April is a spark of new energy that we all need right now. This is the month when new beginnings are happening, whether you’ve prepared for them or not, and there is something truly impactful about this month. The energy is there to experience some real breakthroughs in April, and the more you are willing to be inspired by life and its natural changes and cycles, the more you can experience the joy of this month. Although Mercury will be going retrograde in April at the end of the month, there are still a lot of opportunities for success this month.
On April 6th, there is a Full Moon in Libra, and this Full Moon is the Pink Moon of the year and is facilitating love, clarity, and healing. This Full Moon is about letting go of relationship challenges and moving closer to personal growth and love. Culminations are appearing, and love is having its say. On April 11th Venus enters Gemini, and Venus in Gemini is exciting, adventurous, curious, and a little chaotic. Venus in Gemini is hard to keep grounded, and relationship dramas are more likely this month. Venus in Gemini overall is here to bring some more fun into life but also to address what needs to be addressed within relationships and create an open atmosphere for communication.
The day Taurus Season begins, April 20th, is also the day when a New Moon Solar Eclipse will be happening in Aries, and this is when things start getting moving. Clarity is hard to miss during this time, and new doors are opening. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to make any important decisions the week before, during, or after an Eclipse. However, overall moving toward the end of April is about taking note of what is truly inspiring you and lighting up your life right now. On April 3rd, Mercury moves into Taurus, and on April 21st, Mercury goes retrograde here until May 14th.
This Mercury retrograde transit will highlight where you have been investing your time and energy and what the payoff looks like right now. Re-strategizing, replanning, and learning from past mistakes is what Mercury retrogrades are all about.
With Taurus being an earth sign, a lot of these matters will have to do with finance, the reality you are seeing right now, and your sense of stability. Things can feel shaky with this Mercury retrograde. However, growth is often necessary. Overall, April is the month to focus on your intentions, move forward toward the healthiest path for yourself, and take your passions and happiness more seriously.
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your season is here, and it’s time to shine, Aries! April 2023, for you, is all about personal growth, self-love, and community. You are coming to some important revelations this month and feeling in tune with all that is. This is your month to move forward, gain the clarity you have needed, and believe in yourself. With the Sun in your sign until the 20th, the power is truly in your hands right now, and you have doors opening for you to not only meet success but enjoy your time in it as well.
The most significant transit happening for you this month is the New Moon Solar Eclipse in your sign on April 20th. This is a time when major transitions are happening for you and when you are experiencing a personal breakthrough. An Eclipse in your own sign is impactful, and this time is all about getting excited about where life is headed for you right now.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
April is an emotional month for you and a month where your heart gets to breathe, Taurus. You are feeling renewed emotionally, physically, and spiritually this month, and life is moving you into clearer waters. A lot of the energy begins to move into your sign in April, and you are claiming your blessings this month. On April 3rd, Mercury enters Taurus, and communication is especially important to you this month. You are experiencing a bridging of a gap this month and connecting with others more deeply.
Taurus Season officially begins on April 20th, and this is when things get really interesting for you. This Taurus Season is influenced by Mercury's retrograde, however, as Mercury will be retrograde in Taurus from April 21st until May 14th. While Mercury is in retrograde through your sign, you will be learning more about yourself and how you communicate that to others. This is a time of self-discovery, and something about April wants you to open your heart to the magic of life.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
April brings in new beginnings in love for you, Gemini. This is an important month of growth in your life and the start of something new in many ways. You are feeling inspired and are directing your emotions to create the life you dream of. Venus is in your sign for most of the month, and love is flowing your way effortlessly. Who you are today is worthy of love, and that’s what this month is reminding you of.
Moving further into April, your ruling planet Mercury goes retrograde on April 12th and will be retrograde in an area of your chart having to do with endings, culminations, healing, and the unknown. Some new information will be coming to the surface for you during this time, but remember to take your time to process everything and not jump to conclusions. This month is overall about listening to your intuition and trusting your heart to make the right decisions for yourself.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
The Wheel of Fortune is turning, and it is moving in your favor this month, Cancer. This is a month of personal freedom, excitement, and a little bit of luck. You are moving into new territory in April and are feeling on top of it all. You have a good flow right now, and your day-to-day is moving with more ease than it has been. This month for you is all about knowing that you deserve all the good things in life and letting them come to you.
