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.
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!
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?
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.
Lay in silence for 15 minutes and visualize how I want my day to go
Write down my intentions for the day in my journal
Pray (and Thank God for the many blessings he’s bestowed upon me)
Stretch (a lot of people do yoga or meditate, I’m not there yet)
Make my bed (I’ve found that if I don’t do this, I’ll want to jump back in)
Drink a glass of water (You are super dehydrated upon waking up)
Open my blinds and let the sun in (this is actually my favorite part of my day)
Shower (steam shower helps get my ideas flowing)
Cook breakfast (normally it’s 3-4 eggs with a side of oatmeal and fruit)
Take my vitamins
Listen to an empowering podcast or audio book (this can be done while making breakfast)
Put on feel good music
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.
“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” energy, out 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 ….
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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
My 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re all on paths to become bosses in our own rights. And what makes us great girl bosses is not the fact that we are good girls who never mess up. It’s the fact we’re human women bound to make mistakes, especially in our 20’s and 30’s. The good news is that we are not defined by the mistakes we make, but rather how we recover from them.
On the site, we recently shared 11 Women’s Biggest Career Mistakes They Made in Their 20’s. I too have had my share of mistakes in my career, some of which have unfolded before you in the public eye. As many of you know, I ended my first site, Necole Bitchie almost three years ago. It wasn’t a mistake that I ended the site. I had outgrown the content because it no longer represented the woman I had become nor wanted to be. The greatest mistake I made in my career was that in all the years I operated that site, I never once prepared for what would happen once the site ended. In short, I didn’t have an end goal.
There are a lot of courses, workshops, and seminars that teach you the art of starting a brand, but there isn’t as much emphasis on creating an exit strategy. Even while I was operating Necole Bitchie, I was approached for a seven figure acquisition. Clearly that deal never happened, but had I agreed to sell the site, all of my ducks weren’t in a row to negotiate a good deal that favored me.
My biggest advice for entrepreneurs and women starting businesses is to know what your end goal is so that you have a clear road map to reach your destination, whatever your goal may be. Do you want to achieve funding? Do you want to expand into products or become a huge media empire? Do you want to merge businesses with another brand or eventually be acquired? These are important questions that I did not ask myself while running my old brand.
Since I did not plan for my exit, I paid dearly for it financially, mentally, and and emotionally. But guess what? I did what a girl boss does and I learned from my mistake. When I finally recuperated and was able to start the brand xoNecole, I began with an end goal in mind that I did not have for Necole Bitchie, and that was to come out with a major acquisition or investment.
To prepare, I created a business plan, marketing deck and kept up with my companies profit and loss reports monthly. Preparation is so key! You have to be ready so that when the the opportunity comes you don’t have to get ready. My big opportunity came quicker than I could have ever imagined it would. Two years after launching xoNecole, my brand was acquired by none other than Girls Trip producer Will Packer, which is a testimony on its own that I can’t wait to share with you at a later date.
I couldn’t be more proud of my decision and am so thankful that it was a black man who saw my vision and the value of my brand and stepped in to help me expand and take it to the next level. I am even more proud that we are black-owned.
I think it’s important that you read our article and learn about mistakes other women made early on in their career. Read them to not only avoid making the same bad decisions, but to know if you’ve already gone down that same path, you’re not alone.
So last week I was surprised with a last minute opportunity to be a presenter at the BET Social Awards. And by last minute, I mean fly to Atlanta from NYC the next day to present. OMG!
Can I be honest? The first thought that went through my head was not ‘What am I going to say?’ It was ‘What am I going to wear?!’
You’re probably waking to that same thought this morning too lol. There was no stylist to help me, like there’s probably no stylist to help you this morning. No, you’re not going to be photographed on a red carpet, but regardless of what you have going on today, the act of figuring out what to wear is pretty stressful.
9 times out of 10, if I’m not getting dolled up for an event, meeting or outing with friends, I’m dressed head to toe in my favorite athletic gear. I know I can look fly at the drop of a dime, but because I go to the gym daily, I just prefer to be comfortable in my leggings and sneakers.
That being said, I’m so proud that I had staple pieces in my closet from years back that I was able to pull for the award show and be red carpet ready. And I think that’s important! It’s necessary to have a wardrobe that can speak for you before you even open your mouth. Not necessarily because to appease the superficiality of this society, but more so to enjoy the act of presenting your best self to the world. It feels good to have the option to present ourselves the way we want to be interpreted.
