There's a certain power in confidence that can change your whole outlook on life and what it throws at you. We all have challenges to face, and one woman is not letting hers steal her joy or her love of living out loud.
Clara Holmes, a UK-native with Jamaican roots, was born with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) which weakens blood vessels, organs, and connective tissues in the body. "Basically, my hips can no longer hold me up. I can't stand, walk, or put any weight on them," she explained. "It's a very painful condition, and the more I do, the more I'm in pain. At the same time, if I don't do anything, I get stiff, and I'm in more pain."
Image by Michaela Efford
She has managed chronic pain and other ailments associated with the condition for most of her life. Fifteen years ago, she had to go from crutches to being wheelchair-bound.
"It's a catch-22. I said to myself, 'I'm damned if I do, and I'm damned if I don't, so I should try to live the best life possible and just go with it.' And that's what I did."
Today, the founder of Rolling Funky, a fashion and lifestyle blog, models for a living and has an IG following of more than 15,000, a loving bae, and an active, full lifestyle that includes weekly trips to the gym. Holmes is a prime example of the fullness of black girl magic, and we caught up with her, in this xoNecole interview, to talk about how she balances it all and continues to slay even with the current state of the world.
Read more about her below!
Image by Mark Brown
What led you to get into fashion and start your blog?
People would see me and friends would say, "You should start a blog." I was on a cruise and I decided to start Rolling Funky---which was just about sharing my lifestyle and love of fashion---in hopes that someone would find it positive whether you have a disability or not. It was more about seeing someone different.
When I looked at blogs, I couldn't find one that was by a wheelchair user or someone with a disability that was giving a positive outlook on things. I didn't want negativity.
The modeling came afterward. I was about to celebrate my first year blogging when I was scouted by two women from the agency I'm with now. They just spotted me going down the road. My boyfriend and I were out and they approached me, said they were with a modeling agency and that I could do a test shoot. I did some photos, and I got a contract straight away. Funny enough, I always wanted to be a model, and as a teen, I was told I was unsuitable.
With the blog, this whole social media thing, and putting out photos, everything escalated over time. I began working with brands and here I am today!
Image by Aaron Cheeseman
As an influencer, how has the COVID-19 quarantine affected you? How have you coped?
It's been OK. I spend a lot of time at home, and I'm used to being on my own. Unless I'm going to fashion events or parties, or I have a speaking engagement, I'm home. So, being inside doesn't really bother me. In the weeks leading up to this, I spent most of the week at home because shoots were cancelled or events I was meant to do had been postponed. At one point, I was at home 10 days straight, and that was before social distancing was put into effect. I also spent the whole month of January at home because I was sick.
I tend to avoid the news. Not that I don't know what's going on in the world, but I care about my mental psyche, so I limit my intake.
Some might ask, "How are you so upbeat?" but I think there's no point in worrying about something you have no control over. I know it can be easier said than done, but it's something I've had to learn, especially with managing my medical condition and disability. I've had to learn to detach myself---how to not get myself worked up or stressed. If I do feel a bit tense, it's about knowing how to let go.
How do you practice self-care?
I dance. I work out. I have a local center around the corner from me. I do a lot of upper-body exercises, including a bit of boxing. Battle ropes and slam balls are really good, especially when you've got a bit of frustration. The endorphins--I feel amazing afterward! I feel like whatever this world has to throw at me, I'm ready! When I was having to adjust to my new normal of becoming a wheelchair user, I've found that fitness and just working out--even just stretching---helped me mentally.
I also love music. I like to dance to songs that are upbeat. I love Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, who will always hold a dear place in my heart because when I was still adjusting [to being in a wheelchair], the Pink Friday album was just released.
One of the songs that really helped lift me out of depression was Nicki's "I'm the Best," and when you sing that song over and over, after a while, it's like, regardless of this situation, I am the best. There's another song she did with Drake, "Moment 4 Life", with a line that goes, "But to live doesn't mean you're alive." I was like, wow. That hit me, because at the time I was existing and not living.
Image by Mark Brown
What changed when you began to accept your new normal, having gone from using crutches to being in a wheelchair?
[In the process] of accepting my new normal, I'd go get my hair and my nails done. I never used to wear heels because I was always a bit tomboyish, and it was quite difficult growing up. Now I wear heels! When I started to pay attention to what I was eating, got into exercising, and lost weight, I began to embrace what life was. I started experimenting with clothes and I began wearing more fitted things. I felt better. I also started imagining what outfits would look like sitting down and accepting my new body shape, and things started snowballing from there.
