A Final Gift of Love

I have never been quiet about the importance of having a group of powerful women in your corner to go through life with. No matter how much you may strive to empower & motivate each other; there is no amount of life preparation that can prepare you for what my tribe & I have been experiencing these past few weeks. When you think of life events, you think of marriage, engagements, baby showers, but never, ever, ever do you imagine the day that you will ever have to put one of the members to rest like we did yesterday. Although we all feel the magnitude of her absence differently; no one could have ever prepared us for the grief we feel as a unit.

That being said, in her rest, our dear friend Ayana will be the Nickkie&Co. inspiration this week. I am so honored, that she left one last momentum to contribute to her legacy & I get to showcase it here, on a platform she supported from the beginning. In 2018, when I first started Nickkie&Co., I wrote about the importance of building a cabinet of truly inspirational & motivating women in a memoir, Building A Sisterhood ( https://nickkieandco.com/2018/01/07/sisterhood/ ). In that memoir, I mentioned the impact a solid sisterhood can have on the worst & best times of our lives. It was in that time that Ayana reached out to me; moved to tears because of what her tribe did for her; even until her last breath. Although, she never could finish it (whether she lost momentum or forgot about it) her legacy lives on & the best gift she could ever give the people who loved her was this message. This message shows she understood what she meant to us, even in the thick of her fight, she understood. It shows that although her battle was not always pretty, the way she viewed her friends, her tribe, her cabinet superseded that. Her tribe, to her, was beautiful.

When a person leaves you, you wonder if they knew how you felt for them. You wonder if you could have done or said something more. You are tormented by the all the things you could have said. But this message eliminates that. Ayana left a gift. She left one of the best gifts; a gift that says & will continue saying — “Yes, I loved you just as much.”

I wanted to touch on the topic that was addressed the first week of January, pertaining to having a sisterhood, cabinet, or tribe. This topic spoke to me when I first read it and I became very emotional that I had to pick up the phone and call someone from my sisterhood. In the end of 2015, I was hospitalized with what was thought to be cancer but not totally ruled out until February 2016. Now just having turned 30 years old in November, that was the last thing I expected to have the doctor come back and say. It wasn’t until February 2016 that I was officially diagnosed and that’s when my cabinet really made themselves known. 

I had the support of family but to have the support of my sisters who I have known for most of my life really meant a lot. Once diagnosed I didn’t want many people to know; not that I was embarrassed but I just didn’t want anybody’s sympathy. The way I looked at the situation was that God dealt me these cards and he did it for a reason! I know they say not to question God and what he does and that’s exactly what I didn’t do. I felt in my soul that there was something that I had a blind eye to that he (God) wanted me to see and I wasn’t. 

On to the hard part of cancer treatment. I did 2 rounds of chemo therapy  treatments 1 of radiation therapy and 11 hours of surgery total. I had my surgery in June of 2016 and originally went in to be treated for one cancer but another was found during the surgery. During this time, God showed me who was really fighting with me and for me.  I came out of surgery and all of my sisters were there and those who weren’t were kept up to date every step of the way. During that time my sisters put aside their issues and rallied around me. There were days that I woke up and some were just sitting in the room, they made sure my kids were okay, and brought things I needed. It was a lengthy recovery and they stuck by me every step of the way… 

When all is said & done, it is THIS message you want left behind. Even though it wasn’t finished the message will not change. When talking to Ayana in preparation for this memoir, she was going to use her words to push others in fighting the same fight. Instead, this memoir has a totally different message; however, it is just as powerful.

