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It’s Never Too Late To Be The Woman You’ve Always Wanted To Be

I’ve been thinking a lot about transformations lately.

A few weeks ago, I competed in my third fitness competition and walked away a champion with two first place trophies. This win meant more to me than any of the others, because it was the first time I’ve done a competition since I made the big move to New York. So this competition wasn’t about beating the girls that joined me on stage that night, it was about beating the prior version of myself. It was about beating the insecurities, self-doubt, depression and anxiety that once filled my days. It was about beating the obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes that run in my family history. Most importantly, it was about beating the girl that most of you guys had a chance to know as Necole Bitchie.

Last year, when people first learned I was a bikini fitness competitor, they were shocked because I had to take my body through a complete transformation — similar to my life and career when I decided to shift paths. I realize more than ever that it takes real courage to walk away from the life you once knew. A lot of people are stuck in unfulfilling careers and/or relationships and are afraid to take that first step to evolve and elevate in their lives due to fear. And I find that a lot of people are afraid of change, not only because of the possibility of failure, but because of the feeling of “I’m too old” or “it’s too late.”

Well, I want to tell you something.

My own unique path to self-fulfillment and true joy didn’t happen overnight. It has actually taken years and I didn’t take the first step until I was in my mid-twenties.

It wasn’t until I was 25 that I decided to pursue a job in the entertainment industry and I had to start as an unpaid intern. People thought I was crazy for working for free at that age, but I had a vision. I was 27 when I started my celebrity gossip blog while jobless, broke and sleeping in my aunt’s guest room.

Although the site eventually amassed a huge following, and I garnered fame, money and success, I wasn’t happy with my life and at the age of 34, I decided to walk away. At that age, society tells you that you are “supposed” to have it altogether, and there I was giving up everything I had worked so hard for.

IT WAS SCARY!

At age 35, I started all over again. During that time I launched a new site that was more empowering and reflective of the person I was becoming. That site was XoNecole.com.

At age 36, I decided to compete in my first NPC bikini fitness competition.

At age 37, after years of self-funding my websites, I experienced my first big business acquisition. At this age, for the first time, I am also balancing a career I love effortlessly with my personal life. I’m nurturing fulfilling friendships, attending retreats, taking vacations, and I am looking and feeling the best I’ve ever been mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The moral of this story is this: the only reason I am able to live my best life is because I was willing to take a risk.

It’s never too late to start working towards the woman you always knew you could be.

You may be scrolling social media and feeling like you are behind or not doing enough because of what you may see others accomplishing but success is truly a slow climb. It’s very hard not to compare yourself to what others are doing when you feel stuck and unfulfilled but we all have different paths and journeys. Just know, If you choose to compare your life to mine, I was a late bloomer who was broke and couch hopped until she was almost 30. And I was willing to face my biggest fears and risk going broke all over again at age 35 to live the life of my dreams, because I knew I deserved better than to stay stuck in a career path that didn’t fulfill me.

You can reclaim and reshape your narrative at any time ❤️ Please, Remember that.

xo, 

P.S. I’m currently reading “The Last Arrow” and the saying “Save nothing for the next life” is about to be my motto!

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Originally posted on Instagram  + xoNecole’s Letter From The Editor

 

[Life Lessons] How I Realized It Was Time To Descend The Mountain

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 5.29.01 PM‘The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had…’

I can’t say that I’m the most spiritual person by most Christian’s standards. I probably break a few biblical rules every now and then, and I am not in church every Sunday.  But my belief in God is strong.  And my Faith even stronger.

Every time I’ve ever decided to just up and move to another state, it hasn’t been just a random decision that I wanted to do for shock value.  It’s hard for me to explain, but I’ve always felt this strong nudge from a higher power that told me it was time to go, and where my next destination would be.  Although a lot of times, it made complete sense business wise (the moves to Los Angeles, and New York) at other times, it made no sense at all and I just had to brace myself for what awaited in the cities I was being directed to.

For example, last June, I was set up on a date with this guy (I kind of miss him!!!) and we had breakfast. I swear I had only sat down all of 10 minutes before he asked me, ‘Are you happy with what you do?’  I remember cringing just a bit, because the struggle of what I wanted to do versus what everyone else wanted me to do had been very real over the past few years. I was hoping that I wasn’t carrying around that energy. It’s the worse when you are trying to figure yourself out, and you find yourself feeling stuck and hating everything you used to love about your life, and people can feel that energy when you walk in the room. That’s awful.

Actually, I’d rather just stay home.

I responded, ‘Are you??’

His response: ‘I am. But it’s not about me, it’s about the young men that I mentor and inspire, hoping that they don’t make the same mistakes as I did in the beginning of my  professional career. ‘

From there, our breakfast date turned into a 30-minute pep talk about life. He did the talking, I listened while envisioning myself running out of there and crawling into a shell. I kept imagining myself as him, looking at me as someone who was supposed to be successful, but instead I was sitting there all insecure about my career and where I was in life.  I wanted to end the date, because frankly put, no matter how he felt about me good or bad, I wasn’t comfortable with him dating that version of me.   Can we have a redo when I get myself together?

