Growing up in the city of Camden, unlike others who have not, I am familiar with the stories of the individuals that call Camden, New Jersey home. Instead of hearing about the positive, empowering & inspirational stories of the people within my city’s perimeters we are influenced by the constant reminder that crime & drugs plague the community. Misconceptions & media coverage fail to shine a light on some of the things that really matter– the amazing individuals that live within the very zip codes of my city & all other inner city communities throughout the United States. Partly due to the negative stigmas associated with the crime rates & “bad blood”, so much of the creativity & talent within city borders goes unexplored due to a lack of resources geared to cultivate & catapult the creativity of these individuals. Inner cities are full of unfulfilled dreams evolved into bitter spirits that now contribute significantly to some of the crime rate & dependency of substances. Shattered dreams, forgotten hopes, abandoned aspirations & a lack of resources can manifest & lead to the destruction of a community.
Much like the talent of our ancestors, our oppression opens the door to creative expression that is undeniably remarkable but often ignored & disregarded. As a result, there are many actors, athletes, musical geniuses, mathematicians, scientists, culinary artists & creative writers that will forever be chained to the stigmas associated with the city they come from. Chained because they lack the resources that can propel their future as children so they can make a difference in the world as adults. Due to the failing system that avoids sifting through the weeds (stigmas) to get ahold of the roses restricted by the oppression of concrete, there is underrepresentation in high revenue, well known employers. This is a clear indication of the lack of resources that are not readily available to our youth early on.
We cannot continue treating inner city communities with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. We need to begin investing by creating programs that teach our youth to love science, technology, language, math & art. We need to stop cutting creative arts programs that allow children to express themselves through creativity & look for other ways to meet budget requirements instead of removing the only form of expression some of these children have. Let us build the city up block by block so that they know that their only options is not a weakened educational system that is a topic of conversation but often abandoned. Let us show them the luxuries their talents can afford them so that they never give up & revert to relying on the very drug cycle we frown at. Let us not make this a project but include it in the culture. It is about time we draw attention to what matters. What matters is them. We must not give up on them even when they want to. We have to show them that they are worth it because realistically, people are not always receptive to receiving things they are not use to receiving. So it starts by ensuring they have the same resources & opportunities available that mirrors the suburbs. We should give the city something to be proud of, something to openly brag about; something to look forward to. Teach them to go after more & never settle. Appreciate their way of expression & show them that despite where they rise they can still thrive. They are the roses that have grown from concrete, & how beautiful they are– thorns & all.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned through out my life has been that everyone does not need to know my every move. Some things are really better left unsaid. It was a hard lesson, but the fact is, everyone is not ready for the things you are ready to show the world. Either they cannot envision your vision or their ego can not take it. Because of this, you must be mindful to identify these people around you– protect your dreams & ensure that you never, ever, ever become one of those people– if by chance you are one of those people, it is time to make some changes.
Your dreams & desires are too valuable to leave the fragile details in the wrong hands of the wrong people. Sadly, the story is the same– aspiring dreamers have expected support for their vision & in turn were disappointed because it was mocked or taken from them. You do not deserve that. You do not deserve for a mockery to be made of your goals. You do not deserve to lose motivation for something you believe in. You do not deserve to second guess because someone told you it was not good enough & you surely do not deserve to feel betrayed because someone went on & made a replica of what you outlined for them. Your vision is your treasure & it is the action you put into that vision that puts it in fruition. Remember that & act accordingly. People will spend their lives trying to do what you do therefore, the people you trust with the gems of your dreams should be chosen wisely.
You inspire someone every day & people will not gracefully tell you. I cannot tell you the amount of people who did not want to support Nickkie&Co. However, I did not give up on what I believe this brand could be. Once they saw what the brand was capable of, I have been able to recognize who has been inspired by their actions & statements, whether they mean for me to know or not. I have said before & I will say it again, people’s behavior will tell you clearly who has been watching & who is inspired (whether negative or positive). Therefore, keep dreaming & investing but protect it with all your might. Your dreams are your seeds to plant into the earth, it is up to you to harvest it. Although it is not a competition, what you dream up is your investment & yours alone. Protect it.
