Making History 2020

In a time like this, when it is your duty to take a stand, will you?

Today I did. I took a stand in what will be the history for my children & the continued strides of my ancestors. I walked with over 1000 people from one town to the next- amongst political figures, police officers, white people, black people, adolescents & children. We were all walking in protest for the same thing:

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Quite frankly, I am speechless. I cannot even articulate the thoughts running through my mind & the raw emotions coursing through my body. Even if I tried, I cannot begin to express to you the extent of solidarity & pride moving throughout the protest today. I am full of gratitude for the people who do not look like me but walked with me, talked with me, shouted with me, & supported on the sidelines. The message was clear- real clear.

BLACK LIVES MATTER- TOO!!!

It is extremely important that we do not stop here. That we keep going & we continue to have our voices heard. Not just during this Black Lives Matter protest, that fights back against police brutality & systematic racism; but forevermore in the face of any & all adversity. By utilizing our First Amendment right to assemble; protests have ignited & inspired positive social changes, advancements in human rights & a vast spread of information to be delivered by the masses to the masses. We see this in the examples before now such as the Women’s March, Gandhi’s Salt March, Boston Tea Party, March on Washington, March of Our Lives, Million Man March, Berlin Wall Protests, Iraq War Protest, etc… & even if the desired result was not achieved, people of like-minds, came together & had their voices heard. That alone speaks volumes. Volumes that one individual person cannot do alone.

Make your voices heard. Make your ancestors proud, pave the way for the generations after you & fight for your lives by taking a stand against the injustices so many of us face every day. Do not be deterred. Push forward. Stand Tall & DO NOT GIVE IN.

Sitting idly is NOT option.

Remember their names:

George Floyd, Christian Taylor, Dante Parker, Sandra Bland, Akai Gurley, Oscar Grant, Mya Hall, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Salvado Ellswood, Rumain Brisbon, Eric Gardner, Kimani Gray, Jonathan Sanders, Joseph Mann, George Mann, Eric Harris, Jamar Clark, Natasha McKenna, Michell Cusseaux, Laquan McDonald, Jerome Reid, Anthony Hill, Breona Taylor, Matthew Ajibad, Christopher Davis, Trayvon Martin, Rumain Brisbon, Akai Gurley, Brendon Glenn, Anthony Hill, Samuel Dubose, Philando Castile, Sean Bell, Alton Sterlin, Freddy Gray, Walter Scott, Troy Robinson, Sean Monterrosa, Botham Jean, Oscar Grant, Philip White, Amber Monroe, Ahmaua Arbery, Terrence Crutcher, Aiyana Jones, Ezell Ford, Dominic Hutchinson, Rumain Brisbon, Bill Ray Davis, Ahmaud Arbery, Jamar Clark, Kevin Hicks, La’vante Biggs, Tyree Crawford, Anthony Ashford, Alonzo Smith, Michael Lee Marshall, Michael Noel, Bettie Jones, Frank Smart, Michael Sabbie, Peter Gaines, Patterson Brown, Randy Nelson, Nathaniel Harris Pickett, Felix Kumi, Tony Robinson, India Kager, Miguel Espinal, Richard Perkins

& the countless others I have missed.

Because their lives matter too!

Why Black Lives Matter…

The last thing I wanted to do was write about the climate we are currently in. Not because I want to avoid the topic but because it hurts. I have a tendency to speak out of turn with rambunctious emotion before I have taken a full moment to process all that is happening & has happened. However, I will be a fool & will not be of service if I shy away from difficult topics like this one. #blacklivesmatter & I refuse to be apart of the problem that says otherwise. 

Let me preface this memoir by stating what should be obvious: If you THINK this topic does not affect you; you are sadly mistaken. Because it does. Whether you are brown, black, white, blue, yellow, green- of african decent, hispanic decent or asian decent – IT AFFECTS YOU! If you, yourself have not experienced the effects of the oppression imposed on black & brown men & women in the United States; I can guarantee that someone you love, someone you hold dear to you will not have the same testimony. If by some unlikely possibility, this still holds false– there is still a high probability that THIS will greet you at your doorstep. So do not be fooled. Don’t allow yourself to be oblivious to what is going on around you because THIS MATTERS!

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Now when WE say #blacklivesmatter, we are not saying other lives don’t. What we are saying is- #blacklivesmatter TOO, ALSO, AS WELL, TAMBIEN. However, the events that have occurred & continue to occur remind us that expressing this is extremely important & in these circumstances- the rest…

DO NOT MATTER.

It is the black lives being targeted & slain. It is the black lives that have to question the trustworthiness of the very individuals in place to “serve & protect” them. It is the black lives who are yelling for their mothers during the last breathing moments of their lives. It is the black lives who have to continue to watch as guilty individuals continue to be acquitted for the murder of their loved ones; while jails are overpopulated with black lives that have done less.

