I already know. Between the fact that most of us don't make it a habit to pamper ourselves nearly as much as we should and using pampering in the context of our souls, some of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. How in the world does one "pamper their soul"? I'm so glad that you asked, sis. Grab a glass of sparkling water or red wine, turn on some 90s R&B (because does music get any better than that?) and I'll try and break it all down as best as I possibly can.
Ever since I entered my 40s, something that I've been more intentional about doing is pampering myself. Using essential oils. Applying cheba powder to my hair (Chile, your hair hasn't lived until it's had some cheba powder in it!). Getting regular mani/pedis with perks like paraffin wax. Setting some money aside to do whatever, whenever because, as the word "pamper" reminds me, I should do things for myself that are extremely kind and excessively indulgent. Simply because.
And since a wise person (this quote is usually attributed to C.S. Lewis) once said, "We don't have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body," then yes, I think it's extremely important that my soul gets some much-needed attention too.
But just how does one pull that off? Well, that's where it gets interesting. I adore the Hebrew language and the Hebrew word for soul is "nephesh". It means, well, a lot of things; many that I'm going to share with you here. Between the Hebrew definition and the dictionary's definition and synonyms for soul, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how vast, relevant and layered your soul really and truly is—and why it deserves all of the pampering that it really and truly does.
If I've said it once, I've said it a billion times before. A saying that I can't stand is "Follow your heart", mostly because a definition of heart is "center of emotions". Considering that we have about 27 of those that can shift at any moment based on our moods or circumstances, I don't think that following it is a sound or stable way to go.
At the same time, I do think that so we can trust our emotions more, it is important to guard our heart as much as possible. Even the Bible advises us to do that (Proverbs 4:23). To me, guarding my heart doesn't mean that I have so many walls up that no one can get close to me. What it does mean is when I feel, whatever it is that I'm feeling, I give myself some time and space to do just that; it's about being kind with myself whether I'm feeling anxious, confused, sad, envious, awkward or any of the other of the 22 emotions that exist.
The thing about the heart is, when we pamper it by listening to our emotions, validating them and then nurturing them as needed, we are better equipped to make smarter decisions. Not because our "heart" told us to but because our logic, our gut and our discernment did.
The mind is the part of our body that thinks, reasons, perceives and even judges (not all judgment is bad by the way; discernment literally means "acute judgment" and it's important to use plenty of that). It's one of the main things that makes us stand out from all other mammals. One way that I believe a lot of us "abuse" our mind is by constantly overthinking—creating movies in our minds, worrying about stuff that hasn't even happened, not being able to move forward in life due to entertaining completely paralyzing thoughts. When this happens, things like stress, insomnia, purpose fatigue and the inability to make decisions can creep in.
One of the best ways to combat all of this and pamper your mind in the process is by taking a rest day, each and every week. I'm not talking about taking a couple of hours to go to church or catch up on Queen Sugar. I mean devoting at least 6-8 hours a day (preferable a full 24), once a week, to do nothing but rest and relax.
For me, that day is the traditional Sabbath (Saturday). When I tell you that I have no problem doing absolutely nothing from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I wholeheartedly mean that. And since rest is all that is on the itinerary, my mind is able to take a break from phone calls from clients, paying bills, work assignments and whatever craziness that is happening out in cyberspace. I can return to the world on Sunday, with my mind totally refreshed and at ease. (Try it. It's a total game-changer!)
A conversation (that is sometimes more like a debate) that I have with some of the women in my world is there's a difference between maintenance and pampering. Taking a bath isn't really pampering so much as scheduling an appointment at a salon to do a mud soak is. I say that because pampering is about being over-the-top extravagant and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. If it's a facial, why not a chocolate facial? If it's a massage, why not go to a spa or pay for someone to come to your home to do it? If it's a vacation, how about going to a dream resort or taking a cruise?
Many of us struggle with the pearl of wisdom that I'm about to share, but a part of the reason why a lot of us don't require that men treat us like a priceless gem is because we don't do it for ourselves.
Listen, just like you need to budget money to cover your monthly expenses, you also need to save up some cash so that your body can be pampered (more than just a couple of times a year too!). The more you value yourself, the less push back you'll give me—and you—when it comes to this.
Not all of us are religious. But it's rare that I encounter someone who isn't spiritual; "spiritual" in the sense that there is more to us than just flesh and blood, and there is a higher power that helps us to navigate through this thing called life. It took a long time—too long if you ask me—to get to the point and place of what I am about to share but, to me, pampering one's spirit is a lot about learning to surrender. It's about trying to do the best that I can and then accepting that that is all that I can do.
It's about embracing one of my all-time favorite quotes—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them" (a pastor by the name of John Piper said that). It's about having good intentions, checking my motives, allowing others the space and time that they need to care for their own spirit and then literally walking by faith and not by sight.