You are ruled by the Moon, and whatever the Moon is doing is influential for you, especially when it comes to your emotional world. With a Solar Eclipse happening at the end of the month, April is game-changing for you and a time when you are breaking through and showing up. This Eclipse will be happening in your 10th house, which rules your career, and you can expect some shake-ups happening here this month. Take things day by day, and expect the best for yourself.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
April is coming together for you, Leo. You are experiencing the joy of life coming full circle and the fruition of your intentions blooming this month. The month begins with a Full Moon on April 6th, and this Full Moon for you is when a lot of important developments will be taking place. You have your support system around you and are feeling the support and nourishment in your life.
On April 20th, there is a New Moon Eclipse in fellow fire sign Aries, and this New Moon is lighting a spark in you when it comes to your sense of adventure in life. You are seeing the possibilities and the full scope of things right now, and during the Eclipse, the light bulbs are going off for you. Before the month ends, Mercury goes retrograde, and this time for you is all about replanning and restructuring your career and professional goals.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
April is all about patience, love, and contentment, Virgo. This is a month where you are feeling the love in your life and when you are happy with where things are and aren’t needing to rush anything. This month is about new life blooming for you and about recognizing your strength as the creator of your life. This is a beautiful month of emotional nourishment, and you are feeling in tune with all that is.
Some important astrological transits that are happening for you this month are the New Moon Eclipse on April 20th, happening in your 8th house of intimacy, and Mercury going retrograde the following day and moving into your 9th house of travel and adventure. With the New Moon, you can see the possibilities for deeper connection and intimacy with others, and it’s about remaining open to that. Mercury retrograde’s transit may cause some travel delays for the time being and is ultimately a time for you to refocus your energy and plan your next steps intentionally.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
April, for you, is all about taking care of your health and your mental well-being and making decisions for yourself that are based on love. Your well-being should be the priority, and inner peace is more important to you now than ever. The developments that are taking place this month are helping you address what’s within, what needs healing, and where it’s necessary to let go.
A Full Moon is happening in your sign at the beginning of the month on April 6th, and this is when you are experiencing a letting go in your life. This has to do with letting go of what doesn’t resonate with you or people who see you in a light you don’t want to be in. This month is giving you the strength to overcome the downfalls you have been moving through and to ultimately choose self-love at the end of the day, Libra.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
In April, you are claiming your peace, Scorpio. This month is about slowing down, going within, and understanding some new perspectives. You have been on a journey of the soul, developing from within and understanding yourself and your purpose better, and this month is about giving yourself time to process and plan your next steps ahead. You are more in a retreat mode this month and will be focused on your personal growth and development.
With Mercury going retrograde in your opposite sign Taurus in April, your relationships are going to be a strong focus for you over the next month and will be an area of your life with the most lessons to learn. Mercury retrograde is showing you what is causing any emotional friction or misunderstanding and how to strengthen your relationships through strengthening your understanding of self and how you go about them. This month is about getting on the right track and figuring out what that means and looks like for you.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is an inspiring and passionate month for you, Sagittarius. With the Sun in a fire sign for most of the month, you are flowing well with the energies of April, and new doors are opening up for you that you have been looking out for for a while. This is a time when inspiration is peaked, and nothing is stopping you from reaching your successes. Remember to think as much as you are acting this month, however, but ultimately enjoy the fact that things are happening for you right now.
On April 20th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in your 5th house of romance, and this New Moon is an exciting time for you, and new revelations in love are appearing. Although Eclipses’ aren’t the time to manifest or pursue new beginnings, they are a time that shows you what’s possible for you, and it’s all about feeling things through this month. April is a month of enlightenment for you and a time when you are standing in your self-empowerment.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
Love is in the air for you this month, Capricorn. Relationships, connection, and emotional harmony are the vibe of April for you, and you are feeling the love from within to without. This month is all about focusing more on all the things that are going right rather than focusing more on the things that need to be changed. Some things you can’t force, and the more you allow things to unfold in their own timing, the better this month.
With Mercury going retrograde in Taurus this month, this is influential for your love life, creativity, and sense of happiness. At the end of the month, you are moving through a new journey of understanding what brings you happiness and how it may look different now than it did before. April is reminding you that you deserve to be happy, and you deserve to pursue what you love. Make health decisions from the heart, and flow with the new currents of life.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Happy outcomes are in store for you this month, Aquarius. This is a month of joy, living in your truth, and experiencing bliss. You are feeling the pure joy that comes from receiving everything you’ve wanted and feeling the empowerment of knowing anything is possible for you in this life. With a Full Moon in Libra at the beginning of the month happening in your 9th house, what’s culminating and leaving your life is what you have been looking to release. You are feeling a weight off your shoulders moving into April, and there is a sense of freedom in that.
The New Moon Solar Eclipse happening later in the month is all about communicating effectively and showing up. Don’t be afraid to take up space and use your voice this month, and there will be plenty to say around this Eclipse. Before the month ends, Mercury goes retrograde in your 4th house of home and family, and this is the time to spend some more time at home and take care of what needs tending to right now. Remember that independence is healthy, but that loved ones and support systems are what fuel you in life as well.
April is a fresh start for you, Pisces. You are starting from square one this month and are ready to move forward into your new beginning. Although the path ahead may still feel a little blurry, know that you will see more of what you need to and gain the clarity necessary the more you take those first steps. Baby steps are okay; just make sure you are making that effort and not getting stuck in what could have been.
With Venus moving through your house of home, family, inner foundations, and sense of stability most of this month- home is where the heart is for you in April. You find more emotional harmony in your safe spaces right now and are finding the balance between what’s new and what you are already used to. There is a New Moon Eclipse happening before the month ends, and this New Moon is about finding new ways to invest in yourself and lift yourself up no matter what is going on around you.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole
Tayler Barakat is a Mystic who has studied Astrology for over a decade. She does intuitive astrology and tarot readings for people all over the world, and her work focuses on healing and empowering individuals. Follow her on Instagram @taylerbarakat_ and check out her website www.listentothevirgo.com.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
Introducing Chief Mom Officer: Where Working Moms Come First
xoNecole's Chief Mom Officer explores the 18-month post-pregnancy journey through the lens of our very own Chief Mom Officer, Shakyna Bolden. The series will serve as an inspirational and resourceful guide to help get through the early days of new motherhood as working moms knowing they are not alone in the hardships.
“I want to build my work around my life, and not my life around my work.”
I typed these words in my iPhone Notes as I fed my newborn daughter one morning during the first few weeks of having her earthside. I didn’t have much time for page-filled journal entries as my days were filled with nonstop feedings, soothing, and recovery…but I knew I needed to give those words space and life.
Prior to my maternity leave, I, like most working moms, was burning fumes juggling work and life. Since 2019, I’ve been running revenue operations here at this really cool company you may have heard of called xoNecole (hehe). I’ve been behind the scenes building our brand partnerships and negotiating deals with companies such as Ulta Beauty, Toyota, Target, Spotify, SheaMoisture, etc.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
I’ve co-produced our signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick while conceptualizing, selling, building, and distributing our original video and podcast content and podcast. The list goes on and on. I’ve helped build this small but brilliant company into what it is today, all while running my own small family. And that is not an easy feat.
In all truth, trying to be the best mom and partner I can be while also leading in my job has felt at times like a whirlwind where the rest of my life is passing me by. I don’t quite know where or when it happened, but I swear somebody pushed the fast-forward button in life, and I’m losing my edges trying to keep up.
My mind and body get so preoccupied with the management of life that my soul sits on the sidelines, waiting to take the reins and intentionally live it.
So many facets of my life, from my health and well-being to my hobbies and passions, have been placed on the back burner while tending to my young family and growing in my career has taken center stage. And for the longest time, I’ve wanted to flip the switch, but the pace of life just hasn’t let me restack my priorities.
That is, until now.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I couldn’t imagine adding more to my already full plate. Simultaneously, I was also relieved to know that my upcoming maternity leave would force me to press pause and catch my breath. Her birth in January 2023 was a much-needed reset, to say the least.
My maternity leave was the first time since 2019 that I had a second for dreams that were buried in the back of my heart to bubble up to the surface of my reality. I got a taste of what it was like to solely focus on my well-being and my home life. And I liked it a lot. My healing. My recovery. Sitting and really taking quiet time with God to search the unattended areas in the garden of my life.
I was cooking homemade meals on the regular and actually sitting down with my family at the table to eat. As grueling as those first newborn weeks can be, I was enjoying the long-awaited shift in my priorities; and I wanted that shift to stick. I didn’t want it to fade away after my maternity leave.
I want to build my work around my life and not my life around my work.
As a leader of an organization that speaks to millions of women every day about their well-being (and also in leading a team of majority women), I feel it’s my responsibility to carry this shift forward boldly. This is why I’m launching a new column here at xoNecole: Chief Mom Officer!
As I return to work full-time this month from my maternity leave, I want to regularly share my experience of trying to harmonize work and life. As an audience, you all share your raw, unfiltered journeys with us. For years, they’ve undoubtedly inspired me. I want to show up and do the same because I know this shift in my life will be quite the journey.
So for all my Chief Mom Officers—those of us who are constantly merging the imperfect and chaotic worlds of leadership in the office and wearing our crowns at home—I invite you to come on this journey with me and celebrate the ebbs and flows in how we show up for each.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image courtesy of Shakyna Bolden