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.
Everybody has a best friend in their heads. For some it's Natasha Rothwell's Insecure character Kelli; for some, it's Megan Thee Stallion twerking up and down the kitchen while cheffin' it up. For me, it is BuzzFeed's very own Freddie Ransome. And why not? She's gorgeous, down-to-earth, hilarious, and gets paid to be herself. Talk about living your best life, right?
The popular creator, video producer, and personality is no stranger to life on-camera and has an approachable, transparent nature to her when cameras aren't rolling. Freddie is a member of BuzzFeed's vertical LadyLike YouTube channel, a cast of five women who challenge what it means to be "ladylike" through style and beauty tries, career exploration, and deep dives into pop culture.
Courtesy of Freddie Ransome
Freddie has a jam-packed schedule between getting Saweetie-inspired makeovers, going bald for a day, trying on prom dresses from Amazon, and taking flawless selfies on her Instagram page. But nothing compares to when she has some alone time for herself.
For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to discuss with Howard University grad about sparking up as a means to wind down, making time to FaceTime friends during her busy schedule and playing with her cat as a form of self-care.
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?
Freddie Ransome: I don't think I understood the importance of this until maybe 2016? I was 26, had been living in LA for about a year and had landed a Junior Video Producer role at Buzzfeed. I had felt like everything I worked hard for since I graduated in 2012 was finally taking shape. I had a salary, finally! This was the year I started toying with the idea of taking vacations, staycations, and remembering that I was hired for a reason and that my opportunity wouldn't get snatched away from me for taking time for myself.
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.
Every day of the week, I'm knee-deep in emails. Deciding if I want to accept certain opportunities, looking through PR emails, and constantly brainstorming and figuring out ways that I can contribute to my community, specifically Black women and girls (all of this is with the help of my management team). Sometimes, I'm shooting Instagram stories and in-feed Instagram photos for brands; when I'm not doing that, I'm prepping for my acting coaching sessions by memorizing scenes and if I have a self-tape audition, prepping for that. When I'm not doing all of those things, I'm online shopping or looking at the home buying app, Redfin, at homes I want to buy, but can't afford (laughs).
"This was the year I started toying with the idea of taking vacations, staycations, and remembering that I was hired for a reason and that my opportunity wouldn't get snatched away from me for taking time for myself."
What are your mornings like?
So, I'm NOT a morning person, but I've actually gotten better at taking my mornings by the horns since quarantine began in March. I guess I'm holding myself more accountable. I wake up, check my phone, brush my teeth and wash my face (I'm a night showerer), get dressed in my athleisure of the day (today it's cheetah print biker shorts, a t-shirt with Snoop Dogg's face on it, and tie-dye socks), make an iced chai latte with ingredients from Trader Joe's, fix breakfast, which is a rotation between bacon and eggs, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, rolled oats, boiled eggs, or last night's leftovers. Then, I crack open my computers to check those emails!
How do you wind down at night?
This is my favorite part of the day! I light all of my incense and candles, shower, smoke some weed, and watch something light and funny on Netflix. Lately, I've been re-watching The Simple Life and other random old reality TV shows. I'm usually in bed by 11.
When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?
When I have a busy week, the most hectic part of it is sending over content to brands for them to review and having to make tweaks or re-shoot some things under a tight deadline. I usually get pretty overwhelmed by deadlines, so I find myself having to take some deep breaths to stay calm and focused.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
I know it sounds corny, but I play with my cat, Roberta Sinclaire. I got her a little over 2 years ago and I have to say, she has saved me this quarantine! We just hang out and watch TV. Some of our favorite shows include Insecure, Ozark, Never Have I Ever, This is Us, Dave, the list goes on. Also, I've learned how to give myself a gel manicure with tips and knotless goddess braids, while in quarantine. I've decided to hold off on eyebrow maintenance until salons open again (laughs).
"Self-care can look so many different ways. If you feel you're too busy for it, I would encourage you to carve out the time you would normally carve out for a doctor's appointment you can't miss (we all have those) for a morning or afternoon to yourself. Sometimes, chores and taking care of certain things I've been putting off is a form of self-care."
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
Self-care can look so many different ways. If you feel you're too busy for it, I would encourage you to carve out the time you would normally carve out for a doctor's appointment you can't miss (we all have those) for a morning or afternoon to yourself. Sometimes, chores and taking care of certain things I've been putting off is a form of self-care. Doing laundry, folding those clothes that have been in the dryer for a week, or dropping off those clothes to a women's shelter that have been sitting in the car for weeks can clear my mind! Those things that have been hovering over my shoulder for weeks are now taken care of, and I feel free!
