It's official. You've been grounded for a few weeks and are being forced to stay in your home, which can feel like solitary confinement. Mama Corona did not come here to play with you!
While you've been prescribed to socially distance yourself, the isolation can leave you feeling idle and anxious with concerns around the impact this will have on the economy, your job security, or your business. Times like this can feel like punishment, bringing up those same fears, frustrations, and feelings of being "bad", but this time with money, leaving you uncertain about your financial future.
Image via Giphy
Many people think worries about money are just a "broke" person's problem, but SPOILER ALERT, they're not. The truth is, even HIGH EARNERS can still have a TON of fear around money. It's the equivalent of hearing someone cough around you during this pandemic--the kind of fear that makes your body tense up and makes you question why your throat or stomach is hurting all of a sudden or why you aren't feeling well.
As a Money Mindset + Business Coach, I am here to help you replace panic with peace, and turn your fears into financial favor. Here are 7 steps to get started:
1. Get grounded (in a good way).
First, take inventory of your bills. If you are concerned about the months to come, figure out what is a necessity versus a luxury. If you have the money, pay your bills. If you're experiencing financial hardship, take action.
Call the creditors and see if you can receive a 60-day suspension of payments or interest.
This may apply to mortgages, rent, cable, electric, student loans, etc. While the debts won't necessarily be forgiven, it will provide you an opportunity to get on solid ground. Connect with nature, take social media breaks when needed, and make sure you are still connecting with others and not isolating yourself during social distancing.
Image by Giphy
2. Get out of your own head (and into your body).
With gyms shutting down across the country, your usual workout routine may not be available. Get creative with home workouts or take them outside for some fresh air and sunshine. You can find plenty of free workouts online or support your fitness friends that have taken their businesses online.
The endorphins will help you find a sense of peace in the midst of chaos, helping you to make better, more informed decisions. Make a habit of this, and if you find yourself overextended financially once the panic over coronavirus subsides, you can cancel your gym membership and pay yourself instead.
3. Shift your mindset.
Balance is key. Enjoying experiences and guilty pleasures are necessary as life is meant to be enjoyed. When you're feeling financial uncertainty, shift your mindset from CONSUMERISM to OWNERSHIP. Your emotions and boredom can get the best of you during this time which will only make you feel more financially strapped. With the way Amazon Prime is so conveniently set up, you may find yourself spending unnecessarily.
Rather than letting boredom take all your dollars that you won't see again, get in on the greatest sales of the year by making purchases that will actually provide you a return on your investment.
Just because you can't fly right now doesn't mean you can't buy and hold a piece of your favorite airlines. Those stocks might just bring you back some "free flights" in the future. Cryptocurrency and stocks are having their biggest sales in a long time right now. Plant a few seeds that will potentially help you rebound or pivot in the months and years to come.
4. Go digital.
Create or take your side hustle or business digital. And no, I'm not talking about unethical business practices like hoarding 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and getting banned from selling them online during a global pandemic. I'm talking about a business that feels like it's made for you because it is. Do you think it's a coincidence you've been forced to sit and slow down? It's times like this when you have more time to find and develop your purpose.
Take this time to assess your aptitude (innate gifts) and learned skill sets to monetize your talents. The world has been changing right before your eyes, and if you've been distracted by life, it's providing you with an opportunity. Will you take it?
Remember your ex, Blockbuster? It can be hard to recall when you found the current love of your life, Netflix. When Blockbuster didn't adapt, refused to do his inner work to heal and get with the times, he became a thing of the past and just didn't do it for you anymore as you evolved. This rings true more than ever today as society and technology continue to evolve. Some of the most lucrative and disruptive ideas were born from the last recession.
It is during these times it pays to be more receptive than ever to new money strategies and understand that through change comes opportunity.
Need an example of how to adapt? If you've been driving Lyft or Uber and this income stream has left you financially stressed, adapt to the current environment and consider food or grocery delivery (i.e., UberEats and Instacart, respectively).
