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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The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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For many women, the severity of our menstrual cycle can make us feel foreign in our own bodies.
From physical symptoms like bloating and fatigue to emotional waves brought on by mood swings and irritability, 3 out of 4 menstruating women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in their lifetime. However, what separates normal PMS from a more debilitating variation of these conditions lies in the severity and impact of these symptoms and how it impairs a woman’s ability to function in their daily life — and such is the case of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
WHAT IS PMDD?
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that brings about a variety of emotional and physical symptoms during the week or two before menstruation. It is often recognized as 'severe PMS’ and typically occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which spans from ovulation to the onset of the period.
“PMS and PMDD are very similar but also very different,” says Dr. Ashanda Saint Jean, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York Medical College.
“In terms of PMS syndrome, it is characterized by both physical and behavioral symptoms that occur prior to the onset of menstruation,” she tells xoNecole. “Whereas PMDD is the severity of the symptoms, which then can be characterized by depression, anxiety, mood changes, and sometimes even suicidal ideation. It's the severity of the symptoms which then require medicinal therapy.”
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PMDD?
One of the main distinctions between PMDD and PMS is how it impairs or disrupts the daily functions and quality of life of the women who experience this condition. “Some of the signs of PMDD can be depression, irritability, and anxiety,” Dr. Saint Jean explains. “You can have the severity in the form of breast pain, bloating, swelling, headaches, but once you have your period, these symptoms usually remit or stop occurring.”
While symptoms of PMDD may vary on an individual basis, they typically show up with PMS symptoms and can be broken up into two categories:
- Mood swings
- Experiencing sadness or tearfulness
- Fatigue or decreased energy levels
- Crying spells
- Less interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Feeling hopeless
- Suicidal feelings
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Feeling anxious, tense, or ‘keyed up’
PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL EXPERIENCES
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- Bloating sensation
- Changes in appetite, including overeating or specific food cravings
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle and joint pain
- Increased anger or conflicts with others
- Strong emotional response to perceived rejection by others
Although the specific causes of PMDD are yet to be fully understood, research suggests that there is a connection between PMDD and heightened sensitivity to the typical hormonal fluctuations that take place throughout the menstrual cycle.
“It's your body's response to estrogen. There’s a cycle to how your brain sends out signals and that influences your ovaries to produce hormones,” she says, “It’s hypersensitive sensitivity to the elevation of the hormones that can make the body and mind experience symptoms of PMDD.”
HOW IS PMDD DIAGNOSED?
Women who suspect to have symptoms of PMDD can begin their self-screening by taking the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD)’s online screening assessment. Your medical provider will then look for five or more PMDD symptoms, including one mood-related symptom to determine the diagnosis.
Because PMDD is diagnosed based on recurring symptoms, it’s helpful to keep track of your symptoms for at least two full menstrual cycles by using a journal, notebook, or tracking app.
“One's agency is very important and our patients know their bodies,” Dr. Saint Jean says. “It can be something that you may suspect that you have, but I will always advise patients to then have that conversation with their provider (gynecologist or primary care physician).”
“If you’re having any of these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to bring them to the forefront and discuss with your provider and see together how you can arrive at the appropriate diagnosis for you,” she continues.
WHAT ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PMDD?
Once a diagnosis is made, there are a variety of treatment options that can be prescribed. Many patients may require a mood stabilizer such as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), which is a category of medication that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Dr. Saint Jean also shares that there is the option of continuous oral contraception, which “increases the intervals of your menstrual cycle,” and allows you to have fewer periods throughout the year.
In all, treatment solely depends on the severity of your symptoms is the advice from your medical provider.
“Not everyone requires to be on an SSRI, but it is helpful for some, especially some patients who have suicidal ideation,” she shares. There are also a variety of lifestyle changes, exercise, and dietary modifications that can aid in decreasing these symptoms. “You may crave salt and sugar, which then can contribute to bloating and water retention; so we advise you to stay away from sugary and salty foods prior to menstruation.”
Struggling with PMDD can feel like a silent battle when you’re experiencing it alone or never knew there was a name for the symptoms that you endure. Thankfully, with the proper tracking and advisory from your primary care physician, PMDD doesn’t have to be something that you suffer through unsupported or untreated — and with these tools, relief could be closer than you think.
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