Second Inauguration & Happy MLK Day!

Patriotic Nikki - Photo by Ashley Niels
Nikki on the National Mall – Photo by Ashley Niels

Four years ago I was on the national mall with millions of other people watching Obama be sworn in as our president. It was the most thrilling & inspiring event I’ve ever witnessed and I’m so thankful we got that opportunity to be there. I still hold that day in my heart – not just for the historical moment itself, but because out of all those millions of people, there was only one rude person. The rest were downright amazing. It’s incredible the things that bring complete strangers together and how, even on the coldest day of the year when everyone is cramped and freezing and uncomfortable, strangers will open their hearts to each other and go out of their way to help those who need it. I know where I wish I could be right now. I think Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud to share this day.

Happy MLK Day and Happy Inauguration Day, everyone!

Moustaches for Movember!

It’s the month of November and y’all should know what that means! It’s time for MOVEMBER!!!

What It Is

If you have never heard of Movember, here’s a quick description from the Movember website: “During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.”

Why I’m Doing It

And it’s not just for men (obviously, otherwise why am I writing this?). Women can sign up to support the cause by becoming a Mo’Sista. Which is what I’ve done and it’s my second year in a row doing it. Last year I raised over $100 for cancer research and this year I want to go even higher. I’m doing this for all the men in my life, but in particular, a few very close male family members who have fought the good fight against cancer (you know who you are – I love you!). I’m also doing this for the women in my life – because regardless of what type of cancer you may have fought, every cancer is bad. And there are some very very close women in my life who have battled this foe (some have won, and some have lose). This is for all of them. And all of you.

What I Need From You

Support. Whether that comes in the form of sharing my page on Facebook or Twitter or through emails to friends or whether it’s in the form of a $1 donation – every little bit helps. You can find my public Mo’Space here. At that page you can comment on my page and give me shout-outs, you can find Share buttons to promote my cause, and you can also donate directly to me (the donate button is right under that awesome photo of me with a moustache).

What else can you do? You could sign up as well! Whether you’re a Mo’Bro or a Mo’Sista, you can join the site and support the cause. You can find out more about the whole Movember movement and where the funds go by checking out their about page.

Conclusion!

To wrap up this long-winded post, if you can, please donate even $1 to my mospace page – it’ll go a long way. If you can’t, I totally 100% understand and ask only that you share this in any way you can, whether it’s online or through word of mouth. I’m taking this campaign and running with it this year and I need your help.

Have ideas for me? Want to tell me I’m awesome? Want to tell me I’m ridiculous-looking in a moustache? Comment and let me know. I’d love to hear any feedback you may have.

Happy Movember!

Today is Voting Day here in the US. A lot is riding on this election. A LOT. From finances, to medical bills, to gender equality to civil rights. It’s an important election. Here are a few thoughts I jotted down last night before going to sleep.

“The closer we get to tomorrow, the meaner and more cruel people on Facebook become – on both sides. I’ve started blocking quite a few people from my News Feed because I’m sick of the hatred being thrown around. Stop talking and act. Go out and Vote. Stand up for what you believe in. Do good, live your life well. That’s what counts. Don’t get mean. Love.

As for me, I’ve just had to stop thinking about tomorrow. You all know my side. You all know who I voted for. You all know who I love and what I stand for. Regardless of who wins, the aftermath is going to be filled with angry, hateful people. Regardless of who wins, remember this. We’re all humans. We all have responsibility. We all have a commitment to this earth and to our fellow people to put as much good into this world as we are able. We are all still Americans. We are citizens of Earth. We are pieces of the same universal stardust that make up our existence. We are the SAME.

Just remember that.”


Me in January 2009 on the National Mall waiting for the inauguration of Barack Obama.

No matter what happens, I will continue to fight for what I believe in.

I don’t really bake cookies with Neil in this post. I’d like to. But I didn’t – I just liked the title. (Neil, if you’d like to bake cookies with me, or would like me to send you some cookies, just tell me your favorite kind and you’ve got it.)

I spent most of this weekend in my pajamas. Yesterday, I finally got up, got dressed, and ran errands with Ash in town, but as soon as we were home, I was back in my PJs. (Honestly, I think if more people spent weekends in their PJs, we’d be a happier humanity.) Despite the happy PJ time, my spirits were low.

In fact, I’ve been moping for the past few hours about Things That Suck when, out of nowhere, while reading Mr. Neil Gaiman’s Magical Tumblr, I felt this brilliant moment of clarity, as if a breeze had blown the clouds across the sky and a bright star (or possibly Venus) had suddenly winked into existence and brought with it a shining, glorious epiphany. An epiphany that lit up my mind and the night like a million fireflies and then. And then. Well. Then it blinked out. Just as quickly. Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to decipher what the epiphany as a whole was about, but I could see, just around the edges, words. And THAT meant something to me.

You see, ever since I was laid off in April, I have been slowly (and quickly), embracing many of my old hobbies. Things that at one point in my life, made me ME. Painting is one of them. I’ve been painting and drawing and sketching again and it’s ALL I ever want to do anymore. Oh I’ve missed it. I’ve also been baking. Cookies, brownies, yummy little chocolate chip bars oozing with caramel, goodies that will clog your pores and leave you guzzling milk from the carton. And I’ve been gardening. We have fourteen happy little okra plants in the front yard and a brand new garden bed in the back ready for planting. I’ve been playing video games, catching up on cooking shows, hanging out with Ash. So many wonderful things to bring me back to ME, but I have yet to do what I spent five years of college doing in order to get my Creative Writing degree.

