If memory serves me correctly, Cassie was 20 when she first officially made her way onto the music scene as a newly-signed Bad Boy artist. Her first single was "Me & U". I remember watching the video and being like, "She's cute." But for me, it wasn't until I saw her in the moviePerfect Match, starring as the love interest of Terrence J. a few years back, that I was like, "Look at Cassie. She's grown grown." It was then that I noticed her having the kind of sexiness and style that puts you—well, at least me—in the mindset of Rihanna in some of the very best ways possible.
But you know what? These past several months, Cassie has captured my attention in a way like never before. First, she got mad respect from me for how graciously she supported Diddy during the loss of Kim Porter—a true love of his life and the mother of three of his children (although he also claims Al B. Sure's son Quincy as one of his own too). Something else that I really esteem about Cassie after this year is the fact that, although Black Twitter has been incessantly lightin' Diddy up for missing out on a good thing (being Cassie), she hasn't said much, if anything, about their relationship. Instead, she's been focused on her new life and new normal—her relationship with her man and now fiance' Alex Fine, and preparing for the entrance of their baby girl. There is something about how Cassie's been letting her Instagram account do the talking that has come off us mature, dignified and totally self-aware. Not only that but she seems to be at peace, living in the moment and very much in love.
You can see all of this resonate via the post that she shared of her engagement. Even though she turned 33 yesterday—Happy Belated Birthday, sis!— you'll see that her caption says that it was actually Saturday (8/24) that was her best day ever. If you make the time to check the video out (and also scroll on her page to check out some shots of her baby bump), it's very apparent why that is the case.
As I watched and oooed and ahhed with all of the others who have caused Cassie to trend on Twitter today, I thought about the fact that, while most of us will probably never be within fifty feet of her, there is something about her late 2018-2019 glow up that hits home for us all. In some ways, she's been the best kind of teachable moment. For me, here are the six lessons that observing her and how she moves has taught me.
Lesson #1. Do Something Different to Get Something New
I've written in the entertainment lane long enough to have learned to be very careful about commenting on famous people's personal lives like I actually know them and have all of the facts. Therefore, I have no clue what the true inner workings of Cassie and Diddy's relationship were; this includes not knowing if she was fine with being in a decade-plus relationship that didn't move to the point of them jumping the broom. However, what I do know is that the minute that she—at least to us—quietly made her exit out of that dynamic, it wasn't too long after that we started to see Mr. Fine. Some party shots from last December caused a lot of us to be like "Oh?" and now, eight months later—she's about to be a wife and a mom.
So yeah, I don't think that any of us need to know the details to be able to come to the confident conclusion that if you want something different than what you currently have going on, you've got to be willing to switch some things up—to let some things go, to try something new, to be open to leaving the past behind you. That's my first takeaway from Ms. Cassie's ever-evolving journey.
Lesson #2. If It’s Not Working…IT’S NOT WORKING
I once loved a man for 10 years. I spoke with him not too long ago and if there's one thing that we can agree on, it's the fact that we actually loved, and still love, each other. The challenge is that I desire to be married someday and he? He has no clue what he wants to do in that arena. That's the thing. Unless you've been in something similar, it's probably hard for you to understand that just because you may be involved with someone and the relationship doesn't go how you planned (or others think it should go), that doesn't automatically or necessarily mean the relationship sucked or the guy is a jerk. Sometimes you simply want different things and, because feelings are there, it can be hard to let one another go so that you can get to what you truly desire.
What makes you finally walk out? I won't speak for Cassie, but I'll speak for me. Sometimes loving another individual teaches you how to love yourself more, better or differently than you did before knowing them. And when that love has solidified, you can love yourself enough to say, "I don't know what the future has in store, but what I do know is this isn't serving me anymore. So, I love you, but I love me more. And since I am single and my top priority, I need to do what's best for me, regardless of what you think about it or even how it affects you, really."
Somebody needs to hear this loud and clear. You can still love someone and know that since something is not working, it's an act of love—love for your future and whatever the other person needs to learn without you being so present in their lives—to move on. PLEASE DO.
