Have you ever felt so uncomfortable in your life that nothing makes sense anymore?
You keep falling in the same type of relationships with the same type of men. Your career seems to be going nowhere.
You no longer feel comfortable in your own home. And you keep waking up every day saying to yourself, "This can't be all there is to life."
Well, that's what happened to me over the past couple of years. Something kept telling me I was off my path and I need to do something to get back on it. Call it God, call it intuition, or just a general sense of jadedness – that thing was clawing at my soul to the point where I couldn't ignore it any longer.
After a long trip home to Jamaica for some much needed rest and recovery from my LA life, the discomfort led to clarity. The call to travel became embedded in my heart and as soon as I returned home, I started a secret plan for 2018. I would give myself a year to plan and save and then I would make my move.
Oh, but we all know that's not how callings work. As I got back into my the groove of daily life, started a new job, and worked on my plan, the sick feeling of discomfort I thought I abated crept back up.
God was asking me, "Girl, if I planted this seed in your heart, why don't you trust me to help it grow and thrive?"
I realized it was either now or never. I had no children, no significant other, and no major commitments. All that was holding me back was an apartment full of furniture and I knew there was no way I was going to let "things" that had no real value to me hold me back. Unable to suppress my inner voice anymore, I gave in and accelerated the plan.
All I had to do was get rid of my stuff. If you are looking to do the same thing, here are a few ways I got the job done:
1. Part Ways with Things You Don't Need
The first and most important thing you have to do when downsizing is deciding what you want to keep. For me, this was easy. I knew I was leaving my apartment with one carry-on suitcase and a backpack. That was it. OK, maybe it wasn't that easy. What do you do when you have five favorite dresses, but you only have space for one? And it better be a versatile one. And what if I want to trade out clothes after a few months? Do I send a box to my mom's or a friend's?
After much contemplation, I decided that very few items needed to be kept in storage (meaning mom's or a friend's) - only winter clothes, a few sentimental things (journals, photos, etc.), and important documents. Everything else will have to find a new home.
2. Sell Furniture in a Forum You Trust
Let's face it, selling furniture/household items was not fun. Between posting, reposting, chasing down leads, and waiting for people who never showed up, the process can make any sane person just want to open a window and throw everything outside like it was an ex-lover's favorite things.
And if that wasn't enough stress, as a single woman and living alone, having random people show up to my house was a huge safety concern. Because of this, I decided to only use forums I was familiar with. Groups on Facebook I've chatted in before, my own FB page, and FB's marketplace were my go-to's. Facebook was my go-to for selling everything. Being able to check a person's profile or knowing that we have common friends eased many of my fears.
To take precautions further, I only gave away my building address (not apt #) to most people and met them downstairs if they purchased items that were easy for me to carry. When I sold my large farm table to a young man, I asked a friend to hang out with me when the purchaser wanted to come by. I also tried my best to schedule meetings in the mornings before work or the early evenings.
Being safe while inviting strangers into your home should be your number one priority. Don't let desperation cause you to put yourself at risk.
3. Donate Towels, Sheets, Pillows & Blankets to an Animal Shelter
This was a daunting one for me. What in the world do I with my old towels, sheets, blankets, and pillows? Most things I have I knew I could sell but who the heck wants my old dingy towels? Thank God for Google!
Not knowing what to do, I looked up ways to recycle these items. Out of all the ways to reuse these items, donating them to an animal shelter made the most sense. Animal shelters use these items for animal bedding, to dry them after cleaning, and other necessities. I've never been a pet person but it definitely brings me comfort to know that my old blankets can help provide a comfy home to animals in need.
4. Sell, Trade, Pass Down & Donate Used Clothing
From what I've read, donating used clothing to thrift stores can be tricky. Most clothes you donate never make it to the sales floor. So, in order to minimize the chances of my clothes ending up in the landfill anyway, I tried these options first:
- Sell/Trade: Crossroads Trading Company is one of my favorite thrift stores in LA. They do an amazing job of curating items people will actually buy again. Knowing that I buy most of my items directly from designer showrooms, I knew heading here first would be a good bet. Better yet, with the money I made from the sale, I bought my carry-on and backpack for the trip. Can you say win-win?!
- Pass Down: During this process, I totally forgot that I had a little sister who loves fashion as much as me and wears the same size, but while rattling off my list of to-dos she quickly reminded me fi ship some of di clothes dem. PERF!
- Donate: Most of my clothing and shoes (and some household items) went to the Good Shepherd Center for Women and Children.
5. Sell Books to a Used Bookstore
Since living in DTLA, I have completely fallen in love with the Last Bookstore. Growing up, I loooved bookstores but I've never been in a used bookstore. I thought they were just fun mystery locations in fantasy films. The Last Bookstore is everything in a mystery movie come to life and then some. It married my love for books with an adventure. So when looking for a place to give my favorite reads a second life, I knew exactly where to go. What you get for the books isn't much but it's a lot better than nothing.
6. Give It Away for Free
When all else fails, list your stuff for free. When I was down to the wire and less than 24 hours away from jumping on a plane, I put up a sign in my apartment lobby and listed all the items I had left for free. At that point, just the mere fact that someone was willing to come and physically move things that I no longer had the energy to haggle with people for was enough for me. I was beat!
I wish I could say I made it through this whole process with minimal waste but to my dismay, I think a fair amount of items still ended up in the trash. I really felt I failed the whole mission of minimal waste because of it but I can say I gave it a hell of an effort.
My first stop? San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. I can't wait to see what this new life has in store for me.
*Originally published on For Laura Gennie
Donalee Curtis is an Island girl on the go, exploring her love for writing and culture while traveling the world. Check her out at donaleecurtis.com. Keep up with her journey around the globe by following her on Instagram and subscribing to her YouTube channel.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo courtesy of Tamara Taylor
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image courtesy of Tamara Taylor