What My 45-Year-Old Self Would Tell My 25-Year-Old Self
I was born on the day following Father's Day at a little after 1 am. My late father always said that I was the best present he had ever received in his life. Well, on June 17, a day that also immediately follows Father's Day, I'll be (what?!) 45 years old. Five years from 50. Wow. Just wow.
A couple of days ago, when I sat to think about where I was—literally as well as emotionally—and what I was doing 20 years ago, I had to stop and catch my breath a bit. I remember when a surrogate mother of mine had her last conversation with me while dying on her hospice bed. She was only in her 50s when she said, "Shellie, it goes by faster than you think." Boy, does it. Although my health is good (praise the Lord!) and I hope to see many (MANY) more years, when I think back to the fact that in 1999, I was only 25 years old and then when I reflect on all of the life lessons I have learned since then…my surrogate mom was correct. Time really does fly. If you're blessed, you have a few things to show for it.
Although I don't take it lightly when someone asks my age, I tell them and they reply with how much younger I look, honestly, I'm a firm believer that if you live each year to its fullest, you are not only unafraid of aging, you're actually ready to move on to the next year; you're open to seeing what the next 365 days have in store.
I'm pretty much an ambivert, so while it's highly doubtful that I'll be out here partying like it's 1999 on my special day, I do want to share a few things that these past two decades have taught me; things that, I wish I had known (or paid closer attention to) back when I was 25.
1.You Don’t Need Half of What’s in Your Closet
Writer Shellie R. Warren
According to the Cheat Sheet website, here are some of the things that lose value, just as soon as you purchase them: cars, jewelry, cell phones, furniture, handbags, wedding gowns and clothing. A lot of us know this and still, we're willing to spend at least $150 a month on clothes. Not only is that a trip, but most of us end up "double wasting" our money because even with a closet full of outfits, we tend to only wear 20 percent of 'em.
Back in 1999, I was in somebody's thrift store or somebody's mall, at least a few times a month. I hate to say it, but sometimes I'd be short on a bill because I wanted another dress that I absolutely did not need. I'm still a bit more of a clothes horse than I should be, but definitely not at the risk of jacking up my credit or not having any lights on. Although I must admit that the stats are right—there are some things that I own that I've worn once, if that much.
Hmph. I can only imagine how much money I would've saved if I was more focused on investing than making sure I wasn't seen with the same thing on twice like I was on a television sitcom or something. SMDH. If you're in your 20s and reading this, you don't need most of what you've got. Put some of your money into a savings account instead of into a dresser drawer that's doing nothing but collecting dust. You'll thank me later. I promise you that.
2.It’s Not a Compliment When a Guy with a Girlfriend Wants You
If you've read even five articles that I've written on here before, you'll notice three things—I dig quotes, song lyrics/references and word definitions. Well, in true Shellie fashion, the definition for compliment is "an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration".
Way back in the day, an ex of mine once told me that my biggest issue (as far as men were concerned) was that I treated compliments like they were revelations instead of confirmations. Translation—since I didn't feel very good about myself, I was always "thankful" when a man told me that I was smart, pretty or sexy.
He was spot-on. Shoot, that's how he was able to get some (more on that in a bit). And because men were able to "fill me up" in the places where I was empty, it didn't really matter if he was seeing someone or not—if I was attracted to him and he was attracted to me, I found it to be high praise if he found me desirable.
Lord. If I could first hug and then shake my 25-year-old self, I would let her know that a man who's checking for you who has a woman is nothing to be impressed with. If he truly saw your worth, he'd admire you from afar because he'd know that you deserve a man who could give all of himself; not just some horny guy who spits game to see if he can get his itches scratched.
3.Get Yourself a Tax Account (and Attorney, If Necessary)
If 2019 hasn't done anything else, it has been exposing people and their ish left and right. I believe it was Bill Clinton who once said, "Tell all of your business before someone else exaggerates it." That said, I am very open about the fact that the IRS doesn't like me and I don't like it. It all started around 1997 when I got a job that gave me a 1099 that I didn't know quite what to do with. Then, I found myself seeing more of those tax forms than I ever did a W-2. Anyone who does contract or freelance work knows exactly where I am coming from.
Listen, working from home is a wonderful thing. But if you're going to do contract/freelance work, do you and your financial future a favor and find you an accountant; someone who can help you to structure your finances and keep your taxes in check. The sooner you do that, the better. Oh, and if things get too out of hand, a tax attorney can't hurt either.