How do you find balance with:
I bought a bike! So, I try to go on bike rides once or twice a week. The other weekend, I got some friends together who all have bikes and we rode from Leimert Park to Venice Beach. We got empanadas and to-go margaritas. Bike riding has given me the exercise and outlet I've been yearning for since the lockdown began.
HA! I've been single for about...three years. [I've] been dating here and there but nothing serious. Not because I don't want things to be serious, but because everything felt kind of forced. And why force situationships to work when I need to be forcing myself to sit down, focus, and get my tasks done? I'm on the apps and swipe during my downtime, but I can't say I actively make time to go out and meet guys. When I had committed to making that a part of my routine [and] going out once a week to lounges and bars in different parts of LA to meet different types of guys––that's when quarantine was mandated (laughs). So, [I'm] just focusing on what I can control, which is my work!
I'm a part of many-a-group chats. So, that's how I stay tapped in on the daily. But I'm working on getting better at FaceTime calls and more intimate catch-up sessions. FaceTiming one or two friends a week is always the goal.
What about health? Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
I've been cooking a lot more in the last few months. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, I was "restaurant mami" and always ate out or did take out, mainly out of laziness. I've learned how to make dishes with my Instapot, made lasagna for the first time, fried chicken for the first time...I've been throwing down. Now, you mentioned "health" (laughs). Yeah I could do better with cooking healthier foods.
Do you ever detox?
I've never detoxed. Unless not drinking for a couple weeks counts?
"I think about what I want and I get extremely specific. What company or network do I want to work with? Who would I want to be my 'boss'? And then I try to focus on the things I can control. What can I be doing on my end to be as prepared as possible when this opportunity does arise? Because it will. it's just a matter of when."
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I think about what I want and I get extremely specific. What company or network do I want to work with? Who would I want to be my "boss"? Which executives do I want to know my name? Or, what character do I want to play, and on what show? And then I try to focus on the things I can control. What can I be doing on my end to be as prepared as possible when this opportunity does arise? Because it will. it's just a matter of when.
What do you do when you have a creative block on a project or feel like you have to clear your head before going into a project?
I don't really think I have many creative blocks when it comes to creating. My biggest hurdle is getting started. Once I get started editing a video or working on a script, I'm on a roll. It just takes a lot of discipline for me to actually sit down and start working....without getting distracted by online shopping or Redfin browsing (laughs) The way I force myself to sit down and get started is by setting the vibes. Turning off the TV, burning candles in my office and playing the "Late Night Vibes" playlist on Spotify. Ironically, this playlist works wonders for productivity during the day.
Honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Loaded Q! Wow, success to me looks like getting my foot in the door and bringing in and making room for other Black and brown folks. I want to start the trickle-in effect of people with varying perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds getting a chance to create based on their authentic experiences. Happiness looks like...me being able to create and make people laugh for the rest of my life. I want to make enough money to move my mom from Virginia to Los Angeles without her having to worry. It would also be cool to have a life partner through all of this.
For more Freddie, follow her on Instagram @Freddie!
Featured image courtesy of Freddie Ransome.
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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I don’t know if it’s an unpopular opinion or not but, it seems to me that the people who make the biggest deal about Valentine’s Day are typically the individuals who aren’t married. And although folks who are single, dating, or even engaged definitely deserve love just as much as husbands and wives do, I do think that the ones who signed up to love someone, flaws ‘n all, until death parts them should be the ones who celebrate V-Day most. After all, since the day is all about love and nothing teaches folks about love quite like marriage does — some intentionality in the holiday’s direction absolutely needs to transpire for married people especially.
That said, I get that sometimes the process of staying in a healthy relationship makes it challenging to prepare for special occasions like the one that is just a few days away. That’s why I decided to help all spouses out by providing 15 ideas that can help you and your partner to have one of the most romantic Valentine’s Days that the two of you have had in a really long time (if ever)…because, again, if anyone deserves it…y’all do.
1. Take the Day Off
Did you know that close to 50 percent of people reportedly don’t use up all of their PTO? Umm, you earned it, so what’s the problem? Honestly, out of all of the ideas that I’m about to share today, I think one of the best things that you could do, as a couple, is take Valentine’s Day off. Sleep in. Eat breakfast in bed (after having it delivered). Have sex. Nap. Have sex again. Nap some more. Just enjoy the idea of doing absolutely nothing while the rest of the world is hustling and bustling around. Doesn’t just the mere thought of that make you feel all warm ‘n fuzzy inside?
2. Download Some Apps
These days, there really is an app for pretty much everything — including encouraging romance and intimacy between couples. For instance, there’s the Gottman Card Decks app that gives relationship and date idea advice. There’s the Love Nudge app that breaks down the five languages and how you personally relate to them by percentage.
