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Lifestyle & Fitness Coach Monica Bencomo Prioritizes Self Above All Else

"Self-care is not an option or a luxury; it's vital to my overall health and happiness as a mom."

Mother/Hustler

In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.

If you thought being a full-time business owner while homeschooling two small children and still managing to get a full-body workout in is hard, try doing it while you're 34 weeks pregnant. While many of us would shudder at the thought, there is one smooth Mother/Hustler that accepts this challenge with a smile.

32-year-old founder of Moms Wear Heels, Monica Bencomo is a force of nature that knows that securing a bag means nothing if you don't secure yourself, first, sis.

No one is immune to burnout, not even this seemingly superhuman Lifestyle and Fitness Coach who shared that she deeply understands the struggle of trying to fill from an empty cup. She told xoNecole, "As a recovering people pleaser, I'd often go out of my way to ensure all my clients were happy, and I'd overgive and overperform. That led to burnout."

Monica, who will soon be a mother-of-three, says that while her plate is often full, it's only full of the projects she chooses to say yes to. "Nah" is a complete sentence, and when given the choice between securing a check and securing her sanity, Monica chose the latter. "Realizing my kids had to come first, and that I wanted to give them a happy mom (not a burned-out one) forced me to say 'no' to anyone or anything who wanted more than I thought was fair."

As a full-time wife, mother, and business owner, Monica says that hustling ain't easy, but most things that are aren't really worth having, are they? We caught up with Monica, who gave us the tea on how she manages to balance motherhood, entrepreneurship, and self-care at the same damn time. Here's what she had to say:

How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?

"I pray. Then I remind myself in that moment of what my most important priorities are. Then I tackle them accordingly."

When do you feel most productive? 

"The morning--I am such a morning person. I wake up before my kids so I can have alone time, and get my creative work done. The morning is when I feel most optimistic, and when I have the most energy to conquer the day."

What’s the hardest part of your day?

"That's usually towards the end of the day, after many hours of homeschooling, working from home, tidying up, and taking care of everyone when my energy begins to wane and I still have to do nighttime baths, reading, and planning for the next day."

How (and how often) do you practice self-care?

"Every. Day. I won't get out of bed until I've meditated, prayed, gone over my gratitude, and asked for guidance. For me, self-care is not an option or a luxury; it's vital to my overall health and happiness as a mom."

What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt? 

"Check yourself, guilt isn't always something to shun away. Sometimes guilt serves as a painful reminder that we need to shift something in our lifestyle. I believe you can be a great mom and go after your dreams, but there is a delicate balance only your heart will be able to weigh. I always guide my clients to listen to what their emotions are trying to communicate with them. Guilt may have something to teach you in that moment."

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur? 

"That no one will work for or believe in you or your dreams if you don't--and that not everyone will like you--or understand you--sometimes even family and friends. And that's okay! Your destiny is your business--not theirs."

What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?

"Most of all, I want them to exemplify self-love--to live in this world knowing that they matter--their contributions, gifts, and unique traits. It breaks my heart to see so many young people suffering from depression and anxiety due to not feeling valuable because they're comparing themselves to IG models or reality stars! I want my kids to be thinkers, have discernment, and believe in themselves in a world that constantly tries to make them feel insecure; which drives my work and my mission with Moms Wear Heels today."

Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9-5 offers more stability? 

"It's been my experience that 9-5s do not offer stability--I've been let go of 'safe' jobs I hated due to budget cuts and am grateful for that happening so that now, I have the courage to work for myself. Once I graduated from college and everyone asked where I wanted to work, I intuitively knew it had to be for me. No job was attractive enough to cause me to trade time away from my kids for money. And as Jim Carey said, 'We can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.' I've been an entrepreneur for 8 years and have no intention of turning around now."

What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy? 

"So many women I've worked with have told me they don't have time for the things they claim they want in life--whether it's exercising or chasing a dream. We all have the same 24 hours in a day--so do a time audit and really see where your time is going. Are you on social media too long? Are you chilling with Netflix or YouTube when you could be growing your business? Be honest and investigate where your time and energy is going on a daily basis, and reprioritize where necessary."

How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?

"Being a mom woke me up to my potential. Being a mother has also made me become more organized and better at time management. I realized that every 'yes' I'd give others was a 'no' I was giving to my kids and family. And that helped me to draw fierce boundaries as a businesswoman! As a mother, I only say 'yes' to things that I really want to say 'yes' to, and I've learned that 'no, thank you' really is a complete sentence."

What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family? 

"Have family meetings. If you're married, you and your partner need to be on the same page. If you're single, you can do this yourself. My husband and I meet weekly and monthly to go over things like finances, goals, etc so we're on the same page. Develop a vision as a family, and practice discipline! If you decide you want to buy a home in the next two years, for example, plan to spend more frugally and save a certain amount each time you're paid. Set tangible goals you can measure. And check progress each time you meet."

To learn more about Monica and join the Moms Wear Heels Movement, follow her on Instagram @MomsWearHeels!

Featured image courtesy of @MomsWearHeels.

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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