Shellie R. Warren is a lover of quotes, lip gloss, graphic t-shirts, silver jewelry and Pumas. She's an author with two published books (thus far) on matters of the heart. In fact, 2019 was the 15-year anniversary of her first release ' Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love and Redemption' (she's seriously mulling over penning a sequel to it) and 2020 marked her 20-year anniversary of being a (mostly) full-time writer. Aside from that, when Shellie's not tellin' all her business, she's helping couples (marriage life coach) or assisting with birthing babies (doula). Her byline is all over cyberspace, but where you won't find her is on social media. Like anywhere. At all. If you need to hit her up, she's (usually) reachable at missnosipho at gmail.com, though. HOWEVER, pitches for xoNecole need to go to editor@xonecole. Hit her up for *strictly* Shellie-related stuff. Again, pitch article ideas to the site addy NOT HER. Much appreciated.
Are you someone who has a really hard time focusing? If so, don’t be so hard on yourself. Between stress, fatigue (which oftentimes comes as the direct result of sleep deprivation), a fluctuation of hormones, getting easily distracted, and even sheer boredom, a lack of focus and concentration is something that happens to us all — more often than most of us would care to admit.
The good news is there’s one way that you can actually get yourself back centered — and that is to eat certain foods; ones that are proven to provide the kind of nutrients that you need in order to focus on the task(s) at hand. Because the reality is, our diet plays a direct role in how much we’re able to focus (or not focus). So, are you ready to see what can get you back on track?
Personally, I’m someone who is a fan of eating berries when they are actually in season, which is basically from May thru August. Waiting until then means that you are able to get the most benefits from them. Plus, you don’t have to worry (as much) about artificial colors and preservatives that are oftentimes found in berries when they are sold year-round. Berries are good for you because they are full of antioxidants and fiber, can improve your blood sugar levels, and are great at fighting bodily inflammation.
And why are berries beneficial when it comes to helping you to maintain your focus? It’s because they contain flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins that help to increase blood flow to your brain. As a direct result, berries can increase your brain power and even improve your short-term memory.
If you’re looking to get some protein, selenium, and zinc into your system, eggs will totally have your back. Eggs are also good for you because they’ve got choline in them; it’s awesome because it helps to build up the cell membranes that are in your system. Some other cool things about eggs are they play a role in lowering your risk of heart disease and they’re full of amino acids (which support your immunity, are a great energy source, and support the growth of hair, skin, and nails) too.
Thanks to the vitamins B6 and B12 that are also in eggs (these vitamins help to increase brain health) and the choline that is directly linked to improving your memory, this is why eggs have easily made this list too.
3. Fatty Fish
The kinds of fish that make the “fatty fish” list include salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines. What makes these a standout kind of fish is they are loaded with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids are good for you because they assist with improving your eye health, reducing your heart disease risk, fighting bodily inflammation, fighting off autoimmune diseases, decreasing asthma in children, easing menstrual discomfort, improving bone and joint health and it can help to prevent cancer.
Oh, but when it comes to all of the foods on this list that are great for your brain, fatty fish is unmatched because omega-3s can also level out mood swings, reduce ADHD levels in kids, improve blood flow to your brain, sharpen your memory and preserve brain cell membrane health. So, if you like nothing more than a salmon Caesar salad…what are you waiting for?
4. Dark Leafy Greens
I say it often because it will always be the truth. If there is any kind of food that is the ultimate multivitamin, it’s dark leafy greens. They’re full of just about every vitamin you can think of (especially iron, calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and K). They’re able to reduce oxidative stress. They improve bone health. They boost immunity. They improve digestion. They strengthen vision. They reduce the risk of heart disease. They also keep your blood cells in good shape.
Having a salad a few times a week can be great for your brain because not only can it help to keep your brain young, the folate that’s in them can also improve your mood, calm your nervous system and decrease mental fatigue too. When your brain is alert, you can definitely concentrate better.
Oranges are a good source of protein (when it’s the fruit, not the juice), fiber, and definitely vitamin C. It’s a type of citrus fruit that also contains plant compounds that reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure and support how antioxidants are processed throughout your system. Oranges also assist with preventing chronic disease and anemia as well as lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Since oranges are a solid source of fructose (also known as “fruit sugar”), they can kick up your energy levels, so that you are able to focus better and complete tasks that you may have on hand. (Do keep in mind that a “sugar rush” typically only lasts for 30-60 minutes, though.)
When I would spend the summers with my great-grandmother, there were going to be at least a few days when she was going to put some beets on my plate (yuck). And while I can probably count on one hand, just how many times I’ve had them since I’ve been able to grocery shop on my own, my memory continues to be pretty on-point; so, maybe beets have played a part in that. Aside from them also being a good source of fiber and protein, beets contain folate, manganese, nitrates (which improve athletic performance), and anti-cancer properties.
Brain-wise, beets are great because the nitrates in them can increase blood flow to your brain; specifically the part of your brain that is connected to assisting you with your decision-making process.
7. Green Tea
If you wanna get a ton of antioxidants into your system with one drink, look no further than green tea. Its polyphenols will reduce inflammation and fight cancer. Certain properties in it can help to boost your metabolism levels and burn fat. If you’ve got a bout of bad breath, green tea can help to inhibit the growth of oral bacteria. Green tea can also help to prevent type-2 diabetes, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and it can even increase longevity.
Drink some (hot or cold) if you want some help concentrating because it’s the kind of tea that boosts both dopamine and norepinephrine levels (which can help with your memory and your level of alertness). Plus, green tea has caffeine in it and since caffeine is a stimulant, it can give you an energy boost. Long-term, another benefit of green tea is it also has catechin compounds; those are awesome because they can help to prevent cognitive decline.
As more and more time goes by, an herb that I’m becoming a huge fan of is rosemary. I like cooking with it and using rosemary essential oil on my hair and skin has been life-changing! Benefits-wise, rosemary is good for your overall health and well-being because it’s a great source of vitamins A, B6, C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. All of this works together to strengthen your immunity, improve blood circulation, assist with digestive issues, fight bacterial infections, and even slow down the greying process.
Rosemary is beneficial if you need a focus pick-me-up because it can reduce the stress levels that make it difficult for you to concentrate, it’s a cognitive stimulant that can improve your memory and, its scent can put you into a better mood and clear your mind so that you’re able to knock more things off of your daily to-do lists.
9. Dark Chocolate
Iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, protein, fiber, and antioxidants are just some of the nutrients that are found in dark chocolate. What’s awesome about this treat is it lowers your cholesterol levels, boosts your libido, decreases your heart disease risk, protects your skin from damaging UV rays, and lowers your risk of having a stroke.
The flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants in dark chocolate are helpful because they can enhance your memory, boost your mood and increase blood flow to your brain — that way, you’re able to concentrate so much better.
