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.

How Setting Goals Almost Killed Me

Happy Sunday Conglomerates! Today I would like to introduce you to another Guest Inspiration that has a story to tell, Candice Kelly. Candice is a radical rule-breaker on a mission to change the world through media. As a certified coach and the host of the Mental Cement podcast, she provides a no BS approach to personal development that cuts through the noise. Candice leverages the power of story to create visceral lasting transformation for her clients. Her signature program “How to Start a Badass Podcast” is a fast track to mastering new media and self confidence.   Feel free to reach out to Candice on Facebook @MentalCement.

 If you pick up any book on personal development, self-help or anything that’s trying to help you live a better life, the first thing they say that is you need to set goals. You have to be crystal clear about what you want and the type of life that you want to live, otherwise, you will never get there. I mean goal setting is taught in schools, how to set S.M.A.R.T goals. Often times the first thing we ask successful people is, what goals did you set and how did you reach them? I think that’s a great way to begin your journey. The problem is that man we are often never stop to question the purpose of the goal. 

I am a recovering over-achiever. In school I was the kid who would type 7 pages if the minimum was 5, just so the teacher would notice my hard work. My drug of choice was execution, I loved to get things done. But after getting straight A’s and looking the part of someone who “has it all together” a self-harm cry for help led me to months of therapy for anxiety and depression. I got all the trophies. I won all the medals. I was admired by my peers. Yet on the inside I never felt good enough. I felt like no amount of achievement could make me feel worthy of the praise I received. 

After tons of inner work, I came to understand that I had been placing myself in a lose-lose situation. If I failed to hit the bullseye’s I set for myself, it would confirm that I wasn’t good enough. If I did reach my goal, I would push the benchmark even further and delay my happiness and celebration until I got the new goal. It was an endless cycle. I kept trying to predict what “thing” would make me happy. Losing 10 lbs, making more money, gaining more publicity. But no external reward could fill the internal pain I was causing myself. 

So, I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I decided to stop setting outcome goals altogether. Instead, I would complete a set of tasks every day and force myself to celebrate immediately after completing the task. I would channel how I wanted to feel when doing the task. For example, one task is moving my body in some way every day. After going on a walk or going to the gym I would take a nice bath or allow myself an hour of Netflix. What I found was that I ended up feeling happier, more energetic and more of myself after only a few days. Because I could reach my “goal” every day, it allowed me to bring my joy and celebration into the now instead of waiting until I hit some arbitrary target that society says is what I should aim for.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is to do some reflection and see if you are setting external goals in order to fulfill an internal need. If so, I invite you to consider adding one to three tasks to your daily routine that would move you towards your destination. Reward yourself immediately after completing your task and bring your joy into the present and see how much more you can accomplish without the goal.

…I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I decided to stop setting outcome goals altogether…

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.