What My 45-Year-Old Self Would Tell My 25-Year-Old Self
I was born on the day following Father's Day at a little after 1 am. My late father always said that I was the best present he had ever received in his life. Well, on June 17, a day that also immediately follows Father's Day, I'll be (what?!) 45 years old. Five years from 50. Wow. Just wow.
A couple of days ago, when I sat to think about where I was—literally as well as emotionally—and what I was doing 20 years ago, I had to stop and catch my breath a bit. I remember when a surrogate mother of mine had her last conversation with me while dying on her hospice bed. She was only in her 50s when she said, "Shellie, it goes by faster than you think." Boy, does it. Although my health is good (praise the Lord!) and I hope to see many (MANY) more years, when I think back to the fact that in 1999, I was only 25 years old and then when I reflect on all of the life lessons I have learned since then…my surrogate mom was correct. Time really does fly. If you're blessed, you have a few things to show for it.
Although I don't take it lightly when someone asks my age, I tell them and they reply with how much younger I look, honestly, I'm a firm believer that if you live each year to its fullest, you are not only unafraid of aging, you're actually ready to move on to the next year; you're open to seeing what the next 365 days have in store.
I'm pretty much an ambivert, so while it's highly doubtful that I'll be out here partying like it's 1999 on my special day, I do want to share a few things that these past two decades have taught me; things that, I wish I had known (or paid closer attention to) back when I was 25.
1.You Don’t Need Half of What’s in Your Closet
Writer Shellie R. Warren
According to the Cheat Sheet website, here are some of the things that lose value, just as soon as you purchase them: cars, jewelry, cell phones, furniture, handbags, wedding gowns and clothing. A lot of us know this and still, we're willing to spend at least $150 a month on clothes. Not only is that a trip, but most of us end up "double wasting" our money because even with a closet full of outfits, we tend to only wear 20 percent of 'em.
Back in 1999, I was in somebody's thrift store or somebody's mall, at least a few times a month. I hate to say it, but sometimes I'd be short on a bill because I wanted another dress that I absolutely did not need. I'm still a bit more of a clothes horse than I should be, but definitely not at the risk of jacking up my credit or not having any lights on. Although I must admit that the stats are right—there are some things that I own that I've worn once, if that much.
Hmph. I can only imagine how much money I would've saved if I was more focused on investing than making sure I wasn't seen with the same thing on twice like I was on a television sitcom or something. SMDH. If you're in your 20s and reading this, you don't need most of what you've got. Put some of your money into a savings account instead of into a dresser drawer that's doing nothing but collecting dust. You'll thank me later. I promise you that.
2.It’s Not a Compliment When a Guy with a Girlfriend Wants You
If you've read even five articles that I've written on here before, you'll notice three things—I dig quotes, song lyrics/references and word definitions. Well, in true Shellie fashion, the definition for compliment is "an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration".
Way back in the day, an ex of mine once told me that my biggest issue (as far as men were concerned) was that I treated compliments like they were revelations instead of confirmations. Translation—since I didn't feel very good about myself, I was always "thankful" when a man told me that I was smart, pretty or sexy.
He was spot-on. Shoot, that's how he was able to get some (more on that in a bit). And because men were able to "fill me up" in the places where I was empty, it didn't really matter if he was seeing someone or not—if I was attracted to him and he was attracted to me, I found it to be high praise if he found me desirable.
Lord. If I could first hug and then shake my 25-year-old self, I would let her know that a man who's checking for you who has a woman is nothing to be impressed with. If he truly saw your worth, he'd admire you from afar because he'd know that you deserve a man who could give all of himself; not just some horny guy who spits game to see if he can get his itches scratched.
3.Get Yourself a Tax Account (and Attorney, If Necessary)
If 2019 hasn't done anything else, it has been exposing people and their ish left and right. I believe it was Bill Clinton who once said, "Tell all of your business before someone else exaggerates it." That said, I am very open about the fact that the IRS doesn't like me and I don't like it. It all started around 1997 when I got a job that gave me a 1099 that I didn't know quite what to do with. Then, I found myself seeing more of those tax forms than I ever did a W-2. Anyone who does contract or freelance work knows exactly where I am coming from.
Listen, working from home is a wonderful thing. But if you're going to do contract/freelance work, do you and your financial future a favor and find you an accountant; someone who can help you to structure your finances and keep your taxes in check. The sooner you do that, the better. Oh, and if things get too out of hand, a tax attorney can't hurt either.
Otherwise, you'll be like me—not only be on never-ending IRS payment plans, but wondering if you'll ever see a tax return again. #doubtit
4.Stop Befriending People Who Expect You to Do Most of the Work
Something that I make sure to say, just as often as I can, is don't let people tell you that you shouldn't expect reciprocity in your relationships because you absolutely should. For years, I would hear people say, "Shellie, if you have to keep tabs on what someone is or isn't doing, you aren't giving for the right reasons." Nooooo…the real deal is if I have to keep tabs at all, they aren't doing enough, the giving/receiving ratio is way off and somebody is being taken for granted (umm, me).
