Lord have mercy. I remember when I used to be pretty codependent. Because of that, I would find myself giving a ton to people who barely offered crumbs in return. This kept my starving which kept me thinking that crumbs were all I would ever get to somewhat fill me. That's why I'm so thankful for the time that I took to really figure out what it means to value myself. "Value" is a dope word because it speaks of worth, it speaks of importance, it speaks of acceptance, respect and esteem. And the truth is, until we truly value ourselves, we can't expect someone else to do it. We really can't.
While this form of self-love requires quite a bit of time, energy and effort to learn, I do have some life hacks that can help to put you onto the right path, if you're interested. 15 things that will hopefully remind you that validating yourself isn't about ego. It's about self-preservation, so that you can truly live your best life.
1. Turn Your Phone Off for an Hour a Day
Let's start with the phone. When I read that Americans tend to spend about five and a half hours on the phone every day, I've gotta admit that I thought it was much higher than that. Still, when you factor in that you should be getting no less than 6-8 hours of sleep every night, that you're probably working (at least) eight hours a day and also that there are only 24 hours in a day, that is still quite a bit of talking time. While sometimes being on the phone can be fun (like when you're catching up with a friend or reading something on Black Twitter), it's still a data source, and constantly taking in information can be taxing—both mentally and physically. So, give yourself a break by putting your phone on silent or airplane mode for at least an hour, whether it's on your commute to and from work, during your lunch break or right when you get home. It's the kind of "woosah" that you probably didn't know you needed…until you actually do it.
2. Toast Yourself at the End of Each Workday
I've mentioned the importance of toasting before. It's a practice that acknowledges accomplishments or what you appreciate about someone.
Well, who said that you shouldn't toast your damn self from time to time—let me tell it, every single day? Why? Because it helps you to remember that each day is different and there is certainly, at least one thing, that you've done in every one, that you can feel proud about.
Now, I'm not trying to turn anybody into a lush; therefore, I'm not encouraging you to down liquor every time (sparkling cider is cool too). Just make sure that you have a special drink set aside (along with a toasting glass that is only used for this purpose) and that you deliver a toast to yourself, at the end of each day. You deserve it.
3. Pamper Your Hands and Feet Every Week
I try and get mani/pedi twice a month. Yet even on my "off" weeks, I still put forth the effort to do something that would pamper both my hands as well as my feet. I might give myself a foot soak, a hand massage or change the color of my nails. Aside from the fact that tending to your hands and feet is a great form of pampering and self-care, this is also a simple act that reminds you to get off of the roller coaster of life, slow down and do something that will make you feel a little better. So, definitely set aside 30-60 minutes each week to watch a favorite show and tend to your hands and feet while you're doing it. It's an easy way to immediately look and feel so much better.
4. Take Yourself on a Date Once a Month
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language". As you can tell from the title, it was all about customizing dates in a way that will make your partner feel like their personal love language is being spoken to them (you might also want to check out "This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships"). Well, along these same lines, when's the last time you took your own self on a date that speaks your own primary two love languages? A massage can be physical touch. Treating yourself to a movie can be quality time. Going out and purchasing something that you've always wanted, simply because you've always wanted it, can fall into the category of gifts. Volunteering for a day at a cause that is near and dear to your heart and then taking yourself to dinner can be acts of service. Blowing up a favorite quote, 10 things that you like about yourself or your mission statement and then shopping for a frame so that you can hang it in your bedroom or home office, can be words of affirmation. Of course, these are just some ideas. Still, making sure that you actually set aside some time to enjoy things that you truly adore is another profound way to remind yourself of your value. When's the last time you've done it?
5. Create a List of What Makes You a Great Woman
It really is a damn shame, how many of us are so quick to list the things that we don't like in ourselves while going radio silent on the things that we do. I know, off the rip, it might come off as being arrogant to brag on yourself; in this case, though, it's a conversation that is totally being you and yourself. Sometimes, in the midst of all of the lessons, mistakes and even drama, we can lose sight of how awesome we really and truly are. That's why I'm all about folks comprising a list of what makes them great. Not good. GREAT. I'm actually an advocate of them doing it a few times a year too because, as we evolve, we change. So does how we see ourselves. So sis, when you get a sec, bullet point a list of no less than 10 things that you think makes you pretty damn awesome. Then put it somewhere that is easily accessible on the difficult days when you need a reminder. We've all got things that make us stand head above the rest in our circle. It's OK to document what those things are and feel good about them. It's a private list. It's up to you who else you want to know.
6. Invest in a (New) Gemstone
Over here at xoNecole, we're pretty big on gemstones and crystals (check out "I Use Jewelry To Tap Into My Spirituality & Sexuality", "8 Healing Crystals You Need To Feel More At Peace" and "The Best Healing Crystals For Your Zodiac Sign"). Matter of fact, it's usually around my birthday when I'll think about the head and heart space that I'm currently in and will cop myself a ring or pair of earrings in a gemstone that reflects it. For instance, right now, I've got two white opal rings on my hands. Before I knew what the stone represented, I was drawn to them. They represent goodness, love, nurturing, positive energy and protection from the heavenlies. Anyway, gemstones are dope because they're oftentimes affordable (like on Etsy), plus, there's an abundance of different ones to choose from. Who said you need a special occasion to adorn yourself? If this sounds like something you'd like to do, click here and here to learn more about gemstones and what they mean/symbolize.
7. Get More of Your Favorite Color
One of my godchildren will be 10 this coming June and I must say, that's she's quite amazing—especially when it comes to arts and crafts. Anyway, one day, out of the blue, she sent me an email asking what my favorite color and scent was. Honestly, shades of brown are what I like the most in this season; however, I'm into blues and greens as well and that's what I told her. Then I thought about the fact that it's been a minute since I've been intentional about getting things that are in my favorite colors and that inspired me to put doing just that on my to-do list.
Color psychology is fascinating because the colors that we're drawn to can reveal a lot about where our psyche is overall. For instance, if you are a blue-kind-of-person, it could mean that either you're naturally calm or you desire more peace in your life. Red? Red is all about love, passion and desire. Purple represents royalty, wisdom and extravagance. Yellow is about energy, joy and friendship. If grey is your thing, you tend to like (or want) balance in your life.
Psychology literally means "the science of the mind". So, if you're in a season where you want to emphasize or even shift some of where you are mentally, bring more of your favorite color into your world. You might be amazed by how much it can influence you. For the better.
8. Design a De-Stress Space in Your Home
Tell me something. What area in your house, when it comes to mind, immediately makes you think "de-stress"? If you can't really think of one, there's no time like the present to cultivate an area like that. In the article, "12 (Affordable) Ways To Make Your Bedroom More Tranquil & Beautiful", one of the things that I shared is how beneficial it can be to make your own reading nook. That's one idea. Another thing you could do is purchase several big throw pillows, blankets and a long ottoman that you can lay—and daydream—on. Or, how about surrounding an area on your back deck with plants so that you can have your own lil' oasis to enjoy an afterwork glass of wine? The point is, pretty much every space in our home has a function. It would be a shame if you didn't carve out someplace, somewhere, for you to do absolutely nothing other than chill out.
9. DIY a Skincare Product
Right now, as I'm writing this, I am making my own herbal infused oil for my hair. I get excited when I do it because I am able to control exactly what I put onto my head. Also, I always like the results that I get. The same thing applies when I make my own bubble bath, lotion or even lip balm. And here's the thing—it doesn't require as much cost or effort that you might think that it does. Plus, making your own skin (or hair) care products is another way to love on yourself because, rather than running to the drug or grocery store and getting something that has a ton of chemicals in it, you're making a move that says, "I want to take extra special care of my body. I want to be in control of my health by making my own stuff."
Anyway, if this is something that you'd like to try, Hello Glow has some homemade bubble bath recipes here; Measuring Flower can walk you through how to make your own lotion here; the YouTube channel Whole Elise will show you how to make all-natural tinted lip gloss here; the YouTube channel Real Creative Real Organized will explain how easy it is to make your own deodorant here; Tip Junkie has nine different kinds of nail polishes that you can create here and, if you want to learn how to DIY some herb infused oil for your hair or skin, it's pretty easy if you follow these directions on Garden Therapy's site right here.
10. Throw Some Stuff Out
Something that I've slowly become more and more of over the years is a minimalist. When it comes to defining what that means, I once heard someone say that being a minimalist is about having the right things instead of just having a lot of stuff. Since living this way, there's less clutter in my space, I've decreased my financial stress, my utility bills are lower (because being a minimalist and becoming more eco-friendly basically go hand in hand) and life is way more simplified, all the way around. And you know what? A simple life tends to be an easier and even fuller one.
That's why I'm a huge advocate of taking out, at least a couple of times a year, to throw some ish out. Come on—you know that if you haven't worn that skirt in two years, read that magazine in five or used that foundation in 10 months that you're probably not going to (and don't get me started on all of your hair products and make-up!). Letting stuff go is freeing. It also makes room for better things. We value ourselves when we make space for upgrades.
