As you may have saw last week, I have had to take a minute away to recharge. Initially, I believed in only giving you content when I have made it through a storm. However, I am currently in an emotional battle & I recognize that life must still go on. Life stops for no one & the best way to get over & past things is to attempt to bring your life back to some type of normalcy. I have advocated for self care on a public platform for well over a year now & somehow forgot that in advocating for self care, that there will be instances when I will need to acknowledge that my own journey needs a moment or two for a little tender, love & care.
It has been a little over a week that I have not felt like myself. I have been struggling to be productive & struggling to see the bright side of things (which is really not like me). As someone who has sat side by side with depression, I can recognize that I am not there but that something will need to change before I get caught up sitting with my “old friend” again. So today, I decided to live up to my promise to always remain transparent & tell you all that I am struggling. Nonetheless, I will also follow up with this statement by telling you, that it is ok to be totally honest with ourselves when we are. Sometimes we get so use to looking like we have it all together that we are hard on ourselves when we don’t. Sometimes things just don’t make sense and it effects us. Sometimes things sting more than we anticipated & sometimes life just does not seem fair. But if there is anything I learned in the three decades I have walked this earth– the difficult times do not last forever.
Sadness will eventually be turned to joy, tears will turn to laughter & anger will turn to peace because our lives were not meant to be a relay race of obstacles we cannot overcome. In fact, our lives are about the victories. A bunch of small & large wins that enable us to reflect back on those trophy moments & be proud. So if you are like me & having a more difficult time than normal, remain encouraged. Remain positive that this too shall pass. After all, we do not have to be everyone’s superhero, we just have to be our own.
I am excited to announce that we have another Guest Inspiration, Susan (Susie) Wood, who is with us today to share with us her thoughts on gossip & what impact it can have in the various facets of our lives. I personally have watched Susie evolve in her pursuit of self-reflection & it has been such a beautiful journey. She has mastered the art of reflection & has done an amazing job at sharing what she’s learned about herself & the actions of others in a way that helps us understand our own individual circumstances. Therefore, today, I am honored to have her here on Nickkie&Co. to share with us her thought out analysis on Gossip.
Have you ever been the target of unkind gossip at work or other communities? Have you ever been the source of it? Chances are you’ve experienced both sides to some degree. I usually don’t care what people say about me and prefer not to waste my energy on self-defense. Usually it’s best to let people draw conclusions from their own observations because my behavior speaks for itself and my conscience is clean. What others say usually only reflects poorly on the gossiper in those cases. However, I did recently become targeted by someone at work that I considered a friend, and it felt particularly vicious and public. It led me to explore a lot of questions beyond just our personal relationship, but about the broader topic of gossip in general and why people do it. Entire industries are built on this guilty pleasure. We all know how painful and damaging it can be, so why do we persist? Why do we even lend a sympathetic ear?
There are different kinds of gossip and it isn’t all bad. I’ve learned a lot of valuable work-related information over the years through a game of whisper-down-the-lane as a result of poor, spotty communication on the part of management. But it’s also valid and useful in preparation for interviews, for salary negotiations, or for keeping your guard up around a known sexual predator. Women may tear each other down with gossip, but we also protect each other from the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. We just need to consider carefully the information and its source, and discern which kind we are hearing.
This recent work experience was of the malicious, personal variety, and it was painful. It led me to read about some of the neuroscience research by Naomi I. Eisenberger on Social Pain (e.g., resultant of public criticism, rejection, exclusion, being shamed, etc.) She found that social pain will trigger a response in some of the same neural pathways in the brain as physical pain. This has been proven on fMRI scans in many different studies over the last decade of research. Certain drugs that are prescribed for physical pain, like opioids, have comparable outcomes on relief of social pain. Similarly, antidepressants which are prescribed for anxiety and depression, have also been shown to reduce physical pain. There is an undeniable overlap. Social rejection is arguably worse than physical pain because it can be experienced repeatedly each time an event is recalled in your mind. You can relive the pain ongoingly if you don’t have a healthy outlet for your stress and learn to move on. Ann Betz, CPCC and international executive coach, also wrote an article on the neurological effects of too much stress. It leads to functional impairment of the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for high-level thinking. She wrote that acute, chronic stress leads to foggy thinking, poor impulse control, poor memory and decision-making, and lack of empathy. It’s not difficult to understand why, then, the biggest gossipers tend to be the most high-anxiety individuals.