As my comfort grew, my confidence grew, and I'd try outfits and say, 'Yeah I look cute.' Sometimes you have to look yourself in the mirror and say "Yas!" It can do so much for your mental well-being. Have a positive dialogue with yourself.
My boyfriend would say, 'Yes, babe you look hot!' and we would go out more and do things. I began traveling again.
How do you conquer fear or anxiety and continue to nurture self-confidence?
With my Jamaican grandparents being in my life growing up, we went to a very Caribbean-influenced church, so a belief in God and spirituality is ingrained in me. Being grateful is also something that was part of my upbringing and is part of who I am today. I think it makes you humble. My grandmother was so brave to come to a country where she knew nobody and start a new life---leave the old one behind. It takes guts. If I fear something, I have to tackle it head on.
Truly, I should fear nothing but God. If there's something that makes me scared, I can't have it hanging over me.
[When] I finally got my head around it all and began to get used to my new normal, I slowly but surely put goals in place and achieved those goals. I lost weight and learned to like what I saw in the mirror. Over time, I just decided I'm going to live my best life.
Image by Mark Brown
What advice do you have for aspiring influencers or people who want to create a platform?
Stay true to yourself. Share your passions, and do what you're passionate about. If it's fashion, do that. Whatever it may be, do it and do it well. Don't try to live up to someone else's imprint. You shouldn't compare yourself to anyone---especially online---and give it a go. You never know what might happen. I remember at one point, it was like 'If I could get to 100 followers on Instagram, I'd be so happy.' I never thought I'd have thousands. Do what you love and be authentic about it.
For more of Clara, follow her on Instagram.
Courtesy of Clara Holmes
This New Scalp Care Line Is Exactly What Your Wash Days Need
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
7 Underrated Signs That He's Truly 'Marriage Material'
While in an interview a few months back, someone asked me what I personally thought it meant for someone to be “marriage material.” Off top, the first thing that came out of my mouth is that it had to be an individual who actually desires marriage (more on that in a bit) because that kind of person will be proactive about doing what needs to be done in order to prepare for that kind of life journey.
Another indication that someone is marriage material is they don’t see marriage as just “a long-term relationship.” Yeah, don’t get me started on the fact that a part of the reason why divorce is so high now is people think that a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic is the same thing as a husband/wife one. It absolutely is not. Marriage-minded folks hold marriage in high regard, which means that they seek out someone who isn’t a “we’ll see how it goes” when it comes to relationships; nah, they are looking for the complement who will be far more permanent. Marriage-minded people are vow-keepers (‘til death do us part), not just sentiment-sayers (I love you, boo).
Marriage material — and please get this one all the way down in your spirit — is also about not just sitting around rah-rahing about what you deserve. What I mean by that is people are not truly ready for marriage if they’ve got a what-I-want-in-a-spouse list that is 10 miles long, yet they aren’t even 30 percent of what’s on the list themselves. Listen, I will forever say until every single cow comes home that if you are out here declaring what you DESERVE in someone else, that means, by definition, that you are QUALIFIED to have all of those things. And qualified means “having the qualities, accomplishments, etc. that fit a person for some function, office, or the like” (which is why you can’t be out here dictating what you deserve without hearing what others feel that they deserve in return).
Geeze. With all of this out in the open, I probably should write an article about signs that a woman is ready for marriage (noted). For now, let’s dive into some unsung signs that a man is truly marriage material — so that you can discern, quicker, who is the better “husband fit” for you.
1. He Knows His Purpose
We’re gonna have to take this article to church a bit because, when it comes to the topic of marriage, it’s my personal opinion that a lot of them don’t last because people fail to factor in the spiritual component that can help them to truly see the distance. And when it comes to men, if you look at the Bible, two things that Adam (the first husband who’s in the Good Book) had before his wife was BROUGHT (he didn’t pursue her; she was brought, by God, to him — Genesis 2:24-25) his way is he had a relationship with God and a life purpose (Genesis 1-2).
And since the way that a woman is first defined in Scripture is being a helpmate (the Hebrew term for this is ezer kenegdo which translates into lifesaver — Genesis 2:18) to a man — does it make sense to marry someone when you don’t know what you’re helping out because he doesn’t know what he’s here to do in life? How can you complement what is so vague and unsure?
That’s why I’m not a fan of folks expecting marriage during college. College should be about figuring out who you are outside of your parents and also discovering what you want your life path to look like. If you come into school knowing and you’re consistent about it, cool. Yet if you have no idea, that’s okay too; take your time and get some clarity.
