How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
What happens when you put 22 gorgeous single men and women on a beautiful island with no phones and lots of smoking hot sex appeal? For fitness influencer Clinton Moxam and Wilhelmina model Uche Nwosu, it resulted in a nearly three-year relationship and a fur baby named Rue. The post-MTV's Are You the One?season six power couple still flourished in their love and addiction for one another despite their confirmed "no match" midway through the season. Now, we can all watch their YouTube videos together in jubilee and root for them as they post cute #RelationshipGoals photos that bless our Explore pages.
Though Uche is originally from East Grand Rapids, Michigan and Clinton is originally from Palm Bay, Florida, the two lovebirds have made Hollywood their home. Unfortunately, this wasn't always the case and the two had to adjust to living apart for nearly half a year. "We had to do long-distance for about five months last year and we definitely had to work on our communication––but we made it through and came out on the other side stronger," said the certified personal fitness trainer. With growth comes growing pains, but even with their fights and disagreements, Clinton and Uche still managed to come out swinging. Three years to the date they met, Clinton popped the question and made his three-year girlfriend his fiancee and life partner.
"We have different communication styles which was something that we have had to work on throughout our relationship," says the lifestyle influencer. "Also - what to watch on TV. Clinton always caves though, we're finishing up Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season 10." Clinton chimes in that their disagreements are typically caused by miscommunication regarding things that are happening in their individual lives and not communicating it to one another effectively. "This can lead to one of us being offended about how the other is seeming to act, not realizing that the issue isn't even really between the two of us," adds Clinton.
In this installment of How We Met, we caught up with the reality television alumni and newly engaged couple about meeting on MTV, the importance of effective communication to avoid arguments, and their appreciation for each other's sense of humor.
*This interview was conducted prior to Clinton's proposal or knowledge of the proposal.
How They Met:
Uche: I got a scouting call right after New Years' 2017 for an MTV show. I had just moved from Chicago to Los Angeles at the time where I was interning for a stylist and I didn't think much of it. I went through the first round of interviews and before I knew it, it was the middle of May and I was being flown into Los Angeles for final casting. Long story short, I ended up going on a reality show in New Orleans purely for the experience. We were both going through different situations at the time and neither of us were looking for love on the show whatsoever. I always laughed when the whole premise of the show was centered around "winning love and money" when that's exactly what ended up happening for me.
Clinton: I moved to NY right after graduating college in August 2016. From there, I was doing a bit of modeling and trying to grow my social media platforms. I was contacted by MTV about a show they were casting called Are You the One?. I went through the whole casting process and was picked to be on the show. I met Uche on a big green stage with 20 other people as we started filming for the show.
Uche: The day we met was also the day we met the rest of the cast (22 of us). That day is still a huge blur to me! The cameras, the mics, the house, everything was so new. I remember I didn't even end up talking to Clinton until the very end of the night. We ended up sitting by the pool and talking for a few hours. Like I said, my intention coming on this show was just to have an experience and possibly win money––I had gone through a lot of not great situations prior, and at the moment I wasn't looking to get into a relationship. I remember on day four (mind you, these TV days are unlike real days! Whereas when you meet someone in the "real world" you spend maybe a few hours a day with them––we were spending 24 hours, all day, every day with each other––with no phones or contact with the outside world. Every three days marks a "TV week"), talking to my friend Nicole and telling her that I really think I was starting to like Clinton, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. I was definitely being cautious, I didn't know what was going to come from it and didn't want to start getting attached! All I know is we just gravitate towards each other, always.
Clinton: Similar to Uche, I was in a prior situation before going on to the show. It was a situation where myself and the person involved were not 100% sure what direction we were going. When the show started, I wasn't actually interested in getting to know anyone. I was hoping it would possibly create other opportunities for me and I would win the money in the end. The entire first day was hectic. I didn't have a conversation with Uche until later that night as we were both trying to have different conversations with different people, not exactly thinking that any of the conversations would lead anywhere, but that's just what we were there to do. From my initial conversation with her, I knew she would be the only person I could even hold a conversation with. She was so effortlessly funny and charismatic, but I don't think either of us thought much of it. It wasn't until day three or four that I was just watching her as she walked through the house and I got this feeling inside of me like a little light bulb turned on and I said to myself, '"Hold up! you really like her." From that moment on, she hasn't gotten rid of me!
Courtesy of Uche & Clinton
"From my initial conversation with her, I knew she would be the only person I could even hold a conversation with. She was so effortlessly funny and charismatic, but I don't think either of us thought much of it. It wasn't until day three or four that I was just watching her as she walked through the house and I got this feeling inside of me like a little light bulb turned on and I said to myself, 'Hold up! you really like her.' From that moment on, she hasn't gotten rid of me!"
Clinton: Our technical first date was on the show. The whole house wanted us to win a date so we could go into the "truth booth" to see if we were a match (spoiler alert: we were not). We finally won a date on week five. We went on a ferry in New Orleans, had a caricature artist draw us, and it was really fun. Later that night, we had to go into the truth booth and find out we weren't a match so the day… didn't end quite well. Our first date outside of 'the house' was mini-golfing and a movie! It's like we were waiting to see if the spark we had on the show would still be there in the outside world and it without a doubt was.
