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I’m Featured On The Every Girl: The Art Of Starting Over

I am featured on The Every Girl this week.

Thank you Bianca Lambert for such an amazing piece!

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The Art of Starting Over: How This CEO Reinvented Her Career

As I was waiting at my desk to interview Necole, it reminded me of the time I got to meet Solange at a party at the Saint Heron House at Essence Festival. I was so excited and nervous that I opened my mouth and nothing came out when she reached out to shake my hand. But, unlike my impromptu Solange sighting, going mute wasn’t an option this time. I had a job to do. I also had the chance to pick the brain of an entrepreneur I admired for the last 10 years. So, I got my butterflies in check and said, “Hi, Necole, it’s Bianca,” when I heard her bright voice on the other end of our UberConference.

Necole has been my mentor in my head since her days running NecoleBitchie.com. A gossip site she shuddered at the height of its success because, as she put it, “I didn’t want that to be my legacy.” Instead, she moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, to clear her head, take control of her career, and plan her next big step —launching xoNecole. It wasn’t just the content on Necole’s site that made me one of her biggest fans, it was her story and transparency because I saw myself in her. During our interview, we talk about taking chances, starting over, and why we should never let our careers come before our health.

Name: Necole Kane

Age: 37

Location: New York

Current Title/Company: CEO and Editor-in-Chief of xoNecole

Education: Towson University

 

As the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of a lifestyle brand, how do you start your day?

When I wake up in the morning, I write out exactly what I want to happen that day. I started it last January. I had gone through this stage of depression, and I just felt like I didn’t know what was happening. I felt like I didn’t have enough resources to turn xoNecole into what I wanted it to be. I felt like I was failing. A friend suggested I try intention setting each morning. I remember waking up the first day and just writing, “I will be presented with a new opportunity today.” I was very vague in the beginning because I just didn’t know what to write. That day I got an email from my managing editor, letting me know Will Packer was looking for me.

I know it’s all about the law of attraction, but I don’t think it’s magical. I think what writing things down does is get your mind into a winning mind frame. It’s almost like you know it’s possible because you’ve written it. So your perception of everything that happens in your life changes. Before I started writing everything, I would wake up some mornings in the fetal position because every bit of money I was making was being sucked up by this brand, and I started having resentment toward my website.

“If you’re getting up and just going and not setting your intentions it’s hard to get in alignment with the life you want for yourself.”

What did your experience with Necole Bitchie teach you about growing a thriving business?

It’s funny because I think of all the bloggers that started back then and we didn’t think of our blogs as businesses. Necole Bitchie taught me to always start with an exit strategy, because if you don’t start out knowing where you’re trying to go, you’re going to be floating in the wind.

I was approached to sell the site (Necole Bitchie) in 2013 for seven figures, and I hadn’t planned for that. I hadn’t prepared for where I wanted Necole Bitchie to go. I didn’t know if I want it to be acquired or if I wanted an investor. I honestly didn’t see the brand going very far with the name. I was like, if I was going to sell this brand to someone, there’s not much else they could do with it. And if I sell it to someone, I still will always be Necole Bitchie for as long as that site runs, and I wanted to be in control of the legacy of the site.

Did you ever find yourself regretting not selling the site for the seven-figure price tag?

For years, it weighed on my spirit, like, should I have sold because once the blogging opportunities start falling off, you’re like, “Did I make a mistake and not sell?” But, it ended up working out. If I had sold Necole Bitchie, I never would have been acquired by Will Packer, and I would never have been able to launch xoNecole.

Necole Bitchie taught me to always start with an exit strategy, because if you don’t start out knowing where you’re trying to go, you’re going to be floating in the wind.

What was your approach going into starting xoNecole? Did you start with an exit strategy this time around?

When I ended Necole Bitchie, as I said, I didn’t start with a plan so when I ended it, it was like what’s next? When I started xoNecole, I had a business plan, a marketing deck, and an exit strategy. That was to either be acquired or get an investor, and with me having an end goal I was able to get acquired within two years of launching xoNecole.

How did you know it was time for a fresh start?

I closed Necole Bitchie because it no longer represented who I was and where I was going, and the woman I was becoming. I was no longer interested in the content, and your audience can tell when your heart’s no longer there. I remember watching an interview with Will Smith, and he said he had to leave The Fresh Prince because it was keeping him at one age. It was keeping him stuck, and he wanted to grow, and that’s how I felt about Necole Bitchie. It stagnated my growth for a minute. I was so wrapped up in what celebrities were doing at any given moment that I started living my life as a spectator to other people’s lives. I realized I wasn’t living my own. When I realized that, I knew that I could offer so much more to the world, and I wanted my legacy to be much more empowering.

Did you know you wanted to start xoNecole before closing your gossip site?

I started coming up with the concept of xoNecole in 2013. I thought xoNecole would be the event piece, and then I tried to spring up a site for xoNecole at the same time as Necole Bitchie, and it just wasn’t happening. People asked me why I didn’t keep both sites, but they just could not co-exist in the same space together.

Was it challenging for you to let go of what you built with Necole Bitchie?

The one mistake I almost made was I tried to keep my audience. When you evolve, you’re not going to take everybody with you, that’s in any area of your life. It’s impossible. Some people are not going to be ready to elevate at that particular time. When I launched xoNecole, in the first month, we were still trying to embed entertainment into the site, and I would see messages saying I don’t see the difference between Necole Bitchie and xoNecole.

 

“I wanted my legacy to be much more empowering.”

How did starting over impact your life?

I lived in Arizona at the time. I had been there for six months, and I moved there to start my transition. I knew starting xoNecole was something I’d always want to do, and I knew I couldn’t change my brand living in LA or New York. I really had to seclude myself from friends, family, and everyone that knew me as Necole Bitchie because I knew people would try to talk me out of it. When I was able to shut my site down, I was able to live my life. It’s crazy how restrictive your life can be when you get a little bit of fame, and people start to know you. I tell people all of the time there is so much freedom in irrelevancy. I was able to live in that freedom when I closed down the site.

Many women connect with you because of your inspiring story. Do you think transparency has been key to your growth as a businesswoman?

I think transparency really helped my brand. There are a lot of people not willing to be as transparent. When you get on social media, you don’t know what’s real or fake. No one’s telling you when they’re failing, but they want to tell you they’re winning all the time — and that’s not realistic. We fail nine times and win on the tenth. It’s about getting knocked down and getting back up. I needed my audience to know about the times when I was knocked down, as much as they knew about the times that I was winning. I never wanted them to look at me as an unattainable goal.