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.
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.
At 29, my peers (older & younger) & I have spent most of our lives with the generations before us chastising the way they believe we would make ends meet. For whatever reason, since our way of living & surviving does not look like theirs, they are fearful of what will come of us & the generations after us. This is likely due to our unconventional way of defining success, way of obtaining income & our reliability on technology. Although I understand the importance of doing things with our hands & can appreciate someone who can fix a car or do home repairs; we, nonetheless, have done amazing things with what we have in front of us. Our generation has learned to conform with the times & contribute to the world by maximizing resources that others regard as irrelevant.
As time progresses generations differ significantly. Some changes may not be so noticeable, while others are as clear as a firework show in July. Our parent’s generation had different aspirations & utilized different skills. Going to college/mastering a trade, securing a well paying job, & having a balanced family is how they quantified success. Our generation comes on the scene & we want that … + we want more. Not to say to say that was not the same for our grandparents & parents, but we came for it all & we came for it our way. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is something to be admired.
I have watched our generation go to college, incur thousands of dollars in student loan debt & still find the means to use our God given talents to bring in extra income. Many of us have mastered entrepreneurship just from working social media to our advantage. Life coaching, blogging, photography, real estate, etc. have been embraced with confidence because we have been driven to make the times work for us. Many of us would much rather go through the struggle of working for ourselves then sticking to something we know does not suit us. We have come to learn & understand that there is always an option. What use to be the end-all-be-all for our parents just may not mean the same for us. There are always options. We have learned to be resilient & tenacious even in the midst of our chaos. We know enough to understand that what worked before may not work now & we are ok with that. We are ok with figuring it out, we are ok with doing it our way.
So as you navigate through life, I encourage you to keep the same momentum. Embrace the rebellious achiever in you & learn from the examples who strive for the same around you. Use the stories & experiences of your sisters/brothers & know that you are destined for greatness; even if it does not look like it right now. There is greatness lined in tenacity, stubbornness & resilience. When those characteristics are cultivated & coupled with the desire to survive exceedingly above all expectations the WIN IS YOURS, always.
The logo for Nickkie&Co. is a butterfly woman who is slightly looking back at what she has come from. Who took the time to let life take it’s course in order to acquire her wings while moving forward to what appears to be a transition into more of her potential. To me, a butterfly is symbolic of the evolution we take as a women & as human-beings. Butterflies do not originally start as the bright, vibrant & beautiful creatures we recognize them as. They spend a large portion of their lives ugly, disgraced & undesirable only to later evolve into something mesmerizing to the human eye. You see, people see the beauty of the butterfly & forget… the butterfly was once a caterpillar & before that larva & before that an egg. Had it not been for the fine tuned patience of that very butterfly to persevere, evolve & invest in itself we would never see such a prepossessing miracle. See, had the butterfly not been naturally conditioned to relentlessly endow itself in its potential, we would be missing out on a wonder that is so symbolic of a woman’s beauty. Beauty that is enhanced when she takes the time to patientlyinvest in herself & her journey.
The life cycle of a butterfly can take up to a year for full evolution. However, it is steadfast & consistent in its process because the bigger picture (reward) is ahead of it. It’s patience is to be admired & its ability to be isolated (cocooned) for an extended period of time should be sought after & replicated. In the butterfly’s patient isolation is when the magic happens. That is why today I urge you to be patient with yourself.
Embrace your journey & allow yourself to make mistakes. The scars you feel make you ugly, in fact, contribute to what makes you beautiful. Life is about maneuvering through our transitions with patience. We are not supposed have all the answers for everything – right away. It is a process of growth & investment. Too often we are so hard on ourselves by imposing standards that require us to move too fast & avoid the scenic route. Life does not have to be a hectic drive on a busy highway. We need to begin to relish in the experience as we keep our focus on the bigger picture. It is amazing what is noticed/taught when we take the time (a second) to stop & smell the flowers along the way.
