Can you believe it? In just a few short weeks, we'll be into a new year—and decade. And while I know that this is the time when many folks decide to make resolutions, what I also know is 80 percent of resolutions are left by the wayside come Valentine's Day. That's why, I think it's far more effective to order a fresh journal and jot down some personal affirmations instead. Matter of fact, if you'd like to take positivity a step further, why not host a declarations party with some of your friends?
What exactly is a declarations party? It's simply a time for you and your buddies to get together, toast one another, discuss what you're leaving behind in the old year and what you are declaring will manifest in the new one. And why is doing this so important? Because, making verbal declarations gives us direction, increases our faith and also holds us accountable. Because once we put what we declare out into the atmosphere—especially when it's in front of an audience—we are responsible for what we said. We are compelled to do what we said we would do.
Since we're about to embark upon—whew!—2020, I thought it would be dope to come up with 20 sentences that we all can declare as it relates to four different areas of our lives. Feel free to tweak or amend any that you see. It's not about reciting them verbatim so much as having a guideline for what you want to speak into your life—in this season, stage and phase of it.
Are you ready to make some bold declarations before the New Year arrives? Let's do this then.
When It Comes to Your Job/Career
"Work to become, not to acquire."—Elbert Hubbard
If Sunday evenings send you into mini panic attacks, if you're not excited or productive at the place where you work, if you can't find one good reason to stay where you currently are other than it pays the bills—these are just a few clear signs that you need to spend some serious time at the top of the year to look for a new job…or career path.
Since you (probably) spend most of your waking hours working, it's important that you position yourself in such a way that you feel challenged, appreciated and inspired. If that means leaving a particular company, totally changing careers or starting a business of your own, so be it. Your time, talents and health and well-being are all far too valuable to remain where you feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. And so, start aligning yourself with what is better for you by making the following promises to yourself so that you will get into the mental head space to not settle…any longer.
- "I will not keep working at a place where my gifts and talents aren't being utilized."
- "I will not invest so much into a job that I don't make time to invest in myself."
- "I will only remain where I am if it affirms my own personal definition of success."
- "I will ask for what I want because, closed mouths don't get fed, and all someone can say is 'no'."
- "I will not stay at a job or on a career path that doesn't make me excited to get out of the bed, at least three days a week. Life is too short and I am too awesome."
When It Comes to Your Relationships
"A healthy relationship is one where two independent people just make a deal that they will help make the other person the best version of themselves."—Unknown
Wanna know how I know when I'm in a relationship that is right for me, whether it's a personal or professional one? It's non-stressful. It's enjoyable. I learn and grow from it. I feel affirmed and respected. I don't have to second-guess anyone's motives or agendas. Most of all, I feel safe. Very safe. Although I didn't go into 2019 (or 45) thinking that it was going to be a year of so much introspectiveness, personal shifting and relational loss, as I was just telling someone today, the clarity and emotional peace that I now have as a direct result of the relational work that I've done is truly unmatched. I know who my tribe is and who my tribe isn't. I know who can't be trusted and who needs to be kept at arm's length. I also know that anyone who truly loves and appreciates me, they will honor my boundaries as I do the same for them. A lot of this relational self-improvement came from making declarations that are very similar to the ones below.
- "I will love myself enough to no longer settle for less than what I know I deserve. And if I'm not sure what that is yet, I will be single while I figure it out."
- "If the relationship, any kind of relationship, is not making me a better person, it's time to let it go."
- "I will not expect what I am not prepared to give. Also, I will not give out of my lack but out of my overflow. When it comes to others, I will expect the same."
- "Codependency, fear, control, resentment and unhealthy cyclic behaviors are all beneath me. If my motive is not based on self-love and self-respect, I will not proceed in a relationship—whether it is personal or professional."
- "In the future, I will not beg for mutuality; I will require it. What I bring to the table is too good to not expect reciprocity in return."
When It Comes to Your Goals
"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things."—Albert Einstein
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is prone to make unwise decisions when it comes to women. It's like so long as they are crazy and needy, he's all about 'em. As we sat down to discuss what the hell his problem is and how he can avoid going into yet another year of a self-made soap opera, I said to him, "You need to find some other ways to fill up your time." Yes, he has a job—a well-paying one, at that. But what he doesn't have enough of are personal and professional goals.
And just why are goals so important? They give you something to aim for. They keep you focused. They motivate you. They help you to develop healthy habits. Then, once your goals are reached, they strengthen your sense of self-worth while giving you the courage to set even bigger ones. That's why, sentences like the following are so important to speak out into the atmosphere. They help you to set goals and to make personal progress in your life.
- "I will stop overthinking. I will stop procrastinating. I will stop comparing myself and my path to others. All that these things do is hold me back. That's why, this coming year will be the one when I will move firmly forward with my ambitions and desires—without any reservations or apologies."
