Last week, I had a conversation with a young woman who shared with me how much she pretty much loathes this time of the year; although she did admit that it wasn't always that way. It's been the past three years when she has pretty much given Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day a symbolic middle finger.
"I just hate not having someone around the holidays," she said with a long Waiting to Exhale-like sigh.
At the risk of sounding like a corny PBS segment, can you guess what my response was? "Girl, you do have somebody—yourself. Problem is, single folks aren't encouraged to see all of the good that can come out of making the holidays be all about them instead of about being in a relationship with someone else."
I get that, between the mistletoe, fireplaces and marriage proposals, not having a boo might feel like a cosmic trick or some triggering b.s., but I promise that if you choose to alter your perspective, just a little bit, Christmas through New Year's doesn't have to be something to sleep right through. It can actually be kinda dope—if you simply choose for it to be.
Shellie, how I am supposed to do that? I'm so glad that you asked, sis.
First, Remember That Singleness ALWAYS Has Its Perks
Have you ever wondered why this time of year seems to be when so many folks are boo'ed up? Yes, a part of it has to do with cuffing season (chiiiiiile), but apparently it's also the time of year when couples get engaged the most. Yep, December is the most popular month for marriage proposals. With that, all of the romantic Christmas flicks that are in heavy rotation, and our relatives asking us, like clockwork, when we're finally gonna bring somebody home—yes, I get it if, deep down, you feel some type of way about being single this time of year.
But every coin has its flip side and if you check out articles like "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single", "How To Own The Power Of Your Single Season", "If You're Not In Love With Being Single, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions", "It's Okay to Be Single" and "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'"—they all just might remind you that singleness has some real perks and pluses too. If those pieces still don't "scratch the itch", ask some of your married aunties to share with you what they miss about their single days.
Trust me, a (healthy) relationship is a beautiful thing, but it also comes with making compromises and sacrifices that we single ladies don't have to even worry about; things that auntie reminisces on in the midst of frying turkeys and getting your uncle yet another sweater that he's never going to wear.
Reconnect—with a Purpose
So, here's a peek into my present private life. About a week ago, on a "fluke" (meaning, I ran into his cousin and we exchanged numbers that way), I reconnected with my first love. Y'all don't have the time and I don't have the energy to get into how deep the saga goes. But long story short, after almost four hours on the phone and a dinner to follow, a table full of married white women got me out of the nostalgia of walking down memory lane with my ex. It wasn't that I wanted to get back with him; that ship has sailed. But we always seem to have an inexplicable connection; one that, if one lady in particular (shout out to Page) didn't say, "If you're not gonna pursue Shellie, what are you doing here?", our chatting probably would've gone on for six months rather than one night. (Thanks Page!)
Moral to the story—there's something about the holiday season that tends to make us more open to taking walks down memory lane and reconnecting with folks. It makes sense; just enter with caution, though. If there is not a real point and purpose to hitting up a blast from the past or even having dinner with a former friend, why are you doing it? Just to have something to do? Yeah, that's not even close to being a good enough reason because your time is way too valuable. Real talk, if you can't find five good reasons for why he/she/they should be a part of your future, leave them as ghosts from Christmas's past. Before you end up being haunted in an Italian restaurant parking lot like I was. SMDH.
Limit Your “Christmastime Chick Flick” Consumption
There are trials; then there are manufactured trials. What's the difference? The first are things that happen to us, sometimes whether we can control it or not. Then there are things that we do to make life more difficult. Buying shoes instead of paying rent on time? That's a manufactured trial. Getting into arguments with toxic family members? That's a manufactured trial. And spending hours of your time off crying while watching chick flicks and screaming out "Why God why?" and "When God when?"—that's a manufactured trial too.
If you know that you are triggered by the romance of this time of year, why would you keep hurting your own feelings by surrounding yourself with nothing but reminders that…you are triggered by the romance of this time of the year? Minus the fact that they don't have nearly enough Black folks on their channel (side-eye), I enjoy a Hallmark Christmas movie as much as the next gal. But I'm not gonna watch one every single day. There's more to life—and entertainment—than kissing under the mistletoe. Right about now, those are words to live by. Why not go to a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book instead?
Drink. With Wisdom.
So, according to Alcohol.org, while drinking does have a tendency to make us feel, at least temporarily happy, that's not the only emotion that it causes. It can also make us feel nostalgic, creative, anxious, overwhelmed, surprised, sad and scared (and horny; not sure why the article didn't mention that). You know what all of this boils down too, right? Having a little spiked eggnog or a Grinch drink might seem like a fun and festive thing to do, but if it's gonna result in you drunk dialing a former sex partner or worry one of your friends to death as you're crying non-stop on the phone about how horny you are (I've been there; without the alcohol), maybe you should push the glass back. Or at least not consume a ton of your alcoholic fave. Hot chocolate is delicious too. And if you go that route instead, you can trust that whatever it is you're feeling, it's all you—not the alcohol that's speaking (and acting up) for you.
