What Happened to the Girl Who Used to Dream Really Big?

follow your dreams

After working a few internships in the t.v. and film industry, I decided I knew what I wanted to do for a living. I thought to myself, I would move from Miami to Los Angeles and work my way up to becoming the president of Paramount Pictures. Honestly, I had no idea what that job meant, but it sounded exciting and important, so I decided to make that my goal.

Pretty big dream for a little Cuban girl from Miami, right?

Once I made the decision in my head, I told everyone I knew. Of course, they thought I was crazy. But I continued trucking along, and I eventually I convinced my father to help me move to Los Angeles. He did. We did. And quickly after arriving, I found myself working as a receptionist in a law firm.

What happened to Paramount? Well, it turned out I was fearless in my dreams, but not-so-much in my actions.

My first week in L.A., I took a job as an assistant to an agent at CAA. That job scared the shit out of me. Seriously, I would come home crying every night. After two weeks of pure terror, I made another decision: I decided I wasn’t cut out for the industry.

How sad, right? We have these big dreams growing up, sometimes for years, and then these small, little experiences are enough to tell us we’re not good enough. Two weeks of a tough job was enough to convince me that a dream I had for a few years was not a good idea. Looking back, it really seems silly.

I left the assistant job and took a safe receptionist job and convinced myself (yet again) that instead of the film industry, I would apply to law school. That seemed safe.

But guess what? The itch to walk a bigger path wouldn’t leave me alone. A year later, I gave it another shot, and ultimately found myself working a temp job at Paramount. How’s that for manifesting?

Obviously, I’m not working my way up to being the president of Paramount (although, “Never say never,” right?), but I did get back on path. But I also spent a year in fear… in hiding. How many times do we do that? Fall off our path of greatness to hide behind some mediocre job, some “safe” relationship, or an overall not-on-purpose life?

It’s okay to fall off path. It’s going to happen. But when we’re there, looking for something to believe in, what we should believe in is that little girl with big dreams. She’s the fearless one. She’s the one that knows the truth. Even if her big plan doesn’t work out exactly the way she imagine, her path is the right path, and it will lead us to where we need to be.

It’s not that she disappeared. We just forgot her.

Every time we forget her, we make the choice to follow fear… to follow our doubts. And walking the path of fear is such a time sucker. One time, two times is okay, but when it becomes a habit — our default mode — is when we need to get down on our knees and pray for healing. This is the time when we pray to be brought back to the purest of thoughts, which, of course, leads us back to that little girl. She was right, after all.

How to Start a Blog Using Squarespace

how to start a blog using Squarespace

So, you’re thinking of starting a blog? This is huge news. And by reading this, you’re taking the first steps. Woohoo!

I know the techie part about getting your site up can be totally overwhelming. I get it. And the reason I do this free class, “How to Start a Blog: A Techie Guide for the Non-Techie,” is because I don’t want that fear to stop you from starting your blog. Why do I want you to start your blog? Mainly for selfish reasons: because I know that your message and you living your purpose can change the world. And I would like that. So let’s change the world, shall we?

First off, I want you to know what you’ll be learning in this “How to Start a Blog” class.

·      About the mindset you’ll need to overcome the scary techie part about getting your blog up

·      What a publishing platform is and why you need it to start a blog

·      Why I switched from one Wordpress to Squarespace, and why I think you should, too.

·      What is a domain and hosting and why you need it to get your blog going

·      How to sign up for a free trial with Squarespace

You can start watching the video by clicking below. And to download the class notes, click the button at the end of this blog post. 

Additional Resources

Once you sign up with Squarespace, here are additional resources:

·      How to add pages to your Squarespace navigation

·      How to add your logo to your site

·      How to create a blog page using Squarespace

And if you decide to purchase a membership with Squarespace, don’t forget to use my offer code NIKKINOVO for a discount.

And, of course, if you have any questions I can help you with, please leave me a comment below. 

The Reason we Feel Pain

nikki novo pilates

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at three years old. Honestly, my mother was really on top of it and I was so resilient as a child that it didn’t really throw a wrench in my life plans.

The symptoms rarely show themselves, but when I have a bad year, I know I’m about to undergo some serious transformation. After all, when our bodies talk, the messages aren’t to be taken lightly.

This year has been a swelling of the knee kinda year for me. When I have these episodes, I always know it’s my true self’s desperate attempt to get my attention.

At first, I try to cure myself. You know, deep breaths, extra green juice, lots of prayers to Archangel Raphael, and some at-home stretching. But of course, when our fears start to manifest themselves in our physical bodies, there’s usually a much bigger lesson to be learned that requires our complete attention and energy. That’s when it’s time to call in the reinforcements. For me, that’s my Pilates instructor, Kara.