6. Financial wellness is not determined by your bank balance.
This may sound counterintuitive. However, how much money you make or have does not determine your financial health. While being cash strapped can create anxiety, financial wellness is how you feel about your current financial situation. True abundance is being grateful and at peace no matter where you are. As we navigate through the unknowns in the wilderness of the coronavirus and the economic impact, focus on financial peace and balance. There are a lot of people whose identity is tied to money, who have lots of it, and they are being challenged to figure out what's really important.
Image via Giphy
7. Own your money mindset. Don't let it own you.
What does this mean exactly? It means to gain clarity and take hold of the way you think and behave when it comes to your money. Oftentimes our beliefs around money and scarcity mindset run deep, connected to our childhoods. If you've never healed your relationship with money, it's a great time to invest in doing so. The fear, anxiety, and avoidance around money that has you stuck in cycles of shame and guilt aren't even yours and it's time to unpack that.
A truly abundant mindset is being grateful with what you currently have no matter where you are in your journey to financial wellness, even during a quarantine.
Staying grounded and connected especially during these chaotic times will help you shift from fearful to favored, like scoring the last pack of toilet paper. Don't you agree?
Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
Featured image by Shutterstock
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Aoki Lee Simmons Recalls Being Talked About For Her Looks As A Child & Where She Stands With Her Dad
It's hard to grow up underneath the harsh light and the scrutiny of the public eye. Add a supermodel mogul mom, a media mogul dad, reality TV shows, and Baby Phat runway shows to the mix, and you'll have a taste of what it was like for Aoki Lee Simmons growing up in the limelight. All that glitters isn't gold, and personal challenges don't discriminate against tax brackets.
Earlier this year, Aoki made headlines alongside her mom, Kimora Lee Simmons, as they publicly revealed what they had been going through privately as a family. Amid Russell Simmons' rape and sexual misconduct allegations, he is also estranged from the family, which all came to a head following a public dispute about Father's Day. Aoki supported her mother's claims that Russell had allegedly threatened their lives and also posted a recording of a video call between the two where he could be seen yelling at Aoki. She also told the public how damaging their conversations and relationship had become for her mental health.
Aoki would eventually stand by her truth in the days that followed, posting to her Instagram account, "Until a short time ago, this is the man who told me 'always defend and look after your mother girls' and 'never let a man curse at you, you call daddy if a man ever tries to yell at you or scare you that's never ok! Real men don't shout at women and girls." She added, "So to all the toxic men in my comments using 'I'm defending him' to be foul and talk about all the grievances you have with women, you can save it. It's pathetic. He would agree I know that for sure."
Despite navigating troubling times as a family, Aoki had an incredible year so far in terms of achievements. Alongside her part-time pursuit of modeling, she was able to graduate from Harvard University with a double major. At 20 years old at the time, she stands in history as one of the youngest Black women to accomplish such a win. One of her latest career moments can be found on the September cover of Teen Vogue.
The now-21-year-old spoke candidly about reading online about her looks as a kid, the advantages of being a "nepo baby," and where she stands on what happened with her dad.
Aoki on her looks being scrutinized and critiqued at a young age:
“At the time, I was reading a lot of crazy stuff: 'Poor her, she got the dad genes.' There were literally articles like, ‘Celebrity Kid Gone Wrong’ — and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m 11.’"
On benefitting from being a nepo baby:
“It’s totally true. I had no idea if I’d do modeling without my family, without their name helping me. I sometimes think when I look at shows or shoots — if I had done it, and it was that bad, and I was not me, would I get another shot? Would I have had the chance to develop the way that I have?”
“All you can do is be grateful and try to stay in your lane a bit."
Aoki on having no regrets about exposing her fractured relationship with her dad online:
“I don’t regret it. Part of it was already out there. There were reasons I thought it was reasonable to publish, because it was playing out in, like, a silent bubble.”
To read the cover story in full, head over toTeen Vogue.
Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows