Maybe it's because fall is my favorite season of the year. Maybe it's because I'm not nearly as OCD as 60 percent of my social circle. Maybe it's because, for the past few years, I've been learning more and more about how to live like a minimalist. Whatever the underlying reason is, I have to admit I'm not a huge spring cleaner.
I mean, have you ever seen how true spring cleaners get down? The list of duties is absolutely bananas (I've got an example of one right here)! But since the past 12-16 months of my life have been totally devoted to self-work, this year, I decided to do some spring cleaning...with a twist.
I decided to focus on purging and purifying my temple—mind, body and spirit.
And you know what? I must admit that once I put together a list of what that kind of temple spring cleaning actually looks like, I got SUPER EXCITED! I'll be real. The fact that you are reading this in April, that just goes to show that I'm still dragging my feet a bit in the timing department. But since the first day of summer doesn't start until June 21, all of us laggers still have plenty of time to do the kind of holistic spring cleaning I'm referring to.
Simply set aside a weekend between now and the first of June to focus on getting the following 10 things in order. Then watch how much all of the on-time-spring-cleaners in your life will envy you for doing it.
1.(Re)Organize Your Relationships
Something that I like about the old school Jewish temples is there was an outer court, inner court and most holy place. Based on the kind of relationship/position one had with the Most High, that determined what room they could enter into.
I'll tell you what, I'm not God but I am His daughter and it has been a totally life-altering experience to adapt this methodology to my own relationships. The outer court of my life are my acquaintances and work associates. The inner court are my friends. That most holy spot? Right now, it's my confidants (whenever a husband comes along, that space will be all his).
Since I've put various people into their proper place and perspective, there have been a lot less disappointments and drama because, rather than loop everyone in together, I share my heart, time and resources based on "where" someone is in my life.
(By the way, as you evolve, sometimes those relationships may change; hence, the need to reorganize them from time to time).
2.(Re)Prioritize Your Time
Something we can never get back is time. EVER. Since we only get 24 hours in a day and, if we are taking proper care of ourselves, 6-8 of those hours are spent sleeping, it is important to think about what you're doing with the rest of the moments that you have.
Me? Once I got into the swing of organizing my relationships, the natural progression was to re-prioritize my time. How much time did I need to devote to my writing? How much time did I need to spend on emails and phone calls? How much time did I need to put towards processing my writing, emails and phone calls? What could I say truly deserved 20 minutes that I won't ever get back vs. what shouldn't even capture five minutes of time?
None of us are getting any younger and time is one of the most valuable resources that we have.
Spring clean your mind, body and soul by determining who and what are worthy of your time and, who and what simply aren't.
3.Go on a Detox
This one right here kinda runs the gamut. It could be about only eating fresh fruits, veggies and water for a couple of weeks in order to get your system back on track. Maybe it's abstaining from sugar for a month (for the record, it isn't easy, but it will totally change your life if you do). Or, it could be something like going on a social media fast, focusing on breaking a bad habit or committing to a week of absolutely no negativity.
The objective here is to remove toxins from your life whether that's a person, place, thing or idea. Focus on what is causing you to not feel your best—mind, body or spirit—and spend some time away from it. Then watch how much clarity you'll have about what you should (or shouldn't) do next as a direct result.
4.Clean Your House. And Desk. And Car.
I already shared that I don't go ham on spring cleaning. That doesn't mean that I don't get that my baseboards couldn't use some extra attention and that my ceiling fan shouldn't get dusted. Noted. But really, what a lot of us could probably stand to do is clean out our closets, office desk and whew—our car!
Kudos to all the sistahs out there who get theirs detailed every week. I'm impressed. But for those of us who know that our trunk or backseat is treated more like a glorified purse or storage space, now is as good a time as any to clean all of that junk out. You'll feel better and your stuff will look better once you do.
5.Unfollow and Unsubscribe
Sometimes, we forget that even our email accounts have a limit on how much content it can hold. That said, one day, out of curiosity, I went to see how much storage I had left in my Gmail account. What tripped me out was 1) I had used up around half and 2) most of what was taking up space was promotional emails, Facebook notifications (I haven't been on FB in like eight years) and messages from people I haven't talked to in my 40s (like…at all).
It took me about a week, but I made the decision to get some of my storage back by unsubscribing from dozens of newsletters and deleting emails (and email contacts) of people I don't communicate with anymore. When I tell you that it was re-fresh-ing? Words cannot express!
Sometimes we're carrying around extra stuff that we don't even realize is causing clutter in our lives and taking up space that could be used for something far better. When you get a chance, check out your own email and social media accounts. What needs to be deleted? Who needs to be unfollowed or even blocked? What are you waiting on?
6.Forgive. And Apologize.
