Nicole's Blogs & Comments (Return)

You know I am the first one to say GET UP, GET OUT, & GET MOVING. I'm a firm believer of the importance of taking action when you want something. The fact is that book won't write or publish ( note to self ) it self. 9.9 times out of 10 that weight you want to lose will not magically disappear. Unfortunately no one has created a self-cleaning bathroom (damn...damn...damn!). In my last blog entry, No One Said It Would Be Easy, I wrote about the importance of making the effort to reach your goals, which is true. But, I would not be responsible if I did not stress the following. If you are not in the condition to get up, get out, & get moving nothing is going to get done. Why? Because your body and mind will not be in the condition needed to support you. Like I said in another one of my blog entries called The Award Goes To..., we have been conditioned to keep on moving even when we need to go sit our butts down, be still, and regroup. I know it's hard. I know there are things that need to be done. Sometimes we have to be real with ourselves and STOP. Stop before we are forced to stop due to illness. Over working ourselves causes stress, which we should know by now negatively affects our physical and mental health. Here are a few signs you may need to sit your butt down, be still, and regroup. 1. Increased sickness (headaches/ stomach problem.

2. Insomnia

3. Decrease in libido
4. Increased or unexplained irritability
5. Increase in depression/anxiety
6. Increased feelings of fatigue
7. Decrease in self-motivation
8. Weight gain/weight loss

9. Prolonged sickness

Do you listen to your body/mind when it tells you it needs a break? If not...start right now. Do what you need to do to be the best you. Do what you need to do so you can get up, get out, & get moving. Gift yourself!
No One Said It Would Be Easy

It is crazy how there are so many things out there today that promote our walk in greatness, yet it still seems like such a challenge to stay focused and on track. It should be simple right? Exercise, eat right, drink water, get enough sleep, and seek out things that positively energize us physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. There are books, television shows, seminars, blogs (smile), movies, etc., dedicated to providing information to people about how to claim complete and total happiness. But many of us stand still, stuck in our walk in greatness; if not all the time, some of time. This is a reality for each of us. It is important for us to understand there is no magic wand that we can wave that will make our walk in our greatness easier. Effort is the key. We can read the books, watch the television shows, go to the seminars, follow the blogs, but if we do not put forth the effort what is the point? Effort is required in our walk in greatness, especially when we are faced with straying away from the path we should be on. Effort enables us to get up and keep moving forward when we fall. Effort enables us to get back on the path and continue on when we make a wrong turn. When we fall we must get up and keep moving. We must continue to make the effort needed to live a life that is well-balanced physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. The challenge is real. Are you ready to put forth the effort to face and rise above the challenge?
It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts

I chose a beautiful vibrant orange when I was getting my nails done yesterday. It caught me a little off guard when the gentleman doing my nails asked me if my job was going to be okay with the color. I did not answer him immediately. I just stared at him in silence (blink…blink). In a split second so many things ran through my mind. “There are jobs that bright orange long nails would not be suited for Nicole; like a nurse or some one who cares for children. A longshoreman. Okay, I get why he may ask such a question, I thought to myself”. After what seemed like a minute, but was only a couple of seconds, I replied “Yes, I wear what color I want on my nails”. That was the end of the dialogue, but his question got me to thinking about how common it is for people to formulate an idea of who you are based on superficial things like the color or length of your nails, a hairstyle, or the type of clothes you choose to wear. Throughout my life I have had people ask me why I am wearing a particle outfit, shoes, or hairstyle. “Why do you wear heels all the time?” You know, you should wear something less fitted.” “Are you going to wear your hair braided to that function?” Not that I owe anyone an explanation, but because I want to. I like the way these pants fit on me and I wear my hair how I want. In my podcast last Tuesday there is a part where I talk about Serena Williams and the unnecessary judgement she has been confronted with throughout her career regarding how she wore her hair and the tennis outfits she has chosen to compete in. Recently a young swimmer who won a race was disqualified for the fit of her swimsuit. Both athletes, at the top of their game, penalized because of something that has absolutely nothing to do with their athletic ability. It is unfortunate but these are only two of too many incidences of this nature. Every day individuals are confronted with judgments rooted in biases in their workplace and daily lives that have no bearing on their ability to do their job, their intellectual level, or if they are good or bad people. Incidences like this should trigger something in your mind that makes you wonder why are things like this happening. The questions are rooted in conformity and the perception of what success, intelligence, and beauty have been rooted in for generations. The reality is for too long standards that are deemed to represent beauty, intelligence and success are rooted in a Eurocentric belief system. There are generations of people who have been conditioned to suppress their likes for the sake of not being deemed as a person who lacks couth, is unemployable, unintelligent, or unattractive because what they like did not align with the majority. There are also generations of people who have been conditioned to harshly judge what does not align with their ideals of intelligence, beauty and success. Think about how many times you have chosen not to wear your hair a certain way or worn a specific outfit you know was not what you usually would wear or even like, but you were worried about the response it would get. Think about how many times you have assumed something about someone because of their outer appearance without factual information. These are real concerns because biases and judgement are real and have real consequences. There is a lot of work to be done to reduce the ideas and practices that promote the inauthenticity of self. Is how you wear your hair or the color of your nails a representation of your intelligence? Because you prefer jeans over a business suit does it mean you are a less reliable or efficient employee? No. It is up to each of us to acknowledge our biases in order to change the idea that what is not familiar is wrong. Are you the one being judged or the one who is judging? I believe at one time or another we take on both roles, which is why is it everyone’s responsibility to live their lives in a manner that makes quotes like “It’s what’s inside that counts the most” ring true.

A few months ago I found this great coffee shop up the street from my place. It has become a pleasurable habit of mine to walk there on Saturdays to get a Matcha, chat with the people who work there, and read or write. Yesterday was no different except when I left my place I was irritated. The reason why is not important, but I can tell you I felt justified to marinate in the way I was feeling. As I was walking, I was video chatting with my niece and taking in my surroundings at the same time. It was hot. The heat from the sun felt wonderful on my shoulders. People were out walking their dogs. Some people were out exercising. It was a beautiful day in the neighbor. I walked and talked and soon realized I had subconsciously started keeping count. One, two, three. Maybe I am making way too big of a deal of this, I thought to myself. Four. I arrived at the coffee shop, enjoyed my Matcha and continued my conversation with my niece. Five. Yeah, how you feel is real, but is it really that serious? I thought to myself. When I left the coffee shop I decided to walk around some more. As I walked I continued to count. Six. Girl, it was not that serious, I thought. Two blocks later I was up to 8. Then came 9. Wait a minute. I stopped and looked. Is he okay? I moved a little closer. Is he breathing? I stood there contemplating calling the police and then his feet moved. Thank God!!!! You need to give thanks for the things you have and stop focusing on the things you do not have or you do not think is going your way! I thought to myself. If you have not already guessed it, I was counting homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk and the entry ways to businesses that were closed. Let me just say by the time I arrived to my next destination, which was one block from where I encountered number 9, I had counted to 12. The distance I walked was not even ten blocks one way. By the time I made it back home I was up to 16. I tell you this story because it seems like every direction we turn there is something that is suggesting what is needed in life to achieve success and happiness. There is an idea that if things do not go your way all the time there is no way for you to be happy or that you have failed. But as I walked yesterday I was reminded of the importance of being humble and not falling victim to your own ego. Sometimes things will not go your way. People will not always say or act the way you want them to. When you have disagreements with people it sucks and does not feel good. How you feel may be justified, but do not get caught up in feeling angry, sad, or disappointed. Feel it and then move on. I watched the Mike Epps stand-up on Netflix last night. There is a part where he talks about people are so quick to want to trade in their problems, but do not consider the problems they may get in the trade. I know it sounds cliché, but there is truth in the idea that there is someone who would love to trade their problems for yours. Does it negate how you feel about the problem or how it impacts your life? No. But just working on continuously acknowledging what you do have helps put things in perspective when life feels like it is kicking your ass.
The Award Goes To...

