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.
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
These 30-minute to 1-hour-long strolling adventures have given us a way to clear our minds and listen to our favorite songs, all while staying active and getting our bodies moving. And while we may have grown accustomed to having a fire playlist or podcast as the soundtrack to our walks, there's a new, more mindful alternative that’s taking a spin on your sidewalk struts.
“Silent walks” are the new walking trend that’s offering a deeper mind and body connection while taking a solo walk. Sure, the thought of having to take a walk for any duration of time while alone with your thoughts may seem unnatural, but you may be surprised to learn that tapping into that silence around you could give you an extra boost of clarity that you’re looking for.
As explained by the creator of “silent walks,” TikTok user Mady Maio, the idea was sparked by her boyfriend challenging her to take a distraction-free walk without the audio support of music or podcasts. While she was resistant to the challenge because her “anxiety could never,” Maio soon found that after two minutes of her mind going “haywire,” she was able to tap into a flow state that allowed her to hear herself and her thoughts more clearly.
#stitch with @KENZIEELIZABETH WE’RE SILENT WALKING ALL SUMMER, BABE 🚶 #walkinggirls #girlswhowalk #meditativewalk #intentionalwalk
Many times when we go on walks, the goal is to either get fresh air or clear our minds from all the mental junk that’s been floating around throughout the day. But when we don’t allow ourselves the space to sit in silence, our inner voice can be drowned out by external distractions and stimuli.
As the creator of the trend notes, God, the Universe, or whichever higher power you connect to has a tendency to speak in whispers. But if we’re unable to tap into quiet and still moments within our days, we could miss an opportunity to receive the answers that could come to us in the silence.
Silence allows us to tap into a meditative state. When we practice quieting our minds and focusing our attention inward, without the use of external guidance or verbal cues, we’re able to decrease brain fog, find solutions to our tangled thoughts, and let new ideas flow.
Silent walks also connect back to the original goals of its predecessor, hot girl walks, which encouraged walkers to focus on three main things: their goals, how they’re going to achieve those goals, and all the things they’re grateful for. Only this time, you're getting your dopamine hit from the thoughts you’re able to produce as opposed to the music, podcast, and phone calls you’re typically tuned into.
When channeled properly, silence is the gift that keeps on giving. With many people finding silent walks to be a valuable tool for reducing stress, enhancing mental clarity, and increasing overall well-being, this is your invitation to leave the headphones at home and plug into the world around you on your next outdoor journey.
Featured image by Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images