7 Ways To Step Into 2021. Bolder And Better.
I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of New Year's resolutions. The main reason why is because, if you think that something is gonna miraculously change by waiting until January 1 to do something, that already has you in a pretty unrealistic state of mind. What I mean by that is, waiting until some specific date to accomplish a goal is not only low-key procrastination but a pretty futile ambition because, if you want to see real progress, a profound key to making that happen is seizing the moment that you're currently in—you need to prepare to take steps towards your growth and evolution, just as soon as possible.
It probably is a major understatement for most that 2021 can't get here soon enough. Yet please don't wait until then before doing what needs to be done to walk into it with a clear, solid and resilient state of mind. Yeah, if you want next year to be your best one yet, here are seven suggestions that can definitely help to make that happen…if you act—now.
1. Create Spiritual and Emotional Mission Statements
Most folks have heard of a professional mission statement that companies create. While it can serve a myriad of different purposes, the main one is to keep everyone involved clear on the purpose of the business and the overall goals that the company ultimately wants to achieve. Well, for these same reasons, I think it's super important to also have a personal mission statement; it's so we, as individuals, can also have clarity on what our purpose is and what we want to personally accomplish too. Because there are so many layers to our lives, over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes one personal mission statement isn't enough. What I mean by that is, sometimes, our "missions" need to be broken down into various categories. And if there are two that I think are super important, it's a spiritual and emotional mission statement.
What does that even mean? Well, what do you want to accomplish when it comes to your personal development on the spiritual tip? Do you want to pray more? Meditate more? Figure out what works for you when it comes to the faith you grow up in vs. the person you are now? Have you ever really sat and pondered what it means to have a spirit or soul or now to nurture either or both (check out "Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit" and "I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul"). Do you desire for your romantic relationship to become more spiritual in the upcoming months? Emotionally, how do you want to handle your emotions in the new year? Because, contrary to popular belief, while emotions are important, we do have more power over how we react to what we are feeling than a lot of us realize. Plus, when we're paying close attention, our emotions can give us a heads up on some of the patterns we're repeating, red flags that we're ignoring or decisions that we should be making.
Again, a mission statement speaks to having a purpose and then setting goals around it. So, why not think about what purpose your spiritual and emotional facets of your life should serve in 2021 and what you would like to say transpired in both areas by the time 2022 gets ready to show up?
2. Put Together a Pampering Plan
Someone on the xoNecole team (who I won't put on blast, but she knows who she is), when I first came on board, we used to talk about the importance of pampering. It was kinda crazy to me, how much she struggled with even grasping the concept of participating in this form of self-care. But you know what? When you really stop to think about it, how many of us can raise our hands and honestly say that pampering is something that was taught to us while growing up? Boy, do I wish that I could find for y'all a tweet that I saw several weeks ago of the cutest little Black girl who had a turban on her head, candles all around her, and was sitting in a tub that was filled with flower petals. Sis couldn't have been more than five or six and man, do I salute her mom for modeling the importance of engaging in that kind of self-love, at such an early age.
Being a Black woman in this world—and especially America—is both powerful and draining at the same time. And so even though pampering is literally "to treat with excessive indulgence", it still shouldn't be seen or treated as a luxury. When you are extremely focused on taking care of yourself, it de-stresses you, it elevates your self-esteem, it creates (or solidifies) a standard for what you expect out of your life, it energizes you and it brings you peace.
So yeah, you definitely need to go into 2021 with a clear plan for how you want to pamper yourself. This should include putting together a pampering budget and also a pampering schedule. For instance, while I care for my own hair at home and I'm actually not big on massages (I know, right?), I'm not missing a nail or eyebrow appointment and that's period.
2020 threw us all kinds of curve balls. Hopefully, something that we learned from them is we shouldn't wait until we're totally spent to care for ourselves. A plan should already be in place so that, no matter what comes our way, we already know that a hair appointment, a facial, a massage, a mani/pedi—something is just a few days away to get us off of the grid. What will that be for you next year?
3. Get Clear on What Your Job vs. Your Career Is
Wanna know a very telling sign that you have matured as an adult? It's when you stop being dependent on other people (parents included) in order to take care of yourself (unless you're in dire straits, of course); it's when you accept that a part of what comes with growing up is doing what needs to be done, whether you always, automatically or necessarily want to do it—or not.
This is where learning the difference between having a job and developing your career comes in. There is someone in my world who is a bona fide creative. Problem is, they are constantly in a creative cul-de-sac because they are so focused on wanting to do nothing but music that they never have enough money to fund their dream; that's because they are always quitting a job because it has nothing to do with their creativity (see what I mean about the cul-de-sac)? The mature approach to this is not, "This job has nothing to do with what I really want to do, so I quit." The much wiser hot take is, "My job helps to pay my bills, invest in my dreams and take the stress off of me so that I can someday do what I want to do, full-time."
Many studies indicate that as much as 85 percent of people hate their jobs. I can only imagine that a lot of folks do because all they think about is "I need it to pay the bills" instead of figuring out how they can make their job fit into their purpose while putting together a time management plan so that they can devote some time, on a daily or weekly basis, to make their dreams and desires come true; if not immediately, in due time.
Walking into your office every day, saying "I hate my job" on repeat is not gonna benefit you one bit. Instead, decide that next year is going to be about using your job to make your career thrive. So that purpose, come 2022, things can look very different for you on the professional front.
