Call it an occupational hazard but I really do dig words. I mean, more than average person (I think). That's why it kinda tripped me out that when I initially came up with the title for this piece and I went with the word "cozy", who knew that it had some crazy definitions attached to it? While cozy does mean "snugly warm and comfortable" (which is what I was going for), did you know that the word also includes definitions like "convenient or beneficial, usually as a result of dishonesty or connivance", "suggesting opportunistic or conspiratorial intimacy" and "discreetly reticent or noncommittal"? What in the world, y'all?
That's why I swapped out cozy and replaced it with "comfy" because, the goal here, is to offer up some tips that can make sex between you and yours (especially as the colder temps are starting to set in) feel comfy, which is short for comfortable, which is a word that means things like content, at ease, relaxed, snug, warm, healthy and happy. Sex that can feel like curling up in your favorite blanket, as the snow falls outside and you enjoy a cup of warm cocoa indoors? That's what I'm aiming for. Because, as crazy as it might sound on the onset, the reality is that the more comfortable we feel with our environment and our partner before sex even begins, the better the experience tends to be overall.
So, are you ready to learn more about how to have some "comfy sex" this fall and winter season? Yeah, I figured you would be.
1. Invest in a Comfy Comforter
When's the last time you treated yourself to a new comforter? In the name of comfy sex, how about investing one that is solely about how good it feels to be wrapped up in it? If you want one that provides moisture-wicking (so that you won't overheat) warmth, go with one that has some wool filling in it. A fluffy feel? Down filling is a great choice. Silk creates a feeling of sheer luxury while a cotton and polyester blend is a "lighter fluff". Whatever you decide to go with, make sure to get one that is a size up from the size of your bed (like I have a king comforter on a queen bed). That will leave extra material for you and your partner to be able to curl up in. Trust me, it's divine.
2. Determine to Leave ALL Drama Out of the Bedroom
OK, before going deeper into these comfy sex tips, it doesn't make sense to offer up a ton of hacks if you and yours can't use words like serene, pleasant and agreeable (which are synonyms for comfortable, by the way) to define your mindset before sexual activity even begins. You know, I've got clients who are under the totally delusional mindset that the best time to have deep chats is during sex. According to them, that's when they feel like they can "catch" their partner. No, no, NO.
A part of the reason why I agree with interior designers (and a lot of marriage therapists) when they say that the bedroom is for nothing other than sex and sleep is it reminds couples to see that room of their house as a place for pleasure and rejuvenation — no more, no less. When you know that there is a space that's designated for nothing other than that, it makes it an area that you find yourself constantly looking forward to being in. So, in the name of all things comfy, check issues, problems and drama at the door. Literally.
3. Put Some Jasmine, Vanilla or Cinnamon on Your Bedding
Now. Back to prepping. Did you know that there are scents that can help to make you feel more comfy too? Jasmine is awesome because it's considered to be an aphrodisiac — one that has the ability to put you into a better mood and give you more energy. Vanilla is great because it promotes relaxation, relieves tension and improves your quality of sleep. Cinnamon oil is cool because it helps to relieve achy joints and muscles, stimulate blood flow and reduce feelings that are associated with irritability or head tension. As a bonus, if you add a little bit of cinnamon to your feet at night, it can help to increase blood circulation and keep them warm. Just sprinkle one of these on your bedding. You won't want to get out of your bed for days if you do.
4. Enjoy Some Blackberry and Ginger Mocktails
If you and yours like to sip on a lil' sumthin' before or after gettin' it in, have you ever had a blackberry and ginger mocktail before? While both of these foods have a ton of health benefits, the reason why I'm mentioning them today is because blackberries are a good source of magnesium which can curb stress-related feelings while relaxing your system in the process. As far as ginger goes, it's full of antioxidants and bioactive compounds that can improve brain health overall so that you're in a tranquil state. Sipping on a drink that's made of both of these can help to "get your mind right" which is always a good thing when you're about to put your body into action. (Three great mocktail recipes for this particular drink are located here, here and here.)
5. Or Share a Bottle of Chocolate Wine
If alcohol is what you're after, if it's been a ROUGH day and you and/or your partner just can't seem to get your mind to stop racing, when's the last time the two of you shared a bottle of chocolate wine? Dark chocolate contains polyphenols that are proven to help increase feelings of calm and contentedness while wine plays a direct role in suppressing your nervous system which, in turn, can reduce stress and worry. Total Wine is just one site that sells a few different brands for a really affordable price. You can check out their list here. For tips on how to find the absolute best brand of chocolate wine, Vina Del Vido breaks it all down on their site here.