There's a French author by the name of François de La Rochefoucauld who once said, "One forgives to the degree that one loves." I think that statement is dope because it's a reminder that you can't love without forgiveness and not only is it important to forgive others, it's also imperative that we learn to forgive ourselves; that we stop rehearsing mistakes—or conscious bad choices—that we made so that we can put that energy towards being wiser, safer and healthier.
Sometimes we don't realize that our bitterness, lack of trust and even fatigue are directly connected to someone we haven't forgiven, even if it is the person in the mirror. There's no time like the present to get that kind of monkey off of our backs.
Speaking of getting free, on the other side of forgiveness, there is sometimes the need to apologize. Not a pride-filled and flippant "my bad". Not a deflection or justification. If you know that you wronged someone or simply hurt their feelings, spring clean your conscience by making a heartfelt apology. Sometimes this simple step can be a miracle worker for your relationship with other people.
7.Release Your BaggageGiphy
There are planes that have crashed simply because there was too much baggage on them. That's such a blaring mental visual for me because it's a reminder that I can be in the process of thriving and soaring in my world, but still end up wrecking something in my life simply because I'm not willing to let some of my past baggage go.
What are some signs that you've probably got some baggage that you need to release? Distrust. Paranoia in new relationships. Emotional instability. Unresolved anger. Being a self-sabotager. Keeping up walls. Being super clingy. Not trying new things or taking risks. Fear.
Life has so much in store for all of us. But we're not gonna get all that's coming to us if baggage is all in the way. If you don't do anything else on this list, make sure to clear your baggage out. Please.
8.Put Yourself on Your ScheduleGiphy
If you've read a couple of my articles on here, you know that I am big on word definitions. When it comes to the word "schedule", let it sink in what it means: "a plan of procedure, usually written, for a proposed objective, especially with reference to the sequence of and time allotted for each item or operation necessary to its completion".
Wow. Having a schedule isn't just about making time to do something; it's also about allotting enough time to do something unto completion. Completing something is about doing something fully, thoroughly and entirely.
You know what this means, right? When you're putting your daily to-do list together, there are only so many things that you can do COMPLETELY. Be honest with yourself about what those things are and also make sure that you are somewhere on the list.
Schedule in a bubble bath and bathe fully.
Schedule in some quiet time and do it thoroughly.
Schedule in a way to celebrate yourself and do it entirely.
If you're not completing what's on your schedule, you're not scheduling it right. Yourself included.
9.Commit to Praying and Meditating More
I've got a friend who says that he doesn't get on his knees to pray. According to him, he and God instant messenger one another all day long. Personally, I like that perspective and, in many ways, I can totally relate. Prayer is a form of communication. Different people communicate lots of different ways—even with the Lord.
What I will say is no matter how you and God commune, it's a good idea to do it. There is even scientific evidence to support that one of the benefits of having a consistent prayer life is that it increases our self-control (who doesn't need that?!).
For me, prayer is a form of surrender. It's a reminder that I don't have all of the answers—and I'm not supposed to. Just knowing this, automatically makes life a lot less stressful or complex.
Don't just pray, though. Meditate too. When it comes to meditation, how often do you get out of your bed, sit on the floor and deep breathe, in complete silence, for no less than 10 minutes? If you don't do this, I promise that you should. The practice of meditation does everything from relieving stress and balancing emotions to enhancing self-awareness and helping us to fight addictions. There are some studies that indicate meditation even makes us kinder people.
As far as meditation practices over this way, I'll admit that it's a lot easier to respond to a bill, crazy phone call or some sort of unexpected and unpleasant news when I'm calm and centered. Meditation plays a direct role in getting me into that head and heart space.
10. Buy Less. Give More.
Did you know that most people in the world only wear 50 percent of their clothes? Not only that but (surprise, surprise) Americans (and Belgians) waste the most of their wardrobe? It really is kind of insane that we spend hours at work making money to buy tons of clothes (and shoes) that we'll barely even wear. That said, interior designers and stylists say that whatever we don't wear within a year's time should be thrown away, given away or donated. Springtime is a great time to do that.
Something that I've made a practice to do is guesstimate how much money I spent on the clothes that I got rid of. Then I make a promise to myself to not purchase anything new (in that category) until I have saved up that same amount. Talk about a price tag reality check. SMH.
Shopping less leaves you with more time and resources. How about giving more? Pay for a married couple you know to go on a date. Gift a single mom with a spa day. Treat someone in need with something they truly want. Research reveals that giving to others boosts our self-esteem, reduces depression and can even increase our longevity.
Not only that but giving puts us in good favor with karma. When you plant in other people's lives, you'll be amazed what sprouts up in your own—just in time for spring!
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Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on April 20, 2019
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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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood