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?

Inspire

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.

Mind Your Business

Ladies, the older I get the more I can identify with the mindset that minding my own business allows me all the opportunities to literally, mind my own business. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to engulf ourselves in the lives of others. So much so, that we can barely embrace the effects of what is going on in our own lives. We allow other people’s circumstances to spark a flame in our lives instead of fueling a fire that allow us to become & remain inspired in a way that benefits us. We become inspired by other people’s misery & wonder why our lives are not where we want them to be, why our goals have not be obtained & why we are always in some form of mess/drama. Well, say hello to the side effects of not minding your own business.

In order to tackle obstacles & make our dreams a reality, we have to literally take the time we spend checking on the lives of others & apply it to our own. Because the truth is, none of us are in a place where we should be comfortable knowing & searching for all the scoop on someone’s else’s life knowing we can always be in a better place than where we are now. There is nothing on this earth worth inhibiting us from striving to be our best selves. How interesting it is, is irrelevant. It serves as a distraction. A distraction from finding our ideal job, going back to school, tending to our families or opening our own businesses. So it is imperative that we strive to actively mind our own business. If it is not self-productive, it is not business to be tended to.

So before we entertain the action in someone else’s life, we need to think about the time we are sacrificing & how we can apply it to something else; something more productive. We are big girls & life, as I always say, is too short. Too short to strive for anything other than someone better than we are today. Remember that.

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…

Empower Women

Although women are coming forward encouraging & advocating for themselves in ways that have not always been so prevelant before, it has always been important. For a long time, women have been an oppressed population. From employment opportunities, to policy changes put in place to hinder & dictate our actions – the oppressive intent is evident. As a result, we must be up in arms, always. At this point, if you hurt one, limit & restrict one; you have hurt, limit & restrict us all. Because women empowerment is more than empowering & encouraging women. It is about empathy, relation, understanding, encouragement & awareness, etc. Women empowerment is love. However, many times, the things that are occurring to us & around us encompass everything but the ability to empower women.

To get to the point that policy change happens based on the true necessities & demands of women, we can start small so that we can move bigger. We want better treatment but fail to exhibit better treatment amongst ourselves. Therefore, we can empower & encourage all women, whether we know them or not, consistently, with the intent to spread healing amongst other women. We walk by many women on a regular basis; however, we are more inclined to judge her before telling her she is bomb. We are less likely to empathize with a woman who is having a rough day without knowing her story first & we look at women individually instead of as a contribution to what they are to us as a group.

Each woman represents something for us individually & as a whole- the ability to grow, overcome adversity, create & maintain life (whether from their flesh or not), & the ability to survive & thrive. We need to begin to treat each other as valued treasure before we can expect anyone else to see us the same way. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other women to determine the traits we have that makes us a better woman. We need to look for opportunities to heal each other so we can sustain each other. Women fight many battles but it should never be a battle that we are fighting amongst ourselves. Regardless of the story of the person who receives these messages, it is important that we remind them in various & creative ways that we all are loved, capable & not alone.

March For Endo

Welcome back Conglomerates,

Happy mid-week check-in. Pardon my impromptu post that is outside of the typical Sunday schedule. Almost a year ago, I had a courageous Guest Inspiration who stepped forward to talk about her journey battling a condition that MANY women battle with daily; ENDOMETRIOSIS. Being that March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, I felt it was most important to recirculate her memoir to share with women who missed it & may be experiencing the same thing. Therefore, please click the link below & read the memoir from my dear friend & Endo Warrior, Eugenia.

Endo Warrior

#WeWearYellowForGeenii

Beauty in Self-Patience

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 patiently invest 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.

Mommin’ Ain’t Easy

Welcome back another SUNDAY! Today I am honored to share with you Guest Inspiration, Taneesha. I have watched Taneesha raise her children with such love & precision that I appreciate her realistic description of motherhood & the sacrifices mothers make for their babies (you know all the stuff that people do not talk about- lol)! This memoir is laced with satire & sacrifice. If you’re a mother you will resonate with her testimony & if you are the child, this memoir will have you looking at your mother saying- “Thank you for loving me, regardless of how tired you have been.” So, let us welcome her with open arms & appreciate what she has depicted below. 