When you closed your gossip site, I remember reading your goodbye newsletter, and shortly after you released a very candid video. What was it like putting your story out there with the possibility of judgment?

I put out that video and letter in September 2016, about a year after I left my website. I talked about running out of money and having to move back to my aunt’s house, and a lot of media outlets picked up the video and the headlines were, “Necole Bitchie From Boss to Broke and “She’s A Hot Mess,” and that terrified me because now you’re saying to all of these young women, “Don’t take a chance.” When they saw that I left something that no longer fulfilled me to do something positive, that was inspiring to them, but then when you put those headlines out there, it’s telling them that I failed. I didn’t want that to be the message that people got from me leaving something successful because now they’re thinking I’m going to stay even if I’m not happy because I don’t want to end up like her. A year after the release of that video, I got acquired by Will Packer. So, I needed them to see that low moment for that high moment to be even better.

“We fail nine times and win on the tenth. It’s about getting knocked down and getting back up. I needed my audience to know about the times when I was knocked down, as much as they knew about the times that I was winning. I never wanted them to look at me as an unattainable goal.”

 

What inspired you to launch xoNecole?

When I would go to other sites that were targeting black women, it was so celebrity-heavy because that is what brings the page views. But black women are multidimensional, and we’re into way more than what celebrities are doing. I felt like, well, if I don’t see it out there I need to create it. I wanted xoNecole to be the site I needed when I was a young woman trying to find my way.

Did you encounter any roadblocks while rebranding? If so, what helped you make it over those hurdles?

Running a site like xoNecole, you have a lot of contributors. When I had a gossip site, I had a very small staff, and they just reported on the gossip, but with xoNecole, there are so many different topics, so we work with a lot of contributors. Building the infrastructure of my business was a process. All of our ads are sold in-house. So, it took about a year of knocking on doors, sending media kits to brands, and a lot of legwork to build those relationships. I did not plan for that. Everyone I hired to launch the site was getting paid from my bank account. Since there was no ad revenue coming in, I was watching my bank account dwindle. But, I knew I had to invest in myself first before I expected someone else to. If I had waited around for a check or investor to launch xoNecole, it would have never launched. Someone would have been telling me that a site like this for black women wouldn’t work without celebrity content. When people used to ask me what I did, I would pause, and it would be a sense of embarrassment. But, I look at my site every day, and I’m so proud of what we’ve built and I love what we do. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Your company was recently acquired by Will Packer Media (“Girls Trip,” “Think Like A Man,” “Ride Along”). What has it been like having the support of someone as influential and seasoned as Will Packer?

It’s been good. They created an environment that allows me to practice my self-care. I say that because they are very respectful of my fitness journey. If they know I have a competition, they aren’t scheduling any meetings or having me fly anywhere within three weeks of my competition. They know this is my passion and they don’t want to stress me before the show. I also love that they give me the freedom to run my brand. I thought there was going to be a huge change and it would be like working in corporate America, but it’s not because they trust me with my brand.

Health and fitness are an essential part of your life. How do you balance taking care of yourself along with a flourishing career?

When I had Necole Bitchie, I would eat one time a day. I went to a doctor in LA, and I found out I was extremely malnourished. They couldn’t even take my heart rate because it was so faint. The doctor was like, Girl, if you keep this up, you’re not going to live long. I realized I was going down the same path as my parents, who both died at 41 and 42 years old, over a career. That was a wake-up call for me. My health and fitness are important to me right now because I know when I’m pouring into myself healthwise, and making sure I’m the best me I can be, it pours over into every aspect of my life.

 

Necole Kane is The Everygirl…

Favorite way to unwind? A good candle and Sade

Favorite cheat day treat? Sour Patch Kids and Reese Cups

Favorite inspirational quote? A lot of people complain that life doesn’t give them any chances; you were given life, you must take the chances.

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it be? Lisa Nichols

[Black Enterprise]: How Bodybuilding Prepped Necole Kane For Lucrative Acquisition

I am featured on Black Enterprise, a business magazine focused on minorities that I’ve been reading for as long as I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship.  This is one of my favorite interviews to date because it focuses on my fitness journey, which has been a major factor in my wellness journey, career success and improved mental health.

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via Black Enterprise

Finding work-life balance for black business women can be challenging, especially when the stakes are high. But for Necole Kane, whose women’s lifestyle Website, XONecole, was acquired by Hollywood heavy-hitter Will Packer in January, seeking just that was what boosted success in both her personal and professional life.

Kane, who transitioned from heading a salacious celebrity gossip site to launching one that empowers women of color, had a special motivation for focusing on her health. “My parents passed away when I was in my early 20s. My father passed in 2002 [at 42], and my mother in 2004 at 41,” Kane, 37, recalls. “That’s one of the reasons I left the gossip site. When I was about to turn 35, I was short years from the ages when my parents died. I thought, ‘Are you really going to spend the rest of your life being a spectator to other people’s lives?’ I think that was me thinking of my age and how short their lives were. It pushed me to live the life I really wanted for myself.”

A renewed commitment to put self-care first led the XONecole.com editor-in-chief to pursue bodybuilding, and she’s already won first place in the Bikini Open D and Masters 35+ C categories at the 2018 NPC Northern California Championships.

Black Enterprise talked with the savvy entrepreneur—on the heels of competing to become a professional bikini pro at NPC Universe—about how putting self-care before business helped her prep for one of the biggest boss moves of her life, and how other black business women could benefit from doing the same.

How has getting into bikini fitness competitions and bodybuilding enriched your life as a businesswoman?

[After I left Necole Bitchie], I’d launched XONecole but it wasn’t making the money fast enough. More money was going out than was coming in. … I felt like I was failing. It took me to a deep, dark place, and I was questioning whether I made the right choice. Launching the new brand so soon after closing the old site, [was stressful]. One day, I got up, and said, ‘You cannot lay here in a fetal position and feel sorry for yourself every day. You need to get up and do something.’ I got into the gym and started focusing on competing. I felt like, if I’m losing at one thing, let me go win at something else. It took my focus off of things I couldn’t control at the moment.

During that time of competing, I was approached by Will Packer, and it kind of all worked out in the end.

[Training to compete] changed my life in so many areas: the discipline, the commitment, the consistency. It spills over into your personal life and into your business. If I didn’t start competing, I don’t know if I would’ve been prepared to go into acquisition [talks]. It mentally prepared me for more than just getting up every day, going to the gym, and competing on a stage.

black business women

(Image: npcnewsonline.com)

What was your first step in transitioning from just working out to prepping for competitions?