Protein? Broccoli’s got that. Fiber? Broccoli’s got that. Vitamins A and C? Broccoli is a super source of both of these. It also contains antioxidants, sulforaphane (a sulfur-rich compound), and bioactive compounds that can help to prevent inflammation. Some other great things about broccoli include the fact that it helps to prevent certain types of cancer (like breast, bladder, and prostate) from developing, it supports heart health and it can relieve constipation (although the flip side of this is it could create gas).
Eating some broccoli for lunch could get you through the rest of your workday. That’s because it also contains bioactive compounds that help your brain and nerve tissue. Plus, the sulforaphane in this veggie can help to prevent oxygenation of your brain so that it’s able to work at peak conditions. So, even if it’s just snacking on a few florets while dipping them in your favorite dressing, help your brain out by having some broccoli more often. When it comes to that thing that needs your total concentration, broccoli just might do the trick!
Featured image by Getty Images
It's my personal opinion that oral sex doesn't get discussed nearly enough. And that's pretty much my starting and finishing reason for why I'm writing this. C'mon. It's not like most of us don't indulge or engage and yet, when it comes to finding ways to make the experience more enjoyable (because a mouth simply being on another's genitalia is a really low bar), we don't seem to do as much research as we should.
It's no secret that more women climax from cunnilingus than intercourse itself (I'll expound in a moment). And it's definitely no newsflash that fellatio tends to put huge smiles on most men's faces. Still, there's nothing like going from good to great in your oral sex game, right? Something tells me that if you incorporate the following 12 tips, that is exactly what will happen.
1. Treat It Like an “Appetizer.” Not the “Meal.”
Let's start with where our, umm, heads should be about oral sex—whether we're giving or receiving. For starters, if it's gonna be grand, it'll be both. Anyway, while I do know some people who tend to take a hard pass on oral sex for a variety of reasons (by the way, religious married folks should check out Proverbs 5:15) and I certainly say to each their own, gone should be the stigma that there is anything "wrong" or "nasty" about doing it. Besides, 75 percent of women aren't able to have a vaginal orgasm. Oh, but do you know how they can climax? Some good old-fashioned cunnilingus! The main reason is that there is so much direct clitoral stimulation during the act.
Speaking of the stigma and the "ick attitude" that so many still seem to have about oral activity, that's a part of the reason why I think that cunnilingus and fellatio should be seen as appetizers (foreplay) more than the actual meal (intercourse). Think about it. How big of a deal is kissing? Especially in an intimate relationship, it's basically a given, right? Well, oral sex is a form of kissing...kissing genitalia, that is. And when you look at it from the perspective of stimulating your partner and building up excitement for what is to come, that can take a lot of pressure off of doing it. The acts can relax you, significantly so, as you're heading into intercourse. Appetizers are dope. They get the palate ready and prepare us to sit back and enjoy our meal. I think oral sex should be seen in a very similar fashion. How about you?
2. Shower Beforehand. Possibly Together.
I'll tell y'all what, if there's one thing that 2020 did, it got me super up close and personal with streaming apps. Not the ones you've gotta pay for (some of y'all have so many of those that you might as well have cable, chile)—the free ones. One of them being Tubi. Anyway, a series on there that I started watching not too long ago isSecret Diary of a Call Girl. It's…interesting. At times. Anyway, I'm bringing that up for this piece because Belle (the call girl) tends to give tips throughout each episode. One of her first was this—make sure that your partner showers from the moment he steps in your door.
I promise y'all that when I see movies or television shows where folks are all sweaty or are even just coming in from work and oral sex is simulated, I semi wanna gag just like an 80s valley girl. No, no…NO. Oral sex is so much more pleasant when you know that everything is super clean and fresh down there. You can even up the excitement by taking a shower together. Whatever you do, just make sure that hygiene is a top priority. For everyone's sake. And pleasure.
3. Create the Ambiance
Whether you adore oral sex (giving and receiving), you low-key loathe it or you merely tolerate it, the overall experience is going to be so much better—and far less awkward—if the atmosphere is sexy. Use candlelight or colored LED light bulbs. Turn on some slow R&B music. Dress sexy. Bring a few pillows into the mix (when you're "propped up", oral sex can be so much more comfortable). Hit a few other erogenous zones. Maybe give each other a massage (with hands and/or with tongues).
Sometimes oral sex can feel stressful at first, usually because we're rushing into it way too fast. Slow down. Set the mood. Enjoy each other. You've got time. If you're doing it right, you do, anyway.
4. Mutually Discuss What’s Desired. Each Time.
If you don't get anything else out of this, please hold on to this one particular point. Sometimes, we can be in a mood to receive oral sex in a different way than we did the time before. We might want more pressure applied or less. We might prefer it to be wetter or less wet. Sometimes 69 sounds like a good idea while other times, it's the absolute last thing that we want to attempt. But if we don't discuss all of this with our partner and instead, we put the expectation on them to be able to read our minds, that can make us frustrated with them—and ultimately, the act itself.
No one is saying that you have to present a—pardon the pun—full-on oral presentation about what you expect all of the time. I'm just saying that whispering in his ear what you are in the mood for (followed by asking him what he would like) can never hurt. It can only help, actually.
5. Incorporate a Favorite Flavor
I know all of us have heard that if you and your partner drink pineapple juice, everything will be right with the (oral sex) world, but that's not a complete truth. What is a fact is your diet plays somewhat of a role in how your natural lubrication as well as your partner's semen taste. This means that if pineapple juice is a part of your daily diet, it can knock some of the acidity out of both of your fluids, making them an itty bit sweeter. But if you're looking for everything to taste like a piña colada, you're only setting yourself up for failure. No food can do that.
The flip to this is if you bring a favorite sweet condiment into the mix, that can make you less—what would the word be—apprehensive, about diving in, head first (with the pun totally intended). Chocolate syrup, honey, whipped cream, frosting, flavored lubricant—all of these can be super seductive and a delicious distraction, if you happen to like the act but you'd prefer to avoid the taste of the "natural flow of things" as much as possible.
6. Use Some Ice Cubes
Here's the sexual version of IcyHot (LOL). While you may have never thought about "pulling a Mookie" in the bedroom (the real ones know what I'm referring to), it's something that you definitely should take into some serious consideration when it comes to oral sex. For you, the person on the giving end, it can help to produce a lot more wetness which can take off the pressure to produce more saliva. Then, when it comes time to receive, the combination of hotness (from your partner's mouth) and cold (from the ice) can actually stimulate you in a way that nothing else can. It doesn't have to be plain ice either. Popsicles or some Buko Ice Candy (a Filipino kind of icy treat; there's an easy-to-make recipe here) can easily be added to the mix too.
