While I don't get to do it, nearly as much as I used to (because when you write for a living, doing what I'm about to share in your leisure time, often feels like, well, work), something that I am trying to make time for (again) is journaling. Even though it's been a hot minute since I've done it on a daily (or even weekly) basis, I recently revisited some of my journal collection—and man. While the act of journaling is proven to de-stress, organize thoughts, set goals and inspire creativity, what I really like about it is journaling is a great way to self-reflect. When you actually make the time to document your own thoughts and feelings, on a consistent basis, and then you reread the things that you said six months, one year or even 10 years ago—it really can blow your mind to do a compare and contrast of where you are now vs. where you used to be as a person. As a bonus, journaling can bring a lot of clarity to your mind and spirit too.
When it comes to types of journaling, believe it or not, there are all kinds that you can do. For instance, off the top of my head, our platform has covered bullet journaling as well as sex journaling. But what I wanna spend some time on today, is why you should absolutely consider a method known as self-love journaling. Whether journaling is a part of your daily routine or it's something that you've never done before, hopefully this article will convince you to, at least give the practice of writing down words with a total self-love focus (ooo, doesn't that sound good?), a shot.
What’s Self-Love Journaling?
Last year, I wrote an article entitled, "Every Woman Should Write A Love Letter To Themselves". If you've yet to check it out (or you'd like the CliffsNotes version as a reminder), it was basically a write-up on why it's important to write a letter, expressing the love that you have for yourself; not just write it but revisit the words from time to time as well. Well, self-love journaling is very similar to this, only with two main differences.
One, if you're someone who struggles with your self-esteem (don't feel bad about that; most of us have at some point or another in our lives), sometimes being told to simply "love yourself" can prove to be so much easier said than done; even when it comes to sitting down and writing words of love, admiration and respect to yourself. Well, self-love journaling can help to inspire and even "prompt" you to come up with ways to see yourself in a positive and self-nurturing light.
Another difference between self-love journaling and simply writing yourself a love letter is it's something that you don't do just once. Some people do it every day. Many people do it as a seasonal project. What I mean by that is, they may implement a 30-day period where they set aside time, either every morning or every night, to write in their journal. Then, after the 30 days are up, they will write a closing paragraph about all of what they self-discovered during that period of time. They might leave the paragraph in their journal or they might print it out, frame it and hang it up as a piece of art in their home. Then, they make a point to do it every winter, spring, summer and fall, in order to keep track of their progress.
Basically, self-love journaling is all about using a journal to cultivate ways to learn more about you, so that you can love yourself better. An added bonus to this is, once you know how to love you, you are better equipped to teach others how to do the same.
Here’s How to Start Doing It
If the more you read about self-love journaling, the more down you are for doing it, how about I share some steps for how to get started.
Start off with a fresh new journal. Make sure it's not some grocery store notebook or even a generic-looking journal that you would find at a local bookstore. Remember, this is all about cultivating self-love, so invest in a journal that represents either how you feel about yourself or how you want to end up feeling about yourself in due time. The fancier and individualized, the better.
Create an atmosphere for journaling. This exercise isn't gonna go as well as it should if you simply decide to plop down on your couch and scribble down a few words while you're watching television. You need to create a haven of peace and tranquility. Hey, no joke. Invest in some scented candles. Put on some music that makes you feel nothing but good. Put your smartphone in another room. Make sure you're wearing something comfy. Consider doing a little meditating first. And then, get to writing. Writing what? This brings us to the next instruction.
Consider incorporating some self-love prompts. If you're like, "I don't know how to start" or "I don't know what to say", I get it; not a problem. Sometimes prompts can inspire your juices to get to flowing. When it comes to self-love journaling, I've got some that might be able to motivate you a bit.
- What is your favorite thing about yourself?
- What are your special gifts and talents?
- In a perfect world, what is your idea of a perfect day?
- When's the last time you pampered yourself? Why did you do those things?
- If you were a flower, what kind would you be and why?
- What does love mean to you? Do you personally reflect that definition?
- When's the last time you've forgiven yourself?
- What do you want to get more out of in life?
- How do you feel God sees you?
- What are the wonderful things that you bring to your relationships?
- Do you believe that you deserve the very best things in life? Why or why not?
- What are five of your favorite personal character traits?
- What do you love about your mind, body and spirit?
- How can you love yourself better?
- What's holding yourself back from loving yourself more?
Set aside (at least) 15-30 minutes to respond to one of those prompts. I only shared 15 prompts that came to mind. However, if you go to your favorite search engine and you put "self-love prompts" in the search field, there are many others that you can choose from. Anyway, pick a question each day, then set aside some time to answer it. Some days, the answer might be a sentence long while, on others, it might be 2-3 pages. Don't worry about that. Just share what comes to your mind and stop when you start to feel overwhelmed or like you are forcing the process. On some days, you will have an "answer" that feels pretty close to being complete while, on others, you might not get much out. Remember, you can always revisit the prompt. Just make sure that you log in the date and time, every time you write something down for each prompt, so that you can track your insights and, eventually, your progress.
Try and initially make a self-love journaling commitment. What I mean by this is, once you start self-love journaling, you might want to do it all of the time. But for starters, commit to seven, 10 or 30 days. No matter what else is happening in your world, stick with it doing it every single day of your designated time. Sometimes it will be a great stress release. Some days, you will find yourself excited to write an entry. Other days, you might prefer to go to the dentist for a root canal if writing about yourself if super challenging. Yet trust me—the more you get used to loving on yourself in this fashion, the more self-love journaling will become about as natural as bathing or breathing even.
