Serial Entrepreneur Shanicia Boswell Needs You To Know That Every Loss Is An Opportunity To Level Up
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.
Good things fall apart so better things can fall together and this is big facts. Just ask Black Moms Blog creator, Shanicia Boswell, who wants you to know that every loss is just another opportunity to level up.
Before becoming a multi-hyphenate hustler and amassing more than 500K followers on Instagram, Shanicia was an engaged, stay-at-home mom living out what she now calls a "faux fairytale". But three and a half years ago in one helluva plot twist, the serial entrepreneur quickly became a homeless, single mother whose only goal was survival. She told xoNecole, "My fiance came home and told me he no longer wanted to be in a relationship and I had 30 days to move out of our home. Just like that. We had been arguing lately but not enough to think it was that drastic. I was completely unprepared."
It was then that Shanicia says that she officially hit "rock bottom". Now having to depend on friends and part-time jobs to sustain her and her young daughter, Kamryn, Shanicia gave herself a week to ugly cry about her newfound situation and tapped into her hustler mentality like clockwork. "From that point forward, stress and pain would not be my story," she shared.
At the time, Black Moms Blog was a modest community of no more than 50,000 members, but it wasn't until being encouraged to monetize the platform that Shanicia turned her dollar and a dream into a hustle that could pay the bills. She continued, "I literally gave my all to my business when I had nothing to even give. Within 6 months, I had monetized my platform to more than $16,000. I got a part-time job on the side working about 15 hours a week and moved my daughter and I back into the same building that my ex kicked us out of. I quit that part-time job one year later."
Not only did sis quit the job, she created a whole movement; and xoNecole recently s at down with Shanicia to get the 411 on dating, self-care, and how she thrives in her industry while being a bomb ass mom at the same damn time.
What’s your occupation?
This is always such a loaded answer...I am working on mainstreaming an exact title but for now, I call myself a serial entrepreneur. I am most widely known for creating Black Moms Blog, the largest news and media website specifically dedicated to parenting, culture, and lifestyle from a Black mom's point of view. I am also a photographer/content creator and just recently launched my third business, The Self Care Retreats, where I take women on international destinations around the world.
Are you single?
Girl, yes. Sometimes I say that I am single with pride and other times I claim singledom with a feeling of sadness. It's rare we actually admit that as millennials, yes, I would like to be married. And for me, I had all those things once––the ring, the family, the picture-perfect situation but I started it all with a man that just wasn't ready and when it all fell apart, he admitted that he actually didn't want the same things I wanted. We made better friends and co-parents instead of lovers. And that's okay too. I have started to mentally position myself to manifest a different answer to this question.
How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
I am a Pisces, so my levels of chill are completely unmatched. In seriousness though, self-care is a part of my daily routine...from sleeping with my phone on do not disturb, to napping, to finding time to run warm baths in the middle of the day. I don't say that as a way to brag –– I say that because I am proud of how far I have come in caring for myself. For a lot of us as women, we don't learn how to handle stress until we hit rock bottom and that is what happened to me. I handle moments of feeling overwhelmed by stopping it before it happens.
As a mother, I have very candid conversations with my daughter about stress. If I am running on a high frequency day, I am normally more irritable than not and so I make sure to let her know what it is so that she does not internalize any guilt. One of the most important things I can do is teach my daughter how to pick up energy and vibes so that she can avoid internalized guilt. Reading people is a superpower.
"I handle moments of feeling overwhelmed by stopping it before it happens. As a mother, I have very candid conversations with my daughter about stress. If I am running on a high frequency day, I am normally more irritable than not and so I make sure to let her know what it is so that she does not internalize any guilt. Reading people is a superpower."
What’s the hardest part of your day?
I can honestly admit that I don't have a lot of "hard" parts in my day. What makes a day hard exactly? I released my own personal guilts a long time ago so I don't beat myself up over things that are unchangeable. I flow. I adapt. I still get things done.
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
You hear this a lot now, about self-care not just being about getting your nails done and spa days. It is true. I practice self-care mentally by reserving time to myself. I practice self-care financially by protecting my assets and creating stability in my credit to be able to purchase a home. I practice self-care in my spirit by not being involved with things that truly serve no higher purpose to my wellbeing.
On a not so deep level, I love to tell moms, find a way to make self-care realistic for you. Every woman doesn't need a two-week vacation out of the country. Sometimes you just need a Snickers bar hiding in the bathroom from your kids. Don't feel guilty for that.
When do you feel most productive?
I feel most productive early in the mornings between the hours of 4-6 am. It seems so cliche but it is very true. When I am going through an extreme bout of creativity, my body naturally wakes up at that time, full of energy and I try to get it down on paper or on my computer before it goes away. The world is so still at that time. I am not interrupted by my phone or the sounds of the city. The air is cool. It is my favorite time to work.
What is your favorite way to spend “me time”?
