Whew, y'all. I know some of you clicked on this fast AF, but let me just say two things before getting into the whole Jada/August/Will saga. One, we really need to stop talking about celebrities like we know these people personally (unless we actually do). No one is perfect and, honestly, even the hashtag #relationshipgoals is pretty annoying. I mean, I can't tell you how many times folks would tell me that they wanted a marriage that was just like Jay Z and Beyoncé—well, they wanted it until Jay Z admitted that he had been unfaithful. People are human and humans are flawed. This means that relationships also are flawed as well. Every single one. Some more than others. Second, you don't have the time and I don't have the space to try and cover all things Will and Jada or Jada and August. Will and Jada have been married for over 25 years and, according to Jada, she and August have been done for a few years now. We're never going to know the whole story because we aren't involved in Will and Jada's union. As far as Jada and August, I've been in enough relationships—and situationships—to know that perspectives are everything.
Very rarely do both individuals have the same one, let alone the people who are looking from the outside in.
I just wanted to get that out there beforehand because, before I do shallow deep dive into what Jada shared when she met herself at the table today (you can check it out here), I think it's important we keep in mind that speculations aren't facts. Opinions aren't either. We all certainly have the right to both. However, my motivation for penning this is more of a cautionary tale of how we can find ourselves in things that 1) we may not have been prepared to get involved in and/or 2) oftentimes don't have an expiration date, in the sense of when they'll come back up again. Which is why we should always choose wisely. Very much so.
Anyway, as a marriage life coach, I'm pretty sure I could come up with 15 points. But, for now, here are my three main takeaways from what Jada Pinkett Smith, August Alsina and Will Smith had to say about…well, you know.
TAKEAWAY #1: Guard Your Heart
I'll be the first to raise my hand in this class and say that I was sooooo prepared for Jada to skirt around what August said had transpired between them—an affair. After all, when you're "coming to the table" to get to the bottom of things, typically that needs to involve all of the parties; yet her Red Table today was only her and Will. Still, I must admit that Jada was surprisingly candid. Maybe a little uncomfortable along the way (understandably so), but she did admit that, 4 ½ years ago, her friendship with August turned into what she first said was "a different kind of entanglement". Well, she went with "entanglement" until Will offered push back so that she would admit that it had been an actual relationship. Jada said that she and Will had been going through a difficult time back then, to the point where they basically separated and weren't sure if reconciliation was even on the table.
"I was in a lot of pain. I was very broken…I wanted to feel good," expressed Jada. She also shared that she was aware that she was codependent at the time and "It helped to heal somebody". (No one heals anyone by the way. We support them through their own healing. It can take a codependent a really long time to grasp that point.)
As a codependent-in-recovery myself, let me tell you that I totally get where Jada is coming from. When folks are hurting, some reach for a bottle, some reach for pills, some reach for people. For her, it was people. More specifically, August. I guess that, since she and Will felt as if they were on the outs, it was justifiable (especially since she said, later on in the interview that "I don't look at it like a transgression at all…I was able to do some real healing.")
To that, please let me just say that, as a marriage life coach, I think it's important to keep in mind that until someone is divorced, they aren't. Yes, I know that different people do marriages different ways. I also know there have been rumors for years that Will and Jada are in an open marriage (in part, due to her saying things like Will is not her husband but her life partner and Jada also saying that Will "can do whatever he wants" as long as he can look himself in the mirror); however, I'm speaking to the "August Alsinas" of the world.
When you fall for someone who is in a bad place in their marriage, they're separated or even they're simply in something that's complicated, you are risking—A LOT. Not only that but you also tend to waste (yes, waste because waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return") time, effort and energy that you'll never get back on a person who took vows with their spouse, no matter what they may have offered you.
That's why, the first takeaway for me is, it's so important to guard your heart. Again, Jada said that she and August started out as friends. They then became really good friends. And then, well, the rest I think is left up for interpretation, but we know that it didn't remain platonic. And what I gathered from both Jada and August's take on their entanglement/relationship is, not only was it intense, there was pain experienced in the fallout (according to Jada, she didn't just up and cut August off one day; he actually abruptly ended all communication with her; that can be quite painful).
Listen, being married doesn't make you oblivious to other people. And while I do think that mature married individuals can have opposite sex friends, even single ones, boundaries need to be clear. That's how husbands and wives can guard their hearts. As far as us single folks? It really is best to go into any interaction with someone who is married (or in something long-term) like they are not an option. PERIOD. If you know that is going to be difficult for you, for the sake of your own heart, health and well-being (not to mention your time, effort and energy), it's probably best to leave "said person" alone. PERIOD. Otherwise, while your interaction with someone who is already involved might be great for a while, it tends to end. Eventually. Case in point—no matter how…whatever Jada and August's relationship was, it wasn't him that she was looking at today from across the table. It was her husband.
