Erica Cobb On Why Pressing Pause Is Essential To Leveling Up Your Productivity Game
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.
With a husband, a home, a successful job, and a salary that more than sustained her, Chicago radio girl Erica Cobb was living her absolute best life. However, one thing was missing: her happiness. It wasn't long before an unexpected lay-off led her life into a series of unfortunate events that ended in divorce, a departure from her identity, and eventually her hometown.
Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together and in an intimate interview with xoNecole, Erica got real about how losing everything more than a decade ago helped her manifest a life she could have never imagined. She explained that it was only after being let go from her job on the radio that she was able to peel back the layers and define how she really wanted to show up in the world, "I just started to really take some risks and bet on myself––[knowing] that I was going to be enough, regardless of what I was putting forward if what I'm putting forward is truly who I am [but] I had to have enough courage in order to do that."
Since transitioning from radio to on-camera journalism, Erica moved to Colorado, met and married the love of her life, secured a full-time gig with Daily Blast Live booking interviews with subjects like Michelle Obama and proved that there is so much power in pressing pause to reassess your purpose. We talked to the TV host about the self-work it takes to manage the life of her dreams and thanks to this unique set of coping mechanisms, she isn't letting anything get her out of alignment.
Along with catching up on The Real Housewives and practicing Kundalini yoga a few times a week, Erica says that seeing a therapist and taking mandatory breaks are essential to the self-care routine that keeps both her mental health and her happiness in-check. She told xoNecole, "I understand now that if I need a break, that is not an option. It's mandatory. So, I have to give myself permission to take a break, which is the reason why I do tend to engage in like inconsequential programming or giving myself permission to do things and be different versions of myself. "
In this installment of "Finding Balance", Erica shares how putting her phone down is self-care and why hiring an affordably priced personal chef to do your weekly meal prep is a simple luxury you didn't know you needed.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause?
Erica Cobb: I wasn't necessarily going after my goals in terms of my job because it was serving a purpose for me, or it was true to what was going to be the best me or make me happy. I was doing it because society was telling me, this is the way it's supposed to look, this is the way you're supposed to act. And when everything fell apart, I realized that so many of the decisions that I had made in my life were based on keeping this image alive and it wasn't based on me really being connected with my purpose. Somewhere along the way I really lost that.
"When everything fell apart, I realized that so many of the decisions that I had made in my life were based on keeping this image alive and it wasn't based on me really being connected with my purpose. Somewhere along the way I really lost that."
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.
I generally exercise in the morning because if I don't exercise in the morning, it doesn't happen. I'd just get up and say, just do it. Don't even think about it, just do it. So I'll either do Kundalini or I'll do a Pilates session or I'll do cardio, one of those three things every morning. And then I start my routine of showering. I do my morning meeting every morning––that's our breakdown of the show––and then lately, for the past few months since the quarantine, I'm responsible for my own hair, makeup, and wardrobe, which has been a challenge in itself, because I always tell people, beauty is not my brand. There are so many women and men who do it very, very well. That is not my forte, but I've been trying to at least get myself presentable for camera. So that's been a new challenge. And I try to wrap my day by like five or six o'clock.
What are your mornings like?
I watch a lot of Bravo. I really try hard to watch what I call inconsequential programming because so much of my day gets so heavy with the topics and I really just want to see some foolery drama sometimes, just to disconnect. I probably should be doing something more for the soul, like meditating my way down or something like that. But right now it's just like a glass of wine or tea and like just sitting down, watching some TV, and hanging out with my husband and dog.
Do you practice any type of self-care? What does that look like for you?
I have a therapist that I meet with once a week. She was very important. I started meeting with her in November. She's been really great. I really appreciate her, especially for what I'm doing because she went to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech as a child and her life has very much been rooted in activism. She just really gets me in a way that other people wouldn't have been able to get me in terms of therapy. I don't have to explain the fundamentals, so she's been really great.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not good for anybody. If you can't take the time to prioritize yourself, you're not going to be of service to anyone. And because I see that so much, especially when we look at the matriarchs of our family or women who we look up to and we see that there's a reason why we're connecting with them, whether we're related to them or not, there's a part of us in them and there's a part of them in us. And so, when we make those connections, we also see what isn't necessarily working as well because we care about these women who are mirroring us.
