Welcome to 2021! Many of us has just pushed through one of the most challenging years of our lives (collectively). Many of us have lost loved ones, income, assets, encouragement, faith…the list goes on. Many of us are dragging into 2021 exhausted & eager for a break. This year is the year many of us are looking to rebuild, reestablish & reimagine what is ours. However, before you do anything, make sure you do one thing before all else-
Pour into yourself & do it with intention.
After the year we just had, we spent much of our time surviving & helping others to do the same. But we cannot deny that we have come out of last year beat up & eager to bounce back from some of our less than ideal situations. Although, 2020 had its shining moments, that allowed us to see who GOD is; it was also unrelenting for many of us. So many facets of our lives that have been effected & are requiring us to lick our wounds while we re-adjust. So while we re-adjust, let’s stray away from unrealistic, short-lived, NY resolutions & make intentional promises to ourselves.
Let us look at the bigger picture. Where do we continue to sell ourselves short? Where have we failed to deliver for ourselves? When have we put the care & love of others, before ourselves? What steps are we willing to make to ensure that next year, we see ourselves the way we want to see ourselves? What are our hard-nos? Where have we sacrificed our boundaries? When have we accepted less than we deserve? Think about all of that & make your intentional promises. These are not promise anyone but promise for yourself. I You have heard it before, empty wells cannot pour into others. So with these promises, ensure that they fill you up abundantly that pouring into others only adds; not depletes.
Happy New Year, Loves & Happy 3rd Birthday to Nickkie & Co.
“What is the most important thing? To love yourself and the world. In that order.” -Yoko
We often discuss the need to have supportive friends that encourage us & inspire us to strive forward. However, today I want to discuss the importance of having friends that hold you accountable, as well. Friends that are “supportive” & friends that hold you “accountable” are not always one in the same. However, it amazes me how often people have this misconstrued. We often think because a person is supportive that they are capable of holding us accountable. However, that is not true & it is important to evaluate what that means for you & your circle.
It is easy to have people in your corner that show you the various ways they support you. Though we always appreciate the ones that show up for various events, cheer us on when we are doing well, & encourage us when we are feeling low; it is different to have a friend that can look you in the face & say “listen, you’re effin up, tighten up”. An accountability partner should be someone who’s opinion you value, who truly has your best interest in mind & someone who is not afraid to hurt your feelings. Having someone who can hold you accountable is a blessing & is the secret weapon behind your road to success. The will naturally ensure that your performance in the various facets of your life (professionally, educationally, spiritually, culturally, financially, etc.) will improve. Not to mention, they will deliver faithfully when you fail to do so.
Their role is to push you out of your comfort zone.
So far out of your comfort zone that you have no choice but to get comfortable where you’re not comfortable.
Do not settle for lack luster accountability partners that are unable to hold you to a standard that will ensure your success. In fact, recognize the various streams of support in your network; if one of these essential secret weapons are not in your team I urge you to find one. I guarantee you, the trajectory of your goals will have a positive impact that would have been significantly more difficult for you to see on your own.
We spend so much time refusing to accept that anyone is able to be unproductive & inactive. However, we have to remember every boss has board they have to answer to. That board ensures that the boss is in line with the mission, purpose & vision of their organization. Find yourself a like-minded individual & get to work!
Sometimes it feels like we are biting much more than we can chew. I know many times we feel like we are running a race on a hamster wheel, against ourselves. Because when one thing is sorted out; another thing happens. I personally have been feeling that way lately & it has been extremely uncomfortable. These past few months, I have been very transparent about being in one of the most unique & uncomfortable faith tests of my life. If I were to be honest, I hate it. But my faith (hence, the current faith test I am in) tells me it will all be sorted out & God holds me near. I am sure, with the current times, many people are feeling much like I am; especially with the holidays close & our inability to gather in the ways we are use to.
Normally, I will start talking about how we are going to get through this time & that God will not put us through anything we can’t handle. Although that seems promising & sounds good; I recently heard a different perspective on this. Pastor Tony Evans told his congregation that often times, God gives us more than we can handle because it helps shape us into the very person we are supposed to be. This resonated with me because every time, in the mist of my chaos, God met me. Every time, when life was too much, God has shown me that he was able to relieve me from the stresses that were too difficult for me but never too difficult for him. My drama has taught me empathy & has molded my ability to encourage those who will be where I am; after me. Because the truth is, our testimonies are not for us. They are for someone else. Someone who will be in the same place we are in now; who is having a difficult time getting through, moving forward & functioning solely on faith.
