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Here's Why Blogger Ashlei Lauren Refuses To Sacrifice Her Mental Health For Wealth

The key to this Pretty Hippie's hustle is balance.

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

Two years ago, Ashlei Lauren posted her very first video on YouTube as a natural hair care blogger. Since that day, the 28-year-old influencer has started multiple businesses and amassed more than 85K followers. A lot can change in a short amount of time and adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to leveling up after making a major transition, but the key to this Pretty Hippie's hustle is balance.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ashlei is a self-proclaimed workaholic in recovery. As a full-time wife, mother, songwriter, and business owner, it's not easy to find time for herself, but according to her, self-care is not an option, issa necessity. She told xoNecole, "I will work day and night until I get overwhelmed and desperately need a break. One day I sat back and analyzed my life and I put everything into perspective. My son needs a mother and my husband needs a wife and that is more important than anything else."

Courtesy of @kevcolephotography

When she's not burning Palo Santo, creating content, designing jewelry, or spending some hardcore one-on-one time with her fam, Ashlei is somewhere manifesting the life of her dreams. The blogger shared that by focusing on what she wants in life, she's found herself seeing less of what she doesn't.

"I always use basic Law of Attraction: What you put out into the universe is what you are going to get back," she explained. "So if you focus on the things that are hard or negative in your life, that's what you're going to keep attracting. If you continue to focus on the things that are going well when life gets hard, you can shift your reality to align with your thoughts."

We got a chance to sit down with Ashlei, who shared exactly how she finds balance as a sage burning mommy on a mission. Here's what she had to say:

What’s been the driving force behind all of the hats that you wear these days? What is your “why”? 

My why is my two-year-old Sun "Solar Ray". I'm determined to provide a better life for him. When he's of age to work, I don't want him to have to clock-in to a 9-5. I'm focused on establishing a brand that will remain in the family so that when I retire, Solar and my future children can take over.

What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of. 

A typical day for me would be waking up and cooking breakfast for my son and feeding our puppy, Heru. Then, after breakfast, I do learning activities and interact with Solar. After that, I check emails and IG messages and see how my pages and content are doing. Then, I plan my posts (sometimes I do this the night before) and edit pictures. If I have to take pictures, I get dolled up and play in makeup!

After that, I have to put my son down for a nap. Normally while he is napping, I edit my Youtube videos or use this time to record when it's nice and quiet. When Solar wakes from his nap, I make him lunch then we may go outside or to the neighborhood park. After my husband comes home from work, I prepare dinner and then start my studio sessions. I'm currently working on my first EP.

Courtesy of Ashlei Lauren

What are your mornings like? 

My mornings are funny! I wake up to a demanding two-year-old screaming, "Mommy I want Juice! Mommy I want to eat! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" And an occasional jump on the head if I don't get up in a timely fashion! I'm grateful to have such a happy child. We normally spend our mornings dancing and playing while getting breakfast ready. Oh, and potty training! Oh what fun! (Laughs)

How do you wind down at night? 

I wind down by rounding up my family and putting on a movie while we lay in bed. It's another way we make sure we are spending that quality time. Then, we all just pass out and fall asleep.

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

Courtesy of Ashlei Lauren

The most hectic part of my week is having to make products and ship them out in a timely fashion. Because I'm so busy working on content and doing all of the other things I mentioned, running two businesses where I physically have to make and ship the products is the most hectic for me. I do everything myself at the moment. I can't wait for the day my husband can leave his job. Then it won't be such a big load for me.

Do you practice self-care? What does that look like for you?

Absolutely! Self-care is taking the time to heal your mind, body, and spirit. I do this by taking out time for myself. Whether it be going to shop, attending a hula hoop class, having a girl's night, or just [being] secluded in a room alone with just me and my thoughts and no interruptions, self-care is always on my to-do list.

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care? 

I would say it's a necessity. If you don't have time to care for yourself, how can you properly care for someone else? I have to be 100% to give 100% to my family. If I'm stressed, it shows in the way I care for them.

Courtesy of Ashlei Lauren

"If you don't have time to care for yourself, how can you properly care for someone else? I have to be 100% to give 100% to my family. If I'm stressed, it shows in the way I care for them."

How do you find balance with:

Friends?

Honestly, I don't have many friends. I may go out with friends once a month, if that, so that doesn't really take up a lot of my time. My husband is literally my best friend and we are together for the majority of the time.

Love/Relationships?

I have been with my husband, Tevin, for eight years. We have been married for three years. Keeping the communication open and honest allows us to maintain a healthy relationship. He has an understanding of what I do and what it takes for me to reach my goals, so he is very supportive. Even if we are in the same room working on two different projects, at least we are together on the same page. We make sure we keep the romance alive in our relationship by having date nights. They are always spontaneous and never planned, but they are always so magical and remind us why we pursued each other eight years ago.

The self?

I find balance with myself by communicating with my spirit. Asking myself questions like, "Are you happy? Are you ok? Are you wasting time or progressing on your dreams?" That helps me get a sense of self and my state of being. If I feel weird about any of the questions I ask myself, then I know it's time to visit some of the areas and find out the root causes of my discomfort.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

I pull out my labradorite crystal and wear it. This is my go-to for any creative block I may be having. It hasn't failed me yet. Wearing or holding Labradorite helps you tap into a higher state of consciousness, therefore I can create on a higher conscious level. Uncertainty has always been a struggle for me. Always being too critical of myself and wondering if people will even like me are the thoughts that used to consume me. I had to learn to let go of fear because fear keeps you comfortable. In order to get different results, you have to do different things. So if I'm doing "fear" and it hasn't been working for me, I now have to do "brave" if I want to accomplish my goals and that's exactly what I am doing now.

 What does happiness mean to you?

To me, happiness means the mind being free. What I mean by that is, letting go of all hurt and anger, practicing forgiveness daily, and being aware of anything that may have caused pain or trauma and dealing with it. Once you dive deep into yourself and let go of things hiding in your soul, you can become mentally free which leads to everlasting happiness.

"I had to learn to let go of fear because fear keeps you comfortable. In order to get different results, you have to do different things. So if I'm doing 'fear' and it hasn't been working for me, I now have to do 'brave' if I want to accomplish my goals and that's exactly what I am doing now."

What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance? 

I think people forget to love themselves and love those around them. It's easy to get caught up and neglect yourself and the ones you love while chasing your dreams. I know because I've done it. Finding that balance is very important.

To keep up with Ashlei, follow her on Instagram @_AsheliLauren_!

Featured image courtesy of Ashlei Lauren.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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