7. Perfect the “Build-Up”
One time, while in a session with a married couple, surprisingly, they both had the same complaint when it came to giving oral sex. It wasn't that they didn't like doing it so much as they felt like their partner took FOR-E-VER to orgasm. When I did a bit of deeper digging, I realized that, when it came to the act, there really isn't any wooing or seducing that was transpiring. They both would just take off their clothes and start. Not only is that not very sexy but this approach means that you have to not only "warm your partner up" with your mouth but then keep going until completion (because most of us go until completion…right?).
That's why I'm all about folks learning how to perfect the build-up. All I mean by that is there should be all about lots of kissing and caressing before oral sex begins. Shoot, even once they get to the genital region, there should be some seductive teasing by kissing/licking the hips and/or inner thighs. Again, if everyone slows down and relishes in the anticipation, by the time the act itself goes down, climaxing shouldn't be too difficult and definitely shouldn't take three television programs long. Not at all.
8. Switch Up Positions
I don't know what makes people think that oral sex always has to consist of being in some variation of the missionary position. It. Does. Not. If you'd like a little bit of a breakdown on how certain positions can prove to be most beneficial, a few years back, we published "6 Oral Sex Positions That'll Elevate You Even When You're On Your Knees." I also like the his-and-her positions that the site Your Tango took on. You can check it out here. Sometimes, just a change in angles can make all the difference in the world.
9. Yawn. Kinda.
Not all penises are created equal (check out "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"). That's a good thing. That said if you happen to have a partner who has the kind of penis where you find yourself repeatedly experiencing a gag reflex, try fake yawning during fellatio. This simple hack will help your throat to open up and your tongue to flatten, so that it's easier to…take everything all in.
10. Bring in Some Lubricant
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we simply can't produce enough saliva or we need some help to keep our hands from causing the oral sex version of rug burn on our partner. Something that can help both of these things from being an issue is lubrication. A recipe that you might want to try consists of coconut oil and margarita flavoring. Now please keep in mind that since oil-based lubes can actually semi-melt latex condoms, this should be used when it comes to oral activity only (and after being STD-cleared because you can get one from oral too). Still, if you're looking for a way to bring more "slip" into your second or third round, an easy and tasty recipe is right here.
11. “Seesaw It” All
There are some partners who've told me that the way oral sex happens for them is extremely compartmentalized. They do that—and then they have intercourse. There is no overlapping. What in the world? Do you know how hot it is to seesaw it? What I mean by that is to go five minutes with oral, have intercourse to the point of edging, and then go back to giving—or receiving? Whew.
It's always important to remember that sex isn't supposed to be regimented. Learn to go with the flow and do whatever feels good at the moment. It'll turn you on more and make oral sex so much more erotic. And that's always a good thing.
12. Watch It All Go Down (Pun Intended)
I know. Sometimes it all feels so good that you couldn't keep your eyes open if you tried. But a lot of times, we don't make eye contact during any kind of sex act because we simply don't think it's that big of a deal, one way or another. Oh, but it is. Eye contact during physical intimacy conveys that you want to make a deeper connection with your partner. And, when you do it during oral sex, they are able to get more turned on by either watching what you are doing to them or seeing all of the nuances of your facial expressions while they are gracing you with their skills.
Oh, and if you really want to take things to another level, you can even tape your partner during the act. Or, if a tape, to you, is too risqué, the next best thing is to watch with the help of a full-length mirror that's directly in front of you.
As you can see, these aren't "oral sex hacks" so much as they are tips to remind you to relax your mind, stay in the moment and—again, pun intended—take it all in. Oral sex can be unbelievable. You've just got to open up and let it be.
Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published February 19, 2021
Another year is here. A year to “get it right” if there are some things that, admittedly, you know you got all wrong in 2021 when it comes to your tresses. As for myself, I’ve got to admit that last year just might be the one that helped me to see the most personal progress. A part of the reason is because I applied some of the very tips that I’m about to recommend to you. So, if you’re ready for your hair to be longer and healthier than it’s been in a really long time, these 11 tips are some of the things that can help you to reach your goal.
1. Get More Vitamin D into Your System
Last spring, I wrote “A Lot Of Black Women Are Vitamin D Deficient. Here's The Fix.” for the platform. There are a myriad of reasons why Vitamin D is important to your overall health and well-being; however, when it comes to your hair specifically, it’s good for you because it stimulates the production of new hair follicles, helps to strengthen old ones and, because a Vitamin D deficiency is connected to hair loss — well, it’s clear that it is imperative to either take a supplement that contains this nutrient and/or eat foods that are high in Vitamin D. Some of those include salmon, cod liver oil, fortified cereals, fortified orange juice and eggs.
2. Eat More Foods That Are High in Zinc
Speaking of foods that you should be consuming, nuts like cashews and peanuts, whole grains, potatoes, kale and pumpkin seeds are all really good for you because they are high in zinc. Your hair needs zinc in order to thrive because it helps to keep your hair follicles moisturized. Not only that but zinc is great when it comes to hair tissue growth and repair. So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce breakage from the inside out, consuming zinc-enriched foods is an effective way to do it.
3. Invest in a Conditioning Cap
There’s no way that your hair is going to stay healthy and grow longer if you’re not deep conditioning it, pretty much on every wash day. If you want to go “2.0” on it, you should cop yourself a conditioning cap. It helps your hair to generate heat, so that whatever conditioner you are using, it will be able to deeply penetrate your hair’s cuticles. Natural Hair Insights is a site that has a list of some conditioning caps that are great for natural hair. You can check it out here.
4. Buy Yourself a Hair Steamer
Speaking of tools that will help to moisturize your hair, if you don’t own a hair steamer, there’s no time like the present to make a move. It’s something else that helps your conditioner to penetrate your hair. It also helps to produce elasticity. If you happen to have low porosity hair (which means it’s hard for your hair to maintain moisture), a hair steamer can keep moisture in your hair for a longer period of time. It can also reduce scalp dryness, itchiness and irritation. As far as the best hair steamers that are currently on the market for us, NaturalHair-Products can totally hook you up. Read their list here.
5. Use More Plastic Sectioning Clips
Trust me, if you’ve got super long, really thick and very curly hair, you are definitely going to need to get yourself some plastic sectioning clips. They will keep you from pulling out a lot of your hair (especially when it’s wet) while doing a lot of brushing and combing. They also work really well on wash days or when you want to detox your scalp (read more about why that’s something you should consider doing by checking out “Treat Your Scalp To A Little Bit Of Detoxing This Weekend”). By the way, plastic ones are better than metal ones because metal ones tend to snag your hair which can lead to tangles and breakage.
6. Treat Yourself to Some Almond Milk Rinses
Your hair is made up of mostly protein; so, of course, it needs protein treatments from time to time. All-out protein treatments are recommended every 4-8 weeks but if you want to do some upkeep in between those, DIY an almond milk hair rinse. By combining one-third cup of almond milk (for the protein boost), two tablespoons of honey (honey is a humectant which means it pulls moisture from the air) and one tablespoon of grapeseed oil (it’s loaded with Vitamin E and oxidants) and pouring the rinse on your hair and letting it sit for 20-30 minutes prior to shampooing and conditioning your hair, your locks will not only feel softer but stronger as well.