Refer to my zodiac, me-time is just what I do! But seriously, I am an extroverted introvert. Being an entrepreneur and public speaker, I have learned how to handle my anxiety but being in large crowds make me nervous. My favorite thing to do is to be home alone with my laptop, a glass of wine, and good music. As a mom, bedtime is really important in my household. My daughter goes to bed at 8 pm because I need those hours towards the end of the evening to turn my brain down and find my peace before bed.
Being single and raising children isn't easy but it forces you to instill boundaries even within your own household. On Sundays, my daughter and I practice separate togetherness; it is where we spend time alone, but together. I may read a book in the living room while she sits in her room and colors. She knows that is mommy's me time and I teach her to value her own alone time and personal space.
"Being single and raising children isn't easy but it forces you to instill boundaries even within your own household. On Sundays, my daughter and I practice separate togetherness; it is where we spend time alone, but together. I may read a book in the living room while she sits in her room and colors. She knows that is mommy's me time and I teach her to value her own alone time and personal space."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
The most important lesson that I have learned as an entrepreneur is that it is never too late to start over. Rebranding is a blessing given to most of us because if we have been doing entrepreneurship right, we normally have a few things in place that allow us to pump the brakes for a second and evaluate where we are in our businesses.
What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?
It is so important for me to teach my daughter her self-worth early in life. I didn't learn this lesson until well into my late 20s and I suffered a great deal of rejection, guilt, and heartache because of it. For many of us, as Black women, we just weren't raised with this idea that we were the prize. We saw our mamas handling everything on their own. They carried the weight of their entire households on their shoulders. Who had time to build up their children when the bills were due and mama was the only one paying it?
That anger and frustration from Black moms came out in a dramatic speech of self-reliance, get an education, and you especially don't rely on a man! Do you know how damaging that is? So instead, especially for many little Black girls, their self-esteem was built up and torn apart by toxic romantic relationships and mean girl friendships. I refuse to build my daughter up on guilt and bitterness.
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
I used to judge people who didn't have children. My single, childless friends would tell me how they were struggling to get it together and all I could think about was, if I had that much time on my hands, I would be lightyears ahead of where I am now. Here is what I realized over the years of running multiple businesses and raising my daughter: being a mother has benefited my entrepreneurial journey. It sets my schedule.
Being a mother provided me with a level of stability and balance that helped me to view my entire life with extreme clarity. I learned not to be so judgmental against people that did not have kids and started to be thankful for the blessing of my own.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mom who runs a business?
The biggest challenge I've faced as a mom who runs a business is in my dating life. Because I am a mother, most men I meet know that they need to be serious to pursue me because there is another life involved in our decision-making. My timing and flexibility require you to actually make a plan to see me because I have a child.
Most people pity single women with children so men always want to play hero. When I tell them no, she actually has an active father and yes, I do pay my own bills, run my own business, and travel at leisure, most men find a level of intimidation in those things. If I am already doing these things for myself, for a man that doesn't have his own things together, that can make him question if he will be able to provide for me in the ways that I am able to provide for myself. I found myself shrinking back in order to appear softer and more vulnerable for men until one day I had to realize that what God has for me is mine and the man He has set aside for me will love me in as my full and joyous self.
"If I am already doing these things for myself, for a man that doesn't have his own things together, that can make him question if he will be able to provide for me in the ways that I am able to provide for myself. I found myself shrinking back in order to appear softer and more vulnerable for men until one day I had to realize that what God has for me is mine and the man He has set aside for me will love me in as my full and joyous self."
What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start their business but haven’t taken a step out on faith yet?
Just do it. Do not let the fear of these internet streets keep you from your blessing. Stop comparing and just go. Stop worrying about trying to gain someone else's audience and focus on those that already believe in you. Everything doesn't have to be perfect, they just need to be put into action. You got this!
Do you think it’s important to keep your personal and professional life separate? Why or why not?
One of the greatest challenges in entrepreneurship is learning how to be transparent with your audience while not revealing every part of your life to your audience. I don't believe everything needs to be shared. You don't have to share every pitfall to be real. It's okay to take some of your L's in private. It is okay to go on vacation and not share all the photos. And for women, it is perfectly okay to keep that relationship private until he proposes to make you his wife.
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
As a mommy mogul, I manage time by honoring my self-care. Making time to center myself is just as important as making time to attend meetings. I chose this career path for my true passion for women empowerment and motherhood but also to have a life of freedom and flexibility. If I am not honoring those things, working for myself will become just as miserable as working for someone else.
"I chose this career path for my true passion for women empowerment and motherhood but also to have a life of freedom and flexibility. If I am not honoring those things, working for myself will become just as miserable as working for someone else."
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
Financial planning is part of self-care. Can we put that on a t-shirt? My advice to women for financial planning is don't let the daunting thought of getting your finances in order scare you from actually doing it. Get help. There are so many programs and companies that help with credit repair and homeownership. When it comes to your business, learn how tax breaks can help you and where to invest your money for greater returns. Financial freedom should always be the goal and the only way to do it successfully is to just start the process. Just start.
To learn more about Shanicia and join the Black Moms Blog movement, follow her on Instagram @ShaniciaBoswell!
Featured image courtesy of @ShaniciaBoswell.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images