Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nothing Really Happens Until You're 100% Ready.

A year ago I found myself in the ER with chest pains. Even though my blood pressure was/is well managed and my cholesterol has always been low, I was scared to death.  The diagnosis was that my potassium was low and that I should get it up. While there, they weighed me on a bed scale and even though I told them not to tell me the number, it was on my discharge papers. I almost fell over. I hadn’t seen a number like that since I was pregnant. Turns out the bed scale was off by about seven pounds and I was lighter than I thought but still MUCH more than I wanted to be.  I decided in that moment to do something about it. I joined a gym and engaged a trainer (Club Elevation-OJ Macklin) and also started taking hot yoga. I was going to get this weight off and get healthier if it killed me! 
Things started off very strong. I was working out and doing hot yoga six days a week and logging what I ate in the Lose It app. Slowly but surely, I saw changes in my body. I refused to weigh myself but my clothes were fitting differently. I found I enjoyed working out and missed it when the relentless winter prevented gym visits.  I kept it going though and along with my gym buddy, Sharise Nance for accountability, things were progressing nicely.
After a while though, I noticed some changes and not in a good way. My weight started to creep back up. I was still working out, although no longer six days a week—more like 3-4. And I started to be more casual with my eating. I wasn’t logging my food anymore and had convinced myself that as long as I was still working out, I was cool. Yeah….I wasn’t. Before I knew it, my weight had climbed right where it was around bed scale time.
So, challenged by our trainer, Sharise (who has a self-professed cookie addiction) and I decided to buckle down and start fresh. More working out but even more importantly, more focus on our diet. She chose the eating clean/no sugar route. I chose the Intermittent Fasting and calorie watching method. We have both seen great results. I lost eleven pounds in 18 days and my body is still responding well. I eat pretty healthily but also have what I like. This is really the only way I could keep this going. If I had to seriously consider never having another Oreo, I’d be a mean broad.
I wanted to share this reflection because I thought some of you might be able to relate. Also, I finally accepted the fact that you really can’t out exercise a bad diet, even though my trainer had been telling me that for a year. 
After seeing some of my gym posts, some have said that they know they need to get in the gym. I’ve told them that they will go when they are either fed up or scared straight. There’s no point in guilting yourself if you’re not ready to fully commit.  At the beginning, I couldn’t bench press anything more than 15 pound dumb bells. Now I can bench press ones that are 40 pounds each. I couldn’t do one push up and while they are still not my fave, I can do a number of them before I start cussing. There’s no way I would be ok with losing that strength so I have to keep going.
No matter what change you need to make in your life, you’ll know/feel when the time is right. So many of us are inspired by a new year or other people but those are not real motivations. You have to make changes for you. You have to want it more than you want anything else.  It’s not easy but it’s so worth it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's Funny What We Get Used To

About a month ago, I decided to try Intermittent Fasting.  I’m not sure how I stumbled on it but after researching it, it seemed to be a fit for me. I liked the fact that it was not only good for weight loss, but it had also been proven to offer many health benefits. The plan I decided on was the 16/8 plan. That was where you eat within an 8 hour timeframe and fast for 16 hours. I chose to start my eating window at 12 noon and close it at 8pm. So, it means essentially skipping breakfast and avoiding late night snacks.

I was ready!

The first few days were tough. Prior to starting this, I’d be eager to eat by the time I got to work. I’d race to the cafeteria by 9am and get my breakfast and hungrily consume it. I’d be looking for a snack around 11am, eat again at 1:30pm, snack again at 3 or 4pm, dinner at say 7pm and then some kind of treat at 9pm or so. This was the way it had always been and it was what my body had become accustomed to.

After I got into the swing of things, I noticed something very interesting. The morning would progress and as I would consume my water or tea with no sugar, I realized that I was not dying of hunger like I thought I was at 9am during my previous eating style. I was getting used to that feeling of satisfaction from beverages and by the time noon came, sometime I was eager to eat and sometimes I wasn’t. I had gotten used to it and it was my new norm.

Realizing this made me think of other things that we “get used to.”

We get used to feeling alone.
We get used to being unhappy.
We get used to being in a bad relationship.
We get used to disrespect.
We get used to pain.
We get used to having a horrible job.
We get used to being unhealthy.
We get used to being afraid.
We get used to losing.

