Put The Idols Down…

Our day-to-day activities can be influenced significantly by the phone in our pockets, unlimited access to the media & the our personal pursuit for wealth & “nice” things. We have gotten so caught up in this that we have become distracted by the influence these things have on our lives.  We work endless hours, we lose out on time with our loved ones, we lose time for ourselves, & put our spiritual pursuit on the back burner believing that it will all be there when we see riches. The thing about riches is that once they are obtained, the grind MUST continue in order to keep them. So in pursuing such goals, the likelihood that the things we neglected will still be there diminishes as time passes. Therefore, today my question to you (me too) is what has our full attention? What is serving as a distraction that inhibits us from having unforgettable moments with the people we love the most? When did we start idolizing our cellphones, cash & cars before we have taken the time to care for ourselves? At what point do we decide it is too much & it is time for a break? 

The sad truth is that we have come to idolize material things over taking the time for ourselves, our families & our spiritual growth. We are desiring more for our lives but fail to take a moment to step away & fast from the things that are distracting us. Idolizing is not limited to worshipping a false God but is anything that is over consuming our time that does not allow us to grow in other aspects of our lives. So today, I challenge us to recognize what may be crippling us from doing better & taking precious time away from us. Whether it is our phones, our jobs, our cars or what we aspire to have, we must do something about it. There is no way we can truly be our best selves in all areas of our lives if we become slaves to the things we have & don’t have. It is totally normal to want & strive to have nice things but we must aspire to have a healthy balance. The time we don’t lose is worth so much more than having all these things with no one to share it with.

The older I get, the more I realize how short life is. I reflect on the people I lost & wish life gave me more time. More time to tell them how much I love them, or to spend one more hour with them. Loss is inevitable but lost time due to distraction can be prevented. So, let us put the phones down a little more, go on social media hiatuses or plan a staycation with our families. Whatever it is, enjoy the moment, time is of the essence. We can not afford the distraction.

Reset & Recharge

Emotionally, this week has been extremely trying for me. It was not until a few days ago that I realized that I have been walking around suppressing frustrations & functioning in a whirlwind of disorganization– for months. I did not realize that I was barely functioning until a snowball of unideal situations presented themselves in front of me & I lost control. I could barely grasp or articulate what it was I was feeling & I struggled to understand what was happening. The only way I could express myself was in tears. Instead of taking time to address what I was feeling initially, I continued to push what I was feeling aside under the pretense that it will pass- eventually.

Despite how true that may have been, things do not usually pass unless you deal with them. This time, I was forced to. So, although there is character built through adverse situations & functioning outside of our comfort zone; it is extremely important not to get so caught up in what is happening around us that we fail to take a moment to assess & address what is going on within us. Self care, as cliche as it has become, is taking the time to check in with ourselves & acknowledge when we are are not doing ok. It is easy to forget what we are feeling while neglecting that we need a day or two to disconnect & recharge. I was forced to come to that realization this weekend & the overflow of emotion was severely overwhelming & crippling. But it forced me to do what I was avoiding – accept, reset & recharge.

See, life has a way to force us to deal with things even when we do not want to. So I encourage staying in tune with what our body is telling us. If we need more rest, we take it. If we need to cry, we cry. If we need a break, we take all the time we need. We were not created to be on GO, continuously. Empty vessels are just that… empty vessels. We can not pour into others when our own well has run dry. We cannot be who we need to be to our loved ones if we do not take care of ourselves first. So, if you need a moment to recharge, take it. You work too hard to just be moving through life barely functioning. You do not have to be perfect always but YOU do have to be YOU. So the best thing you can do for you is to take care of YOU.

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.

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#WeWearYellowForGeenii

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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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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Beautiful Disaster

We live in a world that emphasizes that women should not be taken seriously because we are too emotional. We live in a world that dismisses our passions & what we feel under the assumption that we feel, how we feel, simply based off of temporary emotions. We live in a world, that tells us to relax or that “we are tripping” when we express distaste, frustration or disappointment. In the event that we cry suddenly or laugh until our stomachs hurt, it is assumed that we are having a menstrual episode. These are all ways to make us feel that there are no grounds to feel how we feel, to say what needs to be said or to be who we are supposed to be.