6. Massage Each Other’s “in Need of Comfort” Pressure Points
A massage is always a smart foreplay move. If you and/or your partner are feeling fatigued, irritated, restless, worried or even a little bit tense, give each other a pressure point massage. While on the onset, it might seem like I'm referring to erogenous zones, I'm actually not.
Some of the pressure spots where anxiety stores up include inside the upper ear, around the shoulder blades, in between the index finger and thumb, on the wrists and at the part of the feet that are right underneath the toes. If you mix a carrier oil like sweet almond, avocado or grapeseed with 5-7 drops of the essential oils that I mentioned earlier, warm the oil up in the microwave for 10 seconds and then massage these areas, it can literally feel like a pampering slice of heaven.
7. Express Something About Your Partner, That Day, That You Appreciate
A couple of years ago, I penned an article for the platform entitled, "10 Creative Ways To Express Gratitude In Your Relationship". Y'all, I can't tell you how many times a husband or wife has told me that they've got one foot out of the door because they feel totally taken for granted. Again, when someone is comfy, they feel mentally and physically comfortable. One way to put your partner into this kind of mental state is to verbally state something that you appreciate about them; not in general, but that they say or did that day. Doing this shows that you're paying attention to their efforts. Doing this reveals that you are proactive about being thoughtful. Doing this will also cause your partner to feel valued in your life. How can you not want to get closer to someone who is intentional about making you feel this way?
8. Cuddle While Taking a 30-Minute Nap. BEFOREHAND.
Whenever a couple tells me that they are too tired for sex, I usually say what I'm about to say to you — take a nap first. While it might sound strange at first, there is all kinds of data to support the fact that a 30-minute nap can help to boost energy levels, strengthen cognitive function, make you more creative, better your memory and put you in a far better mood — all of which is needed for satisfactory sex sessions. And if you nap while you're cuddling with your partner underneath that comforter that we talked about (check out "Fall's Coming: 8 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Cuddling"), the rise in oxytocin levels that can come from it can actually make you desire your partner even more. Just set an alarm. When it goes off, roll over and start kissing. This is the kind of sex hack that is truly unsung.
9. Get into Some Stress-Reducing Sex Positions
While sex, in general, helps to release stress (which is just one of the billions of reasons why you should do it as often as you can), there are positions that encourage less physical tension, more cuddling and greater feelings of comfy-ness. Spooning is wonderful because there is nothing like being the "little spoon" and feeling enveloped in your man's embrace. The Lotus is dope because when your partner is sitting in a pretzel position and you're sitting on top while facing him, how can you not feel super close and intimate? I always encourage having sex in the "cat position" (which is like doggy style but you're lying flat on your stomach) because your partner is literally taking you all in.
Having sex while hugging each other (lying face to face) makes it so much easier to kiss and squeeze one another (it can actually be very sweet). Then there's the good old-fashioned missionary position that is always great for eye contact. Plus, all of these positions are pretty easy on both bodies, so that neither of you are throwing your back out or putting unnecessary stress on your already-tired limbs and muscles in the process.
10. Praise Your Partner for Something Satisfying That Just Transpired
Recently, I was talking to a husband client; he had me cracking up. We were discussing favorite artists and songs. When Jill Scott's name came up, he said, "'Whatever' is my joint." When I asked him why, he said, "Who doesn't want to hear how good they were in bed? That woman told her man that he put it down and then cooked him some breakfast. That's what I'm talking about!" Remember how I said that being comfy is about being at ease? A good lover wants to make sure that their partner is pleased. Whatever yours did to fulfill you, don't waste any time sharing it. It will relax him and make him feel really comfortable with affirming you in return.
11. Turn on the Ocean
I've shared before that until I started sleeping to the sound of rain, I preferred silence. But baby, now that I've found 9-plus-hour videos on YouTube that has real rain falling on them, sleep has never been so good!
While having sex to the sound of rain can be sexy and romantic for sure, since the focus here is comfort, consider going with ocean sounds instead (whether it's before, during and or following copulation). There are many studies to support that listening to things like waves crash or rain on the water can reduce stress and cultivate a sense of calm.
Hey, you'll never know until you try it…right? (Go to YouTube and put "ocean sounds" or "ocean ASMR" in the search field for a list of options to choose from.)
12. Spoon Yourself to Sleep
We already touched on spooning from the sex position standpoint. That said, once you both have "culminated" (wink), getting into the spoon position in order to fall asleep is pure bliss too. It's relaxing. It keeps the feeling of closeness and intimacy going. Oxytocin boots can also help you to fall and stay asleep. Dopamine (which enhances pleasure) and serotonin (which helps to regulate your moods and sleep patterns) are natural hormones that are also released when you spoon as well.