Making It Official:
Uche: Well, before the show I was kind of in flux as to where I wanted to be and what exactly I wanted to do. It just so happened that earlier that year, my mom took a job at a hospital in Florida where she would work two weeks out of the month in Urgent Care. The show stopped filming at the end of July and I decided to go see my mom before making my next steps. It just so happened that out of all the places in Florida she could have relocated to, it was exactly 49 minutes away from where Clinton's mom lived.
Clinton: Before the show started, I decided it was time for me to move back home to Florida, so I packed my car and planned to drive down to Florida after the show finished. It just so happened that we ended up being there at the same time which allowed us to spend a lot of time together. I would go to her mom's place Thursday through Sunday every week and we would just hang out and spend time together. We went on dates and we went out, but the majority of our time was just spent getting to know one another and laughing. We did this for about 5-6 months and in November of 2017 while filming the "Reunion" episode of the show that we were on, I officially asked Uche to be my girlfriend.
Uche: I honestly wasn't trying to get humiliated on national TV so I was leaving it all up to him to take the next step. I don't know, it was like I was looking for some big red flag. Everything just seemed too good to be true––I've never met anyone like him.
Clinton: Uche never pushed me to make it official. Even though we were very exclusive and open with one another, we were taking our time trying to really get an understanding of one another. We learned so much about each other and developed such a strong foundation of love in this time that the night I asked her to be my girlfriend. I also told her I loved her because I knew what we had was going to last.
Courtesy of Uche & Clinton
"Uche never pushed me to make it official. Even though we were very exclusive and open with one another, we were taking our time trying to really get an understanding of one another. We learned so much about each other and developed such a strong foundation of love in this time that the night I asked her to be my girlfriend. I also told her I loved her because I knew what we had was going to last."
The Sweetest Thing:
Uche: His sense of humor and his heart! No one loves me better or makes me laugh harder. We will literally spend the whole day making each other laugh. I don't know if anyone else thinks we're funny? But, I don't know… Saturday Night Live should probably give us a call.
Clinton: Definitely her sense of humor and her smile. From the moment we met, we've naturally bounced off of one another and our relationship is filled with jokes and laughter. I say her smile because I think it's the cutest thing in the world. I love seeing her smile because it's the physical representation of how she is actually feeling. Seeing my woman happy makes me happy, and that's why I love that smile.
Uche: It definitely happened over time. When he first told me, the night of the show reunion––I was surprised he said it, but I felt the exact same. I had thought I had been in love before, but I realize now that's not what that was. I kept saying I felt "different", that I had a "different feeling". I still don't even know how to describe it but he really is my other half. It just feels right and I feel the most me when I'm with him. I HATE to be cheesy, I'm so sorry, but honestly––every single day I am reminded that it really is love.
Clinton: I knew it was love because of how Uche and I were with one another. I had experienced love, commitment, and the challenges that come along with it. I saw it in both of us that we had the capacity and the willingness to be selfless, understanding, genuine and truthful with one another because Uche showed me all of those characteristics from the time we met. Love is a feeling but it also takes a lot of work and we were both ready for that.
Courtesy of Uche & Clinton
"I had experienced love, commitment, and the challenges that come along with it. I saw it in both of us that we had the capacity and the willingness to be selfless, understanding, genuine and truthful with one another because Uche showed me all of those characteristics from the time we met. Love is a feeling but it also takes a lot of work and we were both ready for that."
Uche: I had to learn that every argument doesn't mean it's the end all be all. It sounds so silly now, but I was so used to being in tumultuous relationships where I always had to have my guard up and be ready for the next curveball. This relationship has matured me so much and I am so happy we met in the time we did, Lord knows I had to go through the things that I did to fully appreciate and recognize a blessing when it's presented to me. We've also had to work on our communication. I've always thought that being outgoing meant that I was a good communicator––so wrong. I've had to be honest with myself and realize that I actually kind of suck at communicating when it comes to talking about the not fun and uncomfortable elements of life. We've really grown!
Clinton: We had to learn how to talk to one another about our past and the things we struggle with as individuals. We navigated those conversations by proving to one another over time that we can be trusted with knowing the hard things that neither of us wants to tell people we cannot 100% trust. As time passed and we continued to prove ourselves to one another, we opened up more and became even closer. I also had to unlearn the kind of "tit for tat" mindset. We're one, we're in this relationship together and we both bring different things to the table that are valuable in different ways.
Talk To Me Nice
Uche: I would say that my love languages on the giving end are: gift-giving and words of affirmation. On the receiving end, it would be acts of service and gift-giving, but by gift I mean ANYTHING. If someone ever gives me anything that lets me know they're thinking of me, honestly anything, it means a lot to me I don't know why. Oh, especially cards! I keep all of my cards. If you've ever written me a card, literally ever, I guarantee you I still have it!
Clinton: My love language is words of affirmation. I'm pretty simple––I don't need much but I do need my woman to tell me that she's proud of me and that she sees me. I'll do anything for her and I just want to know that she appreciates me.
