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.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images