When I got home, my friend who was waiting at my house asked, ‘How was your date?’ And I blurted out, ‘He’s an amazing guy but …I’m moving to Arizona.’

She was like, ‘What???’   And in my mind, I was wondering the same thing. Like, girl what did you just say?

I repeated. ‘I’m moving to Arizona.  I’m going out there, and I’m going to figure myself out. I can’t keep living my life like this…’

Til this day, I still don’t know what made me come to the revelation that Arizona is where I should be. All I can say is that some spiritual force directed me there.  Even though it wasn’t an entertainment capital, or somewhere that would allow me to blossom in my career by providing me more access to more industry tastemakers and celebrities, I truly believed that’s where I would find clarity…and a bit of happiness.  And I didn’t ask any questions.

It’s been five months since I made the move, and I will say, I’m experiencing the most happiest and enlightening time of my life.  It’s like a rebirth of sorts, which I can’t quite put into words, and is partially the reason I’ve been ‘reclusive’ (as someone put it recently).  When you go through changes in life, especially positive ones, sometimes there is that fear that people won’t be accepting of the ‘new you.’   And the reality is, sometimes they won’t. This is an opportunity to do closet clean out, because everyone isn’t meant to go into the next part of your journey with you. (That was a Note To Self:)

Looking back, if I had never moved and taken myself out of a space that was becoming very stagnant, I would have eventually become stuck. I wouldn’t have progressed and reached my true potential. I would have stayed stuck!

When it feels scary to jump, that’s exactly when you jump.

Otherwise, you end up staying the same place your whole life.

And that I can’t do

What I have learned is, it is extremely difficult to find and walk in your purpose when you surround yourself with ‘If I were you’ people. And what I mean by that is, it’s natural to run to friends about what you are going through but sometimes when you need advice, you have to find it in those who are already where you want to be, not from people who want to be where you already are.

When I lived in LA and New York over the past four years, people were constantly giving me advice based on their idea of what I should be, or what they would do if they were in my shoes, not realizing that what they wanted for me, wasn’t what I wanted for myself. ‘If I had your platform, I would do this this and this’ was all I ever heard, but those things that I was getting advice on wasn’t fulfilling me nor was it leading me closer to my purpose.

The result is feeling lost, and feeling stuck. You lose yourself.

Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

Once I revealed I was moving, I received so much opposition from people who thought I was absolutely crazy that I almost talked myself out of it.  I heard things like, ‘how are you going to stay relevant?’  (Let’s be honest, if I wanted to be relevant in today’s culture, snagging a famous boyfriend, or releasing a set of nudes would get me there real quick) — but what do you consider relevant? What kind of relevancy am I seeking? I want to break amazing ground, have an impact on my culture, and leave a legacy that’s uplifting and inspiring to young women. How am I doing that now?  How am I going to do that?

That’s the question I had to ask myself.  That’s the question I challenge anyone to ask themselves when they feel stuck in a space of mediocrity or when they’ve obtained success but aren’t fulfilled.

What impact do I want to have in my profession?

What do I want my legacy to be?

Am I on the right path?

What changes do I have to make to get there?

I watched a speech by Lauryn Hill a few years ago, and it there was a bit in there that moved me.  I knew then that I would have to make some changes in my life and in my career soon.  She said:

We’re all trying to get to this next level without the next level finding us.

I went from the top of one mountain, [and] I’ve mastered something and people appreciated it. Once you’ve been on top on that mountain, you have to move, but people are like, ‘I’m not moving….I’m the master, I’m great, I’m dope, I’m here, I’ve arrived, I’m not going anywhere!’

That’s when you stay stuck…

on one hill, one mountain.

God’s intention is that we study and master a bunch of things. So here I am descending this hill and everybody is like “Where are you going, we’re suppose to be on top of the hill?”

But it’s definitely an exciting time for me because I’m at the foot of another hill. This hill is totally different and navigated differently, but I get to learn. Once you learn and you go through that, you’re on the top of another one.

I would encourage everyone to never be afraid of not knowing…find out because that’s how you get to mastership.

Let’s not be mediocre in our greatness.

Think big, and think in doses, and think in experiences and don’t be afraid of experiences that teach you.

I shared that quote to say, I’m finally working towards my dream. I’ve had a long amazing journey, but I honestly think it’s only just begun. I’ve only scratched the surface of my potential.

And I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Mission started.Necole Kane Roosevelt Row Phoenix AZ
Sometimes constantly looking back will keep you from pushing forward

Originally published May 2015

I Want You To Live

Over the past 2 years, a lot of you have come up to me and said, “I Miss your old website.”

And I used to take it as a sign that I was failing at trying something new, but then I had to realize what drove my decision to close my celebrity gossip blog in the first place. I’ve been mentioning this a lot lately but I want to reiterate it. My mom was 41 when she died. My father was 42 when he passed away. I let go of NecoleBitchie.com when I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger.

I woke up one day and asked myself, if you knew your time was nearing, would you be satisfied with how you are spending your life? Are you going to continue to stay plugged in to everyone else’s life, or are you going to start living your own? I decided I wanted to LIVE. Forget relevancy, and being known and popular and all these things that I thought were important at one point or another.