So there you are pregnant with your first child and super excited, yet nervous about every little thing. You keep up with all the mommy blogs, register for the best items on the market and pray you have it all figured out. Fast forward to birth and OUCH, not just the physical pain but also the mental. As a new mother, you have to heal from labor and figure out motherhood at the same time – not easy. This being your first baby, everyone wants to see the human you created and just like that… you don’t matter anymore. There’s no “hey, how are you doing?” it’s “where’s the baby?”, “how’s the baby?”, “”can I come see the baby?” scratch that, more so, “I’m coming to see the baby.” After a couple weeks, when all the hype dies down, it gets real. Your life consists of feeding, changing, comforting, repeat. But as soon as you get into the swing of things, behold! You have a crawler and soon after a walker. Mobile babies are ruthless! They want every little thing their little fingers can grab and don’t you dare try to stop them. Everything is going straight to their mouths too so you really have to watch them like a hawk.

Fast forward to running and talking toddlers. Chase that baby if you want to, they will cross you over as if they’re the greatest NBA player in the league. That little baby that you couldn’t wait to start talking, now talks and their favorite word is NO. “No mommy, no! I don’t want it, I can’t do it.” They’re so negative. Bedtime becomes your favorite part of the day. They have the nerve to be the cutest when they are sleeping; as if they didn’t run rampant in your home just hours before wreaking all kinds of havoc. You think you know what messy is, but a toddler will give you a whole new definition of the word. Now you’re at a crossroad— “do I clean this up or go watch my favorite night time drama?”, the latter always wins for me. You clean up just for the little rascal(s) to do the exact same thing, again. It’s never ending.

So they grow up a bit more and life is smooth sailing now. You got this mom thing down. It just all got easier. I suddenly didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to get his sippy cup. The separation anxiety had stopped. Being able to take a nap while he watched his favorite cartoon was pretty awesome too. My son has always been a pretty easy going kid. Quiet like his mama, calm and cool. I get all the compliments about this one. People even offer to take him off our hands because he’s such a delight. Even though he’s not so high maintenance, mothering is still hard. I still worry and get frustrated like the best of them. I still get tired, but I have to carry on despite having worked a full day. We have extracurricular activities we have to attend to. School routines, ugh, as much as I love him getting away to learn, I hate it too. Having to get up and take him when I don’t have to be out the house sucks and homework…. [every cuss word that exists, insert here]…. most days I just CAN’T. I do, but I just can’t.

Then it comes… yup… that feeling that stupid feeling. The thought pops in, “I should have more.” Now, pause sis, really think long and hard about that. Remember breastfeeding and pumping, teething, diaper blowouts, all the outfit changes while potty training, how long it took him to sleep through the night, all of your sleepless nights. Remember? That is usually the revelation when some people say “nah, I’m good”, but silly ol’ me, disregarded what I knew and said “it’s ok, it’ll get better later, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. My child needs a sibling now!”

After having to convince my husband and making sure finances were good, baby number 2 became a reality instead of a dream. Labor was better, breastfeeding was better, I didn’t experience baby blues, I was more knowledgeable… the greatness stopped there. All those visitors I had the first time didn’t happen again, thank God though, they were annoying. Baby number 2 threw me for a complete loop. She was and still is a crybaby. A crying child will drive you completely insane, it’s draining. However, here I am with this beautiful child I hoped and prayed for— who was said to be hard to conceive but here we were and I was not happy. Luckily, I remained sane. She’s 2 now and still cries and whines, but not as much. I have mastered shutting it down now. Thankfully, I go to work and it’s my escape. As much as I complain about her I love her dearly. She’s my life size doll, dressing a girl is so much fun. She doesn’t like getting her hair done too often but I enjoy it when she does. I enjoyed our 19 month breastfeeding journey, surpassing my son’s 12 months. She’s funny and super smart. She walked at 8 months and you know the saying ‘they’re moving fast to get out of the way for the next’, well it was true. Three is coming and I have to go through the ups and downs all over again. But I will always remember and never forget, while it does get better, it ain’t easy.

Neesh
“I enjoyed our 19 month breastfeeding journey surpassing my son’s 2 months”
Taneesha has started a free prenatal & breastfeeding support group for mothers, “The Camden County Breastfeeding project- Sistahs Who Breastfeed”. Support services are provided in Pennsauken, Voorhees & Sicklerville & is opened to everyone. If you know anyone who is breastfeeding or are expecting, please share this resource. Please see their brochure below. Sessions start in March. 

The Power of Perspective

Today, it is important to speak on the concept of perspective & how having a positive outlook could be one of our most powerful superpowers. Studies have shown that those who work diligently to have a positive mindset thrive in areas of love, stress management, social interactions, work performance & life expectancy. It is the power of our outlook that determines how well we overcome the inevitable obstacles that may deter, disappoint or discourage us from our goals. However, it takes practice to use this power to its maximum ability. Regardless of how much I advocate for a positive perspective, I sometimes require reminders because, lord knows, it is a heck of alot easier to think the world is falling off its axis at the first sign of discomfort.

Well today, as I have said before & will continue to say time & time again, there is power in your mindset & a positive perspective can do more for your well-being than anything negative you may think, feel & manifest. When you think positive with a firm understanding that any & everything will work out in your favor; you have the potential to make mountains crumble in front of you. If you are not careful, a negative outlook can have you looking at some blessings like a curse & harping on situations because they could be better. A few years ago my uncle passed away from stage 4 cancer & although it hurt like hades to have him leave us, I coped with his passing better than I imagined. Why? Because it was one less day that he was suffering, one less day that he was tired, one less day that he had to cope with preparing to leave us & one sure day that he gave himself to God. Because of this, I know where he is & that I will see him again. Now, every time an anniversary of his approaches (sunrise & sunset) I do not wallow in sadness, instead, I rejoice that he found his way home & his life of torment is over. It is this perspective & this reversal of understanding that I try to practice in my day-to-day. I encourage you to do the same.

Life is so much more than being crippled by experiences that have the potential to take us out. We must not let them. It is all a cycle: what we think influences how we feel & how we feel influences what we attest out of our mouths; what we say out our mouths is heard by the unseen. Therefore, even when you feel it is all falling apart around you keeping a positive mindset is the key. The positive mindset, despite how you feel or your circumstance, is a testament to your faith.

Faith unwavered is a strength to be seen.

Be-YOU-Tiful

Society has conditioned us very early on to be content being everyone but ourselves. Our true selves. In one way or another media reminds us that who we are & who we want to be is not enough. Unless, of course, it fits their idea of perfection or success. In many direct & indirect ways, we are told how to dress, how to talk, who to love, how to love, what to like, what to dislike, what is important, what to dismiss & what we should do based on what society thinks is important. This has resulted in so many of us unsure of who we are, what we believe in & what we represent. Well today, I encourage you to start the journey in learning exactly who you are, what you stand for & what is important to you because despite what you are conditioned to believe –there is not one single person that is on this earth just like you. You were made special, as one of a kind, limited edition — that is the beauty that is you.

The most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed is a person who found true, genuine joy because they were willing to be rebellious for the sake of discovering themselves. They live in joy because they outgrew society’s standards & are living outside of such restrictions. So many of us are walking around with a mask that perpetrates us in a different way than who we really are. This is dangerous to our self-care because we are too busy living for the likes of someone else– so much so, that we forget who we are & dislike ourselves in the process. To be ourselves unapologetically is the best gift we could ever give ourselves & to the world. We spend so much time of our lives being loyal to other people & we do not realize that being loyal to ourselves & our identities is even more important.

Remaining yourself, regardless of the circumstances you face, is a miraculous talent to have. Even under the worst situations you still remain true- true to you. That is the quality to having a good life that will impact, not only yours, but the lives of others. Like I said, there is no one like you, once you are gone there will never be another you. There is no one better at being you than you — embrace you. That is the least that you can do for yourself. Be you, always, all the time, regardless– Forever.

img_6816-1