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!


Friday, April 15, 2016

No Risk, No Reward...

This week I got some big news. Really the biggest news I've ever gotten related to my business. I was informed that a host on QVC had requested my product by name! Say What??? In addition to that, they want 7515 3-packs. I had to bust out the calculator and found out that equaled a whopping 22,545 individual Wands!!! Oh my! So, while still soaring on Cloud 9, I had to figure out how in the world I was going to get the money together to give to the manufacturer so they could begin to work on making and shipping our biggest order yet.

My mind was racing. I called my business partner and we sat on the phone, thinking of every stray $5 we had lying around. Now I want to be clear...we are NOT talking about personal funds because quite frankly, my kids spend up all of that. I'm talking about money that we have and really, money that we don't quite have our hands on. So, some tough decisions had to be made. Some accounts had to be emptied and some credit will need to be tapped. This endeavor will take every free coin, while also leaving a small (very small) cushion to be able to keep the business going.

After all of this number crunching, I started to reflect. Before all of this NMW business, I was quite risk averse and hesitant to take chances. But then, something happened. I came up on something that meant the world to me, that I firmly believed in, that I could put my energy, blood, sweat, tears and wallet behind. There have been many things that I have questioned in my life but this was not one of them. Even when there were no sales, when I didn't know how to get the next sale, when I felt like I was teetering on the line of, "Do I own a business or do I have a hobby?" I knew, in my heart, that this little tool had the power to be something great, so I kept going. I kept believing because there was no other choice.

So, here I go, balls to the wall, every single chip pushed to the middle of the table, ready to risk it all. Don't get me wrong, it's a calculated, educated risk, but a risk nonetheless. And what's really amazing to me, is that I'm not feeling any trepidation. No panic, no stress. I'm so excited to see what's going to happen. I'm loving watching this movie.

So, you keep watching too. It's going to be a fun ride and no matter what happens, I'll always know that I gave it everything I had! This way I won't have any regrets.

Thank you so much for reading,
P.S. Can you pleeeeeeasaaaseee go to and buy some stuff? I need the money, ya'll! :):)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Wow, it's been awhile since I've shared with ya. Truth is, if I don't have something pressing to share, I typically don't, although all of the people "in the know" tell you that you need to blog on a regular basis when you have a business. This blog began as a "Pay It Forward" endeavor to share how Nikki's Magic Wand got off the ground because I was getting that question often and I thought it could save folks some of the steps that I took. Another question I get a lot these days is about balancing it all...the 9 to 5, the business, the book, the kids and the list goes on. Frankly, we all are busy, working very hard, and I don't pretend to be busier than anyone else. But, when people ask me, I'm happy to tell them how I manage, even when most days, I don't really know myself.

Tonight, I was in my bed, lounging after watching one of my favorite shows and a thought jumped in my head. It felt like a pressing topic. It may not mean a lot to you but in the effort of being as transparent as possible, here goes....

I always wanted children. It was on my list, along with going to college (which I did) and wearing a suit to work (which I never, ever do). It was what you did or at least planned to do. On the first day of Summer in 1997, I was able to check off that particular goal. It was a girl! I didn't know ahead of time, although I actually really did know. She emerged after 27 hours of labor, almost three hours of pushing and when they held her up, we locked eyes very knowingly, like we'd met long ago. She didn't cry, she just looked at me like, "Hey Mom, it's you." When she was two months old, her dad and I split and then it was she and I against the world. I was 25 and figuring it all out.

This may sound odd, but as she grew, my feelings of actually being her mother would wax and wane. I felt as if she was just a little girl who had come to stay with me. I was unsure of what I was supposed to feel like but I sometimes became concerned that my mother instincts had not really kicked in. One thing I knew for sure was that I felt like her mother when she was in trouble or in pain. Panic set in on an almost physical level as I scrambled to set everything back to normal and make it all ok again.

When she was five, I remarried and the team of two, became a team of three. It was easy at first but as the tweens loomed, each day got harder and harder. I could never determine whose side to be on and it was exhausting. She was my baby, the one who had nestled against my heart, internally and externally, and even when I knew she was straight up wrong, I felt like I had to defend her. When she was hurt or sad or embarrassed or depressed, or treated unfairly, my Lioness kicked it with a vengeance and this "filtered" mother would challenge teachers, employers, her father, her step-father, anyone. I would write letters and make phone calls and sometimes curse and scream. She was mine to protect.

As she grew, her personality emerged and it turned out to be so very different from mine. I was confused by it, exhausted by it, but I also admired it in many ways. She was not a conformist and while I knew that would cause her some heartache, eventually I realized that it would also allow her creativity to flourish and she'd end up teaching her very conventional mother many things.

This story of loving your child beyond all else is not new or novel. Most mothers do just that and more. I'm not special in that regard. So you're wondering, "Uh, Nik, what does this have to do with anything?"

Just like she and Brent are my cubs, to protect and roar at their opposition, we all need to protect the treasures to which we give birth. Whether you have a 9 to 5, a business, a book, a catering service or an actual child, you need to protect its image, reputation, what it gives to the world. You need to believe in it and throw caution to the wind when defending it. You need to allow it to teach you about yourself. You need to stop and listen. You need to plan and plot its success. Just as God gave me these children that I planned and prayed for, He also gave me this idea and the next one and the one after that.

