Stressed? LOL!



Stress is a societal epidemic. I’m not talking about the built in, or innate, stress response – i.e. you jump after being startled. I’m talking about the non-stop, chronic stress that leaves you feeling stressed out, overworked, or overwhelmed. Studies have linked stress to medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity, depression, anxiety, and yes – cancer.

As a cancer “thriver” and inspirational speaker, I often speak to audiences about stress management. Because laughter therapy is my favorite way to combat stress, through my company NspireD, I created an event called “Cocktails & Comedy.” You may be wondering how these words are connected. Now depending on who you are, what you’re drinking and how much, consuming a certain number of cocktails may result in a whole lot of comedy. LOL. However, I’m approaching it from a health and wellness angle.

cocktail-clip-art-9czMyRbcEIn addition to the ways that stress can impact our personal and professional lives, did you know that the chemotherapy drugs administered during cancer treatment are referred to as “cocktails?” (Side note: When you get a cancer diagnosis, you also acquire a new vocabulary. I didn’t know what an oncologist was until I had one.) As someone who doesn’t drink and never has, I thought it ironic to get a specific chemo “cocktail” on a regular basis. 


“Cocktails & Comedy” promotes laughter as an effective stress management technique while providing additional insight about the cancer journey. Last year’s inaugural event featured cancer survivor comics from across the country. As they performed to an almost sold out crowd, we literally laughed until we cried. A great time was had by all!

comedy-night-clipart1Get ready for the 2nd Annual “Cocktails & Comedy” Show. It will be held at The Delaware Theatre Company (200 Water Street ~ Wilmington, DE 19801) on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Doors will open at 6:30 pm and the show will begin at 7:30 pm. The event will be hosted by Delaware’s own Belynda J. Cleare. Back by popular demand is Miss Gayle from Fredericksburg, VA. Rounding out the comedy line up is Missy Grynkiewicz, Brandon Vincent Jackson, and Donna Ottena. 

k“Cocktails & Comedy” 2017 is a fundraiser for the 2nd Annual “KALEIDOSCOPE: Empowering Survivors ~ Mind, Body & Spirit” conference for women living with all types of cancer. This event will be held Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the Ramada Inn of Newark, DE. The conference will help survivors improve their health and reduce their risk of recurrence in ways that do not require prescription medications. 2016 topics included meditation, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and stress management.

Proceeds from the comedy show will be used to create full and partial scholarships for survivors who have a financial need. A cancer diagnosis also impacts your financial health because medical insurance does not cover everything. This fundraiser will help to remove or reduce financial barriers so that every survivor who wants to attend will be able to do so at little or no expense. Not only will survivors benefit from the information shared, they will have the opportunity to connect with other women who understand their challenges. 

ticketCancer is no laughing matter, but humor is healing and healthy. Get your ticket(s) today at https://cocktails-comedy-2017.eventbrite.com. Tickets are $25 in advance and more at the door. The discount for a group of 10 is $225 (buy 9, get 1 free). “Cocktails & Comedy” is a great event for a date night, or a night out with the girls or the fellas. AND, it benefits a great cause – women who are living with cancer.

I hope to see your face in the place. Make plans to come out and have some fun. Life is too short not to laugh a little (or a lot!). Thanks in advance for your support. Please spread the word and remember to LOL!


be NspireD!




Black History – A New Conversation


Although February is Black History Month, we must be careful not to restrict the subject to merely one month of the year. As an educator who was often the only teacher of color on staff, I saw this happen in the classrooms of my colleagues. In an effort to reverse this pattern, I brought the issue to the forefront by speaking up about my concerns. I made it my business to help young, elementary students expand their view of the world. Black history goes beyond the color of one’s skin. Black history impacts world history.

During Black History Month, we are often exposed to men and women who have contributed to fields such as medicine, education, science, entertainment, politics, and sports. I believe that health history should be factored in to what is highlighted during Black History Month. In the same way that learning about the past can help us understand and appreciate our present so that we can prepare for the future, the same is true of our health history. We need to know what is being passed from one generation to the next.

black history pioneers

Perhaps it’s a cultural “thing,” but family health matters are often considered “hush hush” and swept under the carpet. You know, the proverbial “elephant” that everyone sees, but no one talks about. This is not beneficial and has gotten us no where – except to an early grave. I encourage dialogue about family health as part of my platform as an inspirational and experiential speaker promoting health and wellness as a lifestyle. We must have the conversations, ask the questions, and then use the information to take action.