When faced with any problem, it’s good practice to have enough self-awareness to be willing to ask yourself how you may have contributed to the situation you find yourself in. Even if it’s only 5% your own doing and 95% theirs, you can learn and grow a lot from that 5% that you owned and make better choices next time – especially if any part of that mean gossip was true. I concluded that this work friend was in pain and that I compounded it by saying something hurtful during an argument. This was her way of hurting me back, creating alliances, and protecting herself from potential professional consequences.
The next time you are tempted to share something mean, personal or private about someone, ask yourself why: What need am I trying to fulfill by sharing this information with this person? What might be the consequences? Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone? There almost always is. Susie
What am I trying to fulfill with sharing this information with this person…Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone?
To INSPIRE is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something.
Every morning I wake up with the deliberate intent to inspire someone. I understand that every encounter I may have with someone (stranger, friend or foe) is an opportunity for me to do so. I recognize that many of us are walking around aimlessly, uninspired & without purpose. So the greatest blessing I feel I can offer anyone is to inspire them. Because in inspiring them, they come into realization of their abilities & the potential to pursue all the dreams they never imagined they could make a reality.
As women going places, it is imperative that we keep this same mindset, at all times. Unfortunately, with all that is going on, people feel incapable to make their gifts & talents work for them. They need to be inspired, to have something to strive for, something to give them purpose. Life is too beautiful to just be in it living aimlessly. We need to make it work for us. We need to inspire & be inspired. Once we realize the way this can impact the lives of others we MUST share it with the world.
So wake up. Take on the task to inspire the world.
As an adult, I reflect often on the topics we discussed in school. I realize that schools, in some way, do not really equip us for real life. You know, with the stuff that really matters, like- how to invest, the importance of having good credit, the benefits of saving early & budgeting accordingly. It is almost like we weren’t geared to fully live our best lives without debt & excess. We were told to desire to be rich but were not provided the proper resources to teach us how to be. It was ingrained in us that the sure way to live comfortably is to finish school, get a job with a high salary, & to save our money in a standard savings account. We were not told the other options to help us “get rich” or to be financially independent. In fact, the advice given to us initially, in my opinion, was pretty bad advice. College is a large reason why many of us are in debt, high paying jobs are not easily accessible & a standard savings account gives you zilch for interest as your money sits there & does nothing but be the same amount you deposited. That advice made us ill-equipped to thrive comfortably without understanding the struggle first.
Now, we have to force ourselves to figure it out on our own. We have to force ourselves to research the options & not fall into the trap of incurring tons of debt that is impossible to pay off. The days of living above our means & incurring debt we cannot pay is long behind us. Living paycheck to paycheck was not God’s intent when he placed us on this Earth to thrive. Therefore, we must prepare to change our mindset & keep those days behind us. The days of living above our means in order to keep is now over. We must begin to welcome a life that prohibits struggling in retirement & working ourselves to death without being able to experience our loved ones. They deserve to have us there while having access to our legacy after we are gone. We must learn to work this financial system to our advantage so we never have to remember what it is to struggle again. Because the truth is, we all want nice things, but the picture is bigger than that.
We need to obtain & utilize resources that allow us to familiarize ourselves with what is available to us. Learn the importance of investing, monitoring, book keeping, accounting & financial advising. Although they seem out of reach, they are services we can utilize now for our benefit. We cannot continue to have a billionaire mindset with an impoverished lifestyle because at some point the well of desire will run dry & we will begin to make irrational & unhealthy financial choices that we cannot afford to. Please understand that the financial choices you make now do not only effect you, they effect the generations after you. Living a life plagued with debt is a generational curse that we do not need to succumb to. We can break the chain of discomfort & teach our children the same thing. No one wants to end their life paying back debt that could have been avoided. Furthermore, no one wants to leave the burden of suffering on their families so we need to think smart- NOW.
Start doing the research. Start paying off your debt now so you do not have to worry about it later. Start budgeting. Monitor your trends in spending & sacrifice what you need to cut back on. Start investing your money & teaching your children the value of a dollar, teach them the pros & cons to credit scores & explain how interest rates work & do not work in their favor. Teach them to live with as little debt as possible so that after you are gone you can be sure that if you taught them anything, you taught them money. Our lives & their lives are too valuable to miss this knowledge like we did. Share it abundantly. The generation needs it.
Every week, I discuss the importance of believing in yourself, advocating for yourself & being inspired enough to make a difference. However, this stuff will be quite difficult to do if you are unable to bet & take risks on yourself. We are in an age where many of us aspire in different ways to provide for ourselves & our loved ones by our own means. The most interesting part about this is that many of us have already evaluated the ways in which we can do so but we lack the confidence to just do it.
Today I tell you to be proud. I encourage you to have the confidence you need to take the big step & pursue the things you have always wanted to do. People think that in order to chase after dreams, to pursue new aspirations or to tread new waters they have to sacrifice everything. That cannot be further than the truth. We are muli-faceted creatures capable of living, doing & focusing on multiple things to fulfill our heart’s desire. Daily, we multitask & work hard fullfilling the dreams & visions of someone else. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to fit your desires in your hectic schedule; by your own means, at your own time. I started Nickkie&Co. knowing that one day it will have a larger mission than empowering people through an empowerment blog. However, this is the foundation & I am totally content with where it is right now. I am on my own timeline & what will come will come. I simply had one job & that was to take the risk. Now that the risk was taken, the rest will surely follow.
Today, I ask you to reflect a little bit. Has there been anything you always wanted to do? Something that can transform your life in a way that will give you a joy you have never felt before? If you woke up tomorrow & had the opportunity to invest in ONE thing that makes you an even better you, without thinking of finances, or comments from nay-sayers, what would you do?
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.
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.
In this empowerment age we have progressively gotten better at empowering others by sharing our testimonies, encouraging them to push forward & supporting their endeavors of success. However, we got so good at doing this for people (yay!) that we spend a lot of time waiting for people to do the same for us. But when they fail to do so, we end up feeling immensely disappointed & unsupported. Therefore, I am reminding you that it is totally ok to toot your own horn. Doing so does not diminish your humility instead, it empowers us to keep going even if no one acknowledges us.
The older I get, the more I realize that validation from anyone, regardless of how great it may make me feel, should not be needed. Sometimes we have to just keep sight of our vision & push forward. If I have learned one thing, people do not always agree or see the vision until it is put into fruition & reaps results. People are not known to walk by faith & to teach them can be harder than you intend it to. However, it is not your obligation to show them how. You simply owe it to yourself to keep living & keep striving. The people meant to support you will show up. Those who fail to, well… *shrug*
Imagine the degree of unhealthy relationships (sexual, professional, emotional) that could be dismissed if we stopped putting so much weight on what people say. I was a rebellious teenager. I often heard from other people the failures that my life would take— well, two masters degrees & a career later all that shenanigans does not matter. I thank the lord that I did not need anyone’s validation to define my abilities. Though I still struggle doing so, I have accepted that I can relish in my accomplishments before they happen, celebrate once they become a reality & share my testimony in a positive way. It is so hard to talk about ourselves in a positive light because we have been conditioned to do otherwise, however, it is our right to empower ourselves. Learn to accept & appreciate the encouragement from others when you receive it but understand that if it is not received, it is just apart of the process. The power is in what you believe.
After all, they did say, “empowered people, empower people“. They just never said we could not empower ourselves.
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.
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org
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