Today, it is important to speak on the concept of perspective & how having a positive outlook could be one of our most powerful superpowers. Studies have shown that those who work diligently to have a positive mindset thrive in areas of love, stress management, social interactions, work performance & life expectancy. It is the power of our outlook that determines how well we overcome the inevitable obstacles that may deter, disappoint or discourage us from our goals. However, it takes practice to use this power to its maximum ability. Regardless of how much I advocate for a positive perspective, I sometimes require reminders because, lord knows, it is a heck of alot easier to think the world is falling off its axis at the first sign of discomfort.
Well today, as I have said before & will continue to say time & time again, there is power in your mindset & a positive perspective can do more for your well-being than anything negative you may think, feel & manifest. When you think positive with a firm understanding that any & everything will work out in your favor; you have the potential to make mountains crumble in front of you. If you are not careful, a negative outlook can have you looking at some blessings like a curse & harping on situations because they could be better. A few years ago my uncle passed away from stage 4 cancer & although it hurt like hades to have him leave us, I coped with his passing better than I imagined. Why? Because it was one less day that he was suffering, one less day that he was tired, one less day that he had to cope with preparing to leave us & one sure day that he gave himself to God. Because of this, I know where he is & that I will see him again. Now, every time an anniversary of his approaches (sunrise & sunset) I do not wallow in sadness, instead, I rejoice that he found his way home & his life of torment is over. It is this perspective & this reversal of understanding that I try to practice in my day-to-day. I encourage you to do the same.
Life is so much more than being crippled by experiences that have the potential to take us out. We must not let them. It is all a cycle: what we think influences how we feel & how we feel influences what we attest out of our mouths; what we say out our mouths is heard by the unseen. Therefore, even when you feel it is all falling apart around you keeping a positive mindset is the key. The positive mindset, despite how you feel or your circumstance, is a testament to your faith.
If you have been following Nickkie&Co for some time, you know I generally do not discuss politics or riveting current events unless my heart is moved to do so. However, I would be naive to ignore the suffering that has occurred to Americans within the American border. Although we received notification that the government shutdown has ended, the truth of the matter is, the government was still shut down for over a month. This resulted in over 800,000 people effected & a US deficit of 6 billion dollars. Based on conversations I have had, it is evident that regardless of our own individual political views, the concensus amongst us is disgust. Disgust because there was an attempt to prove a point on the backs of Americans. Someone’s hatred/distaste for one group resulted in the oppression of US citizens.
For weeks, government workers have had to struggle with maintaining the livelihood of their families. The shut down not only effected their income, it effected health insurance benefits & the various ways that people have ensured the survival & advancement of their families. There was a political massacre taking place at the expense of the American people. This is utterly unacceptable because regardless, a hardship was deliberately placed amongst us by the very person in place to unify us. Although better days are coming, this does not erase what has occurred to these families & the steps that would need to be taken to pick up the pieces. There will still be a delay in the repayment of their funds & this will always linger over the heads of American people. Therefore, it is now more than ever that I urge you to come together in kindness. Let us exemplify what it is to be united even if our “leader” is attempting to divide us. There was a total disregard for how it effects us as a nation. Therefore, our best bet under these circumstances is to rely on each other because together, we can enforce change.
As a Philanthropic organization, I struggled with ways to assist due to my own lack of knowledge & my inability obtain access to resources that can really help people. Therefore, this time (praying this is the final time) I can offer word of mouth, encourage people to seek resources, & extend my individual hand for assistance. If you are a family effected by this political uproar, I encourage you to reach out to food banks & local churches for food, resources & benevolence packages that can help you get on your feet. This is a time in which you should speak up & watch God place you in the path of people who can help you. Below, I have included a link that directs you to resources in NJ able to provide assistance. Although, some of you may not be located in NJ, if you reach out, I’m sure there is someone who can direct you to your state equivalent in some way. Under these circumstances, do not be discouraged, prideful or embarrassed. Allow us to show you what we can do for you. The best of people comes forward during times of distress. We are here. Obtain the resources created for your utilization & be empowered by faith. ♥️
I am excited to announce that another Guest Inspiration has come forward to share her testimony with us. Ms. Subhana Wrights is a warrior who is surviving, serving & slaying daily with a condition that causes her immune system to attack her own body. She is a shield-maiden that takes her condition, Psoriatic Arthritis, head on while still LIVING! Her condition can leave her susceptible to skin lesions, unwanted stares & comments, joint pain, stiffness. swelling, etc. on a regular basis. Although there is no cure for her condition, she has not allowed herself to be defined by it. In fact, she has done the exact opposite. She has defined what it is to LIVE, SURVIVE & CONQUER despite what challenges may discourage her. She understands the weight of her testimony & has chosen to use this platform to share with others. Please read & share this young woman’s testimony & recognize her for her courageousness. Subhana, You ROCK (allat) girl, thank you simply for being you!
“If you were looking to be accepted from the world and everyone in it, after what you’ve been through, then you were sadly mistaken & the sooner you come to terms with that, the better”
Deciding what to wear or what not to wear, which scares to hide and which scares to show. Finally, I got it! I’ll wear this orange off the shoulder dress. It’s not too revealing but revealing enough and I still feel sexy. I get dressed, lay down my edges, put my faux locks in a high bun and head to my best friends hotel. Ding Dong! I’m outside, ready to have a good time. As I walk in “wow you’ve lost so much weight, are you ok? What are those scars on your body?” Yes I’m ok and I’m stronger than ever. These scars are just symbols of the journey I’ve been through and the strength I have to overcome. These are questions I wasn’t prepared to answer, this was the first time I put on a revealing dress since I’ve been diagnosed.
In October 2017, my body was 80% covered in black and brown lesions from head to toe. My scalp was covered in dandruff which causes build up. For example, if I were to wash my hair, within 6 hours my scalp would be covered in flakes and the itching caused hair loss. Going from having a head full of hair, acne free skin and a blemish free body sent me in a mental spiral. The lesions on my body itched 24/7 and burned at night when I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep. My ankles had become so swollen it hurt at night to walk or to even stand for a long period of time. All in all while going to work day in and day out. A lot of people saw the lesions on my face and thought then said, “OMG! What happened?”, “Did you use a different soap?” All questions I wasn’t able to answer because I didn’t have a diagnosis yet to what was wrong.
In November 2017, I was finally diagnosed with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis. I finally had an answer but the journey to recovery was like no other. By the time I was diagnosed I already lost 50lbs and my hair was so thin and brittle with two bald spots due to itching and build up. I was told I still had to wait for treatment to see if my health insurance would approve it. Two weeks later I was notified that my insurance was not approving the treatment due to it being too expensive. One injection alone cost 13,000 dollars which was only a piece of the treatment needed to begin my recovery. Soon after, I was notified of the possibility to be eligible for free treatment through a medication program but I would have to apply first.
During the waiting time my condition worsened and depression started to settle in. My ankles and joints became so swollen that the skin around it felt tighter and tighter every step I took. My liver became enlarged which is a common factor patients with psoriasis. Getting out of bed everyday was a struggle for me. I was contemplating the purpose of living with this condition and if I was going to be limited. In my mind this condition was the worst thing that could happen and since it was passed on through genetics, why not kill myself to prevent it from being passed on to future generations. This was my silver lining, suicide and ending it all. I went from being a lifelong athlete to being frozen in life. Everything stood still. Each day went by slower and slower. Every day I woke up waiting for a phone call with an answer and every day I didn’t get it drew me closer to ending it. My outlets in life were always going to the gym or playing sports but when my outlets caused more pain than relief I had to let it go too.
In the process of letting go I had to find something to hold on to, to keep me present. I began to dig deep, past my thoughts and my depression. I had to go beyond myself to save myself. While being frustrated about the problems with my chronic condition and the lack of answers; I began to create hope not only for myself for the others suffering in silence too. I decided I can’t be the only person going through this pain, although it’s not a common condition there are other people out there who share the same pain as I do. This is when I decided to fight. The biggest battle I’ve had to conquer yet, the battle of myself.
Every day I woke up I verbally told myself to get up and fight. One step at a time, sit up, stand up, brush your teeth, and take deep breaths then fight. I decided to put my mind to use on something positive to keep my mind occupied to fight depression. I created a charity called ”Bhana’s Purple Meals on Wheels”. The Purple Heart represents Auto Immune Disease Awareness. The meals provided were home made by me and were sold for no more than $10.00. Proceeds went to research for people suffering from Auto Immune Diseases. I decided to be the voice I couldn’t find, I decided to shine the light I never had, I decided to fight.
Also, while in the process of letting go, I drew closer to my passion for writing which brings me into sharing a piece I wrote while in this journey but first, here’s what writing means to me. Writing is like painting to me. I can’t paint with a literal paint brush but with my words I can create the reality of which I wish to paint only using words. Every word is a stroke, every placement of my words is an accent. Every statement is a stamp. A stamp with the pigments of my imagination attached. Pieces of my mind painted with words that flow as times goes. The more time moves forward the more pieces of the past I paint using my words of color bringing life to my thoughts, experiences, hopes & prayers and words of wisdom. I hope you enjoy and know that you’re all stronger than you think.
If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, feel free to email me at : email@example.com
The Process of Being Submerged
The process of being submerged
To reemerge taller, stronger, wiser
Having the darkest of days
Trying to find my way
Questioning my way
Thoughts of ending my way
Forced to choose crush or be crushed
Finding the voice
Emerging the voice
Making a choice
A choice to end the battle with me
A choice to carry this battle with the voice I have seen no one have
The strength to carry mountains
Mountains of silence by the millions carrying this
This voices of those who are currently silent, I choose to carry it
I choose to bring life and strength, and light to darkness
I choose to fight with the power of millions silently behind me
See, through this all I’ve realized none of it is about me at all. I was the strength that was chosen to carry this with my natural fighting spirit
I was chosen to fight, punch, and kick, with the power of them behind me
I’ve always questioned my purpose and why I am the way I am before all of this began and now, now it’s all so clear
Each week I write a memoir in hopes that someone will be able to relate to the topic or knows someone who can. However, today I have been inspired to empower you in a different way by discussing a topic I am certain we can all relate to. While you read this memoir, whether it is something you have experienced before or something you are experiencing now, you will be able to reflect humbly on this period & hopefully feel empowered to get through, consistently- every time. Today, my heart has been moved to speak to someone who may be suffering, who is “undergoing pain, distress or hardship” in their own way. Today, I am shouting to you that regardless of the adversity, circumstance, shortcoming, disappointment, heartache or loss you are experiencing — you are fierce, strong, powerful, able & will overcome. Despite what you feel like today, tomorrow or next week, I can assure you that your suffering is temporary. In the pits of your hell you will triumph. Adverse situations, despite how debilitating they may be, are created in your favor. Like a diamond you morphed under pressure becoming something more valuable to be desired.
As I write this, I am unaware of what you may be experiencing. However, I am a walking testament of someone who has suffered & has watched the people I love suffer all the same. Though our suffering may not look the same & have lasted different periods of time– all suffering, regardless of the cause, is relevant- including yours. As someone who has fought through storms, who has wanted to give up & who has overcome; I encourage you to have faith & keep pushing. I encourage you to find the glimmer of hope that resides in you & push it forward. The promise is your pain will not be permanent. Any obstacle placed before you will not outlive you. It does not have longevity. What you believe to be your strongest battle has & will work in your favor. The magnitude of the pain you feel does not even scratch the surface of the joy that will come your way. Again, I reiterate — you are fierce, strong, powerful & able. What was created to debilitate you will lose momentum. What was created to defeat you will not find victory. What was created to keep you out of the race has put you in first place because anything you will feel on this earth does not have the strength to take you out. You are anointed & protected by the most high. There is no way you can lose.
The day will come in which you would reflect back on this time & though all pain does not go away, your ability to become resilient will manifest. What once seemed to cause havoc on your life will be meek in comparison to what you have become. What almost took you out before will crumble in your presence & what will come of you after this will amaze you. You can not even begin to imagine the force you are about to become once this is over. You have no idea what testimony you will testify or the people you will inspire. You just have to keep pushing. Not for anyone else but for yourself. Your storm is almost over, you must not give up. What will come of your life, what will become of you is depending on it. After all, as God promised, …”when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the clouds; & I will remember my covenant which is between me & you & every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” Genesis 9: 14-15.
In sum, there is no storm placed before you strong enough to take you out. You got this!