I let the site go, but I remember in the moment I pressed published on my “It’s Time To Move On” letter crying because I had sacrificed having kids, a husband, family for this brand that I was now giving up, and there was no guarantee that I would have a financially stable future. I had sacrificed everything for a career that had left me feeling quite empty and it was scary.

Even as recent as December of last year, I felt so much pressure to be a bigger success than I was before, and I had to stop myself one day and say, “are you doing things that you love and are passionate about, or are you doing things people expect of you, and trying to prove people wrong. Because if you are just doing this to prove people wrong, you aren’t walking in your purpose. You’ve forgotten your “Why”.

In 2017, I started living for me. Letting go of my website freed up my time and allowed me to do more of what I loved. I’ve tried pilates, Ariel yoga, trekked through Vietnam, Jetpacked, ATV’d through the desert, rode horses, attended a lot more birthday parties and visited a lot more friends. I only take on projects that I love and believe in. I stopped doing things just because it had a check attached. I started having the type of peace that I used to dream about. This weekend, I entered my first fitness competition (at the age of 36) and I placed 2nd in my class!!!! Backstage I was bawling crying because I couldn’t believe it. The competition was bigger than me, it was an ode to my health, being fit, looking my best, feeling my best and pouring the same amount of love into myself that I did my career.

I’ve been knocked down so many times, but that night I got up and told the devil, “You hit like a b-tch!!!!”

I tell this story for two reasons:

1) I feel there are a lot of young girls who compare their life to mine and feel like success isn’t happening fast enough for them. I tell those girls, I slept on many couches until I was almost 27. 

And 2) I want you guys to LIVE. I know you miss my old celebrity gossip site, and logging in every day for your tea, but I don’t want you to get so caught up in scrolling timelines, reading blogs, and so plugged in to what everyone else is doing that you forget to live in your own moments. You forget to live your life for you, instead of for social media or the applause.

I can honestly say I am now living the life I’ve always envisioned for myself (sans the family but it will come!!!!) and I am living with the kind of peace I’ve always dreamed about.

We are the creator of our own destiny.

Things get hard.

Things get rough.

You’ll feel like giving up.

You’ll hear people whispering and talking, but it’s your life, and you are the only one that has to live it so you have to always continue to do what’s best for you.

My friend said to me today, “If it’s not building you up, it’s breaking you down.”

Let that marinate.

Again, thank you guys for all the continued love and support. I’ve gotten my butt off of snapchat (LOL) and I don’t post as much as I used to on social but you can catch up with me on Instagram: @hellonecole and youtube/iamnecole. I’ll have some video soon hopefully 🙂 . – Necole

P.S. Make sure you hit up xoNecole.com every now and then and enjoy the amazing reads 🙂

Yes, It Gets Better

I’m starting to look back on a lot of times in my life where I asked myself “does it get better?” And the answer is:

Yes. It gets better.

You get better.

The people you surround yourself with get better.

The people you fall in love with gets better.

Everything gets better.

You find strength in every struggle.

I’m so not afraid to tell people I don’t have it altogether. I thought I had it all figured out at one point and I didn’t. So I had to dissemble my entire life and put it back together. I had to unlearn everything I ever thought I knew. I had to let go of anything and anyone that countered my evolution. I had to get to know myself all over again. And in that process I realized that all those things we dream about like peace, joy, and happiness are found in the simplest things in life instead of everyone else’s grand idea of what your life should look like or how poppin you should be.

And soul mates?

I thank God every day that I didn’t settle.

Because the old me would have attracted a different type of Him, and that different him I would have likely outgrown.

Sometimes you have to take time off from dating, trying to chase the ideal relationship and forcing people to see how amazing you are, and recognize those things in yourself first. To fill your days with things you enjoy,  versus things and people you don’t. To love up on and appreciate who you are in a sea of criticism, studies and reports telling you what you are not. Because when you get to that place of freedom, that’s when you attract and manifest what is for you, the friends that are for you, the career that is for you and ultimately the love that is for you…

–And that’s where true happiness lies.

I admit that I love to force things to happen as a result of wanting to control my life but I’ve been taking a back seat to patience and faith lately, and as a result, I’m enjoying every minute of the slow ride.

via Instagram

My Mother’s Death Taught Me To Be Selfless

Last weekend, I was sitting in the car with a friend and she said, ‘You know, Necole, you are so selfless. This whole weekend should have been about you, but you went over and beyond to make sure that it was about your friends and the people around you. Do you know how much more you will be blessed’.

And I thanked her but told her that it wasn’t always like that for me. I do admit, I spent a huge part of my life being very selfish. I didn’t know any better. I was an only child. I didn’t learn to look out for other people or take other people’s feelings in to consideration while growing up.

Just recently, while reading the Alchemist, it made me remember my past life, before I started challenging my fear. I lived a very mundane life with a set routine. I would go to work 9-5, get off work, go to school, party with my friends every Friday and Saturday, rest on Sunday and get up on Monday and do it all over again. I was living a simple life, and as part of my daily routine, I would call my mother every day during lunch break to catch her up on what was going on in my life. In all honesty, I spent at least half of the time on the phone with my mom, complaining about things like school, my job and plenty of senseless things that mattered to me at the time but looking back, should have been the least of my concerns. But nevertheless, it was all a part of my routine and it made me feel better.