I stayed in this pattern for most of my life, really. A lot of codependents were in my space, I'm a survivor of abuse and my self-esteem used to be pretty low, so I thought being loved meant doing whatever someone wanted me to do and tolerating the crumbs that they gave in return. Oh, the drama and heartache that I could've been spared, had I learned what real friendship looks and lives like and I released those who didn't fit the bill.
The users and manipulators that I encountered? It wasn't all their fault. If I had been my own friend, I would've set a better standard for myself. I was nowhere near knowing this in my 20s, but I am on top of this lesson now. 100 percent.
5.Some of the Most Toxic People Are So-Called Church Folks. Find God for Yourself.
Writer Shellie R. Warren
Don't think I've missed the irony in the fact that, for as long as I've been abstinent (going on 13 years now), that I've been out of church that long as well. In church, I was a broken mess. Out of church, I am healthier than I've ever been. For the record, I consider myself to be a disciple (John 8:31-32) and since I am one, there's no way I can be "anti-church"; it's just that, I don't support counterfeit, dysfunctional or toxic versions of it. And, for many years, on both Sabbath and Sunday, that was my experience (if you are a church-goer, two great reads areThe Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives andPagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices).
Since I've been out, it's been amazingly refreshing to learn about THE GOD as opposed to a God version that so many religious leaders wanted to push on me, based on their own perspectives, experiences and sometimes, even their ego. With the freedom that I have now, I've actually come to adore Scripture and spirituality on an entirely different level. And for the skeptics who think I've become "woke", the Bible does not teach "a white man's religion". The Bible is an eastern culture book; most of it happened in the Middle East and Egypt. Don't let these…white evangelicals fool you.
Anyway, knowing what I know now, I definitely would've told my 25-year-old self to not let people dictate what one's spiritual journey should look like. If I had come to that conclusion before my early 30s, I'd probably be even further along in my walk now. These days, I don't defend what I'm doing. There's absolutely no need. I simply advise folks to calm down and "watch the fruit" (Matthew 12:33). Oh, and I also remind them of a dope Oswald Chambers quote—"Never try to make your experience a principle for others but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you." Amen? Amen.
6.Recycling’s Good—Except When It Comes to Dudes
Not too long ago, while being interviewed, someone asked me if, at this point in my life, was I afraid that I'd never get married; you know, because of my age. NOPE. One explanation for why I'm not worried, fearful or anxious is found another article I wrote last year—"Let's Settle this 'Black Women Don't Get Married' Thing Once & for All". According to it, I'm in my prime for getting married. Another reason why I'm not stressin' out is because I know me. Although it's different strokes for different folks, I'm not the kind of woman who will announce that I met a man, fell in love and got engaged in six months. No, I need to know, know, know, know, know you. And really getting to know someone? How did Mariah Carey once put it? "Love Takes Time". So, why get stressed out over something that won't happen overnight?
However, I will say that it's one thing to have the desire to know someone. It's another to settle so deep into the folks that you already know that you don't branch out and meet new people. Because a lot of my former sex partners were also friends, in many ways, I felt so comfortable in their space (both physically as well as emotionally) that I kept dealing with them. Over and over again. It was pretty much like I was recycling them. While it meant that I knew what I was getting into, what it also meant was I was remaining in a relational cul-de-sac and, for the most part, not getting anywhere.
25-year-old Shellie, recycling is great for the planet. Not necessarily the best thing for your love life, though. It's OK to get rid of some dudes. And open yourself up to some new possibilities.
7.The Sooner You Draw Boundaries with Your Family the Better
A few months back, I penned a piece entitled "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries with Toxic Family Members". Listen, I don't know if it's residual PTSD from slavery or what but this misguided loyalty to people who abuse us just because they are our blood has got to stop. If anyone should be a safe place, if anyone should be held to a high standard, it should be our kinfolk. When they mistreat us, for the sake of our health, sanity and the future of the generations to follow, boundaries (limits) must be set.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a close friend of mine said to me, "Shellie, you've always been fabulous. But I must say that since you have removed certain family members from your life, you're a lot easier to deal with." I bet. Due to my past abuse—physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, neglect—I found myself on a constant roller coaster of anger and fear. Those types of emotions can make you semi-paranoid and controlling. Now that I see what I needed to remove in order to be my best self and live my best life, why would I incorporate "that" back into my world, simply because it's "family"?
Love and forgiveness are important. So are security and sanity. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't have both. Boundaries will give you both. If I had accepted that when it came to several of my family members two decades ago, this woosah that I have would've been a part of my life way back then.
That's OK. Ain't no way I'm giving it up now. Lesson learned.
8.Your Final Abortion Is Gonna Be One of Your Greatest Regrets
Remember the ex I was talking about earlier? Back in the late fall of 1999, I found out I was pregnant with his child. December 4, 1999, I had my fourth and final abortion. The following year, he had a little girl with someone else. I'm not gonna shift blame or play the victim because he couldn't make me do anything. But I will say that it's always been fascinating to me that the same man who told me he wasn't ready for a baby is the same man who impregnated and married someone else literally 12 months later.