Be the best kind of friend you can be within your capacity & love on those you love while they are here to receive it. Life gets hectic, but it is in those times of need that those who love you become evident. Although, Ayana did not have a pretty experience, she had the people who mattered to her most around her- always. Ayana was emotional, honest & raw. She did not sugarcoat or disguise what she felt & who she was at any point of her life. With Ayana, you got who you got & she was ok with that. She was without shame & was willing to express her emotions how she saw fit. She was raw but in the most honest way & beautiful way a person can be; she was unapologetically her. We all loved her for it. If she was happy; we felt it. If she was sad, we knew it because she was never ashamed to show vulnerability & if she was mad; we knew that too, because Yana was ok with the picture not always being pretty. But if one thing is certain, if Ayana loved you; she loved you & she thrived off of the love she got too. Cancer is ugly & I am saddened that it took our friend. But even in this, we received the best gift we could have ever gotten from her. A final gift of love.

Rest in Peace our dear friend, Ayana. We love you.

Recognizing Your Anxiety.

As I was reflecting on my week and thinking about this week’s memoir topic – I realized that it was imperative that I discuss a topic that is very personal for me. In fact, it’s quite personal for many of us. For as long as I could remember, I have had  difficulties with anxiety and managing it. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I began learning to identify it & take the necessary steps to tend to my individual needs.

 Anxiety effects more than 40 million adults in the US. But I didn’t have to look up statistics to know that more people live with anxiety every day than those who don’t. I also don’t need scholarly articles to tell me that few people recognize when they’re experiencing an episode & even less know how to manage it &/or deal with it appropriately. Far too many of us have been conditioned to believe that that “feeling” we can’t name; is a normal way to live our lives. However, I tell you today that god did not anoint us to walk around combatting anxiety. Our lives are so much more purposeful than being concerned with what could happen today or tomorrow. Society has conditioned us into believing that being unprepared & unknowing of the future is a disservice to ourselves. As a result, life has us running a race that will kill us before we even get to the finish line. 

To put things in perspective for you, anxiety is over thinking. It’s obsessing over things outside of our control. Anxiety is the aggressive or emotional person that people often misunderstand. Anxiety is holding your breath without realizing it or feeling out of breath because you held your breath for so long. Anxiety is that tight feeling in your chest that feels like a heart attack. It’s that need to remain active because being still makes you uncomfortable. Anxiety is the stress we fail to do anything about because “this too shall pass.” It’s the discomfort felt before any social events with people & the desire to leave once you arrive. 

Anxiety is a different picture for everyone but is the culprit for us all. If we don’t begin to handle, recognize, address & treat this; we will make our anxiety generational and pass the message that “anxiety is ok” to our children.

Through the various stages of my life, anxiety has looked different. I’ve had crippling fear, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed uncomfortably, I’ve lashed out, I’ve gotten physically aggressive, I’ve isolated myself, I’ve obsessively inquired & even tried to explain my anxiety away— all very unhealthy ways of managing & dealing with anxiety. Thankfully, I’ve learned to reflect, seek out the guidance from friends, received treatment from a licensed professional, temporarily was on medication, continued to write, pray and reflect. Now that I do these things, I am able to express myself in a positive way, recognize when I’m feeling anxious & identify the cause of my anxiety. Although, it isn’t perfect, it’s a positive stride & that matters. 

Mental health concerns are coming to the surface. It’s important to learn your triggers & understand your anxiety. Recognize the signs. Address them. Seek help & learn to rely on the genuine things that bring you joy. Don’t compare your anxiety with against the anxiety of other people because it won’t always look the same. However, learning what anxiety means for you will allow you to seek the best ways to manage it. This past month, my anxiety looked different. However, had I not taken the time to study what anxiety looks like to me; I would’ve failed at eliminating my stressors & speaking about it with people I could trust. If anxiety goes unchecked it will be detrimental. Anxiety, like stress, is the gateway to many other negative feelings & experiences & is very real for many of us. Therefore, we need to be understanding with ourselves, but MORE vigilant with finding the solutions to our mental health disadvantages. We are beautiful, “flaws” and all; but if we can target this we can help make the world beautiful too. 

This Week’s Formula…

I think today calls for some reminders to get through the week—

Literally, the start of each day, is a new beginning.