One day, before my lunch break, I was sitting at my desk and I received a text from a friend. It read, ‘I am so sorry to hear about your mom. They announced in Church last Sunday that she only had two weeks to live’. My heart dropped and I was very confused. My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer two years beforehand and from my knowledge she had went through the required treatment and she was doing well. I then started thinking about how I had called her every single day, but not once had she mentioned this, and even worse, not once had I thought to ask her, ‘How are you feeling’.

When my lunch break came around, I went to the conference room and I called my mother like I normally do. I talked to her as I normally would have but after about ten minutes, I blatantly asked, ‘Mom, are you going to die’? The phone was silent and I know deep down, she didn’t answer me because she was crying and she didn’t want to tell me. My aunt told me later on that my mother didn’t want me to worry about her. She didn’t want me to leave school or leave my job. My heart was broken because in that moment, I realized that I was so wrapped up in my world and everything that I thought was going wrong, that I never once stopped to think about someone else. Not even my own mom.

I left work that day and drove two hours to my hometown where she lived. She later showed me the powder blue casket that she had picked out and the tombstone. She planned her funeral. [Just the thought of having to plan my own funeral put a lot of things in perspective.]

 Five days later, I held her hand while she took her last breath.

I stood over her bed watching her with tears in my eyes, knowing there is nothing I could do as she continued to gasp for air. The visual still haunts me.

It is my biggest heart break I will ever experience in life.

For years, I held this guilt within me because of the time I wasted on things that did not matter. Those moments that could have been spent with my mom. It took a long time for me to get over that and as a result I became very distant and detached from people.

Meanwhile, after the funeral, I returned to work but my routine was shaken up. I could no longer go to the conference room on my lunch break and place that call. Even today, when something monumental in my life happens, I want to pick up the phone and call her.  I want to share the news and say, ‘This time, ‘I’m not complaining mom. I didn’t like my life so I changed my life. I took risks. I faced my fear. I became a better person. And I didn’t fail. I succeeded’.

I want to say all of those things. But I can’t.

I am a true believer that there is a lesson in everything. My mother’s death still weighs heavy on my heart and still today I am working hard to not make the moment about me all of the time. I learned that it’s never too late to change. If you don’t like your life, change your life. Unfortunately, I had to lose someone very important in my life to realize, ‘what am I complaining all of the time for???!’ And I started taking the necessary steps to build the life I wanted. I eventually quit my job, I moved to another city and I was inconvenienced for at least four years, wondering where my next meal or paycheck was going to come, but I kept at it because I had faith that my breakthrough was near.

The difference between the successful and the unsuccessful is that the unsuccessful normally gives up just before their breakthrough is about to happen.

I also learned a valuable lesson about death. Live every day to the fullest, as if it were your last.

One day, it will be.

Our time here is only temporary and as soon as we accept that we are only here for a limited time, is when we will truly live our lives the way it should be.

Originally posted on My Tumblr

Written in 2014. Reposted in 2017

5 Things I’m Doing To Get A Running Head Start On 2017

“I’m clocked out! I’m on vacation.”

If you tried contacting me over the last 3 to 4 years between December 20 and January 3, you’d probably receive my vacation autoresponder, or a direct plug right into my voicemail. Back in my celeb gossip blogging days, I used to work all year round, with barely any breaks and no vacations, so I felt that the least I could do was treat myself to a full 10-14 days of doing absolutely nothing work-related to recharge for the New Year.

Unfortunately, that never worked for me.

I’d come back to piles of emails, unfinished work I didn’t close out the prior year, and I would feel overwhelmingly flustered with trying to catch up on what I missed, which defeated the purpose of the vacation. Over time, I realized that it was better to take smaller road trips, vacations, and breaks scattered throughout the year than it was to take one long vacation at the end of year. That way, I was constantly taking time for myself to recharge and regroup, which made me even more productive and creative while decreasing my chances of being exhausted, overwhelmed, and burned out.

This year, I took things a step further and designated the last few weeks of 2016 to get my ish together.

Screw a vacation, I’m getting a running head start on these 2017 goals.

Here’s a few things that I’ve done this year to ensure I have a winning New Year:

Clean Out The Clutter

Have you ever noticed that when your space is cluttered, that you often feel very tired and unmotivated all of the time? When my room is cluttered and a mess, I find it harder to get out of bed than when it is organized, clean, and smelling like some fresh lavender, peppermint, and rosemary. When you allow your working and living space to become cluttered, it also clutters your mental space, making it very hard to be productive, creative, and inspired to get up and go get what’s rightfully yours. Before the New Year, I clean out everything. My closets, my email inbox, my storage units, my car, and even my computer files (I dump them all on hard drives and delete them from my computer to free up my hard drive and memory).

If you don’t do anything before the New Year, do this. I promise you, you’ll thank yourself later.

Prepare Marketing Materials

If you have a brand, sell products, have a website, or consider yourself an influencer, it’s important that you have a media kit that accurately describes who you are, what you do, and what you are selling. Six weeks before the New Year, I began working on updating my media kits for both my xoNecole.com website, as well as my personal brand. Your media kit should include a brief bio or About Me section, demographics of your audience, and who you are targeting, traffic stats, social media influence, recent press, and anything that’s relevant to your brand and the brands that you are looking to work or partner with. This year, I added case studies and partnership opportunities and examples to both of my media kits to give brands an idea of past campaigns and results.

