There's a certain power in confidence that can change your whole outlook on life and what it throws at you. We all have challenges to face, and one woman is not letting hers steal her joy or her love of living out loud.
Clara Holmes, a UK-native with Jamaican roots, was born with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) which weakens blood vessels, organs, and connective tissues in the body. "Basically, my hips can no longer hold me up. I can't stand, walk, or put any weight on them," she explained. "It's a very painful condition, and the more I do, the more I'm in pain. At the same time, if I don't do anything, I get stiff, and I'm in more pain."
Image by Michaela Efford
She has managed chronic pain and other ailments associated with the condition for most of her life. Fifteen years ago, she had to go from crutches to being wheelchair-bound.
"It's a catch-22. I said to myself, 'I'm damned if I do, and I'm damned if I don't, so I should try to live the best life possible and just go with it.' And that's what I did."
Today, the founder of Rolling Funky, a fashion and lifestyle blog, models for a living and has an IG following of more than 15,000, a loving bae, and an active, full lifestyle that includes weekly trips to the gym. Holmes is a prime example of the fullness of black girl magic, and we caught up with her, in this xoNecole interview, to talk about how she balances it all and continues to slay even with the current state of the world.
Read more about her below!
Image by Mark Brown
What led you to get into fashion and start your blog?
People would see me and friends would say, "You should start a blog." I was on a cruise and I decided to start Rolling Funky---which was just about sharing my lifestyle and love of fashion---in hopes that someone would find it positive whether you have a disability or not. It was more about seeing someone different.
When I looked at blogs, I couldn't find one that was by a wheelchair user or someone with a disability that was giving a positive outlook on things. I didn't want negativity.
The modeling came afterward. I was about to celebrate my first year blogging when I was scouted by two women from the agency I'm with now. They just spotted me going down the road. My boyfriend and I were out and they approached me, said they were with a modeling agency and that I could do a test shoot. I did some photos, and I got a contract straight away. Funny enough, I always wanted to be a model, and as a teen, I was told I was unsuitable.
With the blog, this whole social media thing, and putting out photos, everything escalated over time. I began working with brands and here I am today!
Image by Aaron Cheeseman
As an influencer, how has the COVID-19 quarantine affected you? How have you coped?
It's been OK. I spend a lot of time at home, and I'm used to being on my own. Unless I'm going to fashion events or parties, or I have a speaking engagement, I'm home. So, being inside doesn't really bother me. In the weeks leading up to this, I spent most of the week at home because shoots were cancelled or events I was meant to do had been postponed. At one point, I was at home 10 days straight, and that was before social distancing was put into effect. I also spent the whole month of January at home because I was sick.
I tend to avoid the news. Not that I don't know what's going on in the world, but I care about my mental psyche, so I limit my intake.
Some might ask, "How are you so upbeat?" but I think there's no point in worrying about something you have no control over. I know it can be easier said than done, but it's something I've had to learn, especially with managing my medical condition and disability. I've had to learn to detach myself---how to not get myself worked up or stressed. If I do feel a bit tense, it's about knowing how to let go.
How do you practice self-care?
I dance. I work out. I have a local center around the corner from me. I do a lot of upper-body exercises, including a bit of boxing. Battle ropes and slam balls are really good, especially when you've got a bit of frustration. The endorphins--I feel amazing afterward! I feel like whatever this world has to throw at me, I'm ready! When I was having to adjust to my new normal of becoming a wheelchair user, I've found that fitness and just working out--even just stretching---helped me mentally.
I also love music. I like to dance to songs that are upbeat. I love Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, who will always hold a dear place in my heart because when I was still adjusting [to being in a wheelchair], the Pink Friday album was just released.
One of the songs that really helped lift me out of depression was Nicki's "I'm the Best," and when you sing that song over and over, after a while, it's like, regardless of this situation, I am the best. There's another song she did with Drake, "Moment 4 Life", with a line that goes, "But to live doesn't mean you're alive." I was like, wow. That hit me, because at the time I was existing and not living.
Image by Mark Brown
What changed when you began to accept your new normal, having gone from using crutches to being in a wheelchair?
[In the process] of accepting my new normal, I'd go get my hair and my nails done. I never used to wear heels because I was always a bit tomboyish, and it was quite difficult growing up. Now I wear heels! When I started to pay attention to what I was eating, got into exercising, and lost weight, I began to embrace what life was. I started experimenting with clothes and I began wearing more fitted things. I felt better. I also started imagining what outfits would look like sitting down and accepting my new body shape, and things started snowballing from there.
As my comfort grew, my confidence grew, and I'd try outfits and say, 'Yeah I look cute.' Sometimes you have to look yourself in the mirror and say "Yas!" It can do so much for your mental well-being. Have a positive dialogue with yourself.
My boyfriend would say, 'Yes, babe you look hot!' and we would go out more and do things. I began traveling again.
How do you conquer fear or anxiety and continue to nurture self-confidence?
With my Jamaican grandparents being in my life growing up, we went to a very Caribbean-influenced church, so a belief in God and spirituality is ingrained in me. Being grateful is also something that was part of my upbringing and is part of who I am today. I think it makes you humble. My grandmother was so brave to come to a country where she knew nobody and start a new life---leave the old one behind. It takes guts. If I fear something, I have to tackle it head on.
Truly, I should fear nothing but God. If there's something that makes me scared, I can't have it hanging over me.
[When] I finally got my head around it all and began to get used to my new normal, I slowly but surely put goals in place and achieved those goals. I lost weight and learned to like what I saw in the mirror. Over time, I just decided I'm going to live my best life.
Image by Mark Brown
What advice do you have for aspiring influencers or people who want to create a platform?
Stay true to yourself. Share your passions, and do what you're passionate about. If it's fashion, do that. Whatever it may be, do it and do it well. Don't try to live up to someone else's imprint. You shouldn't compare yourself to anyone---especially online---and give it a go. You never know what might happen. I remember at one point, it was like 'If I could get to 100 followers on Instagram, I'd be so happy.' I never thought I'd have thousands. Do what you love and be authentic about it.
For more of Clara, follow her on Instagram.
Courtesy of Clara Holmes
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images