11. Use Your Personal Days
It's a damn shame, how many people I know who don't take their lunch breaks, let alone their personal days. This fact was further confirmed to me when I read an article on The Muse's site. It said that a lot of companies are trying to be slick and merge personal (days to go to the doctor, attend a funeral, etc.) and vacation days together (what in the world?!). That's why, if you're someone who is interviewing for a job, you should definitely check out the company's PTO policy and be open to negotiating your time off.
That said, you're not going to win a prize for not using your personal days and it's certainly no one's business why you need to. So, if you've got some days stored up and you can't remember the last time you've used one, this is your sign to do just that. Some stuff, you can't get done if you don't. Some stuff, you need to take care of, so make sure that you do. (Pretty sure I don't have to say this about vacation days as well…right?)
12. Conduct a Negativity Test
One of the reasons why I don't regret not being on social media is because, even when I tiptoe onto certain platforms to see what's going on, I find myself saying, "Damn. Do you wake up angry or gaslightingevery single day?" It really is kinda crazy, just how many people live in a constant space of negativity, sometimes without even really noticing. That's not good either because being negative all of the time can lead to low energy levels, a weakened immune system, depleted brain chemicals, unhealthy relationships and/or a defeated mentality. Knowing all of this is actually why I removed myself, even from certain family members, because they are so toxic that they thrive off of negativity which makes them very difficult—and exhausting—to be around.
Unfortunately, some of us have dwelled in toxic energy for so long that we don't even realize it anymore. So, how can you know if you're leaning long and hard towards being a negative person?
- You get triggered easily.
- You complain. A LOT.
- You expect the worst out of people.
- You pick fights—online and off.
- You stay stuck in the past.
- You don't know how to celebrate anything.
- You state things in the extreme (you know, "always" and "never").
- You make excuses for any and everything that's your fault.
- You self-sabotage.
- People tell you that you're hard to deal with. Personally and/or professionally.
If you see yourself in at least three of these 10 points, something needs to change—sooner than later too. As much as a lot of people dwell in negativity, it's kinda ridiculous to do because there really aren't a lot of benefits that come with doing so. Life is too short and you are two precious to dwell in bad/dark energy most of the time. Whether it's going to a therapist/counselor/life coach, talking it over with a dear friend or removing yourself from the people, places, things and/or ideas that have got you in that kind of space, shift towards positivity. Life can only get better if/when you do.
11. Have a “Hard” Conversation
There are so many of us who find ourselves more stressed, worried or depleted than we ever need to be and it's all because we remain in situations with people (whether personal or professional) that really aren't serving us. Why do we do that? A part of the reason is because we do everything in our power to avoid having some really hard conversations—ones that may be uncomfortable yet can actually make our lives easier in the long run.
Listen, I don't care if the conversation is with a controlling or narcissistic parent, an emotionally abusive boss, your spouse, a friend—shoot, it might even be a noisy neighbor that is getting on your very last nerve…when you learn to speak up for yourself, set some limits and express your needs and expectations, it helps you to become more confident. It also reminds you of the fact that, far too often, we tend to settle more than we ever should.
So long as you're clear and respectful in your approach, what's the worst thing that can happen by addressing what needs to be said? If what immediately comes to your mind is it could ruin the relationship—well, if your needing to get your needs met or something that is truly bothering you off of your chest comes with such dire consequences, you were in something far more toxic than you probably realized. Coming to that conclusion will be for your greater good, sis. Wins all the way around.
14. Forgive Yourself
I know a lot of people who live in the space of unforgivingness. Know what else? Interestingly enough, I don't know too many where it's beneficial for them to do so. As much as a lot of folks think that it's punishing the person who hurt them to not forgive them, more times than not, all it does is keep the one who was offended stuck. And that can lead to bitterness, a fear of moving on in a healthy way with other people and/or constantly seeing life through that same situation—all because they chose to not let ish go.
When it comes to past abuses and disappointments, trust me, if life was handing out trophies, I'd at least get one of those short elementary school field day ones. Yet accepting that the past cannot change, accepting that I've also done some pretty f'ed up stuff in my day too and also realizing that sometimes the pain is the lesson that helps us to evolve and do things differently—all of this has brought a quality to my life that I didn't have when I was just…pissed all of the time. Forgiveness might seem like you're telling someone that what they did was OK. It's not. It's telling yourself that it's OK to release the situation, set better boundaries and get on with your life. Why would you deprive yourself of that?