I ended up leaving my [previous personal] trainer at the time, and I got a coach—a woman who trained women for competitions. She had the body I wanted. She started teaching me about [how to contour] my body parts, and how important nutrition was. I had to go from eating one time a day to, at the time, eating five times a day. I had to go from drinking one bottle of water a day to one gallon a day.

How have you been able to balance the demands that with competing—the strict diet, the exercise routine—with the business demands of running a newly acquired site?

I thank God for Will Packer Media. They realized how much this fitness journey means to me and how much it plays into my self-care and who I am as a person. When it’s competition time, it’s little things I see that they do, like not scheduling major meetings that require me to fly [cross-country] to LA. That’s big to me.

I [recently] flew 6 1/2 hours to go to a big show, and when I landed, I had a text from the COO telling me good luck on my show.’ A lot of people don’t have that sort of support. I couldn’t have found a better situation for my brand.

I believe that if anything costs my peace, it’s too expensive. This [acquisition] has not cost me my peace. I think they have a lot of respect for me and how I gained my audience in being very authentic. I don’t think they ever want to change who I am. … You want to make sure it’s a good situation for everybody and everybody’s happy. [I’m happy] working out, getting up at 5 [a.m.] and getting on that treadmill, working toward [fitness goals.]

It’s important to take time for ourselves. A lot of women in business—in the hustle—are a lot like the old me. [They] get up every day and the first thing they do is roll over and start work. I’ve got a whole [self-care] morning ritual I do before I even log into social media or start work. I need to pour into myself first before I give myself to the world.

Being Broke Made Me Better

Happy Tuesday!

I want to share a part of my journey that I don’t talk about a lot with you today.

As most of you already know, a year ago I was living a very peaceful and content life in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was spending my days training to compete in fitness competitions and doing the bare minimum to keep xoNecole running. The site was growing, but there wasn’t enough staff, or resources to bring in revenue to help it evolve and expand into the empire I always envisioned it to be. Although I was very comfortable and making a living, I knew I wanted more for myself and my brand, so I made the tough decision to move to New York where my business had a better chance of thriving. I knew New York was going to be tough, not to mention expensive, but seeing xoNecole win meant more to me than my comfort.

In July 2017, I finally made the big move after selling everything I owned (including the truck that was once on my vision board) and I showed up in New York with just 3 suitcases. I rented a room in a Harlem apartment with a rotating door of roommates and there wasn’t a day that went by that I wondered what people would think if they knew about this moment of struggle. Just three years prior, I was a celebrity gossip blogger making tons of money, traveling the world, and living good, and here I was back in New York, living with 2-3 roommates and not knowing where the next check was going to come from. This was not the life I had envisioned for myself!

But my dreams meant more to me than my comfort.

Everyday I woke up and whispered to myself, “this is only temporary. This will not last long” I reminded myself that God had my back, and that everything I was willing to sacrifice for my dream was going to be returned to me tenfold. I just had to trust and believe that things were going to work out in my favor, and that the lesson always comes before the blessing.

2017 humbled me.

I was stripped of everything. My finances, living comfortably, all the clothes, shoes, bags, the whip and material things I had acquired at the height of my success. I had to get rid of all of it, and looking back, I realized that I had to let them go to grow. It wasn’t meant for me to take those things that represented the old me, into this next chapter.

Sometimes you will have to be broken down to your lowest just to be built back up into the best version of who you are meant to be.

The risk, sacrifices and moments of discomfort eventually paid off in the Fall of last year when xoNecole was acquired by producer Will Packer’s company. Two months later, I moved into what I like to call “my zen space” and I added a few inspiring young women to the xoNecole staff.  Finally, all the struggle and discomfort I had experienced over the past few years made sense, and it was the first time in over 10 years as an entrepreneur, that I didn’t have to wonder when the next check was coming. I could focus solely on growing my brand into the empire I’ve always dreamed it to be.

I don’t know if I could have asked for a better situation with the freedom Will has given me to grow my brand, while providing a work environment that encourages and promotes self-preservation and self-care.

I also realize that I may not have gotten to this place where I am able to live out my dream if I didn’t first believe in it enough to take the leap, and trust that the parachute would eventually open for me.

This is why I am absolutely in love with a recent article we posted on the site from writer Kiah McBride titled, ‘Being Unemployed Made Me Better’. In the very vulnerable and transparent piece, Kiah detailed how she risked everything to move to LA a few years ago as a freelance writer and it resulted in some of the most uncomfortable and desperate moments of her life.

Being broke and uncertain made her better.

It made me better.

And it’s a reminder that whatever you may be going through right now, it’s making you better.

So if you’re in a place of feeling stagnant, not knowing what’s next, being placed out of your comfort zone and struggling to find peace in each day, know that you are being prepared for your breakthrough that awaits on the other side.

Is that where you are now? Check out Kiah’s experience as well and let me know in the comments how you get through stages of discomfort.

xo,

P.S. Keep in touch! @hellonecole on Twitter, and Instagram

Originally sent as a newsletter. Subscribe to our email list for daily inspo straight to your inbox!

Why I Refuse To Take My Phone To Bed

**This post is part of our Letter From The Editor newsletter series on xoNecole. To get updates straight to your inbox sign up here! **

Good Morning!

This past weekend, I did an interview with former NFL star Arian Foster for his Now What! podcast. You can imagine we had a lot to talk about with me retiring from gossip blogging earlier than most would have expected, and him retiring from the NFL before the age of 30.

During our chat, we started talking about how our phone obsessions and the need to feel connected can make us disconnected in real life. And he was absolutely shocked when I told him I have boundaries when it comes to my phone. YES, I have major boundaries!

For instance, I don’t bring my phone into the bedroom anymore. I think it’s very important to establish healthy boundaries with our phones and social media. At worst, they can be distracting and addictive, keeping our productivity low and anxiety high. Secondly, the constant feed into other people’s lives and negative news can put a damper on our spirits, as well as hinder our own personal growth. Did you know some people experience secondhand PTSD from reading about or viewing tragic and negative things on social media? (I learned this from my therapist!)

For these reasons, I implemented a few boundaries around my phone to keep my mental health in check, as well as allow me to be more connected in real life:

 

  • I turned off all of the push notifications on my social media accounts. The only way I see that I have a message or notification on a particular social network is if I log into that network. That keeps me from checking my phone every minute due to getting an alert.

 

  • I have my Do Not Disturb set up to automatically turn on from 10pm-8am so that I do not get calls or alerts for texts while I’m sleeping or before I start work. That allows me to really go through my morning ritual and have the morning to myself before I’m called to do work or plug into social media.

