Lala Nicole is a writer, speaker, and leader of today’s generation. Described as engagingly funny and downright real, her passion is seeing people reach their fullest potential and live their best life. She loves to encourage, to inspire, and to empower people to be the unique individuals they were created to be.
Lala Nicole serves as a life coach and mentor – providing a safe place for many to be vulnerable about the areas of concern in his or her personal and professional lives. Her goal is to help individuals harvest their passions and dreams and identify their purpose to help them create a strategy to bring those dreams into reality.
As a master storyteller, she’s convinced God uses her crazy yet fulfilling life to provide modern day illustrations for His timeless truths women of all ages can relate to.
Her story breathes new hope into every hurting heart. She hopes that her story can help others build confidence leading to wiser choices. She’s also currently writing a book, which she plans to self-publish and release in the fall of 2016.
Unbeknownst to me, my ministry started in high school. Many young women looked up to and would share their life stories with me. At times, I found myself being vulnerable with them because they didn’t know that they, too, could smile, even when it hurts. Somehow listening to and helping other young women get through their struggles helped me get through my own. However, these are the years that I mastered the art of shielding or hiding many of my truths and instead, I only showed people what they wanted to see. I struggled, daily, with the imperfections that existed within my own household yet I was able to smile and hold my head up through the storms.
In high school …
There was only one problem; I didn’t know how to take my own advice. While I’m building and encouraging other women, in my quietest times, I struggled immensely with unresolved family issues. I was angry, and I justified my anger, daily – giving myself permission to be miserable and the excuse was that no one understood me. Eventually, I met with a counselor because I was tired of hiding the pain; I was living a lie. I give my mentor and counselor, Quincy Paden, credit for providing the space and the opportunity for me to talk. Besides my Godmother, no one had ever listened to me. They might have heard me, but they never listened to me. Just mentioning that my mother and I had a very tumultuous relationship prompted responses like Oh, I know a lot of people that go through that, or oh, you’re still mad about that? I’ll never forget the time I was told I’d go to hell for not speaking with my mother. Those words cut me deeply, and they sent me into a deeper into depression; but how could I expect them to understand my pain if they had never experienced it? Most of my friends had good loving relationships with their mother. They didn’t possess the capacity to even consider a different relationship with their mother, so I began to isolate myself. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep, hoping and praying that God would relieve me of the pain and would give me the strength to press forward.
College would birth more women who would voluntarily share their stories with me. I pondered often, why are these women so open with me – some I didn’t even know; they just felt comfortable. I simply did for them what I needed people to do for me – I never judged them. I gave them words of encouragement and showed them how to find the strength in their stories or a different way of looking at their circumstances. On some occasions, I shared the life-changing quote that my godmother shared with me which ultimately freed me from my childhood burdens:
You are not your circumstances; you are your possibilities. – Selena C. Outten
My godmother was heaven sent – an elementary school teacher, unwed without children; however, she was a mother to me and was incredibly instrumental in shaping the person I am today. She taught me how to hug, a love language that many of you may know as physical touch. In many ways, my ministry is deeply rooted in the foundation that she helped lay. Because of the love that my godmother was able to show me and teach me, I was able to utilize those skills and be a better daughter to my mother. I also had to trust God; I had to surrender all of my problems to Him. I’ve learned to use my misery as my ministry, and I’ve learned to allow God to lead me and to use my life in order to save other lives. I know that by the grace of God, I can stand here today with no regrets and each day, I strive to identify with the Proverbs 31 woman. Moreover, I can tell you that I’m thankful for every relationship that ended and for every friendship that didn’t last. I’ve found a way to allow my pain to produce purpose and out of that, I’ve found my ministry: to encourage and to motivate people to find the purpose in every experience and to use the lessons learned to help prevent others from experiencing similar pains.
