As women, we often juggle so many roles, from our jobs to our households, and many of us count it all as a normal part of living our best lives. If we want to advance, upgrade, and reach our dreams, we take the steps, make the sacrifices, and enjoy the ride.
YouTube vlogger and lifestyle influencer Ijeoma Kola knows this all to well. In the past five years, sis has married the love of her life, finished out a PhD program, gotten pregnant and relocated to a whole 'nother country---all while running a thriving online lifestyle platform that has attracted more than 80,000 followers on IG alone. She's also launched a tourism platform to connect other women to African culture and experiences, and she has been slowly but surely transitioning a new normal as the mother of a newborn.
We caught up with Ijeoma in this xoNecole interview to talk how she juggles being a wife and new mom, her leap into global relocation while pregnant, and how faith pushes her boss moves:
Image by Ade Osinubi
You and your husband relocated to Kenya last year, and you totally moved your life while pregnant. How was that experience?
I visited Kenya four or five times before moving here, so I was familiar with Nairobi. The first time I came, I felt super-comfortable. The infrastructure and amenities are pretty similar to America, so I didn't feel out of place here versus moving to, say, a more rural part of Kenya or of Africa. In terms of being relatively newlywed, it's been fun doing this with my husband Jonathan because he's from here and while were dating, he actually went to Nigeria for a year and a half and that's where I'm from. He ended up being in my country for a little bit and I ended up being in his country, so I think it helps us understand one another.
Although our cultural experiences growing up were different, now we get to see both sides. I've met a lot of people he went to school with and get to learn more about him a little bit deeper. It's cool to experience that. It provides another interesting dimension to our marriage for sure.
Something we considered when moving is that it's not that unfamiliar to both of us. We have extended family and friends here so that's made the transition a lot easier. Being a new mom in a new country, I was really shocked because it seems like as soon as I landed I was able to connect with three other pregnant women at the time. I have been exposed to a community of new moms. I just really felt welcomed. I find it's so easy to find a common ground with people and easy to make friends simply being pregnant.
Image by Lyra Aoko
With all the change you've experienced in the past six months, has your perspective on balance changed?
There are days that I don't do any work or there are days that I do. I have grace with myself, and I get comfortable with the fact that I can't do everything and I can't please everybody. Just letting go of the weight of having to be perfect is key. If a day goes by and I haven't exactly gotten to everything I want to do, it's totally OK. Tomorrow's another day and [if] I can't get to, [I] can go for it tomorrow.
My husband is really down for the cause and he's super-helpful. His family is also very helpful, and they'll stop by and they've been my support system. I also have a team for the work that I do---an assistant and an agent for my blog who helps with negotiating contracts and collaborations. And we have house help. It's important to surround yourself with people who can help you and to outsource tasks.
What does self-care look like for you now that you're a mom?
Whenever he's napping or I'm able to get a break, I try to do something for me. I get out of the house, and I may get my hair or my nails done. I really like working out, and I make sure I go for a walk---alone or sometimes with my husband. I do yoga and I love facials and massages. The time I do these things can vary because my son has needs and he might wake up at different times or need things [at different times].
I'm hoping that in the next few months we can get a good routine going, but for the most part that's pretty much what it looks like.
As a vloggerpreneur, how has it been in terms of transitioning your business and shifting the way you present content?
My blogging business has definitely changed. It's really been about recognizing that my audience has changed. Once I moved, my Kenyan audience grew, and with that, they have different expectations. The Kenyan market operates differently from the American market and I had to decide how to position myself. You have to know how you want to shift your content--if at all--and I had to adapt. Also, when it comes to influencer marketing, I've had to approach brands differently. For example, a Kenyan brand might have a much smaller budget and might expect different deliverables. It might shift from a focus, in America, for blog post campaigns, to more Instagram-focused in Kenya.
The last change has more to do with becoming a mom. I now have to think more about how the content I post affects other people.
