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 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 ( 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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I didn't even realize I was a badass...

I have felt like I was afraid for most of my life. I even wrote a blog post about it. Growing up, I was reared to play it safe. Be cautious. Be mindful that THIS action can lead to THAT repercussion. I listened. Always watch your purse and your back. Study hard because you'll get in trouble if you do poorly. Stay away from drugs, don't have sex, be a good girl. I followed those rules and they served me well. My best friend's older sister called me "Nikki the Nerd." I didn't love that moniker but I couldn't dispute it. It was true.

Then I found myself in my senior year of high school. It was time to make some choices. I wanted to move away to pursue college and my grandmother did NOT want that. Things were increasingly tense at home while I made plans to move away and she tried to manage her emotions around that. I pushed through and at 17, she, along with my dad and step-mother, moved me into Tower A on Pitt's Campus (across the state from my hometown). I had never felt so free, so alive, so ME. This was really the first real stand I took in my life and it was a big one. Since I carried her lessons with me, I studied hard, stayed un-pregnant :) and graduated with pride.

Pittsburgh was now home and it was time to really put down roots. My next rebel act was to meet and marry a man after only 10 months of knowing him AND he was a member of a controversial religious sect. EVERYONE in my whole life was in an uproar. I mean, EVERYONE. I forged ahead, vowing to defy the odds, Married at 24, pregnant at 25, divorced at 26. Unlike college, this thing didn't take any time to go down in flames. I licked my wounds and kept moving. I had a little girl to raise and my feelings of failure didn't trump her needs. After this, I decided to go back to my cautious ways and lock down on a "good government job" and take care of my daughter.

A few years passed, I worked, dated, had great times with my girlfriends and then found myself gearing up to marry again. He and I were very, very different (which, I think made this feel quite risky) but we had some pretty strong commonalities as well and he had a great sense of humor so the laughs came easily, as did the fights, unfortunately. We forged ahead, preparing to defy these odds too and did, for awhile....

In 2009, I had an idea for a product. Something that I desperately needed that I was sure (and still am sure) EVERYONE needs in their lives. As I've mentioned many times, I had no intentions of being a biz owner but here I was, taking a chance. Pouring lots of time, money, sweat, anguish and joy into this endeavor. Vowing not to give up, not to quit, not to let rejection stop me in my tracks. THIS is now my definition of a bad ass. I have pushed EVERY CHIP to the center of the table. Even when I go inside of myself with worry that this endeavor will remain small potatoes, I never, ever consider stopping. Yes, I still have a 9 to 5 so I am playing it safe in that way but I promise you, in EVERY OTHER WAY where Nikki's Magic Wand is involved, I'm ALL IN.

In reflecting on my life, I've realized that I made some uh, interesting choices personally and I spent YEARS kicking my own ass and crying over and over again. However, in my current state of mind, I have ZERO regrets. I mean NONE. If you're going to believe that things happen for a reason, then you MUST apply it to everything. It's not a pick and choose kinda belief.

I'm proud of me. The lessons I've learned. The life I've built. The example of success and failure my life represents to those around me and to my children.

I had no idea I was a bad ass but as it turns out, I'm the baddest. :)

As always, thanks for reading,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sometimes a Johnny is better than a Bobby....

New Edition is touring right now.  Here’s why that’s significant. I have been in love with New Edition since I was 13 years old. I was one of their original “Candy Girls.”  I will be 45 this year, they are still touring and I am just as excited about them as I was when I was a child. This is impactful because, as many of us “Candy Girls” know; New Edition has not had an easy time of it. The group they started with, which included Bobby Brown, did not consistently have Bobby Brown in it.  Bobby Brown was the disgruntled, uncooperative employee that many people have to re-evaluate. So what did they do? They hired someone new. It was a big change. You usually don’t want to change your crew, particularly if you grew up with them. However, when they hired Johnny Gill, a seasoned professional, he raised their stock in a major way. He literally took them, from “Boys to Men”, his signature song, which also inspired an entirely new group, by that name, that went on to HUGE success. Over the years, New Edition changed their format. They have broken off. Ralph, the lead singer, went solo. Johnny went off and became a part of LSG. Ricky, Mike, and Ronnie went off and formed BBD.  The lead singers even formed a group called, “Heads of State.” They all had great success. They have now since come back together and when they perform, it’s a beautiful collaboration of “Original” New Edition, “Johnny Gill” New Edition, “Johnny Gill plus Bobby has gotten his life together” New Edition, “BBD serving that Poison” New Edition, “Ralph telling you how sensitive he is while also letting you know that he’s got to do what he’s got to and let you go” New Edition, “Johnny is encouraging you to put on that red dress and slip on those high heels” New Edition. It is an amazing thing that they’ve been able to do.

The lesson here for all of us, whether you own a business or not, is that we must adapt to what life serves us. We have to adjust when things change.  Look at what happened when they made the BIG change of replacing Bobby with Johnny; the group was better. The group was stronger. The group was able to tour in 2016 when they had begun touring in the very early 80s. Don’t be afraid of change or of changing your entire format. Don’t fear what could happen wrong because SO much can happen right.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 know the rest....

Have you ever felt like you had something to get off of your chest but you didn't really know what it was? It's that nagging feeling that something is weighing you down and trying to creep up and steal your joy but you can't quite name it.

I have a whole lot going on, but so does everyone else so I'm not sure that's it.

I think I might feel like I'm having trouble managing my life right now. My weight is not where I want it to be and my motivation has seemed to fall into the same black hole that my metabolism crawled into. My children are good but not quite where I'd like them to be on the happiness scale.

I want to take a vacation but time, nor money, allows that right now.

I'm feeling homesick and that's a fairly new feeling for me. I think I need my batteries recharged and Philly usually gets that done, with laughs, free food and free drinks (thanks Daddy).

I feel like I'm starting to value different things, as I approach 45 years old. While being SO thankful to be employed, after 22 years of working on the exact same street downtown, it feels a bit like a rut. Sad thing is, I'm not positive that working from home wouldn't just render me bed-bound and unable to put on actual clothes. I think a laziness would swarm me and I wouldn't be able to break free.

I get that this is a ramble but I suppose I'm using it as a bit of therapy. Also, because I know I can't be alone. I can't be the only one sitting on that bus in the morning, earbuds in, attempting to find the song that will wake you up and start your day since the shower did not.

I've also become the roll-over queen. Let me explain. There is nothing more fulfilling than a crossed off to-do list and nothing more annoying than one that is full of things that just "roll-over" to the next day. I look at it and just want to rip it into confetti.

They have said that Seinfeld said that his show was a show about nothing and I suppose that's what this blog entry is about but I hope you felt less alone if you too are feeling a bit chubby and lazy like I am today. :)

Have a great day and as always, thanks for reading!