It had been about three years since I last saw her. And I admit, while I like the final product, I avoid going because I know she’s going to make me work, plus the guilt of taking time out of my day feels so heavy.

Kara heals beyond the body, that is for sure. Sometimes it is her words that speak to my soul, but mostly it is the space she gives me to connect with my wounds that allows me to heal. We all need people and activities that allow us to do this. We do not live in this world alone.

The other day while in session with Kara it was time to do these quad exercises that kill me, because I’m so weak in my right leg from protecting that injured knee. I’ve done a really good job of not letting that knee feel pain by overcompensating with the other leg.

In that moment, the lesson began to come out of the shadows and show itself. We all do this, don’t we? We protect ourselves from the feelings we need to feel the most. We try desperately to find partners, in an effort to not feel inadequate. We keep ourselves so incredibly busy in order to not feel that awful feeling of not being enough. Or we eat, drink, smoke our way through the anxiety.

We’re so scared of feeling, because it’s uncomfortable and it hurts. But what I learned through the pain of lifting up that leg was that the cure is just underneath the pain.

As I worked through the pain, I found my inner strength. It was a really weak inner strength, but nonetheless it was there. I could barely feel it, but it felt alive and so excited to get stronger. It's been there this whole time, but for some reason, I convinced myself I had lost it or that it never existed.

This is true for all of us. The pain that we’re so desperately avoiding is, in fact, the answer. Acknowledging it, and agreeing to go through the healing process is where we find the inner strength that has always been there — it just went unused for a while. The pain is actually a gift, a sign, a path.

And the strength, well, it's always been there. We were created with this super strength inside that is beyond the physical world. All we need to do is connect. 

I try not to get caught up in the drama of wondering why that strength was covered up in the first place. But what I do know is that strength needs to be realized, and some of us just rather explore, discover, and tell others about it later. 

Tell us your story of strength below. <3

The Secret to Living Life on Your Own Terms

nikki novo self help writer

It had been a few days since my father flew back to Miami leaving me alone in this strange place known as Los Angeles. I remember looking around at my new living situation, which was basically shacking up with one of my dearest friends in her studio apartment, and thinking to myself, “Where are all the adults?”

I had spent a few days just lounging around with other 20-something-year-olds, talking like adults, eating what we pleased, and doing what we felt was right. It was absolutely nuts to me.

You see, although I was 22 years old — a whole four years past the age of what Americans consider a legal adult — I didn’t quite feel independent. It was strange for me to be able to speak, dress, think, and well, be whoever I was without the opinion of an “adult.” It felt weird. It felt lonely. But overall, it felt like freedom.

For so many years, I defined myself as what other people told me I was. Like most children, I looked to my parents to validate who I was. I looked to them for a clue of who I was in the world. As I began to socialize, I also began to depend on my friends to define me. And then there were the opinions of boyfriends, teachers, employers, and so on.  When I thought of who I was, I would think about who people told me I was. And that was me.

When I moved to California, my entire perception of myself began to change. As the days passed by, I started to realize I was doing everything on my own terms. There was no one near me who was going to tell me otherwise. My parents, family, and friends were thousands of miles away from me. Meaning, I could be whoever I wanted to be — without judgments, without criticisms, and without expectations of those I surrounded myself with most. It was a pretty liberating experience.

In high school and college, I always thought of myself as someone who needed the last word, someone who needed to be heard. My family and friends saw me as this person, too. You might even have considered me high-strung when around certain people.

So you can imagine my surprise when I realized I really wasn’t that person after all. On the contrary, I’m actually a very peaceful, compassionate, laid-back person. In simple terms: I’m pretty chill.

The only way I was able to learn this about myself was by living my life on my own terms. When I started to live a life that felt true to me, I lost the need to argue, yell, or have the last word. Why? Because the person I needed to be heard by the most was me. And I was finally listening.

Looking back, that high-strung person was just me mirroring some people around me. And it was also me trying to fight for freedom—something that was given to me at birth, yet I thought I had to struggle for it. Once I found deliverance, I lost the desire to demand respect, because I finally allowed myself to be respected.

A lot of the times, we can get stuck in the pictures people hold of us. Perhaps you were the rowdy kid growing up and your mom still sees you that way? Or maybe you jumped from project to project as a young adult? Those moments in time do not matter. Every day, every minute, every second is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves — an opportunity to be the person we truly want to be. We always have the choice.

And know that we don’t all need a big move to become independent of others. Divorcing ourselves from the judgments and beliefs of others can be accomplished anywhere. Once you stop listening to and believing the opinions of others is when the incredible, amazing you will come out to play. And I’ll bet you, she’s way cooler than that other girl you’re trying to be or hold on to.

