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What Self-Care Looks Like For Jet-Setting Attorney Cynthia Andrew

There's no shortage of airline miles when it comes to this blogger's quest for freedom, abundance, and ultimately, balance.

Finding Balance

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.

Life is a balancing act: one that takes patience, self-care, and a heart full of hustle to truly master.

New York-based blogger and attorney Cynthia Andrew, best known as Simply Cyn, has spent the majority of her time over the past few weeks jet-setting and living out every single one of our #TravelGoals but it's important to know that with a life full of so much spontaneity, Cyn still makes self-care one of her top priorities. From Amsterdam and Anguilla to Thailand and The Maldives, there's no shortage of airline miles when it comes to this fashion blogging paralegal's quest for freedom, abundance, and ultimately, balance.

We got to sit down with Cyn, who gave us all the tea on how she creates a sense of equilibrium while still living a life that's full of adventure. Whether it's going all out on a manicure at the nail shop or curling up with her hubby to binge-watch The Great British Bakeoff, Cyn says finding time to wind down is her secret to the ultimate level-up. Here's what we learned:

What’s been the driving force behind all of the hats that you wear these days? What is your “why”? 

I love sharing experiences with others. I think we can all learn a lot from each other. It's also why I love to travel so much.

At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life? 

Probably more recently, I've always been on go, go, go. But I actually had to take some time from my office gig to recenter myself and to explore a few options for myself especially in light of all the opportunities I now get because of my blog and social media.

What are some ways you stay focused on the positive when things get hard? 

I just remember that it always seems insurmountable, but past experience has shown that it gets better. You can survive the biggest challenges. We are stronger than we think and it's never really as bad as it feels in the moment.

"You can survive the biggest challenges. We are stronger than we think and it's never really as bad as it feels in the moment."

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. 

A little while ago, it was: get up early enough to post social media content, go to work meetings and more meetings, leave the office sometime around 6 p.m. (or much later depending on the project) and then, as soon as I get home, work on my blog and Instagram content. Then, I would schedule shoots for the weekend and manage brand collaboration emails and deliverables. But the past two months, I have been traveling nonstop––Amsterdam, Italy, Maldives, Anguilla, Thailand, Vegas––so it's been extremely unusual.

What are your mornings like? 

I'm up around 5-6 a.m. I wish I could say I work out, but it's been a space where I struggle with inconsistency. It's mostly emails and more emails. Breakfast happens somewhere around 10 am and it's either avocado on toast or yogurt.

How do you wind down at night? 

Wind down… (laughs), what's that? I try to have something soothing in the background while I work––jazz, comedy. I also love what I do, which is key. So I can keep at it for quite a while.

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

Mondays can be quite brutal because everyone is back on the grind and it's the emails that can distract me from completing actual work and projects. I usually have lots of photos and videos to edit. I also have to write blog posts, product reviews or copy for brand collabs. Again, this is completely separate and apart from my other responsibilities when I'm at the office––a completely different universe of responsibilities from the social media universe.

Do you practice self-care? What does that look like for you? 

I understand the importance of self-care and I practice it in certain ways. For example, I sometimes just stop and watch TV, that relaxes me. This usually means The Great British Bake Off; I call my sister and friends or stop by their place. But to be completely honest, I'm in a busy season. I wanted this season and it won't be forever so at this moment, self-care time is less than optimal. If I was giving advice to myself, I would recommend just a little bit more.

"To be completely honest, I'm in a busy season. I wanted this season and it won't be forever so at this moment, self-care time is less than optimal. If I was giving advice to myself, I would recommend just a little bit more."

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care? 

I think a little is better than none, so my minimal downtime helps me refocus. It's like the power nap, a little bit can go a long way in recharging you. Something else I do for self-care is I get a mani-pedi and I completely put my phone away. I don't try to get any work done during that time. Get one of those hand treatments where your hands are unusable or go all in and get that hour massage. Also, put an away message on your email if you need some time. Just say you're indisposed and will get back to them when you can. Set realistic deadlines and if you have the ability to control this, be honest and firm.

How do you find balance with:

Friends? 

Monthly dinner plans, group chats, and photos to update each other on what's going on. My friends are the best though, they set things up and they completely understand the season I'm in and they don't judge or make me feel guilty if I'm late or have to miss get-togethers.

Love/Relationships? 

The hubby is my partner in crime, so I'm lucky. He supports me so much in so many ways and will be the one to call a timeout for me if he thinks I'm doing too much. We like good dinner plans together.

Exercise? Does it happen?

The hubby and I sometimes work out together. To be most accurate, we head over to the gym together and do completely different things but our plans have more recently been derailed by travel.

Do you cook or find yourself eating out more often?

Love to cook but been I've been ordering out lately. Sometimes I just get sweet plantains and roast them with hot sauce and that's it. Now that it's getting colder, I'll probably go back to my fave thing which is making huge pots of soup that last all week––chicken soup, cow foot soup, and more.

Do you ever detox? What does that consist of? 

I don't detox, but I consciously eat clean more often than not. We generally don't have snacks lying around, we eat fruits, salads. Keep it simple.

What does happiness mean to you? 

Less worries, less fear. I'm not sure you can completely eliminate worries and fear and I think that's actually a good thing for balance.

To keep up with Cyn, check out her Instagram @SimplyCyn!

Featured image by SimplyCyn/Instagram.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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