Some chronic illnesses can have a generational impact. If we don’t know what’s in our family blood line, then it’s possible to be blindsided unnecessarily. Let’s look at breast cancer. Guidelines state that women should get their first mammogram at age 45. However, a daughter of a survivor needs to get her mammogram 10 years earlier than when her mother was diagnosed. Without this knowledge, the daughter may miss that early screening and find herself embarking upon her own cancer journey. Did you know that even though white women are diagnosed more frequently than Black women, Black women are dying at higher rates? Additionally, Black women are being diagnosed with advanced stages of breast cancer. This can limit treatment options and result in higher death rates.


Diabetes and high blood pressure are other chronic illnesses that can impact multiple generations. These conditions may be the result of something more than heredity – cultural upbringing. Lifestyle plays a role in the presence or absence of disease. I’m referring to the foods and beverages that are/are not consumed, food preparation, as well as whether we are/are not engaging in exercise. We can control and change these variables. But if no one is willing to have the conversations, to ask the questions, to do something different, nothing changes and the unhealthy patterns continue.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.” How true. We have to address the health history in the Black community and in every community. It may mean the difference between life and death for current and future generations. Did you know that in some places of the world, babies are being predisposed with conditions such as diabetes in utero due to the food and drink choices made by their mothers? What?! Life is tough enough as it is. We should want the unborn to enter the world with the healthiest start possible.

clipart family tree black

Conversations about family health history have to start somewhere, with someone. YOU can be the voice that initiates an ongoing dialogue. To help you get started, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition has created a Family Health History Tree.


Print it out and do your research. Then, talk to family members and your physician about genetic risk factors that may exist, as well as lifestyle changes that can be made. 

History is just not something we celebrate – it’s something we create. 


be NspireD!




Mindset Matters

mindset thumb

You don’t have to look far to find information about mindset. Topics connected to this subject can range from growth and fixed mindset, to scarcity and abundance mindset. Because it seemed that I was constantly being bombarded with the term, I started to think that these repeated occurrences were not by happenstance, but by design. So, I decided to take a deeper dive into the word.

Mindset is defined as a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude. After looking at the composition of the word, I also believe that mindset is literally where you set your mind. Thinking about it this way, the location where your mind finally lands, or sets itself, really matters. Why? Because of the domino effect – thoughts impact words, which become behaviors, which become habits. Gandhi took it further by stating that habits become values which eventually translate into destiny.

mindset words

My word for 2017 is “incredible.” I use it to create an expectation about each day, and it speaks to the experiences that I want to manifest, as well as those that I want to create in the lives of others. In order for me to experience “incredible,” I have to adjust my mindset. It’s a conscious decision that requires effort throughout my day. As a result, I’m learning to let go of things that are not within my control.


Regardless of the circumstances, I strive to maintain a positive disposition. For example, I let it go when that driver jumps into the parking space I’ve been waiting for with my turn signal on. I keep it moving after the person who agreed to help me pulls out at the last minute without warning or explanation. Trust me. It’s not always easy, but doable. (By the way, it helps to do a lot of deep breathing. Woosaa!)

The bottom line is that mindset is all about the ongoing, individual choices that we make. What I’ve discovered in the process of minding my mindset, is that there is now more room for priceless things like joy. I reap benefits when I monitor where my mind lands. My joy is precious. I’ve been through too many things and worked too hard to allow negative comments to steal my joy.


nothing changes

After beginning treatment for cancer a few years ago, I decided to make a change and live life with an exclamation point – not a period, comma, or question mark. I cannot and will not allow the questions that others have about me and my gifts, talents, skills, or abilities, to become questions I now have about myself. I cannot and will not allow someone else to insert a pause or a period in my life story, when I know that there are so many more chapters and books to be written.

Change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for growth and development. Take the time to self reflect and answer the following questions. What is your mindset? Where are the places that YOU let your mind land? (You certainly don’t want one of those locations to be a landmine.) Today, I encourage you to be intentional about the locations you choose. As you move from thoughts to destiny, remember, where you set your mind really does matter.


be NspireD!





Stones and Pebbles

WebI have a mentor who is 75 plus years “young.” However, you would never be able to tell her age. “Bea” takes excellent care of herself and shows no signs of slowing down. She is a lifelong learner who willingly shares words of wisdom with others. I have been the benefactor of those words during our relationship that has spanned more than 15 years. We are so similar in our positions on health and wellness, that someone referred to me as “Mini Bea.” What a compliment!