Otherwise, you'll be like me—not only be on never-ending IRS payment plans, but wondering if you'll ever see a tax return again. #doubtit
4.Stop Befriending People Who Expect You to Do Most of the Work
Something that I make sure to say, just as often as I can, is don't let people tell you that you shouldn't expect reciprocity in your relationships because you absolutely should. For years, I would hear people say, "Shellie, if you have to keep tabs on what someone is or isn't doing, you aren't giving for the right reasons." Nooooo…the real deal is if I have to keep tabs at all, they aren't doing enough, the giving/receiving ratio is way off and somebody is being taken for granted (umm, me).
I stayed in this pattern for most of my life, really. A lot of codependents were in my space, I'm a survivor of abuse and my self-esteem used to be pretty low, so I thought being loved meant doing whatever someone wanted me to do and tolerating the crumbs that they gave in return. Oh, the drama and heartache that I could've been spared, had I learned what real friendship looks and lives like and I released those who didn't fit the bill.
The users and manipulators that I encountered? It wasn't all their fault. If I had been my own friend, I would've set a better standard for myself. I was nowhere near knowing this in my 20s, but I am on top of this lesson now. 100 percent.
5.Some of the Most Toxic People Are So-Called Church Folks. Find God for Yourself.
Writer Shellie R. Warren
Don't think I've missed the irony in the fact that, for as long as I've been abstinent (going on 13 years now), that I've been out of church that long as well. In church, I was a broken mess. Out of church, I am healthier than I've ever been. For the record, I consider myself to be a disciple (John 8:31-32) and since I am one, there's no way I can be "anti-church"; it's just that, I don't support counterfeit, dysfunctional or toxic versions of it. And, for many years, on both Sabbath and Sunday, that was my experience (if you are a church-goer, two great reads areThe Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives andPagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices).
Since I've been out, it's been amazingly refreshing to learn about THE GOD as opposed to a God version that so many religious leaders wanted to push on me, based on their own perspectives, experiences and sometimes, even their ego. With the freedom that I have now, I've actually come to adore Scripture and spirituality on an entirely different level. And for the skeptics who think I've become "woke", the Bible does not teach "a white man's religion". The Bible is an eastern culture book; most of it happened in the Middle East and Egypt. Don't let these…white evangelicals fool you.
Anyway, knowing what I know now, I definitely would've told my 25-year-old self to not let people dictate what one's spiritual journey should look like. If I had come to that conclusion before my early 30s, I'd probably be even further along in my walk now. These days, I don't defend what I'm doing. There's absolutely no need. I simply advise folks to calm down and "watch the fruit" (Matthew 12:33). Oh, and I also remind them of a dope Oswald Chambers quote—"Never try to make your experience a principle for others but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you." Amen? Amen.
6.Recycling’s Good—Except When It Comes to Dudes
Not too long ago, while being interviewed, someone asked me if, at this point in my life, was I afraid that I'd never get married; you know, because of my age. NOPE. One explanation for why I'm not worried, fearful or anxious is found another article I wrote last year—"Let's Settle this 'Black Women Don't Get Married' Thing Once & for All". According to it, I'm in my prime for getting married. Another reason why I'm not stressin' out is because I know me. Although it's different strokes for different folks, I'm not the kind of woman who will announce that I met a man, fell in love and got engaged in six months. No, I need to know, know, know, know, know you. And really getting to know someone? How did Mariah Carey once put it? "Love Takes Time". So, why get stressed out over something that won't happen overnight?
However, I will say that it's one thing to have the desire to know someone. It's another to settle so deep into the folks that you already know that you don't branch out and meet new people. Because a lot of my former sex partners were also friends, in many ways, I felt so comfortable in their space (both physically as well as emotionally) that I kept dealing with them. Over and over again. It was pretty much like I was recycling them. While it meant that I knew what I was getting into, what it also meant was I was remaining in a relational cul-de-sac and, for the most part, not getting anywhere.
25-year-old Shellie, recycling is great for the planet. Not necessarily the best thing for your love life, though. It's OK to get rid of some dudes. And open yourself up to some new possibilities.
7.The Sooner You Draw Boundaries with Your Family the Better
A few months back, I penned a piece entitled "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries with Toxic Family Members". Listen, I don't know if it's residual PTSD from slavery or what but this misguided loyalty to people who abuse us just because they are our blood has got to stop. If anyone should be a safe place, if anyone should be held to a high standard, it should be our kinfolk. When they mistreat us, for the sake of our health, sanity and the future of the generations to follow, boundaries (limits) must be set.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a close friend of mine said to me, "Shellie, you've always been fabulous. But I must say that since you have removed certain family members from your life, you're a lot easier to deal with." I bet. Due to my past abuse—physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, neglect—I found myself on a constant roller coaster of anger and fear. Those types of emotions can make you semi-paranoid and controlling. Now that I see what I needed to remove in order to be my best self and live my best life, why would I incorporate "that" back into my world, simply because it's "family"?