It’s comfortable, it’s what we know.

Change is hard, it’s uncomfortable, it feels impossible.

The thing is, it’s NOT impossible. If it means enough to you, it’s 100% possible.

It’s worth it AND you’ll be SHOCKED by how quickly you’ll adapt to the new goodness in your life.

Today, pick something POSITIVE to get used to.

ANYTHING worth having is on the other side of fear/change.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Death to SHOULD

My last blog post was a LONG time ago. Eight months ago to be exact. That is a high crime in BlogLand. Truth is, I haven’t had much to say.  While it’s true that I haven’t really been thinking of blogging, something made me feel like the topics should just flood my mind. And there it is. That word…SHOULD.

That word has such power over our lives.

Check out what I mean:

I was inspired to write this blog five minutes ago after viewing pictures of a Facebook friend. The pictures are absolutely beautiful and in them, she is smiling and showing off her figure in a crop top. The pictures exude happiness and confidence and so much self- love. Someone commented that they wished they had an ounce of her confidence and she responded that we have to learn to love ourselves and remember that while we may not be where we want to be, we aren’t where we were. She killed the notion that you SHOULD only wear a crop top if you have rock hard abs. Why would we think that when rock hard abs are super HARD to come by?

My list of SHOULDs is LONG:

1. I SHOULD have rock solid abs. LOL!
2. I SHOULD have a bigger savings account.
3. I SHOULD have clear skin at my age.
4. I SHOULD be more organized.
5. I SHOULD have more willpower with my eating.
6. I SHOULD go home to Philly more.
7. I SHOULD call my grannies more.
8. I SHOULD be further along with my business.
9. I SHOULD have finished my second book a long time ago.
10. I SHOULD cook more.

And on and on and damn on.

Our minds LOVE to tell us that we’re just never, ever doing enough and what a sad cycle and discouraging message that is to tell ourselves every second of every day.  It seems to be much easier to focus on what’s wrong, as opposed to what’s right. Many of us have seen that meme that says, “Even on my worst day, I’m killing it.” We post it to fire ourselves up and let folks know that we’re the shit. However, it’s SO hard to hold on to that feeling and thought. It takes constant reminders and then we’re RIGHT back to SHOULD with, “I SHOULD be able to remember this! What is wrong with me?”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. Tired of caring, not so much about what others think but about what I think, if it’s not positive. I’m weary of worrying about how this tummy, that held and nurtured two healthy babies, is not completely flat and still pouchy even though my youngest is now grown man sized.  I’m tired of wondering if you can see a pimple in my selfie. My value is between my ears and in my chest (heart) and cannot be removed by the fact that I have stretch marks or gray hair.

SHOULD needs to die today.  Who cares what you SHOULD be doing. The only thing that is important is if you deeply, genuinely, unconditionally LOVE who and what you see in that mirror and WHEN you get there, nothing else matters.

NOTHING.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A message for my fellow children and parents....

Stumbled upon the following snippet that I wrote in high school:

Check it out:

Did you ever wish that you and your mom were the same age? Of course we wish this when we're being punished and feel that we aren't understood. But, I believe it's a lot deeper than that.

See, my mother died when I was just 10 years old. She was 33 and what I considered the typical mother. She was the woman in my life who told me not to take my hat off on the way to school. She insisted I eat my vegetables. She smacked my face when I was a smart ass. Unfortunately, I do not have those wonderful memories that people have when their parents die at an old age. My mother never talked to me about my period. She never cried at my wedding. She never held her grandchild. She never explained menopause to me. She just tried her best to raise a lady-like little girl that wouldn't embarrass her in mixed company. Now that I think of it, I really wish I had a brother or sister because I was her only child, the only memory of a child she had. It's almost like, I was the representation of one of the things in her life she created. And if she got joy out of child-rearing, I wish I hadn't been the only one. 

I'm not sure she wanted kids. My mother was always kind to me, but since all I know is the disciplinarian side, I don't know if she enjoyed it or not. This sort of upsets me because I have this need to know whether or not she actually liked me. I know she loved me, but did she like being around me? I really don't know. My grandmother took it very hard and I've never had the desire to dredge up memories for her. I think she has a hard enough time dealing day to day without my asking her about her dead first child, that just happened to be her best friend.

