Let me ask you a serious question: What do you want? When you think about your life, are you living the life you want to live or the life you have to live? There is a difference. The life you want to live may still hold some of the dreams of who you really want to be – who you'd be if you weren't afraid. The writer, the teacher, the activist, the lawyer, the entrepreneur, etc. The life you want usually holds more creativity, depth, and meaning and you can envision being fulfilled by it. The life you want to live, as the magazine articles love to put it, includes your "purpose" – your "reason you jump out of bed in the morning" – the "thing you'd do for free," etc etc etc.
The life you have to live is likely the one that (barely) pays your bills and leaves you mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted. It may involve people that you don't even like or want to be around, but it's the job that pays the bills, right? It keeps food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Your body is taken care of, but in all likelihood, your soul is starving. And when your soul is weary, your body will follow. Suddenly, the dream or resolution you were excited about – you'll put it off until tomorrow. You'll do it one day. Or you'll talk yourself out of your dream altogether.
Today, I am here to tell you to not talk yourself out of that dream. If another life is what you want, it is not going to magically fly to you. You're going to have to put in the work. It will take time that you may not think you have, but it will be worth the effort. Here are some lessons I'm learning by moving from ambitious to audacious in the new year:
Don’t be Afraid to Put Yourself Out There
It's a big world out here but you would be surprised how many people are waiting to hear your voice and need to see and experience your skills in action. Freelancing puts you in the driver's seat and you get to dictate where your career goes from there – a side hustle in progress. No idea is too big and no start is too small. It may start as doing things for friends and family, coworkers, or fellow students. Word of mouth tends to be a good networking tool.
It’s OK to Think Big, but Start Small
There are plenty of freelancing sites that promise to have gigs in your chosen field and for some people that works, which is great. But I found more success in doing my own research. I happened to already love xoNecole, but seeing that they had an open invitation to submit pieces was an opportunity I needed to take. I also submitted to another online journal called Thought Catalog and the Manifest-Station (the latter through a site called Submittable, which has many sites looking for freelancers of all walks of life). Thankfully, the editors liked my work enough (and still do) to publish my work, which not only builds my portfolio, but also have confidence in my writing to keep going, and has made me think about publishing a book this year as well as start a podcast. Starting is the first step, no matter where you are. I lucked out and have found really good opportunities thus far (thank you so much xoNecole!) and if I can do it, you can too.
Embrace the Hustle and it will Embrace You Back
While we would love making money doing what we love full-time, that isn't always the case and we know the bills won't be patient while we find our way. So you may have to build your dream alongside a full-time gig that may not be as fulfilling. For me, that's working in corporate America full-time, which is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining at times. But I am trying to shift my focus in 2019 to not only being thankful for having a job right now, but also looking at it as funding my dream. As long as I can pay my bills and feed my children, then I can take the time to build the life I WANT to live and sustain our lifestyle. It is not easy by any means, but that is okay. It's called a hustle for a reason.
Which leads to my next point…
You Have to Make Time
We all have tight schedules. I myself work a full-time job with a minimum one hour commute one way, I have an older child in volleyball with two two-hour practices per week, and a one-hour game on Saturdays. During the week, I barely have time to blink. But a friend of mine recently had me complete an exercise – she had me fully write out my schedule, hour by hour, during the week and weekend, to see where my time gaps are. In starting it, I was sure I wouldn't have any time to spare; however, as it turns out, I had more time than I expected. Not much but enough that I can get some things done. So, I've started making the time in my schedule and putting the time on my calendar so that I can make time to do what I love and still make time for my other obligations. I'm not perfect, and this is still a work in progress. But my goals are important enough for me to make the time to reach them.
Move from Ambitious to Audacious
This is my mantra for 2019 – feel free to borrow. Let me be the big sister for a second – your dreams are not going to make themselves. You can want to do things, but wanting alone isn't enough. You have to get up and make it happen. You have to be willing to lean into your own life and put in the work necessary to be successful in your goals. You have to invest in you. That is going to take audacity – getting up and making, as Cardi B says, those money moves. You must be bold enough and believe in yourself enough to put your gifts and talents out there. Someone is looking for you, but they'll never find you unless you make yourself visible.
Nothing worth having comes easy, but believe me when I tell you, once you get started, you won't want to stop. There's nothing like realizing that you can build the life you want if you're just willing to put in the work needed to do it.
Featured image by Getty Images
is a mother, writer, yogi, Scorpio and has good hair but is NOT Becky by any means. By day, she pushes paper, but by night, she unleashes her superpower: using her words.
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
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo courtesy of Tamara Taylor
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image courtesy of Tamara Taylor