(By the way, signs that you need a protein treatment include your hair being spongy, being limp and not being able to hold a style. Also, if you’ve got high porosity hair — which means you’ve got “gaps” in your cuticles that make it easy for your hair to get too much moisture — you definitely could benefit from consistent protein treatments as well.)
7. Massage Your Scalp with Cedarwood Oil
Cedarwood essential oil is good for your scalp and hair for a few reasons. It increases blood circulation to your scalp, so that your hair follicles are able to receive the nutrients that they need. It contains properties that help to keep dandruff and product build-up from irritating your scalp. Cedarwood oil also reduces scalp inflammation, decreases stress levels and helps to keep your scalp and hair moisturized. And since a scalp massagealso stimulates hair follicles and decreases stress levels, I’m pretty sure you can see why adding a few drops of cedarwood to your favorite carrier oil, warming it in the microwave for 10 seconds and then gently massaging your scalp with your fingertips can feel super amazing while being really beneficial for your hair, from root to tip, too.
8. Use More Texturizing Serum
When it’s used in moderation, I’m a pretty big fan of hair serum; especially on natural hair. It gives your hair the kind of “slick” that makes it easier to style. It helps to bring sheen to your locks while adding lots of curl definition. It also reduces frizz which is always a huge plus. And if you decide to go with a texturizing cream, it can accentuate your natural texture without making your hair stiff (like some hair serums tend to do when there’s been a bit of build-up). Texturizing serum is also dope because it gives structure to blow-outs and can give you the perfect finger waves if that’s what you’re after. While there are plenty of serums on the market, a brand that’s currently getting a lot of attention in these streets (as far as a texturizing serum goes) is Davines. You can order it here.
9. Ease Up on Your Edges
I once read an article that said that the reason why a lot of us are obsessed with creating “baby hair” is because we’re still falling for the myth of what “good hair” looks like. Whether you believe that or not, what is a fact is hair around your edges and nape are pretty fragile (check out “7 Tips For Getting The Edges And Nape Of Your Neck To Grow Faster”), alcohol-based products will dry them out and could lead to breakage and the less manipulating you do to them, the better. Listen, I know more women than I should who were super caught up in having “laid” edges and/or being careless with lace fronts who are now bald around their edges as a direct result. It’s not worth it when it can be avoided; for a lot of us, taking the “less is more” approach with our edges is the key.
10. Be Super Gentle with Your Ends and Style More with Your Fingers
Your hair is always growing, so to think that you’re not gaining inches because it’s not doing just that is a lie. So long as you don’t have some sort of scalp or hair disorder, the main thing to focus on is making sure that your ends aren’t breaking off at the speed that your hair is growing out of your scalp. Here’s the thing — unless you are styling your hair in a way that calls for clean and precise parts (or you’re detangling on wash day), more times than not, you can survive styling your hair without combs and brushes. This is a good thing to know because when you opt for using your fingers instead, you can feel for knots and tangles; plus, it’s easier to control the amount of pressure that you apply.
As a result, you’ll have less tearing, less breakage and that means you’ll have longer and stronger strands. I won’t lie to you, styling with your fingers requires quite a bit more time and patience — but hey, if that means that there will be less hair in your comb and more on your head, isn’t it worth it? Exactly.
Sleep deprivation is directly tied to excessive hair shedding and even hair loss because a lack of sleep reduces the amount of melatonin that your body produces which can hinder hair growth. A lack of rest can also result in your hair being pushed into a “resting phase” where it no longer grows. So, if you know that you’ve been getting less than five hours a night, at least for your hair’s sake, try and push it up to seven. Something tells me that if you do it on a consistent basis, your hair just may surprise you when it comes to how it picks up a bit of speed on the growing tip. Keep us posted.
Featured image by Getty Images
Whew. The more that I read, write and talk about sex, the more I realize that there will never be a time when I’ll learn all that there is to know. And honestly, that’s kind of what I like so much about it — sex has got layers and layers and even more layers to it. So, let’s use that to our advantage in 2022 by making this the year that we’re absolutely determined to have some of the best sex EVER, starting with implementing some monthly themes; ones that can help us to experience more when it comes to how we see ourselves, how to please our partner and how to enjoy sex on a whole ‘nother level!
Let me tell it, one of the main reasons why a lot of New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is because people try and implement new habits before purging out some of the old mindsets that caused the bad/unhealthy/counterproductive patterns in the first place. Sex fits into this point. Whether it’s poor sexual communication, faking orgasms, fantasizing about past sexual partners (while you’re engaging with your current sexual partner), getting horrible sex-related advice from other people, being too hard on yourself when it comes to your body image, or lack of sexual confidence (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”) — whatever the case may be, use the first month of this year to really purge (to rid, clear or free) whatever you think is hindering you from having the best sex life possible.
If you need a little help with narrowing down what those things may be, “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)” and “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey” may be able to help you out.
Here’s what’s a trip about this point. Whenever I’m in my sessions with couples, it’s not just the wives who talk about wishing that their husbands lasted longer. Once husbands get their second wind (with round two), a lot of them say that their wives become worn out quicker than they would like to as well. It’s actually pretty Google-able that men only need around five minutes to climax while we sit somewhere at around 20 (including foreplay). Yet who said that sex — especially when it’s really good sex — shouldn’t go for longer than even that? This is where stamina comes into play. Not just physical stamina (check out “We’ve Got Some All-Natural Ways To Increase Stamina & Sensitivity”) but mental stamina too (check out “What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation?”).
By honing in on ways to make sex last longer, it can help you and your partner to learn more about each other’s sexual needs and how to make sex about more than just “reaching the mountaintop” at the end. This includes all kinds of sex, by the way; not just intercourse (check out “12 Things You Should Do During Oral Sex (That You Probably Aren't),” “Want To Have Hotter Oral Sex? STOP Doing These 8 Things.,” “Are You Ready To Amp Up Your Oral Sex Game? Try This.,” “If Your Man Sucks At Oral Sex, This Is Probably Why,” “How To Make Him Better At Oral (Without Putting Him On The Spot)” and “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
MARCH: Daily Sex
So, here’s a question. When’s the last time you had sex, every single day, for a month straight? Whenever I’m dealing with a sexless couple (who is physically capable), this is oftentimes what I will recommend. The reason why is because, while there are dozens of reasons for why people in long-term relationships allow sex to become less of a priority, one of the main ones is they have simply stopped being intentional about it. It’s hard to get into the habit of treating something like it’s absolutely essential if it’s a part of your daily routine, so why not use the first month of spring to either get your sex life back on track or to find new ways to get closer to your partner by committing to some sort of sexual activity, every single day of March (and yes, I know that it’s 31 days)?