First thing is first, having emotions or being passionate about something is not a shortcoming to our well-being, at all. If people were more “emotion conscious”, whether being the recipient or the deliverer, situations will be more ideal & the world will be a kinder place to thrive in. Emotions are a part of us so that we can feel. We can not feel the good without the bad. We are supposed to feel happiness, joy & sadness. We are supposed to feel angry, annoyed & peeved. Emotions & their triggers are what make us the unique individuals that we are. They contribute to our stories, our growth & our outcomes. They are the driving force behind our purpose.  Do not allow anyone to shut you up under the basis that you are being emotional. Do not apologize for how you feel. Do not allow anyone to tell you that how you feel is wrong because regardless of the reason, what you feel, is how you feel & that alone makes it valid.

It has become a common consensus that we should be ashamed of robust emotion. Little boys that will one day be men are raised to express little emotion under the pretense that it makes them vulnerable. While little girls are told that their emotions contribute to their inability to function & be rational. But listen, the act of feeling; truly feeling, is such a beautiful thing. Feeling provides the benefit of experiencing joy in raising our children, excitement when we accomplish goals & triumph when a hard time is behind us. Feeling emotions is our right as human beings & in no way should it be ignored. Feeling is the art of being. If you do not feel anything, what are you living for? Therefore, never be ashamed to express yourself. Never feel that what you feel is unwarranted. Also, recognize that nothing is wrong with you if you are unable to express your emotions in the way others want you to. Sometimes it is not meant to be understood by anyone else. Sometimes our emotions are for us & us alone. That is ok. However, in all the chaos of the world, you can be sure of one thing; you are a beautiful disaster. Embrace it.

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Protect Your Energy!

As of this year, I have learned the importance of preserving & protecting my energy. This has included removing people from my life who were not supportive in contributing to it in a positive way. I realize that allowing those who do the exact opposite not only suck the HOPE out of me; they truly inhibit my growth as an individual. I have learned that in their presence, I can never truly reach the highest threshold of my goals because I will continue to provide excuses & entertain the negative energy & situations I have been exposed to. Regardless of how painful removing myself may be, I have to acknowledge situations & circumstances that require me to do so. “There are people who are not going to take responsibility for their energy, so I now, have to take responsibility for the energy that I allow to be brought into my space…

…You are not only responsible for the energy that you bring, you are also responsible for the energy that you surround yourself with.”- Oprah.  So, as you strive to live your best life, you must remain mindful of the people who are not contributing to the direction you are headed. You have to accept when it is time to stand firmly on self-love & eliminate yourself from the equation. People’s insecurities manifest in ways that can hinder you & your goals severely if you do not acknowledge & address it as what it is. Keeping this form of company will have you risking all that you have ever worked for because the only person that has anything to lose in this situation is you. So, please understand that protecting your energy sometimes entails removing yourself from situations &/or people that were once comfortable & familiar.

When it comes to making goals for yourself, it is extremely important that you do not let the negativity of others take you off track from obtaining them. Negative energy serves as a distraction to the things you can accomplish. So for your benefit, nip it in the bud. Bad energy is contagious. It is infectious. If you are not careful, it will begin to cloud all the dreams you have set forth to accomplish. So eliminate the individuals who contribute to it. Just as quick as these people fail to contribute to your positive surroundings, you better believe they are watching your every move. So listen & watch closely to the behaviors that people show you when you begin to reach new thresholds of success. Jealousy will always rear it’s ugly head; even if it is unintentional. Be mindful of the people who put a damper on all your aspirations & those who want to see you do well BUT not better than them. Those people will rather dull your shine & darken your dreams to keep you stagnant. Keep in mind that negative situations are a result of negative people who bring negative energy. When you begin to blossom, the behaviors people exhibit, whether good or bad, will show you more than they ever could tell you with their mouths. So, with that in mind, I urge you to be conscious & aware because someone’s actions will tell you more than a person’s mouth ever could. You are so much more than the hassle that negative energy brings & it is your right to remove yourself from it when it presents itself. After all, self-preservation is an essential key to loving yourself. Therefore, you must remove anything or anyone that puts that at risk. You dreams & goals require it.

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