It’s 6:42am on Monday Morning and I’m fresh off of sipping some lemon water while asking myself, “What the heck just happened!”
I have not blogged in over 8 weeks and it’s because the heavens opened up and was like “BOOM! Girl, you said you want this! Take it!”
And I was like, “Wait, what???” but by then I had already been swallowed up in the world I kept dreaming about and life took me for a ride I wasn’t ready for.
To back track:
At the end of July, I had reached a really depressing low point.
Mentally I was exhausted.
Financially I was drained.
I had been putting so much money, time, and energy into my new website xoNecole without really knowing if it was going to work. Numbers wise, we were doing great, but my expenses to keep the site running and the content great exceeded my actual revenue each month and so I was drowning in the negative. Not to mention, I just wasn’t enjoying the work.
When I sat down and looked at my life as a whole, I realized that I was miserable. My day-to-day consisted of being glued to my computer creating marketing plans, conference calls, reading essays, pitching to writers, looking at my depressing profit and loss sheets and processing payroll, and I wasn’t doing any of the things that I enjoyed doing. Furthermore, we had started working with a few brands and getting a little bit of advertising but I wasn’t connecting with the products or the campaigns fully.
I remember my friend Tracy G had texted me about something one day, and I wrote her a very depressed response, and she said, “girl I’m calling you tonight and I’m praying over you.” At 8:30 that night, she called and she prayed. I remember telling her, “Tracy I feel so guilty but I want to start focusing on my personal brand and my personal blog more but I think that makes me sound selfish.” She immediately said, “That’s not selfish!” I went on to tell her how I felt the more I focused on the business side of things, and my other website, the more I felt I was losing myself and losing connection with my readers. I wasn’t blogging anymore, I wasn’t being as transparent anymore …I was just mentally done.
After I hung up with Tracy, I started reading a book by Matthew Kelly titled, “The Rhythm of Life: Living Your Life With Passion & Purpose” and the first chapter asked, “What do you want from your life?” I put the book down right then and there and decided I better start writing, because if it’s one thing I’ve learned over this past year is, if you don’t know exactly what you want, then how is anyone going to help you get it?
So I sat down with my little pad and pencil and I wrote out the things that I wanted from life. Well, moreso my career because I had to figure out my career before I even thought about throwing love into the equation.
- I want to travel more
- I want to only work with brands that I love and genuinely believe in versus just brands who come to me with a check
- I want to do campaigns that allows me to create
- I want to do more videos and events for my website
- I want to do more appearances, speak on panels and interact with my readers face to face.
- I want to create a better connection with my readers again
Once I had my list in front of me and started getting a little bit more detailed, I shared them with a few people I knew that could help make things happen and when I say things started shifting really fast….
Here are a few things that happened during the past 8 weeks, after I really figured out what I wanted from my life:
First To London
I knew in order to get out of the mental rut I was in, I had to take a vacation. Go overseas! Live a little. I ended up taking a 6-day trip to London. While there, I partnered with the travel app Gogobot to review restaurants and activities in the area. I was a fan of the app before the partnership so I was thrilled to work with them and it was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. It had me reconsidering whether I should just travel blog full time.
Then To Vietnam
Two weeks after I returned from London, I went on a 10-day press trip to Vietnam sponsored by TopdeckTravel, a travel company that organizes epic trips for young 18-39 adventurers across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and North America. During our trip, we experienced the lovely cities of Hoi an, Honai, and Halong Bay. It was supposed to be work, but it felt like more of a vacation. We took cooking classes, spent the night at sea on a boat, and climbed through caves. It was an absolute dream. (I will be writing a separate blog post on this trip :)).
I Released A Vlog
While I was in Vietnam, I decided to create a youtube channel and release my first youtube Vlog titled, “What They Forgot To Tell Me About Leaving A Successful Brand.” The vlog was my way of being transparent about my journey over the past year in hopes of helping someone else who is currently going through a major transition in their life and needed a few words of encouragement. It was covered on a lot of media sites and although there was some negativity thrown my way, I was actually overwhelmed by the positivity and support from everyone who watched and I felt it reconnected me with my readers again.
Not to mention, it brought over 2 million new visitors to my xoNecole website the week it was released. The new readers, the comments on the video and emails of support from everyone was just the reassurance I needed to keep going.