I am able to write these memoirs every week because they are MY experiences meant for YOU. Life is a classroom; sometimes you will be the teacher & many times the student. We just have to be willing to accept the role we are assigned in that particular time of our lives. Our ability to be the teacher to someone else comes from being the student, failing the test & trying again. Therefore, along with the theme of every other memoir, I am going to remind you that this obstacle is temporary & that your life has purpose. To give up & to lose faith is not only a disservice to you but to the lives of those that will follow after you. Even when life gives you too much to chew, know that you are not chewing alone. There have been other people where you are now & God stands with you in the midst of it all.
You are history. You are a story. You are a trailblazer. You are power. You are strength. You are light. You are life. You are love.
Hey, loves! Today is a pretty exciting day! Nickkie&Co. has not had a Guest Inspiration in quite a while. However, a long time friend & fellow woman in Christ, Quiomayra Figueroa, has offered her Testimony to share with us today. She brings forward the conversation that religion & a relationship with christ are NOT the same thing. In fact, relationship is so much more. Tune in & check out the brief summary of her journey. It might sound a lot like yours. Thank you Quio for your testimony.
My name is Quiomayra Figueroa and I am 31 years old, born in Camden and raised in Pennsauken, New Jersey. This is my story of a born sinner saved by an awesome father God in heaven.
I knew who God was but never really had a “relationship” with the Lord, it was more religion than anything else. I grew up in the Catholic Church; that’s where the foundation started but it didn’t continue. The seed was planted in me by my parents to know who God was and that Jesus died on the cross but never really experienced or understood the importance of having a relationship with God, to understand why Jesus died on the cross for us, and to be thankful and devoted like I am now. Back then what I knew about being a Christian was to “do this do that” and “if you don’t follow these rules you are going to hell and God is going to punish you”. Because of that, I didn’t have a desire to seek the Lord because I thought I had to be perfect. I didn’t fully understand why God allowed things to happen in this world and why I had to be a part of it; I didn’t believe it at the time because a lack of understanding.
I then started to do things my way. I went to college to do something that I was passionate about to help people and the community I grew up in; I went for criminal justice. In my college, I didn’t really experience the partying scene in school but I experienced it outside with the group of people I grew up with. I did what I wanted and what I thought was “living life”. I was partying, drinking like crazy, and going out to the clubs all the time. Looking back now I basically got myself into a lot of situations that I could’ve avoided that were dangerous. Thank the Lord he had me covered. I was also not in the best relationship. I don’t blame the person I was with because we obviously weren’t meant to be and that’s okay. I remember after graduating college I was in a relationship for four years with a man I thought I was going to marry. While we were together I started to seek the Lord with a couple of my family members due to situations in my family; we decided to go to church and I loved it. I kept attending and curious about God; wanting more. I was baptized and I made that declaration to the Lord that I was going to follow him and change my life around but I wasn’t fully dedicated. At this point in my life I became a “luke warm Christian” with one foot in and one foot out. I didn’t want to let go of my old lifestyle; not fully trusting the God. I thought my life was good; I had a boyfriend, we lived together, working in my field of study, and got a dog. In reality though, things were following apart.
Just like on social media, people post what they want you to see. Who post’s up their failures or what’s going on in their life? My relationship with my boyfriend at the time failed, just like people in my life that love the Lord and prayed for me, said it would. I am not bashing the person I was with; but our situation. I knew that I was doing things out of God’s order. The relationship ending helped me to take the rose colored glasses off my eyes. I was able to be like you know what God “ I’m TIRED of how I’m living, TIRED of the partying and the drinking, TIRED of the failed relationships, TIRED of being mad at the world with different situations, trying to be in control and not getting good results. I decided that day to just say “I’m done” and I started to really seek the Lord a different way; on his terms because in the past I didn’t handle problems well my way.