At times, it may seem as though we do not have the choice only because the people around us tend to remind us of who we were in the past. It’s as if they snapped a photo of us during a not-so-great time and they continue to hold it in their pocket. If we ever get out of line and do our best to be something greater, they’ll whip out the photo and remind us of who we once were.

There is no reason to be ashamed of who we once were. And there’s also no reason to feel tied down to our past selves. If you continue to do this work, the work of looking within, your level of awareness will continue to elevate. And as your understanding of the world widens, your understanding of yourself will also expand, causing shifts in your everyday life.

You are constantly evolving and changing. Just because someone sees you a certain way doesn’t mean you need to be a certain way. Your actions define who you are at the moment. And you control your actions. Show those who hold pictures of you who you are today.

My younger brother was one who would sleep in a lot. One day, I made a comment in reference to his “immature” sleeping patterns. To my surprise, he looked at me calmly and said, “Actually, Nik, I don’t really sleep in anymore. I worked hard to change that about myself.”

I was holding a picture of him. He could have listened to what I said, accepted it as truth, and allowed his actions to follow suit. But instead, he reminded me of the photo I was holding of him. This kid has courage, and I like it!

People will undoubtedly hold photos of you, even if they don’t mean to. It is your responsibility to see yourself for who you are today. Maybe you feel really good about yourself while at work or around a certain friend. Why is that? Who are you when you’re in that environment?

Who are you besides being your mother’s daughter? Who are you other than being your boyfriend’s girlfriend? Who are you other than being a sister in your sorority? If you can’t answer the above questions then go do the research. I promise you it will be the most fulfilling project you’ll ever take on.

Start of by making everyday decisions based off what you really feel inside. From the mundane decisions like what are you going to eat for dinner to deciding who you want to surround yourself with. I discovered that I didn’t really care to eat red meat and that I wanted to be around people who had really big dreams for themselves.

As you go through this chapter, allow yourself the permission to be whoever it is you want to be — even if you’ve never been that person or don’t know where to start. Imagine your life as a blank canvas. What would you draw? Make your own picture and live it. 

Gigi Guermont: A Life Well Lived

Photo via coolpoolevents.com

I remember coming home after our first Saturday Blogging Bootcamp class and turning to my husband to say, “I’m so lucky. I am so lucky to teach the women I teach.”

When I decided to start to teach blogging and writing courses, I admit, I had a very specific student in mind. I didn’t just want the common blogger we see today talking about the on-the-surface stuff. I was looking for the girl who had something to say, something to teach, and something to live for. I was looking for a girl like Gigi Guermont.

Gigi Guermont

As always, my class was filled with inspiring ladies whose voices were changing our world. Among them, was Gigi. At the start of every course, I ask the girls to share their story so we can all get a better idea from where each one comes from. Gigi briefly mentioned her diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 16, which was followed by a double lung transplant just a few years ago. Obviously, these details were all important to understanding who Gigi was, but that’s not really the story she cared to tell. What she wanted to tell us about was the new lens through which she saw the world.

Gigi saw the world in bright, vivid colors. She knew every breath was a gift. Life wasn’t about the challenges, it was about the opportunities. And that’s why she enrolled in the course. To tell that story: the story of a life lived to the fullest.

Gigi Guermont Miami

Besides raising awareness for the Lung Transplant Foundation of Florida, Gigi had plans to blog about what it meant to truly live. Don’t sweat the small stuff is what Gigi wanted us to know. Step outside our own little bubble and make our lives count. She believed in the arts and creative expression. Her blog was also going to be a place to sell the jewelry she made to also raise money for the many causes she believed in.

Gigi’s life was cut short yesterday, and it’s really hard for me to understand that she is no longer with us. But I think the only reason I feel that way is because I’ve never met anyone with so much life in them. I truly believe that towards the end of her life, Gigi lived fuller than many of us do even into our 90s. So I know she wouldn’t want us to be sad for her, because she lived her life every day, which is more than a lot of us can say.

Gigi Guermont blog

This morning, as I walked my dog, I took a little longer. I made sure to look at every sight with Gigi’s eyes. I saw color and life in my mundane surroundings. And I smiled thinking of the way Gigi would hug her friends, which was always full with the kind of unconditional love, I imagine, comes from the heavens.

You will be missed, Gigi. But know your message still lives inside of me, your fellow classmates, and I’m sure every one you touched. Life has a new meaning, and I’m deeply sadden that you had to sacrifice yours to teach us that. But I find peace knowing that yours was a life well lived.

Rest, my sweet Gigi.