In a day and time where it seems everyone wants the title of being #goals, Karen Civil is actually living it. The digital media maven breathed fresh, innovative air onto the blogging and marketing scene back when the competition looked like there wasn't enough room for a Black Woman-led urban site that dished the latest in all things music, entertainment, and culture. And from then on, she's been an unstoppable force.
Evolving now into multiple entities, namely her branding and marketing agency Always Civil and her empowerment and motivational career-based franchise Live Civil, the New Jersey native has become and continues to be a household name and standard of excellence for those across various industries. She's also been one of my top two favorite girl bosses for YEARS. After admitting to having a long night hours before she dialed into our interview assisting on a video shoot with hip-hop artist YG, I found myself temporarily lost and intrigued at the thought of what a day in the life of my literal #career, #fitness, and all around #lifegoals would be.
From running companies to running plays with some of the biggest brands and entertainers in the nation, we wanted to know just how she manages to do and be so effortlessly on a continuous basis. This is the business of being Karen Civil.
Upon first waking up, I...
...start my day off with a conversation with myself and a conversation with the Universe, I talk to God. I light my candles, I set my affirmations for the day. I have a conversation with my dog. For me, it's all about the think, do, and be positive moments. I know I have to set the tone of my energy level and how I feel spiritually before I can go out and conquer the world and be Karen. It's me putting on all the armor before I go out and become an X-Men or Superwoman.
Courtesy of Karen Civil
"I know I have to set the tone of my energy level and how I feel spiritually before I can go out and conquer the world and be Karen."
The most hectic part at times...
...is not having enough time; even though you schedule things out a lot of things overlap. And because of the great work that I do, a lot of people and brands always want you at the forefront. It's not being able to be at everything and that goes from a business standpoint to a personal one. It's just those moments of knowing that when I am present in one situation, I am lacking in another.
My self-care looks like...
...therapy. I get Reiki healings done and I love surfing and going to the beach. I love surfing because it teaches you how to control chaos, how to control things around you and to keep calm. I'm also a big reader and, oh, my tribe! I love my good tribe of people. Sometimes in a world where you're just so busy working, you feel like 'I'm going through this alone.' It's good to have conversations with them.
What I learned in love is that...
...there are people who love me or who love the idea of me, but unfortunately they can't handle me. And for a very long time, I would dim my light to make them comfortable. But when it comes to love, they should love you for who you are and not for a part of you. I had to learn that so I let a lot of people go and realized, the person who is going to love me will love me unconditionally. They'll love me for the life that I'm in and won't feel insecure or feel like my success hinders them in anyway.
It's an ongoing process but I'm in a place where I'm not just rushing a relationship, but creating deep-rooted friendships first so we really know each other. We really know what we like, where we stand with goals; we're not just talking about what's happening in the moment. I don't want superficial love anymore so I'm taking my time with it. I'm making sure the person who enters my life understands my light, how bright it shines and that they are in love with that.
Courtesy of Karen Civil
"I'm making sure the person who enters my life understands my light, how bright it shines and that they are in love with that."
My tribe are...
...some of the most incredible people in my life; I don't even call them friends I call them family. They don't ever allow darkness to make me feel defeated in any way even when it comes from work. My tribe, they're X-Men, they're unicorns! I wish I could go down the list of them all. I have these people who are in my corner and I just love them so much. We pour back into each other, you know? We start our conversations with, "Hey how are you feeling today? Are you happy?" And it's like damn, it feels good to have friendships and to have girlfriends.
In order to take charge of my health, I...
... just decided to remove a lot of things from out of my life, which helps. I see Dr. Sebi's son, I take his medicine. I don't do any sugars, red meat, or carbs. Which is hard for us! But once you start removing those things from your body and you reset your palette, they no longer taste good to you. They're not things that you crave anymore. That's really what's been working for me.
So I'm not vegan anymore because I have to have certain fish and chicken and things like that. Even in my fridge, when my friends come over, I have like eight different waters. And I'm taking a lot of dairy out. I do a small, minimal amount of dairy. I don't do cheese or milk. And I'm not a drinker, you know some people come home and have a glass of wine--I'm cool. It just never was me.
To get unstuck, I...
...get through it by remembering who I am! I remember the greatness of my path and everything God has bestowed upon me. With every position, there's going to be naysayers so I know it comes with the territory. It's unfortunate but I move past it.
I posted something the other day that goes: 'There are two wolves and they're always fighting. One wolf is darkness and despair and the other one is light and hope. Which one wins?' You have to learn how to answer that for yourself because when I answer it, the one that wins is the one I choose to feed. And for me it's always going to be light and hope. I don't have control over anybody else's being, or how they do things but I have control over my emotions and what I give attention and life to.
Success to me...
