For Tiffany Laibhen-Spence, Alone Time Is A Non-Negotiable
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, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
Finding your happy place is a talent not easily mastered by creatives of color. Between keeping up with politics, navigating social media, and making sure our loved ones feel loved on, the hustle is likely to hustle you out of your peace of mind. But Tiffany Laibhen-Spence wants you to protect your energy at all costs. That means being intentional about unplugging to recharge.
The 30-year-old self-proclaimed extroverted introvert recently sat down with xoNecole and gave us all the details on how she thrives in the digital world as an entrepreneur while managing her self-care. According to Tiffany, it all starts with unapologetically spending time alone. "Because I'm naturally an introvert, I have always been a person to make time for myself. However, I used to feel guilty about it. When I needed to cancel plans or say no to somebody, I would beat myself up about how flaky it seemed," she explained. "...I then realized that I just required an unapologetic and welcomed pause after anything that drained my energy! It's been my best realization and has helped tremendously!"
Along with deep breathing, watching The Office, and making time to celebrate her small wins, here's how Tiffany finds balance:
What’s been the driving force behind all of the hats that you wear these days? What is your “why”?
I have always believed that life should be enjoyed. I never bought into the "check to check, work to pay bills, spend the rest of your life in debt" story that many people live by. I have always imagined myself doing something that brings me to life daily and not having to struggle. My biggest goal is to be able to retire my parents so that they can see a different side of life where their only obligation is to spend their time doing things that fulfill them.
Courtesy of Kevin Spence
"I never bought into the 'check to check, work to pay bills, spend the rest of your life in debt' story that many people live by. I have always imagined myself doing something that brings me to life daily and not having to struggle."
What are some ways you stay focused on the positive when things get hard?
I am very spiritual. My faith that something bigger is always leading me or redirecting me in the right direction is how I stay focused. More specifically, I pray, meditate, read self-help books, and drink positive energy tea daily (Tea by Yogi. Try it and thank me later!) I also follow lots of positive, encouraging pages on social media. On the days when I wake up and I don't feel like doing any of "it", I've made it a habit to immediately go to YouTube and search "motivational video" and I'll listen to that while getting ready for the day.
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.
Mondays and Wednesdays are typically my shoot days. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my edit days, and those can go until 12 a.m., especially if I have a deadline. I try and dedicate my Fridays to industry research and content/creative planning. My sister is a varsity soccer player so I do my best to attend her games. It's sometimes hard because as a one-woman band, if I'm not home editing or shooting, it's not getting done. My husband is a director of photography for BET in New York, so he is constantly traveling. Our home is in Philly, so we work hard to date in-between our hectic schedules and try to take advantage of our weekends together! I'm now hosting and attending lots of events, so my schedule is all over the place now.
Courtesy of Kevin Spence
"Not many people understand what goes into content creation, and it can be crazy having to stop in the middle of an edit, attend an event, and then come back at 9 p.m. to hop back into an edit. It's a lot to balance."
What are your mornings like?
On a normal weekday, I'm up by 6 a.m. I make my tea and meditate for about 30 minutes. I then journal and read for about an hour, depending on the day. After getting my head and intentions together, I hop on Instagram to spread some love on my stories. I then get my post or content ready for the day. This routine changes about every six months or so. Sometimes I like watching a motivational video or calling my mom. It can depend on my mood and what I need at the time.
How do young wind down at night?
The most hectic part for me has been trying to do it all on my own and still show up for my loved ones. I'm literally building my brand from the ground up by myself. When I have a deadline pending and I have to come up with the creative direction, decorate the set, shoot high-quality content, and edit within a day or two, and my family/friends have something important coming up, it can be overwhelming. Not many people understand what goes into content creation, and it can be crazy having to stop in the middle of an edit, attend an event, and then come back at 9 p.m. to hop back into an edit. It's a lot to balance.
Do you practice self-care? What does that look like for you?
Absolutely! Self-care is what keeps me sane. It looks different at different times. My favorite right now is watching my favorite movies and shows on my couch and sipping wine or a cocktail. Meditating is my constant form though. It definitely relieves any worries or anxiety. I can feel the difference if I miss it for a day or two.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
My advice is, yes, you do! My favorite cliche is, "You can't pour from an empty cup." It's so true! You can't possibly be giving your best self to your spouse, your kids, or your work if you haven't taken the time to get to know yourself. One of the best things my mom did was take care of herself when I was growing up. She would go get her nails done, go away with her girls once a year, and have regular girls' nights. Her and my dad would go on couples' trips, which I was annoyed with as a child (laughs), but I now know why. It taught me to never lose me to anything!
