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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
As I move through life and experience different highs and lows, one thing that has become increasingly clear is the importance of self-love and self-worth. Now, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I do feel like if it’s in a good place, people experience life more fully. And when it comes to love, my friend Amanda Wicks and her husband, Will Ford, are the perfect example.
Amanda may not remember this, but years ago, on one of her many visits back to Atlanta (we both went to Clark Atlanta University), she sat across from me at a dinner table and declared she was done looking for love. She was happy with who she was, and while she still desired it, it was no longer something she was chasing. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. The statement was so bold it made me quickly reroute our usual dating story catch-ups and awkwardly move to a different topic.
Well, the next time we met up, she told me she had met someone and was moving to Houston to live with him. Imagine my surprise and concern. Later, I’d find out that this decision, like so many other elements of their relationship, flowed naturally and organically. Their whole partnership has been full of peace and vulnerability.
Fast forward to today’s conversation, they’re still living together, celebrating four years of marriage, and planning to create a family. And while this stage of their story sounds generally normal, the way they got there is nothing but. Check out the "How We Met" feature below to see how a couple who never spoke on the phone and lived in different states ended up in a loving marriage full of ease, art, and authenticity.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Walk me through your ‘How We Met’ story.
Amanda: We met on Instagram (laughs). He followed me first, and I followed back because he does art, and I was intrigued by that. Honestly, we followed each other for a while before we connected. But I remember one day I saw a post where he had on a Martin t-shirt that I liked, and that sparked our conversation. He ended up telling me he made the shirt and actually mailed me one. So when I got it, I made a post wearing it, and that’s where the conversation started. Since that day we’ve communicated every day since.
Will: Yeah, I initially saw her on a short-hair Instagram page and followed her because I thought she was attractive. I actually showed her to my co-workers on one of our monthly outings as an example of my “type” – something I had never done. But one thing I will say is, I noticed she had on a Nina Simone shirt in one of her photos, that’s what got me. It showed she had more depth.
I guess that answers my next question. Did you have an initial attraction to each other?
Will: (Laughs) Yeah, I did.
Amanda: For me, no. I just wasn’t looking at him through that lens. I didn’t follow him because he was attractive. I don’t follow people online because of that. I actually remember a time when we were going back and forth, and I was like, “Aye, you kinda cute.” It was a specific moment. Once I started looking through his page more often, I started to view him that way, but it still was more of an acknowledgment. We really connected primarily because of our creative interests.
So, how did it go to the next level?
Amanda: I was in Nashville, and he was in Houston. But I’m somebody where if I feel like doing something, I’m going to do it. I had been meaning to go to Houston for a while to see a friend, so I felt like it was the perfect combination of a circumstance. We had been talking a lot, and I knew I liked him as a person and really wanted to meet him, but of course, I was aware of the idea that it could blossom into more. I remember I sent him a text saying, “Would you think I was crazy if I pulled up to Houston?”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What was your reply? Did you think she was crazy?
Will: In my mind, I was like, I don’t know. (Laughs) I wanted her to, though, so I wasn’t going to say yeah. It was a little wild, but I encouraged it.
Okay, so tell me about the date.
Amanda: I don’t know if you’d call it our first “date,” but the first time we met, we went to a skating rink. I was a little nervous about meeting him in person. Like, what if we don’t have chemistry – that was in the back of my head a little. But I brought my friend with me as a buffer, and thank God I did because he was so quiet the whole night. I literally can’t think of one thing he said the entire time. But the saving grace was that we had built a rapport. We reconnected the following night and were together until 5 a.m. – just sitting there talking. We ended up spending the whole weekend together.
Will: I’m socially awkward if I don’t know you. Also, before the date, I didn’t know what she sounded like or anything because, that’s another thing, we hadn’t talked on the phone. (They both really don’t like phone calls, so everything was through texts at this point.) I guess I could say I was kinda nervous, too. I had never met someone through social media, and then here I was, meeting her in person at a skating rink. I hadn’t skated in years, I was hoping I didn’t fall. But we had just been talking so much that I was open to it.
What made you want to take that risk?
Will: She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around.
Amanda: I don’t think it was anything specific. It’s not hard for me to connect with people. But there were no red flags. We align across the board. That was different. We really connect on how we see the world.
"She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around."
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Out of curiosity, what are your love languages?
Amanda: I connect with all of them. I think it just depends on what I’ve been lacking. I appreciate words of affirmation because I’m so big on actions that I like those bold statements of love, and of course, I appreciate quality time. The older I get, the more I appreciate physical touch, but that’s not something I need. With receiving gifts, I like thoughtfulness, and I like giving thoughtful gifts, too. But acts of service is for sure my biggest one. I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most.
"I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most."
Will: I think it all depends on how I’m feeling, too. But probably also acts of service. I like how Amanda will buy me deodorant when I run out (laughs). She just does so much all the time to show that I’m thought of.
At what point in your connection did y’all have the “what are we” conversation?
Will: I don’t think we ever had that convo. We never defined anything, we just kinda went with how it was going. However, I knew I wanted it to be more serious when I went to visit her. She had been coming to Houston once a month, and I went to Florida (she was there for work) to see her. I realized I felt comfortable coming into her space, too. That gave me that last little bit of whatever I needed.
Amanda: Yeah, I can’t say I had a defined moment like that. But again, as we had more and more interactions, there were just no red flags. The more we thought about it, the more we realized no matter where we went relationship-wise, we were adamant about being a part of each other’s lives. We never had the “talking to other people” conversation or anything. But we did both understand we weren’t going anywhere. Eventually, it graduated to convos around building a life together, but even that was over six months in. I just liked him as a person.
Have there been any negative revelations that your partnership and marriage have taught you about yourself?
Amanda: I’ve always felt that partnership is supposed to make the other person’s life easier. For me, it was a struggle to let someone help me in all the ways I didn’t really know I needed help. As I started having less capacity, I had to realize that it doesn't work anymore. It was hard for me to acknowledge and ask for help. I think that’s something I am still coming to terms with, even with other relationships in my life.
Will: I think I’m learning and still learning how to get out of my head. I’m the kind of person who always has to visualize stuff before it happens. And this relationship is the first thing that I don’t do that with. Of course, we plan stuff, but I know it’s gonna be good regardless. It allows me to stay in the moment. If I can do that with this, which is the most important thing to me, why can’t I do that with other things?
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What challenges have you faced together?
Will: For me, the preconceived challenge was living together. I’ve never lived with a woman before. Even in my previous relationship, it was long-distance. I’m also the type of person that likes my space, but as soon as she got here, that was out the window. It was so smooth it made me feel stupid for questioning it.
Amanda: I’m grateful to say we don’t necessarily have challenges between each other together. But we have been struggling with infertility and health issues. Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way. But that’s an example of how having someone else there can be helpful. I was so functional as a full-blown individual doing everything by myself.
So, in my head, I don’t need anyone, but having someone there who is happy to support me has taught me it’s okay to welcome that. It’s made us stronger because it’s taught us how we both function under duress – it’s good to know it’s not terrible (laughs).
"Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way."
What are some of the shared values that are important to your relationship?
Will: How we see life, what we’re here for, and how you’re supposed to treat people. It sounds really simple, but it’s not as common as you think.
Amanda: We value being really good people – without strings. We both don’t value money, but we value stability. So we don’t have to endure the “why are you not hustling” arguments. We were both stable people individually, and we came together. Also, we both value meaningful connections, alone time, reflection, and family. That guides us in what we do and how we build a life.
Finally, what is your favorite thing about each other?
Amanda: I’ll say one of my favorite things about him is that he’s brilliant. I view myself as a smart person, but in my head, he can do what I’m doing ten times faster. There are times I want to push myself to do stuff, and I’ll just ask him because I know he can do it. It’s incredible.
Will: My favorite thing about her is how people see her. Being a witness to how important she is to other people’s lives is amazing. Standing to the side and seeing how she affects them is really special.