The attendance award given to students in elementary and high school has always been an interesting one to me. This is the award students are given at the end of the year for not missing any days of school. The idea of the award has always reminded me of the post office creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from swift completion of their rounds”. For decades children across the country have been rewarded for showing up to school no matter what. Teachers applaud them. Parents beam with pride. Why? Because their kid did not miss one day of class during the school year regardless of how they felt. Let’s fast forward to adulthood or as I have heard many young adults say “adulting” (I know it is not a word). I do not know about you, but I cannot count the times I have been sick as a dog and peeled myself out of bed in order to go to work or fulfill a commitment because I felt guilty. What about those times you just do not want to do anything, but you said you were going a month ago, so you go even though you no longer want to? Have we been conditioned from childhood to ignore the natural signs our bodies gives us when we need to rest and refuel in order to be the best we can be physically, mentally, emotional, and spiritually? How does this idea that we must burn the wick from both ends with no consideration of the effects play into so many of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges so many people are confronted with on a daily basis? Burnout, exhaustion, and other physical and mental challenges rooted in self-neglect have become common. Have we low key support traditions that slowly condition us to feel guilty for stopping when need to take care of ourselves? Let me make it clear, I am not saying people should stop instilling the value of commitment in their children or working hard to reach their goals. I am not saying people should excessively call out of work or never show up to an event just because they do not feel like it. But, have you ever thought why it is so many people's automatic response to feel as if they are not living up to the standard of success or being a likeable person if they decide to stop and take care of themselves instead of pushing through? Have you ever wondered why we as a society align the ability to become successful and deemed as a person of value with an ability to overlook personal discomfort or tragedy for the sake of someone or something else? There have been endless studies which confirm each person is a product of the experiences they have had throughout their lives. Our value system about how we perceive others and how we perceive ourselves is rooted in the value systems of the people who played leadership roles in our lives. What traditions do you participate in and why? Some will say it's just an award it's not that serious. But I beg to differ. We carry what we are taught as children with us throughout our lives. Think about your own life and the emotions you feel when you want to say "I'm not going to be able to do that today". Do you feel guilty when you want to take care of yourself? Like one of my friends always says, to know better is to do better. Sometimes it's necessary to sit back and ask yourself "Why do I think the way I do?"
Let's Talk

Without a doubt I am a talker. If I could find any of my elementary or high school teachers I am sure they would confirm my love of talking with an amen and a hallelujah (I went to catholic school) . I love to engage in wonderful conversations about "life" with different people which has worked well for me because all of my life people have talked to me about their lives (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I also have a very strong opinion about the things I am passionate about. This has proven to be challenging because I am passionate about life which means I have a strong opinion about everything. Because of this I had to learn it is not necessary to engage in all conversations even when the topics may be interesting or is one that is close to my heart. If I wanted to to live a life rooted in my purpose I had to learn to manage how I communicated. I had to make sure I was not talking just because I could. I also wanted to make sure when I decided to speak my words were empowering and did not tear down. I now ask myself two questions before I engage in a conversation. 1. How is engaging in this conversation going to benefit me physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? 2. How is engaging in this conversation going to benefit the immediate space I am in? In the day of social media where people say the most outlandish things in order to get attention, these questions have saved me from myself on many occasions. I cannot count the times I have drafted a response to some unknown person on social media only to delete it after asking myself how is this going to benefit you and how is this going to benefit those who are engaging in this post. It is not easy. I work on it everyday. Have you considered why and how you engage in conversations? Have you considered how it affects you and those around you? Just think about it. I always talk about acknowledging your greatness and making a conscious effort to live a life that promotes your greatness. How we speak and what we say makes a difference. Take the time to understand why you engage in conversations the way you do and how it affects you and those around you. Nina Simone said it perfectly "My job is to somehow make them curious or persuade them by hook or crook to get more aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there and just to bring it out. This is what compels me to compel them. And I will do it by any means necessary".
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host asked her guest what she would tell her younger self if she was able to talk to her. I waited for the answer I have heard so many give when asked this same question. I would tell her everything is going to be okay. I would tell him not to give up. I would tell her she is loved. I would tell her to love herself. These are just some of the more common answers I have heard when someone has been asked what they would tell their younger self. As I drove on the 405 freeway with the podcast blasting though my speakers I anticipated a form of one these answers to come out of the mouth of the guest. It caught me off guard when the guest said she would not tell her younger self anything because her younger self would not have listened anyway. Now that was an answer I did not expect. In a nutshell the guest explained that her younger self would not have reached a point in her life to really hear what her older self would have to say. She would have still been in a phase of life where she wanted to do what she wanted to do, how she wanted to do it, when she wanted to do it despite the consequences and that was okay. What stood out for me was her unapologetic acceptance of who her younger self was. Mistakes, tears, hard lessons, all of it was okay. I found this refreshing because I think there is an unspoken way of life that does not leave a lot of room for people to navigate their way through life without carrying guilt with them. People are expected to feel guilty when they make the wrong decisions. They are even expected to feel guilty if they enjoy those things in life that have been deemed “inappropriate” by some. Think of all of the people in the world who have not been able to embrace true happiness because they are still living with the guilt of something they did, something someone did to them, or something someone thinks they should have or have not done. I have had this conversation with my daughter on multiple occasions. She is growing up. She is developing as a person. It is okay to feel insecure. It is okay not to know what your next step is going to be. This is a part of life. There will be disappointments. You will excel at some things but not all things. Everything will not always go your way even when you have done everything right. It is normal and there is no reason to feel guilty about having normal feelings. The fact is who we each are is a result of the experiences in our lives. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of it has molded us into who we are as people. The good, the bad, and the ugly happened and will continue to happen and guess what? It is okay. There will be disappointments. You will not always make the right move. You will learn as you go. Do not hinder your walk in greatness because you have chosen to pack up your guilt and carry it along with you. Learn from your mistakes. Forgive yourself. Keep moving.

In 1989 I graduated from high school with 89 girls from St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood California. This weekend I am celebrating my 30 year high school reunion with my high school sisters. For the ladies who could not make it, we celebrate them because they are a part of our high school story. Present or not they are part of the memories. Throughout the years people have questioned me about what it was like going to an all girl's school. Like any high school there were fun and not so fun times. There were classmates we loved and classmates we may not have liked. There were favorite teachers and teachers we hated to see coming. There were fights and detentions. Best friends who were attached at the hip one day and mad at each other the next. There were tears because a teacher said what we felt was the wrong thing and laughter because a teacher said exactly what we needed to hear. We got through it together. As I have participated in the reunion festivities this weekend I am reminded of the importance of being able to establish uplifting positive bonds with people. I look at my classmates and see myself in many of them. Their walk in greatness is evident. It exudes an energy that cannot be denied. These women I shared such so many life changing moments with encourage me to continue strive for greatness without saying one word. Why is this blog worthy? Because we are in a time in history where the idea of friendship has been warped. Everywhere we turn the idea that people cannot maintain relationships without deceit is promoted. Deceit, and disloyalty seem to be the main elements of many of the relationships promoted on television and social media. This weekend the St. Mary's green tie class of 1989 has proven otherwise. Friendships have remained intact. Bonds have not been broken. I am sure there have been moments of forgiveness, but friendship has prevailed. True friendship is not some antiquated idea. It is real. It is needed. We each have a responsibility to not just ourselves, but the people around us to make being happy a life goal. It is a continuous effort that is part of the foundation of building relationships that are true. I promise it it worth the effort so work on it.
Be Careful of False Prophets

When I made the choice to expose myself to things that would contribute to my ability to lead a life rooted in building my mind, body, and spirit in a positive manner I started what I call a "personal spring cleaning". My personal spring cleaning involved me letting go of those things in my life I felt were not benefiting me mentally, physically, or spiritually. I literally started asking myself "how is this benefiting you or society?". Sounds crazy huh? Let me just say at the time I had to take drastic measures because a drastic change was needed. I ended up unfollowing alot of people on social media and refraining from watching television shows I felt promoted negative behavior or images. I also began to follow people I felt were seeking the same things I was. It was great! I would open my Instagram page and their would be posts about positivity, healthy living, fashion, and other topics that seemed to be aligned with my daily goals. But what I started to notice was an air of exclusiveness. Some of the same people I started following because of their positivite platforms started to come off very snobby and rude. Their conversations seemed to promote negative behavior towards people who did not live the same lifestyle or have the same demeanor as them. When I read the comments there was not much uplifting and empowerment happening. As a matter of fact there was alot of judgement and bullying going on. I found myself unfollowing people again. I am sharing this with you because when we start to consciously walk in our greatness it feels empowering. We want to align ourselves with who we believe are like-minded people. Be mindful of who you label as someone to lead or mentor you. We owe it to ourselves to align ourselves with people who exhibit the characteristics they promote, not just talk the talk and look the part. False prophets are real and in many cases they look good and say exactly what we want to hear. We have to look beyond what is right in front of us. We have to pay attention. Talk is cheap. How are you living your life? How are you treating people who do not live like you? Do your actions inspire others? These are some of the questions I ask of myself and of others. Have you considered why you choose the people you do as leaders/mentors?
It's Your Good Life..Claim It!

How are you so confident? Actress Gabourey Sidibe stated in a very empowering and inspirational speech when she is asked this question her answer is "I am confident because it's my good time, and my life, despite what you think of me". When I heard her make this powerful statement it got me to thinking about how so many people give so much power to what other people think of them. It is a good feeling to know people think highly of you, but do we put too much value in being liked and deemed beautiful by others?I cannot count how many times I have allowed the negative energy coming from someone steal my thunder. How many minutes in a day have you spent upset because someone treated you poorly? Those words Gabourey spoke seem so simple, yet are so hard to practice. Speaking for myself, the person who some align my demeanor to some times being coldblooded, it's hard to disregard mean spiteful stuff people come at me with sometimes. But what I know is we have to put Gabourey's words in to action. We have to claim our lives. When we claim our lives, we claim what will and will not break our spirits. It will be hard. Sometimes it will seem damn near impossible ( Whew ! ). But how can we claim our greatness if we do not take claim of how we allow the words and behavior of others affect us? This is another question we must consider as we consciously walk in our greatness. Have you claimed your walk in greatness despite what others may think of you?

Are you Really Listening?

Throughout my entire life I have attracted people who I have never met who will open up to me about their lives; what they are going through, their fears, their dreams, etc. This is important. A stranger confiding in you when they are feeling weakness in their mind, body, or soul. Wow! I understand the tremendous responsibility of being a person who can listen and not judge; therefore it is a must that I continuously work on my listening skills. This week I have been making an intentional effort to not just listen when people were talking to me, but to really hear the words they were speaking and the message they were trying to express. I'm talking about listening and not interrupting. Listening and focusing on what the person is saying and not what I feel about what is being said or what my response is going to be. It's hard, but it is important. Last week I asked you to audit your life. I asked you to make an honest attempt to identify the things you feel need to be done in your life in order for you to walk in your greatness. As I practiced effective listening this week it dawned on me that last Sunday I was asking you to listen to your inner self so you could make honest decisions about your level of happiness and what you need to do in order to improve it. But how can we do that if we do not have the ability to effectively listen? It is our nature as humans to judge and who do we judge worse than anyone? Ourselves. I hope that you were able to start your list this week (refer to last weeks blog entry ), but I think there is a detour that needs to be made as you look within to identify your happiness goals. That detour is acknowledging if you are effectively listening to yourself. Are you listening to yourself without judging? I know I have all kind of back talk going on in my head when I am self-auditing . Are you listening with honest intentions? Sometimes acknowledging the honest truth about ourselves is tough . Are you acknowledging how you feel in the moment? I don't know about you, but I'm good at making excuses about why I should or should not feel how I feel . These and many other factors affect our ability to effectively listen to ourselves. This week the challenge is to practice effectively listening to yourself and to others. I guarantee the results will be insightful. Continue to self-audit and write down the things you feel you need to do in order to walk in your greatness. How you feel about you effects every part of your life. Project You is real and is important. Just like we make plans for and work on other things in our lives, it is important to make a plan and work on ourselves. Instagram: @phenomenallyyoupodcast
"Everyday" 7.2.19

Everyday we walk out into the world and have no idea what will be thrown our way. Sometimes it's a great day and sometimes it's not. On those not so great days are the times when who we are as people are tested the most. How do you handle adversity? What do you say or do when you feel things are not going your way? What kind of person do you become when you feel someone has wronged you? There is a reason people are the way they are. The crazy part is when a person's life experience manifests negatively within them, the people around them are subjected to that negative energy even though 9 times out of 10 they have nothing to do with the root cause of the negativity. More simply put...sometimes people on you because they are full of and you happen to be there when the comes out (and vice versa...sometimes we are full of it too). It really is just that simple. Be concious of the enery you are emitting, the energy you allow in your space, and the energy in your space you have no control over. Sometimes it will be necessary to regroup and then continue walking in your greatness even when it seems like folk are intentionally try to run you off your path. I have found myself in circumstances that have forced me to stop and look within so that I respond in a manner that aligns with who I say I am; a person who supports, uplifts, and empowers. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is a must. Stand strong in your greatness...especially in those moments you are not feeling that great.
"Double Edged Sword" 7.7.19

Two of the greatest barriers to self-actualization are a failure to recognize you can be wrong and the belief that you can only receive reliable information and advice from someone who is from your immediate peer group. On the road to fully embracing yourself there will be a lot of questions you ask yourself, of others, and about different situations. Never lose sight that that anyone, regardless of their age, culture, race, socioeconomic status, educational background, etc., can offer information that can be useful. As you make your journey to fully embracing yourself you will make wrong turns, run into barriers, crash and sometimes just stop. You will make mistakes. You will not always do or say the right thing. This is okay; however, if you are not willing to admit when you are wrong, it will hinder your ability to get back on track. Yes! You are wrong sometimes too. As much as we want to think we are never wrong; we are. If you ask people are they ever wrong, they will quickly answer yes; however actions speak louder than words. It is one thing to say you are wrong, it is another to admit it. I recently finished reading Wake Up Happy; The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life by Michael Strahan. If you have not read it, I would suggest adding it to your must read list. Among the many things Michael talks about is what he calls permeability. The idea of permeability is acceptance of anyone as a vessel of knowledge. I know for a fact there have been times someone has discounted what I have to say because I was younger than them, or in their eyes, lack the life experience needed in order to have a valid idea or opinion. As a Black woman who was raised in Los Angeles, I have had people question my opinion because they think I am not from the “hood”; therefore there is no way I can have a valid opinion about something that is going on in their lives. I am sure if you think about it you can think of a time your ideas have been trivialized because of who someone thought you were. Everyone experiences this and it doesn’t feel great. When we limit our pool of knowledge we limit ourselves. We rob ourselves of experiencing great people and situations.
"Project You" 7.13.19

Every day people wake up dissatisfied with themselves. Their unhappiness is evident in how they treat themselves and the people around them. Yes, we all have those days that we just don't feel happy, but those days should not outnumber the days you wake up feeling happy about who you are. What I know for sure is time stands still for no one. It actually seems like the older I get the faster time passes. The relevance of statements such as "Don't talk about it, be about it" and "Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today" are more clear to me today than they were many years ago. Time really is precious which is why you must choose happiness today. Look within yourself with honest intent in order to figure out why you are not walking in your greatness. One of the hardest things I did was being brutally honest with myself about who I was as a person in comparison to who I wanted to be and the responsiblity I had in the type of life I had built for myself in comparison to the type of life I wanted. When I started living an intentional life of happiness it was not easy (it still isn't). I treated it like a project. I committed to choosing happiness every day. A major step for me was claiming happiness even when I was not feeling it. If a person asked me how I was doing I committed to answering, "Wonderful!" (smile included ). The more I said I was wonderful the more I realized I really was.