From a very practical angle, you significantly decrease your chances of snoring when you're on your side (vs. your back). While you may not remain in that position all night long, it's definitely a way that conveys "I adore you and tonight was amazing." You can go into sex feeling comfy, experience sex being comfy and end it being in that same head and heart space. And it really doesn't get much better than that, chile.
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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. ;)
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
Since we’re at the stage in 2023 where we can pretty much count down the hours until a brand-spanking new year is before us, I thought it was necessary to encourage those of you who are in relationships to do a bit of relational inventory. It’s not something that I haven’t mentioned in my content before. Hey, charge it to being a marriage life coach and writer but I think clear communication is super essential — and that means there are times when you need to flat-out ask certain questions, listen to the answers you receive, and then decide where to go from there.
And so, today, I’ve got six questions that you should ask your man over the next couple of days. Now, I’ll be honest: some of these might be hard to ask simply because the answers might be difficult to hear if they’re the kind that you didn’t expect. Still, I believe that it’s important to close out the year by opening up the floor to hear where your man’s head and heart are as you express your head and heart in return. Because, from both personal experience and observation of others, time is too precious to be out here assuming that what you want is what he wants as well.
If you want to know, you need to ask — and I think you can pretty much get the clarity that you need by asking — asking not berating or pressuring — the following six questions before the ball drops at midnight on January 1, 2024.
1. "Are we on the same page?"Giphy
The reason I’ve written articles like “6 Signs You’re In A One-Sided Relationship” in times past is because I know what it’s like to be seeing someone and, while I think we’re doing one thing, they are thinking we’re on something completely different. I’ve thought that good sex was establishing a solid connection while the guy saw me as his favorite kind of recreational use. I’ve thought I was officially dating while guys thought they were in situationships with me (and no, those two things ARE NOT the same). I’ve thought that seeing someone for months was ultimately leading towards marriage while the guy was having a good time just…seeing me for months (LOL).
And while it’s easy to demonize those individuals while playing the victim role, the reality is when one assumes, it still can make an ass out of them — and yes, many times, because I wanted something to be a certain way, I assumed that they did too.
And that’s why it’s so important to make sure that you and whoever you’re…whatever-ing with (LOL) is on the same page as you are. I don’t care how long you’ve known him. I don’t care how much the two of you have in common. Don’t fall into the “surely, he must be on what I’m on; how could he not be?” trap because men and women are different. That’s not a flaw on the man’s part; that’s just the way it is.
I could go on and on about this particular question alone yet I think you get my overall point. Before going into 2024, see, not only if you’re on the same page but even in the same kind of book. I would hate for you to see your dynamic as a romance novel while he treats it more like a magazine that he casually thumbs through at the doctor’s office — you know, something to do…for the moment. You’d be amazed how much that happens. Sad yet true.
2. "Do we want the same things?"Giphy
Okay, so say that you both are in agreement that you’re exclusively dating. Thing is, you’ve got marriage in your sights while he doesn’t want to get married. “Now Shellie, why would a man get into a one-on-one situation if marriage wasn’t the ultimate goal?” Yeah, this right here is one of the main reasons why I pitched this article in the first place. A man will date you, even exclusively and seriously, and be fine with that because he may like serious relationships while having no intentions of ever getting married at all (check out “Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON’T Desire Marriage?”). I mean, who said that everyone thinks that companionship equates to sharing a home, sharing a name, and sharing a life until death parts them from their partner?
Or what about kids? What if someone has verbalized that they can see making you his wife someday (check out “We Asked 10 Men What Makes A Woman 'Wife Material'”)? Thing is, you are in your 30s and want kids ASAP yet he is on the fence about whether he wants children at all. Listen, I have worked with couples, both as a marriage life coach and a doula, long enough to know that this isn’t something that just “works itself out with time.” Why? Because time is not on a biological clock’s side. The way life — and science — have it, men have damn near forever to figure out what they want to do as far as parenting goes. Us? Yeah, not so much.
Bottom line here, whatever it is that is truly important to you, whatever is pretty much a non-negotiable as far as you are concerned, that is something else that needs to be brought up. Because no matter how much the two of you may love each other, that has little to do with if you want the same things — and in order for a relationship to run smoothly, the latter has to be a part of your relationship’s reality.
3. "Have your needs changed?"Giphy
I have shared in articles before that, one of my favorite quotes as far as relationships are concerned is, “People change and forget to tell each other.” This is a big part of the reason why people end up getting divorced, all the while saying that they feel like strangers to one another. It’s because, NO ONE goes day by day, month by month, year by year, and doesn’t change as a person on some levels. And when you’re evolving with another individual who is doing the same, that’s double the shifting. It takes a lot of patience and grace to go through those transitions smoothly.
