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How Full-Time Freelancer Keyaira Kelly Finds Peace In Solitude

"I exhaust so much of my energy talking to people that my relaxation means complete and utter isolation from the world."

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

Growing up, I thought being loud meant being strong.

But with maturity, I've learned that the loudest person in the room is rarely the most successful and this is big facts. Just ask 30-year-old full-time freelancer, Keyaira Kelly, who wants you to know that silence is self-care. The Brooklyn-based creative recently sat down with xoNecole and gave us a whole word about solitude, which Keyaira she says is an essential part of her daily routine.

For those of us not at peace with ourselves, solitude may feel more like a burden than a blessing, but in our interview, Keyaira revealed that time alone is essential for any social media maven on her grind. She told xoNecole, "I wind down at night by not talking. People are always like, 'let's go to happy hour!' or, 'let's meet up!' and it may come off rude, but I don't relax by speaking to folks. I exhaust so much of my energy talking to people that my relaxation means complete and utter isolation from the world and anyone's needs and silence."

Keyaira says that it's during her time alone when she allows herself to feel all of the feelings, spiritually align, and find peace when she's feeling off-balance. The Talk To Your Mom podcast host explained, "I let my flesh be pissed or cloudy, but I always return to my spiritual wisdom which knows from a heavenly perspective, 'all things are working together for my good.'"

"I am learning I can't be ruled by emotions anymore or reactionary. Taking a pause, breathing, listening to chimes, burning sage, resin or charcoal, brings my concerns back to heaven height where they dissolve."

We sat down with Keyaira to talk more about making working from home work for you, the beauty of a good bubble bath, and why solitude is the gift you didn't know you needed.

Here's what we learned:

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. 

My typical week includes plugging numbers in and out of my spreadsheet of how many articles I need to complete this week, invoices I need to send, receipts I need to hold onto, etc. Working for yourself is… well, a lot of work! (Laughs) Sometimes I work at home, sometimes I grab a spot at a coffee shop. Where and when I work isn't monotonous right now, which I enjoy. It's nice to do the work when your brain is working the best, versus trying to cram it all into a 9-5.

What are your mornings like?

I wake up slowly. I really don't try to rush my way out of bed—as an independent contractor I have this privilege now. My best writing and best thinking happen in the morning—so I will often lay in bed, but I'm actually actively working out what the day is going to look like, what I'm grateful for, etc. I may throw some prayers in there. Sometimes I just cuddle in bed with my man and hold onto him as long as I can. Any morning that starts slowly is a good morning.

At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?

Pressing pause is pretty much a necessity for me to be a good writer, so I would say I discovered its importance when I transitioned from marketing to writing full-time four years ago. My best writing happens in the stillness of my mind. I literally will delete Instagram for a few hours when I need to focus on an article.

"Pressing pause is pretty much a necessity for me to be a good writer, so I would say I discovered its importance when I transitioned from marketing to writing full-time four years ago. My best writing happens in the stillness of my mind."

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

My most busy weeks are when I have a lot of travel and a lot of deadlines. It can be hard sometimes to manage writing on the road while also doing a work trip. So recently, I was in the Bahamas for one outlet doing a story (I know, poor me, right?), while also writing articles for another outlet I was on deadline for. Sometimes it's hard to sit and be in the moment when I have to work on the road. But it's a life I'm grateful for nonetheless.

Do you practice any type of self-care? What does that look like for you? 

Exercise, baths, and silence are my self-care. Exercise helps to keep me sane. It's a way I advocate for my health and bodily strength that doesn't have to do with anyone or anything but me. I love giving myself that dedicated time. I am super healthy right now and I deserve to look and feel this good—so I invest in it. Baths, just being submerged in hot water, soothes my muscles and stills my mind. Silence is so good to just hear yourself in a silo--too many voices just become mental clutter.

"Exercise helps to keep me sane. It's a way I advocate for my health and bodily strength that doesn't have to do with anyone or anything but me. I love giving myself that dedicated time. I am super healthy right now and I deserve to look and feel this good—so I invest in it."

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care? 

Honestly, when you're in a romantic relationship people say, "No one's too busy, it's just they don't want to make the time." Well, I think we need to think of ourselves that way too. When you don't make time for self-care, you're telling yourself you're not worth the effort.

How do you find balance with:

Friends?

Most of my best friends don't live in New York [and] the ones who do aren't very demanding. I am a very good text friend. I am not a good phone call/meet-up friend. My friends have adjusted to my boundaries, or have the same boundaries, so we all understand.

"I am a very good text friend. I am not a good phone call/meet-up friend. My friends have adjusted to my boundaries, or have the same boundaries, so we all understand."

Love/Relationships? Dating? 

I am prioritizing my love life right now. I desire to start a family so investing in that and his needs are very important to me.

Exercise? 

There's no easy way around this, I just do it. You got to do it when you don't feel like it. Commitment over feelings, always.

And honestly, what does success mean to you?

Peace. It's all peace.

For more of Keyaira, follow her on Instagram!

Featured image by Instagram/@keyairakelly.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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