4. Set Some Skin, Hair and Nails Goals
An author by the name of Michael Korda once said, "One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals." When you read that, I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that you didn't think about this as it relates to your skin, hair and nails. Oh, but I think that you definitely should.
Recently, I had a conversation with an older friend of mine about how it fascinates me that we as Black women can go 20 years looking like we're 35-40 and then one day—BAM! We look 65 (even if we aren't quite there yet). While there is nothing wrong with that (because aging is a blessing), I do think that a part of the reason why that can happen is we take our own melanin for granted. We walk around here on the "Black don't crack" tip, assuming that we don't have to do as much maintenance/upkeep as "other folks" do; then we end up with fine lines, age spots and a loss of elasticity that could've been avoided had we be more proactive.
Your skin is the biggest organ that you have. Your hair is your crowning glory. There is something so feminine and beautiful about well-manicured nails. Not too long ago, I checked out an article on Simone Williams. If you've never heard of her before, she's currently the title holder for having the biggest Afro in the world. Do you really think that she didn't have some hair goals to make that happen (an article that might be able to help you in this area is "Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back")?
A lot of us want clear skin, longer hair and bangin' nails. Those things don't just automatically happen; you need to have a plan and that includes creating short and long-term goals for all three. So, make sure that at some point, before this year closes out, you jot down what you want for your own skin, hair and nails. Make sure to reward yourself in some way for reaching every milestone too. If you do, you might be floored by how different you look, come this time next year. Real talk.
5. Go on a “People Fast”
There's a filmmaker here in Nashville by the name of Molly Secours who once said something to me that I will pull up in my mental Rolodex and personally apply from time to time—"I'm going to get still and quiet and see what comes to me." While, in many ways, introverts and ambiverts fared pretty well during this pandemic (on the social front because we don't really pull our energy from others in the first place), I totally get that it was probably a bit of a struggle for extroverts. Plus, being on lockdown really did take not being around a lot of people to the utmost extreme.
That's why I get it if some of you read this particular point and said to the screen, "Are you f—king kidding me?" However, just because you may not have been in a lot of people's physical presence, that doesn't mean that Zoom calls, Facetiming and constantly being on social media and reading emails weren't on a totally different level.
None of us are an island. We need human interaction and relationships. At the same time, if you don't take a break from folks from time to time, they can start to drain you, their conversations can start to feel more like background noise and you can find yourself becoming resentful because there aren't any healthy boundaries in place (including the art of knowing how and when to say "no"). I do people fasting a few times a year and it's one of the best practices that I've put into my life. It gives me time to journal. To reflect. To figure out what relationships (professional and personal) are benefitting me and which aren't. You can never go wrong with getting quiet sometimes. Find at least a long weekend to put your phone on silent, to not check your social media or email, and just chill with yourself. One way or another, everyone who you interact with will only benefit from it because you did.
6. Cultivate a Sleep Ritual
Even if you Kanye shrugged your way through this entire article, I am urging you to strongly take this point into some serious consideration. As if it shouldn't be alarming enough that sleep deprivation can result in things like severe mood swings, a weakened immune system, a lower libido, high blood pressure, a lack of concentration and productivity and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, not getting at least 6-8 hours a night can also lead to brain damage. No joke.
Just like it's insane that a lot of us think that pampering is some sort of luxury rather than a sho 'nuf necessity, it's even weirder that some people treat sleep in the same fashion. Listen, when it comes to your overall health and well-being, it's not about not having time to go to bed, on a schedule, each and every night—it's about whether you are gonna make it a priority or not.
As you're figuring out what you actually need as you prepare to step into the new year, set aside some coins to get some new bedding; to play some rain or ocean ASMR videos (YouTube has a ton of commercial-free ones); to rub your feet down with some lavender or chamomile essential oil (both will calm you; make sure to put some on your sheets while you're at it); to stop eating and drinking around two hours before turning in (and if you are going to drink something, consider having some herbal tea or tart cherry juice); to turn off all devices that have an on-off switch and read a book or just chill out instead; to consider taking a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement (it's a natural nerve and muscle relaxant), and if someone is in the bed with you, to maybe get an orgasm or two in. Creating a sleep ritual can make getting up every day so much easier. It can actually extend the length of your days on this earth too. And that should be an annual goal for all of us, wouldn't you say?
7. Figure Out What You Need. DON’T SETTLE EITHER.
Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about needs in relationships. When I said, "I need certain things from all of my friends", initially she offered pushback by saying she doesn't really "need" anything from anyone. I know this person well and there are walls that have gone up due to years of not having needs met, so she's programmed herself into thinking that needs and being needy are one in the same. They absolutely are not.
We need food, water and shelter in order to survive. Well, if we want our relationships to thrive, there are certain things that they need too. I don't just mean personal friendships; professional ones have certain requirements as well. And so yeah, I'm gonna close this particular article out by encouraging you to really think about what you need from those around you because 1) it's not people's fault that you aren't getting what you need from them if you're not telling them what that is and 2) there's no point in remaining in certain relationships if your needs are constantly being overlooked. Right?
No matter what this crazy world that we are living is has going on, you can soar like you never have before by simply tending to some specific areas of your life. As someone who has applied all seven of these in 2020 and, for the most part, had an extreme peace-filled year, please consider doing some of this in preparation for what is to come. 2021. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither.
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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.
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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