Every problem has a solution, even if it isn’t evident right away.

The world will not always understand your perspective, still stand by it.

Being misunderstood is about perspective; use it to your benefit.

Be compassionate. Compassion makes all the difference.

Give yourself grace. You will not execute perfectly; every time.

Love without conditions; do it freely.

Make sure what you say has substance. Your word is your bond. If you fail to deliver on that word, what else do you will have?

Money is nice but it should not be your sole interest. Seek peace.

Having emotions is not the problem; it’s how you express them.

Don’t stay in any situation that makes you uncomfortable.

Pick and choose your battles, but feel confident advocating for yourself.

Never allow discouragement to keep you from playing the game. The outcome will surprise you.

Be confident. However, be mindful- there is a fine line between confidence & arrogance.

Stop second guessing yourself. Trust your instinct.

Be ok jumping in the unknown. It’s going to all work out.

When negative thoughts surface in your mind; profess with your mouth the opposite.

Ask God to give you wisdom before making decisions & be patient. He will answer.

Be ok with feeling how you feel; use it to reflect.

Stop using horoscopes to predict how your day will go; YOU set the trajectory of the day.

You really are in charge of your destiny; do it one step at a time.

Make the best out of this week. You got this.

Suppressed Childhood Traumas…

Hey ladies, Happy Sunday.

Hmm…

Let’s talk about childhood trauma & how important it is for us to deal with it. As children we have a variety experiences that contribute (to an extent) the type of adults we will be. However, many of us have had positive & negative experiences that we carry around with us– whether we know it or not. Like I said in the memoir I wrote a few weeks ago, “Let’s Talk About Trauma”, if we do not deal with what we have dealt with, we will never reach the pinnacle of our very best.

Let me give you an example. Like many people I know, I was raised by a single mother. I was abandoned by my biological father before I was born & I spent a large portion of my childhood feeling discarded. That later began to trickle down into how I handled my relationships with love interests, family & friends. I found it better to discard of people before they could discard me. I left very little room for errors & I never looked back. It was not until I began to deal with some of my deep rooted issues of abandonment that I started to recognize my own toxic behaviors. Had I continued on that course; I would not have been able to maintain the wonderful relationships I have now. As I have said before, I am grateful for the people who loved me even when I was not so pretty to love.

You see, many of us walk around everyday with the facade that what happened is irrelevant. We suppress without realizing that in doing so we allow negative behaviors to surface. We have to recognize that in denying ourselves the correct outlet to heal; we give our trauma the victory. Address it. Talk about it & then work on forgiving yourselves. Because trauma, especially those brought to us in childhood, creates a gateway that causes us to blame ourselves for what has happened. The truth is, we have been raised by people with their own trauma, had interactions with people that suppress theirs, encountered people who cause distress as a result of their own & we have contributed to the trauma of other people. However, when we make a conscious effort to deal with the wounded child, teenager & adult– we make positive strides to ensure that we stop contributing to the negative experiences of other people people. We clear the slate to raise people without our own trauma in mind & we further work on ensuring that we end those generational curses we often hear people talk about.

Life is absolutely too short. Wouldn’t you want to have a positive experience with it where you set the standard & create that trajectory. Life really can be beautiful. We just have to give it permission to be.

See you next week.

You Owe Yourself Patience

Good morning, Loves.

As we prepare to start a new week, I want to encourage you all to be patient…with yourselves. Often, we set these timelines of expectations & beat ourselves up when we do not reach those expectations. We often fail to take into account the things that may have restricted us from reaching our goal or recognizing the that the initial timeline was unreasonable. We are also extremely critical of ourselves. We allow ourselves little space for errors & fail to recognize that the mistakes we make always serve as opportunities to learn something & readjust.