Lesson #3. The Right Man Is Ready, Willing and Totally Able
The Universe is both cryptic and hilarious. Right around the time when Cassie posted a pic of her then-boyfriend-now-fiance', I had an article published on here entitled "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material". I don't know if Diddy is a commitment-phobe or marriage just ain't on his menu (yet). At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. What I do know is the third lesson that Cassie has taught me, actually comes from her man this time. It was basically in December that they went public and, not even a year later, this man literally saddled up, rode up to his lady, got down on one knee and sealed the deal. It didn't take 10 years, or even five or one. He knew what he wanted and he made it happen. And clearly, a part of what he wants is to be a husband. Cassie's husband.
A lot of us waste time with a man, not because he isn't a good man, but because he doesn't want what we do or he isn't at a point in his life to prepare for it. If we stay anyway and, as a direct result, only end up wasting more time, really…whose fault is that? That's my third lesson. (Thank you, Alex.)
Lesson #4. Timing Really Is Everything
I write a lot, so I can't remember exactly when or where I said this, but I know that I've shared that one thing about lessons of the heart, no matter how great or heart-wrenching the experience may have been, is they all are able to teach you some things that you probably wouldn't have learned any other way.
Again, I don't know Cassie, our paths have never crossed in any shape, form or fashion, but I'm willing to bet some pretty good money that she'll tell you that the woman she was at 20 is totally different than the woman she is now at 33. And yes, her past relationship(s) play a direct role in that. And because of what she's learned, she is able to take that wisdom into her upcoming marriage and her new season of motherhood. For that alone, she is grateful for the experiences and the growth. It was all preparation. All of it.
Speaking of motherhood, I must say that when I looked at her baby bump, I thought about something I heard someone say about how to tackle feelings of low self-esteem—"Automatically, you are a fighter and a winner because out of all of the sperm that made it to your mom's egg, it was you. YOU." Keeping that point in mind, while looking at Cassie, I thought, "Now that she's in the kind of relationship that she desires in this stage and season of her life, love is birthing new life."
Lesson #4. The right kind of love isn't just about feelings. It's also about well-placed timing too. You can't do it all. Just do your part. Let timing do the rest. As timing sees fit. Believe you me, it knows some things that you absolutely do not.
Lesson #5. What You Seek Is Seeking You
I don't know the full history of Cassie and Alex. I do know that it's been reported, countless times, that he was hired to be her trainer once upon a time. There's been plenty of speculation about what transpired since that initial meeting, but when I briefly revisited all of the gushing that Alex did on his Instagram at the news of Cassie's pregnancy, all I could think about is the Rumi quote—"What you seek is seeking you."
Sometimes, the thing that we hope or even try and make happen with someone isn't working out because they aren't truly what we're looking for. What I mean by that is, well, my favorite quote by author and speak Leo Buscaglia expresses it all perfectly:
"As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming."
If who you're with doesn't line up with what you want, always remember that real love is about your constantly evolution and the Universe seeks to bring you what you truly desire—and need. If the person you're with can't honor you in that way, the Universe will beckon you to look elsewhere.
Maybe towards your trainer. Maybe somewhere else. #winkwink
Lesson #6. Love Does Not Hurt. Love Nurtures, Heals and Fulfills.
Did you see how BIG Cassie's smile was at the end of the engagement video? No two people are perfect, no love relationship either. But what I haven't seen since the entrance of Mr. Fine is anxiety, confusion or pain. Cassie really does seem happy. No, she seems like she has joy. Happy is fleeting. Joy is a state of being.
And if that is what you want, no matter how much you love or even want to be with someone, if joy isn't coming your way, you've got to be willing to comply with whatever needs to happen so that you can get to the kind of love—and lover—that you truly deserve. A love that nurtures. A love that heals. A love that fulfills.
So yes, Ms. Soon-To-Be Cassie Fine, I'm happy for you today like I'm one of your homies or something. Because in many ways, you represent the love journey that may of us are on. And you are living proof that if we're willing to learn, apply and wait, good will come our way. Enjoy all of the blessings of this new season. We're rooting for you, Alex and that sure-to-be beautiful baby girl of yours. We really and truly are.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Cassie Is Out Here Living Her Best Life & We Love It
What The Ciara's, Cassie's & Karrueche's Of The World Have Shown Us About Moving On & Moving Up
Cassie Says She Owes Her Comeback To Black Women
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Slow Mornings Are More Than A Trend, Here’s Why You Should Add Them To Your Routine
Living in a world where we’re over-consuming and over-producing information and content, it can feel like some trending topics are complete fads. While that may be true, some of these ideas are helpful and can greatly impact our lives, one being slow mornings. Slow mornings can look different to everyone, but the general idea is to counter the fast-paced lifestyle and create more time for ourselves, lessen anxiety, and prioritize self-care.
I’m a huge advocate for adopting this type of wellness practice into your morning routine. It has completely changed the game for me. Prior to adopting this routine, I’d wake up with just enough time to get ready and go. I never prioritized time to sit and eat, dance a little as I get ready, or any type of wiggle room for the unexpected (I’m sure you can imagine the anxiety that builds when something out of the norm happens). Most times I felt flustered and disorganized, which started to affect my mood, productivity, and my mindset. I knew I needed to make some changes.
I started to incorporate more mood-boosting activities and became realistic about how much time I actually needed to get my day started. If I’m being honest, my slow mornings rely heavily on time management. I try my best to at least get seven hours of sleep and set my alarm early enough to get ready for work at a smooth and intentional pace without interrupting my rest. My work days typically start with music, my favorite podcast or meditation as I get ready, a cup of decaffeinated tea instead of coffee, setting intentions and affirmations, then prayer before my drive to work.
I always get to work early with enough time to sit and eat, review work materials, prep, and brief my colleagues. Slow mornings allow me to gain more without losing anything.
If this hasn’t already inspired you to switch things up, here are six more reasons you should incorporate a slow morning routine.
Slow Mornings Can Work for Everyone
Slow mornings rely mostly on being intentional with what you choose to prioritize and moving at a pace that doesn’t feel rushed. It’s less about the strict routine of waking up at 5 a.m. every day, as that is not realistic for everyone. I have a very flexible schedule so every day looks different and no day starts at the same time. Typically, I think about how much time I have in the morning and prioritize my mornings around that. One thing I do regardless of the time is play something motivational, express gratitude, pray, and say my affirmations. It’s small acts that make a big difference. However, if I start my day a little later, I can do more with my morning like journaling and working out.
Slow mornings allow you flexibility and take the pressure of feeling like you have to do so much with the time you have, to me that defeats the purpose. It’s more about making sure you pour time into yourself without pressure or feeling rushed.
Slow Mornings Reduce Stress and Anxiety
As I mentioned, slow mornings take the chaos, anxiousness, and stress out of planning and getting ready for your day. Slow mornings cause you to start your day in a relaxed and calm way by prioritizing the thing that makes you feel good. Taking the time to physically, mentally, and/or emotionally prepare yourself leaves you better equipped to take on the day.
Slow Mornings Create Time to Pour Into You
I’ve stopped putting myself last. I’ve given up the notion that everything and everyone has to be catered to before I’m able to do that for myself. I remind myself that I can’t give what I don’t have and if I‘m not at my best, I can’t give my best. While I know this, I also needed my actions to reflect it.
Implementing slow morning routines creates the space for you to pour into yourself, fuel yourself, and be more intentional. It makes you examine what your needs are and what focusing on your well-being can do.
Slow Mornings Reduce the Risk of Burnout
Slowing your mornings down will also inspire you to slow down in general. The notion of being busy and glorifying a never-ending workday will seem less appealing. Once you realize the power of being intentional, you’ll adopt this routine in all aspects of your life. This will help reduce your chances of burning out because you have better workload management, a clear mental space, and awareness of when you’re doing too much.
In general, I think we are all overstimulated by our influences and technology, but eventually, the feeling of constant rush and over-exertion will start to fade.
Slow Mornings Increase Productivity
If you take your time to wake up and implement healthy habits, you’ll feel more energized and creative. As I mentioned before, slow mornings allow us to get better at managing time. It helps us focus on what’s in front of us which increases productivity. I used to measure my productivity by how much I can get done, which is a race in itself. Instead, I focus on the quality and intention behind it.
Slow mornings allow you to spend time giving things the time and effort it needs, without falling behind.
It Boosts Your Confidence
If you take the time to affirm yourself in the mornings and do activities that make you feel good, then you’ll do good.
Creating a morning routine that prioritizes time management, peace, and intentional living will make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment and success. It increases our faith and belief in ourselves to do things and do them well.
Slow mornings won’t look the same for everyone, but creating time to prioritize yourself and live more intentionally may be the subtle change you need to improve your well-being. It’s okay to slow things down and get off autopilot. Do what’s best for you and know that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
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Featured image by LaylaBird/Getty Images