Write.

I’m constantly jealous of my friend Meg of Bow Ties are Cool because all she does is write. She writes and writes and writes about writing and she’s wonderful at it and I wish I had her dedication and enthusiasm. But why don’t I? Why is that I sit here and wish it but don’t do it? What’s stopping me?

NOTHING.

And it’s that NOTHING that came to me while reading Neil’s many insightful responses to people asking him writing advice all the time. (Was that the epiphany? Maybe…) Neither him nor Meg ask for permission from anyone to write. They just do it. I’ve been sitting here waiting for someone to tell me that it’s okay to just sit and write. My fear is in the sitting part I think. I hate just sitting because I’m scared that it will look like I’m not doing anything. Like I’m just sitting. Staring at paper. Or a blank computer screen. And don’t ask me why I feel that doing design and development work is different – it just is. It’s for other people, at least that work. Even painting is for others – it’s for my shop. But writing? It’s not for anyone but myself. Even blogging is for the most part. It’s writing for myself, my thoughts, my beliefs, my stories. So it gets pushed away. Even as I write this, it has taken two days to write because I feel guilty writing it and keep stopping to do something else.

So how do writers stop feeling guilty for doing something that’s mostly for themselves? How do you get over your fear that people will think you aren’t a proper, productive member of society if you just write?

In school, I had classes that I was SUPPOSED to write in. And it made me happy. I was supposed to do it. Nobody could stop me, so I let myself just sit and write and the world was good and I was happy because I was MAKING THINGS UP and that was my JOB. Now? Not so much. So despite all the activities I’m doing to be ME, I’m still not entirely ME. Does this make sense? See, now I’m just writing to write. Because I like it. Blah blah blah I’m writing and nobody is in the room to stop me. Blah. WRITING.

Alright. So there’s my question. And there are my thoughts. All written down nicely for you. Now, I’m feeling guilty and unproductive so I’m going to go bake. Cookies. For Neil. Or Meg. Or for my girlfriend because she would probably be the one most likely to eat them considering she’s the only one in Texas. Go me.

THE END.

My Birthday Wishes and A Giveaway!

Yes, I said it. It’s my birthday on the 19th and to celebrate, I am joining up with PrintRunner to do an awesome business card giveaway! Because I’m super nice and believe in the Hobbit tradition of giving away presents on my birthday. To one lucky winner anyway.

But first, I have a request for you. I would LOVE it if you could donate to an organization that is near and dear to my heart. No, it’s not required to enter the giveaway – it’s just something nice you could do for me on my 26th year of life (and for them).

My Birthday Nonprofit: Amazon CARES

This is a personal plea from me. Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education & Safety (CARES) is a nonprofit organization that was founded by my good friend Molly Mednikow. This is a one-of-a-kind organization that operates in Iquitos, Peru, that offers animal rescue, spay and neuter services and education to the Amazon community, runs a no-kill shelter, and is the only charity dedicated to animals in the entire Peruvian Amazon region. The amount of good this small organization does for a very large area is astronomical.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, the Amazon was hit with a tremendous amount of flooding that devastated the organization – the shelter they had spent years building was destroyed. Molly and her trusted troupe of staff and volunteers carry on the work they have dedicated their lives to, but they struggle as not enough funding goes to rebuilding and less goes to the animals. They need your help.

For my birthday, I want everyone who reads this to donate $5 or more to the Amazon CARES ChipIn and help them raise the money to rebuild their organization and help give relief to the animals of the region. You can donate and see updates at this page, or you can donate via the ChipIn widget below.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. It would be the best present ever to see Molly and Amazon CARES continue the good work they do.

Edit: Molly just put this post up and it breaks my heart. If you were thinking about donating, now is the time! They could use all the help they can get right now! Let’s do this!

And Now… The PrintRunner Giveaway!

I haven’t done a giveaway in awhile, so I was totally excited when PrintRunner asked if I wanted to take part in theirs (and get my own cards too). I was also super stoked when I discovered the green aspect of the company – they’ve adopted some pretty stellar eco-friendly printing practices, which y’all should know is important to me. You can try PrintRunner’s online business cards printing through their online printing services.

Giveaway Details

Business Card Size and Style Business Cards: 2×3.5 (Standard)
Quantity: 250 cards
Colors: 4/4 Color Both Sides
Paper: 14 pt. UV Coating on Front, 14 pt. UV Coating on both sides,
Proof: NONE
Rounded Corners: NO
Ready To Ship In: 3 Business Days
Awards: May 31st, 2012
*Giveaway is open to US Residents only, ages 18 years old and above.

Deadline

This giveaway is open NOW and will close on my birthday, May 19th (at 11:59PM CST). What do you need to do to win? Comment on this post and, just for fun, tell me what your favorite charity or cause is. I would love to see what you guys care about. Don’t forget to follow PrintRunner on Twitter and Facebook – they’re pretty great. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday via the Random.org generator.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful May and happy Giveaway!