You can see an example of my media kits in one of my latest vlogs below.

Hone & Learn New Skills

If you follow me on YouTube, you’d know that I really don’t market my videos that I upload because I’m in the “learning to be better” stage. I talk about this all of the time! On my very first upload that I did on my own, I was out of focus, I was really orange from my ceiling light, and it took me 10 minutes to set up my tripod because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I also didn’t know how to edit. But my upload was out of frustration that I was paying people hundreds of dollars to film vlogs for me (which started to get costly) and having to wait weeks for edits which made me feel stuck and dependent on people to get things done. When I have a vision, I want to start on execution, no excuses. So I decided to take the downtime that the end of the year offers and learn how to film and edit my own videos, as well as snap my own photos (for my blog and social media).

Instead of shelling out hundreds and thousands of dollars to pay someone to do these things for me, I decided to invest in my own cameras, lighting, a shotgun mic, Final Cut Pro editing software (which I found on Ebay for $50), and even bluetooth remotes which allow me to snap photos or video from a distance. I’ve since turned my place into a creative studio and I couldn’t be more elated!

If you are interested in blogging, vlogging, or anything that has to do with creative visuals, buying your own equipment and learning the basics to get the job done will probably be one of the biggest investments that you make. I probably spend 4-7 hours out of my day practicing different video editing and photography techniques by watching YouTube tutorials. And that was time I used to spend browsing social media (go figure!).

Get A Running Head Start On Fitness & Life Goals

On January 1st, everyone you know will be flaunting “New Year, New Me” posts. Gym memberships will be up and the grocery stores will be filled with folks that are determined to eat healthy and trim a few pounds. Hey, I’m guilty of that same thing every year.

But not this coming year…

I took inventory of the things I wanted to achieve in 2017 and decided to get a running head start on my goals, especially my fitness goals before the New Year.

They say summer bodies are made in the winter, and I’m summer body ready.

7 weeks ago, I told myself that I was going to finally get really serious and dedicate myself to training for a bikini fitness competition, which takes place in March. I now workout at least 4-5 days a week and I have very healthy eating habits (that I will share on the site soon). I decided to get really serious about my fitness journey after I dropped about 7 pounds while traveling over a six-week period. Not only did I lose weight, but my body felt out of wack and my energy was very low from not eating the right foods daily and not getting my fitness fix. I had to change that ASAP!

Now that it’s been 7 weeks, I’m really in the habit of getting up and eating the required foods to give me the energy and fuel necessary to tackle my day at my highest potential. And my daily weight training and cardio sessions help tremendously as well.

I’ve also started journaling and working on my financial goals, as well as my bucket list (which is filled with travel in the New Year).

Social Media Detox

The biggest gift I could have probably given myself at the end of the year was a break from social media.

A few weeks ago, I deleted the Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook apps off of my phone. I left YouTube (since I’m currently learning the platform) and Instagram. Mind you, I only allow myself five minutes a day to get on and off IG. Since detoxing from social, I have acquired a lot more time to do all of the things listed above. Read, video editing, creating and updating my media kits, writing out my goals and business/marketing plans, and most importantly, spending more time with friends.

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is what keeps most of us plugged in to social, but you have to be very careful of the time that you are spending plugging into other people’s lives and what they may or may not be doing, while neglecting and failing at living your own life.

If you are having problems being self-disciplined when it comes to social networks, removing the apps from your phone, and also downloading the SelfControl app – which prevents you from visiting distracting sites on your desktop – can help you get a head start on detoxing.

I talk about all of this and more in my video below:

Let me know what you are doing to get a running head start on the New Year in the comments!

You Will Not Always Win

** This post was written two years ago. Reposted as a reminder as we go into the holidays and a new year to never give up.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a popular beauty blogger and her husband, and he said, ‘How do you handle failure when everyone’s watching! That has to be difficult!’

I responded, ‘I keep in mind that for every win there is a million loses.’ 

Why I Quit My Celebrity Gossip Blog

On those days you feel like giving up. Never forget your “Why”. 

A year ago today I quit my celebrity gossip blog “Necole Bitchie.”

I remember it like it was yesterday. There seemed to be a huge weight that lifted off of my shoulder as I pressed ‘Publish’ on what would be my final blog post titled, ‘It’s Time For Me To Move On.’  I didn’t care if it had typos or grammatical errors, I just wanted to get it out and move on with my life. 

A day later, I ran off to Mexico for a week. It was the first real vacation I was able to take unplugged. I had no idea what my life would be like when I returned. All I knew was that I had just let go a huge piece of me– A brand I built, nurtured and watch grow for 8 years.

In a weird way, I felt like I had let go of my identity. 

I remember I used to tell people that  I didn’t want what I did to define me, but I’ve learned over time that our jobs, and how we decide to spend a huge portion of our days and lives do define us. Despite launching a women’s lifestyle and empowerment blog months later, I considered the last 365 days of my life as a personal hiatus. A break. I needed that time off from the entertainment industry to figure out who I am stripped of a title and how I could put others on.

