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