We recently posted an article on the site about 30 closet staples every woman should have before 30. The story got a lot of attention from our xoNecole readers. Do I have all of these closet staples? Hell no! But I do think there are some amazing pieces to add if you’re looking to build a wardrobe that shows off the best you have to offer.
And by the way, my last minute award show look came together nicely.
I took a risk and mixed patterns from two separate statement making pieces.
I didn’t know if the final product would be a good look or a bad look but I knew it’d be a look. And it actually ended up being a hit.
So if you’re looking to make sure you have some statement pieces in your wardrobe for those crucial style moments, check out this article!
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When I reflect on last year and what it truly meant to me, three words come to mind: transition, alignment, and sisterhood.
2017 was the end of a gruesome transition period between leaving my celebrity gossip blog NecoleBitchie.com, and stepping into a new chapter, which saw the launch of xoNecole – an empowering lifestyle website for young women of color. During that transitional period, I’ve lost friends, lost money, and almost lost my mind (a few times). However, what I gained by taking a risk and betting on myself and the woman I wanted to be, meant so much more to me.
When the clouds of a storm disappear, everything is new again and the sun shines brighter than ever. I’m there now. And after the rain, I can now confidently say that I can watch my brand grow into the beautiful empire I always knew it could be.
In 2017, I learned the importance of being in alignment and the power of manifesting the life you want for yourself.
Laying in the fetal position in my bed on days that entrepreneurship was beating me down like I had stolen something wasn’t serving me. I had to make sure I was getting up and relentlessly fighting for my dream, every single day. And I had to position myself so that when a big opportunity came, I was ready for it. And that meant shifting my perspective. That meant manifestation in its highest form.
In May, I remember sitting down with a close friend at a coffee shop in New York. She was unemployed, and I was struggling with keeping xoNecole running from where I lived in Arizona due to mounting operational expenses. I said, “Girl, if you could predict where you would like to be in 6 months, what would it look like? Let’s live in that for a moment.”
For 15 minutes, we quietly jotted down in our notebooks where we saw ourselves in 6 months using the present tense, “I am…”
Exactly six months later to the date, while in my new office in New York, I randomly opened my notebook and saw the life I was currently living written out line by line. I had manifested everything into reality and I sat there stunned with chills running down my spine and tears in my eyes. I owned the reality I wanted because I called its name and demanded it to become what it now is. That’s a testament to the power of words.
In 2017, I also learned about the power of sisterhood. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a strong tribe of women who had my back. A team of women who were passionate about work that was deeply rooted in purpose and positivity. My sister, friends, mentors, and business associates. Women who were uplifting and encouraging. Who had the same fight, passion, and purpose to empower other women to be their best selves. My Tribe!
I’ve also learned that choosing comradery over competition always produces wins for everyone.
And in honor of that, on December 19, xoNecole held its first Table of 20 event, a celebration of women in digital media – and it was the epitome of tribe vibes.
The dinner, pegged “Queens See Queens” was an ode to power women in digital media, especially those who have been making major moves behind-the-scenes at their respective outlets or media brands by pushing positive narratives for women of color.
The room was filled with genuine love as we shared hugs, laughs and promises of collaborations and partnerships. While feasting on dinner by Omar’s Kitchen and champagne from Belaire, we clapped and cheered as each woman shared their story of adversity and triumph. Many of the women in attendance shared the common risk of moving to New York with just a few bags and uncertainty, and now seeing the rewards of success they could have only dreamed about.
The gathering was the perfect closing of 2017 – the year of the caterpiller – and grand opening to 2018, the year we finish transforming into the butterflies we were meant to be.
Success can be a lonely road without sisterhood.
I pray that you find your tribe in 2018 and beyond.
May we uplift, inspire and encourage each other! Cheers to more collaborations in this New Year!