What is your character like Necole?

How do you love?

Are you a great friend?

Are you caring?

I had to find that out, because in the midst of rushing through 8 years of reporting celebrity gossip and mingling amongst the rich and famous, I wasn’t sure I knew.

In the midst of waking up each day and worrying about pageviews, advertising dollars, and staying current and relevant… I wasn’t sure I knew. 

365 days later,  I can say that I go to sleep at night at peace and I wake up happy. There is no amount of money that can buy a peace of mind.  I have a stronger relationship with God, as well as my friends and family. I’ve learned how to love, be caring and compassionate. I’ve learned to be still and live in the moment.  

(It’s hard to live in the moment, when you have to check emails, social media and the web every moment of the day to make sure you didn’t miss some opportunity to break news. It’s also hard to connect with people and nurture and build real relationships. Honestly, my life used to feel like a huge facade. )

My conscious is clear.

The number one question I’ve been asked over the past year is why I decided to let the site go, or why I couldn’t keep it running why I pursued other things.

When I look back, those eight years were good to me. The site allowed me the opportunity to make tons of money, work from my bed, travel the world, win numerous awards, be featured in various magazines (including my favorites Ebony Magazine and Cosmopolitan), visit The White House, go on a tour with Rihanna, be mentioned in some of my favorite TV shows and a few songs (**smile**), and be in rooms with the likes of Oprah, Ariana Huffington, and even Beyonce. 

But inside I was fighting an internal battle every single day.

My overall goal in life has always been to be a source of inspiration for young women and I was having a hard time creating that legacy for myself with the platform that I had built. How could I continue to think that I was in some way adding value to the lives of my readers when my site posted about drama, celebrity beefs, divorces, break babies, fights and negativity on the regular?  I can compare it to having a young child, and continuously feeding her junk that stunts her growth and maturity, versus nutrients that will help grow into a healthy adult.

I wanted my site to be the nutrients, not the junk food. 

And for that reason alone, for a long time I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for what we were publishing and feeding the site’s loyal following. That guilt was making it extremely hard to embrace and enjoy success because of what that success was built off of. 

I don’t feel that guilt anymore.

I sleep peacefully now that that burden is off my shoulders. I walk in rooms with more confidence. I feel empowered.  I feel as though I’m contributing to the advancement of women of color in a positive way. I feel like #blackgirlmagic!

Over the last 365 days, I’ve managed to stop allowing the “what” I do to define me, and now it is the ‘why’ that I allow to drive me and my decisions with hopes that my journey will continue to be inspiring to other women trying to find their way. I’m extremely proud of the path I decided to take, and finally being able to stand for something. 

I can definitely say that today.

Six months ago, when I thought I’d have to go back to sleeping on couches due to putting everything I had into this dream, I couldn’t say that. While trying to knock down doors at advertising agencies, and attempting to find a way to keep my writers paid and the content great, I couldn’t say that.  In the midst of my meltdowns and the days I didn’t want to climb out of bed, I couldn’t say that.

 

But without risks there are no rewards. I’ll speak more on it in the coming months as I feel that we celebrate success and we show the good parts and the highlights but we tend to hide that sometimes you have to tread through hell to get to heaven.

My message to anyone who is reading this, who may be successful but feel as though they are stuck in a career they don’t love, or a situation that is unfulfilling, ask yourself, “How long will I live a life I don’t love before I take the first step towards living the life of my dreams?”

 

It’s important to note that when you are transitioning, you may have to sacrifice and give up a few material things and the lifestyle you are accustomed to.   If you quit your job, 99% of the time, you won’t be living the life of your dreams tomorrow.  It definitely takes time, persistence, resilience and work to get to where you want to be. 

But please believe, any losses will only be temporary, and those things will come back tenfold in due time.  

I remind myself of that every day. 

Those losses will eventually turn to wins. 

It isn’t supposed to be easy.

If it was easy, everyone would be living the life of their dreams.

And everyone would be successful.

Those spots at the head of the table are reserved for those who take risks and who also sacrifice their lives for a purpose greater than themselves. It took me a long time to realize that.

Maybe too long but my path is a little clearer.

With that being said, stay inspired and never give up on your dream.

Thank you everyone for your continuous love and support. I am in tears daily by your kind words, and encouragement and I keep them in a praise folder so that I never forget my “Why”:  💕 

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It’s notes like these that remind me of why I continue to do what I do. 

Wishing you lots of light and love!

Originally posted on Instagram

She Didn’t Quit

That girl that you follow that you want to be like, that has the “perfect” career, the “perfect relationship, and/or the “perfect” life — the one who you consider #goals, she’s been stressed before. She’s woken up wondering if her sacrifices were even worth it. If anyone noticed her work or if she was even on the right path. She’s lost some of her best friends while working late, working overtime and pursuing her dream life. She missed weddings and important events, slept on couches, had failed relationships, moved back home, had withdrawn accounts, and wondered if she’d ever make it. Her success seemed to have appeared overnight, when in actuality it was 8-10 years in the making. You thought her first business was a hit, it was actually her fifth after the other four failed. Whatever the case, that dope chick on your timeline that you follow that you feel is lucky to have it all, went through some real sh-t to get what she has now, and the only thing that will prevent you from being like her, is that you don’t quit. Know that you deserve that happiness that you are seeking. Your blessing can come today, or it can come ten years from now, you never know… opportunity can come knocking at your door tomorrow, but its important to keep betting on yourself, your dream and the life that you want. So the next time you scroll your timeline, and see that girl, that’s #goals, with the amazing career, the amazing love, the amazing life, always remember, what sets her apart is that she didn’t quit.

