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.
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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.

Poverty in America

The epidemic of homelessness dates back to before the implementation of unfavorable policy changes, financial depression, & the decrease of resources. In January 2017, the national estimate of homelessness in the United States was 553,742. Regardless of the political environment, homelessness is a pandemic that is not easily eliminated. Even though, since 2007, 36 states have reported an overall decrease in homelessness, it is still a pervasive issue that plagues the lives of others. Sadly, despite the assistance in place for these individuals, there is not enough supply for the demand. Regardless of the events that have led to their homelessness (drug addiction, abuse, natural disasters, etc.) it appears that the homeless, if not seen regularly or in large quantities, are an easily forgotten population. For instance, we all know that those less fortunate than us exist & we understand that this is an issue; however, many of us hold true to the “out of sight, out of mind” way of processing. We often become so overwhelmed by our own problems that we are oblivious or immune to the struggles of others. Unfortunately, since there are some beliefs (true & untrue) in regards to the lives of homeless people, many of us would rather help “model” people who we believe have “temporarily” fallen down on their luck before helping people who may have contributed to their lives turning out the way they have.

Understanding this, Nickkie&Co. pursued another philanthropic mission to help the homeless, despite their histories, their errors or their shortcomings. Instead, of trying to figure out why they got where they were, Conglomerates & I looked at the individuals & how it would feel to be in their shoes for a day. Though we understand that we cannot fix the problem in one instance, we understand the importance of seeing a warm smile accompanied with a kind gesture. Therefore, together we raised 31 blankets to give to the homeless living in tent city on Lehigh Avenue in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, there were more homeless people than blankets. However, their appreciation was evident. What surprises me is not just the amount of people living without roofs over their heads but the amount of impoverished people who struggle daily to truly make ends meet. The 2017 Census recognizes that 39.7 million people were living in poverty. So, for a family of 4, the federal poverty level was 24,600. There has been an increase this year, however, these numbers are eye opening. 

Since I have started Nickkie&Co. I often hear different stories of people struggling & it baffles me. Some people truly wake up every day wondering how they are going to survive– unsure if they will eat that week or if they will have a warm place to sleep at night. It hurts me. We live in the “land of the free” that thrives off of materialism & self-preservation, however, we have people barely getting by; barely living. So today, I advocate that we begin to acknowledge a problem when we see it, spread awareness to teach others & if we cannot do anything else, we remain empathetic & kind to those in unfortunate situations. But I must say that the first step to making a difference is to acknowledge that a problem exists & that a difference has to be made. We cannot begin to contribute to eradicating a problem if we fail to recognize that it exists. In order to care for each other, we have to be willing to advocate, teach each other & speak up for those who may not be able to. We have to work together in love so that we can lift & build up those in less than ideal situations. Small strides in the community can go a long way because usually it takes one bold person to take a stand & the rest will follow. Advocating & being kind provides that glimmer of hope so many people need. So shine & make a difference. Make your imprint on the world & make it deep enough that it is not covered in dust long after you are gone. 

  

**Statistics from endhomelessness.org, census.gov, peoplekeep.com***

Social Media: Our Lives on Public Display

Social media is an experience many of us relish in for entertainment. With the right momentum, social media can significantly propel our dreams into unforeseen heights, spread awareness at extremely quick rates & contribute to movements that link you to other like-minded people. However, as with many things, social media has a nasty side many of us see all too often. Just as social media contributes to positivity it can, in turn, magnify negativity. Social media is an implosive avenue that allows people to put their mental health, emotions & relationships on display. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I am grateful for the opportunities & benefits that social media makes available to our generation. I have been able to watch social media morph the lives of “regular” people into “celebrities” practically overnight. Hashtags & profile layouts have become the new “resume” that aid in propelling an entrepreneur’s popularity on the specific platform they use. Just as one’s success can multiply over night; the nasty, yet private aspects of our lives can do the same. From experience & observation, I have learned that negativity spreads faster than positivity, especially when fueled by pain & aggression.

Therefore, we must be mindful of the areas we share with the world until we are truly ready to share it. Social media is fun but once people are invited into the entertainment of our lives they will likely never leave. This will make it more difficult to heal & move past difficult phases of our lives. I have experienced this first hand with breakups or friendships that have gone south. Giving the world access during these phases of my life simply added more fuel to the fire & has caused more damage than it needed to. Over the years I have learned to be private in my affairs while dealing with my sadness intimately. Instead of sharing it with the rest of the world, I have taken that time to reflect & love into myself in a way I never knew before. As a result, it has done so much more for my self-preservation than I ever could have imagined. In fact, using that time to reflect & grow is why I can share personal testimonies with you every week on this platform.

I often promote sharing testimonies in order to heal & empower others. However, more than anything, I promote putting our health (physical, mental & spiritual) first. Often times, during extreme periods in our lives, we showcase our pain for the world to see without taking into account that it just may be too early for us to process what these periods mean for us. If we are still processing & healing from our trauma’s having the space to process alone without the prying eyes of others can be most beneficial to us. I believe in full transparency (in due time), however broadcasting our lives when we are most vulnerable leaves us susceptible to hurtful retaliation, negative statements, & abrasive actions that are not conducive to our healing. Granted, our profile is our expression & we should never have to filter who we are or how we feel for the likes of other people. But the truth is, it is not about other people. It is about us. There are certain phases of our lives that people should not be privy to on LIVE. Our lives should never be on display for people to tune in to every week. If it does not add to our growth, spread awareness, or propels our mission live updates are not required. Preserving ourselves for a better version of ourselves is most certainly ideal. After all, caterpillars always morph into butterflies in private leaving the world in awe of their beauty.

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No IS Yes

In pursuing our goals, it will be ideal for us to have the favor of the person who has the ability to say YES, right away. However, life would have it that “yes” may not always be what we hear. In many instances, we will hear “no” more often. Unfortunately, until we have proven ourselves, or peak someone’s interest, it will likely remain that way. We will spend much of our time trying to get people to see & believe in our vision in order to invest, promote or support us. However, the most important thing we could do in our pursuit has everything to do with how we receive “NO” when it is delivered to us. Many of us have become accustom to receiving it, accepting it & abandoning our pursuit off the basis that one or two people said no.  Many times, if we hear it enough, we begin to question ourselves in our abilities & the worth of our journey. Our experiences have programmed us to believe that one person or one group of people have the end-all answer; the answer that will either make us or break us. Well today, I want to share with you a new perspective & it is important for you to hear this: one person’s no is another person’s yes.

Therefore, I urge you not to stop believing in yourself based off of what someone else may tell you. Life is all about overcoming adversity in order to acquire your dreams. Dreams are to be pursued, executed & overcome. Despite what you hear, the courage you use to keep going is what truly counts. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told “no” & have been placed in a better situation as a result. Always remain tenacious in your pursuit, aggressive in your beliefs & humble throughout your journey. You will be rewarded for it. You are the protagonist in your story; do not allow the antagonists to keep you from reaching your goal. At the end of the day, you owe it to yourself to keep believing in yourself. If you take no risks there will be few things worth living for. If there is anything I am right about it is this, you are worth taking the risk on. So the next time you hear no, reflect & keeping going because yes, is just a few “no’s” away.

Keep Striving Babe, You Got This.

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Date Nights With Girl Friends

This past month & a half has been amazing. Nothing over the top happened like a spontaneous road trip, or falling in-love with a stranger at first sight. However, what made them worth talking about was that I took myself away from my hectic life & spent a few hours with my girlfriends. For the first time, in a long time, I did not think about my finances. I left all the things I needed to do on pause until I could deal with them afterwards. Weekly, whether in a memoir or on a post on Instagram, I constantly discuss the importance of having an empowering tribe that are so goal-oriented that you all, in one way or another, can build together.

What I have not discussed, is the importance of turning off life & spending much-needed girl-time with your girlfriends. With all the day-to-day stresses of the world, I did not realize how much I just needed time with my friends until I woke up the next day & felt refreshed. So today, I want you to make conscious decisions to spend time with those who encourage you & push you to be better. These dinner dates & mid-day girl sessions have made me feel so rejuvenated, productive & empowered for the coming workweek. Aside from that, I was able to spend time with people I love so much but hardly ever get to see. Excuse the cliché, but it is so true; life is too short. It is extremely important to take time to make memories with our loved ones while everyone is still around to enjoy it.

I have gotten into the habit of “checking-in” via text messages; however, I realize that in doing this so often, I miss opportunities that allow for conversations that contribute to growth & interpersonal bonds. Bonds that I cannot get behind the blue bubble on the screen of my phone. Sometimes just taking a few hours aside to go visit a friend can be all you need to brainstorm, relieve some stress & be a little carefree. As women, we always let life boggle us down. We make limited time for our loved ones & even less time for ourselves with the expectation that there will be another time. Nevertheless, most times, we need the break right now & we do not realize it until it is too late. Being around friends is a self-care ritual that is therapeutic & empowering. Around the right friends, they will remind you who the *bleep* you are when you feel small, they will encourage you to keep going, they will add wealth to your life & gems to your circumstances. So make time for them. Making time for them is also making time for yourself. We all get busy, unfortunately, that comes with being an adult. However, being an adult does not entail that we neglect ourselves along with the relationships we build with one another. A break away is acceptable & can reap positive results in our lives that can easily become robotic. We are deserving of any time we put aside for ourselves, even if it is just a few hours. In order to inspire & empower others, we need to be able to tap into the minds & energy of those who inspire & empower us. So, make time for your friends. They will be happy to see you & you will be happy you did so later.

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Lovin’ My Melanin

You can’t play with us, you’re too brown.” Those were the words of fair-skinned, 4-year-old, Ashley. I wanted to be friends with her so badly. However, according to her, the shade of my skin did not make me an eligible prospect for her friendship or that of any pretty, light-skinned girl in my kindergarten classroom. Before you get bent out of shape about little Ashley, I want to preface that at 4-years-old, her statements were not a reflection of her. Instead, it is important to recognize that this way of thinking was something she was taught.  In my experience, children, unless taught otherwise, are a blank slate & are molded by their experiences, as well as, the behaviors & morals of those who have a hand in raising them. Whether we realize it or not, the adults that have the ability to influence children in this way, have a significant influence on the way we view ourselves; especially during impressionable ages. It was not until a few years ago that I was able to acknowledge that skin, regardless of how light or dark it is, is beautiful; equally.

Nonetheless, before I got here, before I could look in the mirror & find beauty; I unfortunately, allowed statements, like those of Ashley’s, to dictate my life. I let the world tell me I was ugly by what they showed me was beautiful. What I saw as beautiful did not look like me. My skin complexion added to so many insecurities that took me years to get over. Until recently, I believed I was too dark to date anyone lighter than I was. I convinced myself that anyone lighter than I was would never be interested in me based off of my skin complexion alone. I would avoid wearing certain colors that made my complexion look darker or brought too much attention to it. So my brown skin coupled with what I believed to be nappy hair, had me doing everything except loving myself, as I was.

Now, all women, including the brown ones, are Coming Out & are showing the world that whether big or small, slim or thick, dark or light, tall or short, we are all worthy. Regardless of what we look like, we now acknowledge all these features make us who we are but do not dictate what it is we can offer the world. Now, I say without a shadow of a doubt that I absolutely love my melanin. I am brown, (N)happy & no longer allow myself to believe that certain things are closed off from me because of my skin complexion. I look in the mirror today & acknowledge my beauty. I look at who I am & I see the roots of my ancestors. I see royalty.

The days of being ashamed about it are long behind me & I apologize to myself for ever feeling that who I was took me out of the race. The epiphany of my understanding is important to convey to those who come after us.  We can not fail them by not doing so. We have to empower our little girls to realize that regardless of the message portrayed to them, they are beautiful, smart, strong, fierce, amazing, capable & enough. My hope is that they would never have to learn to love themselves like many of us had to. I hope that we can start to paint their blank slate with so much color it makes them so vibrant that they never feel the need to dull who they are for the likes of someone else. We have to teach them that loving themselves, as they are, is the greatest gift they could ever give themselves; even when the world appears to tell them otherwise. Teach them now that they are perfect as they are & no one will ever be able to dictate who they are in the world.

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**I do not own the rights to the song linked to this memoir**

No Need For Competition; I Am My Sister’s Keeper

We have been raised up in a society that puts women against each other to later call those very women, conniving, cunning & b*tchy. We see it with celebrities & we see it with regular, degular women like ourselves. For entertainment purposes, we are encouraged to face off. This in turn causes us to question our talents & become intimidated by the talents of another. I have watched people do horrible things to each other & end friendships under the pretense that we can not all win doing the same thing. It is horrible. It is shameful. It is disheartening. It is discouraging to someone who needs the courage to start a new endeavor & most importantly, it sends the wrong message to our little girls. Because truth is, we can all eat together & become full doing so. We can all pull up chairs to the round table & have a feast. When women come together we can feed ourselves & feed the masses.

Every week the memoirs are woven together by the same thread- empowerment, strength & togetherness. I have advocated for team work & working together to contribute to making the world a better place. But in order to work on the world, we need to form a united alliance that signifies cohesion & fellowship. Instead of trying to be better than the next, it would behoove us to raise up one another so that we can reach others. This includes sharing resources, providing advice & sharing experiences in order to ensure that the next woman gets through without the same errors, set backs or shortcomings you have. Instead, many of us do the opposite. This in turn results in unnecessary distractions & deters opportunities that may become available. We have to be nicer to one another & recognize that we are fighting the same fight while trying to figure out what works for us. Ignoring insecurities, being humbly transparent & praying for the next woman’s success can open a plethora of blessings over our lives because a kind heart, is a heart that is rewarded.

We have made efforts to thrive in a world that taught us to be ashamed to tell another woman she has inspired us. Instead, we have become fooled into shaming other women for just trying to get through their existence like the rest of us.  Being inspired by another woman is an amazing experience that unites us in unimaginable ways. When we keep these moments to ourselves, we in turn, fail to inspire & empower another woman who can benefit significantly from hearing so. I would be lying if I said I am not inspired by other women when I write my memoirs each week. When I write, I do not just envision my own experiences, emotions & improprieties. I see the faces of others who have shared their own histories & knowledge with me. I keep them in mind. Women are the epitome of love. So to love one another whether we “like” one another is irrelevant. When one woman fails, we need to take it personally. The success of one woman contributes to the success & the shattering of glass ceilings for other women. If we go through the day recognizing that what is for us will not miss us; we will recognize that each encounter we have with someone affords us the opportunity to bless, empower & eradicate how we have been taught to behave to one another. No success in the world is worth sabotaging the “come up” of someone else. If we really work together without allowing our insecurities to show themselves, it will become so much easier to say we got this; with action.

Besides, the equation is quite simple.

When one wins, we all win.

1+1= MORE

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Q&A ***Bonus Memoir***

My favorite blogger, Black|Burgundy received the Blogger Recognition Award & asked her subscribers to comment our responses on her blog. However, when I was typing my responses I realized these are responses I can share with my subscribers. After all, to some people, me becoming a blog-her was a surprise. Therefore, here’s a bonus memoir that allows me to give direct responses to direct answers & allows YOU to get to know me.

When did you start blogging? Why?

Well, I officially started blogging on January 1, 2018. I was in a place in my life where I suddenly had so much free time & I felt inadequate. I knew I wanted to do something that inspired others however, I never thought blogging would be how I would do so. Blogging was free with minimal risk. I just had the be willing to put myself out there. I shared the idea with my best friend who is an entrepreneur & she motivated me to give it a shot. Once I started, I realized that in trying to find a way to inspire others, I stumbled upon my purpose & I absolutely love doing this.

How’d you come up with your blog name?

I think I initially was desperate & wanted a name before I launched for the New Year. I played with the name & then I just kind of stuck to it, because it worked. ···· Nickkie&Co aka Nickkie & Conglomerates embodies exactly what the brand/blog represents. “Nickkie”, being myself, is the “mouth piece”/initiator while the “Co.” (Conglomerates, Community, Company) encompasses group unity which helps drive the momentum of Nickkie&Co; team work for a common cause. It is understood that one person cannot do it alone but more than one can have a large impact on inspiring & empowering others.

Do your friends and family read your blog? Where’s the support?

My friends & loved ones try to be as supportive as they can. Though I would love them all to read, I do not obligate anyone. But I will say, the support I have received has taken me by surprise. Whether they read or contribute to Nickkie&Co.’s philanthropic drives, the support has been surreal. My loved ones have been Nickkie&Co. advocates through word of mouth since I started. From what I hear, direct support in regards to reading is not always received so much by loved ones, that has not been the case for me. Even if they do not read every week, they eventually take the time to binge read the memoirs. So, I am definitely blessed. Also, I have noticed that strangers have recently started to ride this empowerment wave with me so that’s really dope.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Anything, really. I can be walking down the street and be inspired. I can be hit with an impulse at any time. Since I’ve started blogging I have left myself open to receiving inspiration & content from anything that speaks to my spirit. I trust my instincts so that I can continue to deliver what I believe to be quality content.

Do you ever think about saying eff it and throwing in the blogger towel?

Actually. No. Not only do I love doing this, becoming a blog-her has made me really aware of myself. It has allowed me the ability to understand how I am feeling, how I am triggered & how I can help others. Besides, what is of God you do not dispose of.

What do you do for inspiration during those creative lulls when nothing seems to come out right?

I don’t give up, I reach out to my tribe for prayer & empowerment & give myself time to walk away & revisit.

What are some of your favorite topics to speak on?

Anything & all things women empowerment. However, men can read a memoir & relate too 🙂

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So there you have it. Do not forget to check in on Sunday & read the new Memoir. Thanks for reading.

Kindness & Dominoes

During my adolescence & early adult years I had a severe chip on my shoulder. I was aggressive, impulsive & very, very defensive. I never gave people a chance to get to know me nor did I give myself the opportunity to get to know people. I saw people at their worst & I kept them there. I did not believe that people could be nice “just because”. I was convinced kindness always came with a price. I believed, that if you were too kind, you left yourself vulnerable & susceptible to being misused, mistreated & taken for granted. I allowed my own pain to dictate how I viewed my relationships. Many people, unless they proved otherwise, were very disposable to me. It is sad, but I believed that before I was kind to anyone I had to put them through hell first. My love was like a thorned rose; beautiful to see but abrasive to the touch. I felt that being “hard” was an attractive quality & that the people meant to stay around would stay; regardless. I was popular & had quality friends who I loved dearly. However, my love often was a bit sour in it’s delivery. Being raised with tough love made me believe that tough was warranted in every & any situation; even though that was not how tough love was delivered to me.

I am twenty-nine now & it took me to be twenty-eight years old to realize that how I was is not at all how it is supposed to be. It is ok to be kind to people even when they are undeserving. It is ok to be kind to strangers even though I do not know them. Most importantly, I learned that it is never ok to allow the people who love me to be the direct recipients of my pain. I have learned to appreciate the people who have stuck around even when my internal scars were expressed in my behavior. I can not imagine where I would be if people always treated me the way I deserved to be treated. I appreciate the kind gestures people have afforded me even when I was less than deserving. It is because of those kind gestures I have been able to make a conscious effort to exude what the Nickkie&CO. platform represents– Love, Kindness, Graciousness & Jesus.

I am proud that I can look back at who I once was & see growth. It is amazing what a few months did for my life & what the following months continue to contribute to my growth. I am more appreciative to those around me. I smile often. I have been open to learning to forgive & I walk up to strangers reminding them how beautiful they are & their importance in this world. All things I would have never done or considered before. Today, as a flawed person still trying to figure it out, I tell you that being kind is a habit that can be easily embraced & replicated. It can make the world of a difference in our lives & the lives of others. We all struggle differently, so contributing to making the world a better place, simply by being kind, can stand out significantly to someone who has lost hope in people; like I once did.

Being kind not only helps improve the lives of others, it is beneficial to us in many ways. Kind gestures feel good. They make us happy, empathetic towards others & it is the most empowering thing we can ever offer someone. Keeping this in mind during your daily interactions will open you up in new ways. You will not get it right all the time nor will you be perfect. Even as I strive to be a better version of myself, I acknowledge that I am not always my best self at all times. I err, & am not always the best representative of kindness when my emotions get the best of me however, I understand that it comes with time. If we join together in spreading love & kindness there will be less people like my adolescent-self & more people making conscious decisions to brighten someone’s gloomy day simply based off of a kind gesture they received from someone else. After all, kindness does have a domino effect– touch one heart to reach many others.

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