If you need a little help figuring all of this out, “Having Sex Every Day. For A Month. Straight. Can Transform Your Marriage.,” “10 Simple Ways Married Couples Can Make More Time For Sex,” “How To Make Sex Easier (& More Fun) When You've Got Kids,” “Why Couples Should Engage In 'Midnight Sex' More Often,” “Here’s How To Make Morning Sex...Sexier,” and “The Truth About Period Sex” can offer up a few insights.
When it comes to the definitions of nostalgia, one that I personally like a lot is “a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life.” That said, isn’t it interesting that when we talk about taking walks down memory lane on the romance tip, recreating first dates immediately comes to mind but not really recreating first sexual experiences? When it comes to the first time you had with your partner, what are your favorite memories about it? When it comes to the best sex you’ve ever had with your partner, what qualifies it to have that title?
Setting the stage for some of your moment cherished and treasured times, sending each other random texts and emails to talk about it, returning to the “scene of the crime” by booking the exact same reservation in a hotel room that brings a big smile to your face — make that the theme for April. It will help to cultivate warmth and familiarity that can set the stage for May.
Aside from the fact that experimentation can help to keep boredom from settling into your sexual relationship, there are other benefits that come with trying things that you’ve never done before, entertaining ideas that you’re super curious about, and/or doing certain things that you haven’t experienced with your current partner as of yet. Sexual experimentation strengthens communication. Sexual experimentation helps you to learn more about your (and his) erogenous zones (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”). Sexual experimentation can tear down walls of fear or intimidation that you may have about certain acts or activities. Sexual experimentation can intensify your orgasms. Sexual experimentation can introduce you to a side of yourself you may not have known existed — because you never really experimented before.
One of the best ways to get this month going is to either create or share your sexual bucket list with your partner. And because this month is all about experimentation, try doing the things (on his list as well as yours) that challenge you the most…first. You know, one of the best things about experimenting, sexually, is it’s all about trust — and the more you trust your partner, in every facet of your relationship, the better your relationship will become over time.
There is something special about people who don’t mind having sex in the daytime or with the lights on. Whether they realize it or not, it conveys a level of self-confidence that only makes sexual interaction that much better…and hotter. Besides, it’s absolutely no secret that most men are stimulated visually, and trust me, it’s also the case that we tend to be WAY HARDER on our bodies than they are about them (men tell me this all of the time). So, meet up for midday sex and refuse to close your blackout curtains. Cook dinner sometimes with nothing or only panties on. If you’re not sleeping naked already, what the heck is holding you up?
If it’s been a minute since you’ve TOTALLY DISROBED (because I know people who like to keep something on during sex, every single time) or even took off your wig or weave (I also know men who have NEVER seen their partner’s natural hair) — it’s June which is the first month of summer. It’s hot, so why not use this as an opportunity to wear as little as possible, for as long as possible. Your partner won’t complain one bit. I can promise you that.
JULY: Orgasms. Lots and Lots of Orgasms.
Since I’ve been writing for this platform, there really is no telling how many articles I’ve written on orgasms. The reason why I’m so passionate about making sure that we tackle this particular topic, just as thoroughly as possible, is because if there is one thing that all women deserve to have, as much as absolutely possible, it’s orgasms. Not because sex can’t be good without them but because if you’ve ever had one before, you know the kind of true fulfillment an orgasm can bring. So yeah, in the month when fireworks are going off more than any other time of the year, strive to have as many orgasms as possible. Can’t think of a more satisfying way to live life. Can you?
AUGUST: Dirty Talk
Personally, my top love language is words of affirmation, so it doesn’t shock me in the least that I am a HUGE fan of dirty talk. I mean, HUGE. If you want a scientific reason for why a lot of us are turned on by “dirty” words, it’s because hearing them stimulates the part of our brain that brings us to physical sexual arousal; this makes complete and total sense when you consider the fact that the biggest sex organ that all of us have is our brain. That said, just like there are some people who hate kissing (what in the world?), I know some who aren’t turned on by, as Kelly Rowland once put it, verbal “Motivation” either (again, what in the world?).
Still, if you’re someone who doesn’t participate in dirty talk because you are self-conscious or scared of “not doing it right,” this month has your name written all over it. Start off my reading erotica with your partner (take turns with chapters). Verbally describe what you like doing to him and what you like him to do to you. Talk about the last sexual memory you have that drove you up the wall in the best way possible. Think about the words that you like to hear most when you’re aroused and ask him to whisper them during copulation. Amp up your sexting game (check out “Let's Talk About Sext: 30 Sexts You Can Send To Bae Right Now”).
If you’ve never really done much dirty talking before, I get how the thought of it could make you a little shy. Look at it this way, though — if you’re comfortable with letting someone literally enter you, stepping out of your comfort zone to verbally “go there” shouldn’t seem quite as frightening or frustrating. I don’t know one man who hates some nasty dialogue. And personally, I can’t think of one way that dirty talking would make sex worse instead of better.
When you get a chance, check out “How About Having A 'Mindful Orgasm' Tonight?.” Something that I have always been a fan of is mindfulness because it’s all about 1) staying in the moment; 2) being self-aware; 3) getting still; 4) remaining focused; 5) becoming curious; 6) being attentive and 7) getting out of your head and enjoying things as they come — and how can any of this not be the recipe for great sex? So y’all, September is pretty simple. Get together with your partner to discuss things that you both can do, sexually, that check off the boxes of what it means to be mindful.
Take all of the clocks out of your bedroom. Talk about what your deepest sexual desires and urges are. Do some deep breathing and mutual massaging. Be intentional about not allowing anyone or anything to distract you while you’re cultivating intimacy with your partner. Explore each other. Ask non-triggering sex-related questions that you’ve always been wanting the answers to. Pay attention to your partner’s responses and reactions to different things that you do. Don’t overthink your actions or techniques — just have fun. Sexual mindfulness is pretty underrated but it shouldn’t be. Use this entire month to make it something that you become a lasting fan of.
OCTOBER: Fulfilled Fantasies
An aphorist by the name of Mason Cooley once said, “Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it.” I think all of this is a great way to set the stage for October’s sexual theme because I personally believe that having fantasies and wanting to fulfill them with your partner is an essential part of having a satisfying sex life because it does just what the quote says — taps into desires and builds on imagination. I can assure you that both you and your partner have some fantasies that have gone unfulfilled; it’s just that rarely do these things come up unless one is prompted to discuss them.
So, whether it’s playing dress-up, having sex in a “taboo” location, experimenting with certain toys, taping a session (check out “Before You Make A DIY Sex Tape, Read This.”), engaging in some prostate milking (check out “What In The World Is 'Prostate Milking'? And Chile, How Do You Do It?”), becoming a squirting expert (check out “Is Squirting Really Worth The Hype?”) — whatever is running around in that brain of yours — so long as it won’t damage the integrity of your relationship and you both are down to try it — use this month to make it happen. Fulfilled fantasies are always fun!