Hang Around SUPPORTIVE People (Family or Otherwise)
Just yesterday, I was having a premarital counseling session with a newly engaged couple. As the soon-to-be-husband was asking me about what I thought one of the biggest mistakes that married couples make is, I said, "Knowing what their partner's triggers are and then continuing to push them." Not only is it disrespectful, it's an effective way to get your spouse to build up all kinds of ways in order to emotionally protect themselves.
I know you're not married, but where I am going with that is this—something else that can make the holiday season extra trying on your spirit is if you continue to put yourself around toxic energy. You know, people who gaslight you, narcissistic parents, envious and/or opportunistic individuals (whether they are family members or not). I know not all of us have the kind of personality that can leave, 15 minutes into dinner, if someone gets out of line, without giving it a second thought. At the same time, don't volunteer to be a martyr by spending all day long, several days at a time, around individuals who emotionally drain you, harp on your dating or baby status or don't make you feel esteemed as an individual.
People who are supportive are sympathetic, encouraging and helpful. If you're not catching those kinds of vibes, politely dismiss yourself so that you can get around those who are on a totally different vibration level.
Create a “Salute Yourself” Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've got at least a couple of off days coming, right? On one of them, pick up a 2020 calendar and then give it a "salute yourself" theme. What do I mean by that? Salute means "to address with expressions of goodwill, respect, etc." If ANYONE needs to be doing that for you…it's you. Jot down things, every month, that you plan to do that will boost your self-esteem, remind you to be kind to your being and to pamper yourself too.
Then get a big ole' jar. Listen, when it comes to married folks, I encourage them to have sex jars. When it comes to single women, they need to have a pamper one. Every time that you reach a goal, dodge a relational bullet or make a decision that benefits your mind, body and/or spirit (check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This." and "If You Want To Get To The Root Of Things, Try My One-Word Test"), put some money in the jar. It can be fifty dollars or fifty cents. Then, at the end of the year, spend what you've accumulated on something that's all about spoiling yourself. I'm telling you, I speak from personal experience when I say that, the more you focus on celebrating your singleness, the less you'll be caught up in feeling some type of way about actually being single.
Go to a Hotel for a Night
Back when I was doing a significant amount of touring, the folks I would travel with would get pretty irritated with me. Why? Because while they wanted to take in the sights, I preferred to order room service and chill in my hotel bed. I must admit that while hotel beds are best when shared, I have some very fond memories of kicking it in them alone too.
That's why, I highly recommend that you book a night in one before New Year's. Go to a hotel in your city (or the next one) that you've always been curious about. It will provide a change of scenery, it will make you feel pampered, plus—there's something about lying up in a hotel bed for hours on end that has no guilt attached to it. You can sleep, eat, watch television—then rinse and repeat. Shoot, if you can find a hotel that offers in-room massages and facials, that's even better!
Take Some Sort of Social Media Fast
You're not going to be able to fully embrace all that comes with having some time off work if you are still plugged in to the good, bad and sometimes super-duper ugly of what's happening on the internet. So please take at least 48 hours off to do anything but clap back on Twitter or peep in to see what your ex is up to. There are all kinds of mental and psychological benefits that come from putting your smartphone down. Why not use that time instead to journal (even sex journal), write yourself a love letter or—here's a thought—do absolutely nothing?
One thing about social media is, although things are constantly happening, most of it isn't going anywhere. Like a soap opera (to a certain extent, there's a pun that's totally intended here), you can miss a week, come back and pick back up where you left off. Test that theory by spending some much-needed time away. You might be surprised by how little I exaggerated.
Do What Makes YOU Happy on NYE
Don't let the tube fool you. Although it might look like everyone and their great-grandma is out on New Year's Eve, a survey from a couple of years ago revealed that only about 11 percent of individuals actually party on that night. 45 percent prefer to hang with family, 24 percent stay at home and seven percent do something with their friends. So no, you don't have to feel like you're taking an L if you don't go out to watch some ball drop somewhere or if someone doesn't slob you down at midnight. It is perfectly fine to have sleepover with some other single friends or to even ring in the new year while soaking in your bathtub.
Many people believe that the way you exit one year speaks volumes to how the next year will go. Although I'll not even remotely superstitious, that has been the case for me for the past few years. So, don't call it a night at eight so that you can sleep New Year's Eve away. Instead, plan something that will set the tone for 2020. Then watch how the Universe responds to your effort.
Treat Your Own Damn Self
Do you wish that you were receiving a diamond this Christmas? Buy yourself a piece of jewelry. Are you hot about not being able to go to a romantic resort? Go on a weekend road trip. Wish you were cuddling in bed with someone? Get yourself some new bedding (in the meantime). One of the best things about being single, yes even during this time of year, is that you/we have the awesome pleasure of being our top priority. Short of being a single mom, you can buy for yourself—FIRST. You can do what you want without having to explain yourself (unless you want to). You can totally make this a season of real self-indulgence—unapologetically so.
So, don't dread being single over the holidays—relish in it. Someday you may look back and wish that you had. Don't say a sistah didn't warn you.
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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. ;)
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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