When I was in high school during my senior year and part of my college life I handled situations so differently, unhappy and depressed. I would literally shut myself from the world, not wanting to be bothered by anyone. I would lock myself in the room, sleep all the time and I wouldn’t have an appetite. I remember my mom knocking on the door in my room to check up on me and I would not let her in. I went from weighing 135 to 105 real quick; at my worst. At a certain point I snapped out of that depression in which God delivered me from and I decided to leave it in God’s hands! Once I made that decision to follow Christ wanting his peace and his joy, I ended up finding another church home; not because where I was wasn’t a bible preaching church but because I needed something different. Where I attend now has helped me to grow in relationship with the Lord and not just what people call “religion”. I get to learn who God is as our father and our friend. I have a community of family who know and love the Lord just like me that I can be accountable to. Because let’s face it, nothing is ever going to be perfect; we are human with real problems. Just because we are followers of Christ doesn’t mean we are not prone to trials in this world because we decided to take this step. That’s a promise from the Lord that we will have to “face troubles but to take heart because he has already overcome the world”(John 16:33) when he died on that cross for us. That’s the beauty of it! We are going to fail in some way, shape or form. I feel true conviction when it happens which is good, but as long as we continue to trust the Lord and give it to him, he will help us, he will show up and he will change our lives like never before!
God wants to meet us where we are; that’s where he can work in us. We don’t have to come to him perfect. He tells us to draw closer to him and he will draw closer to us (James 4:8). Because of that decision I made a long time ago, to accept this invitation from the Lord to follow him, my life has never been the same. Life’s purpose that he has for me and you is to encourage people, to allow them to see the love of Christ and to tell them the good news about him. It’s the whole point of life, to love God and love people.
Today, I woke up in such a grateful state of mind; it is refreshing. The past couple weeks have been quite difficult for me professionally & spiritually. However, I am amazed at my ability to not allow what is going on around me to warp my perspective. I look at my life & am eternally grateful for how far I have come despite the challenges- my health, the love that surrounds me & all the opportunities that encourage me to be a better person.
Circumstances can easily make us forget the grace & favor placed on our lives. Because of that, it is amazing that the realization of how protected I am hits me harder as I get older. Of course times get difficult & I find myself in less than ideal situations but I am breathing & still have the ability to love & be loved. My heart tells me that nothing I am facing now will last forever & that alone is something to be appreciative about.
So today, my goal is to encourage you to think of 3 things you are thankful for. If you can change your perspective even for a brief moment & pin point the specific things that make your life whole this memoir has done it’s job. I challenge you to do this every day. Every day write down or mentally note 3 different things that fill you with gratitude & keep it at the forefront of your mind as you navigate through the day. Eventually, the chaos going on around you will seem insignificant in comparison to the things that give you joy- genuine, unprecedented joy.
We give people too much mandate over our lives. We act as if what they say truly determines the outcome of our lives. We give people too much credit- we treat their opinions as if they are a true testament of our character; as if their positive or negative experiences put the final stamp on who we are destined to be. That can not be further than the truth.
In my spiritual pursuit I learned something extremely valuable; it has already been written. Our lives have been envisioned before we even came to be. However, we have the ability to make choices. No man can influence the overall outcome of our lives by the negativity they try to sprinkle over our magic. Knowing this; move accordingly. Walk in purpose, pursue your passion & claim your destiny. You have the final say over what your life turns out to be & the footprint you leave behind on this earth- no one else.
I have experienced this first hand from those I loved & those I have cared little about. But they all had the same affirmation- I would not amount to be the very person I am today. They decided that what they had to say about my life carried more weight than what I wanted for my life. They were wrong. Yes, I have made mistakes. Yes, I was not always the best representation of myself. But when I decided that I was going to lead a life I would be proud of- I did just that. Their opinions, their negative affirmations held no weight & as I continue to pursue this life of mine, their words still lack substance. What matters is that I know it has been written & what has been written will not change.
You are the true narrator of your life everyone else; bystanders.
Women are capable of many things. We bare children, we keep up with our homes, our families, careers & our social lives. We we wake up everyday, throw on our capes & start the day without skipping a beat. We continue our day with a tenacious “I got to do, what I go to do” without even a second thought. However, if there is anything I believe we fail miserably at is our ability to accept compliments.
Give a woman a compliment & she does not know how to receive it. If she isn’t skeptical, she has a story or a negating comment behind every “thank you”. Somewhere in our conditioning, we have decided that despite what we do, compliments are not ours to keep. That ends today.
We have been conditioned to take the negative before we can ever accept the positive. We work hard. Yet, somehow someone noticing that we do, that we look nice, that we are enough; is not warranted. Honey, you are worth every compliment & more. Start receiving & accepting with a bright smile & a confident “thank you”. Becausd what they say, does not even begin to scratch the surface of how amazing you truly are. You are capable of many things – let tooting your horn be one of them.
I have had my share of unfair relationships. You know, the ones that require you to put more in than you get out, where you are the lover & the best friend, the confidant, the unbiased advisor & genuine supporter. The relationship that drains you until the person you were before the relationship is almost unrecognizable. I been there more times than I would like. However, because of these experiences my perspective has changed significantly.
With each time I had to build myself up after a relationship, I did so begrudgingly. My pain came with a cost & I waited until the moment those who hurt me came to grovel back so that they can feel a small fraction of the pain they caused me. I allowed them to have too much power over my pain & what I did with it. I allowed myself to become bitter instead of taking the lesson for what it really was; a lesson. In some weird way I thank them, now. If it were not for what they have done & the grace of God; I would not understand that all things that have been placed against me – painful or harmful – will be flipped for my gain, my win & my favor.
Now I encourage you to to do the same. Reclaim your power. Do not bow your head down in shame or resentment. Look at these hurtful experiences as opportunities to grow; to be a better version of you for you. No one deserves the credit of what you become. No one deserves your happiness. With each one of these experiences, a part of you chips away but not forever. It hurts badly, but it is up to you to make it work for your benefit. It is your life to claim; make all the moments count.
Hello Babes!!! Happy New Year!! It is only 5 days into the New Year & I am extremely eager to see what the rest of 2020 has to offer (despite how cliche’ that may sound). Because these past 5 days are a complete turn around from what the last 6 months of 2019 showed me. The truth is, I spent that last 6 months of 2019 anxious & depressed. Both feelings I promised I would not allow myself to succumb to ever again. I struggled severely with keeping my feelings under control & not letting the heavy burden of depression take me out. I look back today, still fighting my own battles grateful that I was able to recognize the signs & act on them before this battle became significantly harder for me to win.
I lost the desire to live. I sacrificed the philanthropic missions of my brand, I stopped praying, struggled to read & meditate on the word, go to church, failed to engage with my loved ones, avoided social gatherings, stopped going to the gym, did not eat, did not want to write memoirs & lost the desire to do all the things I loved. It felt like the internal battle that told me to “give in” & the other that told me “not to give up” was going to take me out one way or another. Because it is so much easier to give into negativity than to keep fighting when the positive seems so far away. It was in that moment that I realized that I needed reinforcements.
Reinforcement that did not include bogging my friends down in my sorrow. Because although they are supportive, I was fearful to dump the extent of my issues on them. So I sought help. I reached out to a spiritual, African American therapist who understood my desire to be replanted spiritually & who helped me manage my anxiety & attack my depression with strategies. With her encouragement & my tenacious desire to see the end of this, I have progressed significantly. I also became apart of the mentorship program at church- which helped me continue to stay rooted spiritually & reminded me that God did not leave me but is instead walking right along side me.
Although I still have a way to go, I will not take from the fact that I am significantly further in my walk than I was when I first started it 7 months ago. I laugh now, I am reading again, driven & motivated to see tasks through & my schedule has been booked with social gatherings with the people I love. I made it; I am making it & I pray that you see my testimony as a means to see that you can make it too. Depression is not your friend & it is not something you should get use to living with. Do not be ashamed to seek help. We get use to coping with our trauma & experiences a certain way that we do not understand when those coping mechanisms do not work anymore. Sometimes we need to be able to just dump that on someone trained & skilled to help us master new ways to cope. As we get older we need to be able to find new ways to survive.
Do not be ashamed. My proudest moment in all my life is that I was able to recognize when enough was enough & seek help. I fought for my life back & although some days may be difficult I do not accept that those difficult moments are more than just that – moments. Do it for yourself. You will be grateful you did it in the end. Trust me.
As we leave 2019 & embark on new adventures with 2020; I want to encourage you to remain humble, be grateful for your blessings & make time for the people you love. Leave behind old grudges, be open to new experiences, make new friends & tackle the goals you have kept putting off. Although we look on to the new year with optimism; we often carry in the old baggage from the year before. We express excitement initially & eventually fall into old habits. However, we deserve more than carrying the things that do not bring us joy into the new year. Despite being unaware of the lessons, challenges & losses the new year may bring us; we must live it to the best of our ability. Because it is ours to make worth while.
Welcome it with open arms.
You deserve all the GOOD it has to offer. Be ready to embrace it.