Anyway, it’s always a wise move to ask your partner if the same needs they had last year — or hell, even six months ago — are the ones that they have now. And I mean in every department too. What they may have liked sexually may have shifted (as is with you). The ways that they used to like you to express your love for them might be a bit different now (as is with you). The kind of relationship that they were looking for — getting older, their goals, and all kinds of other stuff may have altered that as well (as is with you).
You can’t meet someone’s needs if you don’t know what they are and it’s unrealistic to assume that those needs are always going to be the same — no matter how much you may want them to be (that’s a play on words by design). The best relationships are proactive about making sure that mutual needs are met. Discuss each other’s needs with your man sooner than later. Much sooner if you can.
4. "Is this what you thought it would be?"Giphy
Even though I mostly work with married and engaged couples, I do come across my fair share of people who are just dating too. One couple, in particular, I remember the woman being absolutely heartbroken when her boyfriend of three years told her that he wanted to end the relationship because it wasn’t what he thought it was going to be like. He felt that she wanted to monopolize too much of his time. Not only that but she didn’t get along well with his family and they had two different faith beliefs. Although he went into the relationship thinking that so long as they strongly cared for each other, everything would work itself out — it wasn’t going smoothly and he wanted a relationship that required a lot less…finessing.
Listen, a motto that I have is “better to break up than divorce,” so it’s a good thing that he spoke up before paperwork, kids, and a lot of other stuff got involved. However, that story alone is impactful enough for this question to be mentioned because…you’d be amazed how many people won’t speak up about stuff like this unless they are point-blank asked. ASK.
5. "Are we making each other better? Or...worse?"Giphy
There are so many words that just get “thrown around” without really appreciating the weight of them. One would be “toxic.” Something that is toxic is something that is basically harmful at a poisonous level. And so, when we use the term “toxic relationship,” one way to qualify if one is or not is if it’s making two people better or worse. Honestly, this can apply to familial dynamics, friendships, co-workers, fellow church members…yeah, it pretty much runs the gamut. Yet since we’re talking about romantic connections here, you definitely should discuss with your partner if the two of you are making each other better or worse as the direct result of intimately interacting with one another.
I actually have a male friend right now who is at this crossroads because he doesn’t feel like he or his fiancé are making each other better. It’s not so much that they are making each other “worse” so much as they are keeping each other stagnant — and that’s not good either. Why? Because if there is anyone who you should be able to say that, as a direct result of them being in your life, you are thriving and flourishing, it needs to be your partner. And if that isn’t the case, no matter how much you care for each other, something isn’t healthy about staying together because life is too short to be “treading water” when you should be moving forward.
- If you’re not emotionally maturing, you’re not getting better.
- If you’re not getting stronger in your sense of self-worth, you’re not getting better.
- If you’re not reaching goals that you have for yourself, even if it’s simply because you’re distracted with trying to maintain the relationship all of the time, you’re not getting better.
- If you feel like you’re sacrificing, to the point of losing, parts of yourself, you’re not getting better.
- If you’re not getting better, you’re not getting better.
Better means “more.” Worse means “less.” If there is more "less" than more "more" when it comes to your relationship with your man…don’t overlook that. The time to talk is now. RIGHT NOW.
6. "How do you want to end next year?"Giphy
Okay, so back to what I just said about the whole treading water thing, I definitely think that you and your partner should reflect over the past 12 months and chat about the strides that were made. Yes, as individuals yet more importantly (as it relates to this article), as a couple. If you can pinpoint clear new milestones that were reached — mazel tov! On the other hand, if nothing has really changed at all…you know what I’m about to say, right?
And no, I’m not saying that folks should expect what I just recently read about Fantasia (did you know that she only knew her husband for three weeks before getting married? Wow.). All I’m saying is that healthy relationships consist of two people who move with intention and when intentions are executed, progress is made.
So, as we close this one out — talk about how things were this time last year and if there are clear signs of growth. Then talk about 3-5 goals that both of you can feel good about setting for the new year so that you can keep improving as a couple. Because it would be sad to spend years with someone and, in the words of Nina from the classic movie Love Jones, all you can look at each other and say is, “All we have are all these years.” Geeze.
An author by the name of Justin Wetch once said, "Love starts as a feeling, but to continue is a choice." And in order to choose to continue, in a mutually beneficial fashion, you both need to know that you want the same things and feel the same way. So, before entering into 2024, please make sure that the both of you do — for both of your sakes. That way, you can move with confidence and clarity…without any type of assumption.
And that’s always the best place, relationally, to be.
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