NOVEMBER: Emotional Intimacy
Last fall, I wrote an article for the site entitled, “6 Genuine Signs You're Making An Emotional Connection With Your Sex Partner.” One of the points that I made in it is, I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman or what the age of the individual might be, I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t think that sex is better when there is some sort of emotional connection that’s established. So, if it seems like there is a bit of a “disconnect” between you and yours, set aside some time to get back on the same page. Go on some dates. Share some recent aspirations and goals. Affirm one another. Talk about your current feelings and be a good sounding board for him to do the same.
Do gestures that express appreciation. Toast each other with glasses of wine or apple cider. Turn off all of your gadgets (at least a few times a week) so that you can engage in some pillow talk. Admit when you’re wrong (without justifying or deflecting) and apologize. Forgive him when he does the same. Come up with a list of things neither one of you has ever done before (outside of sex) and do them together. Emotional intimacy cultivates safety and sex is oh so good when you feel safe with the one you’re having it with.
DECEMBER: Topping Yourself
After 11 months of themes and exercises, it’s my hope that your sex life has only gotten better. Prove that to one another by using all of December to create the environment to have some of the best sex either of you has ever had — not just with one another but in your entire lives! In fact, if you can, try and plan some sort of sexcation. It’s January now, so you’ve got plenty of time to save some coins and book a reservation. I’m telling you — when it’s purposed in your mind to make each experience better than the one before, there’s no way that sex can’t become more pleasurable, more exciting, and more gratifying than ever!
Oh, and if you’re like me and you try to support Black-owned businesses as much as possible, Condé Nast published an article last spring entitled, “Black-Owned Hotels Throughout the World” that I’m thinking could definitely be the icing on the cake of your sexcation, chile. ENJOY!
Featured image by Giphy
Not to toot my horn or anything but I have a natural six-pack. Whether I exercise or not, it’s right there — showin’ out and off. Here’s the challenge, though — as I’ve gotten older, it’s been easier and easier for a layer or two of fat to cover it, so I’ve had to get real with myself about the fact that drinking IZZEs all day and eating ice cream late at night are not the way to go if I still want my natural six-pack to make an appearance.
Besides, the harsh reality is, belly fat isn’t exactly the best for our health. While it’s kind of a long story, there are basically two kinds of fat — there’s visceral which covers up our abdominal organs and there’s subcutaneous which sits right underneath our skin and creates a bit of a protective layer as well as helps to regulate our body temperature. Problem is, when either of these become too much, they can lead to things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer.
That’s why, even if it’s not for aesthetic reasons, it’s important to monitor how much alcohol you drink, to balance your stress, to get consistent rest, to not smoke, to understand your family’s health-related history, and to watch your diet — so that you can do your part to keep your liver, stomach, uterus and other organs in your abdominal region is good condition.
As far as the diet part goes, there are several foods that you can eat that can help you to lose some of your belly fat (if losing some is currently one of your personal goals). So, are you ready to learn about which 10 foods can help to make that happen?
As far as nutrition goes, oatmeal is really good for you. It’s got an off-the-charts amount of manganese in it (191 percent of the Recommended Dietary Intake) along with fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin B. As far as other health benefits go, oatmeal contains antioxidants known as avenanthramides; these are beneficial because they help to lower your blood pressure. Oatmeal is also good for you because it helps to lower your blood sugar levels, can relieve constipation, and can offer you up a boost of energy too.
And why does oatmeal top the “belly fat burn” list? Well, thanks to the fiber in it, oatmeal can help to remove toxins that may be stored up, even in your gut area. Also, oatmeal has a soluble fiber called beta-glucans in it that can help you to feel fuller longer so that you’re able to resist the urge to eat junk food or snack on sugary stuff all hours of the day. So, if you’re ready to shed a few inches around your belly area, a bowl of oatmeal (with some fresh fruit like berries) can help to make that happen.
If you’re looking for a good dose of protein or Vitamin B, eggs have both. Some other things worth noting about them is they are full of “good cholesterol,” the choline in them helps to build your cell membranes and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin make eggs really beneficial when it comes to maintaining your vision.
And since eggs are such a protein-loaded kind of food (six grams per serving) and protein is what’s needed to build muscle, if while you’re trying to lose abdominal fat, you also want to gain muscle tone, a hard-boiled egg is always a good look.
Even though I have a fungal sensitivity (and mushrooms are indeed a fungus), I still have moments when I absolutely cannot resist them. I actually like them so much that sometimes I will pan-sear them with rosemary, butter, salt, and white pepper and…whew, chile! Mushrooms are healthy because they’ve got vitamins B and D, antioxidants, copper, and potassium in them. They are also good for you because they help to keep the cancer cells that cause prostate and breast cancer at bay, fight free radicals, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen bones and hair, and can even fight anemia.
Since vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to belly fat accumulation and mushrooms are a good source of this nutrient, if you’re a mushroom lover as well, you can see how it can effectively assist with getting your tummy down to where you want it to be.
4. Grass-Fed Meats
Because cows were meant to graze on grass, that’s why grass-fed meats are a lot healthier for you. That said, not only is grass-fed meat lower in calories, it’s high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and even electrolytes. And since it’s also antibiotic and hormone-free, you don’t have to worry about this kind of meat throwing off your hormones and packing on even more pounds.
Specifically, when it comes to your belly, grass-fed meats have an amino acid called leucine in them. It works alongside omega-3s to reduce bodily inflammation and produce lean muscle mass.
5. Raspberries and Blueberries
If nothing makes you happier than snacking on a bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries (raspberries are at their best from June thru October and blueberries are at their peak from June thru August), you are already well on your way to doing your body a world of good. That’s because both fruits are high in vitamins C and K, antioxidants, fiber, and manganese. If you’re looking for foods that can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, fight off free radicals, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, help to prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), and help to fight heart disease, raspberries and blueberries are tough to beat.
Belly-wise, they’re dope because they both are low-calorie fruits that can boost your metabolism and curb your appetite in the process. So yep, eat up and on!
6. White Tea
If you happen to be a tea lover, make sure that you’ve got some white tea in your stash. It has lots of antioxidants in it. It helps to reduce bodily inflammation. It’s got fluoride, catechins, and tannins in it that can help to keep your teeth and gums in really good shape. It contains compounds that help to prevent and fight cancer. White tea even has compounds that can help to slow down the signs of aging in your skin.
What makes it truly amazing in the fighting belly fat department is some of the properties in it will literally block the formation of fat cells in your system while helping to increase the breakdown of fat at the same time. So again, if you don’t have any white tea in a pantry somewhere…what are you waiting on, sis?