Also, there’s the iPassion app that makes it easier for you and your spouse to share some of your deepest sexual needs and desires. Just putting these apps out here if you and your man are constantly on your devices. Might as well put some of that smartphone time towards investing in your relationship…right?
3. Have a Winter Picnic
Two weeks ago in Nashville, the high was the teens for damn near a week straight after about 6” fell. Now it’s in the 60s. My point? While there is absolutely no tellin’ what Valentine’s Day is going to be like where any of us live, as far as the weather goes, a winter picnic can still be sweet and a lot of fun. Dress warm. Serve foods like soup, hot cocoa, and s’mores, and cuddle as much as possible the entire time. Even if you only have 30 minutes on your lunch break, it can be just what you need to build up anticipation for seeing each other after you both get off of work.
4. Create a “Dream Date Series” Vision Board
A few years ago, I wrote the article, “This Is How To Create The Best Kind Of ‘Sex Bucket List’” for the platform because I personally think that one of the best ways to keep spark, spontaneity, and sexiness in a marriage is to come up with things that you and your partner have never done (together) before. And so, while dinner and a movie are pretty much the signature kind of date out in these streets, this year, pour a glass of wine for each of you, snack on some chocolate-covered strawberries, and come up with two dream dates that you both can do each month.
Make sure the ideas are fresh, creative, and something that both of you can get excited about. If you need a bit of inspiration, “15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language” and “10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home)” may be able to help you out.
5. Pitch an Indoor Tent
A few years back, I penned, “Here's How To Create The Perfect Romantic Indoor Picnic” for the platform. It was because, hands down, one of my favorite romantic date ideas is doing just that: having an indoor picnic. I don’t know what it is about stringing some lights, pitching a tent, throwing some pillows on the floor, and enjoying a meal with that special someone that I find to be so sweet and sensual — but I do. Anyway, just putting the idea out there if you’ve never considered doing this before. It’s pretty easy to put together and I don’t see how in the world you would end up regretting giving it a shot.
6. Cook Together. Naked.
The reason why I once wrote the article, “Here’s How To Make Cooking A Meal Together Sexy (When You Hate To Cook)” is mostly due to what’s in the parenthesis of the title. Even though cooking with your partner is not only healthier, it’s also a great way to spend quality time, reduce stress, and learn new things together (and sometimes about each other), I get that some people would rather rake the yard in 30-degree weather than get in the kitchen. However, nobody said that you had to make a five-course meal.
Besides, if the two of you have on nothing but some aprons, you might be able to find some super creative ways to pass the time while you’re waiting for a homemade sauce to simmer or your homemade dessert to finish baking. Not to mention the fact that having sex in atypical locations can help to make the experience that much more…erotic.
7. Come Up with Your Own Signature Cocktail
Something that I enjoy about wedding receptions is when a newly married couple offers up 1-2 signature cocktails that consist of some of their favorite ingredients; then they create a super cute name for it by melding or name blending. What’s wild, though, is I rarely (if ever) hear about couples doing this outside of their nuptials. This Valentine’s Day, why not be a trendsetter by creating a signature drink with your own bae? If you really like this idea yet you need some help in how to execute this tip properly, The Bar is a site that features an article that can walk you through the process. You can check it out here.
8. Recreate Your First Date
There is a married couple who’ve been together for quite some time now that I’ve been working with for a little over six months. One of the main issues that the wife had was that her husband was romantic enough. One of the issues he had was she was too critical. As we’ve been working on these things separately, she has been feeling more loved and he has been feeling more relaxed (funny how that works, chile). As a direct result, during the holidays, he recreated their first date and then presented her with an upgrade of her engagement ring. Well done, sir.
Anyway, one of the things that science says nostalgia is able to do is bring two people closer together by reigniting pleasant memories. So, if your first date was one of your best experiences with your husband, why not recreate it? On the other hand, if it left much to be desired, “rewrite history” by using Valentine’s Day for a first date do-over. It’ll be a brilliant move either way.
9. Relive Your Wedding Night
Every time I read that less than 40 percent of couples actually have sex on their wedding night, I get irritated. Why? There are a few reasons. The main one is because I know that consummate means “to complete” and so, it’s not your wedding vows that complete the process of a man and a woman becoming husband and wife; the act of intercourse does (which is why people can annul their marriage if consummation didn’t transpire). And so, yes, sex needs to be prioritized, even if the hanging off of the chandelier part ends up happening later on during the honeymoon.
That said, if you happen to be one of the couples who fell into the “more than 60 percent” category as far as consummating your marriage goes, use this Valentine’s Day to relive your wedding night in a way that makes you feel better about how things went down (or rather didn’t go down). On the flip side, if your wedding night was one for the record books, take a walk down memory lane this year, because the thing that I just said about nostalgia a second ago? Yeah, it applies to sex too.
