I've got a friend who is a Hallmark-aholic. So, when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday a few weeks back, it was actually no shock to me that she wanted some cards sent in the mail. Selecting the perfect ones wasn't the issue; the problem was, because I spend so much time banging on my laptop's keyboard, it's almost like I forgot how to write cursive. What in the world?! But it was so worth it to hear her almost tear up over the phone because written messages move her so.
Her reaction reminded me of why I oftentimes suggest to my married clients that they handwrite love letters to one another. While, on the surface, this kind of gesture may not seem like that big of a deal, if you humor me for about 5-7 minutes, I'll offer up some reasons why writing a card on some beautiful stationary and gifting your beloved with it could be the kind of investment into your union that will pay off for years to come.
It Can Help You to Tap into Your Romantic (and Creative) Side
If someone were to ask me for the top five reasons why so many married people struggle, believe it or not, "extreme things" like affairs or even financial issues are not what immediately comes to mind. I'm actually more in the lane of sharing the fact that many partners feel disconnected, the passion in the bedroom has waned and/or couples have become plain ole' bored. One definition of bored is "tedious repetition" and, let's be real—when you've vowed before God and your loved ones that you will share the rest of your life with someone, while living in a limited amount of square footage, it's understandable that things can start to feel a little "yawn" from time to time (check out "This Will Get You Through The 'Ho-Hum Seasons' In Your Relationship").
To breathe some life back into your relationship, a very sweet, sentimental and simple thing that you can do is write your spouse a love letter. One reason why I've found this to be so effective is because, oftentimes, when a relationship is new, romantic gestures, on both sides, tend to be at an all-time high. Then, a good two or so years into a marriage, as life "gets in the way", it can be easy to fall into a routine that oftentimes leaves romance totally out of it.
Making the time to express the love—and desire—that you have for your partner is not only extremely thoughtful; it's also something that can help you to tap back into your creative side, so that you can get your romantic juices flowing again. And personally, I don't know any relationship where, more romance, is seen as being problematic. Not in the least lil' bit.
It Can Help You to Clearly Express What or How You’re Feeling
Personally, I find it to be extremely endearing when couples make sure to say "I love you" on a regular and consistent basis. Yet, as wonderful as those three words are, if we're not careful, they can make us lean a little bit on the lazy side when it comes to communicating with our partner beyond a surface level. What I mean by that is, we can take on the attitude that "I love you" should be an all-encompassing statement. Problem with that is, if you or your partner happens to be a words of affirmation person like I am, you/they could end up feeling a little "empty handed". A love letter is a very effective way to go beyond "I love you" and into the reasons behind that sentiment.
Another awesome thing about penning a love letter is it's a wonderful way to express how you're feeling if you're not someone who is big on words or you're not the best at articulating your thoughts. If you want to express how attracted you are to your spouse, the reasons why you are so thrilled to be married to them, or what you appreciate about them that you haven't said, either in a long time or perhaps at all, a love letter can help you to get your thoughts together so that your spouse can know exactly where you are coming from.
It Can Be an Effective Way to Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane
An author by the name of Susan Gale once said, "Sometimes a short walk down memory lane is all it takes to appreciate where you are today." This point can apply across the board, but I like it in this context because—your first date, your first kiss, the first "I love you" exchange, your first holiday together…who doesn't like to revisit memories that basically serve as puzzle pieces to the much bigger picture that is you're here and now with your spouse? Even if you happen to be someone (or happen to be blessed to be with someone) who is a great verbal communicator, it can still be very special for a love letter to be written that consists of all of the moments that brought you and yours to this very point. A love letter can be a collection of memories and something that can be held dear for years to come.
It Can Further Confirm Why You Committed to Your Spouse in the First Place
If there's a couple that I've met with for more than five sessions, an exercise that I typically encourage them to partake in is writing a list of the reasons why they fell in love—or, as I'd prefer to phrase it, chose to deeply love—their partner.
Because I'm such a fan of individuals being proactive (over reactive), I have found that recalling what you adore about your spouse's mind, body and spirit can help to keep things in perspective on the days when, quite frankly, they are either getting on your very last nerve or you find yourself saying, "I honestly don't know why I married your ass." (Trust me singles, married folks tend to get to that point and place, more than once, over the course of their union.)
After the husband and wife jot their reasons down, I then recommend that they either post the lists somewhere where they can look at them every day (like a bedroom mirror or the refrigerator in the kitchen) or that they turn their list into art (like perhaps blowing it up and putting the lists over their bed or in their offices).
This being said, another way to present the list is by putting everything together in letter form. In many ways, it adds to the appreciation of the list because it takes time to sit down and write a letter in your own handwriting. However you choose to do it, recalling when you chose the partner that you did can make you feel more grateful and cause them to feel more appreciated—and seen. It's a win/win in both directions.
It’s a Treasured Keepsake
My godchildren's mom's mother passed away when she was seven. One of the things that she still has from when her mother was alive are the love letters that her mom and dad wrote each other. While she jokes that sometimes they are a bit "TMI" for her taste, she has also told me, many times over the years, that she is so thankful that she has those in her possession. Know what? I've had a few women tell me the same thing—that they too have their parents' love letters and, not only has it made them feel closer to their mom and dad, but it has given them a different perspective on things like love, commitment and yes, romance.
So, whether love letters between you and your spouse are for you two's eyes only (cue Sheena Easton. How many of y'all remember her?) or so that you can have something to pass down to your own children on their wedding day or later up the road, there aren't too many keepsakes that top the preciousness of handwritten love letters. Wouldn't you agree?
Chances Are, Your Spouse Won’t See It Coming. Like, At All.
When's the last time that you did something that was completely out of the blue for your spouse? I don't mean "expected out of the blue" like maybe showing up at their job for work or emailing them a reservation at a hotel (which, if you're that kind of spouse, I most certainly salute you!). I mean something that, not in a million years, did they ever seen "it" coming? Unless you write for a living or you just drip with romance 24/7 (or they do), there's a pretty good chance that they never predicted that they would wake up to a letter on their pillowcase or in their briefcase.
There's no time like the present to catch them totally and completely off guard! Remember that presentation is key, so make sure it's some gorgeous stationary or a beautiful blank greeting card. Then set aside about an hour to pen a love letter. I can almost guarantee that it will be just as revealing to you as the writer as it will be to your partner, the reader. Plus, it will be the gift that keeps on giving, each and every time they read it. So…what are you waiting for? Get off of this thing and get to writing, sis.
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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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