Anyway, bottom line here is, some definitions of purpose are “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” and “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal,” and when a man is purpose-minded, there is a level of clarity, maturity, and moving-with-intention about him that is totally unmatched. That’s part of the reason why the late and super great Dr. Myles Munroe was so big on men knowing what their purpose is in life — it says a lot about him.
So, if you’re currently seeing someone and it seems like he’s dragging along as far as moving forward in your relationship, I recommend asking him, “Do you know your purpose?” It will reveal a lot about him. It can also bring some insights on if you’re a good fit for each other — whether right now or later. Trust me. Try it.
2. His Dating Life Is Intentional Instead of Random
Men who are ready for marriage don’t tend to be vague about it; they realize that time is of the essence, so they tend to make that pretty clear upfront. Another thing? Their actions will line up with their words.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they will be racing to the altar in a year or less; however, what I can assure you is that marriage-minded men are not going to be out here casually dating. Casual literally means things like “without definite or serious intention” and “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; relaxed; nonchalant,” and no man who is gearing up for a wife rolls in this kind of head or even heart space.
I will give a heads-up that, initially, this doesn’t automatically mean that he will be exclusive with you — and honestly, he shouldn’t have to be. If he wants to figure out who his right life partner is, he should “interview” a few women (same goes for you if you desire a husband). However, the process will not drag out for years on end, and once he has figured out who the one is for him, he tends to have no problem not just cutting other ties but getting engaged sooner than later.
In other words, I don’t know too many marriage-minded men who take more than a couple of years to not just date someone but get engaged in that timeframe, too (check out “Experts Say You Should Date This Long Before Getting Married”). That’s why, if you find yourself dating someone for several Christmases, you definitely should ask them if marriage is even on their radar. Chances are (especially if they are over 35 as a guy)…it isn’t.
3. He’s Seen a Therapist. Or a Life Coach. Or Both.
Uh-huh. If the first thing that came to your mind is, “Yes, please see a therapist,” honestly, it is my opinion that ANYONE WHO WANTS TO GET MARRIED should do so. I don’t mean go to premarital counseling once you are already in a serious relationship or engaged (although yes, you should definitely do that, too); I mean that…getting prepared for marriage includes making sure that your mental and emotional health and well-being are in a really good space and a therapist and/or life coach can help to make that happen.
Should you see both? Maybe. Check out my article, “Thinking About Hiring A Life Coach? Read This Before You Do,” so that you can get some clarity on that. What I will say, for now, is that a therapist tends to deal with things of your past as they offer up some tips and insights on how to handle your present and future, while life coaches (ICF-certified ones, that is) focus on asking you the kinds of questions that can help you to get a handle on how to handle your present and future.
I have a male friend who is the COO of a life coaching company, and one of the things that he and I have discussed is a lot of men who are serious about planning for their future will see a life coach, especially when it comes to their professional life; the main reason is that it can help them to get things organized so that they are prepared for a wife and family.
My takeaway from that? Asking a man, eh, maybe 4-5 dates in, if they have ever seen a therapist or life coach could be pretty revealing. Because even if the topic of marriage has not even been broached yet, what it can reveal is how proactive he is about getting his life in order — and that’s always a good thing.
4. He Can Clearly Articulate Plans for His Future Wife
Thanks — yet no thanks — to rom-coms, far too many people think that it’s fine to get married just on feelings alone. Yeah, please don’t do that. It’s also another article for another time that people who are serious about wanting to get married will be in a consistent state of preparation whether they are in a relationship or not.
When it comes to what that looks like for a man, one thing to keep in mind is he will be able to clearly articulate what he desires in a wife (by the way, please don’t try and challenge a man about what he wants; he has to live with her and, besides, you wouldn’t want him to do that to you. Either y’all are a good fit or not, yet don’t attempt to control his own narrative). Not only that, but he’ll be able to explain why he thinks a wife would be a good fit for him in this season, what he wants to bring into his future wife’s world, and some of the short- and long-term plans that he has for her and their marriage.
In other words, he won’t be like a guy I know (who is now divorced after 15 years of marriage) who, when I asked him why he was getting married (when he pretty much sucked even as a boyfriend), all he said was, “If I don’t do it now, I never will.” His marriage proposal was piss-poor, the marriage flailed the entire time, and even on the back end, he comes off as pretty nonchalant.
So many people’s marriages are less-than-impressive, even to them, and a huge part of the reason is that they failed to plan for their spouse and their marriage. They put a lot of thought into the wedding…and that’s about it. Red flag, red flag…RED FLAG.