- "I will ask for help when I need it. I will extend a hand when others ask for it too. In both cases, I will make sure that gratitude is the energy that's felt. I will also convey that a sense of entitlement is not tolerated. Help is a gift; it is not a mandate."
- "I will not be a slave to anyone's blueprint, critique or doubts. These are my goals, my visions and my plans. And, because I am a unique individual, so are the things that I am setting out to do. I trailblaze without any fear because I will embrace rather than run from the new and unexpected."
- "I will not go into 2021 in the same space that I am entering into 2020. There will be at least 10 short and long-term goals that will be accomplished by this time next year."
- "I will not compare my goals to others. I will not allow others to belittle mine either. My achievements will be celebrated based on my own standards and expectations. No one else's."
When It Comes to Self-Care
"Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you."—Katie Reed
I really wish I had kept the tweet I saw that said something along the lines of, "Why do so many women expect a man to do for them what they don't even know how to do for themselves?" Only someone who applies to that statement would be offended by it because the author of that question is right. Back when I wasn't practicing self-care, there was more of a longing—sometimes to the point of desperation—within me to be taken out on dates, to be pampered and to feel cherished. Now? All that a man's attention can—and should—do is confirm what I already know about—and do for—myself.
Self-care hasn't taught me that I don't need a man; what it has done is reveal to me what I need a man for. I need a man to complement, support and protect all of this goodness that's over here; the goodness that existed well before a man's arrival. You know what taught me that? Self-care did. So did making the following promises to myself.
- "I will set aside a monthly budget to pamper myself. This goes beyond mani/pedis and hair appointments. This coming year, I will learn the difference between routine maintenance and sheer luxury. I will make it a priority that I have both."
- "There will be a 24-hour period, once a week, where I make sure to 'unplug' and rest. This is non-negotiable."
- "I will make sure that my thoughts and actions line up with the kind of love that I strive to have for myself. I will begin each day remembering that since there is only one 'me', that automatically makes me original, rare and incomparable—all qualities that make me a true force in this world."
- "I will set the standard for how others are to treat me, by how I treat myself. The standard will continue to rise over the next several months."
- "I will set aside enough money to go on a vacation by this time next year. I need the rest, the reflection and the self-wooing whether I go with a boo, some friends or with the most fabulous person I know—myself."
This right here is more than a self-help article. I can personally attest to the purpose and power that comes from making positive, focused and firm declarations over your life. Make 2020 one of the best ones yet by making some too. It's good seed in good ground. I declare it.
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Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
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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I didn’t think much could get better about the blissful high that comes with oral. That was until I came across the Kivin Method.
As someone who was never a huge fan of oral sex and could largely take it or leave it, I must admit that I have started to come around in recent years. With my head thrown back, hands gripping sheets and hair, and toes curling from the intense sensations of the work my partner is putting in at my center, I now give myself over to the pleasurable act wholly and unapologetically.
When I came across a way to maximize the pleasure I receive from cunnilingus (already), I had no choice but to tap in. Who knew the key to taking oral sex to new heights was giving it a sideways twist? For those of you who might also be interested in ways to spice up the way you do oral, experience faster and stronger orgasms, or simply want to indulge in something new with your partner, the Kivin Method could definitely be the oral sex technique for you, too.
Keep reading to learn about the method that is sure to have you writhing in ecstasy in no time at all.
What Is The Kivin Method?
For the uninitiated, the Kivin Method is an oral sex technique that focuses on stimulating the clitoris from a different angle. Dubbed “sideways oral” by some, this method involves the action of giving head from a side-to-side movement as opposed to the up-and-down motion that people typically perform when giving head. (If you need a visual, this illustration is helpful.)
The difference in approach as you’re receiving head can be a game-changer in how you receive pleasure. Not only does the giving partner have access to the clitoris, but they can also access more easily the vulva and the labia, which are objectively a bigger focus in this version of cunnilingus. More access means wider coverage, and that, plus the new sensation of oral from a different angle, can heighten the way you experience oral sex that much more.
Where more pleasure flows, intense orgasms are sure to follow.
How To Do The Kivin Method
If you want to know how to do the Kivin Method, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The receiver lays on their back while the giver positions themselves perpendicular to the receiver. Their head will be facing the vulva, but instead of vertical, their face will be horizontal to the vulva.
From there, the giver can get to business, ensuring that they keep their head perpendicular to the receiver’s vulva while working on their craft. Because this technique can be more intense for some receivers, start slowly by stroking the vulva and clitoris sideways with the tongue, and allow sensations and communication from the receiver to be a guide of what you need more or less of with the Kivin Method.
Ultimately, the Kivin Method allows experimentation and unlocking what pressure, rhythm, and tricks work best for the giver and the receiver. Try implementing a finger or two, or adding a sex toy to the mix to intensify the act even further.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images