We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessika Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessika, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I’m amazed at how flexible I’ve become, and I attribute that to being a working mother. I used to have really rigid ideas about work and life and balance. I equated success to how well you did at work. Were you killing it? Were you moving up? Were you getting awards left and right? I realized that those things, while wonderful if that’s what you’re shooting for, felt surface level in the greater picture of my life. I didn’t want to spend so much of my valuable, precious, priceless, never-gonna-get-back time chasing things that, for me, were on the surface. I wanted to spend my time doing things I loved. Yes, some of that was work; I love having a career in writing and telling stories. But somewhere along the way, I recognize there was so much in life I didn’t want to miss because of work. I wanted to spend all the time I could possibly manage with my family. I wanted to discover myself outside of work, because for years I attached it too closely to who I was. These discoveries changed my perspective of balance in a way that helped me understand the harmony of working and living is about what makes you happy, regardless of these social constructs the world tells us to follow. I think balance is not linear — it’s a spectrum. It won’t look the same for everyone.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Telling stories has been my creative outlet since I was a child. It’s honestly the only way I ever expressed my voice, even if the stories were fictitious.

When I got to high school, I joined a journalism program that allowed me to fuse my love of writing and sharing stories. I wound up covering sports in high school, college and professionally throughout my newspaper journalism career. I loved every second, until I didn’t.

While the especially profound stories that only occur in sports fueled my drive, something shifted for me after I became a mother at 27, a time that felt like it was the peak of my career.

I faced great challenges at every newsroom I’ve been apart of, but none as great as this last one. While I loved the function of my job and the work I got to perform, I couldn’t stand for anymore mistreatment. I was a mother now. To be the best for my daughter, I had to take better care of me. And that meant removing myself from what sadly became an incredibly toxic workplace.

I love telling people this, but the biggest thing I learned from walking away was that you always win when you choose yourself. My daughter inspired me to do that for perhaps the first time in my career.

I took everything I learned, everything I cultivated and all of my potential and poured it into my own website, again merging two things I love: the discipline of journalism and my newfound passion for motherhood.

I started Hey, Black Mom! to share news, commentary and other narratives that Black mothers could relate to. I wanted it to be a place where our stories were prioritized.

I would love for others to recognize heyblackmom.com as a website and brand dedicated to amplifying the voices of Black mothers, helping us feel seen, heard, safe, entertained, enlightened and empowered through our stories.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Where we’d eat would be a major priority here, because I’m a super foodie. Hopefully they’d be in town for a food festival in the West End — GudGud pudding is literally the best bread pudding ever. We can spend some time at Ponce City Market, because there are some good eateries and shops there. A week-long trip may mean there is time for the food trucks in Smyrna on Tuesday evenings.

The New Black Wall Street is a must for friends in town.

We’d also have to bike or walk Silver Comet Trail.

And of course — roller skating! Everyone who comes in town knows about Cascade, and it’s awesome. There’s no place like it, but Sparkles in Smyrna would be a hidden gem for visitors.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband has been my biggest cheerleader, ally and supporter in this journey.

First off, he gave me the idea for the name when I decided to start my own website.

He believes in it and me sometimes more than I do. He may have to remind me about the positive strides I’ve taken or some of my wins if I ever feel discouraged.

And as a one-woman show behind the scenes, I rely on him to listen to me talk through headlines, interview questions and everything in between. His incessant support means he knows the brand almost as well as I do.

As far as other people or organizations, I’d say it’s the opposite. I have been inspired by the movements, initiatives and narratives of so many Black women on my quest to fill heyblackmom.com with meaningful stories.

Website: Heyblackmom.com

Instagram: Instagram.com/heyblackmom

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/company/hey-black-mom

Twitter: Twitter.com/heyblackmom

Facebook: Facebook.com/heyblackmom

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