Recently, “Bea” was publicly recognized for decades of contributions to the organization of which we both are members. The leader making the remarks referred to her as a “stone” within the organization. Longevity, strength and consistency in standing firm combine to position “Bea” as a pillar of truth. As a result of these and other characteristics, she has positively impacted the lives of countless people in the organization and in the community.

mentorI was so excited when “Bea” was acknowledged. It later dawned on me that if I am “Mini Bea,” being her mentee would make me a “pebble.” I couldn’t wait to share this revelation with her. Her response? “Only you Nicolle would think of it like that, but I guess you’re right.” Although I enjoy being clever with words, my thoughts shifted to something a little more serious as the day progressed.

With all that “Bea” has poured into me, being her “pebble” means having extremely big shoes to fill. I started to ask myself questions. “Am I doing the right things in my personal and professional life?” “Am I moving in the right direction to make a difference in the lives of others?” “Can I really accept this mantle and fulfill its duties?” I had to stop with the questions as the conversation I was having with myself was becoming overwhelming. Because I can’t do anything about the past, I thought it best to start where I am and move forward.

mentor plusI decided to be more purposeful and more intentional about my activities, how I spend my time, and even how I take care of myself. With the goals that I have set for 2017, I have to be in the best of health physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. The mental stress, poor food choices that sap my energy, and emotionally draining relationships can no longer be part of the equation. They have to go so that I can carry out my divine assignment. It’s a work in progress and a process. I’m excited about the decisions that I’ve made this year.

However, I can’t be just a mentee/peeble. I have to simultaneously be a mentor/stone for someone else. We need to position ourselves under the elders and over the young adults. The terms “stones and pebbles” also make me think about the concepts of “give and take.” As “stones” we give and as “pebbles” we take. To manage both roles effectively, balance is required. There are expectations of me as a mentee and as a mentor, and I don’t want to let anyone down. I am being trusted to act upon the wisdom received, and then share wisdom with others.

heartImagine what can be created when the “stones” and “pebbles” are together and in order. Who are the “stones” in your life? Who are the “pebbles” in your life? In 2017, make the investment and anticipate a huge return. We are always stronger together!



be NspireD!





Say What You Mean in 2017


At the beginning of every new year, I pick a word on which to focus. The word creates an expectation about the type of day I want to have. It also speaks to the experiences that I want to manifest, as well as those that I want to create in the lives of others. I started with words such as “good” and “great,” and eventually expanded to words like “phenomenal.” Every morning, I would wake up looking forward to something “phenomenal” happening to me, for me, or because of me. At night, I would go to bed grateful for the “phenomenal” day that was ending and for the one that would follow.

“Spectacular” was my word for 2016. I closed my eyes on New Year’s Day and thought about some of the things I experienced last year that were far from being “spectacular.” The last few months of 2016 were especially challenging. My brother, who is 21 years my senior, had a stroke and I found myself in the role of a caregiver. My stress level was at an all time high as I traveled out of state to the hospital and rehabilitation facility. I lost almost an entire month of work. I also lost my combination engagement ring/wedding band. Although I was hysterical, my husband, who is the calm to my crazy, simply said, “It’s just a ring. I’ll get you another one.”

The days became weeks and my hopes of finding the ring faded. The tears that remained instantly dried up with one phone call. My mentor, the person I called when I received my breast cancer diagnosis, called to tell me that she was now on her own cancer journey. My diamonds versus her diagnosis? I no longer had anything to cry about. She shared that because she watched me navigate my cancer journey, she could beat cancer, too. She also reminded me that I am not a survivor, but a cancer “thriver.” With this, she charged me to stay focused, to keep going, and to lead the way for others. The call changed my perspective.



This change started with the thoughts in my mind. There is no reason to let a few life detours discount all of the “spectacular” things that occurred in 2016. I celebrated the “13th anniversary of my 37th” birthday. I celebrated my 5th “cancer-versary.” I hosted my first conference for women living with all types of cancer. Those are the big highlights, but I’m always grateful that everything that I need is provided; that I’m in my right mind; and that my days are filled with life, love, and laughter.

I couldn’t wait to get back to work this week. Why? Because “incredible” is my word for 2017. Every day, I verbally put this expectation into the atmosphere. Incredible things will happen in my marriage and my home, in my relationships and friendships, in my business, and as I carry out my divine assignment to “speak a word in season to him who is weary.” We’re only a few days into the year and incredible things are happening already. WooHoo!



As you look ahead to 2017, what do you want to happen in your life? What do you need to happen in your life? How do you want your life to impact the lives of those with whom you come in contact? With answers to these questions, what changes must you make to ensure that this year is better than last year? Consider using the power of a word to say what you mean in 2017.

For me, INCREDIBLE is just the beginning!  


be NspireD!