Love and forgiveness are important. So are security and sanity. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't have both. Boundaries will give you both. If I had accepted that when it came to several of my family members two decades ago, this woosah that I have would've been a part of my life way back then.
That's OK. Ain't no way I'm giving it up now. Lesson learned.
8.Your Final Abortion Is Gonna Be One of Your Greatest Regrets
Remember the ex I was talking about earlier? Back in the late fall of 1999, I found out I was pregnant with his child. December 4, 1999, I had my fourth and final abortion. The following year, he had a little girl with someone else. I'm not gonna shift blame or play the victim because he couldn't make me do anything. But I will say that it's always been fascinating to me that the same man who told me he wasn't ready for a baby is the same man who impregnated and married someone else literally 12 months later.
Every time I talk about my final abortion, I tell people that I know—that I know that I know—that I heard God tell me, "You don't want to do this. I promise, you don't want to do this." I did it anyway, thinking that even if consequences came, I had plenty of time to become a mom.
I'm 45 now. I'm still not a mother. I've made peace with that, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't regret that cold winter's day in some random city in Kentucky. Yeah, if I could talk to my 25-year-old self, I'd tell her that 20 years goes by a lot faster than you might think so, don't make choices assuming you have all of the time in the world. You don't. And definitely don't do something simply because a guy wants you to. What you need is bigger than what he wants. Period.
9.Your God-Given Gift Will Never Betray You
I haven't had an office job since 2000. The last time I did was the first and only time that I got fired. I took that as a sign that I needed to stop ignoring my passion for writing and figure out how I could make an actual living from it. At the time, I didn't have a car or a computer, so I bummed rides over to a family friend's home, got on their PC and looked for people who would let me write for them, for free, so that I could build up my resume.
It worked. I started off doing some relationship Q&A, then features and then, in 2002, Denene Millner (an editor for the now-defunct-but-then-was-oh-so-dope Honey magazine) gave me a shot. I wrote a piece about what it was like to get an abortion at a man's request, only for him to turn around and have a baby with someone else a year later (all things work together, y'all). Around that same time, I started having a feature column in another magazine called Relevant. They published my first book in 2004. 15 years ago this month. And, as they say, the rest is history.
If I had more confidence in my voice, my experiences and my writing gift, I wouldn't have jacked off my college years, worked dead-end jobs or probably got into half of the situationships that I did out of sheer inner frustration and boredom. So, yeah…if I could do about 30 years back over again, I would've started doing what I did in 2000 then.
The lesson here—God will make sure our gifts, talents and calling will take care of us. That's a part of the reason why He gave it to us in the first place (some 20-something-year-old needed to hear that).
10.Worry Changes Nothing. Peace Alters Everything.
Writer Shellie R. Warren
George Bernard Shaw once said, "People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them." Indeed. Yeah, if church folks want to focus on what's a sin, WORRY IS A SIN. It's in the Bible (Matthew 6). Signs that you're a worrier? You create movies in your head out of things that haven't happened yet. You lean on the side of the negative most of the time. You don't take risks because you believe they won't work out. You make real problems out of hypothetical situations. You stress out for no good reason (there's never a truly good reason, by the way). You're tense, anxious and, oftentimes to the people around you, it's annoying.
I grew up around chronic worriers and so, for a really long time, I had no idea how to appropriately cope with challenges, waiting seasons or bad news. It caused me to make financially poor decisions, to use sex as a coping mechanism and to put myself on random emotional roller coaster rides.
These days, my life is very different. After learning what the Hebrew word for peace (shalom) really means, that's what I strive to have in my life on a daily basis—"completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord".
One of my favorite people died at the top of the year. During the last 12-16 months of her life, we discussed how much stress consumed her and ultimately attacked her health. There are plenty of studies to support that stress is the #1 health problem that Americans have. Nothing is worth sacrificing your well-being for.
So yeah, if I could tell my 25-year-old self anything else, it would be "Baby girl, no matter what or who it is, they ain't worth the stress. If it's not bringing wholeness, health, peace, safety, prosperity, rest and harmony into your life, LET IT GO. Ultimately, it means you no good." Your health, your lack of wrinkles and your sense of sanity will thank you in about 20 more years.
And you know what, y'all? It absolutely does.
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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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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