 

  • I bought an alarm clock so that I would not have a reason to take my phone in my bedroom anymore. When your phone is beside you, sometimes you may get a habit of checking it occasionally and it becomes harder and harder to get to sleep at night, or to really get a good night’s sleep. I have been getting the best uninterrupted sleep and have been waking up with a clearer head since I’ve implemented this!

 

  • When I’m out to eat with friends or on a date after normal work hours, I normally turn my ringer off, place my phone on the table face down, or put it away altogether so that the person I’m spending time with has my undivided attention.

 

  • When I’m on my laptop, I utilize the The Self Control App which prevents access to distracting websites so that you can get work done. After downloading, you are required to set up a blacklist of social media sites like Twitter, gossip blogs, etc that you spend more time than you should on, and it will prevent access to those sites for a set time period. Hello productivity!

 

Our relationships with phones do not have to be toxic. They serve a great purpose in our lives and can contribute to our overall wellbeing. We just have to set healthy boundaries and be intentional about how we allow them into our daily lives.

xo,

P.S. This week, the xoNecole staff shared their personal self-care tips. It’s one of my favorite posts! In case you missed it, meet the staff and get into their self-care routines here!

I’m Featured On 21Ninety: “How This Entrepreneur Works Less To Be Successful”

Hi Guys!

I am featured in 21ninety this week.  It’s one of my favorite features because it reflects my current lifestyle and self-care regimen as an entrepreneur.

Read it below:


“I don’t work as much as I used to,” says Necole Kane, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of xonecole.com. And that’s a conscious decision that has brought her even more success.

“When I had a celebrity gossip site, I spent every waking moment of the day working,” she says, “You might think you’re scrolling social media casually, but you’re looking for a story. Every phone call was work related.  Every person and friend I knew was a business associate. I never turned work off for eight years. I didn’t even date. So, when I created my new brand, for the first year I saw myself going down that same path. I remember saying to myself, ‘This is a mistake, this isn’t what I want for my life.’ But it’s now going on two years since I’ve launched and I’ve rebranded and re-strategized.”

Her ability to work less and work smarter comes from putting people in place who she trusts to help run it and also changing her goals and expectations to be flexible.

Now Necole doesn’t put pressure on herself to put out a ton of posts each day. She focuses on quality over quantity and tells herself a few less posts is ok. And it is.

“Now that I’ve switched the way I work on my new site, I’m living my life in such a way that sometimes I wake up and I’m like ‘I love my life,’” she says, “This is how I envisioned my life.”

Necole’s site is now focused on women empowerment and lifestyle. It serves to empower and inspire young women to live their best lives through personal essays about relationships, beauty, fashion and career advice.

Before this current iteration, many knew Necole as a “gossip blogger,” but her path to where she is now is anything but traditional.

After going to school in Maryland for Electronic Media and Film, Necole always thought she would be a screenwriter or producer in Hollywood. But after her mom passed away, she got writer’s block.

“All the stories and creative energy I had before, I couldn’t channel,” she says, “So I was living with my aunt at the time in a small room in Maryland and I started a blog to pass the time and to keep my mind busy.”

From there, her blog took off and surpassed anything she could have imagined. But it was important for her to take a step back and create xonecole.com in order to keep her brand true to what she wanted.

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BEYOND THE WORKDAY

And with her mission to spend less time working, she’s able to create time for friends and family like never before.

“I missed weddings, birthdays, funerals and a ton of milestones before, so when I left my old site I wondered if my friends would still be there,” she says, “I eventually realized that if they weren’t there, I had no one to blame but myself. Sometimes you have to realize what kind of friend you’ve been to others and be the friend you want to have.”

Beyond just relationships, self-care for Necole comes in the form of eating healthier (it helps her mood and productivity) and competing in fitness competitions.

Self-care has been a priority that she’s found a routine for in her current home in Arizona, but with a career transition and move to New York on the horizon, Necole’s now having to think about what self-care looks like and how she will practice it in a new city. But one thing remains — it’s still a priority for her.

FROM AM TO PM

Each morning, Necole gets up and turns on her diffuser with peppermint. Before she leaves bed, she has a moment where she prays and centers herself by setting intentions for the day.

“A practice I use is an intention planner or intention map,” she says, I put it out in the universe and say ‘I’m going to get this opportunity, I’m going to get this increase in income,’ and state how I want my day to go, even with personal relationships.”

Then she’ll make eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, drink between 8 and 32 ounces of water and open her blinds.

“Opening my blinds is the best part of my day,” she says, “I close them every night so I can open them again in the morning. Letting the sun in really makes my day.”

All of this happens before Necole plugs into what the world is doing.

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Then she can indulge in some self-care through a workout. She jogs for 30 minutes each day, and ends the day with a good weightlifting session.

As far as hair and makeup, Her go-to for foundation is Laura Mercier’s Candleglow Soft Luminous foundation. I also like their translucent setting powder (although she’s looking for a talc-free alternative) and their face illuminator powder in a golden, shimmery shade.

“And if you’re on a budget, Sephora samples will save your life,” she says, “I couldn’t justify me spending money on that foundation without me trying it thoroughly first.”

At night, she uses Aveeno face wipes to remove makeup and leave her skin moisturized. She also swears by Belif’s The True Cream- Moisturizing Bomb. Those, paired with St. Ives face scrubs and the Neutrogena acne wash, keep her skin smooth, hydrated and healthy.

Throughout the day, she uses Calm.com to listen to waterfall sounds.

“I love that as background music when my mind is all over the place,” she says, “It’s like meditation. That gets me back centered.”

And to-do lists keep her on track. Her favorite to-do list app, Momentum allows you to you open your browser and see your tasks for the day.

But something that dictates every decision Necole makes in life is a simple quote, “If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.”

It allows her to contribute to her legacy in a positive way, even when she’s offered good money for a deal or a job opportunity — some things are just not worth it. And there’s unlimited value in knowing what will move your life in the direction of your dreams.

Necole High res bio 2.jpg

 Thank you Christine for the amazing piece.
Original posthttps://21ninety.com/how-this-ceo-and-editor-in-chief-works-less-to-be-more-successful

It’s Never Too Late To Be The Woman You’ve Always Wanted To Be

I’ve been thinking a lot about transformations lately.

A few weeks ago, I competed in my third fitness competition and walked away a champion with two first place trophies. This win meant more to me than any of the others, because it was the first time I’ve done a competition since I made the big move to New York. So this competition wasn’t about beating the girls that joined me on stage that night, it was about beating the prior version of myself. It was about beating the insecurities, self-doubt, depression and anxiety that once filled my days. It was about beating the obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes that run in my family history. Most importantly, it was about beating the girl that most of you guys had a chance to know as Necole Bitchie.