"If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not good for anybody. If you can't take the time to prioritize yourself, you're not going to be of service to anyone."
We want them to be around for a long time. We want them to be happy and to live lives of abundance. And when I think of the way that I look at my mother who has been so selfless my entire life to all of the kids, not only the biological ones but the ones that she's taken guardianship of, I always tell her, "Mom, you need to be moving. You need to go get your nails done. You need to do all of these things for yourself because that's what's going to sustain you. And I need you here." It's almost a bit selfish but you're also giving them permission to care for themselves. That's the reason why I think that we need to think about the way that we talk to the people that we care about the most because there's always a message for us in there.
How do you find balance with:
A big thing with [me and my husband] is, we'd be on a vacation and he would have to pull his computer out and work from wherever we're at. I would say, "When are you going to be able to take a break because you can't just work this vacation?" So, he put his phone and his laptop in a safe and the entire rest of the time he wouldn't engage. So there are times where he'll be like, "Can you put the phone in the safe?" Which means I've been engaged too much. So I'm just trying to get better at that and not feel like the world is taking off and I have to be engaged all the time.
That's hard. It's harder now because of the situation that we're in. Obviously we're not seeing our friends the way that we used to see our friends in terms of work and home. That is something that I am just now really balancing the equilibrium. And a big part of that is the fact that I have an abbreviated schedule. So I can be like, you know what, I'm going to do this production this day and I'm ending at this time.
And then I'm going to go downstairs and I'm gonna hang out with my husband on the patio and play with Spike on the patio and make sure that I FaceTime with this girlfriend because I haven't spoken to her or seen her in a while. Now that I have a little bit more control over my schedule. I've been trying to just make more of a conscious effort to make sure I'm carving out time.
I schedule, I schedule everything. I'll schedule months in advance. So I know that every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 in the morning, I'm doing Kundalini. I know every week, same day, same time I am with my therapist. Any self-care in terms of like aestheticians or stylists, all of those things, are completely scheduled out pretty much for the year, because otherwise I wouldn't just stop and be like it's time. As women, we feel guilty. I feel guilty all the time. Should I really be getting my nails done? Is that really necessary? So, if it's on the books, then it becomes more of like, 'OK, well it's my schedule, so it needs to be completed,' you know?
"Any self-care in terms of like aestheticians or stylists, all of those things, are completely scheduled out pretty much for the year, because otherwise I wouldn't just stop and be like it's time. As women, we feel guilty. I feel guilty all the time. Should I really be getting my nails done? Is that really necessary? So, if it's on the books, then it becomes more of like, 'OK, well it's my schedule, so it needs to be completed.'"
Exercise? Does it happen?
I started doing Kundalini yoga. And it's the idea of, if you can keep up, you'll be kept up. And it was just something that was so out of my comfort zone, but I chose to do it because I kinda needed to do something to get out of my comfort zone, but also to kind of find more balance and meditation in my life. So I actually have been doing that now for three months. it makes you uncomfortable and if you can get uncomfortable voluntarily, it kind of eases the discomfort when it comes at you.
Lastly, what does success mean to you?
Success means happiness and balance. Although I'm in an industry where people become notable or achieve celebrity status, I realized that what's really meant for me is to have a very fulfilled life. And I don't know if having an overabundance of one particular area of my life will create the balance that I truly need to be happy. So being in control of my schedule, having a life where I'm not burning money, but at the same time, I don't feel like I'm in deprivation mode. A life where my relationships are healthy and that I have true partnerships in the world. So success for me would really mean balanced in all capacities.
For more Erica, follow her on Instagram @EricaCobb!
Featured image by Instagram/@ericacobb.
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
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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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images