Survive Through Bitterness.

Let me tell you.

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.

It will get better.

2019 Can Keep My Depression

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.

Buh Bye 2019… Hello, 2020

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.

Outgrowing Others

As we go through life, we have experiences that force us out of our comfort zone & that inevitably requires us to grow. However, sometimes our experiences cause us to evolve in ways that require us to outgrow things we were once interested in & people we couldn’t live without; without any apparent reason. Many times we recognize when this is occuring & feel guilty for feeling this way. But today I am encouraging you to accept this part of the journey when it happens.

Our lives go in different directions & unfortunately everyone can’t go. Sometimes keeping the company you once kept will keep you in a box you have long outgrown. Because the truth is, as your life changes so will your circle. But if you limit yourself to only your “day ones” you will likely limit the opportunities & experiences that will further promote your advancement. As harsh as this seems, the truth is, we outgrow people who are not growing. You can still love them, wish them well, pray for them, be kind when you see them but their lack of growth should never limit yours. You must be mindful of that.

This occurrence is normal. We all experience it & it is nothing to feel guilty about. As we get older our perspective changes along with the way we receive & process things. Sometimes it takes recognizing that some people need a little more time & we can’t wait for them. Where your life is going may very well not be the same direction they are going. That’s ok! Love them for the time they contributed to your life but love yourself more to let it go.

Exodus 14:14; Be Still.

Two Thousand Nineteen is rapidly coming to an end & although I am not a “New Year’s Resolution” person; the lessons I have learned this year have equipped me to focus on building a skill that otherwise I have never put into practice my whole 30 years of life.

That skill is to BE STILL.

I am not & have never been the most patient person. I struggle when things do not appear to go in the way I expected & I become extremely inpatient when things happen at a slow place. I realize that my need to react quickly & control various aspects of my life has caused me to settle or find myself in less than ideal situations. But what I learned is that the reward for being patient is always more beautiful if I just remain still.

This week a friend & I had a conversation about waiting & letting God do his thing. We discussed how difficult it is for us to accomplish this sometimes & then she received confirmation in such a beautiful way. She had a potted plant outside that she brought in her home from the harsh winter weather. In the plant was a cocooned caterpillar going through the evolution to become a butterfly. When I think of the butterfly, I instantly think of process of evolution to become so beautiful. However, what she said to me resonated significantly with this part of my life I am currently in.

The butterfly is significant in that it knows how to be still & let nature take its course until its done! Like you said… it doesn’t come out a second sooner. Such is with God’s timing. We want things to happen on our time or work on something & expect immediate results. Not so! Sometimes (we) just need to be still & let God work for (us) & through (us) instead of trying to do it (ourselves) or rush! There are alot of lessons to be learned from caterpillars & butterflies. In watching them develop, it would appear that they’re not “doing anything”. But we know once the transportation is complete that they have been doing a lot of internal & still work. It takes a lot to be still in this world that pushes people to be constantly engaged in activity & to “take the bull by the horns” etc.

So with that loves, I encourage you to take this example & apply it to your life. Assess when it is a time for you to act & when it is not meant for you to remain still. Be patient with yourself & the process. Our lack of ability to just be still can be insulting to God & I am starting to understand that. Because it implies that we much rather believe in our plan than his infinite plans for our lives. So when you feel the need to make rash decisions, remember the benefits of being still. After all, he did promise that he will fight for us, we need only to be still.

Spread Joy…

The holiday season has arrived & Christmas is quickly approaching. Stores are promoting sales, lines are long, packages are delivered in shorter time frames & traffic is everywhere. But along with these things we have been conditioned to accept; there is something else that is inevitable with the holiday season- depression. I hate to put a damper on such a cheerful time of the year, however, this season is not so cheerful for everyone & seasonal depression is real.

I know we can get caught up in our own lives but please take the time to reach out to your loved ones. Many people struggle silent battles, especially during this time of the year. What is meant to be a joyous time decorated with lights & bliss is a dark abyss for others. Therefore, we have to be sure that we do not forget them by letting them know we are here.

