Sunday, March 11, 2007

Are you a CARROT, an EGG or a COFFEE BEAN?

Interesting question, huh? The answer is even more revealing but before we get to that. Let me back up.

I had an AMAZING day yesterday. Wasn't really looking forward to spending my entire Saturday working: I had some writing to finish, plus had four interviews scheduled for another edition of Women On The Go when what I most wanted to do was curl up in my grandmother's rocking chair and read a book or go outside and twirl under the sun while my boys ran off some of their abundant energy. THEN we would all take a nap. Talk about miracles!

But some days you do what you have to do. So with a (slight)smile on my face, a cup of coffee in one hand, laptop in the other and two of the cutest little boys I've ever seen trailing behind me ~ we went to work.

Things started off slow: my engineer was late so we couldn't officially start the interviews but I did find out from Chef Blackmon of Blu 47 fame how to keep my Crab Cakes from falling apart and my sistahgirl therapist Jinnie English brought an armful of positive energy AND controversial relationship theories. (believe me ... that is a blog unto itself.) I also learned the depth of my assistant Kim's patience as she successfully configured my computer for an Internet radio show I will be introducing shortly, coordinated and supplied me with the information I needed to conduct interviews while balancing my three-year-old on one leg and answering my five-year-olds never ending stream of questions without once raising her voice.

Meanwhile, I was ready to pull my hair out.

But then a blessing by the name of Niambi Jaha blew my way. She was slated to be interviewed for the Woman of the Month segment but as we got to talking AND talking AND talking, I realized she was my own piece of divine intervention. See Niambi is the founder of Project Butterfly - a phenomenal program designed to support young women and girls of African descent through the transitions of life. Like me, she is the mother of a young male child. AND like me, she has realized the her way of helping her young male child is to devote her life to nurturing young female children that may one day cross the path of her offspring. I formed The Nikki Woods LeadHerShip Academy with the same thought and passion; a dream that I am still waiting to birth has been fully realized in Niambi's Project Butterfly. So at the end of our interview when Niambi, took me by the hand and looked me straight in the eye and told me, "Young beautiful black woman, my sister .... I got you and I'm not letting go. WE have work to do", my heart bounced in my throat. It is what I had been waiting for, someone who understood and was ready to support my dream. Honestly, it's scary enough to traipse back through the dark recesses of your adolescent girl years but then to try and help someone else do the same without making all the mistakes you did is almost as frightening as watching Steven Spielberg's Pet Cemetery while home alone while a thunderstorm raging outside.

So yes, I have work to do ~ on myself and on my program. Stay tuned as the dream unfolds. I am going to post my conversation in its entirety soon but in the meantime check out this powerful woman on her website.

A three hour break was just enough time to feed my babies and then take them on a walk that led to downtown Chicago's Millennium Park. We watched people ice skating and laughed at the sculptures that Tyler, my oldest said he could make easily with his batch of Legos once we got home. We enjoyed the sun on our faces and the wind at our backs but most of all we enjoyed each other before it was time for all of us to get back to work.

Next up, was an unexpected coming together of universal forces under the guise of 10 minute interview. {{{{Big Hugs}}}}to Nancy Gilliam for working her magic and securing an interview with Lisa Nichols - a dynamic international motivational speaker and powerful advocate of personal empowerment - but most recently known for being recognized as one of the most prolific teachers of the Law Of Attraction. Her inclusion in the best selling phenomenon, "The Secret" was only the cap of more than 15 years worth of practicing and passing on the foundations of the Secret. After reading, watching and admiring Lisa since the release of "Chicken Soup for the African American Soul", I was scheduled to talk to her. From the very beginning, Lisa was warm and engaging. She talked freely about the path that led her to the comfy sofa on the Oprah Winfrey Show Stage - her triumphs and tribulations, her passion not only living an abundant life but helping others to live one as well.

I expected inspiration. I expected instruction. I expected an interview.

But what I got was MAGIC.

In fact, when I was telling my man about it later that afternoon, I giggled with excitement and said, "I want Lisa to be my new friend!" He laughed too. I knew I sounded like I was in the third grade but that is the kind of feeling she invoked during our conversation ~ one of warmth and friendship ~ exactly the kind of person you want in your immediate circle.

I will also post very soon my conversation with Lisa. I think it is one that every one who is struggling with discovering their authentic self should hear. Between Niambi and Lisa, there is no doubt that God was bringing some powerful threads together, intertwining them and weaving miracles.

But when you talk to someone who has struggled and not just survived but gone on to amazing heights of success - you can't help but be inspired and begin to expect miracles.

Sooooooo ... to bring me back to my original point: when thinking about the commonalities between Lisa, Niambi and all of the other powerful women that I have encountered along my journey the most dominant one was their ability to conquer challenges and become stronger because of them. I was reminded my a story that I read along time ago.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside now I am bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. And as we know, the longer it boils the coffee will become stronger.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

So ask yourself: when the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle Adversity? Will you survive and triumph as did Niambi and Lisa or will you let life beat you down and keep you in a place of unhappiness and lack.

In short ~ are you a CARROT, an EGG, or a COFFEE BEAN?


  1. Anonymous8:11 PM

    Wow that sure is a lot to think about. That lil writing has ushered me into thinking about my life. I have been thinking and praying about my life for the past few weeks and Now here I am again taking another look at it. You have no idea how encouraged I am. I read the daily meditations and i also pass them on. Thanks for being the voice for us black women. By the way I am a phenomenal woman.

  2. Wonderful question Ms. Woods! I purchased my copy of The Secret last week. Stayed up til 3am watching it. Powerful stuff. I'm excited just watching the convergence of "super powers" in your life and am looking forward to big things from the fruit of Jamaica!

  3. I would definitely like to think of myself as a coffee bean. So - if I claim it - I am it. :-)
    Great post.

  4. Oh - and I'm borrowing this post. ;-)

  5. Hi Nikki " )

    I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to be all three ... the carrot, egg & coffee bean. But with growth and experience I can safely say that I am every bit of a coffee bean "Good to the last drop" )

    Thanks for this blog ... I also ordered "The Secret" I'm still waiting on it to come in the mail ... can't wait to watch it!!!

    Peace & Blessings,

  6. Nikki this was a great post. I will have to order me a copy of "The Secret". But I will have to agree with Queen and say that I have been all three. But I can honestly say that the more I grow in the Lord, the more of the coffee beans I am. I no longer allow circumstances to change me but to make me stronger.

  7. I loved the message! I would like to think I am the coffee bean.