7. Bell Peppers
There aren’t too many foods that I’m not a fan of; however, for those of you who are totally down for bell peppers any chance that you get, please drop a note in the comments and let me know why. I mean, purely from a taste standpoint because, when it comes to health benefits, I totally get it. Bell peppers are made up of 92 percent water yet they still are a pretty good source of fiber and protein, not to mention vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Bell peppers are also full of plant compounds that are good for maintaining eye health and preventing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Also, bell peppers are beneficial because the iron levels in them can reduce your chances of becoming anemic.
As far as belly fat goes, bell peppers are helpful, thanks to the fact that the compound capsaicin in them is not only able to increase the rate that your body is able to burn fat, it’s able to significantly suppress your appetite too.
8. Tart Cherries
The “technical” name for tart cherries is Montmorency cherries and, believe it or not, they are loaded with protein. Along with that, some other of its nutrients include fiber, vitamins A and C, manganese, potassium, and copper. Athletes like to snack on tart cherries because they’re able to reduce muscle soreness. Some studies say that tart cherries can help to reduce the pain that’s directly associated with arthritis and gout. They also contain melatonin which can make it easier to fall asleep at night. And the antioxidants in tart cherries are able to boost your brainpower.
If, like me, you like to eat cherries (their peak season is July and August), eat up because one study revealed that they are really good at reducing abdominal fat and decreasing fat mass overall.
I’m pretty sure that most of you know that pickles are simply cucumbers that have sat in vinegar for a good amount of time. This process puts pickles into the “fermented foods” category. This is great because fermented foods help to promote a healthy gut (check out “80% Of Your Immunity Is In Your Gut. Take Care Of It Like This.”). They also help your body to better digest vitamins B and K and improve your overall mood. Some other benefits of pickles include the fact that they’re full of antioxidants, they support your immune system remaining in top shape and they’re a solid source of potassium; this is great because potassium works to keep your heartbeat regulated while making sure that your muscles and nerves work as they should.
When it comes to belly fat, pickles are its enemy due to the fact that the vinegar in pickles is a consistent fat burner. Plus, since cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, it’s a low-calorie snack that you can enjoy without any worry or guilt.
10. Dark Chocolate
The more I read and research the foods that are good for our overall health and well-being, the more I’m amazed by how often dark chocolate ends up on so many different lists. Did you know that whenever you eat the kind that contains no less than 65 percent cocoa, you’re taking in lots of iron, magnesium, copper, fiber, manganese, zinc, and antioxidants? All of these things work together to lower your cholesterol levels, increase blood circulation, reduce heart disease, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, improve brain function and keep your libido on track.
And how awesome is it that dark chocolate is good at reducing belly fat too? Thanks to the anti-inflammatory flavonoids that it has in it, it is able to reduce your overall body fat which is ultimately good for your stomach area in the long run.
Know what else I ain’t got no problem patting myself on the back about? I can make the entire hell out of some homemade eggplant parmesan! That’s why I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a great meat substitute/alternative (check out “10 Foods That Make Eating Less Meat...Easier”). Eggplant is also high in fiber, a pretty good source of protein and manganese and it has some potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K in it too. Not only that but eggplant helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower your blood sugar levels and the phytonutrients can help to boost brainpower.
Eggplant is great at reducing belly fat because the fiber in it can help to remove excess waste and the protein in it can help to build muscles. So, if you’re looking for food that will be a perfect complement to your cardio and crunches, eating eggplant can never steer you wrong.
Quinoa is a grain that’s considered to be a superfood. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s got a ton of protein in it (eight grams per serving), along with lots of fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, copper, and zinc. Quinoa is also good for you because it contains plant compounds that fight inflammation, amino acids that support your immune system and give you extra energy, properties that help to control your blood sugar levels, antioxidants that slow down signs of aging and, it’s a gluten-free food if you happen to be someone who has a gluten intolerance.
What makes it such a powerful belly fat fighter is the fact that quinoa contains a super high level of the neutral chemical compound betaine. That’s great because betaine increases metabolism and helps to inhibit the production of fat at the same time. Not to mention the fact that zinc and magnesium are two nutrients that fight against fat that likes to develop in the gut area too.
BONUS: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
At the end of the day, extra virgin olive oil is olive oil that has been processed the least so that you can get the most out of it. And what you’re getting are vitamins E and K, antioxidants that fight inflammation and properties that boost skin health, lower your blood pressure, improve digestion, help to prevent gallstones, slow down the aging process and so much more.
Since extra virgin olive oil helps to increase your metabolism, contains monounsaturated fats (these fats are actually semi-difficult to gain weight from) and it also has the polyphenol oleocanthal in it (it fights against inflammation in the gut area), cooking with this particular oil can work in your favor as you’re trying to get your tummy tight and right for the spring and summer seasons.
There you have it. 13 foods that are delicious to eat and great for dissolving belly fat…so that this summer, you can show that tummy off on a whole ‘nother level! (Be sure to send us some pics, chile!)
Featured image by Getty Images
I’m pretty sure that we’ve all heard the saying, “opinions are like buttholes” (yeah, I cleaned that up a bit) and everyone has one. Well, when it comes to the topic of advice, if we’re gonna be real about it, a lot of times all it is, is an opinion too. So, does this mean that we’re never supposed to ask for advice or take any when it’s offered? I mean, I get that since I’m a marriage life coach, it comes off as completely on-brand that I would say that receiving advice can actually be quite beneficial.
At the same time, though, because I’m also aware that there is a lot of bad advice, both online and off, that exists in the universe, I thought it would be a good idea to offer up a bit of a cheat sheet — just so you can know if you someone is actually dropping gems or completely wasting your time. So, let’s get into my advice about advice (and yes, the irony here has not escaped me).
1. It Doesn’t Feel Forced Upon
There are people in my family who are pretty insightful. Problem is, they are also controlling as hell (AS HELL), so their timing and delivery can be super off-putting. And you know what? True confession is because that is a part of my DNA and what I was used to being around for many years, I used to be very similar to them. Whether people wanted it or not, I was gonna give my advice. Regardless of their personality or temperament, I was gonna give it the same way, across the board. Whether I had already given advice, realized they were gonna do the opposite because that’s what always happened in times past, I was still gonna be a-yappin’. And yes, when advice is offered up in this fashion, not only can it feel like someone is trying to cram it down your throat, it has a tinge of being condescending and patronizing too…whether the person on the delivering end realizes it or not.
Without question, sometimes advice can be really good, regardless of how it’s delivered. Still, what people need to remember is advice is to serve as a guide and when you hear the word “guide,” nothing about that carries the energy of being pushed or pulled. So, if that’s how you feel when it comes to some of the advice that you’re hearing right through here, so long as it’s not your ego or pride that’s trying to ignore it (because those things HATE the hear anything but themselves), then at the very least, ask yourself why it’s making you feel so uncomfortable — and why the person on the giving end of the advice, to you, makes you feel as if they are forcing their words on you.