...has many different meanings and it's changed over the course. It went from at first moving out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to getting my first home, getting my dream car. But success now to me is being able to operate and navigate in a space that wasn't accustomed or created for a black woman to succeed. Especially on her own terms. It's being able to open up doors for other women to walk through, build tables for other women to sit at, and just being that light for other people, giving back to a world that's given me so much.
So when I talk about this women empowerment thing, I really mean it. I live it. Because I know what Angie Martinez meant for me, I know how she made me feel and she helped me strive for my career. I want to be able to do that for the next generation of women. I want to be able to help create a positive change in someone's life.
For more of Karen Civil, follow her on Instagram.
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Writer. Empath. Escapist. Young, gifted, and Black. Shanelle Genai is a proud Southern girl in a serious relationship with celebrity interviews, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and long walks down Sephora aisles. Keep up with her on IG @shanellegenai.
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7 Black Women Bookstagrammers To Follow And The Reads By Black Authors That Empower Us
I've always been a stan for reading, and I've been a so-called book geek since kindergarten. My mom would always reward good grades and behavior with a trip to the local library, something my siblings loved more than any new toys or free time to play outside. We would spend hours at the tall stone building in the downtown area of the small town I spent my childhood in, first in the downstairs "Children's Room" (which only had books for readers 5-13). I later graduated to going (i.e., snuck) upstairs to find all the juicy celebrity autobiographies, travel books, and classics like Sula, Moby Dick, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
So today, when I see so many Black women part of #bookstagram, I feel seen because many of us love not only to read but to drown in books by Black authors, poets, historians, and researchers who continue to add to the narrative and reflection of what it truly means to be a Black person---a Black woman---in America.
Check out (and follow) a few of my favorite Black women bookstagrammers and the books that empower us:
Zora Neale Hurston is clearly an icon, and she's one of my favorite authors, thought leaders, and scholars, so this is an obvious choice for me. What I love, specifically, about this bookstagrammer's page is that it lacks pretension, is super-relatable, and includes a nice mix of nonfiction books, something I'm trying to boost in my collection.
2.Kayla Starr @blackgirlbookadventures
Another classic, Beloved was a book I unsuccessfully tried to read as a 12-year-old, tried again in my 20s (and failed), saw the film, and then fell back in love with again reading in my 30s. Black Girl Book Adventures is a page that just screams brightness, positivity, and a love for books that draws you near.
3.Black Girl With Books @blackgirlwithbooks
This book had a profound effect on me, as it connected the dots between Ghana (a place that has held a special place in my heart since my 2016 visit) and Black America in a way that blew my mind. It also helps that the storytelling and timelines are captivating and thoughtful in a way that any editor who just loves good writing--in an online content environment that seems to reward robotic, vapid, Grammarly-informed, copycat writing---would appreciate.) The founder of this page also offers info on bookstores and other interesting updates for bibliophile baes.
4.Shani Akilah @_shaniakilah
A love of travel and books? Yes, please! Shani's page is refreshing and welcoming, inviting you in on her global adventures along with her journeys through her latest reads. I'm a huge fan of books that feature Black women protagonists in Caribbean or African settings who are able to come into a higher sense of themselves through challenge or hardship. For some reason, I'm always drawn to those books, which is why this one is a top pick for me.
5.Boipelo Lecha @boipelo.reads.books
I'm not big on romance novels (after having grown out of an early obsession with Danielle Steele). At one point, I'd been yearning for a book that offered an elevated sense of the Black love experience (beyond the esteemed OGs like Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Zane) and stumbled upon Love In Color. It was just what I needed because it's a collection of classic love stories retold through the lens of the author, and the tales centrally feature women.
Biopelo is an up-and-comer in the #bookstagrammer space.
I've been consumed by Black historical fiction, and this is a good one for the collection. It tells the story of a Black southern family through generations in a way that doesn't feel like a book you were forced to read for a college project. It screams, "Turn me into a six-part Netflix saga," and was a surprise hit for me because I made some very ignorant assumptions about a poet being able to write such a story. (Ah, like Maya Angelou isn't literally a queen in my head.)
Virginia-based Semiyah is literally like my reading tastes twin, down to the mix of types of books she showcases on her page, from romance fiction to new YA titles.
Lex serves up book events and information about new releases to boot, and her page doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm going to just promo books sent to me for free by publishers." On top of that, I support any and everything with the name Tiffany D. Jackson stamped on it. She's a graduate of the other HU (heeeey all my Hampton *cough*, I mean, Howard folk), and the way she puts her special stank on YA will have you wanting to actually relive your own teenage years.
Dare I say, reading her work is like the first time I read Judy Blume, Sister Souljah, and Candy Dawson Boyd---all pioneers in what is now known as young adult fiction. It's authentic, truthful, kind, real, and has a living soul, all elements I yearned for back in the late '80s and '90s as a confused, geeky, Black girl at the library and that I still yearn for as an award-winning editor, editorial manager, and self-employed woman at my big age.
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