Necole

I Shall Not Waste Another Day Being Unhappy

The most profound moment I’ve had this year was when I realized I could not go another day without smiling.

Happiness is a choice.

Up until around February of this year, I found myself lying in bed in the fetal position often while being bothered and frustrated over things I could not control. Allowing myself to drown in those moments of self-pity only caused even more devastation and I was killing my own potential to be happy.

And then one day it clicked…

It’s okay to not be okay, but you can’t stay stuck in that space of feeling sorry for yourself forever. No matter what you are going through, to push forward, you have to believe that it will get better and trust that what is coming in the future is far better than what you left in the past.

I made a promise to myself that I would never waste another day unhappy. I am too blessed to allow the bad moments to overshadow all of the amazing things and doors that have opened up for me and will continue to open up for me as long as I’m practicing gratitude. It’s all about perspective and being able to appreciate the small things like that hour I may not have had before to catch up with a friend and tell her I love her. Being able to have a career I love, take a road trip, attend a friend’s wedding, sit by the beach, meditate, breathe, smile, enjoy the moment…. They all count. These days I find myself even thanking God out loud when I find a parking space lol. It’s the small things.

I may give myself a few emotional minutes — but then I have to let it go, pray on it, give it to God and keep it pushing. 💪🏽 #todayimsmiling

Originally posted to Instagram

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Necolisms are quick random thoughts originally posted to Instagram. I thought it would be neat if I started sharing them on my blog as well 🙂 

A Distorted Perception Of Love

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My mother and I were best friends…

Until the day she defined love for me.

Four months earlier, I came home from school to find a man sitting in our living room. He was tall, brown skin, hazel eyes and built like he may have played football. At first, I thought someone may have broken into our house but he looked far too comfortable on the couch. He introduced himself and I mumbled ‘Hi,’ and the silence was awkward. Then he asked me if I was in school.

‘Yea’

‘Do you want to go to college?’

hmmmm, no one has ever asked me that before. College might be nice.

Before I knew it we were having a whole discussion on college, my dreams and goals and suddenly, I hoped this was my mom’s new boyfriend. He seemed nice.  No one ever asked me about what I wanted to do before. What I wanted to be when I grew up (well except my grandmother but she had passed away the year before), and suddenly my mind was at work thinking of all the things I could be when I graduated high school.

Yes, I want to go to college!!!!!

Later my mother came home, and sure enough, I found out it was her new boyfriend, and I was totally fine with that.

The next day I went to school and I started looking up colleges. I was excited and had something new to focus on!

But through my excitement of this new future I started planning out in my head, things got really strange at home.

It started with me constantly having dreams that I’d wake up to ‘mom’s new boyfriend’ standing over me. I would wake up in a sweat and he was gone.

The dream was recurring over a few months.

Dream.

Wake up.

He’s Gone.

I can’t be going crazy…

Then one night, it was dream. wake up. he’s not gone. he’s standing there. Beside my bed…and he’s naked.

Oh, shoot.’ He said, as if he somehow wandered in the wrong room on the way back from the bathroom.

And he left.

The next morning, my mother was cooking and I came out of my bedroom, wondering if I should talk about what happened the night before. Because now, I’m sure that those dreams of me thinking someone was standing over me each night were no longer dreams.

I was standing there wondering what I should say, when she stopped what she was doing, tilt her head to the side and said, ‘What happened to your night gown.’

I said, ‘What’s wrong with it’

She said it’s ripped.

I ran to a full-length mirror and looked in horror as I viewed what seemed to be a long tear down the back of my night gown. It looked as though it had been cut with a switchblade.

When did this happen? While I was sleep???

My heart dropped.

I thought about the night before.

Mom’s Boyfriend. Standing over me. Naked.

What if I didn’t wake up? What would he had done to me?

Do I tell her?


He came home and I didn’t tell her.

I spent the next few months fearing the worse: that one day he’d either rape me or kill me. So I started sleeping with a butcher knife under my pillow.

One night, after I grew tired of gathering a dumpster worth of contents in front of my door just before I went to sleep, I told my aunt.

And my aunt told another aunt.

And they told my mom, and a huge fight broke out. And before you know it, I had somehow caused a riff in the family.

By telling….

A day later, I found myself sitting at a stoplight in the passenger seat of my mother’s car. All of the stuff I owned was piled in the backseat and trunk. She was kicking me out. She was taking me to go live with my grandmother.

My mother used to be my best friend, someone I could tell any and everything to. While a lot of my friends had strict parents who wouldn’t let them out of eye sight after school let out, my mom was different. I told her everything.  She gave me freedom, and in return, I showed her enough respect to not stay out late and I always notified her of my whereabouts. She didn’t really have to be strict because I was the type of kid who would rather be at home reading a book after lacrosse and field hockey practice than I would roaming the streets.