Why Self-Journaling Is the Ultimate Emotional Self-Care Exercise
Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg (who just happens to be credited for the wrap dress), once said something that I really like and can personally vouch for—"When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier." Lord, y'all, mere words cannot even begin to express, how much unnecessary-ness we could avoid if we simply loved ourselves more and better. By making the time to self-love journal, you'll be amazed by all of the things that you'll learn, relearn and also release in the process.
Back when I was prayer journaling (something we'll have to tackle at another time), the more spiritual revelation that I received, the stronger in my purpose I became. And the times when I've self-love journaled, it has actually helped me to get clarity on a relationship, create boundaries with certain people in my life, set aside money to pamper myself, actually implement self-celebration rituals (oh, I'm good for toasting myself!) and, not just set standards but raise them, both personally as well as professionally.
That's why I say that self-love journaling is the ultimate emotional self-care exercise, and yes, Ms. Von Furstenberg is spot-on. The more you love you, the more you end up liking yourself. And the more you like yourself, the more you only want to be around those who feel the same way about you as you do.
I really could go on and on about self-love journaling because that's just how dope it is. For now, I hope I've provided you with, at least enough reason, to purchase a journal and give it a shot. After all, how can you lose when you're actively doing something that helps you to love yourself more? My thoughts exactly.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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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Food is the star of the show for Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest: dinner wouldn’t be anything special without a good tablescape. Decor is a significant part of the holiday season! Garlands, pumpkins, candles, and other decor can take your Thanksgiving spread from bland to brilliant! However, we understand the stress of making a whole feast for family and friends.
We sat down with Beth Smith of Beth Diana Smith Interior Designs to learn how to create the perfect tablescape for any dinner party.
Set the Tone With Dinnerware
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“Focus on the meal you’re serving and make your dinnerware set the tone and be the highlight of the table,” says Smith. The dinner is why your community is coming together and is arguably the most crucial centerpiece. Decorative pieces are nice, but food and what we use to eat can make it much more special. Smith suggests, “I recommend the Nguka dinnerware set from 54kibo, which is stunning, unique, and beautifully made.”
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, The Stoke Collection by ceramic artists Althea’s Meade-Hajduk is intentionally created to visually enhance any meal experience.
Have Fun With Your Color Palette
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In the world of nude palette overload, it’s nice to see color occasionally. Color is a natural mood booster that can bring excitement to the room - or table! “Create a thoughtful color palette that is not the standard Thanksgiving palette of fall colors,” says Smith. Having fun with colors and moving away from a traditional setting can bring uniqueness to your tablescape.
There’s also no chance of your tablescape having the same color palette as everyone else on social media. Smith adds, “If pink has grabbed your attention, this dusty pink set from Our Place has different plate and bowl size options.”
Incorporate Florals Through Bud Vases or Bouquets
Who doesn’t love florals? This look is accepted year-round, not just when romance is involved. “You can’t go wrong with florals for a tablescape if you’re setting it for your family, friends, or a group of singles,” says Smith. Florals are an easy way to make any event look elevated without having to try as hard. If you’re worried about hypoallergenic guests, you can purchase artificial flowers from Amazon. Here, you can find various floral options and even create your own bouquet.
“A floral tablescape can be budget-friendly or as extravagant as you may like. You can select a few bud vases and strategically place them around the table using a bouquet you bought locally,” says Smith.
Unsure of who is your local florist? Black Girl Florist is a site that helps you source local florists in your area. Click here to find a florist in your neighborhood! And if your budget is a little tighter than usual due to the holidays, Smith has a solution that will save you money altogether. Smith suggests, “You can also use dried-up branches and leaves from your backyard, which would be free.”
Elevate Your Tablescape With a Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards have become all the rage on TikTok, and for good reason. Mixing your favorite meats, cheese, and grapes has made snacking visually tasteful. Smith says they can also create a fabulous tablescape - killing two birds with one stone. Smith says, “You can never go wrong with creating one large charcuterie board. This makes food the decoration interesting, colorful, and delicious!” This could be especially great for Friendsgiving, and you want to avoid cooking a turkey twice.
The beauty of charcuterie boards is creating a food palette unique to you or your guest's needs. On the flip side, we also understand how overwhelming it can be to decide precisely what to put on your board. Smith has a few recommendations that can be helpful, “You can include cheeses, crackers, and meats, but you can also add specialty items like deserts, chocolate, and truffle mustard.”
Smith refers to the Truffle Mustard by Truffiest, an award-deserving mustard infused with summer truffles from northern Italy. This mustard can be paired with crackers, cheeses, meats, and shredded turkey if you want to stay on the theme.
Build on an Artsy Vibe and Add Layers
There’s no shame in bringing it back to basics. Bring out the old tablecloth your family member gave you a few years ago; it’s vintage! “The goal is to make the table look and feel like you have everything you need and more,” Smith says. Everything you need and more can consist of four main ingredients: tablecloth, napkins, cups, and, most importantly - wine glasses. “Make the tablescape feel artistic with funky dinner napkins and tablecloths. Then, layer with oversized plates, long-stemmed wine glasses, and after-dinner cups.”
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