So before this week, I want to remind you– just as you strive to be patient with your co-workers, your employers & family members, be mindful to include yourselves in that group of people. Patience is one of the ingredients to being compassionate. Therefore, I ask you, why does everyone else deserve your compassion except you? Why don’t you recognize that just as someone may need a moment to readjust, so do you? Make conscious steps to take it easy on yourselves. Give yourself some leeway to not be perfect & allow yourself to accept that “your decided” failures are reinforcements that contribute to making you a better version of yourself- spiritually, productively, personally… in every aspect.

The thing about life is we never know what we are doing & how what we do impacts us in the future. But I do know, mistreatment & the lack of love we give ourselves does not create a positive trajectory we can look forward to later. Understand life, will have it’s loops & turns. Many of the setbacks we experience, can very well get us to our desired goal. If we show ourselves patience, compassion & gentleness–we are guaranteed to be better people overall, not only to ourselves but to others, as well.

Have a great week.

Let’s Talk About Trauma.

Good morning! Happy Sunday!

Trauma. What is it?

In sum, it is a response to a distressing event we experience. It has an effect on our ability to navigate through situations & has an impact on how we may cope or overcome unfavorable circumstances. Trauma, unfortunately, is inevitable. Despite how cautious we may be, simply navigating through life & interacting with others; makes us susceptible to experiencing trauma in some way, shape or form. Many times, we do not realize that our survival or recovery from certain life experiences has left behind remnants that will require us to work hard to get past it.

Getting older has given me a new perspective on this; as it should. However, it has also allowed me to not only recognize my own trauma but the trauma enabling or effecting other people. For instance, anyone that knows me personally, knows my mom was suuuppper strict. Although, I would differ in the approach, I can look back now & see that a lot of the hold & reluctance my mother had on my life had a lot to do with what she did for a living (not to mention her own individual life experiences that may have contributed). My mother is a CPS worker. She has seen too much of what happens when children have been left unattended, with “friends”, with “family members”, etc. So, if to her, I am her prized possession, how can she not allow the trauma she experienced on a daily basis impact the reigns she had on me & my life? Helping other people navigate through their own traumatic experiences infiltrated into becoming hers; which can, if I am not careful become my children’s.

Because the truth is, on a consistent basis, we see & survive many things. How we choose to cope with that, if we are aware of it, is entirely up to us. But I can say this for sure- trauma left untouched, not dealt with & suppressed will effect you in every aspect of your life. It will keep you from arriving to who & what you are destined to be. Instead, you will be running the same never-ending race of unfillment, dissatisfaction, discouragement & regret despite your life’s accomplishments & victories.

I am unsure if the effects of trauma truly ever go away. But I do know that God never intended us to suffer & that he will trade our ashes for his beauty to make our own. I also know that wounds, with time & dealt with properly, do heal. It may take some time, but they do. Marinate on what I am about to tell you. Your trauma has a purpose. Once it is over & you have been able to emerge from the negativity of it; use it to fuel your purpose. See, without trauma, I believe that it will be extremely difficult to figure out how to pour into ourselves & others. You see, it is our experiences that allow us to do so. The good ones, the bad ones & the ones that cause indifference.

If I remained silent every time someone told me to shut up, Nickkie & Co. would not exist. If I did not attempt to advocate for myself when I felt an injustice, I would not be here. I would not be the self-reflective, advocating woman I am today in my career, my personal life & in my purpose (Nickkie&Co). If I allowed my own trauma to win, if I stayed quiet & always did what I was told; or “suppressed” my emotions like they told me to; my testimony would not exist. Whatever words I have written or said that helped someone reflect or shape themselves; would not have reached them. I truly believe, it was my trauma, my experiences, that allowed me the wisdom, courage & ability to come forth & share it.

Though it does not define us, our trauma is part of our testimony. It will serve as the beacon of light not only for ourselves but for someone else too. Many times our fight creates the pathway for someone else to walk on & get to meet us where we are. To help them arrive too.

Do not let your trauma keep that.

Intentional Lifetime Promises

Welcome to 2021! Many of us has just pushed through one of the most challenging years of our lives (collectively). Many of us have lost loved ones, income, assets, encouragement, faith…the list goes on. Many of us are dragging into 2021 exhausted & eager for a break. This year is the year many of us are looking to rebuild, reestablish & reimagine what is ours. However, before you do anything, make sure you do one thing before all else-

Pour into yourself & do it with intention.

After the year we just had, we spent much of our time surviving & helping others to do the same. But we cannot deny that we have come out of last year beat up & eager to bounce back from some of our less than ideal situations. Although, 2020 had its shining moments, that allowed us to see who GOD is; it was also unrelenting for many of us. So many facets of our lives that have been effected & are requiring us to lick our wounds while we re-adjust. So while we re-adjust, let’s stray away from unrealistic, short-lived, NY resolutions & make intentional promises to ourselves.

Let us look at the bigger picture. Where do we continue to sell ourselves short? Where have we failed to deliver for ourselves? When have we put the care & love of others, before ourselves? What steps are we willing to make to ensure that next year, we see ourselves the way we want to see ourselves? What are our hard-nos? Where have we sacrificed our boundaries? When have we accepted less than we deserve? Think about all of that & make your intentional promises. These are not promise anyone but promise for yourself. I You have heard it before, empty wells cannot pour into others. So with these promises, ensure that they fill you up abundantly that pouring into others only adds; not depletes.

Happy New Year, Loves & Happy 3rd Birthday to Nickkie & Co.

“What is the most important thing? To love yourself and the world. In that order.” -Yoko

Disappointments Happen…

Life is unpredictable. However, you can be certain that it will have its highs & it will have some pretty crappy lows. Many of those lows will be associated with disappointment in yourself, various circumstances & people. Knowing this, disappointment in people has been one of the hardest things for me to accept as part of life.

I tend to take those forms of disappointment personally. But what I have learned to tell myself is this- carrying the weight of disappointment & wondering why it had to happen to me is too much of a burden to carry. Instead, how someone treats me (especially when I don’t deserve it) has more to do with them then it does with me.

Therefore, I share the same perpsective with you. We do not need to know why. All we need to know is that it happenened & we feel a certain way about it. How the person feels about their behavior & how they feel about treating us a particular way is not our problem. Our responsibility is solely in ensuring that we bounce back from this, take the lesson & strive forward. This method ensures the best result for us. Because that is what matters, how we rise out of this.

Disappointment is inevitable. But so is the bounce back.

Relishing in Singleness

Here’s a fun fact about me. I have spent more time single than in a relationship. Not because no one wants me but because it was & still is my choice. With the few who slipped through the cracks, I have always ensured that I was selective about who I allowed in my circle; regardless of the type of relationship I chose to maintain with them. However, I always relished in the fact that being single has always looked good on me.

Let me preface this by saying– I am not discrediting anyone for their realtionship choices & their desires or actions in settling down early. I am a firm believer, what is for you, is for you & thus far singleness has been for me & settling down has been written for others. But aside from that, I am simply offering a positive perspective to what society refuses to accept as something positive; singleness. In my singleness, I have been able to pour into myself in a way that only I could have– educationally, spiritually, recreationally & professionally. In being able to focus on me & solely myself; I have been able to manifest everything I ever wanted without having to consider anyone else. My time single has been a blessing that has allowed me to learn so much more about myself & what my expectations are when I finally do settle down.

Do not be confused. More than anything, I want to be a good wife to a good husband & have a good family. But, at the right time with the right person. This does not mean I have not kissed a few toads along the way because I most certainly have. I dated multiple people, sat in the midst of some toxic relationships & ran at the first sign of discomfort. However, what I learned along the way is that; any relationship, of any sort, with anyone, are learning opportunities that require a moment to recover after separation.

Relationships are work. They take a lot of compromising, adjustments & create new standards of living. In ending romantic &/or intimate relationships, we need to learn to be single again. But what is the point of being single if you cannot relish & enjoy it. Nickkie&CO was founded after a rocky bout of too much fun with horrible people. I made a conscious decision to take time off from pouring into dead end relationships & into myself, God & other women who needed it.

& here we are.

Years later & it has been the best decision I have ever made.

If you are single & disappointed, I urge you to consider a new perspective. Sit back & evaluate all the opportunities that are available to you. Are there business endeavors you always wanted to consider? Did your last relationship provide gems that can be beneficial to someone else? Are you able to see where there are areas you need to grow for the next one? If so, this is the time. This is the time that matters & makes it worth it. Singleness can be so fruitful to your life if you let it. An active choice to be single does not mean you are alone. They are not one in the same & the moment you recognize this; relishing in singleness will be your new relationship status.

I Bought A Home!

Hey loves, happy Sunday!!! It has been almost a month since I have made one of the biggest commitments of my life; I became a home owner. However so, I am still adjusting to the changes & getting acclimated with what new bills look like since this is an endeavor I decided to take on my own. While in the process, I am amazed how much I did not know & how much other people want to know. So I decided to, of course, share what I learned & show my realtor (Hey Aspen!) some love. Her contact information will be included at the bottom of this memoir. Thank me later because she’s ahhh-mayyy-ziiiinnnnggg!

  1. It is never too soon or too late to see where you stand financially. Many times, what we think we know about our finances varies in the mortgage process. If homeownership is a goal of yours, it does not hurt to speak to someone (loan officer) to determine if homeownership is a goal you can accomplish now or later. If now is not the time, don’t feel bad. I inquired last year about my status; last year was not the time for me. However, I knew exactly what I needed to work on so I could be prepared now.
  2. Good credit isn’t enough. Your debt-to-income ratio can be a pain in the butt when trying to get approved for your loan. Your loan officer not only ensures that your credit is sufficient; they also ensure that you can own your home. They don’t like risks.
  3. Savings are important but there are grants out there that can help minimize the upfront cost on your end. You will never know until you ask! For instance, after speaking with my loan officer, it was determined that FHA wasn’t the best option for me in the long run. So she found some Conventional Loan options that suited me best.
  4. Once you get approved for a loan, the home searching process begins. Understand, you can be approved for a loan that is higher than what you want to spend on a home. That’s ok. Don’t spend what you do not feel comfortable spending.
  5. Ask all the questions you need to ask. This is a huge commitment. I drove my realtor & loan officer crazy because I apologized so often for asking questions. They like questions. That want to be sure you are sure about what you are committing to. So, the more questions you have, the more likely you are to vocalize concerns.
  6. When actually looking for a home, the best thing I did in this process was write a list of my non-negotiables (must have or must not have) & my flexible desires. This allowed me not to get distracted when looking at various homes. If you share your list with your realtor, she/he will keep you focused.
  7. Once you find your home & the offer has been accepted it moves quickly. Most realtors attempt to close within a month or sooner after the offer has been accepted. I closed in 3 weeks.
  8. Upon offer acceptance, there are other expenses that you pay to protect yourself such as: a Good Faith Deposit ($1000-1500 deposit to the seller, committing to purchasing the home; no worries you get it back at closing), Lawyer for contract review, Termite inspection, home inspection & home appraisal. All these things ensure that you get the best deal when purchasing your home. In fact, these can give you some negotiation power.
  9. You sign a lot of documents throughout this process but if you are efficient, it makes it easier for all the parties involved trying to see this deal to the table.
  10. Getting to the table is the easiest part. Because it’s done. If you do what I did, you sign all e-documents before you get there & you sit at the table all of 10 minutes then you take cute selfies. lol

Being scared is normal. I am almost a month in & I am still scared. Just enjoy the ride. This is a big accomplishment. With the right people, you will not be stirred in the wrong direction. God will not give you anything you can’t handle recognize the blessing & continue on.