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Homeschooling My Four Kids Inspired Me To Create A 6-Figure Feminine Revolution

Women, it's our time.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Yahya Smith's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

Women, it's our time—our time to take care of ourselves and to take care of other women, wholeheartedly.

Growing up, I never considered any other career option outside of entrepreneurship. And because my parents were serial entrepreneurs, it didn't even occur to me that working for someone was the norm until I got to college and noticed everyone else's goals were a lot different from mine.

I became a mom early on, but I always knew that I didn't want my son to be raised by teachers and daycare workers. I also knew I needed to be able to feed him, too. I worked a traditional job for the first year of his life and while I was able to climb fast in the company, it just wasn't enough for me. I felt a pull toward family life and so I answered it. I got married at 23 and one of my "must-haves" (for agreeing to marry him, lol) was being able to stay home and raise our family.

Like many SAHMs, I quickly realized that housework and babies 24/7 would drive me crazy if I didn't have an outlet for things that were just for me.

So, I started a blog.

I was flowing in marriage and motherhood easily, but I saw a lot of other women having a hard time. I wanted to share what was working for me. My marriage and relationship was easy, creating systems in my home was easy, building a business based on what I knew was coming naturally. I even had time to grow a backyard garden, give birth at home, homeschool my children, and incorporate regular me-time.

Photo Courtesy of Yahya Smith

I was living free, systematically, and I knew that other women wanted to be free to do the same.

That was the beginning of Feminine Success.

We're a consulting and life coaching brand created to give high-performing women the kind of support they need to be great in the areas that matter to them without burning out. We position femininity as the most practical and dynamic tool to have holistic success from the inside out, with grace and ease.

Success for women is usually different than success for men yet we've been taught to measure success with a man's ruler, so we settle for pieces of success rather than having the whole thing. We choose to describe the kind of woman who shows up in the world on purpose. She's not hoping to stumble upon her best life. She's curating it in every way.

I grew up with a unique mix of New Orleans creole culture and Alabama red clay, so I have a steady love for the simplicity of country life and an equal amount of love for the pulse of the city.

I'm the oldest of three girls, and I've always been the caretaker. My parents were young, entrepreneurial, and doing well financially, so I got to witness first-generation "rich". That exposure really shaped my ideas of success, as I learned early how you could have all of the trappings of success and still not feel successful. Who shows us how to have it all without doing it all and being it all? Who shows us how to have healthy families, loving marriages, and a clear heart while leaving a legacy of financial and social impact? When you get everything you ever wanted, how will you handle it?

When I began homeschooling, I had to adjust and make room for it in my family's lives. On an average day, I wake up at 5 a.m. and have two hours of me-time before my children wake up. My husband is up at 4 a.m., so he usually has a cup of tea waiting for me. I go through my morning routine—I like the Miracle Morning method—have a quick team update, and get breakfast started. If I'm really on time, I throw in a load of laundry because, 6 people. We homeschool 4 hours a day and my husband and I alternate days and subjects. I start work in my business around 1 and work until 3. 3-8:30 is family time.

And this is generally how our days run.

What I love the most is I get to build my business around my life. Most of our content is family-centered and is created from our actual lives. My husband is a photographer/videographer by profession so we're constantly documenting our day-to-day and that is the essence of our business. It all works beautifully. This comes from an understanding that it's harder to hurdle anything alone. Because I don't believe in unnecessarily stressing myself, I like to preserve my energy for the good stuff. So, I get a good amount of help.

I think that every woman needs reciprocity because we give so much, but it's up to us to create that kind of culture in our lives.

Community care curbs burnout.

My favorite self-care tactic is taking naps. They are so important, I don't believe in sacrificing sleep for success. For those times that naps don't work, I schedule weekend hotel stays and acupuncture appointments. I have an amazing naturopathic doctor who is also a sister and she gets my whole life. I take self-care seriously, so I try to make sure to integrate it for the women I coach because we all know what usually happens when you plan time away: everything but time away.

Take care of yourselves, too. We need it.

Ladies, what I'm saying is, it is so, so, so, important for you to build your life how you want it from the beginning. If freedom is what you want, build out your life and business for freedom. Don't go into entrepreneurship saying, "one day" because much like relationships, how it starts is how it ends. Have boundaries with your business so you know when to say "yes" and "no". Value Relationships. Focus on how you make people feel, and know the value of that. Value yourself highly, what you bring to the table, and how you present it, is significant.

Success, to me, is what you create your life to be. Like, my ideal day is me in the kitchen, baking bread and cakes and preserves from scratch, my team is running my business operations, my husband is playing some fire tunes and grilling up some goodness, my clients are winning on repeat, and my children are laughing in the background. And what I love most is that I can be anywhere in the world and have all of that.

Femininity has helped me flow with the ups and downs that come with making the radical decision to be free—as a mom, as a business woman, and as a creator.

There's power in who we are as women.

It's up to us to tap into it.

To find out how you can become Yahya's client, you can apply on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram for her latest tips on balancing your life.

If you have a story you'd like to share, but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.

Featured image courtesy of Amiri Isreal

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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