Last year, when people first learned I was a bikini fitness competitor, they were shocked because I had to take my body through a complete transformation — similar to my life and career when I decided to shift paths. I realize more than ever that it takes real courage to walk away from the life you once knew. A lot of people are stuck in unfulfilling careers and/or relationships and are afraid to take that first step to evolve and elevate in their lives due to fear. And I find that a lot of people are afraid of change, not only because of the possibility of failure, but because of the feeling of “I’m too old” or “it’s too late.”

Well, I want to tell you something.

My own unique path to self-fulfillment and true joy didn’t happen overnight. It has actually taken years and I didn’t take the first step until I was in my mid-twenties.

It wasn’t until I was 25 that I decided to pursue a job in the entertainment industry and I had to start as an unpaid intern. People thought I was crazy for working for free at that age, but I had a vision. I was 27 when I started my celebrity gossip blog while jobless, broke and sleeping in my aunt’s guest room.

Although the site eventually amassed a huge following, and I garnered fame, money and success, I wasn’t happy with my life and at the age of 34, I decided to walk away. At that age, society tells you that you are “supposed” to have it altogether, and there I was giving up everything I had worked so hard for.

IT WAS SCARY!

At age 35, I started all over again. During that time I launched a new site that was more empowering and reflective of the person I was becoming. That site was XoNecole.com.

At age 36, I decided to compete in my first NPC bikini fitness competition.

At age 37, after years of self-funding my websites, I experienced my first big business acquisition. At this age, for the first time, I am also balancing a career I love effortlessly with my personal life. I’m nurturing fulfilling friendships, attending retreats, taking vacations, and I am looking and feeling the best I’ve ever been mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The moral of this story is this: the only reason I am able to live my best life is because I was willing to take a risk.

It’s never too late to start working towards the woman you always knew you could be.

You may be scrolling social media and feeling like you are behind or not doing enough because of what you may see others accomplishing but success is truly a slow climb. It’s very hard not to compare yourself to what others are doing when you feel stuck and unfulfilled but we all have different paths and journeys. Just know, If you choose to compare your life to mine, I was a late bloomer who was broke and couch hopped until she was almost 30. And I was willing to face my biggest fears and risk going broke all over again at age 35 to live the life of my dreams, because I knew I deserved better than to stay stuck in a career path that didn’t fulfill me.

You can reclaim and reshape your narrative at any time ❤️ Please, Remember that.

xo, 

P.S. I’m currently reading “The Last Arrow” and the saying “Save nothing for the next life” is about to be my motto!

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Originally posted on Instagram  + xoNecole’s Letter From The Editor

 

Creating A Morning Ritual Can Transform Your Days

Two years ago, I used to wake up flustered and in a panic. 

“What did I miss while I was asleep,” I’d wonder as I scrambled to get out of bed to get to my laptop, all while scrolling through emails on my phone. Within minutes, I’d be responding to texts, shooting off emails, making phone calls and updating social media before I even had the chance to hop in the shower and eat breakfast.  Those minutes would turn into hours, and before I knew it, my entire day had passed by before I had an opportunity to eat, drink a few glasses of water and find my center.

It was no wonder when I visited a holistic doctor in 2014 after my monthly cycle went missing that I found out I was extremely fatigued, dehydrated, mal-nutritioned and my nervous system was on the brink of shutting down.  I knew in that moment that things had to change.

During a February 2015 text exchange I had with Sway In The Morning co-host Tracy G, we dived into the topic of morning rituals which went something like this:

Tracy: What does a successful morning look like? 

Me: A successful morning to me right now is waking up with a positive mindset and knowing I can do anything I put my mind to.  It might sound small but I’ve mentally abused myself over the past year more than any man or human ever could. A successful morning means eating two meals before noon. It’s the small stuff.

 

My success definitely does not include giving my mornings to others and not myself first, even though I am very thankful for my job. 

That was my morning for 8 years, giving it to others. Now I make sure I wake up, drink a glass of water, open my blinds,  listen to an empowering podcast while cooking my breakfast, and really make sure I’ve found my center before I plug into what the rest of the world is doing.

 

I’m trying my best to have an hour to myself in the morning before having to prep for my show.  Now that you’ve realized that it’s a non-negotiable that can help you with future decision making, if something is going to disrupt your recharge time in the morning – Is it worth it? 

Absolutely not.

 

Two years later, I’ve remained pretty consistent about my morning recharge time and it has literally transformed my days and changed my life.  Here’s at least 12 things I find myself doing upon waking up before I’ve even had the chance to check emails or log into my computer.

  1. Lay in silence for 15 minutes and visualize how I want my day to go
  2. Write down my intentions for the day in my journal
  3. Pray (and Thank God for the many blessings he’s bestowed upon me)
  4. Stretch (a lot of people do yoga or meditate, I’m not there yet)
  5. Make my bed (I’ve found that if I don’t do this, I’ll want to jump back in)
  6. Drink a glass of water (You are super dehydrated upon waking up)
  7. Open my blinds and let the sun in (this is actually my favorite part of my day)
  8. Shower (steam shower helps get my ideas flowing)
  9. Cook breakfast (normally it’s 3-4 eggs with a side of oatmeal and fruit)
  10. Take my vitamins
  11. Listen to an empowering podcast or audio book  (this can be done while making breakfast)
  12. Put on feel good music
  13. Aromatherapy (I find that when I put Peppermint oil in my diffuser it helps energize me, Lemon awakens my senses)

Bonus: Depending on how I feel, I may do about 15 – 30 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate going in the am. 

Once I’ve completed most of my ritual, and fully immersed myself into my “Me” time, that’s when I will log online and plug into what the world is doing.  

I have noticed such a dramatic change in my life since putting these rituals in place and my friends have all pointed out the shift they’ve seen in my energy and overall attitude towards life since I’ve been doing this as well. 

A lot of people may say, “Sorry, I don’t have time,” but making the choice to go to bed earlier, and wake up an hour or two earlier makes all of the difference. If you put a good morning ritual that works for you in place versus the usual routing of scrambling out of bed, hopping in the shower, plugging into emails and rushing out the door you increase your chances of having a productive, well-balanced and positive day. 

Try it, and let me know what happens!

What’s your current morning ritual? 

Originally published May 17, 2017

How I Turned My Bedroom Into A Zen Oasis

“Create positive space around you, even if it’s in your mind. You must have an environment of good energy in order to give good energy.”

Does the space you spend the most time in leave you drained, uninspired and unproductive?

