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Our xoTribe Members Sound Off On Doing Life While Social Distancing

Here are some ways a few of our xoTribe Members are dealing with the pandemic pressure.

Human Interest

If there was ever a better time to blast Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", mind your business and drink your water, now would probably be it. With the news of "the 'Rona" running rampant across the country, life as we know it is shifting hard and shifting fast. And in light of major sporting events, musical concerts, giant festivals, mega movie premieres and even the ultimate Girls' Night In being affected, some may be wondering: just WHERE are we supposed to go and just HOW are we supposed to handle this?

Well, whether you choose to sage and meditate, enjoy all your fave quarantine snacks and watch Netflix, or sip wine and twerk to Meg Thee Stallion in the mirror, there are numerous ways to cope and get a handle on your anxiety during these trying and uncertain times. And if you haven't quite found what works for you just yet but you're tired of coronavirus upsetting you and your homegirl, check out some of the ways a few of our xoTribe Members are dealing with the pandemic pressure.

Savannah Taider

Age: 24

Occupation: Freelance writer & assistant

Where were you when you first heard about coronavirus/COVID-19?

"I first heard about it in early January. I was visiting a friend in Atlanta and I remember him standing in front of the TV watching the news. He briefly joked about the virus but I honestly didn't pay attention to what was going on. I absolutely hate watching the news and discussing it isn't really my cup of tea. I want to talk about positive things."

Are you self-quarantining?

"I am but that's because I'm a homebody. Ironically though, I live in Belgium and now that the whole country is forced to quarantine, I suddenly feel the urge to go out and party. All jokes aside, things are getting pretty serious and everyone is freaking out here. Almost all stores are closed, some people are forced to work from home, so I'd rather be social distancing until the situation is resolved."

Are you able to work from home?

"I am, thankfully! But truth be told, I'm taking advantage of this crisis to rest and work on my new book."

What's your quarantine self-care routine to alleviate stress?

"My curtains and windows fully opened to let the fresh air in, a long hot shower to relax my muscles, a lot of naps, books and binge-watching my favorite TV show (Jane the Virgin). I'm also trying my best to avoid social media. I had enough of COVID-19 already."

What's on your "Quarantine Self-Care" playlist?

"Vedo - 'You Got It', Phony Ppl ft. Megan Thee Stallion - 'Fkn Around', and ocean sounds. I've been listening to a lot of ocean sounds. It helps me relax."

Quwana M.

Age: 37

Occupation: Admission specialist, Higher Education

Where were you when you first heard about Coronavirus/COVID-19?

"I think I was at work when I first heard of pandemic originally [detected in] China."

Are you self-quarantining?

"Yes. I'm self quarantining."

Are you able to work from home?

"Yes. I'm working from home and hate it."

What's your quarantine self-care routine to alleviate stress?

"I don't have a stress reliever quarantine routine. But I'm in dire need of something, my anxiety is through the roof. The uncertainty of tomorrow is real!"

What's on your "Quarantine Self-Care" playlist?

"Podcasts are my go-to heavily this week. Expeditiously, Earn your Leisure, and xoNecole Happy Hour."

Teisha Leshea

Courtesy of Teisha Leshea

Age: 33

Occupation: Claims Processor for a children's hospital

Where were you when you first heard about coronavirus/COVID-19?

"I've been hearing about this since last December. I didn't really think anything of it so I was probably living my life as normal. With the 24-hr news cycle, days can run together. I was probably at home."

Are you self-quarantining?

"No, I'm an introvert so my life isn't different from three weeks ago. I've always had healthy hygiene habits but as of late I've been disinfecting and wiping down everything even more."

Are you able to work from home?

"No."

What's your quarantine self-care routine to alleviate stress?

"Setting boundaries and not allowing my mind to be engulfed in the wrong information."

What's on your "Quarantine Self-Care" playlist?

"Nipsey Hussle, Summer Walker, Ari Lennox and of course xoHappy Hour podcast."

Courtney Clardy

Age: 29

Occupation: Counselor/Therapist (Social Worker)

Where were you when you first heard about Coronavirus/COVID-19?

"I reside in Nashville, TN and the day before, I heard about a case of COVID-19 being in a surrounding county. My county, as well as others, were affected by a very vicious tornado. I was at home when I saw the news about the case via social media. I will admit that I heard about it vaguely way before it hit the US but never paid much attention to it."

Are you self-quarantining?

"I am, in variations. I currently provide therapy services in a shelter to women and children who are survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, etc. However, I've found balance in going to work, staying home, and being socially engaged. Social engagements are very slim during this time. So I'm mainly home and at work, however, that is mainly my everyday routine."

Are you able to work from home?

"At this time, I'm expected to report to work until further notice."

What's your quarantine self-care routine to alleviate stress?

"When I am able to self-quarantine, I spend time talking to friends and family, binge-watching Hulu/Netflix, prayer, meditation, and affirmations. I also give myself the space to go out if I feel led to. For example, I went to dinner with friends yesterday to celebrate a birthday. Finding this balance and honoring myself in the balance allows me not to be overwhelmed by worry or fear."

What's on your "Quarantine Self-Care" playlist?

"It depends on my mood. It can range from worship music, R&B vibes, or Meg Thee Stallion ratchet."

Dayana Preval 

Age: 26

Occupation: Healthcare, but my passion is in content creating.

Where were you when you first heard about Coronavirus/COVID-19?

"I don't remember exactly where I was, but most likely I was at home scrolling on social media. It became more serious to me when I went to work and people started testing positive for the virus."

Are you self-quarantining?

"I still have to work, but I am off four days a week due to my schedule. For the most part, I stay home and only leave the house for small things where I know there won't be a lot of people."

Are you able to work from home?

"No, I'm unable to work from home."

What's your quarantine self-care routine to alleviate stress?

"Honestly, I don't think I really created a self-care routine during this time. If anything, I'm stressed and trying to remain positive because there's a lot of transformations happening in my life. And this virus has put a halt on the world."

What's on your "Quarantine Self-Care" playlist?

"I've been keeping busy with creating, so I've mainly been listening to Jhene Aiko's latest album and The Photographsoundtrack."

Longing for a sense of community in the midst of social distancing and self-quarantining, click here to learn more about how you can join our new xoTribe Members Community app today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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