You Are Valid, As IS.

Too often we allow people (other than ourselves) & things to validate who we are, what we have to offer & what we are worth. Despite how much I do not want to admit it, the truth is, I am guilty of this too. We have allowed letter grades, yearly salaries, hourly wages, romantic & non-romantic relationships, negative interactions, employment, & material things to have too much weight on how we view ourselves & what we believe we can offer to the world. For forever, the world has told us what success looks like & that is one of the main reasons we are too hard on ourselves.

Success is what we define it as. It has nothing to do with monetary gain, the romantic or non-romantic relationships we maintained or how we advance professionally, because we all know– despite how well we appear to be doing in life– these things do not add true value to it. We can be doing well & still be disappointed in the person we see in the mirror. The more we allow the perspective of others to hold weight on our lives, the less value we see in ourselves & the worse we feel.

As someone who recently felt unworthy, I am here to tell you that you are more than worthy– YOU ARE PRICELESS. Your accomplishments or your possessions do not make who you are. Instead, it is the content of your character. If you are kind, how you make people feel when you have encounters with them, your positive perspective on life, how you treat people, etc. Because the truth is, when you are gone, these are the things that people will remember; not how much money you had in the bank or the nice car or home you had. So make a conscious effort- everyday- to ensure that you do not give so much rank to these things in your life. Instead just love yourself the way you are. YOU as you are, is the only thing that deserves any validation in your life.

Durable Rejection

Rejection…

We have all been there before. Regardless of how well we live our lives, how well we may or may not treat people; we are not exempt. We have all experienced rejection from people we love, employers, strangers & associates. However, it is important that we understand that it is inevitable & one ‘no’ is another ‘yes’ down the line. Unfortunately, rejection hurts & could have crippling consequences that we can carry around with us forever. In the face of rejection, the greatest indicator of our character is how we stand up after we are forced to look it in the face.

I, myself, struggle with rejection. I am typically a very confident person. I know what I am worth & I know how hard I worked to get to where I am now. But I would be a liar if I said rejection did not sting when it has happened; some times more than others. But please believe me when I say that rejection does not say anything about who you are. In fact, it is just a reminder that a better opportunity will present itself. Do not let the these moments make you feel like less than what you truly are. In fact, these are the exact moments that will be a testament to your strength.

To encourage you further, please take a few minutes to watch the two videos below. I believe they could do for you, what they did for me.

In the meantime, never forget this- rejection’s only strength is in building you up. All the other side effects are obsolete.

Growth in Discomfort

Throughout our lives we have been through different situations that have caused us discomfort. Regardless of how long it took, we can all reflect back on that time & recall how we felt & the specific circumstances that surrounded that discomfort. However, as the time passes on we can acknowledge that we are not in the same place we were then & can be proud that we are past that point of our lives that we likely thought was going to take us out.

We have all been there. We have all felt first hand the effects discomfort inflicted on us from school, work & interpersonal relationships we encounter along the way; all of which, has molded us into the women we are today. Our experiences have made us wise, empathetic, strong, fierce, relatable & resilient. All these qualities make us better suited for our own situations & geared for the situations of others who may call on us. Therefore, if you are currently in a state of discomfort, such as myself, remain positive. All of what you are experiencing has come before you with the betterment of YOU as the the result.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you have to KNOW it is there. As you go through it, reflect on the lessons & take note of your evolution. If that proves to be a little harder than intended, just reflect on the more difficult times of your life that you got through. Because what you thought was going to take you out has had no longevity in comparison to you. It was difficult but short lived & in no way has rank over all that you are destined to be. Every situation that restricts you, that makes it increasingly more difficult for you & causes you to stumble is just that. They are not permanent. They are simply the water used to water you into full bloom. Embrace it.

Just Breathe

For as long as I could remember, I have always had unreasonable expectations on how to maneuver through life. In doing this, I failed to keep track of what was important. I would get so caught up in what had to be perfect that I never prepared myself for the possibility that things may not go as planned & if I keep trying to fit it in a box; I will miss out on how truly amazing it is to just live. As I get older & get more comfortable talking about this with my peers; I have learned that the sentiment that I once thought was mine, is a sentiment shared amongst all of them, as well. Because the truth is, so many of us are asymptomatic for depression & anxiety because we have all imposed these crappy expectations on ourselves that make it impossible to just relish in the moment & allow life to present to us what it may.

This must stop. We have to accept that this life thing does not come easy. In fact, sometimes it is extremely difficult to get through & when we think we have it all figured out, whoop, we don’t. That is totally ok. No one told us we had to have the solutions to all the conflicts that are presented to us; we did. When the truth of the matter is, all we really need to do is survive & enjoy ourselves while we do so. In fact, we just need to make sure that at the end of the day, we are decent human beings that leave some type of positive imprint on the world. We need to keep in mind that there are no specifics in how we do it; we just really need to do it our way; the way we choose how to.

I believe many of us cannot enjoy life the way we were meant to because we allow the pressures of our lives to make us automatic & responsive. But sometimes, if we sit still, in peace, in quiet & focus on the soothing noises around us, we will find more opportunities that allow us to just breathe. Opportunities that allow us to just sit back & recognize that we are not doing so bad, after all & we just need a little moment away.- to get our thoughts together; to get our minds right. Life does not come with a manual & quite frankly, it would not be any fun if it did. So take from life what you can- experiences, moments, joy, happiness, sadness- & make of it what you can. Life is more than short, it’s worth it.

Beautifully Broken

As you may have saw last week, I have had to take a minute away to recharge. Initially, I believed in only giving you content when I have made it through a storm. However, I am currently in an emotional battle & I recognize that life must still go on. Life stops for no one & the best way to get over & past things is to attempt to bring your life back to some type of normalcy. I have advocated for self care on a public platform for well over a year now & somehow forgot that in advocating for self care, that there will be instances when I will need to acknowledge that my own journey needs a moment or two for a little tender, love & care.

It has been a little over a week that I have not felt like myself. I have been struggling to be productive & struggling to see the bright side of things (which is really not like me). As someone who has sat side by side with depression, I can recognize that I am not there but that something will need to change before I get caught up sitting with my “old friend” again. So today, I decided to live up to my promise to always remain transparent & tell you all that I am struggling. Nonetheless, I will also follow up with this statement by telling you, that it is ok to be totally honest with ourselves when we are. Sometimes we get so use to looking like we have it all together that we are hard on ourselves when we don’t. Sometimes things just don’t make sense and it effects us. Sometimes things sting more than we anticipated & sometimes life just does not seem fair. But if there is anything I learned in the three decades I have walked this earth– the difficult times do not last forever.

Sadness will eventually be turned to joy, tears will turn to laughter & anger will turn to peace because our lives were not meant to be a relay race of obstacles we cannot overcome. In fact, our lives are about the victories. A bunch of small & large wins that enable us to reflect back on those trophy moments & be proud. So if you are like me & having a more difficult time than normal, remain encouraged. Remain positive that this too shall pass. After all, we do not have to be everyone’s superhero, we just have to be our own.

A Word on Gossip

I am excited to announce that we have another Guest Inspiration, Susan (Susie) Wood, who is with us today to share with us her thoughts on gossip & what impact it can have in the various facets of our lives. I personally have watched Susie evolve in her pursuit of self-reflection & it has been such a beautiful journey. She has mastered the art of reflection & has done an amazing job at sharing what she’s learned about herself & the actions of others in a way that helps us understand our own individual circumstances. Therefore, today, I am honored to have her here on Nickkie&Co. to share with us her thought out analysis on Gossip.

Have you ever been the target of unkind gossip at work or other communities? Have you ever been the source of it? Chances are you’ve experienced both sides to some degree. I usually don’t care what people say about me and prefer not to waste my energy on self-defense. Usually it’s best to let people draw conclusions from their own observations because my behavior speaks for itself and my conscience is clean. What others say usually only reflects poorly on the gossiper in those cases. However, I did recently become targeted by someone at work that I considered a friend, and it felt particularly vicious and public. It led me to explore a lot of questions beyond just our personal relationship, but about the broader topic of gossip in general and why people do it. Entire industries are built on this guilty pleasure. We all know how painful and damaging it can be, so why do we persist? Why do we even lend a sympathetic ear?


There are different kinds of gossip and it isn’t all bad. I’ve learned a lot of valuable work-related information over the years through a game of whisper-down-the-lane as a result of poor, spotty communication on the part of management. But it’s also valid and useful in preparation for interviews, for salary negotiations, or for keeping your guard up around a known sexual predator. Women may tear each other down with gossip, but we also protect each other from the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. We just need to consider carefully the information and its source, and discern which kind we are hearing.

This recent work experience was of the malicious, personal variety, and it was painful. It led me to read about some of the neuroscience research by Naomi I. Eisenberger on Social Pain (e.g., resultant of public criticism, rejection, exclusion, being shamed, etc.) She found that social pain will trigger a response in some of the same neural pathways in the brain as physical pain. This has been proven on fMRI scans in many different studies over the last decade of research. Certain drugs that are prescribed for physical pain, like opioids, have comparable outcomes on relief of social pain. Similarly, antidepressants which are prescribed for anxiety and depression, have also been shown to reduce physical pain. There is an undeniable overlap. Social rejection is arguably worse than physical pain because it can be experienced repeatedly each time an event is recalled in your mind. You can relive the pain ongoingly if you don’t have a healthy outlet for your stress and learn to move on. Ann Betz, CPCC and international executive coach, also wrote an article on the neurological effects of too much stress. It leads to functional impairment of the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for high-level thinking. She wrote that acute, chronic stress leads to foggy thinking, poor impulse control, poor memory and decision-making, and lack of empathy. It’s not difficult to understand why, then, the biggest gossipers tend to be the most high-anxiety individuals.

When faced with any problem, it’s good practice to have enough self-awareness to be willing to ask yourself how you may have contributed to the situation you find yourself in. Even if it’s only 5% your own doing and 95% theirs, you can learn and grow a lot from that 5% that you owned and make better choices next time – especially if any part of that mean gossip was true. I concluded that this work friend was in pain and that I compounded it by saying something hurtful during an argument. This was her way of hurting me back, creating alliances, and protecting herself from potential professional consequences.

The next time you are tempted to share something mean, personal or private about someone, ask yourself why: What need am I trying to fulfill by sharing this information with this person? What might be the consequences? Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone? There almost always is.
Susie

What am I trying to fulfill with sharing this information with this person…Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone?

Inspire

To INSPIRE is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something.

Every morning I wake up with the deliberate intent to inspire someone. I understand that every encounter I may have with someone (stranger, friend or foe) is an opportunity for me to do so. I recognize that many of us are walking around aimlessly, uninspired & without purpose. So the greatest blessing I feel I can offer anyone is to inspire them. Because in inspiring them, they come into realization of their abilities & the potential to pursue all the dreams they never imagined they could make a reality.

As women going places, it is imperative that we keep this same mindset, at all times. Unfortunately, with all that is going on, people feel incapable to make their gifts & talents work for them. They need to be inspired, to have something to strive for, something to give them purpose. Life is too beautiful to just be in it living aimlessly. We need to make it work for us. We need to inspire & be inspired. Once we realize the way this can impact the lives of others we MUST share it with the world.

So wake up. Take on the task to inspire the world.

Your Emotion, Your Voice

Anyone that knows me on a personal level can vouch for what I am about to say. I am an extremely emotional person. If you break down the façade of my “tough” exterior you will see that I am a big softy. I am extremely empathic & it leaves me vulnerable to feel significantly the pains & joys of other people. A quality that I hated so much about myself; that often made me feel insignificant or dismissed as invalid has now been embraced & accepted as a strong quality that contributes to who I am today.

Although early on society told me that being emotional is a weak characteristic, is only associated with irrational women & should be discarded; I have learned to disregard what I was conditioned to believe so long ago. Because being emotional has allowed me to make an impact for those who need it, be genuine when I receive good news & has propelled my professional career in ways I never would have imagined a year ago. The importance is in how we channel our emotions & that we use it for good. After all, being emotional or emotionally driven is different than being an irrational person. We currently live in a world that laughs in the face of emotions but encourages dysfunction. But because of our emotions, we are great mothers, amazing friends, nurturing to our spouses & efficient in our jobs.

Therefore, today, I want to tell you that what you feel matters. What & how you process what you feel matters. How you express what you feel matters & the fact that you feel matters, significantly. Do not allow the world to tell you this is unacceptable. Do not let them muffle it out. Your emotion is the flame that ignites your voice. It allows you to stand up for injustices when you see them, give words of encouragement when you recognize the need, whisper loving words to your children at night, hum sweet nothings to your spouse during intimate moments & allows you to advocate for yourself when you are told to stand back. To allow someone, anyone, to disregard what you feel, creates suffocation & dullness in multiple facets of your life where it is needed.

You Are Colorful.

Be Colorful.

Beautiful From The Inside Out

Good morning Conglomerates!!! Happy Sunday! Today I am extremely pleased to announce that we have Guest Inspiration, Kathy Washington, here to talking about how what we put into our bodies is an important ritual of self-care. This is a very relatable memoir that invokes the desire to think differently & pick up new habits that will be most beneficial to us. Please join me in welcoming our fellow Conglomerate as she shares with us how to live our best lives, as we go places.

As women, we grow up learning and being groomed to practice modes of self care that enhance our outward appearance. Perhaps we make an effort to practice self care by doing our nails, our hair, taking vitamins, using certain skin care products and cosmetics, and buying clothing that we feel is flattering to our bodies. While these are modalities of self care that can give us a quick boost, today I want to challenge us to practice a mode of self care that will help us to be radiant from the inside out: eating well.

Most of the time, when we think about beauty, we don’t think about what we put inside our bodies, which can have lasting effects and boost the way our skin cells operate, our brain cells, our organ function, our confidence, and energy levels.

For the last 2 years, I have been on a journey of practicing self care by doing something that I have to do every day no matter what: EAT! I learned that healthy food choices do not have to be hard or conflict with my other responsibilities. I learned that I can quickly pack healthy lunches for myself every day by changing my thinking. I learned to incorporate more plant-based foods into my daily eating habits to give my body the fuel it needs. I learned to make unusual pairings of foods and experiment with my taste buds. The energy and feeling of well-being as a result has been amazing!

As a child, I had home cooked meals and processed foods as my mom worked full time. I still love my staple of rice and beans; however, I had limited exposure to a variety of whole foods. My parents did the best they could, but I had to teach myself as an adult how to eat healthy and recognize patterns of unhealthy eating in myself. Some of the reasons for my unhealthy eating were cultural, social, financial, emotional, stress-related, time constraints, and unawareness. I also frankly thought that healthy food just didn’t taste good. 

Now that I am older and responsible for my own eating habits, I am exploring and being more adventurous about my food choices. I am making what goes inside my body as much of a priority as what I do on the outside.

As women who are going places, we tend to be multitaskers and wear many hats. Sometimes those hats cause us to believe that we don’t “have time” to eat well or be conscientious about food choices because we are “too busy.” As a full-time working mom with 5 year old twins, I know all about being busy.

Sometimes we invest more time and energy into the health of our families and allow ourselves to “eat on the go.” Sometimes we think that other things are “more important” than choosing foods that nourish us. Sometimes it’s more convenient and less expensive to buy food that has a longer shelf life. Sometimes we get to the point of being so hungry or tired, we will grab some cupcakes, ice cream, potato chips, soda, or (insert salty or sweet snack of choice) instead of a meal.  Mentally, we put ourselves on the back burner when it comes to choosing healthy foods because we are prioritizing others’ needs ahead of our own. Eating and meal preparation become additional chores or mindless tasks.

Today I would like to challenge the idea that taking care of our bodies on the inside is less important than the laundry list of “things to do” that awaits us every day. I want to challenge the notion that the roles we play take priority over our nutritional needs. I want to say that it IS possible to make healthy food choices AND make meal prep simple and balanced.

When I go to the supermarket, I look for specific healthy foods that will make meal prep simple. I try to buy more produce than processed foods and buy fruits and veggies that I can easily pack into a lunch container or snack bag. If it comes from a plant, eat it! The more colorful, the better: avocados, tomatoes, basil, salad mixes, olives, bananas, strawberries, cherries, potatoes, red onion, peppers, apples, cilantro. Pair these with whole wheat pasta, tortilla wraps, quinoa, beans, lentils, hummus, rice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, or a healthy protein and starch of your choice, which can make for a power packed meal that is satisfying and nutrient-rich.

Dare to experiment with healthy recipes on Pinterest. Dare to have a basil plant or fresh herbs inside a pot. Think outside the box. Change can be difficult, so make small changes first and build on the smaller changes over time.

Don’t be afraid to bring a whole avocado to work as part of your lunch. Dare to add pasta and red onion to a salad for a flavor pop! Buy pre-rinsed veggies in a bag to make it easier. Pack more whole foods in your lunch box, even if it means you are packing half the contents of your refrigerator! Bananas, carrots, or apples with peanut or almond butter are delicious and can help with sweet cravings. Grape tomatoes are full of flavor, easy to use for meal prep, and can last longer than larger tomatoes as they don’t require cutting. Berries can be pre-rinsed the night before and packed in a snack bag. Water can be infused with fruit or lemon to give it more flavor and less sugar than soda or store-bought juice. Ice packs are good for keeping food cold when a refrigerator is not available.

As women who are going places, we need to nourish our bodies and fuel our minds with the foods that nature gave us to help us be our best. Marketing and prepackaging of food can be so confusing. Labels entice us with “high protein, low fat, low sodium, low carb, low starch, low sugar/no sugar, gluten-free.” The truth is that our bodies best respond to the foods that are least processed and least packaged, with the least amount of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. We don’t need to read a label to choose produce.

It is easy to be enticed by convenience foods. I had no idea of the cloud that I had been living in and the low energy I had until I decided to eat more plant based and healthy foods, and I feel amazing. I am more alert, and I don’t feel the mental fog I once did when I ate a lot of processed foods. I found simple, easy recipes that don’t require much cooking and are satisfying. I found ways to modify my food choices and incorporate it in a way that works with my lifestyle.

Now, I pack my lunches and do meal prep at the same time that I pack my kids’ lunches, usually after dinner as I’m cleaning the kitchen. I put pasta in a container with tomato sauce and top it with some basil, kale, and a little shredded cheese. I pack cherries or strawberries in a snack bag. I still enjoy tortilla chips, chocolate, and other snacks, but I try to balance it out so I’m not over doing it and also not feeling deprived. I try to plan my food choices. When it becomes a lifestyle and daily routine vs a “diet,” the chances for sticking with it are much higher.

I decided that I’m worth it and I owe it to myself! As women who are going places, let’s practice self care and self love from the inside out.


“I decided that I am worth it & I owe it to myself”