Last week I shared with you that I used to wake up flustered and in a panic. I told you how I created a morning ritual that dramatically shifted my energy to start my day. However I also made another significant change in my life that helped improve my well being.

A couple of years ago, I started noticing a pattern that I was creating. Ever since my first real job in Corporate America, I never made my work space a home. I always treated my desk as a temporary dwelling, refusing to pin photos, put up quotes, and decorate the space as if someone actually worked there 8 hours a day. I figured why bother to personalize the space if I went into every job knowing it was a temporary situation for me –a means to pay bills and get by until another opportunity came knocking that would place me closer to my dreams.

This went on for over 10 years. Finally in 2014, after I moved to Arizona, and started really focusing on self-care, I took a look around and realized that my spaces were always filled with unproductive energy and were becoming a reflection of my life. For example, I was still treating the move to Scottsdale as a temporary situation so my bedroom only had a desk, no furniture except a mattress lying on the floor, and there were piles of books and clothes everywhere.

It was pretty messy.

And my messy space was a reflection of my messy life. 
I didn’t realize it at the time but my set up was sending “I’m Not Staying Here Long” energyout into the universe and I was still living as though it was my old college days again—unsettled and unconcerned with creating a house that felt like a home.

 

Waking up to a cluttered space every day was definitely having a negative impact on my productivity and I constantly felt drained and uninspired. This was a huge problem since I was working from home a lot, and I knew I had to do something about it and fast! 

So I started Operation: Create My Happy Space.

Over a period of a month, I went from this ….

To this…

Necole Bedroom 8

I can honestly say my room felt like a vacation home. When you walked in on any given day, you heard soothing music, smelled lavender and peppermint scents, and felt a gentle breeze flowing. Everyone who visited mentioned how soothing it felt and I even had a few people say, “I would never leave my room if I stayed here.”

Here are a few changes I made to my room to restore peace and order in my life:

Necole Bedroom 5

PAINT

I painted the walls purple, after studying Feng Shui. I wanted to attract prosperity and in Feng Shui, the color purple attracts abundance. This color also brought a romantic, soothing energy to my bedroom. I loved it. (I also bought some purple curtains to match.)

Necole bedroom 2

Necole Bedroom 6

A LAMP

I bought a grey lamp to match the color scheme of my room. The lamp also changed the mood of the room in a good way. I used to have a ceiling fan with a harsh overhead light. Now the lamp casts beautiful shadows, lighting up the space gently without glare.

Fake flowers

A PLANT

Initially, I brought home a beautiful purple Orchid for my room. It fit so perfectly but unfortunately I couldn’t keep the poor thing alive past three days. I replaced it temporarily with an artificial bouquet of white roses. Adding flowers or a plant to your workspace increases productivity and creativity.

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HIMALAYAN SALT CRYSTAL LAMP

I originally bought my Himalayan salt lamp while browsing Bed, Bath & Beyond because it looked cool and changed colors. When it’s turned on, it creates a very relaxing atmosphere in my room. I had no idea it had health benefits. Some sites claim that they boost blood flow, improve sleep, increase levels of serotonin in the brain, and calm allergy or asthma symptoms. They also keep the air clean and help with respiratory problems.

bookshelves and books

BOOKSHELF

While decluttering, I needed a space for my piles of books. Although a floating shelf would have been the best fit in terms of clearing up space, I bought a corner bookshelf which made for a beautiful home for my books on self-help, wellness, productivity and love. Beginning and ending my day with an inspirational read is a must.

Crystals on the window

CRYSTALS

I never thought I’d be that girl with a windowsill full of crystals. I visited a photographer friend in LA a few months ago and we bonded over our love for crystals and oils and she sent me away with a Celestine wand as a parting gift. She too had crystals on her windowsill and I loved how calm and welcoming her home felt. I placed mine there to remind myself of the sort of energies I want to manifest in my life. My current favorites are Rose Quartz, which helps attract love, and Green Jade, which helps to attract prosperity and abundance.

Sage

SAGE

If my energy is all over the place or very negative on any given day, (for whatever reason) I burn sage. Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a group of people, space, or person.

Aroma diffuser

AROMA THERAPY DIFFUSER

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and emotional well-being. I have an aromatherapy diffuser that I use to mist my room with the scent of lavender, peppermint and/or rosemary. Lavender oils are really good when you want to have a good night’s sleep and I find Peppermint makes me really alert and happy.

Also candles give a really nice touch and make your room smell great.

Bedroom Necole 4My new zen-filled space definitely shifted my energy and overall productivity immediately.

If you are feeling uninspired by your space, definitely consider giving it a revamp. Inspirational pillows, shag rugs, floating shelves, lighting, candles, soothing music, and the right color paint are all things that will help spruce up your space and give you the boost you need to get things done.

What are some things you’ve added to your room to create a happy space? Let me know in the comments! What are some things you’ve added to your room to create a happy space?

Originally published May 20, 2017

New Balance x Arizona

I visited Arizona last week, which is absolutely my most favorite place to spend time.

And I had nostalgia of when my life was filled with mountain views and solitude. I lived there for two and a half years, and it literally changed the way I viewed myself and the world. 

It’s a huge contrast from my current hectic big city life in New York, and I would absolutely still live there if opportunities didn’t come knocking that would elevate me to the next level of my career.  

During the five days that I was there, I had the chance to take in the scenery as I stopped by my old gym Pro Physiques in Gilbert, competed in the Natural Western fitness competition in Mesa, and went graffiti hunting in downtown Phoenix.  With all the running around I was doing, I had to make sure I was comfortable, so I tested out my new pair of kicks courtesy of New Balance sneakers.  I love that the new Fuelcore Nergize are very lightweight and were easy to slip on my feet without popping off a fresh set of press on nails I was trying out (LOL!).   They are also a good flat workout sneaker but also can take you from the gym, to a casual last minute outing with friends.  

Of course, I had to rock them all through Phoenix as I hit Papago Mountain, Loco Patron (which has the margaritas and best wings), and Roosevelt Row. 

 

 

Price tag: $65 . (Pretty reasonable)

Purchase yours over at New Balance.

**This post is in partnership with New Balance, however thoughts, opinions and images are my own**

Snapped by Aaron Markus

7 Of The Best Airbnb’s I’ve Ever Stayed In

If it’s one thing I love more than a spacious, cozy hotel, it’s AIRBNB.

I travel a lot for work, and even more for some much needed vacation time, but what I’ve found to be super important when visiting new cities, is how comfortable your accommodations are, and for me, hotels just haven’t been cutting it for me lately. 

Ever since I booked a 2 bedroom spacious condo, with a chef kitchen and washer and dryer in Paris for the same price I paid for a cramped hotel room which was barely big enough for a bed, I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, for last minute trips, I normally find myself booking a hotel (through the highly discounted HOTEL TONIGHT app) but for anything longer than a day or two, AIRBNB is my preference. 

Plus, what’s better than getting to live like a local? 

With that being said, although most of the places I’ve booked on the site have been amazing, I’ve had some shady experiences as well.  Like the time I checked into an Airbnb and the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my life greeted me at the door like, “Hey girl hey!!!”  The good news is that Airbnb was pretty good about refunding my money for that place and I decided against giving the apartment host a bad review. 

Things happen.

For that reason, I decided to share the Top Airbnb’s I’ve ever stayed at in various cities. 

1. London, England
London Airbnb Paddington 3

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Cost: Ranges from $170 – $215 a night

What I loved: This Luxury, Airy and Bright 1 bedroom modern apartment in the Paddington area of London was the upper echelon of Airbnb experiences. The neighborhood was gorg with all white buildings lining both sides of the street, and Hyde Park (which is equivalent to Central Park) was a few blocks away. The train station was a short 5-10 minute walk which was convenient since all of the necessary attractions (Birmingham Palace, The London Eye, Big Ben, etc) were only a few stops away.

The inside of the apartment was impeccable and decorated to give an old Hollywood glamour feel. The bedroom was very ZEN and had bottles of water and fruit on the night stand. When I checked in there was fresh roses on the table, as well as chocolates, the kitchen cabinets were fully stocked with pots and pans and food, the fridge stocked with water and fruit, and the bathroom fully stocked with all the essentials such as toothpaste, lotion, toothbrushes, etc. I thought maybe it was a one time thing since I was one of the first  to ever stay in the place, but when I went back to look at the reviews recently, everyone mentioned the roses, fruit, fully stocked kitchen and so forth.  A fully stocked kitchen is very rare for an Airbnb unit. 

Additional bonus points: Since I was staying for a week, I reached out to the hosts to ask if they’d be able to give me the place for a set rate, which was discounted a few hundred dollars, and they agreed. (I never mentioned my websites or anything.)  Also, upon check in I asked if they had a full-length mirror in the condo, and I was told ‘no’ but they kindly brought one in for me the next day. 

 

2. Paris, Franceparis-airbnb-2bd paris-airbnb-2-bedroom paris-2bd-kitchen

Cost: $176

This 2 bedroom apartment in the Le Marais area of Paris was my first AIRBNB experience ever. Unlike the London pad which is set up to be rented out by a high volume of guests, this place is the actual living quarters of the host, and she rents it out during the holidays.  

What I loved: Once we got past the super tiny elevator (that could barely fit one person), and the fact that all of the hosts things were still in the apartment, we realized that this condo far exceeded what we would have ever gotten out of a Parisian hotel for the same rate.  The apartment was spacious with a huge cozy living room, washer and dryer, and chef style kitchen. There was also plenty of train lines nearby, as well as restaurants, shops and the market for basic necessities.  What made this stay amazing was the hospitality of the host’s boyfriend Herve, who helped us carry our bags when we arrived as well as when we departed and was very generous. 

I definitely would recommend if staying in Paris for longer than 4-5 days. Live like a local!!

3. Manhattan, New York

New York Airbnb 3 New York Airbnb New York Airbnb 4 New York Airbnb 2 bedroom 3 New York Airbnb 2bedroom

Cost: $349 (Not bad for a 2bedroom in New York if you are traveling with 2 or more people. This place can hold up to 4-6 people comfortably. )

If it’s one place I prefer not to Airbnb in, it’s New York City. You just never know what you are walking into, and you have to make sure you read the reviews thoroughly before booking.  It’s just uber convenient if you are traveling with friends and want to book one unit versus several hotel rooms.

What I loved: This Spacious Mid-town 2 Bedroom apartment near 5th Avenue lived up to all of my expectations.  The unit looked like the photos, and the two bedrooms had enough space to walk around and feel comfortable.  The building had an elevator which you will find is rare. Most apartments in New York listed on Airbnb are walk ups! The full length mirror in the living room was a huge plus for us since we attended a few events during our stay and needed to make sure we were presentable before leaving the house.  This was definitely one of the coziest and spacious New York Airbnb apartments I’ve stayed in and it was in a central location (near 51st and 5) close to everything you’d need.

The check in process was also flawless with someone meeting us at our check in and check out time.   (A recent Airbnb I stayed in had us walking blocks –with our luggage– to find a safe deposit box located in a pay phone to get our keys. And there was a two flight walk up.  Just terrible.)

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

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Cost: $98 – 120

What I loved: If you want to be extremely close to the strip, but away from the crowds, loud noise, and gambling that Vegas is known for, this 21st floor Strip View Studio In The MGM Grand Signature is everything you are looking for while being cheaper than most hotels.  Since the MGM Signature is a hotel, you have to check in at the front desk in the same way you would a hotel room, however with an oversized bathroom complete with a spa tub, two flat screen TV’s, a view of the Strip and (the jumping pool party over at the MGM Grand, a comfy bed, and pool on the property, you can’t really beat the price.  

Extra bonuses: Room service and valet 

5. Chicago, Illinois

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Cost: $92 – $98

What I loved: If you are hopping in and out of Chicago for a business trip, and need a crash pad, this Charming apt in Lakeview will serve it’s purpose.  The place looks exactly like the photos (very artsy and cosy) and is situated in an elevator building in a quiet neighborhood, with just a 10-15 minute ride to downtown Chicago.  Maria the host has some great books on her windowsill as well. 

During my stay, the maintenance guy came banging on the door abruptly while interrupting my much needed nap after a red eye flight. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but when I woke up, I had a note from the host that she had left something outside my door. It was a bottle of wine as an apology for the disturbance. I thought that was very thoughtful. 

6. Atlanta, GA

Cost: $99 a night

What I loved: If you are visiting Atlanta for more than 2 or 3 days and need space, plus basic amenities like washer and dryer, a full kitchen, gym and underground parking, this Buckhead 1-bedroom condo is a good option. There is a grocery store literally across the street, and it’s a very short distance to Lenox Mall and other Atlanta hotspots, bars and restaurants with Midtown being a short 10-15 drive away.  There’s no way you can find a hotel room for the same rate, amenities and space.

7. Hollywood, CA

Cost: $179 a night

Why I love it: I ended up booking this two story Hollywood loft while on a business trip to LA and found it to be much more cost effective than the hotel that we usually book when we visit our LA offices. It is located at La Brea and Sunset and was a 5-15 minute drive to everywhere I needed to go, including Soul Cycle in Weho.  The apartment came equipped with a washer and dryer and 2 bathrooms, as well as a chef kitchen, floor to ceiling windows, 20 foot ceilings, a gym located right outside the door.  All of the nearby hotels in the area are at least $250-350 a night, and you get four times the space with this unit as well as free parking.  It’s definitely a good option for people who have to frequent LA for more than 3-4 days at a time but still want to fill like they are at home versus living out of a suitcase.

If this unit is booked, there is another one in the same building that is even nicer:

Modern Stylish Loft With Breathtaking City Views

P.S,. I remember a time I walked into a $105 dollar a night Airbnb that was in the heart of Hollywood, and I stayed all of 30 minutes. There was no way, anyone would have paid me to ever stay there.  This is why I made this post, to cosign the actual places I’ve stayed at that I loved and that were safe.

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If you will be visiting any of these cities soon, I hope these listings are useful. Always remember to read the reviews before booking an Airbnb as you will find out all that you need to know. Also, if you are not a member of Airbnb and interested in joining, follow this link, sign up and enjoy $35 off your trip the first time you book. 

P.S. If you are just popping in and out of a city last minute for a night or two, hotel tonight is another good option for extremely last minute, discounted hotel rooms.  Download the app here and use my promo code NNECOLE for $25 off your first booking. 

Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Share your experience (and the link if you dare). 

Keep in touch. Follow me on Instagram!

I’m In The Press This Week (Glamour, Refinery29 & Launch DFW)

I haven’t done much press over the last two years, nor have I orchestrated a PR campaign, so I’m always very humbled and appreciative when journalists reach out to request an interview.

Over the past week, I’ve had the honor to be featured in 3 pieces that were published on Refinery29, Glamour and Launch DFW.

Here’s a summary:

1. Launch DFW : Necole Kane Goes Beyond The Web To The Center Stage

This piece was a very in-depth interview where I spoke about my failures, why it is important that I remain transparent about the ups and downs of my journey and my brand being acquired.

A standout quote:

I promised myself in 2007 that I would never send out a resume. I have not sent out a resume since 2007. Like, how cocky of me to say, but [at the time] I was like I’m tired of getting no. I’m tired of interviewing. I’m tired of proving myself. I’m not sending out another resume. And I have not had to send out another resume since then.

Click here to read more!

 

2. Glamour Magazine – Black Women Have Been Politically Powerful But We’re Not Your Saviors

In this piece, I was featured along with other black thought leaders on the narrative surrounding black women and their political choices.  Read it here

 

3. Refinery 29 – 24 Of Our Favorite Entrepreneurs Namecheck The Businesswomen You Should Follow

 

 

This was one of my favs for International Women’s Day because I had the chance to honor an entrepreneur that I look up to.  It should be to no surprise to anyone that follows me that I chose Myleik Teele, the Founder of Curlbox.   

A key quote from the piece:

As a Black woman, entrepreneurship can feel isolating. Sometimes it’s hard to find a support system of women who can guide you through huge business moments like mergers and acquisitions or even securing an investor. Myleik is a serial entrepreneur and doesn’t hoard the information she knows and the lessons she has learned from creating two successful companies. I always joke around and call her the ‘Oprah for entrepreneurs’ because she really is breeding and birthing a new generation of young bosses through her valuable advice, resources, and retreats.

Read more here!

My Battle With Depression: A Discussion On Mental Health

Do you sometimes find yourself smiling on the outside while crying on the inside?  Are you suffering in silence?

That was me for a very long time.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent video where I opened up about my long history of depression.

During the Silence The Shame panel in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I revealed for the first time that I have been battling depression for a very long time.

“I am the strong friend,” I revealed as I choked back tears. “And when you are the strong friend, you have to be there for everyone. So I go into a shell when I’m going through something and no one can reach me. I isolate myself from everyone until I am able to be the strong friend again and that is not healthy. It’s like you are filling up all of these cups, but no one is filling up yours.”

I also added, “It affects my dating life because people fall for the idea of you and those happy pictures that they see on social media. But are you going to stand with me when I am hurting?”

My bouts of depression are deeply rooted in many things I experienced during my childhood, as well as isolation and abandonment issues as a result of me losing a lot of family members, including my parents.

It took a lot for me to share this because depression/mental health isn’t the easiest subject to open up about. People have a perception of what it should look like, so if you have certain things, reached a certain level of success, come from a certain background, or look a certain way, they feel like it shouldn’t affect you. During the panel, singer Keri Hilson also shared her story of depression, which resulted in her taking a 7-year hiatus from the music industry.

“Literally 7 years of my life have been a battle with depression,” she said.  “It all just kind of spiraled for me, and became something I had never been through, I had never recognized myself as a person who can’t pick themselves back up.”

Silence The Shame founder Shanti Das also revealed that despite being a top executive in the music industry with a 500K salary and everything she could ever dream of, she went into a dark downward spiral two years ago. “It was the first time I had ever contemplated suicide.”

Her battle with mental health led her to launch Silence The Shame, and now she tours the country encouraging discussions around minorities and mental health. Atlanta based therapists Vaughn Gay and Ayanna Abrams were also a part of the panel, and gave really helpful insight on how to be aware of the early signs that you should seek help, and a ton of resources for those people who have no idea where to start to find the best therapist for themselves.

The panel and being able to discuss mental health openly in a no-judgement zone was healing in a sense. I am happy to admit that I am much better now than I was years ago and my bouts of depression don’t happen as often.  I’ve spent the last 2-3 years really pouring into myself and working to be the person I always knew I could be despite my life circumstances. Changing my brand into one that centered around empowerment and positivity helped tremendously as well. A therapist once told me that I was experiencing second hand PTSD from all of the negative and toxic news that my former site was covering which would cause me to go to a deep dark space more frequently.

This was such an important conversation and I’m really thankful for successful women like Shanti Das and Keri Hilson for opening up and sharing their stories, which left the door wide open for me to do it more comfortably.

I received so many DM’s, emails, and messages since posting the clip, which let me know that I’m not alone. Therefore, I wanted to share the full video of the panel with you. If you’re experiencing sadness, isolation, or going through depression, you are not alone. I hope this video gives you comfort and hope that there’s light ahead. Please feel free to share it, if you believe it may help someone else, and if you have been touched by the message, let me know.

 

xo,

 

P.S. This event was held in support of the second season of James Bland’s “Giants” series which tackles mental health in one of the main characters. I watched an episode a year ago and ended up binging the entire season.  Check it out on Issa Rae’s youtube if you get the chance.