I Received Some Major Support From Gabrielle Union Which Turned Into A Viral Win
Sometimes it’s harder to find support when you are doing positive than when you have a high-trafficked blog that teeters the line of negative. This story needs to be it’s own blog post but let’s just say, xoNecole was invited to cover Birth Of A Nation at the Toronto Film Festival, which was a win in itself that we were invited and flown out as part of the International press. During the press conference, Zon Damour (the amazing journalist I sent to cover) texted me and said she didn’t feel as though she was going to be able to bring back anything for the site since there wasn’t any opportunities to interview the cast one-on-one. I reached out to Gabrielle Union on Twitter to see if she’d give our writer a 10-minute interview. Although she was unable to do the interview at that time because she had to catch a flight, she responded fairly quickly and gave me her personal contact info (versus a publicist.) She also set the interview up for the next day, called in on time and gave us a whole hour for the interview. It was one of the most in-depth and realest interviews I’ve ever read from Gabby and after it was released, it was covered on every site on the Internet: Vogue, AOL, TIME, New York Daily News, Daily Mail, AOL, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Vanity Fair…and xoNecole was personally referenced and mentioned on every site.
I went from the Internet trolls and a few media sites headlining the coverage of my vlog as “ Necole Bitchie: From Boss to Broke” or “Necole Bitchie is damn near broke and homeless” and people actually celebrating the fact that they thought I had failed in one week, to a complete WIN the next week. Gabrielle Union could have given that interview to anyone, but she gave it to us because she wanted to support a positive site that was dedicated to uplifting women of color and I will always be so thankful of her for that.
** All of this is happening while I’m still in Vietnam mind you. **
I Got A Sponsorship Deal Which Required Me To Create
By the time I had returned from London, I received the good news from my incredible and relentless team that we snagged our first major corporate deal ever (Major shouts to Toyota!!), and that I’d be required to create a video series as part of the deal.
Yassssss! Finally I would be able to leave my computer and actually produce and create content. Look at God!
I had financed a video series pilot titled “Living My Dream” which featured entrepreneurial women who were blazing their own paths, back in May and I decided to continue the concept. I enlisted Kawai Matthews as the director and we filmed the series for a week in Los Angeles and Atlanta. It features Interior Designer Nikki Chu, CurlBox founder Myleik Teele, Radio Personality and Karma Bliss founder Devi Brown, and TV Personality/ Cossamia Founder Rosa Acosta. The series should hit the web in the next week or two as well as a behind-the-scenes vlog.
I Threw An Empowering Event
Last Tuesday, we held an event titled, “Next Chapter” which was aimed at women who were currently in unfulfilling jobs, situations or careers and they were ready to press the reset button and live the life of their dreams. The event was held at VNYL in New York and the panel included myself, Myleik Teele, Devi Brown (both of the Living My Dream series) and moderated by Tracy G (Sway In The Morning/ She’s Beauty And The Beast) There was so much amazing energy in that room and so many gems dropped from the panelists. This event was something I had wanted to do since March so to see it finally come to life was everything. I’m still on an emotional high from the event, and the many emails that I received afterward from women who said the event transformed them. This is the “Why” and what life is about. Doing meaningful work. I was floored. (more about this event in another blog post).
I Made A Few Appearances
I don’t think I slept in my bed a total of five days in a row during these last 6 weeks. I spoke on a panel in New York as part of the Nomadness Travel Conference, I was on the Women In Social Media panel at Revolt Music Conference in Miami, and I was a presenter at The WEEN Awards on Tuesday where I presented an award to Blackish star Yara Shahidi.
I actually cried when they brought me on stage because I had that moment when I remembered not feeling like I deserved to be in those type of rooms with women who were making a difference online and in their communities, and this was the first time that I felt like YES, I belong here!!!
In a nutshell, I’ve had the most gratifying and productive 8 weeks of my life. Now I’m sitting here reflecting and trying to process everything and make sure that the excitement and momentum I now have for life, that I don’t give that up anymore. It’s not to say there hasn’t been some hiccups along the way, but for the most part, everything has been amazing and my life has changed so much.
And I’m proof that if you change your mindset, you can change your life. Me balled up in a fetal position every morning dreading getting out of bed was doing nothing to change my situation. It wasn’t until I decided I had had enough of feeling sorry for myself, that things started to change. The first step is pinpointing the things that are making your life unenjoyable so that they can be removed, and then acknowledging what your dream life would look like, so that you can start working towards getting there.
I’ve learned so many lessons over the past three months that I want to share, but since I’ve challenged myself to write a blog a day for the next 30 days, I’ll just save them for the next few blogs 🙂
I’ll just leave you with this:
2017 is right around the corner.
There is not a better time than now to start writing down your goals, visualizing what you want your life to be like, and creating vision boards so that you have clarity on how to push through in the New Year.
You got this!!!
Oh, and definitely pick up Matthew Kelly’s “The Rhythm of Life.” It really helped me pinpoint exactly what I needed to be doing to live a life of passion and purpose.
Until next time!!
P.S. If you haven’t heard it yet, me and Myleik had a very candid conversation about where I was in life on her #mytaughtyou Podcast back in August. You can listen to it here.
Keep in touch. Follow me on Instagram and snapchat: lovenecole!