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How Journalist Marsha B. Manifested The NYC Apartment Of Her Dreams

In resting, we recharge and we also begin to create the life and space we desire.

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Now, more than ever, it's important to make your space sacred. Since COVID-19 came in like a flood, we have been spending more time in our dope abodes. Our souls need a safe space to shelter from all of the happenings outside of our doorsteps. Home is not only where the heart is but it's also where the peace is. It's the space that allows us to rest and recharge because black rest matters, too.

In resting, we recharge and we also begin to create the life and space we desire.

Journalist and content creator Marsha B. knows exactly what that means after her once comfortable life was shaken up. After seven years in a relationship, she woke up one day and decided she had to put herself first. While the breakup was one of the most amicable separations she has ever experienced, there was still one large blockade keeping her from her new chapter — their huge, two-bedroom apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Marsha's journey to her stylish sanctuary was nothing short of serendipitous. Her relationship ended on good terms so there were no qualms about her residing with her ex but her soul needed to started anew. A few months after the breakup, Marsha moved into a studio in the same neighborhood. It wasn't a deluxe apartment in the sky but it was the first stage in her building the life she wanted. However, her attempt to find solace in solitude quickly became a nightmare.

Reclaiming Her Time and Space

The studio apartment

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"For my ex, it made no sense for me to leave. For me, it was vital to me really exploring what it meant to prioritize myself. I made the decision to find my own place. I moved in the wintertime so the neighborhood was generally quiet," she explained. "Once the weather hit 50 degrees, I realized I lived directly in front of a drug hub in Flatbush. Yes, directly outside of my front window was a trap van with drug dealers and drug addicts, reminiscent of the New Jack City movie."

The soundtrack of her life became fights heard in the middle of the night, undercover officers taking down addicts, and observed transactions as she walked into her building. She knew then that she had to go back to the drawing board in achieving the freedom she desired. She broke her lease. Her apartment complex let her know she'd be responsible for paying the rent through the remainder of her lease term. "I honestly didn't care," she said. "I had the money. I was going to do what I had to do to live comfortably."

Marsha found herself a few steps closer to the sanctuary she envisioned mid-apartment hunting when a broker reached out to her about a huge one-bedroom apartment available nearby. Located just 30 minutes from the studio she was renting, she decided to take a walk there. This time, she wanted to scope the neighborhood and be certain there were no trap vans hidden around the corner. The first thing that caught her attention was the size of the space. The living room alone was the size of the studio she was in the process of moving out of.

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

However, though the space was the size she longed for, it'd require a lot of work to truly be the space of her dreams. "This was a diamond in the rough," Marsha stated. "The kitchen had this horrible wallpaper from the 70's. The tiles on the floor were old and dirty. The walls honestly had never been painted since the tenant first moved in, 20 years ago. There were holes in the wall, a roach infestation, broken light fixtures. You name it, they had it. The broker let me know this apartment was being rented 'as is', so all my requests for the apartment to be improved were denied."

"I prayed long and hard about whether or not I should take this place. It was going to be a financial investment and I wasn't fond of spending so much on a place I didn't own. I adjusted to my abundance mindset: 'You have the money. You want to live comfortably. You will live here for as long as the universe will have you here. An investment in this apartment is an investment in you,'" she continued.

"I adjusted to my abundance mindset: 'You have the money. You want to live comfortably. You will live here for as long as the universe will have you here. An investment in this apartment is an investment in you.'"

The Stylish Sanctuary - Before & After:

And an investment it was indeed. Marsha got the keys to her apartment in October 2019 and since then has had her place fumigated and painted. She's retiled the dining room, kitchen and bathroom floors, stripped the wallpaper in the kitchen among other renovations she needed to in order to give her apartment the transformation she deserved. "I had to do everything on a budget because I still had to pay two months rent at my old spot, while paying rent at my new place," Marsha shared. "Then, there were moving costs, first month's rent, security, and broker's fee. And paint. Paint isn't cheap, especially when the apartment is gigantic."

But the hard work, money, and effort paid off and the peace she found afterwards was worth its weight in gold. "I am in love with where I live and I honestly don't ever want to leave!" she rejoiced about her stylish simple sanctuary.

The Transformation:

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"It's important to invest in what you want. This apartment was in such horrible shape and if I weren't willing to invest in it, I might've settled for something mediocre. I am filled with pride when I look at my apartment and what it's morphed into."

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"I'd like to think that I manifested this apartment. I wrote down on a piece of paper, 'I will attract the perfect apartment for me. It will be in the perfect location. It will be safe and affordable.' I got exactly what I asked for. If I didn't shift into my abundance mindset, I could've possible lost out on an amazing living space. As far as rent goes, I only pay $55 more than I was paying in my studio. This apartment is four times bigger. No DIY projects, but I will throw this tip out there: Facebook Marketplace is the truth!"

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"My favorite part of my new space is my bedroom. I strategically left it out of my apartment tour because it's such a sacred space for me. If my home were a church, my bedroom would be the confessional. I'm very conscious of the energies I allow in there. I have affirmations written on the walls and I house my altar that keeps me spiritually grounded there. My personal rule is that there are no arguments or disagreements in my bedroom. It is literally a safe space for me."

Keep up with Marsha on her website, Introvert N The City.

Featured image courtesy of Marsha B.

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high with many of us seeking self-improvement and healing with the support of therapists. Tucked away in cozy offices, or in the comfort of our own homes, millions of women receive the tools needed to navigate our emotions, relate to those around us, or simply exist in a judgment-free space.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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