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.

Lion-heart

Being brave is the ability to endure unpleasant conditions or behavior without succumbing to fear. Unfortunately, with all that is going on around us, it is extremely important that we recognize the times in which we need to stand up & go against the grain; even if it is not always the most popular opinion.  It is no secret that there are many injustices that happen on a regular basis. Thankfully, technology & social media has helped significantly with the exposure of unjust, inequitable & preferential treatment; so much so, that the things that use to be swept under the rug are now the red kool-aid stain on your white rug & extremely hard to ignore. 

When we see these actions, we instantly ban up together, express our distaste for  a few weeks & allow our hashtags to take the social media world by storm. However, human nature does better at talking about the issues when there is a group of people around us with the same mindset. But in the event we are alone & witness the foul treatment of someone else, can we all truly say that we will remain fueled the same way? It is easy say ‘yes’ now, but as life would have it,  under the right circumstances & situations our ‘yes’ can easily turn into a ‘no’. Shock & fear can bring out characteristics in us that are far from what we portray ourselves to be. That is ok, it is actually quite normal. Besides, you are not required to be anything more than human. However, the trick is to do what’s right in non-adverse & adverse situations; regardless of the fear that tells us to remain dormant & to do nothing.

We have to attempt to be brave- always. All situations are not always extreme but they do matter. We should never be dissuaded from standing up, with & next to what we believe in. Our ability to define ourselves & our integrity is rooted in that. Therefore, be brave when pursuing all your goals, be brave for your loved ones & strangers when they can not be. Be brave enough to speak out against injustices, be brave enough to love even when you are hurt. Be brave in the face of adversity. Be brave enough to implement change for the generations after you & be brave enough to make those before you proud. Be brave & break generational curses. Be brave enough to fight the fight others are too tired to fight. Shed light on what is hidden in the dark & be brave enough to admit vulnerability. Be brave enough to pray & to cry. Be brave to laugh when it is hard. Be brave to combat mental illness & brave enough to seek help when you need it. Be creative in your bravery & tie your bravery to your integrity.

With audaciousness there is nothing you cannot do. There is no giant you cannot slay. 


I can never forget-
Happy Mother’s Day

Your Money, Your Power

As an adult, I reflect often on the topics we discussed in school. I realize that schools, in some way, do not really equip us for real life. You know, with the stuff that really matters, like- how to invest, the importance of having good credit, the benefits of saving early & budgeting accordingly. It is almost like we weren’t geared to fully live our best lives without debt & excess. We were told to desire to be rich but were not provided the proper resources to teach us how to be. It was ingrained in us that the sure way to live comfortably is to finish school, get a job with a high salary, & to save our money in a standard savings account. We were not told the other options to help us “get rich” or to be financially independent. In fact, the advice given to us initially, in my opinion, was pretty bad advice. College is a large reason why many of us are in debt, high paying jobs are not easily accessible & a standard savings account gives you zilch for interest as your money sits there & does nothing but be the same amount you deposited. That advice made us ill-equipped to thrive comfortably without understanding the struggle first.

Now, we have to force ourselves to figure it out on our own. We have to force ourselves to research the options & not fall into the trap of incurring tons of debt that is impossible to pay off. The days of living above our means & incurring debt we cannot pay is long behind us. Living paycheck to paycheck was not God’s intent when he placed us on this Earth to thrive. Therefore, we must prepare to change our mindset & keep those days behind us. The days of living above our means in order to keep is now over. We must begin to welcome a life that prohibits struggling in retirement & working ourselves to death without being able to experience our loved ones. They deserve to have us there while having access to our legacy after we are gone. We must learn to work this financial system to our advantage so we never have to remember what it is to struggle again. Because the truth is, we all want nice things, but the picture is bigger than that.

We need to obtain & utilize resources that allow us to familiarize ourselves with what is available to us. Learn the importance of investing, monitoring, book keeping, accounting & financial advising. Although they seem out of reach, they are services we can utilize now for our benefit. We cannot continue to have a billionaire mindset with an impoverished lifestyle because at some point the well of desire will run dry & we will begin to make irrational & unhealthy financial choices that we cannot afford to. Please understand that the financial choices you make now do not only effect you, they effect the generations after you. Living a life plagued with debt is a generational curse that we do not need to succumb to. We can break the chain of discomfort & teach our children the same thing. No one wants to end their life paying back debt that could have been avoided. Furthermore, no one wants to leave the burden of suffering on their families so we need to think smart- NOW.

Start doing the research. Start paying off your debt now so you do not have to worry about it later. Start budgeting. Monitor your trends in spending & sacrifice what you need to cut back on. Start investing your money & teaching your children the value of a dollar, teach them the pros & cons to credit scores & explain how interest rates work & do not work in their favor. Teach them to live with as little debt as possible so that after you are gone you can be sure that if you taught them anything, you taught them money. Our lives & their lives are too valuable to miss this knowledge like we did. Share it abundantly. The generation needs it.



Tips: Dave Ramsey’s literature on the Debt Snowball is very helpful. That information you receive coupled with his EveryDollar app can get you well on your way to living debt free & building up your savings.
Also, the most recent episode of the Jesus & Jollof podcast, “Scared Money, Don’t Make Money” is very informative without feeling overwhelming. It defines much of the terminology that was mentioned above & will stimulate you to think of your money differently.

After all, your money is your power.

Bet on Yourself

Every week, I discuss the importance of believing in yourself, advocating for yourself & being inspired enough to make a difference. However, this stuff will be quite difficult to do if you are unable to bet & take risks on yourself. We are in an age where many of us aspire in different ways to provide for ourselves & our loved ones by our own means. The most interesting part about this is that many of us have already evaluated the ways in which we can do so but we lack the confidence to just do it.

Today I tell you to be proud. I encourage you to have the confidence you need to take the big step & pursue the things you have always wanted to do. People think that in order to chase after dreams, to pursue new aspirations or to tread new waters they have to sacrifice everything. That cannot be further than the truth. We are muli-faceted creatures capable of living, doing & focusing on multiple things to fulfill our heart’s desire. Daily, we multitask & work hard fullfilling the dreams & visions of someone else. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to fit your desires in your hectic schedule; by your own means, at your own time. I started Nickkie&Co. knowing that one day it will have a larger mission than empowering people through an empowerment blog. However, this is the foundation & I am totally content with where it is right now. I am on my own timeline & what will come will come. I simply had one job & that was to take the risk. Now that the risk was taken, the rest will surely follow.

Today, I ask you to reflect a little bit. Has there been anything you always wanted to do? Something that can transform your life in a way that will give you a joy you have never felt before? If you woke up tomorrow & had the opportunity to invest in ONE thing that makes you an even better you, without thinking of finances, or comments from nay-sayers, what would you do?

Now I ask you-

What is stopping you now?

Today will be the last day you compromise on you.

Roses From Concrete

Growing up in the city of Camden, unlike others who have not, I am familiar with the stories of the individuals that call Camden, New Jersey home. Instead of hearing about the positive, empowering & inspirational stories of the people within my city’s perimeters we are influenced by the constant reminder that crime & drugs plague the community. Misconceptions & media coverage fail to shine a light on some of the things that really matter– the amazing individuals that live within the very zip codes of my city & all other inner city communities throughout the United States. Partly due to the negative stigmas associated with the crime rates & “bad blood”, so much of the creativity & talent within city borders goes unexplored due to a lack of resources geared to cultivate & catapult the creativity of these individuals. Inner cities are full of unfulfilled dreams evolved into bitter spirits that now contribute significantly to some of the crime rate & dependency of substances. Shattered dreams, forgotten hopes, abandoned aspirations & a lack of resources can manifest & lead to the destruction of a community.

Much like the talent of our ancestors, our oppression opens the door to creative expression that is undeniably remarkable but often ignored & disregarded. As a result, there are many actors, athletes, musical geniuses, mathematicians, scientists, culinary artists & creative writers that will forever be chained to the stigmas associated with the city they come from. Chained because they lack the resources that can propel their future as children so they can make a difference in the world as adults. Due to the failing system that avoids sifting through the weeds (stigmas) to get ahold of the roses restricted by the oppression of concrete, there is underrepresentation in high revenue, well known employers. This is a clear indication of the lack of resources that are not readily available to our youth early on.

We cannot continue treating inner city communities with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. We need to begin investing by creating programs that teach our youth to love science, technology, language, math & art.  We need to stop cutting creative arts programs that allow children to express themselves through creativity & look for other ways to meet budget requirements instead of removing the only form of expression some of these children have. Let us build the city up block by block so that they know that their only options is not a weakened educational system that is a topic of conversation but often abandoned. Let us show them the luxuries their talents can afford them so that they never give up & revert to relying on the very drug cycle we frown at. Let us not make this a project but include it in the culture. It is about time we draw attention to what matters. What matters is them. We must not give up on them even when they want to. We have to show them that they are worth it because realistically, people are not always receptive to receiving things they are not use to receiving. So it starts by ensuring they have the same resources & opportunities available that mirrors the suburbs. We should give the city something to be proud of, something to openly brag about; something to look forward to. Teach them to go after more & never settle. Appreciate their way of expression & show them that despite where they rise they can still thrive. They are the roses that have grown from concrete, & how beautiful they are– thorns & all.

March For Endo

Welcome back Conglomerates,

Happy mid-week check-in. Pardon my impromptu post that is outside of the typical Sunday schedule. Almost a year ago, I had a courageous Guest Inspiration who stepped forward to talk about her journey battling a condition that MANY women battle with daily; ENDOMETRIOSIS. Being that March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, I felt it was most important to recirculate her memoir to share with women who missed it & may be experiencing the same thing. Therefore, please click the link below & read the memoir from my dear friend & Endo Warrior, Eugenia.

Endo Warrior

#WeWearYellowForGeenii

Be-YOU-Tiful

Society has conditioned us very early on to be content being everyone but ourselves. Our true selves. In one way or another media reminds us that who we are & who we want to be is not enough. Unless, of course, it fits their idea of perfection or success. In many direct & indirect ways, we are told how to dress, how to talk, who to love, how to love, what to like, what to dislike, what is important, what to dismiss & what we should do based on what society thinks is important. This has resulted in so many of us unsure of who we are, what we believe in & what we represent. Well today, I encourage you to start the journey in learning exactly who you are, what you stand for & what is important to you because despite what you are conditioned to believe –there is not one single person that is on this earth just like you. You were made special, as one of a kind, limited edition — that is the beauty that is you.

The most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed is a person who found true, genuine joy because they were willing to be rebellious for the sake of discovering themselves. They live in joy because they outgrew society’s standards & are living outside of such restrictions. So many of us are walking around with a mask that perpetrates us in a different way than who we really are. This is dangerous to our self-care because we are too busy living for the likes of someone else– so much so, that we forget who we are & dislike ourselves in the process. To be ourselves unapologetically is the best gift we could ever give ourselves & to the world. We spend so much time of our lives being loyal to other people & we do not realize that being loyal to ourselves & our identities is even more important.

Remaining yourself, regardless of the circumstances you face, is a miraculous talent to have. Even under the worst situations you still remain true- true to you. That is the quality to having a good life that will impact, not only yours, but the lives of others. Like I said, there is no one like you, once you are gone there will never be another you. There is no one better at being you than you — embrace you. That is the least that you can do for yourself. Be you, always, all the time, regardless– Forever.

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You Are…

I usually struggle to write about topics like this out of concern of appearing bitter, irrational or unrealistic. Anyone that knows me, knows I have been through my share of heartbreak; some more crippling than others. However, the truth is, people (notice I said ‘people’) need to hear this. On a regular basis people are living tied to toxic, dysfunctional & unhappy relationships. They find themselves lost in the antics & associate with insecurity, discomfort, uncertainty & defeat. So, today, regardless of my own reservations it will be said. Despite what people think, this situation is beyond one individual person, as there are people that need empowerment before & after leaving relationships that no longer suit them.

I will be the first one to tell you that I have walked away from relationships still in love. I will also tell you that regardless of how visibly stubborn I have been; internally I struggled with whether or not I made the right decision to preserve myself & walk away. Truth is, I wanted so badly to believe that someone can change & that under the right circumstances they can change because of me. Too often, afterwards, I ended up raising an amazing man for someone else to enjoy. This often left me disappointed, heartbroken, angry & remorseful for the time I invested & lost. My story is not one of its own. In talking to other people, circumstances may differ but the situation is very much the same. So this memoir is for the person having a hard time getting away. For the person who looks at their partner & wonders what happened & who looks in the mirror & is unsure of themselves. This memoir is for you— because, I have been there too.

I will not tell you why you should get away because realistically, we leave when we are good & ready to. All situations are not just cut & dry. Some situations are more complicated. However, what I will tell you is this– you are not stupid for staying. You are not a fool for forgiving. You should not be ashamed for being hopeful things will get better. Instead if you do not understand or believe anything again in your life– resonate with this– you are powerful, mighty, worthy, beautiful, a gift & a blessing. Anyone who takes that for granted is unworthy of you. You are deserving, you are admirable, you are amazing, you are smart & you are blessed. Anyone willing to risk that does not deserve you. You are breathtaking, you are creative, you are endearing & you are phenomenal. Anyone who can not see that has already lost you. You are strong, you are smart & courageous. If YOU cannot see that, you have already sold yourself short.

See, you are a gem to be loved & cherished. Sadly, we do not always find ourselves tied to people who understand that, however, that still does not negate our worth. You are loved & cherished by the most high. You are loved beyond compare & there will never be anyone to grace this earth like you. You are you, miraculously & wonderfully, you. No one can ever take that from you. With each passing obstacle you become more resilient, more notorious & more victorious. Please believe the words as I wrote them. I do not have to meet you to tell you. I was you. I have been there. We are cut from the same cloth. Drape yourself in pride & confidence, love. The rest will follow. As I always say, you are deserving of all that is coming for you. It is yours & yours alone.

Until next time.

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