15. Learn How to Wait
If you check out the article "Bless Up: 8 Scriptures To Remind You That God Sees You", one of the references that I make is one of my all-time favorite Message Version Scriptures: Romans 8. I'm a doula, so a part of the reason why I like it so much is it compares waiting to being pregnant. In it, it mentions that sometimes waiting can be really uncomfortable. Still, the longer we wait, the larger we become as individuals and the more joyful we end up being once what we are waiting for actually prepares itself to arrive.
As I close this out, words cannot express how much so many of us miss out on the best that is in store for us, all because we're impatient. That's why, what I want to encourage you to do is to value yourself, love yourself, honor yourself enough to do what one of my favorite definitions of wait says—"hold oneself in readiness". Personally, it was very humbling for me to come to the conclusion that if I'm waiting on something, chances are, God is allowing me the grace and mercy to realize that I'm not as "ready" for it/them as I might think that I am. Indeed, the waiting season can be extremely humbling and yet, another Scripture says that with humility comes promotion (Luke 18:14). Not only that but "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4—NKJV)
You're worth waiting for, right? Because you are something of extreme value. Treat your blessings with the same mindset. Waiting isn't a bad thing. Waiting is about two things getting ready for what's in store. When it comes to knowing what you're deserving of, there's not too much of a better life hack than that.
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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. ;)
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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I'm a lover girl and a single girl, and two truths can exist simultaneously. Valentine's Day and seeing declarations of love across social media can be triggering, but the world isn't as coupled up as we think. Single women are everywhere, desiring the same love you desire. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46% of 228 million Americans over the age of 18 are single. So why does this day make us feel like we're the only one in the world without someone? Because commercialism and consumerism were designed to make you feel that way.
The first Valentine's Day after my last relationship was filled with comfort. One of my best friends, who was also newly single, took me to my favorite restaurant and even bought me a necklace from the jewelry company she worked for. We'd been with our exes for the same amount of time, so she knew how difficult the day would be for me; she heard my heart, saw my tears, and made it a point to show up. Years later, that level of care and gentleness that she showed me affirmed to me how loved I truly am.
That evening was filled with laughter, filet mignon, and lobster tail, and still - I can't deny still feeling waves of sadness over every sip of champagne I took. I drank a lot that night, too much, if I'm honest, because I was in so much pain. I was so sad. I had given years to this relationship, and now this man that I loved was a stranger living his life without a care for my broken heart. In hindsight, as an adult, I wondered why I was so emotional because the relationship wasn't all that great. He was emotionally and mentally abusive, and I was young, naive, and had a father in prison, so he filled a space I had no business allowing him to occupy.
When we're young, we can often romanticize our experiences with people and miss what we thought the relationship was - and not what occurred. But in that moment, none of that mattered; what mattered was that I felt alone and unloved, and I wondered when I'd find the man that God made for me. I won't lie to you and tell you that I've found the man who made those tears and wasted time worth it just yet because I haven't. Despite the prayers, manifestation journals, and making space for what I say I want, I'm still single.
What I can tell you, though, is that I found the best thing to ever happen to me, myself. And that isn't some answer wrapped up in a cliche; it's the truth.
Youth can be tricked into thinking that we don't have what we need already, and that's love. When I reminded myself on the following Valentine's Day that I had been loved my entire life, it changed how I felt about Valentine's Day. I allowed myself to reflect on the years that my parents would take me to dinner, shower me with presents, and how my father would buy me roses even as a teenager so that I could be reminded of what I deserved as a woman and as a little girl.
So why would I allow one bad relationship to make me feel that I wasn't deserving of something I'd been experiencing my entire life?
If You’re Feeling Sad This Valentine’s Day, Here’s How To Cope
Remember, you were loved before your last relationship.
What helped me most was to remember not only who I am, but whose I am. I have been loved by God, my family, and the people who have chosen to love me my entire life. Remind yourself of the people who have loved you and will always love you in those moments when sadness tries to find its way to your home and heart.
I told y'all I'm a lover girly, and as a lover girly, I have no problem celebrating myself on this day. Whatever your favorite thing you like to experience on Valentine's Day - do it. This year, I'm switching things up, and I booked a massage, planned a visit to my favorite florist to pick up a bouquet of roses, and I'll end the evening at dinner with one of my girls.
Know that the love you deserve is on its way.
Never let anyone take away your desire to love and receive love. I know that painful breakups can make you doubt if love will find you again, but it will. Even as a single woman, there is not a moment where I truly believe that because love is finding me every day. Every friendship, every opportunity I receive, and every blessing is a form of love that I deserve that is getting me one step closer to the love of my life.
Don't let this day or holiday season make you question what you deserve because around here, we affirm that Black women deserve the world, and that includes the love we've been waiting our entire lives for.
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