Before I got married, [my blog] just had to do with me and my life. Then, once I got married, it was about me and my husband. There were things I'd post that I'd include him in, but he's not a blogger for a living, so I had to be conscious of that. Now that I'm a mom, it's about being even more mindful of how I post and maybe being a bit more private about what I post or share.
What are your plans for the future in Kenya, particularly your newest venture, the Safe Journey Retreat?
I'm a spiritual person so I try to be guided by God's calling and what He wants for my life. I try to mold what I do around that. That helps me stay balanced and grounds me. Starting the Safe Journey Retreat made sense for me. It helps me in my position here. I blogged in America, I finished school and I have this audience.
I just moved here, I love it here, and I think that everyone should experience Kenya as a beautiful place to be. It felt very natural to combine all of those---my passion for traveling and Africa in general.
Also, because I'm taking a break from [what I studied in school], it's also a good way to pursue another project as I figure out things. In the early part of my 20s, I spent a lot of time trying to strictly plan out my life. I had this grand plan and I was going to accomplish things by a certain time. Something I've learned over the past decade is that when man plans, God laughs. As much as you have goals and plans, ultimately you don't really know. If you would've talked to me back then and told me that I'd be married and moving to Kenya, I'd say, "Girl, get out of my face!" (Laughs) I try to let go of the desire to overly plan my life. I kind of go with the flow right now. As long as I'm being true to myself, and continue to uplift and inspire---what I'm called to do---I'm at peace.
For more of Ijeoma, follow her on Instagram.
Featured Image by Marta Skovro
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
I didn’t think much could get better about the blissful high that comes with oral. That was until I came across the Kivin Method.
As someone who was never a huge fan of oral sex and could largely take it or leave it, I must admit that I have started to come around in recent years. With my head thrown back, hands gripping sheets and hair, and toes curling from the intense sensations of the work my partner is putting in at my center, I now give myself over to the pleasurable act wholly and unapologetically.
When I came across a way to maximize the pleasure I receive from cunnilingus (already), I had no choice but to tap in. Who knew the key to taking oral sex to new heights was giving it a sideways twist? For those of you who might also be interested in ways to spice up the way you do oral, experience faster and stronger orgasms, or simply want to indulge in something new with your partner, the Kivin Method could definitely be the oral sex technique for you, too.
Keep reading to learn about the method that is sure to have you writhing in ecstasy in no time at all.
What Is The Kivin Method?
For the uninitiated, the Kivin Method is an oral sex technique that focuses on stimulating the clitoris from a different angle. Dubbed “sideways oral” by some, this method involves the action of giving head from a side-to-side movement as opposed to the up-and-down motion that people typically perform when giving head. (If you need a visual, this illustration is helpful.)
The difference in approach as you’re receiving head can be a game-changer in how you receive pleasure. Not only does the giving partner have access to the clitoris, but they can also access more easily the vulva and the labia, which are objectively a bigger focus in this version of cunnilingus. More access means wider coverage, and that, plus the new sensation of oral from a different angle, can heighten the way you experience oral sex that much more.
Where more pleasure flows, intense orgasms are sure to follow.
How To Do The Kivin Method
If you want to know how to do the Kivin Method, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The receiver lays on their back while the giver positions themselves perpendicular to the receiver. Their head will be facing the vulva, but instead of vertical, their face will be horizontal to the vulva.
From there, the giver can get to business, ensuring that they keep their head perpendicular to the receiver’s vulva while working on their craft. Because this technique can be more intense for some receivers, start slowly by stroking the vulva and clitoris sideways with the tongue, and allow sensations and communication from the receiver to be a guide of what you need more or less of with the Kivin Method.
Ultimately, the Kivin Method allows experimentation and unlocking what pressure, rhythm, and tricks work best for the giver and the receiver. Try implementing a finger or two, or adding a sex toy to the mix to intensify the act even further.
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images