Small gestures go a long way- phone calls, text messages, loving pop ups, friends-mas get togethers, movie times, etc. Sometimes it is not about talking about the issues, it is just feeling that someone is there. So if you have not heard from a friend in a while, please just take a few moments to check in on them, tell them that you love them & make your presence known. The possibility that they have been busy is there; but in the off chance that it has been a struggle for them; you have just become a glimmer of light in their dark tunnel. Remember, the holiday season calls for togetherness & inclusivity not just gift giving & holiday hustle. Use this time to empathize & spread the joy others may be missing.

A Time To Be Thankful

To be thankful is to feel or express gratitude. During difficult times & the hustle of the holiday season; it is easy to lose track of the “simple” things that have been afforded to us that we often take forgranted. It is easy, especially during the holidays, to fret over superficial things that will not necessarily matter in a few weeks. We get caught up in the sales advertised by retailers & bound up by the financial burden of purchasing gifts for loved ones. So today, I want to inspire you to be thankful even when your desired situation appears bleak.

As cliche’ as this may sound, every day truly is a gift. Every day we have our health & sound mind is an added bonus. Anything aside from that is an opportunity to start each day over; to make it better than the last. Having a thankful mindset will have a significant impact on our day, our perspective & allows us to be more aware of the little blessings that make each moment worth living.

So I urge you not to get caught up in what you don’t have & appreciate what you do. You woke up today, have the means to read this memoir, have love to give, are loved by people who matter to you & are given new mercy every morning you open your eyes. So don’t stress over the unknown. Don’t become overwhelmed by what you lack or the things that will make your life easier. God will provide relief. So in the meantime, as I always say, relish. Relish in the moments, the opportunities & the possibilities & be thankful for them. Because a thankful heart is a blessing to itself & those around it.

Kindness For Sale

Kindness is the act of being friendly, generous or considerate. Since I started Nickkie&Co I have been an advocate for kindness, humbleness & humility as a default response. However, today, I still advocate for the the same thing but want to stress the importance of being kind without the need of the public eye. See social media, with all the wonderful things it has allowed us to do, has also made acts of kindness feel CHEAP.

With social media, it appears people may be more inclined to express random acts of kinness, however at the cost of exposing the need of the other person. Our generation has picked up the habit of recording our highest moments while showcasing the lowest moments of someone else. The temporary praise from acquaintances is so short lived that I wonder if it is even worth it. Because to pump up our own egos, we put the spotlight directly on an individual who would likely rather be invisible in their current state.

So today, I urge you to be mindful of this. I ask that you continue to be kind but do so just to make someone’s day a little easier or to put a smile on their face. Do not expose people’s hardships for a few cheap minutes of glory. Because life has an interesting way to humble us & at the lowest moments of our lives we would not want the world watching us on LIVE. Be kind because it is the right thing to do. Be kind because your heart inclines you to do so & be kind enough to make a difference for those who may need it without expecting anything – glory, praise or blessings in return. Because at the end of the day, it is you who has to lay down & live with you. Make sure you like who you presented yourself to be that day. Be kind without a cost.

Living For Experiences

I have always lived a pretty structured life. Being the only child of a single parent who was pursuing her own career goals; structure was a significant part of my life. I had long school days from 8-5 & was in bed, faithfully, by 8; every day with the exception of Friday & Saturday. However, Sunday came around & the routine started all over again. I had no sibling to put a radical dent in our daily routine, who was a rebel that defied the odds or who would help me break the rules when my mom thought we were sleeping. That being the case, I submitted to what was of my life- consistency.

Now do not get me wrong, I lived a good life, stable & full of love. However, the constant routine forced me to become a revolutionist to the consistent functionality of my day. I wanted to live a little, have a bedtime past 8 pm & hang out with friends, unplanned. Fast forward a few years, past the years I rebelled & settled in; that same desire to live a little is back & stronger than ever. In my 30s I would say I appreciate consistency. I appreciate structure & I can appreciate what consistency & structure has afforded me in my life. However, I have a desire to live more than what my adult routine requires of me.

Life is more than working every day & paying bills. Responsibilities do not have to take the fun out of life. Although I recognize this, I have been challenging myself to live up to my new found perspective. Money & possessions do not come to the grave with us so it is imperative that we do this life thing while we are alive & truly be able to live. We can still be responsible without restricting ourselves to uneventful schedules. There is nothing wrong with ensuring we live a life full of experiences. Experiences allow us memories & moments to cherish. It exposes us to different people who can be quite amazing. It allows us to have stories to tell & moments so epic that they can not go anywhere but the grave with us.

That’s what life is about! Experiences! Experiences are more than sad & bad times. In fact, they should be devoted to ensuring that we are good enough to ourselves that we truly relish in the moments because they are ours to relish in. It is out choice & it is up to us to determine what we make of them.

**Speaking of living life for experiences, next week, there will not be a memoir available on Sunday. I’ll be taking my own advice & will be in Jamaica celebrating the matrimony of friends. Once I return, we are back to the regularly scheduled program.**

Getting to know…Me

Good morning!!! I am extremely excited to present to you a memoir written by Guest Inspiration, Alexandra Claudio. She was the first Guest Inspiration to share her story on the Nickkie&Co platform with her Self Care memoir, Our Greatest Investments Start Within https://nickkieandco.com/2018/03/04/guest-blogger-alex/ .

Today, she is back again still advocating for self-care & talking about her individual journey in getting to know herself. Continue reading to learn more about her pursuit in getting to know & love herself more; it is truly inspiring.

If you are anything like myself, you also like to shy from those moments where it finally makes sense why a parent has laid a jewel on you. My shiny ruby in this case would be, “Don’t rush into dating Alex, you barely know yourself”.

Ever since I was the bright-eyed 13 year old, I’d always wanted to be the girl in the romance novels that I’d have my nose in during lunch periods at school. I wanted to be that heroin that had it all – the thriving family, the successful career and a doting husband. SO with that being said, I’d always be less than satisfied with my mom’s reply to my whiny questions of “Ugh, when can I have a boyfriend???” – I mean because, how can I get that thriving family started without one, am I right? Fast-forward, major heartbreaks in and years the wiser I find myself finally saying “Aha!” It all started one rainy Saturday when my emotions were running high because “Netflix and chilling” with my business plans and glass of warming Chardonnay was just was not doing it. I got fed up and took to Google.

Never too proud to read a self-help blog or two, I came across information about a 30-day challenge for self-love. I laughed to myself because I thought why would people need to be challenged to love themselves? Then I began reading through the blog and eventually decided to participate. Each day there was a different self-love related task to complete. Some tasks were written, some done via role-play, meditation and reflection. My “aha” moment came on Day 7 of the challenge wittedly titled “Getting to know you”. I was challenged to write about 3 to 5 perfect dates. They could be romantic, fun – whatever I wanted. Then I was to imagine/visualize going on these dates for the very first time while remaining extremely detailed, I had to write the typesq of dialogue I would have as well as behaviors and actions – all as if I was having these dates completely solo. This challenge was so difficult for me! So I backed off of it for a day and then had to reflect on why it was actually challenging me. Then, here it comes “Aha!”

In and out of so-called “relationships” since age 15, I now at nearly 15 years later completely understand how at the time my romantic journey began I was far too young, vulnerable. The stresses while dating young greatly affected how I thought relationships were supposed to be, who I was supposed to be. I just knew what any girl knew then, how to keep a boyfriend around: please them, have common interests,be attentive, neat, funny, interesting etc. these skills I have mastered but, had I given up the journey of getting to really KNOW myself for wanting to be “ready” for that oh-so-meaningful relationship? I believe this is why it was so hard for me to imagine truly enjoying my own company – I am so used to having someone show me approval, affection, and attention from outside of myself. To render this I have since decided to take my challenge a step further – rather than looking externally for these satisfactions I will first look to myself! I know my worth, more importantly I know what type of heart I have and what I deserve, so who better to treat me than me? To amp up this challenge, taking it past 30 days I recycled a shoebox and inside I have cut and folded pieces of paper. On each paper I have listed a date idea, dates that I have always wanted to go on or try and ones that sound like quick getaways. Each start of the month I will shake up the box and choose a date! Whatever I choose I will make plans for it right then and there because I will no longer put myself on hold. The exciting part too is that I never know what I will pick and it will all be fun, classy, sexy ideas that I love. As I continue to self-date through out this challenge and experience, I know that I will begin to truly know myself after all.

…nearly 15 years later, I completely understand how at the time my romantic journey began I was far too young…