Every time I talk about my final abortion, I tell people that I know—that I know that I know—that I heard God tell me, "You don't want to do this. I promise, you don't want to do this." I did it anyway, thinking that even if consequences came, I had plenty of time to become a mom.
I'm 45 now. I'm still not a mother. I've made peace with that, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't regret that cold winter's day in some random city in Kentucky. Yeah, if I could talk to my 25-year-old self, I'd tell her that 20 years goes by a lot faster than you might think so, don't make choices assuming you have all of the time in the world. You don't. And definitely don't do something simply because a guy wants you to. What you need is bigger than what he wants. Period.
9.Your God-Given Gift Will Never Betray You
I haven't had an office job since 2000. The last time I did was the first and only time that I got fired. I took that as a sign that I needed to stop ignoring my passion for writing and figure out how I could make an actual living from it. At the time, I didn't have a car or a computer, so I bummed rides over to a family friend's home, got on their PC and looked for people who would let me write for them, for free, so that I could build up my resume.
It worked. I started off doing some relationship Q&A, then features and then, in 2002, Denene Millner (an editor for the now-defunct-but-then-was-oh-so-dope Honey magazine) gave me a shot. I wrote a piece about what it was like to get an abortion at a man's request, only for him to turn around and have a baby with someone else a year later (all things work together, y'all). Around that same time, I started having a feature column in another magazine called Relevant. They published my first book in 2004. 15 years ago this month. And, as they say, the rest is history.
If I had more confidence in my voice, my experiences and my writing gift, I wouldn't have jacked off my college years, worked dead-end jobs or probably got into half of the situationships that I did out of sheer inner frustration and boredom. So, yeah…if I could do about 30 years back over again, I would've started doing what I did in 2000 then.
The lesson here—God will make sure our gifts, talents and calling will take care of us. That's a part of the reason why He gave it to us in the first place (some 20-something-year-old needed to hear that).
10.Worry Changes Nothing. Peace Alters Everything.
Writer Shellie R. Warren
George Bernard Shaw once said, "People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them." Indeed. Yeah, if church folks want to focus on what's a sin, WORRY IS A SIN. It's in the Bible (Matthew 6). Signs that you're a worrier? You create movies in your head out of things that haven't happened yet. You lean on the side of the negative most of the time. You don't take risks because you believe they won't work out. You make real problems out of hypothetical situations. You stress out for no good reason (there's never a truly good reason, by the way). You're tense, anxious and, oftentimes to the people around you, it's annoying.
I grew up around chronic worriers and so, for a really long time, I had no idea how to appropriately cope with challenges, waiting seasons or bad news. It caused me to make financially poor decisions, to use sex as a coping mechanism and to put myself on random emotional roller coaster rides.
These days, my life is very different. After learning what the Hebrew word for peace (shalom) really means, that's what I strive to have in my life on a daily basis—"completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord".
One of my favorite people died at the top of the year. During the last 12-16 months of her life, we discussed how much stress consumed her and ultimately attacked her health. There are plenty of studies to support that stress is the #1 health problem that Americans have. Nothing is worth sacrificing your well-being for.
So yeah, if I could tell my 25-year-old self anything else, it would be "Baby girl, no matter what or who it is, they ain't worth the stress. If it's not bringing wholeness, health, peace, safety, prosperity, rest and harmony into your life, LET IT GO. Ultimately, it means you no good." Your health, your lack of wrinkles and your sense of sanity will thank you in about 20 more years.
And you know what, y'all? It absolutely does.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
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.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"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."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"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."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"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."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"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."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"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."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"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."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"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!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"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."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"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."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"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."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"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."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"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."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"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."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"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."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
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."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"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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This Is Why Your Bright Under-Eye Technique Is Not Giving
If you are a fan of the bright under-eye, then you have the legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin to thank. The bright under-eye is only one of the major techniques that Aucoin brought to the forefront of the makeup industry in the ‘90s. The purpose of concealing the under-eye area is to hide blemishes and discoloration, redness, dark circles, and under-eye bags. However, according to Aucoin’s techniques, its main purpose is to lift and sculpt the face adding a new level of dimension.
The bright under-eye can be difficult to achieve. These are some of the common mistakes that are holding you back from sculpted bright under eyes that are giving!
1. You are not using the correct concealer shade.
Using two concealers makes a huge difference. Start with a shade 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone. Followed by a shade that is 3-4 times lighter and placed closer to the inner eye to do the heavy lifting and give the bright effect.
Two shades diffuse well into each other and give a cohesive result.
2. You are not blending enough.
Don't underestimate the power behind a complete blend-out! Blending your concealer fully is a make-or-break step for the bright under-eye look. Fully blending allows for a seamless transition between the areas of the face meant to be highlighted, and the areas meant to create depth and shadows. So take your time and make sure there are no harsh lines.
3. You are not properly setting the under-eye area.
Set the under-eye using a loose setting powder or brightening powder. The key here is to choose a powder complementary to your skin's undertone and proper placement to prevent creasing. Focus the majority of the powder on the inner eye and defuse the remaining powder to the rest of the powder under the eye.
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