Watch a recap of the dinner that includes my surprise announcement below:
Menu at Table of 20 Queens See Queens
Decor at Table of 20
Appetizers from Chef Omar of Omar’s Kitchen
Necole Kane and Christina Rice
Danielle Young, Necole Kane and Tiffany Battle
Danielle Young and Claire Sulmers snap a selfie
Necole Kane, founder and Editor In Chief at xoNecole shares a few words
Lilly Workneh, Editor-In-Chief at Blavity Shares a few words at Table of 20
Arianna Davis, Senior Features Writer at Refinery 29, shares a few words at Table of 20
Natasha Alford, Deputy Editor at The Grio, shares her journey and accomplishments
Tiffany Battle, Founder of The Werk Place
Charreah Jackson, Senior Relationship Editor at Essence Magazine, shares a few words at Table of 20
Candice Benbow, “My Lemonade Has Vodka In It” speaker, shares a few words at Table of 20
Christina Rice, Founder of Omnoire shares a few words
Claire Sulmer, Founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, shares her story
Cori Murray, Entertainment Director at Essence Magazine, and co-host of Yes Girl! Podcast shares a few words
Danielle James, founder of Model Citizen and Beauty & Style editor at Hello Beautiful shares her story
Sharde Miller, Producer at Good Morning America, shares a few words
Danielle Young (The Root) shares a few laughs
Candace McDuffie shares a few words at Table of 20
Tracy G shares some laughs at Table of 20
Arianna Davis and Tracy Garraud
Chasity Cooper (Her Agenda) shares her triumphs at Table of 20
Renae Bluitt, Sharde Miller, and Cori Murray
Necole Kane and Arianna Davis
Candice Benbow, Candace McDuffie, Brande Victorian, Natasha Alford and Danielle Young attend Table of 20
Necole Kane and Renae Bluitt
Necole Kane and Natasha Alford
Candice Benbow, Brande Victorian, Chasity Cooper and Janel Martinez
Natasha Alford, Janel Martinez, Necole Kane, Tracy G, Chasity Cooper and Charreah Jackson
Candace McDuffie, Christina Rice and Jamilah Barnes
Janel Martinez and Natasha Alford share a hug
The group flick of all group flicks
Feel free to follow these amazing women that were in attendance on social for some #blackgirlmagic on your timelines!
Also many many thanks to Jamilah Barnes who helped organize this incredible event as well as Mecca Moore of Pynk Magazine who produced this amazing experience for all of us. The details were impeccable, with sand globes provided by SandGloves.Love, and the gorgeous flower wall by Dreamwork Diva.
When I look back at the moments of my life where I felt like I was accomplishing major goals and living out my dreams, those moments were always driven by me being able to submerge myself in visualization and manifestation techniques such as intention setting, creating vision boards, and dream books. That is why I was super excited when my close friend and long time publicist Christina Rice (Founder of Omnoire) and I decided to come together to hold our first Vision Board & Manifestation workshop.
On January 20, the Pretty Powerful You Vision Board and Manifestation workshop came to life at Live Primary, a wellness co-working space in Battery Park. Over 100 attendees from 6 different states joined us and life coach La Shell Wooten for an inspiring day that included a private breakfast, an intimate conversation, feng shui tips, an affirmation wall and vision board creation.
During the intimate chat, some of the attendees revealed some of their personal struggles and obstacles that they were attempting to overcome with suggestions and words of advice from La Shell. (She’s my personal life coach by the way!) Christina also revealed that she is very picky about who she allows in her home due to the emotional debris that people can bring into your personal space, and La Shell added the Feng Shui tip of keeping your entry way clean and clear of clutter so that your home is welcoming for the visitors that you do allow into your space.
“Your home has to be prepared to disarm everyone’s baggage at the door.”
A highlight for me was when one of my readers admitted that she was mad at me when I first closed down my former celebrity gossip site, but when I launched my new site, xoNecole, she said, “oooooh, she’s not gossiping anymore, then I can’t be gossiping. I have to do better too!” We all laughed, and then cheered as she revealed that her peeling away from reading the gossip blogs helped her finish school and get the job she wanted. Sis, was flourishing!
These are the moments I live for. Experiences that allow me to meet readers face to face and create moments of bonding and sisterhood.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a note on here.
This year, my life has undergone some major changes. 2017 has grown me, shifted me, and evolved me. So much has been happening behind the scenes and I can’t wait to reveal some of the things I have in store for you.
But, before I do, there is something important that I want to say…
I’m a New Yorker now!
Today makes it a week since I made the official move to New York City.
Yes, I moved back to the East Coast. Yes, this is really happening and yes, I’ve started over, once again.
While pursuing my goals and dreams, I’ve moved so many times that you’d think I could do this with my eyes closed. But what made this time so different from the other cross-country and state-to-state moves I’ve made in the past, is that I decided to forgo any sort of relocation services. This time, I got rid of almost everything I owned.
The decision to downsize was influenced by a call I received from a very successful friend while I was looking for the most inexpensive option for a mover. She revealed to me that she was losing her passion in life and in her career and she felt stagnant.
My friend wanted to move across the country but, to her surprise, a relocation service gave her a quote of almost $20,000, which immediately shattered her plans to uproot and leave. The accumulation of clothes, high-end furniture, her office equipment, and her car would cost her tens of thousands of dollars to take with her.
For months, she put off moving and existed in a space of unhappiness in her career and life.
After we hung up, I was reminded that we can easily become enslaved by the accumulation of material things that have no real value in our lives. The book The Happiness Project, as well as the documentary, The Minimalist, teaches us the concept of decluttering. It has been proven that living with less and having fewer possessions improves the quality of our lives tremendously.
So, why do we hold on to these things?
After taking inventory of the various items I was attempting to drag across the country with me, I realized that wasn’t the best move. There were a bunch of things I had accumulated through my different moves over the last few years that had no real value to me.
The furniture and appliances could be replaced.
The books donated.
Most of the bags, shoes, and clothes that I owned were collecting dust and represented the person I used to be.
But I wasn’t that woman anymore.
It was in that moment that I remembered a quote I heard Devi Brown mention, “A snake that cannot shed its skin will perish,” and it clicked for me.
If I truly wanted to start a new chapter, I’d have to shed myself of my old skin and everything that no longer served me.
That would include friendships, relationships, and material things. When one of your goals in life is to climb the mountain of success, the higher the climb, the heavier the burden of useless things will weigh on you.
It’s almost impossible to grow without eliminating.
I had to get rid of it all.
Over a two-week period, I sold all of my furniture, donated the bulk of my clothes and appliances to homeless shelters, and I dropped my car off to Carmax where they wrote me a check on the spot. Getting rid of my car was probably the hardest decision to make because it was on my vision board for a long time before I purchased it as a Christmas gift to myself in 2012. But I’m a true believer and a testament that what you are willing to give up and sacrifice for your dreams will eventually be restored tenfold. I had no use for it in New York or in the new part of my journey.
On Tuesday, July 18, I showed up at JFK with suitcases filled with everything else I owned. The only things I felt I truly needed.
I gave some of my books to one of my Instagram followers who just moved to Arizona.
I felt light.
I felt free.
Even a week later, I realize now that I don’t miss any of the things that I gave up.
I am telling this story because I wanted to connect with others who might be on a similar path, caught in the middle with a similar conundrum. If you are at a place in life where you feel stuck, uncomfortable, or the energy in your home just does not feel right, consider doing a purge.
Purging means getting rid of anything that has outlived its purpose in your life and is no longer in alignment with your current path.
This could be a closet clean out, clearing out storage spaces, and it can even mean ending relationships and friendships that hinder you more than they serve you.
You’ll find that once you declutter, purge and let go of things that don’t align with where you want to go and who you want to be, life will begin to open up and change for the better.
P.S. There are just 5 rooms left for the Glow Up Wellness Retreat in October. If you are in need of a relaxing and exhilarating weekend surrounded by empowering women, click here to find out how you can join us!
There are things, people, places and events that change you.
EmpowerHer17 was that event for me.
This year, the 2-day conference was hosted in Chicago and brought together a room of more than 300 women who were there to inspire, network and hear insightful career advice from black millennial business women, entrepreneurs and influencers. The conference was hosted by Gia Peppers and included appearances and insight from everyone like Zim Ugochukwu of Travel Noire, to actress/producer Lena Waithe, blogger/author Luvvie Ajayi, and Allied Moxy SVP Erika Bennett.
Back in March, Blavity founder Morgan Debaun reached out to me to ask if I’d appear at the conference, and my first response was that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a keynote or even speaking at the conference because I was still knee-deep in my transition. I hadn’t fully reached my personal goals when it came to my new xoNecole website, and I was still in a state of laying low and doing the dirty work quietly while I patiently built my brand.
I’m a huge believer that every season won’t be your season.
There are some seasons that you sit out, and plant your seeds and there are others were you harvest.
I was still in my planting season.
I was also going through a personal transition behind-the-scenes as well. I was toying with the idea of venturing into Health & Fitness after winning two trophies in my first ever fitness competition. Training for the competitions as well as educating friends and loved ones on healthier, lifesaving eating habits had become a huge passion of mine and I felt as though God was leading me into a new territory. I was studying to become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, as well as Wellness Coaching and I was pretty happy. I was actually elated. New doors and opportunities were opening for me and I knew at some point I had to make a decision on if I still wanted to run and expand the xoNecole brand on my own, or if I was going to hand it off to someone else and take yet another leap in the pursuit of happiness and living my dreams.
But there was still this urge and fire in me to leave my shell and get out in front of my audience. Participating in the conference would give me the opportunity to engage with my readers and people who have been following me a long time face-to-face and get their feedback. I needed that energy and so I accepted the invitation.
I’m glad I did. Speaking at the conference moved me.
Talking to the women who had tears in their eyes as they told me how much they resonated with my story, admired my transition and needed my transparency moved me.
I needed that.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the work we do and the affect it has on others, to keep pushing.
That’s what the conference did for me.
Here are 6 important questions and topics that people may have had that I answered during the fireside chat:
Why I Left My Gossip Brand
It was time.
When you settle into just existing in a space, it’s time to move on.
7 is the number of completion and I was inching towards my eighth year. I was no longer the woman I was when I started the brand and I was no longer interested in most of the news and topics we were covering. I had lost my fire. I had lost my passion and my readers could sense it. The longer I continued to run the site and keep up with those things that I was outgrowing, it would continue to stunt my growth as a woman.
The truth is, when your career is to report breaking news on other people’s lives, you end up subconsciously living your own life as a spectator. I always hear the saying, “you are what you consume”, and since I was consuming celebrity gossip, violence, drama, divorces, suicides and very negative news every hour of the day, I was becoming that. It was in conflict with the person I wanted to be.
I remember being so filled with angst, depression and anxiety all of the time and I thought it was because I had experienced so many deaths in my family. When I finally sought a therapist, she revealed that I had second hand PTSD from the news we were reporting. That was eye-opening to me. I had to wonder if it had that type of effect on me, what effect was the news we were publishing having on the site’s visitors?
Once I realized this, I knew I would have to let go of my old brand if I honestly wanted to live a fulfilling life full of joy, happiness and love. As most woman desire once they are in their 30s, I wanted balance. I wanted to nurture my friendships and have time to enjoy weddings, birthdays and baby showers. I wanted to be able to unplug for a few days without the fear of missing something or falling off. I wanted to be present in the presence of people I cared about dearly versus having to check my phone every few minutes. Finally, I wanted to launch a site that was the vitamin my audience didn’t know they needed. One full of inspiration, empowering stories and career advice to help my readers live their best lives. That’s what I wanted my legacy to be able and I do feel xoNecole.com has and is still accomplishing that.
Why I didn’t sell NecoleBitchie.com
In 2013, before the site reached it’s peak, I was negotiating a $1.3 -2 million deal to sell my brand to a well-known media company. I didn’t really entertain the offer for too long because at the time the fact that I built the brand from the bottom up meant more to me than a million dollar paycheck and I knew there was so much more work to do to get it to a place where it wasn’t just known for “salacious gossip.” A few years later, I remember reaching out to one of my friends who had sold her site for advice and I will never forget what she told me. She said:
“I wish I had sold for more. When anyone comes to you with an offer, believe that you are worth 2-3 times as much as that initial offer. You have to know your worth. After taxes, paying out lawyers and business managers, those checks won’t last long but your brand and your legacy is what can last forever.”
That always stuck with me. I eventually closed NecoleBitchie.com versus selling it because I knew that if I sold it, I would no longer have control over that particular brand’s content or legacy. As long as the site stayed up and running on the web, I’d always be known as the personality behind it and that was counterproductive to my growth and the places I wanted to go as I continued to evolve in my life.
How I still push on in the face of adversity after losing both of my parents
My mom was a staple in my life when it came to picking up the phone and having someone I could talk to. Before she died, I was calling her to catch up every single day on my lunch break at work. The last time I ever talked to her on the phone, I remember asking her “Are you going to die?” and she fell silent. In that moment, all the petty things I used to stress over no longer mattered. She was 41 at the time of her death (my father was 42). The concept of “Life is short” is very real to me.
At the conference, I cried as I revealed for the first time ever that it hurts me the most that my parents never had the chance to see me be successful. While they were alive, I was moving from house to house, staying with different friends, sleeping on couches, trying to finish school, dabbling into different interests and really trying to find myself. To achieve success and not be able to share that with loved ones has been excruciating. It’s been one of the root causes when I fall into stages of depression. I think there is a sense of guilt there, like I had to do a trade off in life and sometimes I feel it’s extremely unfair. But I know that things happen for a reason and I try not to dwell on the “why me?”
Moving back home doesn’t always mean you’ve failed
Before I started NecoleBitchie.com, I was dead broke, the IRS had frozen my bank account due to some back taxes and I had no choice but to move back to my hometown and live with an aunt. One of the audience members revealed that she recently found herself in the same situation, and she wanted to know how I was able to stay positive and still have enough hope to get myself out of that situation and eventually achieve success.
A lot of people equate moving back home and returning to the place you started as failure. I no longer look at it that way. Sometimes you need to take a few steps backwards to regroup, re-strategize and push forward and sometimes going back home is the best option for you to get back on your feet. Last year, I was consulting a fellow blogger that had moved to LA and each day she spent commuting to a job she hated was pushing her further and further from her dream. She felt as though all of her goals were impossible. We both agreed that her moving back to the East Coast would probably be the best decision, and within a 9 month period, she relaunched her website, wrote a few e-books, traveled to 3 countries, and was being booked for speaking engagements around the country. Giving herself permission to go back home and regroup, helped her to get back in alignment with her passions and propel herself into the next level of her career.
I always tell people when moving back home, give yourself a time period.
If you know that you only want to be home for six months, you will move differently and start taking the necessary steps to map out a plan to get you out of there in those 6 months. I didn’t have a time frame in mind when I first went home so my aunt did the best thing she could have ever done for me, and gave me one. Just as my brand was growing a little, she told me I could only stay for another month and I was devastated. I left that weekend and moved to Atlanta where I slept on a friend’s couch and my career started to take off. I am now mature enough to know that her kicking me out was not personal. As much as it may have hurt her, she was removing the crutch from underneathe of me so that I had no choice but to be uncomfortable and walk on my own two feet. I probably wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t made that tough decision.
Sacrifices and Discomfort Are Only Temporary
This wasn’t really a question but an add on to the young lady who had to move back home recently. Having to move back home, sleep on couches, borrow money and those type of things are all temporary if you are extremely focused on accomplishing your dreams. The problem with temporary, is having the patience and faith to know that things will work out without really knowing when it will happen. Whatever you have to give up and sacrifice for your dream, you have to trust and believe that it will be restored in due time. I made it a point at the conference to reveal that I had recently made the decision to move back to New York. I’ve lived in NYC three times already and have never been comfortable living there ever but it’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make for the goals I have for my brand. I also made it a point to reveal that even though I have a loft I love in Arizona, my dream car (that was on my 2009 vision board and is completely paid off), and I live a very comfortable lifestyle, it’s important that I sell my furniture, car, and most of my things before I leave.
Sometimes on the path of success we accumulate all of these material things that we think matter, and realize how much of a burden they are when we want to maneuver freely and chase new levels.
Please understand, when you achieve success, you are not the car you drive, amazing house you live in, and clothes you wear. You are your legacy and you have to decide what that is going to be. Nobody is gonna talk about any of the stuff you own in your eulogy at your funeral when you are no longer here. Instead they will talk about the impact you had on their lives.
It’s okay to unplug and take a break
We are currently in a social media obsessed culture were people feel as though if they aren’t constantly sharing pieces of their day, and themselves, that people will forget about them. The same goes for the entertainment industry and the thriving market of influencers who’ve built social media based brands. It may be tempting to attend every party, and post photos with celebs or other people with huge followings in order to feel relevant but at some point it will become a bit counterproductive if there isn’t other work being done to grow your business or brand. If you are at every event, or constantly on social media sharing your life or plugging into everyone else’s lives, when do you have time to create? When do you have time to be inspired? When do you have time to do meaningful purposeful work that means something?
And sometimes you need to take a break period.
I learned this the hard way when I transitioned out of NecoleBitchie.com and I rushed to launch xoNecole.com six weeks later. Instead of taking months or even a year or two to rest, gather my thoughts, live in my moments and then really map out the new site and produce really great work, I just rushed into launching something else in fear that I would lose my audience or they would forget about me. The end result was chaos, stress and I lost a lot of money. A TON of money.
Although we were mapped out the content, hired editors and writers, and figured out how we would market the new brand, I don’t think we fully thought through how the site would gain revenue since we weren’t a part of a network and launched with no in-house sales team. Do I regret the decision? No, I don’t…because sometimes you just have to say ‘f-ck it’ and take the leap and figure it out later, however, I do think we could have planned the launch of the site just a little better.
7 months after we launched, I eventually downsized my staff, regrouped, refocused and restrategized. When updating the site with new features, we focused more on quality over quantity, and instead of seeking out writers for the site, I started focusing on everyday women who had empowering stories to tell.
I also took a year off of doing speaking engagements, appearances and industry events so that I could work on self-care, travel, compete in fitness competitions and slow down and live a little.
I’m in a happier space now and I feel like I’m ready to get back out there, create, expand my brand and thrive! The best part of it all is that I’m viewing the world through a completely different lens.
That was the gist of my 60 minute chat at Empowerher17 (although I have elaborated a little more here 🙂 )
Thank you guys for reading!
I highly recommend investing in attending at least one conference a year if you are serious about learning from people in your field as well as growing your network. Don’t forget your business cards and keep in touch with your contacts. (I’m still working on this!) Something beautiful may come from it.
1) Don’t allow yourself to be restricted by rules. To live a liberated life of your dreams, you’ll eventually break every single one of them.
2) Never say never
Two years ago, I said I would never live in New York or the surrounding area again.
As a backstory, I’ve lived in Union City (10 Minutes outside of midtown Manhattan) in 2007, Downtown Brooklyn in 2010, and Union City again in 2013. The last time around, when my lease was up and I attempted to find another place to live in the city that didn’t require 2 full months rent for the security deposit, would give me the luxury of having a washer and dryer in the apartment, and parking that didn’t require me to have to wake up 1-2 times a week to move my car to another block because of street cleaning, I failed. In comparison, I went to LA for a week and found a spacious apartment with tons of natural lighting, basic luxuries, free garage parking and only required a $300 security deposit. I was on the West Coast before anyone I knew could throw a “going away” festivity.
I was out.
Over the years, I’ve always questioned why living in New York was so hard.
Eating healthy was the struggle.
Finding time to go to the gym was a struggle.
Self-care was a struggle.
Grocery shopping was a struggle.
Doing laundry if you weren’t the lucky few who had W/D in unit was a struggle.
Finding time to do anything outside of work and a little networking, was the struggle.
How did people over the age of 28 still do it?
After living in Arizona for two years, surrounded by Zen, energy healers, friendly neighbors, $25 dollar a month gym memberships and a list of luxuries, I said I could never go back to that lifestyle again.
And again, I lied.
In a few weeks, I will be moving to New York again. Although I started to believe I was going to spend the rest of my life tucked away in the desert living a very modest lifestyle, God had other plans for me. This year, I felt this overwhelming jolting feeling that I was settling for comfort. That I hadn’t even come close to walking in my fullest capacity of greatness, and that this calm, clarity-filled, healthy life that I was currently living, as beautiful as it was, was pulling me further and further away from the purpose-filled life that I was destined to live.
So when career opportunities started presenting themselves, especially those that scared the crap out of me, I knew it was time to embark on a new journey, and my time here was finally coming to an end.
As I pack up my things, and leave my peaceful life behind in Arizona, here’s how I have decided I will be navigating New York differently:
1. Create a self-care routine in the mornings
One of the first things I did when I realized there was a possibility I would be returning to New York was call a friend and ask her, “How do you exercise self-care?” I needed to know between the constant rush of subways, her job, attending network events and rushing from one place to the next, how she was able to create time to love on herself. Her answer was simple, “This city doesn’t have a collective curfew, so I make sure I always get up early and carve out time in the morning to find my center.”
For me, this will mean making sure I’m in the house by 9 and bed no later than 11 during the weekdays so that I can wake up during the magic hours between 4am and 6am when the city is sleeping. I plan to continue my morning self-care ritual that I currently have in Arizona which includes; opening my blinds, prayer, journaling, aromatherapy with essential oils, cooking breakfast, and listening to a few chapters of an audio book or podcast — all before checking my phone to make sure I’m grounded and centered before I plug into the real world.
2. Get to know my neighborhood, my neighbors and have staples
The one thing I’ve come to love about living in a not so major city like Scottsdale, Arizona is that people actually make eye contact and engage with you when you walk in stores, restaurants or pass each other in elevators. Most of the restaurants I frequent remember my order, and my UPS guy makes sure there is a bowl of fresh tootsie rolls in the front of the store every time I come to pick up my mail. I love the familiarity of it all.
I realize I can create a similar atmosphere in a big city like New York if I make time to really get to know my neighborhood. Frequenting the same coffee shops and bodegas often and taking time to make eye contact with people, as well as engage in conversation will help me get to know my neighbors and the people who are serving me a nice warm latte each day.
3. Arrive everywhere early
I found myself flustered a lot during the times that I lived in New York, and I’m coming to terms that it was 90% my fault. I was flustered because I was always rushing and I was always rushing because I was always running late. During the recent week I spent in New York, I arrived to all of my meetings at least a half hour early and there was a noticeable difference in how calm and confident I was versus the times I’ve shown up on time or a few minutes late. Arriving to places early, regardless of if it’s an event, important job interview, or dinner meeting, gives you time to settle in, scope out the atmosphere, and gather your thoughts which will boost your confidence and lead to better networking. Not to mention, it will leave a lasting impression.
4. A Social Circle Of Empowering Friends
While at the DC Broccoli Festival, I ran into “The Queen of Green” Yoli Ouiya who runs the healthy living blog Yoli’s Green Living. We instantly connected on our passion for self-care, crystal therapy and educating the community on healthier eating habits. When I mentioned I was toying with the idea of returning to New York, she told me she wanted to put together a sister circle of women who had similar interests in self-care and health for weekly meet ups and accountability check ins. That was music to my ears.
Aside from nurturing friendships with people who have similar lifestyle interests as I do, I also want to make sure I venture outside of my comfort zone and create friendships that empower me. I’ve sort of fell into the mentor role to a lot of people throughout my career and realized that although I had a lot of friends who looked up to me, I wasn’t establishing a lot of deeper connections and relationships with people I admired and looked up to. That is crucial in the pursuit of elevating higher.
5. Continue To Meal Prep, Indulge In Healthy Eating & Stay Fit
While we are on the subject of healthy eating, I can no longer allow myself to be on the one-meal-a-day diet that I adopted while working in the entertainment industry the previous three times I lived in New York. As entrepreneurs, at times we find ourselves so emerged in work that Breakfast and Lunch time passes us by and it’s not until late afternoon that we grab our first meal. An unhealthy meal at that. This go-round, meal prepping will be crucial to me sticking to a healthy diet. Better, healthier eating habits have become key to managing my energy, and has resulted in me being far more alert, creative and productive during the day.
I’m well aware, that grocery runs won’t be as quick and easy as they are where I’m currently living, however, the benefits of continuing my current meal prep routine will be well worth the effort.
Also, hitting the gym and releasing endorphins hasn’t just kept me uber fit, it has been the key to managing my stress levels. Finding a gym home and working out at least 3-4 times a week is going to be a crucial part of me keeping my peace.
6. Ditch The Car, Take The Subway
The last three times I lived in New York, I owned a car and instead of taking the subway, I drove, Uber’d, or Taxi’d my way around the city while racking up transportation and parking bills that rivaled rent prices.
This can not happen in 2017. I value saving for retirement, travel and living a life I don’t need to constantly escape from far too much. Taking the subway is not only much cheaper than all the other options that are available, you get places far quicker.
7. Spend More Time Networking
Dinner meetings, networking events, happy hour drinks, thank you notes and follow up emails are all crucial keys in building and nurturing your relationships in huge cities like New York. I remember being on the Rolling Out Female Success Tour in 2008 when I first heard Munson Steed proclaim, “Your network is your net worth.” I must admit, due to my social anxiety and awkwardness in social settings, I haven’t been the best networker in my career, but I am now challenging myself face my fears and go to more events, hand out more business cards and work the rooms when I return to the Big Apple.
8. Have A Thriving Personal Life
Work, life, love balance is very important to me in this stage of my life. During most of the 10 years of my career in entertainment, I didn’t date and most of my friends were my peers or business associates. Honestly, having solely these type of relationships can feel empty and almost a bit lonely in a city like New York. You find yourself only knowing bits and pieces of people and only catching up to go to parties, events and brunches together. I need something deeper to be fulfilled.
Now that my priorities in life have shifted to include more balance and the things that bring me joy, dating and getting to know people beyond surface level relationships is so important to me. This is a huge focus for me as I attempt to thrive in the next stage of my life and career.
I’m looking at New York through a different lens than I did before. My perspective has changed and my new New York chapter won’t be full of people I barely remember, at events I barely cared about. It’s going to mean something this time around.
Are you a current New Yorker or have you ever lived in New York at some point? Any suggestions on how I can navigate this fast paced scene and get the work/life balance I so dearly crave would be greatly appreciated!