It's kinda crazy. "It" being that, while this year is showing out in a billion different ways, on many levels, I feel more peaceful than I ever have. One day, maybe I'll get into how I know a big part of that came from removing some people, places, things, and ideas (boundaries; boundaries are good , y'all) that were no longer serving me —and, more importantly, where I am headed. Yet, my inner peace goes even beyond that.
For about 12 years now, I've been on the tip of collecting things. Each year, it's something that symbolizes where I'm at and "what I'm on" at the moment. This past year, it was puzzle pieces. They symbolize that I am a puzzle piece that "fits" some places and doesn't fit others. My job isn't to try and force my "piece" into any picture (because that could damage the piece and pic, simultaneously) but to welcome where I fit and be at peace with where I don't. And you know what? Living like this has brought about inner tranquility that is unshakeable, no matter how chaotic things seem to be right through here. Or ever.
Just know that whatever is trying to shake you to your core, there is a way to maintain peace in the midst of it. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.
Create Your Own “Bubble”
When I took my required birthing class (which was Hypnobabies ) in order to become a doula , one of my favorite techniques, that I tend to recommend, even to women who aren't pregnant, is what is known as the "bubble of peace". Anyone who's been pregnant before knows that people tend to have an abundance of opinions, perspectives and information about what they think a new mother should and shouldn't do, both during her pregnancy and after she gives birth. By creating a bubble of peace, she is able to tune out anyone and anything that is triggering her or stressing her out.
At the end of the day, it's basically about meditating and centering in on thoughts that make you feel calm and peaceful. And I promise you that if you make it a priority to cultivate your own, it can help you to tune out life's background noise so that you can focus on what your mind, body and spirit are telling you that you need, at any given time—even if what they need is for you to simply chill out and do absolutely nothing.
Take News (and Phone) Breaks
Something that I've learned about myself throughout the years is that I have a really high threshold for information. What I mean by that is, it takes me a while—months even—to get to a point where I'm like, "OK, I've had enough" (although 2020 has definitely been testing me in this way!). But boy, when I first saw the footage of George Floyd being murdered by those cops, I broke. I cried. I had to shut the news cycle down for a minute. I had had enough.
You can read articles like TIME's " You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly? " to know that there is no way around the fact that constantly taking in the news (or info, period), whether it's online or off, will not only elevate your stress levels but it can cause you to fall into the rut of constantly seeing things from a "glass half empty perspective". Same thing goes for always talking on the phone, especially if it's with family members or friends who consistently err on the side of negativity. That's why it's so important to take intentional breaks from the news and your phone. Turn off your notifications. Put your phone on silent. Then read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Take a nap . Do something that will totally get your mind off of all that's going on in the world. Chile, Daily Mail , Black Twitter and your cynical auntie ain't going nowhere. They'll all be right where you left them—whenever you decide to come back.
Be on Your Own Time Schedule
Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. So yeah, whenever seniors in my life try and act like it's only this generation that is wilin' out, I remind them of what the Good Book says. The difference now is thanks—or maybe no thanks—to things like the internet and camera phones, we're constantly in the loop of what's going on…pretty much all over the globe. And since things seem to be always moving at such a rapid pace, it can tempt us to speed up when it comes to how our own lives are flowing. Please don't fall for that trap. Rushing can cause you to make unnecessary mistakes. Rushing can bring about feelings of anxiety. Rushing can stop you from truly connecting with others. Rushing can prevent you from getting the clarity that you need. Rushing can hinder you from living in the moment.
While I'm sharing Scripture, Matthew 6:34(NKJV) states, " Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. " Those are words of wisdom from Christ himself. What he was basically saying is, all you've really and truly got is right here and now. Slow down. Take it in. Do what is relevant in order to bring out the best in this present moment.
Should you plan ahead? Sure. All responsible people do. Yet should you worry about what you can't control in the future or even be in a rush to get there? Nope. Not if you desire true inner peace, you shouldn't, anyway.
Find a “Vent” Partner
There is a particular person in my life who is basically my vent partner. I'm not sure how we got to the point and place of being that for one another, but the "position" requires being on-call—whenever. When she's about the spaz TF out, she calls me. When I need to ramble, cuss or sometimes even scream, she's there. The cool thing about having this type of individual in your life is there are a safe place (because they don't share your vents nor "judge" you for them) to get out your initial frustrations so that you can calm down and do, whatever it is that you're about to do (or not do), from a less emotional and more logical and practical space.
Sometimes, the reason why we feel so unsettled when it comes to what's going on around us is it seems like we're not being heard or validated when it comes to how we feel about things. A vent partner fills this void so that we know we're supported, which makes us feel more capable to endure…whatever it is that needs to be.
Do What Makes You Happy
Happiness. Remember that? When I was recently reading an article on how some researchers define what it truly means to be a happy individual, I liked that it said, "It's not about smiling all the time nor does it stem from money or health, but a self-belief you are on the road you want to be on." The beauty in that resolve is, no matter what is happening around you, in many ways, you have the power to choose what path you want to be on; not just long-term but in the now. So, what would make you happy, right at this very second? Some Ben & Jerry's ice cream (shout out to them and their consistent support of the Black Lives Matter movement)? A glass of wine ? Catching up with an old friend? Some hanging-off-of-the-chandelier sex with your partner? Playing with your kids. Doing an arts and crafts project? Writing? Singing? Podcasting? What?
Making the conscious decision to be like, "You know what? No matter what y'all are doing, I'm going to take out a moment and do what makes me happy", is not about being selfish or even insensitive. As the article that I referenced said, it's about putting yourself on a particular path. And anything that makes you feel happy can help to make you feel content…which can help to make you feel more centered and secure…which can definitely help to make you feel more peaceful.
Remember You’re Here “For Such a Time As This”
If you read the story of Esther in the Bible, there is a line from something that her cousin, Mordecai said that goes like this—" Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? " (Esther 4:14—NKJV) It was his way of reminding Esther that, even though saving her people was going to be quite a daunting task, the fact that she existed in a time when Jews needed deliverance was not a happenstance thing. In this present time, the same goes for me and the same goes for you. While I'm sure you've had multiple, "What in the world is going on?!" moments, probably at least a dozen times this week alone, it's not a "random" thing that you exist. There is something about your gifts, talents, personality, perspective and mere existence that is oh so very necessary—right here and right now. Knowing that you—as Whoopi Goldberg once said in an episode of A Different World —"are a voice in this world", who can make an impact like no one who came before you or will come after you can, should bring a peace like nothing else.
Because if you didn't serve a purpose, you wouldn't be here; you'd be unnecessary. You are here, though. And that's something to feel really good, resolved and totally at peace about. Here's praying that you do.
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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. ;)
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 xoNecole exclusive, 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