So, I'm left to wonder. 

I'm not sharing this to start a pity party. Quite the opposite. If you still have your Mom, spend time with her, if you don't already. Ask her about her deepest dreams. Do something out of the norm with her. Really, really get to know her. If you are a parent, let your children know what you LIKE about them. What they do well, what you think is outstanding about their personality. It's important to say and to hear.

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Full Circle...

Yesterday I made a quick visit to my daughter's new apartment. She very proudly showed me how she'd arranged the little place with all of things we'd moved in there the weekend before. I smiled as I took in how she had lovingly decorated her son's new room. She pointed out her special touches and I was very impressed with them all. She now lives in a building where there are four other apartments, inhabited by other mothers who were joined together to grow with each other, as women and mothers. As soon as I heard about the arrangement and then saw it, I was so moved by it all. Why, you might ask? After all, this is her third apartment in two years, since she graduated from high school. She has lived on her own. She has arranged her own space before. This time, however, it was different. At 17, I moved into the dorms and began a life I so desperately wanted for her. I wanted 3 am pizza with her dorm mates for her. I wanted the campus life for her. It had brought me so much joy and I figured it would bring her the same. However, by the time she was 17, my precious surprise (her son) was here and all campus dwelling dreams were dashed. I remembered the commuters from when I was in college. They seemed disconnected and out of the loop. They had to rely on the kindness of dorm residents to give them a sliver of that life. She was now one of them. However, life moves on and by August of 2015, it was time to get her moved into her first place and ready to start her first year in college. I wasn't any less proud of her. Quite the opposite. I was in awe of how this baby boy had inspired her to work like crazy in her senior year of high school, getting academic scholarships to college and other recognitions for her hard work; killing it from all angles. Various circumstances landed her in her second apartment. It was a good fit for her. It was a pretty complex and a lovely apartment. She found a new daycare for her baby and proceeded to start her second year of school. She worked hard in class and hard at work, sometimes working 40 hours a week, much to my chagrin. Well, we decided that it was time to move on from that apartment. We'd started to hear about some places that would work a bit better with her income level and also, it was time for a fresh start. A dear friend told me about a brand new program, which was being piloted and suggested my daughter apply. It sounded like a dream come true, complete with classes on parenting, nutrition, household budgeting, etc with the goal of placing the women in extremely affordable housing at the conclusion of the classes. I was ELATED when she got in. While already a warm and loving mother, I was so thankful that she'd get even more guidance on that path. So, she took the classes, got to know the other moms and they all moved in last weekend. It hit me like a ton of bricks that my child would actually get a chance to live like I'd lived in those dorms years ago. She'd be able to knock on a door to borrow sugar. She'd be able to eat 3 am pizza. She'd be able to sit and talk about goals and dreams with similarly situated friends.  The things I wanted for her, was sad she'd miss out on, were actually, really happening anyway.

Full Circle. 

These last few years have brought indescribable reflection and growth for me. As my daughter started a new chapter as a high school graduate, young mother, and college student, I too started a new chapter. I began a new life, living with just my son, in a place I'd wanted to live since I was 24 years old.

Full Circle.

I reconnected (after 20+ years apart) with a phenomenal man who I'd met and fallen in love with when I was that new 17 year old dorm dweller. To have a "new" relationship with someone you already love and trust is a feeling I can't fully describe.

Full Circle

So often, we feel that the book is done. Our story is already written. Our lives have taken their final trajectory. I have realized and experienced that the book is not done; just the chapter. There is a sweetness and joy waiting that you haven't even touched.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The choice is yours...always.

I’ve mentioned many times before that this wasn’t really my plan. I’m talking about the biz owner life. I never had a lemonade stand. I never sold Avon or Tupperware.  In my family, you went to work, got your check, paid your bills and saved a lil to go to Wildwood in the summer. I was the first to earn a college degree on my mom’s side so that was already doing things a bit differently.  My dad pushed achievement but never entrepreneurship. It just wasn’t our thing. I was 100% cool with that, as it was all I knew.

Almost 8 years ago that changed. I had an idea that would launch three years later and change the trajectory of my life. It would expose me to new people, I’d never have known without this idea/product. It exposed me to situations that would have passed me by and I would have been fine with that because I wouldn’t have known any better.

All the while, I’ve been working my 9 to 5. When things really started heating up with the invention, I got promoted at work and was VERY excited and determined to do a great job as a 1st time manager. I know what I’m doing. I’ve done it now for 23 years and I’m good at it. The biz owner life was uncharted territory. I didn’t know anything.  I had to learn every single thing. I got stuff wrong. Messed it up. While it was thrilling, it was also nerve-wracking.  I like comfort, low risk. I want to do my 8 and head on home. This life is different. It requires constant action. Don’t feel like pushing that day, guess what? There will be NO deposits.

Kind people have ask me when I’m giving my two weeks’ notice at my 9 to 5 since things have been moving along with the biz. I used to say, “Oh, you never know! Soon!” This was just a polite answer because I understood that they were asking out of excitement for me. Now, if I’m asked, I say, “Oh, I’m happy there. I have more work to do. I’m not going anywhere for a while.” Like everyone, I’ve got the normal bills, plus tuition, etc. But also, I’ve got a commitment to the work that I do during the day, from Monday to Friday. It’s one of the reasons that I’m so proud of that book. Writing it gave me the opportunity to get that experience on some pages; to live a multi-layered life. We ALL have gifts in many areas and I wouldn’t have been satisfied with my journey if I’d left it in my brain and never shared it.

So, while working for one’s self is the end game for many, the REAL end game is living the life you want. The one that brings you peace and soaring joy. When you know yourself, truly know yourself, then you’ll make choices that speak to and enrich every aspect of your life. There is no shame in doing what feels safe and comfortable. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for greatness. It means that you’ve searched your soul and in knowing yourself, you’ve made the best choice for you.

There are rich rewards for living the life you’ve honestly, fearlessly chosen. This is one of MANY areas where what others think means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Do what you want. Live a life you love. That's all that really matters.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The grind will NEVER be on cruise control!

Oh My. I just realized that I haven't written a blog post in FIVE months! My fave branding gurus (Allyn Lewis, Kyshira Moffett and Nicki Zevola, to name a few) are somewhere shaking their heads. They are probably saying, "Girl, do people even know you still have a company?" I'm trying ya'll, but it's a struggle. I've written a number of blogs in the past about being overwhelmed and not knowing what the hell I'm supposed to be doing from day to day. I WANT to follow all of the rules they tell you will lead to major success. You know...blog many times a week, stay hot and heavy on social media, make your website pop and a laundry list of other stuff I'm supposed to be doing to take over the world, but am not doing.

My girl, Allyn (www.hitthegem.com) serves up relevant content but also very openly shares how she struggles with all of this. Being a business owner is cool, please don't get me wrong on that. However, it also begs, no demands, constant and consistent action and movement. It's "Yes" to a vending event, which might mean "No" to a movie with my son. It's, "Nikki, I tried to buy a gloss but the site is saying something weird." I'm not complaining. I can't imagine my life without NMW. Also, this journey has given me the courage to pursue other things in my life. It's been a gift, with no curse.

It is hard sometimes. It's tough knowing what to make a priority. It's hard knowing how much to spend on inventory and whether you'll earn it back. It's a daily endeavor figuring out how to take this largely small biz thing to the world stage.

This December will mark five years in business. That really astounds me. It has really crept up on me and has caused me to stop and reflect a bit. In many ways it still sometimes feels like hobby level stuff and in other ways, it feels like major strides have been made. I know for sure that NMW has made an impact but the drive to make that be felt far and wide is still my biggest task and biggest question mark.

This post may feel like others I've written but that's by design in a way. I don't want folks to erroneously think I have this ALL figured out. No, quite the contrary. I'm still learning just like you. I always remind myself, "Hey, Nik, Pepsi is still running commercials and they've sold stupid crazy amounts of soda." The grind will NEVER be on cruise control (Ohhhh did I just write text for a new t-shirt?:))

I'm walking the walk with you. I'm trying new things. I'm still doing some old things. I DID bite the bullet and finally hired someone to help because watching your to-do list remain pristine and un-crossed off is maddening.

As a friend says, I'm "staying in the fight" because it's not only what I need to do, but what I want to do. Also, I believe that I will figure it all out eventually.

As always, thanks for reading.
Nik