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…

Faith Tank

Faith is the act of believing in the things that are unseen. As humans it is only normal for us to want evidence or fact to back up what we believe. However, some of the excitement in life is having the ability to believe in something that has not tangibly come to pass. It is about believing that something exists or will happen even when there is nothing that is telling us so. For instance, faith has allowed me to stand in the midst of my storms knowing I could get through it. It is how I know that God exists & is protecting me. Faith provides me comfort in knowing that before my last day comes, everything is going to be ok. The things I once stressed about would have already resolved itself & because of that I am at peace.

Faith has given me that peace.

Faith gives us something to look forward to; something to believe in. Because of how faith manifests itself in our lives we are able to live. Many of us get through life because of faith. We start off with dreams that we eventually strive for & we pursue action steps to get us to where we want to be. Taking these action steps is the first step in initiating faith because the truth is, none of us would work for something we did not believe would come to pass. So when we go to school, fill out job applications, have a job interview, send our children off to school or get in the car to go somewhere; we are activating the principles of faith in believing that it is going to all work out in our favor, that our children will be safe, & we will get to our own destinations safely.

I want you to keep this in mind in the eye of your storm. Because the good thing about storms, they never last forever. If you are working hard toward something, never forget that all races have a finish line & since you are the only person running the race of your life- it is inevitable that you will get there. Faith is the gasoline in your gas tank that keeps you moving forward. When you feel your tank going on “E”, you have to motivate yourself to keep the momentum. Do not give up! Sometimes life is about navigating through it with the blindfold on- trust yourself enough to do it.

Faith will get you there.

You Are Gifted

Every couple of months my church comes together in agreement to fast for 3 days & spend time with God. We end our fast with a celebration we call a “Prophetic Night of Worship”. It is an exciting night that encourages those within the walls of the sanctuary to feel the move of God. In this setting, prophetic wonders happen that are specific to people’s individual situations & need for healing. It is truly a beautiful thing to experience; so beautiful it is difficult to put into words. However, I can say that every time is a new experience, but yesterday was specifically special.

I was in the line of prayer when the guest pastor came to pray over me, she asked for my hands. When I gave them to her she grabbed them firmly & asked me what it is that I do with my hands. I responded that I write; she smiled & started to pray for me. Her desire to pray over my ability to write was confirmation that what I do every week is a gift afforded to me by God & that I am not doing this every week for nothing. That night, my desire to spread love & encouragement through my writing was confirmed to be the right thing.

It is important to bring this up because I need you to understand that you have gifts too. Not just one, but multiple. Many people walk around unsure of their purpose & what their talents are. They look at the talents of others & attempt to compare it to theirs. There is no need. Your gift is your gift. It is yours to do with it what you please. It does not matter what people think, nor does it matter if it’s “flashy” enough for people to be shouting your name or increase your wealth. Just embrace it & manifest your desires in this gift because when God has a calling on your life the limits are non-existent. So keep working on perfecting your talents, keep striving to get it out to the world, stay encourage & steadfast. You have an imprint to leave on this world, this is the sure way that you will do it.

Healing Your Way

There is no surprise that through life we all have our own different experiences that effect us differently. How we perceive & cope with this may vary from situation to situation. Therefore the generic ways people, blogs & other outlets encourage us to heal is not always so helpful. In fact, more often than not, we become extremely hard on ourselves because we have decided that the appropriate way for us to heal is the way other people tell us we need to– false.

Our experiences are uniquely ours so the way we choose to heal is entirely up to us. We can receive words of encouragement but when it comes to the act of healing there is no cookie cutter method to doing so. Unfortunately, we just have to allow ourselves to go through the motions– the good, bad, the ugly & the worse. Sometimes we need help getting through it but we should never allow ourselves to be confined to the way the world tells us is the best way to heal. The world is not us & it does not know us better than we know ourselves. As long as we acknowledge that healing takes time, we are already well on our way. There is no need to add unnecessary expectations & time frames to the process. We just have to focus & do what needs to be done to get back to who we really are.

When we emerge; we will very well meet the next & better version of ourself; regardless of how long it took us to get there.

Strangers Add Value Too

Happy Sunday!!! I will be honest enough to tell you that there was almost no memoir for you today. Not because my heart was not in it but because I was out late spending some time with like-minded individuals that I just met yesterday. It was truly amazing. We talked about any & everything under the sun from relationships, finances, marriage, friendship, goals, aspirations, etc. However, I need you to see the important part in all this–

I just met these people yesterday!

Sometimes we spend so much time being anti-social or reserved that we do not realize that strangers can add something of value to our lives- a lesson, confirmation to what we know or to be a living example of something we believe or aspire to have happen for our own lives. If we stay secluded, avoid events where people we know are not attending or limit our circle to our immediate circle of friends we lose out on the opportunity of encounter. We gain something new from every interaction & yesterday further confirmed that for me. In talking, laughing & interacting with these individuals yesterday I am elated because not only was it a great time, it was further revelation that my friends & I are not crazy for the goals that we aspire to have. There were married couples, parents, students, career professionals all sitting in one place sharing point of views, dropping gems, being ourselves & giving me, a single career woman, who wants to one day be married, a glimpse into what my social life with my future spouse can very well look-like.

So today, I encourage you to socialize more with strangers. At events sit next to people you do not know & start talking to them. Do not limit your interactions to solely the people in your circle. Network, meet new people, encourage someone, be encouraged, have an unexpected time with unexpected good people -you will be surprised what you will get out of it. Some new encounters can evolve to forever bonds, guarantee a great time every time you link up or be an encounter that will stitch a lesson into your memory you will never forget.

Give it a try. It is worth it.