What Self-Care Looks Like For Jet-Setting Attorney Cynthia Andrew
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:
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.
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.
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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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Featured image by James Devaney/GC Images