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Feature image courtesy of Amanda Hicks and Will Ford
When you hear a voice that moves you to tears, shouting, and standing ovation, you know you’ve got the makings of an entertainment phenomenon. Jekalyn Carr has already set herself on a path of icons, and she’s only 26 years old. Five Grammy nominations. Six Stellar Awards. Four GMA Dove honors. Two Billboard Music Award nominations. A Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden and AmeriCorps. An induction into the Women’s Songwriters Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. There’s a clear path of connection, engagement, and excellence that can’t be denied.
Carr talked with xoNecole about what inspired her new self-titled album JEKALYN, the pre-concert self-care routine that sustains her and her voice, why she continues to pursue multiple passions while honoring her purpose in faith, and more.
xoNecole: What can fans expect from your new album, and what inspired the songs and vibe?
Jekalyn Carr: Growth and original Jekalyn Carr. It’s been four years since I recorded an album. Within that time period, I’ve been able to expand my mindset when it comes to music and understand that it is okay for me to tap into other styles. [The] message is still the same, and I love every bit of it.
With this album, I wanted to give people a bit of a different view of Jekalyn. Not just traditional but other things. Like we’re going to Jamaica on this album, gospel hip-hop, and other things. I really want them to see that and, most importantly, to give them the message that it is their time to stand on the mountain of victory and to declare their testimonies.
I think this is an album to reveal to you the heart of God for you and what He wants for you—even the song I released on pre-order, “God of War.” There are certain fights that God wants us to fight; however, when it’s beyond you, it’s on Him. And so, you have to understand he wants to go to war for you. Not only go to war for you, but bring you your victory. You just have to open up and allow Him to do that. In return, you are thankful and grateful.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
xoN: You have an amazing voice. When you chose to pursue entertainment professionally, what led you to gospel?
JC: I grew up in church, for one. And then No. 2, I just always loved it. If I were to ever sing something else. I feel if I were to ever sing any song, I’m always going to just add, “Thank ya, Jesus!” [Laughs] I love singing this type of music that just really gives people hope.
xoN: And your songs are indeed inspirational and freeing! With a voice like yours and the success you've had, there must be a routine that grounds you. What are three must-do things you have to do before a performance, so you can get into worship and connection?
JC: Well, first, sleep. No. 2, definitely prayer. No assignment is the same. It’s always something different for each place where I am. And 3, hydrate. I gotta have a lot of energy going out on stage.
xoN: Your generation is revolutionizing how social is being used, and you have more than 830,000 followers on Instagram alone. As a gospel artist, what is your take on staying connected with fans using the platform? What’s your approach?
JC: It’s very important to stay connected. One of the biggest reasons is, I can’t go everywhere, however social media is everywhere. I’m able to stay connected to my followers all across the world. I think it’s very important. It’s also a sense of connection that you can’t explain.
You really feel like it’s your social media family. It hits differently. It helps you remain touchable, too.
Every now and then, I make sure I respond. I may not be able to respond to everybody, but [it’s about] just being open-hearted so that they know I am touchable.
Paras Griffin / Contributor/Getty Images
xoN: You’ve appeared in the Will Packer-produced film, 'Praise This,' you've launched Jekalyn Beauty, and you have your own radio show, 'Jekalyn Carr eFamily Affair Show.' Why did you choose to pursue these industries as well, and how do you balance it all?
JC: These are things I’ve always wanted to do and gifts that were in me. It was just a matter of time when I started to fully operate in them. I just believe in doing things at the right time. I started singing first, but it wasn’t until I started speaking that everything else fell in line for me, including my music, so that’s the same thing with fashion, with the TV, with radio. I love all things beauty, skincare, makeup.
I love all these things. It’s not that it hasn’t been there. I just like to wait for the right time to bring it to the world. It’s been going really great.
xoN: Specific to the beauty brand, what key things do you want it to be known for that stand out in the market?
JC: I was very involved in it. It’s bigger than having a product and just putting my name on it. I wanted a product that I can use, and that has helped me. I was using these products during the pandemic. Even when it comes to growing my hair and taking care of my skin, I wanted to make sure that this stuff works. We’ve been getting so much great feedback from it.
Anything I do, I like to be passionate about it.
Jekalyn's new self-titled album JEKALYN is out now.
Featured image by Terence Rushin/Getty Images