Courtesy of Uche & Clinton
"I had to learn that every argument doesn't mean it's the end all be all. It sounds so silly now, but I was so used to being in tumultuous relationships where I always had to have my guard up and be ready for the next curveball. This relationship has matured me so much and I am so happy we met in the time we did, Lord knows I had to go through the things that I did to fully appreciate and recognize a blessing when it's presented to me."
Uche: I've been through my fair share of frogs. I'm not saying I'm perfect, I've definitely had to grow up a lot and learn from past relationships. But never have I ever been fully appreciated and encouraged to be who I am, SO authentically. I've always been a confident person but going on such a widely publicized show opens you up to so much scrutiny. There was so much positivity and love coming my way but you are always going to have your online trolls and negative people that want to bring you down.
It's so easy to focus on the negative and I did fall into that trap many times, especially right after the show when things were still fresh. Clinton has never left my side and has always lifted me up, had my back, and encourages me ALWAYS to be exactly the person I am. Never too much!
Loving Your Partner:
Clinton: I've learned that love requires a lot of patience. We met at 21 and 23 years old, I don't think people understand how much there is to figure out individually and together at this point in life. I definitely didn't realize that, now that we've known each other for three years and we've gone through different things together, I'm seeing how important patience is.
I'm becoming my own person, she's becoming her own person and we are also coming together as one. Growing up, we are conditioned to think that you are supposed to find this perfect person and then they complete you, which isn't true at all. What really happens is you find an amazing person and you guys love and commit to one another and then there's a lot of work to be done. It's all worth it because the love and relationship you build is unbreakable!
For more Uche & Clinton, follow them on Instagram!
Featured image courtesy of Uche and Clinton.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Introducing Chief Mom Officer: Where Working Moms Come First
xoNecole's Chief Mom Officer explores the 18-month post-pregnancy journey through the lens of our very own Chief Mom Officer, Shakyna Bolden. The series will serve as an inspirational and resourceful guide to help get through the early days of new motherhood as working moms knowing they are not alone in the hardships.
“I want to build my work around my life, and not my life around my work.”
I typed these words in my iPhone Notes as I fed my newborn daughter one morning during the first few weeks of having her earthside. I didn’t have much time for page-filled journal entries as my days were filled with nonstop feedings, soothing, and recovery…but I knew I needed to give those words space and life.
Prior to my maternity leave, I, like most working moms, was burning fumes juggling work and life. Since 2019, I’ve been running revenue operations here at this really cool company you may have heard of called xoNecole (hehe). I’ve been behind the scenes building our brand partnerships and negotiating deals with companies such as Ulta Beauty, Toyota, Target, Spotify, SheaMoisture, etc.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
I’ve co-produced our signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick while conceptualizing, selling, building, and distributing our original video and podcast content and podcast. The list goes on and on. I’ve helped build this small but brilliant company into what it is today, all while running my own small family. And that is not an easy feat.
In all truth, trying to be the best mom and partner I can be while also leading in my job has felt at times like a whirlwind where the rest of my life is passing me by. I don’t quite know where or when it happened, but I swear somebody pushed the fast-forward button in life, and I’m losing my edges trying to keep up.
My mind and body get so preoccupied with the management of life that my soul sits on the sidelines, waiting to take the reins and intentionally live it.
So many facets of my life, from my health and well-being to my hobbies and passions, have been placed on the back burner while tending to my young family and growing in my career has taken center stage. And for the longest time, I’ve wanted to flip the switch, but the pace of life just hasn’t let me restack my priorities.
That is, until now.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I couldn’t imagine adding more to my already full plate. Simultaneously, I was also relieved to know that my upcoming maternity leave would force me to press pause and catch my breath. Her birth in January 2023 was a much-needed reset, to say the least.
My maternity leave was the first time since 2019 that I had a second for dreams that were buried in the back of my heart to bubble up to the surface of my reality. I got a taste of what it was like to solely focus on my well-being and my home life. And I liked it a lot. My healing. My recovery. Sitting and really taking quiet time with God to search the unattended areas in the garden of my life.
I was cooking homemade meals on the regular and actually sitting down with my family at the table to eat. As grueling as those first newborn weeks can be, I was enjoying the long-awaited shift in my priorities; and I wanted that shift to stick. I didn’t want it to fade away after my maternity leave.
I want to build my work around my life and not my life around my work.
As a leader of an organization that speaks to millions of women every day about their well-being (and also in leading a team of majority women), I feel it’s my responsibility to carry this shift forward boldly. This is why I’m launching a new column here at xoNecole: Chief Mom Officer!
As I return to work full-time this month from my maternity leave, I want to regularly share my experience of trying to harmonize work and life. As an audience, you all share your raw, unfiltered journeys with us. For years, they’ve undoubtedly inspired me. I want to show up and do the same because I know this shift in my life will be quite the journey.
So for all my Chief Mom Officers—those of us who are constantly merging the imperfect and chaotic worlds of leadership in the office and wearing our crowns at home—I invite you to come on this journey with me and celebrate the ebbs and flows in how we show up for each.
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Featured image courtesy of Shakyna Bolden