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.

Bet on Yourself

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?

Now I ask you-

What is stopping you now?

Today will be the last day you compromise on you.

Roses From Concrete

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.

Anointed to Profess & Receive

Last week I have come to the hard realization that in order to truly be my best self & represent Nickkie&CO. in excellence, a hiatus was needed. Other than posting these memoirs, I have turned myself off from all social media platforms, answered less phone calls, engaged in less draining conversations & just wallowed & embraced what I needed to to ensure that I can get my mind right. Although, I am still processing much of what I have been feeling, this hiatus has allowed me significant time to reflect, re-wire & process what I have been feeling & what I plan to do about it. As of the past few months my well of overflow has been draining tremendously (significant life changes tend to do that to you), & I recognize how much more difficult it is to function in a world where you want to give but are feeling too empty to do so. However, I know how important it is to me to make a difference, sprinkle a little kindness through out the world & practice loving everyone without conditions. Therefore, despite how I have been feeling, I still find it important to share my truth & reflection while offering transparency. 

It was not until I took this hiatus that I realized that despite what I have been advocating for– I have been recently guilty of this too– most of us are living a life to just live it & we have not put much thought into how we do it. We have been just striving to survive. We get out of bed everyday without wanting anything more than to get through the work day, provide for our families & start over the next day. Many of us have not given ourselves much more to look forward to aside from the weekends. That is unacceptable. We should & are capable to want more than that because the truth is we are not limited to only having what we have but in fact, we are entitled to have more. We should want to get up with the intention to leave a legacy behind that is worth talking about when we are gone. We should strive to profess things out of our mouths that will come to pass & we should be comfortable wanting more so that we never get comfortable settling. This coupled with the kind of energy we put out into the world is a definite recipe to success. 

Life is not about just scratching the surface of survival. It is about obtaining the prize & then sharing that knowledge with those who have not learned this effective way of thinking. So many of us go through life just accepting what life has dealt us instead of recognizing the power we have to influence what is going on around us. We are divine beings put on this Earth to do more than just create an impact for ourselves. Our success is significantly influenced by what we think, how we speak, what we listen to, what we read & how we spend our spare time. There are 24 hours in a day which gives us 24 hours to do something effective that can propel our lives in a completely different direction. Unfortunately, we all have our vices, but none of these vices are significant enough to keep us out of the race. We have to claim & strive for greatness, whatever you give out into the world is guaranteed to be returned to you. So be positive, be productive, be kind, be empathetic, & be impactful. There is not one thing on this earth that can resist you if you claim it for yourself. There is not one thing on this earth that you are not deserving of & there is not one thing that you have learned that you cannot teach someone else.

I have done amazing things by professing out of my mouth the things I want to claim over my life. I have claimed healing on parts of my body that have been hindered, I have professed overflow of funds when my finances have been at stake & I have professed happiness over the lives of others when they were in a dark place in their lives & I have seen them all manifest. There is nothing we are not capable of because we are truly mighty. There is naturally an anointing over our lives that make this mindset effective if we follow through with action. Therefore, starting today, I challenge you to do more than just live. Strive, profess & confess what is yours & what you plan to do about it. With positive energy & a positive mindset there is not one thing that can be kept from you. It may not work out in the timeframe that you want it to but I can guarantee it will be yours if you claim it.

April Showers…

This week has been a specifically hard week for me. Actually the month of April is always a bit much for me emotionally. I spend much of April being mindful to stay busy so that I do not sit around idly thinking about why April is so difficult for me. However, this week, I was forced to slow down a little & address emotions I have spent the past 6-10 years avoiding. April signifies a sad period for me. Every year I am faced with the realization that in 2009 & 2013 I have lost 2 people very dear to me to gun violence. Both were too young to not be walking this earth so many years later. Although they were not perfect or without sin, they both were overall amazing people. Neither one of them lived a life that was expected to turn out this way; however, both lived a life that was left behind for those who loved them to mourn over. As often as I have tried to move past it; oddly enough, the recent death of an impactful visionary, rapper & community activist opened up the wound of emotions I had barely scabbed over all these years. To be honest, the passing of a loved one is always hard on those left behind but there is a different type of emptiness & vulnerability when the person is murdered. It is as if someone has robbed you of more time, more memories, more interaction– a feeling that never goes away. I would never wish what I feel on my worst enemy because although life does go on; so do the unanswered answers to questions on how it could have been prevented What is crippling though, is that this violence that often leaves families in mourning, children without parents, lovers without love & parents burying their children will never end.

My heart aches.

There are not enough rest in peace t-shirts, social hashtags & media posts to erase the reality that too often there is “another front step with flowers” & too many premature tomb stones to be visited. Despite this, the message does not appear to come across clear enough that we must stop killing each other. This violence has to stop. Someone’s life is being taken as easily as it is for most of us to wake up & breathe each day. There is no regard for the lives of others or those they leave behind. We are losing each other for things that can be settled outside of irreversible violence & definite ends. There are too many egos and broken spirits walking around, sharing & spreading that energy. We are a broken generation that only knows how to be broken & to pass it on. When a life is taken there is a continuation of generational misfortune– the children of the murderer & murdered both have to experience their lives without their loved one, which forces them to be influenced by other examples that are not their parents; both sides of the family lose someone to gun violence whether the people directly involved were the victim or perpetrator. Why does this keep happening to our babies & our families? Why must this be the example set for our communities? It crushes me to my core that the only solution to correcting a disagreement has been to take someone’s life. Someone’s life, no matter how sh***y they have chose to live it, is still valuable.

Oh, so valuable.

I can assure you that the people left to mourn for them agree. Because my goodness, the riches I would pay just to bring them back to live their lives the way they were supposed to has no max. I would pay the financial price, if I could– even if it put me in debt. Unfortunately though, there are no shortcuts in heaven & someone decided to take it upon themselves to send them there early. This continues to happen. I am disgusted that this is what it has come to. I am discouraged because no matter how many “stop the violence” messages are shared, the impact of these messages are temporary. I mourn because as my life continues, there is another part of their lives that they will never get to see. I thank the lord that this is not an experience I have felt often, but others are not so fortunate. As this continues to happen more people are faced to live their lives without someone they never imagined they would have to live without. Yet some how the realization that we are oppressing ourselves continues to be missed. We cannot take a moment for granted. We have to pray hard over our loved ones because they will never tell us everything they experience, the interactions they may or may not have or the people they encounter on a day-to-day that can end up being the reason we have to say our goodbyes. The ache I feel as I write this weakens me. I struggle because the realization settles in reminding me that this behavior is not going to get better. People are barely even living their lives before seeing the inside of a casket & we act as if this is the normal. This is a disgrace! We should want more! We deserve more! They deserved more!

As a people, we have more to do with our time on this Earth. Yet, some are not even allowing people to get into their purpose or make the impact they could before deciding their time is up. We have to diligently encourage others to do better- to want more, to make strong impacts while they are here. We have to remind them that their life is not only for them but that — we, as their loved ones, live for them too. We need to work on generational healing– depression, poverty imposed hardship, PTSD, toxic masculinity, deep rooted aggression, failure to recognize worth, egocentric desires— by promoting — talking about our issues, seeking help from capable professionals, & reminding each other that it is ok to love & walk away.

Most importantly, we need to understand that all actions do not require a reaction, especially reactions that are so definite.

Rest in Heaven:

Sergio Rivera
(2009)
&
Alvin Tyree Cushion
(2013)


“They hope the example I set ain’t contagious”- Nipsey Hussle (2019)

I am sorry that someone did not value your lives like the way we, who loved you, did. You deserved more than what you received.

Move in Silence

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.


Claim Your Power

I have always been considered an emotional person. To some degree, I can agree. In both my personal & professional life I tend to be an emotional thinker with a high likelihood to respond the same way. As of recently, I have learned the importance of taking a “chill pill” & processing situations accordingly. One of the most important lessons I have been learning is that my reaction to anything that happens is my responsibility & my responsibility alone. There is skill in learning to be a master of your emotions. However, despite how much progress I have made, that is a goal I know will take a lifetime to fulfill & I am ok with that.

I lost so much time being angry at people who have offended me; thinking I was proving a point. In fact, the only person who lost was me. They went on with their lives, forgetting how I was feeling while I was left losing time I will never get back. I want us all to consider this as we encounter new people & situations that may be less than ideal. We cannot control other people’s behavior but we can surely control our own. Many of us do not work for ourselves, but work for an employer who dictates the terms & arrangements of our employment. In this relationship, we often find ourselves with little-to-no-say in how it effects us. Therefore, the sure thing we can promise ourselves is checking our emotions at the door while remaining empathetic to those around us. People will do & say things that will get us out of our element, but it is up to us to ensure they do not know the power they have to effect us & influence our behavior.

We have all reacted in ways that have given people power over us. Whether we were mad, sad, angry or depressed— but it is important that we bare in mind that no one is deserving of that from us; especially not for an extended period of time. If we can lose time festering on horrible experiences & horrible people, we can surely invest the time on other productive things like empowering ourselves out the experience & motivating others who find themselves in similar situations. After all, it is true what they say, “life is too short to be anything but happy.” Therefore, the first step to ensuring we remain that way is to control what we can & let go of the things we can’t. It is not up to us to change people but it is our job to change ourselves.