TAKEAWAY #2: Love Doesn’t Have to Kill You. It Really Doesn’t.
I like August. Again, I don't know him personally, so what I mean when I say that is, I like his music, his heart for his family, his resilience related to his health, his openness about fighting through his demons—for the most part, I like what I see as far as how he strives to work through what is clearly a very full plate. But it wasn't my "like" for him that had me totally convinced he wasn't making the relationship up in his head (like A LOT of people claimed before today's table talk). When I saw the video for "Nunya" with visuals that featured Jada's middle name "Koren" last spring (even though he denied it was about her, which was…weird), I knew something was up then. That's because I've dated musicians before. When you move them, you become their muse. You're gonna hear about it too. Literally. And then when I watched his interview with Angela Yee at the top of the month. Whew.
"I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life. And I truly and really, really, deeply loved and have a ton of love for her. I devoted myself to it. I gave my full self to it. So much so to the point that, I can die right now and be OK with knowing that I truly gave myself to somebody. And I really loved a person. I experienced that. I know what that feels like and some people never get that in this lifetime. So, I know that I'm completely blessed…I have literally never been in love in that kind of way. So much so that, being intertwined in that kind of way…walking away from it? Butchered me. I'm shaking right now because it almost…killed me. Not almost. It did. It pushed me into being another person. My newer self. It…broke…me…down. It was a part of me being paralyzed, trying to pull myself apart. It will probably be the hardest thing that I will ever experience in this lifetime."
When I heard August say all of this, I wanted to just give him a hug. Not a groupie hug. A big sister kind of embrace. I know what it's like to love someone so fully that it almost suffocates you. At the same time, healing and retrospection have taught me that oftentimes, that's not so much love as it's chemistry, connection and need. See, I'm the kind of woman who isn't fond of people saying things like, "Love hurts" or "Love is blind". From a spiritual sense, it's because the Bible tells us that "God is love" (I John 4:8&16), and He doesn't do either of those things to us. From a broader scope, I just think that seeing love through that lens teaches us to look at love from a dysfunctional space. Love doesn't hurt us. Choosing to love someone who isn't the best complement for us? That can hurt. Love isn't blind either. But the oxytocin highs from sex, the total preoccupation with someone who keeps you from using common sense, the wanting something so badly that you'll abandon all reality—those things can blind you to the truth.
I wanted to hug August, not because he fell for Jada. I get that. It's because he fell for a married woman who, through the experience, he said it butchered him; that even with all of his health issues and the loss of his own sister, nothing has hurt him more. Yet, to him, the silver lining was, if he never loved again, at least he could say that he had. Oh, August. You deserve so much more than that. All of us do. Our greatest love experience shouldn't "butcher us"; not by a long shot. I really do hope that some real healing transpires so that he can look back and see Jada more like a lesson instead of the love standard. Someone else's spouse should never be our mountaintop of how we think love should be.
TAKEAWAY #3: ENVY. NO. ONE.
I'll be honest. Watching Will and Jada discuss this situation today? It's probably the most in sync I've seen them in a very long time (it was just this past April that Jada said quarantine made her feel like she didn't know her husband at all). Maybe it was a united front for publicity's sake. Maybe August's spilling of the beans has resulted in some recent heart-to-hearts. Who knows? But there were a few things that they said that definitely inspired my final point for today.
Will: "We came together young…we both were broken in our own ways."
Will: "[Marriage] ain't for the weak of heart."
Will: "I wish it could be all marriage and miracles."
Jada: "You gotta go through some shit to get the answers."
Will: "There's real power in just knowing that somebody's riding with you, no matter what. And you can't know that, until you go through some stuff…I don't wanna go through this anymore…I'm gonna get you back first."
Jada (in response): "I think you've gotten me back. I think we're good on that."
Will (in response): "That's probably true."
Those quotes? That's not a fairy tale marriage. Not by a long shot. You know, I've heard people say since, forever, that Will and Jada are the epitome of Black love. Lord, y'all. Will and Jada are two human beings who are trying to figure life's journey out, just like the rest of us. That's a "full stop" statement. When other people let us peek into their world (or even when we find ourselves snooping), our resolve shouldn't be "I want what they have". We should be more in the mindset of, "I appreciate what they've shared. How can I apply those thoughts or tips to my own situation?" No more. No less.
Besides, if you get caught up in envying someone else's relationship, not only does that cause you to approach your own from an altered angle, 8 times out of 10, you're going to end up disappointed. If not immediately, eventually. That's not the couple you were putting on a pedestal's fault. You've got to own every ounce of your own disillusionment. So yeah, don't envy other people. It profits you nothing. Not one damn thing.
Anyway, no matter what kind of marriage Will and Jada have, at the end of the day, I will rock with Will from the perspective of marriage ain't for punks and 25 years is a really long time to be with someone. I will also commend him for making this statement to his wife—"I told you the first year that we were married that I can love you through anything."