There's a Message version of Scripture that, I think, is the perfect way to pamper the soul—"Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" (Jude 1:2—Message) A truly pampered spirit lives just like this. It's relaxed, knowing that Love ultimately has its best interest at heart.
Is it weird to pamper your desires? I don't think so. The key is to make sure that you're pampering, not coddling. Anyway, I think a lot of us could avoid a lot of unnecessary foolishness if we pampered our desires more than we actually do. I mean, just think if we really took what we wished for or wanted seriously. Would we stay at our dead-end job? Would we keep waiting for the man we're with (or is it tolerating?) to get a clue? Would we keep violating our own selves by taking the toxicity and abuse from our so-called family members and friends?
The healthy way to pamper our desires is not about being out here catering to every willy-nilly whim; it's not about being random or reckless. Pampering our desires is about really focusing on what we want in life, factoring in how it will benefit us and, if it does, going after it without delay or compromise. Are you doing that?
It might seem like I already touched on this when I talked about emotions as it directly relates to the heart. But actually, what I'm referring to here, are our feelings as it relates to our five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. C'mon, be honest…do you put forth a conscious and concerted effort to actually pamper your senses?
- Do you take breaks from staring at monitors so that your eyes can rest? (Then do you put some cucumber slices on them?)
- Are you mindful about the kind of things you listen to whether it's media-related or certain conversations?
- When's the last time you had a meal that brought you nothing but pure delight and pleasure?
- Do you exfoliate and then moisturize your skin? Is your underwear and bedding luxuriant?
- Do you have a diffuser that's filled with soothing essential oils or soy candles that smell like delightful scents (and if you do, do you light them)?
Indulging our senses are important because, the more in sync with them we are, the less stressed we'll feel. And a calm soul is a thriving one.
Indulge your passion. Shoot, I feel like that needs to be a tagline for an ad or something (if I see it somewhere, I'm coming for my check!). Anyway, the reason why I find this phrase—which is really more like a mantra or motto—to be so fitting is because, believe it or not, one definition of indulge is "allow oneself to follow one's will". And you know what? I see absolutely no reason why you wouldn't do that when it comes to the things that you are passionate about!
When you read stories on our site like "Passion over Paycheck: Why I Quit My Job at 30 to Start Living" and "This Is How the Founders of CurlFest Turned Passion into Profit", how can they not inspire you to want to ponder over the things that drive you and then do what you can to make them manifest? A woman who pampers her soul is definitely a woman who feeds her passions in life. You betta believe it!
Let me just say off top that having an ego is not always or automatically a bad thing. Our ego is about singling ourselves out from others. In fact, having a healthy sense of self-worth is directly connected to our ego. Things only start to get weird when our ego gets out of balance and we start to lack empathy or compassion for others. You know, when what we think and want is all that matters to us (our current president and his ridiculousness immediately comes to mind).
So, just how is it that we can pamper our ego without becoming a roaring narcissist in the process? It might sound overly simplistic, but self-love is a great way to do it. Starting your day off by jotting down five things that you like about yourself; feeding your body with things that are good for you; excusing yourself from negativity; releasing toxic individuals and forgiving yourself for little mistakes and bad decisions that you've made—these are all ways to care for your self-esteem so that your ego doesn't feel the need to get out of hand and overcompensate by doing the absolute most, whether it's online or off.
A quote that I really dig is by a Spanish philosopher by the name of José Ortega y Gasset. He once said, "Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are." That speaks a mouthful, all on its own. Whenever I hear it, something that immediately comes to mind is my value system. And yes, our principles are very much a part of our soul.
Something that's pretty disturbing about the world right now is how so many people are being bullied and berated due to their principles; their "accepted or professed rule of action or conduct". And the reality is that we should love our soul and respect the souls of others enough to stand for our values without thinking that means that we have to railroad over others'.
Your basic and fundamental beliefs? Pamper them by spending some time studying and researching why you believe, feel and stand for what you do. Determine how to connect your values to your purpose and passion. Surround yourself with those who will not make you feel bad for having the principles that you do. I can personally attest to the fact that the more that I honor my own personal values, the more I am able to respect others—whether they are like mine or not.
There is a scent that I wear that I always get complimented on. It also never fails that people ask me what it is. I never tell them. Why? Well, it also took me a long time to get to the point and place of relishing in the fact that it's OK to have some things that are exclusively your own. It speaks to your individuality. Your nature. Sometimes your personality and/or your character too…you know, your core self.
There's no way that I could write a piece about the importance of pampering our souls without encouraging every individual reading this to honor themselves in exclusive ways. It's OK to have a unique style, a signature scent or to purchase something that is a rare find…and then to keep it totally to yourself.
There is only one you and you deserve to have things in your life that represent your true awareness of that very fact. Making that kind of distinction will be something that will make you feel so good about yourself—from the top of your head to the very depths of your soul.
Featured image by Unsplash
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Originally published July 18, 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 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 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