In the beginning, I had to write self-care into my schedule just like I would anything else and stick to it! It's now become a habit for me. Take 30 extra minutes in the morning to do deep breathing, read your favorite book, do an exercise or take a dance class. You may not have time every day because, well, life, but you definitely have time to love on yourself just a little more.
Courtesy of Kevin Spence
"One of the best things my mom did was take care of herself when I was growing up. She would go get her nails done, go away with her girls once a year, and have regular girls' nights. Her and my dad would go on couples' trips, which I was annoyed with as a child, but I now know why. It taught me to never lose me to anything!"
How do you find balance with:
I have to put it into my calendar, or else I'll work right through it. I tell my friends not to take offense. I'm just really focused and I take my schedule seriously! So if it's scheduled, I'm there! I also try and text them if they come across my mind, even for just a second.
We communicate via text and FaceTime throughout the day so that we can say connected. We also shoot together, so we make a date out of those days. We get content and then we go to dinner and spend time!
Exercise? Does it happen?
I am still finding a way to fit exercise into my schedule consistently. Since my schedule changes so often, it makes it a little hard to be consistent, but I will make it happen.
This is one thing I make time for. Regular manicures, meditation, reading a book, or anything that brings me joy is a must.
When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I feel most healthy. So when I'm eating well, moving my body, [my] hair is healthy, skin is healthy, that is when I feel my best.
Do you cook or find yourself eating out more often?
Up until about two months ago, I was cooking 80% of the time and ordering out the other 20%. Because my schedule has picked up so drastically, I have not found much time to cook lately. I'm currently in the process of hiring an assistant to help me with projects because cooking brings me joy and I'd love to have more time to do it without having to sacrifice being productive!
Courtesy of Kevin Spence
"I detox by deleting all of my social media apps until I feel ready to get back on. It usually lasts about a week, but if I get to the end of that week and still feel overwhelmed or anything negative, I stay off until I'm centered again. I detox daily by monitoring who I'm conversing with, having mandatory alone time, and allowing myself to decompress after interactions."
Do you ever detox? What does that consist of?
For a physical detox, I drink detox teas to clean my body out. I also do time periods of no red meat and mainly veggies. I've done fruit juice cleanses as well. Mentally, I detox by deleting all of my social media apps until I feel ready to get back on. It usually lasts about a week, but if I get to the end of that week and still feel overwhelmed or anything negative, I stay off until I'm centered again. I detox daily by monitoring who I'm conversing with, having mandatory alone time, and allowing myself to decompress after interactions.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I pray. Anything that I have today is because of prayer and allowing something bigger than me to show me what I need to see to make the next best move. So when I'm uncertain, I ask for guidance on what I should be doing and I ask for clarity. Then I act in the manner that I'd like to see myself. I leave that prayer knowing that the solution is on the way and I do my best not to worry about it, but instead, smile and thank God for the clarity or the signs I needed. It has worked wonders in my life.
What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance?
People forget to celebrate the little wins. Celebrate finishing that edit, posting your first video, and doing what you said you would. When you forget to celebrate those wins, you are constantly chasing something. It leads you to believe you aren't doing enough, which then leads to overworking. Find time to celebrate your wins, however small they may be. Pour a glass of wine, go out for dinner--do something! You deserve it!
Courtesy of Helena Raju
"When you forget to celebrate those wins, you are constantly chasing something. It leads you to believe you aren't doing enough, which then leads to overworking. Find time to celebrate your wins, however small they may be."
What does success mean to you?
Success means having balance between all the things that bring me joy and make me who I am. Right now those things are self-awareness, healthy relationships with my loved ones, financial well-being, thriving in my chosen career path and making an impact.
What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness is temporary. It's an emotion. In life, you will experience hardships. You will lose people, you'll lose relationships, and you won't get the things you've been working hard at. In those moments, you will not be happy. You can still have joy and gratitude in your heart in those moments, but you won't be happy. I think the key is enjoying and appreciating your happy moments as they are happening but understanding that life needs ups and downs for you to continue growing on your journey.
For more of Tiffany, follow her on Instagram @tiffanylaibhen!
Featured image courtesy of Kevin Spence
Originally published on February 9, 2020
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.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
My Therapist Broke Up With Me And Here’s How I Recovered
I’ve been through more than a few break-ups in my life, but my therapist breaking up with me is nothing I could’ve imagined.
I take my life and my mental health very seriously, so this isn’t a relationship I would play with nor put at risk of losing. This was my first real therapy experience. In the past, I’ve called my insurance company and talked to whoever was available, but I needed something more consistent. I was looking for a relationship where I met with one person, I can build a relationship with (for the sake of healing), and, most importantly, who I trust and had a connection with.
So I got on Therapy For Black Girls and began my search. This is no reflection on the site because I do believe it’s an amazing resource for people who are searching for a therapist. The thing about finding a therapist, or anyone for that matter – doctors, nail techs, you get the gist – is that it can be a process of trial and error. You may have to go through different people to find the one. Based on my search and what I read about this therapist, it seemed to be a perfect fit, so I made my first appointment.
Things seemed to be going great, we talked about building healthy self-care habits to get through the rough days, how to tackle the loneliness (this was during quarantine), and navigating the relationship with my parents. I found all of her talks and recommendations very helpful, and most of them seemed to work. So much so that I discovered the mental and physical space I was living in was starting to get to me.
Mentally, I was lonely, and although I’m someone who loves alone time, this felt different. Every part of my life seemed to be filled with loneliness. I would walk through empty airports, fly on empty planes, and come to an empty home. I started to feel a sense of abandonment. My mom was so afraid of catching COVID that she didn’t want me at the house and vice versa. The apartment management completely abandoned its tenants and slowly but surely neglected their responsibilities which made my home a place I came to hate.
I talked about all of this with my therapist, and we worked on ways to resolve these issues. One resolution was to find a new place.
Yvonne Orji Therapy GIF by Insecure on HBOGiphy
A place that I loved and had the quality/amenities I wanted and wasn’t influenced by financial fears of the pandemic. I set a budget, assessed my savings, and made a list of what was important to me. After that, I let my therapist know that I would be moving and because I still had to travel for work, attending our sessions would be too much, and I would prefer to continue once I was settled. She agreed and had no problems with that.
However, two and a half weeks later, I was unable to book an appointment. I was confused and decided to contact the office. When I couldn’t get through by phone, I sent an email. The reply I received was: “Our policy states that after three months from the last appointment without communication from a client, it is assumed that services are no longer needed and future counseling services are terminated.”
I was very confused because it hadn’t even been a month since my last session, so I reached out, hoping this was a mix-up, and instead received a referral to other therapists. This was a huge slap in the face. I was heartbroken, to be honest. For my therapist to terminate services just didn’t sit right with me.
It had me questioning myself and therapy as a whole. How could you terminate services in the middle of someone's healing? How can you be mistaken about your own policy and not even respond when I’m trying to rectify it? Did she always want to terminate the relationship? How could this be so transactional? All of these things kept going through my head…what did I do?
Suffice it to say, I took all of this very personally because what in the actual f*ck! I wrote off therapy entirely and decided to pursue healing on my own. That only worked for so long. I actually felt like I ended up with more issues than I started with. This added another layer of trust issues and abandonment.
It took me a year and a half, but eventually, I was able to finally start therapy again. A few things that helped me do that include:
I had to find acceptance and forgiveness.
I had to accept the situation for what it was. If I didn’t, I would’ve carried resentment not just for her but for therapy as a whole. I had to remember things happen for a reason and this was just a redirection. I had to forgive not only her but myself for carrying that burden and internalizing all of it. I kept affirming to myself: I did everything I can do.
I learned how to cope.
While the departure was hurtful, I did learn valuable skills from our sessions. I used those habits to help me grieve and move forward. I read books about healing and articles about people who also experienced this, I created the affirmations I needed to hear, look for value in the experience, and noted everything I learned.
I didn't rush back into therapy.
I took my time to think about what I wanted from therapy and what qualities I wanted in a therapist. I understand it’s a business, but it’s also an emotional bond of trust, care, and respect to work toward a goal. I wanted a therapist who was understanding, had policies I could adhere to, and had the integrity I looked for.
This is also a grieving process. I had to heal from this situation and all that came with it before moving on.
I committed to reading and understanding the policies during consultations.
My mistake the first time was not reading or asking questions about the policy. Moving forward, this is a must!
I learned to read the policy agreement through and through and ask questions about things I didn’t understand or needed more clarity on. I try to do this for the consultation, if possible, or the first session. If the policies are too strict, I know it’s not the right fit for me. I want a sense of ease, I don’t want to be fearful or anxious about having to reschedule an appointment or skip a session or two.
I let my new therapist know what I'd been through.
I definitely think it’s important to discuss this with your new therapist, it gives them an idea of what your experience with therapy has been like. It also gives them the opportunity to know what reservations you may have and what the process of building trust might entail.
I realize through all of this, there’s good in the bad. I love how my current therapy sessions are going. I love the homework, the feedback, and the vulnerability. I decided to use this experience to find a therapist and healing process that works for me.
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Featured image by SDI Productions/Getty Images