5. He’s Emotionally Intelligent
Okay, so before we dive into this particular point, you might be tempted to assume that being emotionally available is the same thing as being emotionally intelligent. Yeah…not really (check out “5 Signs A Man Is Emotionally Available. 3 Signs He's Not.”).
While emotional availability is about being open to sharing your feelings and meeting the emotional needs of others, emotional intelligence is all about things like understanding emotions, articulating emotions, and maturely handling one’s emotions.
Listen, out of all of the things that we’ve already touched on here, a lot of people end up in divorce court because not only did they choose someone who was pretty emotionally unintelligent, but they also were lacking in that particular area themselves.
That said, emotionally intelligent people are:
- Proactive in praising other people
- Gracious and grateful
- Able to use more than “mad”, “sad” or “happy” to describe how they’re feeling
- Also able to receive feedback
- Great listeners
- Express themselves well
That’s 10 traits, and honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what emotional intelligence requires. Yet, I’m sure you can see that if more people looked for someone who was emotionally intelligent, it would definitely make their relationship — and their life, in general — go so much more smoothly.
6. He’s Sexually Healthy
This one, boy. Okay, so when I say that he should be “sexually healthy,” I’m not just speaking of him having a cleared STD test. No, what I mean is — and this is somewhat of a Shellie-ism more than anything — I don’t really trust ANYONE who claims that they are ready for marriage while they are still out here all willy-nilly in these streets, male or female. Because if you don’t have some sort of sexual self-control leading up to your wedding day, jumping a broom isn’t really going to change much of anything. Why? Because a wedding is an outward expression of some inward adjustments and decisions that have already transpired.
So yeah, a man who is truly marriage material? It shouldn’t be odd to you if he’s been abstinent for a season (several months or more). It shouldn’t seem strange to you if he speaks of sex from less of a recreational space and more of a spiritual and intimate one. If he admits that he used to be, umm, “super-friendly” and now he wants to take things slow, don’t assume that he’s got someone on the side — it could be a form of sexual discipline that he’s displaying (and good for him).
Now that I think about it, it’s kind of wild to say, yet I’ve got several male friends (over the age of 37) who used to be beyond promiscuous, who’ve all told me that it’s been months now since they’ve had any form of sex. None of them are in a serious relationship or necessarily even looking for one; they’ve just said that sex, just to be having it, has gotten old. Plus, oftentimes, the drama that potentially comes with it isn’t worth it, so they’d prefer to focus on self-work and wait until sex with someone is more meaningful (hey, they have no reason to lie to me; we’re just friends).
Guys like this? They are pretty close to being marriage-minded. Straight up.
7. He Actually WANTS to Get Married
Final point. Although it might evoke a collective "duh" from some of y'all, you'd be amazed how many women end up wasting very precious time that they will never get back, and it's all because they got involved with a man who liked or perhaps even loved them yet he didn't desire to get married. And either because they simply assumed that he did or they thought they could "love him into" wanting to be a husband, they ended up getting their feelings hurt. Extremely so.
Another thing to keep in mind? A man who wants to get married has no problem vocalizing it very early on. Meaning, on the third date, it won't be foreign for him to say, "I would love to start a family in the next couple of years," without you even having to coax it out of him. Guys who aren't interested in marriage — they tend to deflect from the topic altogether as much as they possibly can.
As we close this all up, I will say that it's important to keep in mind that just because a man doesn't want to be a husband, that doesn't mean he's not a good guy — GREAT even. So please don't manipulate matters by thinking that a man who doesn't want to be married somehow has some sort of "issues" (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?" and "12 Couples Reveal Why They're Happy With A Long-Term Commitment Instead Of Marriage"). Thinking like that speaks to your projecting more than anything else.
All I'm saying is a guy who is marriage material is a guy who will say, out of his own mouth, that marriage is on his menu, and so he will engage you in that manner — meaning, he will take time with you seriously, and if you are a good fit, he will state it; if he thinks you are not "his one," he will share that too…so that you both can get out of each other's way.
The thing about being “marriage material” is you’ve got to be cut from the kind of cloth that has marriage on your mind — not constantly yet enough to where you move with clear, thoughtful, and mature intention.Hopefully, this article sheds some (additional) light on what this looks like for a man. Hopefully, it also served as a heads up — or reminder — on what, in many ways, he’s looking for in a woman too. Proceed with discernment, y’all. And keep me posted. #winkLet’s make things inbox official!
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