This Publicist Shares How Mothering Her Son Has Helped Her Mother Herself
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, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
There has been a lot of talk lately in our women circles about learning how to not overextend ourselves. The narrative of being "Black Superwoman'' has been ingrained in us for as long as we can remember. But I have to admit, WE ARE POPPIN' out here. Black women have been killing the game with being the most educated demographic, breaking the glass ceiling in corporate america, dominating body positivity in media/entertainment, running our own businesses, leading organizations to social justice change, and being amazing mothers to beautiful children. I mean the list goes on and on. While we have been proving for generations the resilience black women have, we still have to recognize when it is time to focus on ourselves instead of the world.
DeVynne Starks, 26, is a full-time Biomedical Targeted Marketing Program Manager for one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations and runs her own boutique PR agency, Cultiv8 PR. DeVynne understands what it feels like to work hard towards her career, while also being a full-time mom to her son. When DeVynne became a mother, she noticed that women, especially black women, experienced 'Mommy Burnout' but very few people were having the conversation. DeVynne has been very intentional and passionate about helping other moms recognize the signs of 'Mommy Burnout' and how to master balance. DeVynne believes "it's time that moms learn to take time for themselves without feeling guilty."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
In 2018, DeVynne Starks launched a digital platform called DeVynne Intervention. This blog was a way to build community with other moms where they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of motherhood. "As a black woman, you feel pushed or obligated to be successful and leave your mark in this world. Whether that means you are looking to be the first at something or the best at something. But when you are a mother, you have to figure out how to not become so distant from your child that the child ends up feeling like they are not a priority."
For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to speak with entrepreneur DeVynne about motherhood, prioritizing self-care, and the importance of keeping your faith.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?
DeVynne Starks: Pressing pause has been new for me. Four years ago, after the birth of my son, if you would ask me what balance was, I would look back and ask, "What is that?" But when I realized I was doing so many things and not carving out time for myself, that was when I needed to take a moment and reassess. I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced.
What are your mornings like?
With my mornings, I start with prayer and giving myself time to talk to God. Then I practice stillness, to be intentional about listening to God and hearing what He has to say. After that, I try to give myself 30 minutes of work out time. Whether that's jogging or walking around the neighborhood.
How do you wind down at night?
I love to give myself a good facial and read a good book. I also like to wind down with my son. We will watch his favorite cartoon or play with action figures. Any moment where I can dedicate one on one time with him, he really appreciates it.
"I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
When you have a busy week, what's the most hectic part of it?
The most hectic part of the day is honestly sifting through emails. It took me a really long time to not allow my inbox to negatively affect my day. I have been learning to just say "no". Saying "no" is definitely a skill you learn over time as a business owner. With practice, it gets easier and easier.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
Giving my mind and eyes a break has really been helping me. There are days when I am on the grind! So stepping away from my computer and doing something peaceful is big for me. Daily facials are definitely my me-time.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
Even though it may seem like being busy is the right thing to do, it can really physically drain you and stress your body out. To start off, what has helped me is incorporating micro self-care techniques. One technique I use is journaling. I used to write a lot before having my son, so now I squeeze in time at the end of day to self-reflect and write it all down. This is my way to take care of myself while still being busy. I also suggest making time to just be by yourself with no shame or interruption. I had to learn how to utilize the village around me.
When I first became a mom I would tell myself, I got this! But while you do have this, you still deserve to book a hotel for the weekend, even if you stay in the room the whole time (laughs).
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
How do you find balance with:
With my friends, we check in on each other every week. A lot of my friends are entrepreneurs and business owners. So it can get tricky to talk to each other often. But having that line of open communication has helped us keep that balance in staying connected.
So what I have noticed is that, the areas that you give intentional energy to, those are the areas that thrive. Granted, finding balance in dating can be difficult, but it's about being available to be intimate with someone and share quality time with them. This has helped me personally to separate from being a parent to a woman who is currently dating. Finding balance within relationships also means knowing who you are outside of them.
I have been thinking about different ways on how I can be more healthy. Last year, I was able to lose 50 pounds in less than five months. What I do now are daily tea detoxes in conjunction with the keto diet. I have been feeling so much better and I have way more energy. Setting my healthcare goals and sticking to them has really set me up for success across the board.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I really pay attention to my thoughts. I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. So changing your thoughts to what you want in life allows you to connect to your intuition. So when I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me.
"I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. When I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me."
And honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Success means that you understand that you are going to fail at some part in your journey. But you are resilient enough that those failures are minor and they don't become huge obstacles for you. Before I became a mother, success to me meant just getting through the day. But now success for me is striving to be the best version of myself in order to be a better mother for my son. As far as happiness, I would say, I am still navigating that.
Every day I am learning what truly makes me happy and I try to be grateful for all the good things that are happening in my life.
To learn more about DeVynne, follow her on Instagram here. Read more about how career women find balance in xoNecole's "Finding Balance" series here.
'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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
Mo’Nique Opens Up About Leaving The 'Independent Woman' Narrative Behind In Her Marriage
There has been an ongoing conversation on social media around the term “independent woman.” While it once was a badge of honor to call yourself an independent woman, who else was singing I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T at the functions? Many women are now slamming that narrative. Just recently, our girl Ciara received massive backlash online following the release of her song "For Da Girls" because she was seemingly praising women “who don’t need no man,” and some social media users thought the song's message could be seen as a contradiction because she is happily married to Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
Although Ciara didn't publicly address the flak, the topic of traditional values in marriage became front and center again when Mo'Nique shared her thoughts on how the concept of an independent woman could cause a struggle in the power dynamic of one's relationship and why she felt it wasn't suitable for her union with Sidney Hicks.
The veteran comedian has been married to Hicks since 2006, and the couple shares two children: twins David and Johnathon Hicks. In an interview with Vulture, Mo'Nique, who was promoting her new Netflix comedy special My Name is Monique, revealed the factors that led to her decision stemmed from the effects she "witnessed" in her parents' relationship and her own with Hicks.
Mo'nique on Instagram: "HEY MY SWEET BABIES❤️❤️ HAPPY HAPPY EVERYTHING!!! HAVE AN AMAZING DAY MY BABIES! Throwback from VEGAS RESIDENCY I LOVE US 4REAL"
Mo'Nique On The Independent Woman Concept And Its Effects
The 55-year-old told the publication that growing up, she would see her mother --while juggling a job and other household duties-- cook regularly to ensure that her father had something to eat when he came home from work and iron his clothes.
But as Mo’Nique would describe, things quickly became a "competition" in the pair's relationship after deciding that they would "do the same thing" because they were both working individuals.
"There was a time when we were coming up … My mother made sure dinner was on the table Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. My father never went without an ironed shirt. It was just things that I watched my mother do, and both of my parents worked. Then we went through this era of, 'Well if I work like you working, you could do the same thing I can do.' Then it became a struggle, and it became a competition in the household. I was a part of that. That's what I knew. That's what I witnessed," she said.
Further in the conversation, Mo'Nique disclosed that as she became an adult and started watching television programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show, she often heard messages of "independence and empowerment," especially for women, so much so she incorporated that into life.
Despite being influential and financially well-off, The Parkers star added that the downfall of that message was that it could be an incredibly lonely experience.
"When I started watching Oprah Winfrey … Oprah never said these words, let me be clear. Oprah Winfrey never said, 'You don't need a man.' We watched her action. We watched her talk about independence and empowerment," Monique explained. "We watched that, and we followed that. If that's what the most powerful Black woman is doing in this country, then that's what we should be doing, too. We got involved in it, and we watched it, and we followed it, and then a lot of us found ourselves very lonely. We had all the power, we had all the money, but we went to bed very lonely."
Mo'Nique On Her Marriage to Sidney Hicks
After pondering about the life she wanted for herself and Hicks in the future, Mo'Nique expressed she happily allowed her husband to take the lead because she knew her place and how beneficial both parties were to the union.
"So, I had to say to myself, I want something different. When I'm 80 years old, I want to sit on the porch and hold hands, and rock back and forth in a rocking chair, and watch our great-grandbabies play. That's the happy place for me, in knowing my place. I don't have to pee standing up. I can sit down like a lady should. If there's a strange sound in the house in the middle of the night, I don't have to jump up and take a flashlight. I have a man that does that. When we pull up somewhere, I don't open up my car door. I have a man to do that," the Precious star explained.
Although Mo'Nique admitted that she did struggle to relinquish the ideas that came along with being an independent woman because it was ingrained in her life at a young age, all that changed was when she found her "true love" with Hicks.
She wrapped up her sentiments by saying many could experience that shift once they, too, are with a partner they love.
While this concept around the independent woman may continue to spark debates, it's always best to just do what suits you and your relationship.
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Feature image by @therealmoworldwide/ Instagram