But that woman, sitting beside me, at that moment, I didn’t know. She was a stranger to me.

And so I had to ask while sobbing, ‘I just don’t understand why you would kick me out of the house over some guy.’

And her response was:

‘You’ll never understand.’

She added:

‘Until you fall in love.’

Those seven words destroyed me.

At 16 years old, love was defined in the most distorted way possible.

Love will make you lose yourself.

Love will make you turn your back on your family and friends.

Love will make you turn your back on your only child.

And from there I decided,  ‘I will never, ever fall in love.’

After that conversation, I spent a decade running from love like it was the plaque. A fast moving train, that once it crashed into me, I’d die on impact.

Boys. They’d show interest but realized all too soon, the wall was far too thick to climb.

Many would be up for the challenge at first, only to give up to pursue something a lot easier later on.

And I was fine with that.

My heart was numb and I couldn’t feel anything.  Actually I refused to feel anything.

What made matters worse was that I did go to college (partially to escape the madness at home after I decided to move back in)…and in my last semester of school, I found out my mother only had two weeks to live.

I rushed home, and of course the guy…he was nowhere to be found.

I spent the next two weeks by my mom’s side, feeling hurt that a guy came into her life and snatched her away from me.  He stole years from me. Years we could have spent creating mother/daughter memories.  It was only recently that my mother and I had started talking on the phone again every day. And she was now gone. Because of him, I may not have been there for her when she needed me most.  When she found out that she had cancer and needed someone.  When he left…

At the funeral, I constantly looked around, wondering if he’d show up.  Clearly, if you loved her, you’d show up to pay your respect. Right?

But he was nowhere in sight.

He didn’t show.

And that made me angry…

I tell this story because, up until a few years ago, I lived a very loveless life.  A life that didn’t allow me to get close to anyone. I knew how to like…and I knew how to care deeply for people. But Love?

Love brought me the greatest type of fear. And I’ve spent my life running…

I’ve moved so many times and to so many states because it felt safer than staying in one city and nurturing personal relationships. Because I was scared of people either hurting me …or leaving me.  It feels so much better when you are the first to go, versus being left.

But I soon realized that a life without love, is no life at all. I had to open up my heart and be brave.  I had to stop running.

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No matter how hard you work, how many accolades you pile up on the mantel, how many places you travel, how much money you make, if you refuse to experience love, there will always be an emptiness that can’t be filled.  Love is like the fuel needed to keep your car running.  You have to keep filling up the tank, or you will eventually run out of gas.

But you also have to make sure you are getting the right type of love.  That love, my mom was talking about that day in the car, that was comparable to putting some old diluted, watered-down gas in a luxury vehicle that only runs on premium.  If you keep filling your vehicle’s tank up with regular gas when premium is recommended, you may damage the car.  The same can be said for love.  You will become damaged if you keep filling your love tank up with the wrong type of love.

But how do you know when it’s right?

And when to fight for it?

To love, you have to be willing to collide with the weakest parts of yourself – Will Smith

Back in March, I was forced to face my truths during an interview with singer August Alsina. He unintentionally made me relive the memories I wanted to forget when he told a story that was all too familiar. When I asked about his relationship with his mother, he said:

My mama been with my step dad since I was one years old. My stepdad is addicted to drugs, still is, and always have been battling this problem. Me, as a son and a man, nobody wanna see their mom go through that at all. What I feel like is, he kind of took her life away from her because she’s so focused on what he’s doing. I think it’s unfair because everybody in the world got dreams. I know my mama got or had dreams. My mom is like 50 now, so I love her. I don’t have a choice but to love her because that’s my mama.

Later, in the interview, I asked if he had been in love and he said ‘Yes’.

Was that real love?

I believe it was. Nobody else has showed me what real real love would be so what I experienced, I believe was love.


And what did you experience?

Caring about someone more than I cared about myself.

‘If my mother hasn’t taught me anything else, she taught me how to love.’

‘How did she do that?

‘Just by loving someone more than she loved herself.’

I had to let that marinate…

(to be continued)

A Perfect Smile: Is It Everything?

Growing up, I was never told I was beautiful.

Ever.

I heard people use that word to describe my best friend. I heard people use that word to describe babies, but I was never personally told, “You are beautiful. You’re gorgeous!  You’re pretty!” If I had ever been told that, I don’t remember.

What I do remember, is being taunted, and it always had something to do with my teeth. I remember in tenth grade, this guy in my class joked that I could open a can opener with my teeth. A year later, I got into an argument with my mother’s boyfriend, and he called me a “b-ck toothed b-tch” while she stood there. And she let him.  I was enraged, I was hurt, I was insulted, and most of all, I felt worthless.

I can’t imagine how many kids today, with the rise of social media, are getting taunted and bullied, because of something on their body that may not be perfect. I was insulted in my own home and at school, but my already trampled self-esteem would have been hundred times worse, if I had to be subjected to those comments every time I uploaded a photo to Instagram or a picture to Twitter.

Do people really know how their words affect people?

By the time I went off to college, I was tired of the commentary