If there's any main thing to take from this entire semi-saga, y'all—it's probably that.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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
This Couple Got A Second Chance At Love After A Six-Year Break & 10 Months Later, They Got Married
Have you ever wondered if real love is like a romance novel? For Kai, 50, and Hicham, 46, Bouhmad, it is. Kai, who is an adventurer at heart, meets a stranger who believes she would be a great match for his friend, who happens to be Hicham. They connected on Facebook and, after a few exchanges, decided to meet, and while they had a great first date and continued dating shortly after, adventure was calling, and Kai decided to break it off.
However, six years later, another stranger would bring them together, and they reconnected. We can agree that at this point, they were meant to be, and in ten short months, they got married on Valentine’s Day.
Sounds like something out of a novel, right? xoNecole had the opportunity to chat with the lovely couple about their wedding, reconnecting, and having a second chance at love.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Kai and Hicham on Meeting for the First Time
Kai and Hicham got married on February 14, 2023, in Honolulu, Hawaii in an intimate ceremony, and plan on having a reception in Morocco, Hicham’s home country, later on. One of their wedding guests was the person responsible for their union, Hicham’s friend Karim. Kai reflected on that day when they met.
“I was at a party, and a guy walked in and was like, what’s going on in here? And I was like, well, this is a salon party for the salon that just opened, and they had free food and stuff, and I was like do you want some food?” Kai shares.
When they began talking, Kareem brought up Hicham. “He was like, 'I have a friend that I want to introduce you to if you’re single,' and I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool.’ So, he was like, 'Well, I’m gonna send you his Facebook information. If you guys can talk on Facebook and see how you guys like each other.' So, that was six years ago, and we talked, and we got along pretty well, and then we started dating.”
Kai and Hicham Describe Their First Date
Because both of them are into the arts, they decided to go to the movies on their first date. At that time, Loving was in theaters, and according to Kai, she knew when she saw him that she wanted to marry him. “I just had that feeling,” she reveals.
Hicham also recalls their “wonderful” date that extended after the movies at a nearby restaurant. “It was a wonderful moment when we made eye contact,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Their Breakup and Reconnection
While Kai saw Hicham as her husband, she wasn’t ready to settle down, but Hicham was. So, they decided to go their separate ways, and Kai began traveling the world. But little did she know that six years later, she would see him again. This time, Kai was visiting an art gallery that had just opened up and began talking to the art gallery owner.
“She [art gallery owner] said, ‘I’m having an art opening, the studio just opened, and we’re having a party next week, and you should come, and my boyfriend has a lot of friends, maybe I’ll introduce you to some of his friends,’ and I was like ‘Oh, okay,’ Kai recalls.
“And at this time, I had already booked my ticket to go to Morocco to explore by myself, solo travel. So I said, 'Oh yeah, this will be fun.' This was in April, and my trip to Morocco was just in August. So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come to your little party, I’m there.’ I’m talking, and then she said 'Oh, my boyfriend is here, and here’s one of his friends.' One of his friends was Hicham.”
This happened on April 23, 2022, and they have been together ever since.
When Hicham reappeared in her life, Kai knew she was now ready to settle down. “I honestly got tired of doing stuff by myself. I was tired, everything I have to do by myself, and I just got tired of that,” Kai explains. “I just felt like I really wanted a partner who’s really supportive and generous and kind, and I really wanted a partner that was by my side.
One of the ways that Hicham convinced Kai to give him another shot was when he wore a cactus shirt to her house, which showed the journalist how much he paid attention to her. “I love cactuses ‘cause it reminds me of the desert. It’s bohemian, I love desert cactuses. When he showed up with a cactus shirt on, I just could not resist,” she says. “That sounds cheesy and cliche and might sound silly, but it just symbolized that he knows me deeply and what I love and paid attention to stuff I care about even though it was silly. That meant a lot.”
Not long after, Hicham knew it was time to pop the question. “Kai gave me [an] indication that she was ready, and so that’s how that all happened.” He continues, “dropping hints, and she was pretty much ready, and I proposed to her.”
Kai admits that they planned their engagement together, including ring shopping, engagement photos, etc.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Advice on Finding Love Again
This is both Kai’s and Hicham’s second marriages, and they gave advice on finding love the second time around. They both share the same sentiment about being open and optimistic. Both come from different cultural backgrounds and while that alone could have held them back from pursuing one another, they were open to love.
“Get out of your comfort zone and don’t limit yourself and don’t fear to fail because from failure you learn to build yourself up,” Hicham says.
And at the end of the day, it’s important to establish a friendship first. “Another [piece of] advice, just make sure you like the person,” Kai says, “and that’s really important because you have to make sure even if you have a disagreement or arguments, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, do I like this person? And just make sure you really like them.”
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Feature image courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad