drink," she said. Martin added that the pain and nausea had limited her mobility.
"It felt like I couldn't move. The slightest sip of water would make me projectile vomit. I had lower back pain, dizziness, migraines, and tender breasts, and on top of that. The pain had been constant from the moment I woke up, and it was so unbearable that I finally went to the ER around 8 p.m.," the star stated.
During her hospitalization, Martin was informed that she was dehydrated and that the pain she was going through was because of the large cyst. Despite already being well aware of the ovarian cyst, which was "9.5 centimeters in diameter," due to her diagnosis years before, Martin shared she didn't know that it was the primary cause of her pain.
Following her stay, Martin's physician would refer her to a gynecologist, who gave her various options to resolve the issue. The list included taking birth control pills to shrink the cyst or having surgery to remove it completely. Martin disclosed after taking two weeks to weigh her options following her 18th birthday, she ultimately decided to undergo the procedure and scheduled it for December 2022.
Although Martin was initially afraid about the operation because she was uncertain how her body would react, all of that disappeared after the surgery. Martin would go on to express that it was one of her best decisions ever.
Following the procedure, even though Martin experienced some pain post-surgery, it ceased as the days passed, and she started moving around. Since the operation, Martin shared that her menstrual cycles have drastically improved.
Martin On Why She Shared Her Story:
Near the end of the interview, Martin explained that one of the main reasons she's been very vocal about her experience with her ovarian cyst by sharing it online is because she doesn't want others to remain silent about their health struggles and wants them to get a "second opinion."
"I hope my story will encourage other women to not accept a life of pain, to get a second opinion. Pain is not normal," she said. "I want other women to talk about their pain, and to keep speaking out until they're taken seriously. And to the women out there suffering silently right now: You owe it to yourself to speak up."
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Paramount+