That's my story, well, one of them and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Thank you,

Friday, February 5, 2016

Someone throw me a life preserver...

Do you know those people who have their e-mails in perfectly created folders? You ask them about an e-mail from 2012 and they can put their hands right on it. Everything is filed expertly and organized and may even be labeled. Yeah, that's not me. I have papers in piles. They are a mixture of Nikki's Magic Wand stuff, book stuff, sorority stuff, you name it. And I name my documents things that make sense at the time but when I go back to look for them, they are no where to be found. I am a bit of a mess. A cute one, but a mess all the same. :)

Here's the thing, I WANT to be organized. I want pretty little e-mail folders but I don't seem to have the "bandwidth" (gotta love those biz terms) to get it done. At the end of the day, my overly comfortable bed comes calling and my files remain a mess. Now don't get me wrong, you will not see me on the next episode of Hoarder's but it's starting to get sketchy.

And don't even get me started on the e-mails that flood my NMW inbox. Oh man, the offers of this webinar and that coaching session. I just want to lie down when they come through. It seems that everyone has something to say of value and I am clearly missing the key to immediate millionaire status by not opening THAT e-mail. It makes me panicked and sleepy all at the same time.

So, I'm supposed to write down my goals and make them measurable and make them big and make get me. If I want to make $100,000 this year in my NMW biz, that means that I need to earn $1923 a week in the business. That's a LOT of doggone Wands and glosses. Especially when you are trying to figure out, on a daily basis, how to get ONE sold, nevermind 192 of those suckers. :)

I'm just trying to be completely transparent with ya'll. Now here's the thing, I'm not complaining. There are a WHOLE bunch of folks who wish they had my privileged problems. I just need to figure out how to get my life together and still get a full night's rest.

This Saturday, I will celebrate 10 years at my current employer. I have only worked for two companies for my entire career and I'm proud of that longevity. It's comfortable and it's how I keep myself in sunflower seeds and Thai food. It's second nature. What I guess I'm getting at is that even three years in now, this biz owner thing continues to be a bit of a mystery. No cruise control for this chick. There is always something new to learn and figure out and while I will NEVER say that's not exciting because frankly, it is, it is simultaneously exhaustion inducing.

This year, I pledge to come up with a system to make things run a bit smoother. I'm going to have to say "No" to more things, particularly if they are outside of my immediate goal.

I've got to pull it together and I WILL! Didn't that sound convincing?

Ok, now can someone come over and help me organize my stuff? I need a nap.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fear (a deeply personal post)

I've spent my entire life worried and afraid.

I was afraid to disappoint and/or embarrass my granny and father with bad grades and poor life decisions.  I was afraid to tell my granny I wanted to move across the state to Pittsburgh at 17 years old.  I was afraid to have sex with a loser  so I waited.  I was afraid to get pregnant and if I took my pill 10 minutes late I was sure I would just spontaneously get pregnant. I was afraid to go on interviews in my senior year at Pitt because I STILL didn't know what the hell I wanted to do as a career.  When I got fired from my first job, I was afraid I wouldn't get another. After many years at my first real job,  I decided it was time to try something new and I was afraid to leave my "good government job" to go to private industry.  After all,  didn't those people work into the middle of the night and then get fired on a whim? I was convinced that was how it went. 

I was so afraid that I'd die at 33, like my mother did, that I was forbidden from accessing WebMD because I was convinced I had every ailment known to man. It wasn't until I turned 34 that I thought I had a chance of making it.  I was desperately afraid that the bullying my daughter experienced (that I couldn't seem to end) would completely unravel her. I was afraid she'd get pregnant. I spent sooo many years worried about that so when she told me she was,  I crumbled on the spot. I was always afraid of making someone mad at me,  especially my husband and even my kids.  There is a character in the movie,  "The Secret Life of the Bees" who took in everyone else's emotions and it slowly killed her. I understood her struggle.  If a significant other is mad, I'm mad, sad, I'm sad, etc. I was even afraid for my kids to be mad at me.  These people, who were so close to me,  had far too much power over my life and it was maddening. See, if you see yourself as a smart person,  who makes good decisions, then this constant feeling of weakness is an unending source of despair and depression.  You ask yourself,  "How come SHE can be so strong and I can't?" It's really a body blow when people see you as an inspiration, a role model and you feel like a fraud.

Well, as it turns out, none of the really terrible stuff, I worried about, like dying, ever happened. Yep, my kid had a kid but as you see from my many posts, he's a constant source of joy and his arrival showed me my daughter's real strength. 

Fear can cause complete paralysis and you'll find yourself eating too much,  drinking too much and tolerating wayyyy more than you should.

I found out in 2015 that standing up for yourself and "Doing it Afraid" will not only NOT kill me,  it won't kill others either.

Being able to fully view and realize your strength before it's too late is like God giving you more time on your clock.

Whatever is holding you down and back,  find a way to let it go and walk off into your real life. It's a feeling like no other.