Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I have moved

You can now find me at www.nikinikinine.com, where it occurs to me to write things down once in a while.

You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram where I manage to post about the shenanigans that are my life with much more regularity.

Thanks for your friendship and support over the years. I hope we continue to stay in touch!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

What the hell is going on, Niki?

I have received several messages over the last few weeks with people wanting to know, literally, what the hell is going on? What is this stuff I am posting on social. Have I gone to the dark side? Have I lost it completely? Am I going to become one of those people?

I have a lot of posts I've started to write about where we've been and what is going on, but I felt compelled to hit publish on this one before those.

Since I'm using social media to market this new opportunity, I felt like now was a good time to at least share my why. As in, "Why the hell are you doing this?"

I don't plan to sell or market my new business on my blog, though this is a blog about my life and this business is now a part of it, so I can't say that it will never come up here either. But I would prefer (and I think others would too) for this blog to be my authentic space, and so I think it's best that the two remain mostly separate.

So, without further ado, why.

In February 2014, I came home from a long drive. Joe had already put our three older kids to bed, and was watching a DVR’d lacrosse game in his office. I walked through the door, my face stained with tears, sat down next to him and told him I was leaving. I was seven weeks pregnant with our fourth child, and I was scared as hell.

By May, our Barbie Dream House, the house I thought I’d spend forever in, was on the market. We had just custom built that home 18 months before. I drew the floor plan on a napkin, picked every fixture, painstakingly selected every tile. I dreamed of a day when one of our girls would get married and have a tented reception in that backyard.

Ryan – my son, my oldest, and one half of my dynamic duo (twins) – had just been diagnosed with Autism in September 2013, and transitioned to a special needs preschool in January 2014. His IEP is managed by our school district and county. I fought so hard for home-based and school-based services, getting him therapies and quantities of sessions not usually afforded to children. There was no way in hell I was going to risk giving up a single service, so I committed to finding a home in our county and our school district, that I could afford, that could fit five people.

We live in a small rural area, and another much less service-generous county comprises the majority of our school district. Finding a home that met all of these criteria was no small feat. I found our current home – the home I have lovingly referred to as the mint green shitbox, or the pistachio nightmare – on October 14, 2014, exactly one week before giving birth, and 36 days before the Barbie Dream House was set to close. That is 36 days before my three toddlers, my newborn, and I were homeless.

The mint green shitbox lived up to its full potential, coming in with over $22,000 of inspection failures. Radon, plumbing, electrical, sump pump, subfloors. You name the inspection, this house failed. It was the only house on the market that could preserve Ryan’s IEP and fit my tribe, so I poured every cent and every last ounce of energy I had into making it work.

The kids and I lived in temporary housing while the floors were fixed, and we moved into old minty on January 31, 2015. We had no kitchen and my refrigerator was plugged into my living room next to a pile of boxes. I washed dishes and bottles in the bathtub after the kids got out of it each night.

Let me tell you, if you’ve never lived with two four year olds, a two year old, and a 3 month old for four months with no kitchen, then you have not lived.

I am a communications consultant, and I worked my butt off to grow a successful business that would allow me to attend to my four children, and all of their various needs, while financially providing for them. This has meant that for the last two years I’ve worked nights, weekends, before the kids wake up, after they go to sleep. I have taken calls during nap times, sent emails while trying to get dinner down. I’ve run, I’ve rushed, I’ve pushed, I’ve pulled. But, most of all, I’ve juggled. And I’ve been exhausted.

In January, just as we were getting ready to move into old minty, Jamie Walker approached me about joining her team. I didn’t know Jamie, but she “knew me” through this blog.

She presented Rodan + Fields, and asked me to join her “Dream Team.” I listened to her pitch, heard her story, and said, “Thanks, but no thanks. This isn’t for me. I don’t have the time. I’m way too busy. I can’t possibly take any more money away from my children. This is too risky. I’m not cut out for this. But thanks.”

Jamie and I stayed in touch, but as friends. I had no desire to sell anything.

I enjoy our friendship, we share inspirational quotes, and stories about raising twins, and text message each other songs that have to make it onto a playlist. And over the next nine months, I watched her business grow. I wondered whether I could do this, but convinced myself that I couldn’t.

In that time, two more women I have met through other life experiences and hobbies – infertility and photography – each took the leap. One was a nurse, the other a teacher. Both were moms. I watched them start. I watched them take off. I watched them succeed. I watched their lives change. And I wondered whether I could do this, but convinced myself, again, that I couldn’t.

After a particularly harrowing day parenting and mothering and exwifing and homeownering, I woke up to find that one of these women I had been watching from afar succeeded to the point of earning a raise, another promotion, and a Lexus. Yes, people, a goddamned Lexus.

That morning I messaged my other friend that I’d had my eye on, and I asked her to share her experience with me too. Her business is smaller, but successful. Rodan + Fields has allowed her to take a leave of absence from her teaching job to stay home with her two children, but still earn enough to cover her mortgage payment.

And with that I decided to stop convincing myself of what I couldn’t do, and try to see what I could do.

Because even if I did nothing more than earn my business kit for free, I had tried something that could benefit my family without impacting them. If I only earned $500 a month – something that is SO doable with this business – I would be able to afford to buy my kids clothes (do you know how expensive it is to dress four kids across four seasons?!), or pay for my son’s therapies, or my girls’ ballet classes. And maybe if I really succeeded, I could climb out of the mess I created making this house work, and the mess of leaving my old life behind and starting again, or put money away so I can (hopefully) help four kids pay for college, or afford to finish fixing this shitbox (I have a room with no ceiling right now, people.)

I would do anything to provide for my kids, to be more available for them, to give them a better life. I would try anything.

As of writing this, I have been in business for two weeks. TWO. I am not a Lexus earner, or a million-dollar achiever, I am not paying off my house this year. (Though I have people on my team that are all of those things.) But, I will earn my business kit for free. And when my commission comes in next month, I will pay off the balance on my Gap card, which I used to for my kids’ school clothes.

I get that this journey isn’t for everyone. But I believe in the opportunity. Maybe you do too?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

First Day(s) of School

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