What inspires me? It’s people, you see? People like me, and people very unlike me. People who seek out, overcome and achieve. Particularly this one: NikkiB!
Photo credit : Val Hawks
You know that moment when you meet someone you just know is going to be a part of your life from that day forward, in some capacity? Well, and I shouldn’t say know. I’ll say hope. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life is that it can all change tomorrow. You meet people. You connect with people. You lose people and you learn from people. And I have learned so much from this fiesty, fiery little gal. Even as strangers we sensed it. Every moment we spent together we became less and less strange to one another and more and more connected. People like Nikki make you laugh, smile, think, challenge yourself and see the things they have accomplished in a way that makes you want to charge the battlefield and conquer your own. I believe Nikki and I felt that way about each other the day we met.
Okay, okay, we didn’t meet up on a mossy rock in the mountains. That’s from mine and Phillip’s recent trip to Denver to visit Nikki, which is what inspired me to write this post as Nikki and I have traveled a similar path since the day we met: blazing new career paths, striking out into areas of the world that were once foreign to us, striking out into industries that were foreign to us and searching and grasping for those things that connect our mind and body with the world around us and make us feel free. That’s NikkiB’s mantra: Mind. Body. Free.
But, where was Nikki when I found her? Not so free. Stuck in a place she did not want to be. Nikki and I both actually remember that day, because we were both in very different places at the time. In addition to some hobby writing and struggling book sales after leaving the law practice (which was earning me just about enough to eat canned beans every night), I was also selling ads for a local magazine. Yep. Door-to-door salesman right here. And, while I was pretty good at it (it helps being charismatic at times), I found it draining, stressful, not very rewarding and just not the right fit for the life I wanted to live. And, Nikki? A similar situation. As a Navy pilot’s wife, she had spent the last handful of years being uprooted and transplanted from one city to the next, struggling to build a career and life for herself and to figure out what she really wanted to do. While Nikki was an accomplished yoga instructor, a seasoned traveler, photographer and writer as well as a talented aerial silks artist, she knew these weren’t really attributes that translated well to steady income and–knowing travel was a huge priority in her life–Nikki wanted to build a career that offered work that challenged her, engaged her creativity and that she could do remotely. Anything of this sound like a common struggle to you?
At the time, Nikki was working in a yoga studio, which was fun, but demanded many, many hours of her time (weekends and evenings included) for, again, not the kind of money or work freedom that was going to graduate her from canned beans to exploring Cambodia.
I popped into the studio one day (trying to get them to buy an ad in the magazine, of course), met the magnetic NikkiB and BOOM. Magic. A lifelong friendship was forged. Nikki was hopping around on some Kangaroo boots, in spandex with more colors than I knew even existed. I was actually (every bit of this is true) leaving the next day for mine and Phillip’s first big cruise on our boat to the Florida Keys in April, 2014, which Nikki was totally absorbed by, and we instantly ignited. Nikki and I actually ended up doing a photo shoot for the magazine together after I returned (in conjunction with the yoga studio’s ad in the magazine … I told you I was good) which I think was an “Aha!” moment for us both, spending hours getting slathered with makeup only to spend more hours taking staged photos in a studio.
It all felt so canned, when we both knew all we wanted was to be out, abroad, unbridled. Free! After that shoot, Nikki and I scrubbed the gunk off of our faces, grabbed my aerial silks and headed to sea! We hung my silks off the pier at Pensacola Beach, which I’m quite sure was a slight bit of trespassing but it was totally worth it.
This was one of my last days with Nikki in Pensacola and I will never forget it. Isn’t she stunning?
Love that face. I think it was soon after that day (and a few more wine-induced “Where’s my life going?” girlfriend rants) that Nikki made the bold decision to take charge and change her life forever.
“I’m moving to Colorado,” she said.
“What, really? Alone? Why? ” I asked, surprised at the seeming randomness of it. Colorado? I’d never heard her mention the word before … “What’s out there?”
“My new life,” Nikki said.
Nikki knew design, creativity and the creation of photos, videos, articles, etc. was something she was passionate about but she also knew she needed a degree and the technical know-how to create these things digitally (as that is clearly where the world is going). The tough choice for Nikki, here, was that she was going to have to do it alone. Her husband, Chris, was still serving in the Navy and would have to remain in Florida while she struck out for a year, solo, to get her degree. What did Chris have to say about this?
“If it takes one year for you to find what makes you happy, I’ll pack your bags myself.”
You see? Inspiring. And off Nikki went. It was tough to lose a friend like that, but a friend like that you never really lose. They just move and travel and grow and, in between the times you meet up with them in really cool places like Denver (but I’m sure some day Nikki and I will unite again in Bali, Cambodia or even the Bahamas), you share fun emails, texts and photos to stay connected. Even though sometimes, being wrapped up in our busy lives, Nikki and I would go a couple of months without checking in, the moment we re-connected, it always felt like no time had passed between us at all. With Nikki and I, our “check-ins” were often just a photo titled “POL” for Proof of Life:
Annie: “POL back : )”
I am incredibly proud to say Nikki conquered her fears, moved out to Colorado in 2015 to strike out on a path all her own, and she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a diploma in Web Design and Development from the Art Institute of Colorado in June, 2016, having conquered 40 very tough hours of course work in just one short year.
Nikki is now a talented (and highly-utilized) freelance digital designer specializing in User Experience and Interface Design. And, no one is more proud of her than Chris. While working as a freelance designer, just since June, 2016, Nikki and Chris have traveled to France, Switzerland, Italy and Asia. Nikki even did a solo trip by herself to Costa Rica. She has done it! Designed and built the very life she wanted. If any of you out there are looking to create a smart, attractive website or custom app for your business, NikkiB is exactly where you need to start. I have included her website link below and quick bio, sharing her passion for digital design, as well as her very fun Instagram photos that really highlight the challenging, exciting life Nikki lives. As she should. She designed it that way. And while she was building a digital design career for herself, I found myself inspired and enjoying the challenge of building my own online marketing/writing career that now allows me to travel and work remotely much like Nikki. Many you out there ask me often how you, too, can build a career that allows you to travel and work at the same time. Well, NikkiB is one inspiring example. Know that it will not be easy. It will often require tough, difficult choices and sacrifices, as well as failures. It can be a very challenging mountain to climb, but as Nikki said: “after the fog has lifted, you find yourself at a place you could have never dreamed-it’s better.” If you want a better life, you have to design it.
Nikki Beck @ NikkiBeck.info