Need I say more?

Racism is very much real & despite the strides of our ancestors; it is still very much a reality. It is this fact alone that has us rowdy, fighting back & unrelenting with various ways of expression. Do I necessarily agree with the looting? Nope. However, can I understand why? Most definitely. People are tired! Fed up! Scared & scarred by a system that continues to profile, victimize & disregard them as individuals time & time again. Efforts for peaceful & silent protests have occurred & have disheartened protestors & supporters when another guilty man is acquitted for a murder streaming all over the internet.

With that being said, you cannot be silent & be a supporter. You cannot be a supporter if you turn your cheek to all that is going on around you to avoid conflict or confrontation. You cannot stand up for what is right if you refuse to speak up about what is wrong. Silence in these very moments speak louder than your words ever could. Speak up! We are in a social pandemic & it is not going anywhere; especially if your silence is all you can offer to “support” in this time.

I am sorry that this even has to be a topic of conversation. I am sorry that my friends & loved ones have to be scared to watch their children grow up; unsure how they will protect them. I am sorry that a script has to be provided to our young men in case they ever get pulled over. I am sorry that people lose their lives in order for us to wake up to the injustices of what is going on around us. I am sorry for all the stories we did not hear about. You know, the ones that happen in broad daylight without the presence of a video camera recording the footage. I am sorry that the criminal justice system still functions with enough systematic racism that justice is hardly served for those needing justice. I am sorry that it is so hard to be optimistic in these times. I am sorry that we have to feel the need for war in order to have peace. I am sorry that despite all that is going on around us- people still do not get it.

I am sorry. So very, very sorry.

But please hear me when I say…

Black Lives DO MATTER!

Learn to do good. Seek Justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering & oppression? Psalm 44:24

 

My Sister’s Keeper

Happy International Women’s Day!!! Any day to celebrate women is something worth shaking my tail feather for (lol). However, a day specifically set aside to celebrate the advancements of women gives me a feeling of triumph. It forces the world to keep “US” in mind. It forces them to remember that as an oppressed demographic; we still get it done regardless of what legislation or parties in place to tells us. We have shown the world that together we are a force. We stand firm & we are proud. However, this celebration is not for one day. This celebration is everyday. We should be proud of what we have done as a unit – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because the advancement of one is an accomplishment for us all.

I urge you today & every day to keep this in mind. The advancements we have made in history; coupled with our own individual achievements should give us the fuel to exude pride; always. They have made us who we are as women & made us even stronger united. Your sister’s story is your story & your story is hers. From one sister to another. From one friend to a friend; one mother to another & one daughter to a daughter. We are our sister’s keeper. Her sorrow is ours. Her joy is ours too. Her hopes & desires are rooted in us.

We are united.

Dancing in the Rain

Listen, we are all guilty of this. Life throws curve balls at us, makes things uncomfortable & we instantly neglect anything that brings enjoyment to our lives. We become so consumed with what is going on around us that we forget to take a moment away & still try to enjoy life. We instantly kick into overdrive by trying to get things back in order & neglect everything else including anything & everything that makes us happy.

A very good friend of mine has a milestone birthday today. She organized this beautiful get together to celebrate. However, with some new stressful events that have transpired she has contemplated canceling. Now do not get me wrong, I totally get it. But sometimes just having a moment to not have to worry about the cares of the world is just what the doctor ordered. We need moments away. We need happiness. Joy. Moments that remind us what life is about. Moments that remind us that despite what is going on around us- it is going to be ok.

We have to take better care of ourselves. When things go wry our natural reaction should not be to punish ourselves out of enjoyment. We have to work hard to push ourselves out of ruts that may cause us to miss out on life’s beautiful moments. In fact, in these moments, we need to expose ourselves to more positive experiences as a way to keep our hearts, desires & passions pumping through us – giving us life & keeping is alive. Unfortunate things happen; things we can not control. Therefore it is important that we make the things we can control count. Because at the end of the day, that is what truly matters. You know, the moments we MAKE count.

It is NOT YOU

Hey Conglomerates!! I’m back & my trip to Jamaica was amazing. It was exactly what I needed to feel refreshed & ready to hit you with new content & get my mind right. Being in the tranquil environment of Jamaica gave me alot of time to reflect. It helped heal me from all the chaos I left behind in the United States & all the turmoil I spent months surpressing. Jamaica was the release I needed to get back to being me & I am so grateful. Which leads me to today’s memoir.

A few months ago I was in a short lived relationship with a guy who shortly decided that the relationship did not suit him. I was devasted. I instantly made it an issue about me & what I could have done better to keep my relationship flourishing. Despite how much I overanalyzed, I came up short; EVERYTIME. However, as of late, I have come to the realization that what I was making an issue about me; very well was NOT an issue about me. Instead of self loathing & blaming myself, the truth is that – everything not for us is not because we did something for it not to be for us. We so quickly take rejection and make it an US issue instead of a THEY issue. We do this with everything. We do this with interpersonal relationships, jobs, interviews, etc. However, sometimes, regardless of the circumstances, the fit just was not a fit for us. 


I have been learning to accept that there are things that just are not destined for me & that how hard I want something & try to make the pieces come together; God has the final say. This is when faith comes in. I have to believe that through FAITH God WILL provide better & sometimes the loss at that particular time can very well be protecting me from heartbreak or disappointment in the future. 

So love, stop trying to muster up the answers to questions that you probably really should not get the answer to. Do not beat yourself up trying to figure out how you could have changed your situation; instead thank God for the lesson, reflect on the experience & wait for the best to come. The hardest thing to accept is that regardless of how much we plan, things really just are not on our time. Sometimes there are potholes & roadblocks in the way. That alone just builds our resistance. Because the truth is, you can not control anything other than getting to the finish line. But you just have to ensure you get there.

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…

A Word on Gossip

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?

Combating Negative Thinking

As my past would tell you, I often have a hard time remaining positive in difficult situations. I learned through my experiences that it is a heck of alot easier to keep & maintain a negative perspective over a positive one. As of the past 2 years I have made a deliberate & conscious effort to affirm positivity even when I feel the exact opposite way. Because the truth is, “don’t nobody have time” to be sitting around wallowing in a battle we can win if we just change our perspective. Therefore, today, I want to encourage you to do the same thing. I understand that initially this perspective is easier said than done, however, it gets easier & infectious with time.

We have to understand (despite how cliche this may or may not sound) that there is not one obstacle placed in front of us that we cannot overcome. Life throws some pretty unwanted situations at us; however, keeping our eyes on the rainbow that appears at the end of the storm will help significantly. Understand that remaining positive does not negate what we are feeling but it helps with feeling better sooner. As we get better at this, far more than our perspective will change. This is a reward worth receiving once we master this amazing way of thinking. 

I encourage you to combate offensive thoughts swiftly & indefinitely. As an unwanted thought slips into your brain, open your mouth & affirm the exactly opposite. Do not give it life by speaking it out loud. It is not worthy to be given such power, & most importantly, it is beneath you. You are more powerful & not equipped to succumb to the unwanted side effects that come along with negative thought processing. Life is not meant to bring you down. Instead, it is supposed to be the best teacher & contribute to a lifetime of experiences. Anything other than that, we are giving it too much credit. Credit it does not deserve & what it has not worked for. You truly are the master of your destiny– how will you let your thinking influence it?

I.N.T.U.I.T.I.O.N

I am a firm believer that we have been put on this earth with the appropriate resources that ensures our survival. I believe that everything that we need to survive our experiences has been placed within us or on this earth to ensure we live our lives to its maximum potential. In being properly equipped, we have been gifted with the “ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” This gift is our intuition, often referred to as the “women’s intuitions”, our “gut instinct” or our “gift of discernment.” I can not tell you how many times I have been severely disappointed when I have ignored that uneasy feeling in circumstances that I should not have. Therefore, today, I advocate that we take the time to listen to our gut – always; because I am a true example of what happens if we choose to ignore or embrace our ability to tap into it.

The worst & best thing I have ever done was to listen &/or ignore what my intuition was telling me. After many heartbreaks & bad decisions, finally, after 30 years of life; I learned to embrace all of its glorious wonders. It has taught me to be a better decision maker for myself & for my loved ones, to use my discernment when meeting new people or receiving new information & it has increased my creativity, significantly. As I continue to embrace this ability, it comes more naturally & the confidence I have built in my willingness to make difficult decisions has increased. In believing in myself & paying attention to my instincts I have been able to make sound decisions that I have not regretted after making them. I have learned to become more patient with decisions & understand the importance of sitting back, processing the circumstances & returning with a well thought out solution that will work in my favor.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to do the same. Listen to your gut & embrace what it is telling you. If you feel uneasy, if something does not seem right, sit on it, pray about it & act accordingly. We spend so much of our time negating what we already know & forcing what we want to happen by ignoring this small but enormous gift that was afforded to us. Trusting ourselves enough to allow what is natural to us to protect us, is the best thing that we can do for ourselves. The only person that has anything to lose in not trusting ourselves, is ourselves. So, check in with yourself. Stop ignoring yourself under the pretense that you’re “doing too much” or you’re “being extra”; you owe no one else the benefit of the doubt but yourself. You will take better care of you than anyone else can, so believe in YOU when YOU nudges YOU.