2. It Doesn’t Compromise Your Morals or Values
When it comes to what I do for a living, I hear advice about how to go about doing it better or differently, pretty much on a daily basis; especially when it comes to how I can expand my platform. Here’s the thing, though — although I am a little on the “buck” side when it comes to what I am willing to openly discuss, I’ve got more personal convictions about things than a lot of y’all may think. And when it comes to my morals and value system, I won't budge. Ask any boss I’ve ever had and they’ll vouch for that. So no, you can’t pay me enough money to compromise my standards, no matter what. That’s what having integrity is all about.
Only you know what you stand for. Whatever that is, though, the moment that someone is able to “get you off of your square,” you just took some really bad advice because you should NEVER do ANYTHING that will cause you to shift from what your core beliefs are. And the person who tries to tell you otherwise? That’s who you should shut down, in the advice department, as soon as possible.
3. It’s Not Rooted in Bitterness, Pain or Regret
As it relates to this particular point, an article that I wrote, not too long ago, helps to illustrate my point. In “Ever Wonder What It Means To Be Bitter? The Answer Might Surprise You.,” one of the things that I shared are gross generalizations that are typically rooted in bitterness. That’s why I steer very clear of women who talk about all men being trash. Chile, nothing about that is good advice; you are simply throwing up pain and who wants to eat someone else’s word vomit? I’ll pass. You know, what I oftentimes say to my clients is what I will encourage you to keep in mind — healed and wounded people see things very differently. When advice is snarky, delivered with anger, or even has so much regret attached to it that it basically tries to get you to avoid things due to self-imposed fear — that’s not anything that should be taken to heart.
Here’s an example. I know a divorced guy who had a pretty horrible marriage. For about a year now, he’s been sitting in barbershop chairs telling men to never get married. After hearing him talk about this for a couple of months, I called him out. “Dude, you were warned not to marry ‘her’ and you did it anyway. Not only that but have you told those guys the role that you played as well? If not, shut up. Marriage isn’t bad. Humans jack it up and you’re a good example.”
Again, healed and wounded people see things from a totally different angle. So, if there is any part of you that hears some “advice” and the energy seems dark, strange, or just plain off, be intentional about not allowing it to penetrate. It would be a shame to miss out on something good because you listened to the “misery loves company” chorus.
4. It Avoids “If I Were You” Angles
OK. This one right here can be difficult for pretty much any human to avoid because most of us have grown up hearing advice that starts off with “If I were you….” Still, think about how ridiculous that actually sounds. Being an individual means that our genetic make-up, personality traits, upbringing, likes, and dislikes, personal experiences, and shoot, the list goes on and on, all of which cause us to see life in different ways. And so, when the advice comes from the angle of “If I were you…,” chile, you’re NOT me, so telling/encouraging me to do something based on how you would do it is a bit…futile.
As a marriage life coach, something that I’ve been working on is trying to be as objective as possible while working with my clients. In fact, this is a part of the reason why I roll my eyes whenever people try-and-try-me about not being “qualified” to work with married people when I’ve never been married before. Listen, what y’all need to watch are some of these married therapists/counselors/life coaches because they are peak “If I were you…” advice-givers — and just like every person is unique, so is every marriage. This means that what might work for their unique union may not for another one that is just as exclusive.
Bottom line, while it may be difficult for folks to avoid saying “If I were you…” while delving out advice, listen closely to whether they are inserting themselves and their lives into what they are advising you to do about your own because what works for them may not work for you…simply because they aren’t you.
5. It Challenges You to Evolve
A lot of people don’t want to hear good advice; they merely want to be coddled. That’s unfortunate too because the only way that you can truly evolve as an individual is if you are challenged — and good advice is usually going to do that on some level. And just what are telling signs that what you are hearing is trying to help your personal evolutionary process? It’s encouraging you to break bad habits. It’s encouraging you to see things from a different or broader perspective. It’s encouraging you to set new or higher goals. It’s encouraging you to cultivate better boundaries. It’s encouraging you to manage your time, money, and resources better. In short, it’s encouraging you to take life up a notch.
I won’t lie to y’all — some of the best advice I’ve ever received really tried me because, again, my ego wanted to hear something — anything — else. Yet because I knew that the words were coming from a place of truly caring about me and also because it got to my conscience (more on that in a sec), I couldn’t just ignore it, no matter how much I may have wanted to…because I knew that the advice was calling me to grow up. And yes, sometimes growing pains are just that — PAINFUL. Thing is, when the advice is good, it won’t JUST be painful. It will be highly beneficial to your overall progress as well.
6. It Confirms Some Things in Your Spirit
In the Christian faith, there is something known as spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12). Long story short, they are things that are given by the Holy Spirit to help edify the Church as a whole (if you want to take a spiritual gifts test, a good one is here). I’ve taken several over the years and what always comes up on top is prophecy, wisdom, and discernment. I’m grateful too because it helps me to literally discern when folks are saying something that they just think is going to happen vs. what sounds pretty on track.
For instance, I’ve had people “claim to prophesy” that I’m gonna marry certain individuals. I don’t know what they were smokin’ but…nope. On the flip side, years ago, some women from Jamaica came to a church that I used to visit and when I walked past them, they all said, “Books! Lots and lots of books!” While I’m only on two so far (gonna work on two more this year), because I was already a writer at the time and they didn’t know me from Adam, it confirmed something that I had been praying over and pondering about. The future husbands? I repelled that, pretty much from the moment I heard it.
Again, by no means am I saying that advice is always going to make you feel good. That’s ridiculous and not what confirmation is all about. At the same time, though, when you hear something and it either “clicks” for you or it triggers your conscience on some level, then you know that it is heading in the right direction. Yeah, when it comes to advice pay more attention to how your spirit (check out “Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit”) responds more than how your emotions want to react.
7. It Brings You Peace
Saint Francis de Sales once said, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” John F. Kennedy once said, “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” Bernie Siegel once said, “Love and peace of mind do protect us. They allow us to overcome the problems that life hands us. They teach us to survive... to live now... to have the courage to confront each day.” If there’s one thing that all of these quotes have in common, is the fact that they are reminders of what peace looks and lives like.
Good advice. Genuine advice. Helpful advice. It is going to get you that much closer to peace; especially inner peace. Peace encourages calm. Peace encourages love. Peace encourages reconciliation. Peace encourages rest, serenity, and patience — if not immediately, it will create steps that will help to get you there sooner than later. So, just know that if what you’re hearing from someone is encouraging chaos, confusion, and drama, it’s not even close to being the kind of advice that you need. Because “good” and “peace” have A LOT in common.
Therefore, good advice has to have peace somewhere in it too. Simple as that, sis. It really is.
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