In late 2009, I officially committed my life to God. Although I grew up in the church, this was the first time in my life that I was choosing God. I choose God because I knew that He was the source of my strength. There were times when I tried to do things on my own but the moment I surrendered was the moment that I experienced a breakthrough. I have two amazing friends, Tiffany Via and Deneen Robinson collectively referred to as the Trio, whom I credit for reintroducing God to me in a way that captured my heart. We’ve spent hours on the phone listening to and discussing sermons. For the first time in my life, I could actually sit through a sermon and relate to the messages. The pastor used metaphors to translate the word and visual displays to bring life to the topics he discussed. Finally, the words in the bible started to make sense. Up to that point, my life had been like a roller coaster ride; there were many highs and lows but had it not been for the renewal of my vows to God and I would not have the loving relationship with my mother that I have today – one that I had never imagined and thought was impossible. My mother and I spent ten (10) weeks in counseling where we were able to address and bury past issues. We found peace and more importantly, we’ve forgiven each other. I thank God for His grace and for giving us a new relationship. It’s not by chance that I’ve had many angels along the way; it was most certainly divine intervention. ” tab_id=”14653959-08fc-0″]
My favorite Things
I start my mornings extremely early – 5:30 a.m. I’m a Yogi! I attend a phenomenal hot yoga class and head to my full-time job at a talent agency where I have the pleasure of working in the accounting department. I attend bible study once a week or plan some fun activity with my friends. I enjoy hiking, cooking, cleaning and reading.
I was shopping at a Macy’s recently and the sales clerk that was assisting me asked, “Where are you from?” People have asked me this before so I instantly thought maybe she heard my accent; I was born in a small town called Helena, Arkansas. You’ll never be able to find it on a map unless I showed you. My mother and father never completed high school but both managed to do well for themselves; my mother worked at a local casino and my father worked as a cook at a local restaurant. I spent most of my adolescent years being active in sports such as volleyball and basketball. The fifth out of six children, I was the first to graduate high school and to receive a college degree.
My mother gave birth to her first child at the age of thirteen and my sister followed her by having her first at fifteen so almost instantly, everyone thought that I, too, would have children young. A part of their words hurt me! However, I mustered up the courage to use their words as motivation; it was the fuel to my fire and the more they doubted me, the more I was determined, not only to prove them wrong but to actually accomplish something along the way.
Before moving to Chicago, my chances of graduating from high school were very limited. Chicago blessed me with teachers who were very encouraging and willing to over-extend themselves to meet the needs of the students. It seemed like everyone saw a future in this bigheaded petite gap-toothed southern girl– yet they didn’t know that I struggled with my own insecurities. This false perception was deeply rooted in this one thought: Am I good enough? I was very popular, homecoming queen, prom queen, etc. It seemed like everyone chose me; but I struggled with my selection process – I chose the wrong people to date, which is one of the reasons that prompted me to question my self-worth. Aside from choosing less than desirable people to date, I struggled to balance the adult-like responsibilities that were imposed on me at such a young age.
I didn’t come from a household where everything was given to me. In fact, my mother gave very little and my father gave what he could. Desperate to provide myself with a little more than the necessities, I began to work two jobs my senior year in high school and before that, I was the neighborhood hair braider. A hustler, the word that many of my friends used to describe me, is an attribute that I learned from my mother. A woman of very little education, she had what many referred to as “street sense”. I learned very early that everything is negotiable and if I wanted to own anything, I needed to work hard to buy it.
However, when it was time to attend college, my family could not prepare me for the transition to a university. No one in my family had actually graduated from high school or even considered college. During that time, I relied solely on my godmother who was the first person to encourage me to go to college. I still remember her telling me, “You can do whatever you want to do; you just have to have a plan.” She taught me how to write my dreams down and to plan my future. However, my Godmother was not my godmother in the traditional sense – meaning my parents did not choose her. She was actually my seventh-grade homeroom and math teacher. She gave me my first job at her nail salon, Nails by Selena. I worked as a receptionist and later as a nail technician. I never knew how much of a critical role she would play in my life, but God brought her into my life at the right time; she was exactly what I needed, a mother figure. If it were not for her intervention, I would not be the woman that I am today, and I give God the glory for that shift in my life.
College gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself; I knew that no matter what, I could not go to college and be the same person I’ve always been. I had to adjust to the new environment and to the new people. In hindsight, I can see that I was being removed from the bad soil and God was planting me in new soil. No one there knew of my insecurities, my family secrets, the horrendous abuse that I’d witnessed and experienced as a child, and the anger problems that I had developed over the years. This was my time to start over, and I did.
I lose a lot of friends, but I gained far more than I’d expected. During my sophomore year in college, I had the pleasure of serving as a resident advisor – mentoring and assisting incoming freshmen with their transition to a university. I joined a sorority and planned several events on campus that encouraged young African American women to see a counselor, eat healthy, and to plan for their financial futures but deep down, I was screaming for help. To avoid dealing with my truth, I packed my schedule with events on campus and took the maximum amount of credits required so that I wouldn’t have free time – no time to think – just stay busy then go to sleep. I was a mentor to many – I smiled at everyone – I even managed to win homecoming queen, again. I fooled everyone.
After seeking the adequate help, I slowly felt myself coming out of depression. I moved to Orlando, Florida to study for my Master’s degree and even drove to Los Angeles, California, alone, for an amazing career opportunity. I found an amazing church home where I discovered the power of praise and worship. Eventually, I made friends and got involved in a small group – bible study with a group of eight to ten sisters and brothers in Christ. I’ve surrounded myself with a community of kingdom seekers, and I credit them with sowing into me, praying for me, studying the word with me, and reminding me that I’m a child of God – all which have been life-changing.
My life has been a journey where I’ve constantly had to reinvent myself. Many people that know me will say that I’ve changed, and I’d gladly agree.
My best friend questioned me when I told her that I was including a section for my husband on my website. Although I do not have a husband, I’ve provided a space for him and let me tell you why. My pastor speaks greatly about being pregnant with destiny and with purpose. When you’re pregnant, you don’t wait until you give birth to buy the bassinet and to decorate the nursery; you plan ahead. You have a baby shower, you select colors and themes for the nursery, and you discuss baby names with you husband. It is by faith that I have decided to include a section for my husband. I believe that God has made provisions for me to be a wife and a helpmate to an amazing God-fearing man. Although I am oblivious to him, I am hopeful and grateful that I can and will one day serve in this capacity. Until then, I will align myself with my purpose in life. Creating the space for my husband just reminds me that God is working on me and behind the scenes for me. In the meantime, it is my responsibility to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto me (Matthew 6:33)”.
I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve been asked when I’m going to have children. If you asked me ten years ago, I would’ve told you that I’d be married with children by the age of twenty-seven. When I turned twenty-seven, I was beyond excited that I had neither. I was nowhere near prepared, and I was still trying to find myself. My recent experiences, which included taking an all girls trip out of the country, beget a different outcome than I had anticipated. While experiencing the culture and different accommodations provided in the Caribbean, suddenly my reality became more obvious. I had no worries; no need to call home to check on the children and to see if my husband was adjusting well without me. I had total freedom, and I loved it. Against my natural instincts, for the first time in my life, I decided not to plan that part of my life. I realized that I didn’t have control of my circumstances and I’m a control freak, but I managed to abandon my desires to control my biological clock. I learned that it wasn’t just because I needed to find myself; it was because I need to find out who I AM in Christ and to ultimately give God back His original intention for my life.Nevertheless, I am the godmother to four beautiful children: Ganiyra, Mariah, Cam, and Zoey. Although they are not my biological children, I do believe that when the time is right, God will bless me with a beautiful family. In the meantime, God is allowing me to be fruitful in other capacities.
I don’t have (yet) a full staff that includes a travel coordinator and a personal assistant, but I do have a community of brothers and sisters around the world who are beyond great to me. They’ve assisted with photo shoots, reading blogs, looking for grammatical and punctuation errors (hopefully, we found them all), and providing real life feedback.
One of my best friends, Mandy, is what we refer to as always on duty. She reads every blog before I post it. She tends to get the emotion out of me. She is my first audience and helps guide me through some of the tougher memories that may be hard for me to explore. Overall, they’re unwavering love and support are what drives me to stay focused on God’s agenda.