10. Play the Newlywed Game Together
If you want to give Valentine’s Day a shout-out yet you’d prefer to go the more chill-and-casual route, how about a board game? The Newlywed Game (here) is a fun idea because you can ask each other some of the questions to see how well you know each other at this stage in your relationship. On the other hand, if you’re like me and you prefer to support Black-owned companies as much as possible, there is a game that is literally called Black Love (here) that serves the same purpose — only it’s designed for “us” specifically. Dig that! Then you can order a heart-shaped pizza, sit back, then learn and laugh for hours.
11. Talk About the Moment You Knew They Were “The One”
I’ve talked about negativity biases before (check out “7 Signs You Have A Toxic Relationship...With Yourself” and “12 Ways To Be Far More Self-Compassionate Every Day”). The basic concept of it is, that research has proven that our brains tend to lean towards negativity more than positivity; that we have to be hella intentional about seeing “the glass half full” so to speak. That said, I have worked with couples long enough to say, loudly and with my chest poked all the way out, that a huge cause of divorce is people forget (or is it ignore?) that negativity bias can apply to how folks interact with their spouse too.
One way to remove some of that toxicity from your own relationship is to look your partner in the eyes and tell them about the moment that you knew, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that they were the one for you because no matter what the state of your relationship is in right now (check out “This Will Get You Through The 'Ho-Hum Seasons' In Your Relationship” and “The 'Seasons Of Sex' That Married People Go Through”), the reality is that you chose your partner and then made super sacred promises to them.
This means that there are at least a few things that you adore that got you to that point — and they probably need to hear you verbally express them just as much as you probably need to hear yourself say them too.
12. Have a Private Vow Renewal
Formal wedding vow renewals are uber romantic; no doubt about that. When it comes to this particular suggestion, though, no one is saying that you have to go all out. I’m simply recommending that the two of you get dressed up super cute, dig up your wedding vows, and then say them to one another while standing in your living room. You can even take things up a notch by adding some extra things that life together has caused you to want to vow in real-time.
It can be something serious, something silly, or something that you secretly know that your man has been hoping and praying that you would “get” about him. Vows are a beautiful thing. And it can be very romantic to revisit them on Valentine’s Day.
13. You Plan a Day Date. He Plans a Night Date.
If there’s one thing that I hear, both from single men and married men alike, is the reason why they honestly are more than fine with taking a pass on Valentine’s Day altogether is a day that’s supposed to be about celebrating love rarely seems to prioritize the male demographic. Hey, I totally get it. That’s why, one of the things that I oftentimes recommend to couples is that they don’t just settle for one date on that day — and that not only one person should plan how the day goes down either.
For instance, how about you plan a lunch date this year that focuses on things that your husband likes and have him plan a dinner date that does the same thing for you? That way, both individuals can get in on the romance and reciprocity that should come along with Valentine’s Day.
14. Do a “Do Over” Experience
I’m always going to be Team Forgiveness. That said, something else that working with couples has revealed to me is the fact that sometimes people have a hard time letting things go because there is regret (which means remorse and remorse is a good thing) attached and they don’t know how to move past the embarrassment, guilt or pain surrounding it. You know, whenever someone asks me how they can “make things right” towards someone they have hurt or disappointed, I recommend that they 1) ask them how they can do just that and 2) make an effort to make amends (check out “Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made”).
Keeping all of this in mind, if it’s hard to come up with something sweet and lighthearted to do this Valentine’s Day because some regret with your own husband is looming over your head, you can start the healing process, and actually make V-Day a great day for him, by making amends. Start by discussing how to “do something over” by trying to correct the situation. While it might not be the most common type of Valentine’s Day approach, it could end up being super effective and beneficial for February 14 and beyond.
15. Go Dark
Although I can’t recall off the top of my head where I saw it, I once read that the reason why a lot of us like candlelight so much is because it makes us feel warm and safe. As far as romance goes, I think it also makes just about anyone look glowing and radiant which is always a plus. So, as I close this out, why not shoot your man a text that the two of you should pretend that your electricity went out when you both get home by going with candlelight lighting only for the evening?
Scented ones like vanilla, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, cinnamon, pumpkin, and ylang ylang are all considered to be aphrodisiacs and, I can’t possibly imagine how having dinner by candlelight, dancing by candlelight, bathing together by candlelight, toasting each other by candlelight — going a few rounds by candlelight wouldn’t be the perfect end to a beautifully romantic and thoughtful Valentine’s Day. Here’s to a very happy and memorable Valentine’s Day, married folks!
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Featured image by Henrik Sorenson/Getty Images